Factoring people’s time commitments into your content strategy

by Jeremy Hodge on October 24, 2012

One of the most important elements of content strategy is people and the amount of time they can dedicate to content. I’ve worked on many projects in which the lack of thought put into the people behind the content slowed or hurt the project. I worked on a website in which the planning, creation and delivery of the site content was well thought out and executed, but maintenance was an afterthought; when a workflow was put in place to update the content on the site, there was no one to take on the task of actually writing it. I’ve also been on projects where the entire team responsible for developing the content has been on task, on time, and ready to publish, but an executive fails to give their sign off.

Understanding the amount of time someone can put towards your content effort, whether creating or approving it, can help you develop a more realistic editorial calendar, workflow and governance process. It’s common that the people involved in the content lifecycle aren’t dedicated full time, so it’s important to ask the following question:

Who are the creators, approvers and publishers and how much effort can they put towards the project?
It’s really easy to create a workflow and governance document, but it’s a lot harder to actually execute it. Not considering the amount of time that people can put towards content will be a huge barrier when it comes time to actually implementing the plans you’ve developed. If you have a lot of resource and budget constraints you need to factor those in to your content planning and execution. It’s also common that people working on your web content have many other job responsibilities. So if you’re trying to publish daily blog posts, but only have a PR person to write and an intern to publish through the CMS, you may want to reconsider how often you publish.

It may seem obvious that you need to understand how long it takes someone to create and publish content, but approvers are also important to consider since they can be a major choke point in trying to get content out the door, whether it’s an executive or the legal team. Complaining that an executive takes forever to approve a web article or video will not make things better, but anticipating the realities of the situation and giving more lead time to review will.

Even if you have all of your writers, editors and developers at the ready to create and publish great content, there is still another question you need to ask:

Who is going to track all of the existing content and update/retire it when needed?
If there is no one looking after all of your content and determining when it needs to be updated or retired, you’re site is going to become a total mess and look like a disorganized filing cabinet. Bad content creates a bad user experience and even if your organization doesn’t have a full time content strategist, it’s important that some basic guidelines are established around what to do with content once it’s published and that one or more people have the responsibility to enforce those guidelines.

From what I’ve seen, a lot of workflows and governance plans are solidified before taking a look at the people who can actually do the work. While a lot of organizations, big or small, can experience resource constraints, thinking about the realities of the people behind your content can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

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