Who should be responsible for content creation within an organization? That’s the question my friend Adam Singer asked and answered and wanted to see me answer too. Who am I to disappoint?
A few others have also shared their view on the subject.
- Why PR Will Own Content — Todd Defren
- The Content Convergence Dilemma: Where’s the Content Department? — Adam Cohen
- Storytellers Will Own Content — David Bailey
In a freelance business like mine where I’m the only employee it’s an easy question to answer. I’m responsible for creating content. I do everything for this business so if content needs to be created it’s on me.
However, at a larger company with departments for marketing and public relations, seo and product development, customer service, human resources, and on and on, who should be leading the way when it comes to content creation?
As a PR guy Adam thinks public relations should lead the way and I’d agree many in PR will have the right skills.
However, no matter who is leading I understand completely: it’s not easy for any communications specialization to own content production and while I may think one is best poised to lead, certainly we’ll see this vary across organizations.
I think the answer is simply whoever is best at creating content.
That seems like a non-answer I know, but I think it’s less important which department owns content than the content be the best it can be and works to enhance the overall strategy and brand of the company.
If your best content creator is in marketing then that’s who should lead. If that person works in engineering then the engineers should be in charge.
Even though here it’s me and me alone who owns the content, I wear many hats as a freelancer and you might ask which of those hats am I wearing when working on new content? I’m glad you asked.
Which Hat Do I Wear When Writing?
I’ll try to answer Adam’s question by considering where I’m focused when creating content here. There are different types of content, of course. A typical blog post isn’t the same as a sales page, which isn’t the same as the bio I write about myself. Each has it’s own focus.
Who might be in charge? Who’s voice should lead the way.
Production — Long ago I realized I enjoy learning new things and then teaching what I’ve learned to others. Many of the product ideas I would like to explore relate in some way to creating content that helps others learn.
In many ways when I create content, especially on this blog, I’m a product guy experimenting with what would work best. I’m practicing a craft and wearing a hat solely concerned with the content for the content’s sake.
Marketing — When I first started blogging no one knew who I was and part of my reason for starting the blog was to change that.
Writing on the topics for which I offer services helps show prospective clients that I know what I’m talking about and can perform the work I claim I can on sales pages. It also gives people a voice to get to know prior to contacting me.
Even beyond clients, having content here opens up connections with others in the industry and related industries. It helps grow a network of people who can help me and be helped by me.
One of the better forms of growing an audience is to create content for other sites with an audience similar to the one you hope to cultivate.
The marketer in me is aware of all of the above when creating content.
Search — Search engines rank pages filled with content and if you want to be visible in search results you better have some content that search engines can find.
While search engines ultimately follow the people, they aren’t people themselves and have some of their own requirements about what words to use and where you might use those words.
The choice of which content to create can be directed by what content does and doesn’t do well for you in search engines. Decisions about how to structure your site to hold content is something the seo department will want a say in.
The seo in me helps choose keywords which appear in the content, helps names files and images, helps decide how to write page titles and headlines.
Social — Especially true once you’ve started building an audience is the notion that any content you create will likely get shared on one or more social networks.
An understanding of those networks can help you improve how often your ideas are shared and ultimately how much traffic they bring back to the site.
- Time of day/week content is published
- How the title is written
- Subject matter chosen
Things like the above directly affect how much content will be shared. The social media person in me keeps these things and other things in mind in order to help the ideas in the content here spread.
Who’s In Charge?
Ultimately I’m wearing all of these hats when creating content and probably a few others as well. That’s why in the end I think it’s less about which department owns content and more about getting those people who are most capable of creating content to own it.
Those people are the creatives and they exist in every department.
More than anything if I’ve had success as a blogger it’s because of all the hard work I’ve put into to becoming a better writer. In time that might expand into any work I put into creating videos or podcasts or anything else that might pass as content.
It’s not because the marketer in me owns the content or because the product guy owns it. It’s because there’s a creative in me who’s hopefully capable of creating content others want to consume.
All those other hat wearers are in there, though.
The creative in me is in constant contact with the marketer who shares the direction marketing has planned for the business. The creative is in touch with the seo who’s taught him how to write in a way that might be more appealing to search engines. The social guys come by with advice on what will have more sharing potential. And the product guy is always pushing toward refining the product itself.
None of them ultimately own the content. It’s the creator in me that drives the content.
The creative does so with the advice of all those others in mind and he does his best to please each and every one, however none of them have final say in what gets published or what the content looks like.
The creator understands the purpose of each piece of content generator and understands who’s advice is best to listen to.
The creator does and his sole goal is to create the best content he’s capable of creating, because if he does you’ll be back for whatever he creates next.
He also knows to listen to the marketing team more when writing sales copy or that the public relations department might have the best advice when it comes to writing about the company.
Your business will work best when all departments or hats are working toward the same goals with a cohesive content strategy in mind. Don’t worry about which department owns content or which hat you’re wearing when it’s being created.
Everyone in your organization needs to be working for the overall good of the organization. If they aren’t your company has more issues than who owns the content.
There are people throughout your company with the talent and desire to lead the way with content.
Choose those best capable to create content to create it and help those people understand the goals for all the other departments. Feel free to create a new department devoted to media around these people. Of just buy them a new hat to wear.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.