Build a Content Creation A-Team

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These are exciting times for content marketing. More organizations and professionals are embracing the concept as a credible part of marketing and business development. Now, a key question has become: “how can we deliver a sustainable flow of effective content?”

Sharing meaningful content regularly across many distribution channels is a seemingly simple way in theory to further relationships and gain recognition. But in practical reality, the feeding and caring of a content program can be very difficult, time consuming and expensive.

A former ad agency executive noted in an interview on the topic of content creation that the key problem is that there just aren’t enough “quality content people.”

But, the problem isn’t really the lack of capable people. The issue is that we’re looking for them in the wrong places, putting organizational hurdles in the way, focusing too much on search engine optimization, and assuming that all the needed skills will be found wrapped up in one person.

To have a sustainable content creation program, we must have an optimized A-Team in place — with “A” as a shorthand reminder of key Agile methodology principles (not Mr. T and the gang!).

Content creation A-Teams must be cross functional and start with an audience perspective first. They must deliver in rapid releases rather than viewing their ideal output as the launch of major one-time studies or stand alone campaigns.

The right team composition will come by bringing together a mix of people from marketing, market research, communications, social media, client experience and sales teams. To allow this to happen, organizations must not only identify the right people, but also examine the missions, goals and incentives for the involved departments to ensure their structure won’t be counter productive to a sustained, effective cross functional content creation effort.

So, who do should be on your A-Team? What skills do you need?

Following are descriptions of key roles. All of these people may not spend all of their time on the content creation efforts, but they do need to make a commitment to regular team check ins, free sharing of information and ideas, supporting the goals of the team, which may be slightly off focus for their home department, and having extra availability when their particular skill set is needed.

1.) Research & Insights Expert: For your content to really trend and add value, you must understand your audience members, their needs and what they are already getting from competitors and major media. A professional from a client experience or marketing team typically has this data already and will be pivotal for the planning of the editorial calendar. If no one with this knowledge exists in the organization, front-line sales people can help in this area.

2.) Producer: Because development of a content piece typically starts with a written explanation of the idea, often this role is filled by a professional writer who may be a former journalist or experienced corporate communicator. They will have a background writing content for different mediums such as blogs, whitepapers, fact sheets and newsletter articles— and they must have an ability to visualize graphic displays of information. When highly technical skills are needed, they may partner with infographic designers, photographers or videographers.

3.) Channel Experts: You will need at least one person who is knowledgeable about content distribution practices, which must be considered during the content creation phase. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have specialists for social communities such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn plus other professionals for media relations and your company website.

4.) Analytics Expert: This person is skilled at measuring results across channels ranging from social media communities to public relations to paid advertising. Frequently, professionals from the marketing research or social media teams have the experience and access to the tools needed.

5.) Sponsor: This business executive has identified the business need to be addressed with content marketing and set out the team objectives. The executive briefs the team on business strategies and goals as well as funds the efforts.

6.) Coach: Like a Scrum Master in the Agile world, this person guides the team, helps keep it on track and gathers resources. More of a facilitator than a formal project manager, this person has strong organizational skills, knowledge of the company and the respect of those on the team.

Having a permanent cross functional team operating outside of traditional department silos can be a very different way of working for some organizations. Given audiences’ hunger for credible information, insights, knowledge and empowerment, the opportunity to use content marketing is unlikely to diminish anytime soon. So, we must start now in setting up our A-Teams to ensure our successes.