Getting content from an idea to being published takes time, effort and people. It’s the people part that this article will unpack, with rationale to help get buy-in from stakeholders to invest in assembling a content delivery team at the start of website projects to avoid common pitfalls that come with trying to produce website content.
Without the right team in place to plan, produce and publish content, you’ll find that:
- Content isn’t taken seriously
- There’s no accountability
- “It’s not my job” is claimed
- Content slides down the to-do list
The knock-on effect of all of these is that content bottlenecks are reached and projects can be left in limbo without those final invoices issued. This isn’t great for morale or the bottom line.
The Perils of Shoe-Horning Content Into Existing Roles
Adding skills like writing, reviewing and editing of content to people’s jobs isn’t ideal. Even if those people are skilled in those areas, if it is seen as an extra task then it won’t be given the attention it deserves.
It’s ok to add to people’s responsibilities so long as there is compromise in other tasks and time allowed to focus on content. Rather than firing out emails asking people to write/edit/review/approve content as needed (let’s be fair, emails are easy to ignore), they should be briefed on the task and given the time and resources to complete it successfully.
If you do tack content onto people’s existing responsibilities then you run the risk of content being rushed and the result of that is often content that’s not written in the right style, doesn’t meet customer needs or business goals, and is generally ineffective.
Bring in the Experts to Assemble a Content Delivery Team
Ideally, bringing experts in as needed will mean content is the number one priority. Though this will likely be seen as an additional cost, it could actually save money (and time, and stress) because a dedicated content delivery team means that:
- Projects stay on track
- And on budget!
- The content produced is more effective
- Clients/teams appreciate clear roles and responsibilities
It’s inevitable that the experts brought in will need to work with the existing team as the former are likely to be the subject matter experts. But this can still be a time saver and the experts are focused on sharing knowledge rather than having to squeeze in writing content. It also means the content delivery team can work closely with designers, developers and UX teams to ensure content is delivered in the structure and format that’s needed.
This will save time because content doesn’t then have to be chopped and changed to suit the CMS or the technology changed to suit the content. A dedicated content delivery team can afford the luxury of thinking about future-friendly content.
What Roles and Skills are Needed in a Content Delivery Team?
In his book, Content Delivery: Deliver high quality website content, on time and in budget, Liam King suggests the following roles are necessary for a well-skilled content delivery team:
- Content Strategist
- Copywriter / Content Designer
- Senior Editor
- User Researcher
- CMS Editor / Uploader
- Delivery Manager
- Subject Matter Experts
One person may fulfil multiple roles of course, and there may be even more people required such as illustrators, translators, marketeers and many more. Whatever roles are agreed to be required, there must be clear tasks and responsibilities assigned to those so all involved know the remit of what they are required to do.
Selling in a Dedicated Content Delivery Team
This is the hard part. Content is often seen as being an extra; an optional item in a scoping document and an additional cost that is the first to be scratched off the list of deliverables.
Here are some common push backs from clients and stakeholders on investing in content:
- We will write the content ourselves.
- We’ll use the existing content.
- Let’s launch with what we have and then circle back to content.
- There’s some new draft content somewhere, we’ll fire that over.
Oh! Well in some cases they may have the right people on the team to write the content themselves. And perhaps the existing content is in the right style and does meet either a user need, business goal or both. Perhaps.
It’s unlikely though that this is the case, so if these statements are accepted the two main problems that arise are:
- Content is never delivered (because it takes more time than expected).
- Poor quality content gets published.
That means that the website never gets finished, or it is launched with content that won’t allow users to achieve their tasks and won’t drive the business goals that are desired. It really is that simple.
A dedicated and carefully assembled content delivery team ensures content doesn’t delay projects and thwart schedules and budgets. Though there will be an up-front/additional cost, the money and time saved during the project can justify this investment. It also keeps people focused on their own jobs and areas of expertise.
If you’re met with resistance for investing in a content delivery team, argue the business case using the pains outlined above. It can be a hard sell but remind those who have to agree that the long term benefits far outweigh the short term gains of spending less upfront. Your business and your clients will thank you in the end.