Give content ownership to the experts
If you own content, you’re the one with the authority to say yay or nay to any publishing decision. For large corporations, content ownership is a complex issue that can get even more complicated when you oversimplify things by assigning content only one owner.
Having a single content owner for each piece of content (or for all content) sounds like a dream state. For large business-driven organizations, it’s just not realistic.
Below are two ways to share content ownership and improve the quality of your content and your operational efficiency. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive and can work well together. The best approach for your organization depends on your organizational structure, the size of your teams, and the maturity of your content practices.
SMEs own what, why, and when. A content team owns how, where, and who.
Subject matter experts (SMEs) are the people who have the in-depth knowledge around a particular subject matter area, or topic. They typically work in product divisions or business units and have deep expertise in the nuances of their area and, sometimes, their customers.
When new products or services are introduced, or there are changes to existing products, they’re the people who know “what” is going on. They know “why” it’s important to the business and “when” information needs to be available to customers to coincide with a release or change.
But they’re not trained digital content producers. That’s where the content team comes in.
The content team are trained in “how” to effectively communicate sometimes complex information to specific audiences. They know which formats and combination of content types will be most effective for the purpose and audience, and “where” to distribute the content to get the most impact. They also understand that different kinds of content have different resourcing needs, and are able to figure out “who” will be best suited to create the content.
The challenge with this model is that business units need to be willing (or mandated) to release full control of the content, and the content team needs to be prepared to take on more accountability.Sharing content: SMEs own what, why, and when. A content team owns how, where, and who. Click To Tweet
Let’s look at an example:
A financial company is launching a new high-interest youth savings account and a program to help youth make good financial decisions. The SMEs will communicate the details of the account and program to the content team, including when it will be available, and let them know what the company is trying to achieve with these new services. The content team will design and create a suite of content to communicate the new offering and support customers after they sign up. The SMEs get final say, or ownership, of anything to do with the facts and accuracy of the information, when it needs to be published, and the underlying business objectives. The content team gets final say, or ownership, of anything to do with the how the content is communicated and targeted to meet customer needs and how that content is distributed across different channels.
A content team owns global content standards. Channel or functional teams own the subset of content standards specific to their area.
In this scenario, the content team sets the global requirements for content to ensure a consistent experience for the audience, a consistent reflection of the brand, and to make content easier to use and share across teams. This includes things like structural and metadata requirements and global tone and voice guidelines. They should also be setting standardized content processes and workflows, and designing support tools and training to help content authors across all teams.
A channel team owns the experience specific to a particular channel, or method of distribution. For example, channels can include social media, website, intranet, and apps. Functional teams are responsible for a specific function in an organization. Some examples of functional teams are marketing, user experience, and corporate communications.
With this distribution of ownership, the channel or functional teams need to comply with the global standards (owned by the content team), but they own a subset of standards specific to their area and are responsible for creating the content within that area. The marketing team will create campaign content, the user experience team will create interface text, and corporate communications will create public relations content.
This model allows the people with the greatest expertise to have ownership of an area of content, while ensuring that content as a whole has consistent standards. The challenge with is that it relies on cross-functional teams working well together, and strong cross-functional processes and trust are critical.
Let’s look at an example:
A financial company is launching a new high-interest youth savings account and a program to help youth make good financial decisions. People from each of the cross-functional teams meet to determine and plan a suite of content to communicate the new offering and support customers after they sign up.
The content team ensures that all content flows through the standard processes and checkpoints, and meets overall global and quality requirements. The marketing team creates campaign and marketing content, the social media team creates YouTube and Facebook content, the web content team creates web content, the user experience team creates UI text to support the sign up forms for opening an account, and corporate communications creates news releases.