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11 ways to kill content chaos

Do you need to bust down your content silos? Are your channel owners lost in a world of wasteful duplication, poorly executed content and last minute-itis?

You are not alone. We’ve discovered that nine in ten in-house communications team leaders regularly experience challenges in their content creation. Our survey, conducted by The Pulse Business, found that 90% of marcomms directors regularly struggle with content challenges, with the leading issue being a lack of measurement and analytics, at 33%.  Meanwhile, 29% of comms leaders point to content silos as the problem they struggle with on a regular basis.

The results suggest that Content Chaos could be a major concern for in-house communicators in 2020, as they point to a perfect storm of lacked skills and resources, fragmented business units, and increasingly tight deadlines.

These are some of the comments we’ve heard from people we surveyed that sum up what channel owners at most large corporates are up against:

“We’ve been historically tactical and reactive. Not measuring.”

“Silo working is an issue. I get a lot of ‘can you do me a feature/social post/video by tomorrow’.”

“There’s a lot of flouting rules and deadlines, with people using senior names as leverage to get stories run that don’t necessarily fit editorial priorities.”

With those challenges and pain points in mind, here are my top 11 tips on how to move from a confusing free-for-all to a coordinated content operation:

1. Agree what it’s all for. There’s no point producing anything until you know its purpose, whether that’s to communicate your corporate narrative or drive sales.

2. Get the right people in a room. Set up an editorial meeting where channel owners and comms teams from across the business can discuss content ideas openly and agree a coordinated plan of action. Silo busting, with biscuits (trust me, you’ll need the energy – these meetings should be lively and stimulating, unlike just about every other meeting you have through the week!).

3. Pitch, pitch, pitch. Nobody has the automatic right to run their content – if a story idea is way off strategy, or unlikely to hit home with the intended audience, it should be shown the door. In the great tradition of any newsroom, consider content pitches on their editorial merit – not the seniority of their source.

4. Raise the bar. Messaging doesn’t make a story – people do. Ferret out the best stories from any business, like a true brand journalist. Because whatever you want to say, whether it’s in written, audio or video form, you have to make it human.

5. Prioritise the process. The best content is collaborative. Regardless of its source, every piece of copy needs to go through a rigorous team of editors, proofers and fact-checkers before making it anywhere near a reader.

6. Use the best tools. Coordinating an ‘always on’ newsroom is relentless. Know which tools can help manage the editorial calendar, deadlines, deliveries – and all those rounds of amends.

7. Inculcate consistency. Audiences like to know what to expect. Just like any successful newspaper or magazine, work to an editorial style guide that gives your output its distinctive voice.

8. Keep it regular. Building trust with your audience is a process. Producing great content, day in, day out, is how you keep them engaged. Forward planning means never scrambling for last-minute campaign day content again.

9. Stay agile. Yes, be organised in terms of your forward planning (that editorial calendar is there for a reason!), but also keep things flexible enough for those last-minute shoo-ins and be ready to deploy people to cover live events – supporting media and internal comms teams as well as external channel owners in the process.

10. Show it like it is. Take an editorial approach to photography and film, drawing on the skills of experienced press photographers and talented videographers. Dull corporate headshots should not be part of your visual language. 

11. Measure up. Focus relentlessly on the stats to learn what works and see how audiences are responding. Because nobody owes you attention – you have to earn it.