A Collective Approach to Content Creation, this week’s DistilledLive video

Hot on the tails of our last guide on brand tone of voice, we’re busy working on another training resource on how to create focused content. It only seemed fitting, then, to ask our Content Coordinator (and one of the brains behind the project) Kyra Kuik to host this week’s DistilledLive on that very subject.  

In the video below, Kyra gives us the lowdown on the structure of a content team and who’s really responsible for all those internal tasks, as well as a number of tools to help you track those different campaigns.

You can read the full transcript just here.

Over to you, dear reader

Who is responsible for establishing goals and devising strategies in your team? And how have you worked to keep your content focused and ‘on-brand’? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

DistilledLive | Creating a Content Team

Hi everybody, my name is Kyra Kuik. I’m Distilled’s Content Coordinator, based out of our Seattle office. And I’ve talked a bit previously about how content is absolutely vital for creating a passionate customer base. And building on that, we have a content strategy that’s launching in the beginning of April, which will show you in detail how to create that passionate, evoking content from beginning to end.

However, in order to create that content, you have to have the internal structure in place to do so. You need to create a content team, and that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today. We’re going to cover three points; the actual team structure, creating guidelines for consistency, and creating a framework for actually producing content.

First of all, team structure. The responsibilities of a content team can really be divided into three main roles; writers, editor, and team lead. So, at the top, your most senior position is your team lead. And then just below that, you have you managing editor, and below your editor you have your various writers.

In terms of responsibilities, your team lead is responsible for developing your overarching content strategy. This includes everything from audience research, persona creation, defining and executing goals, choosing metrics to measure, all of that detailed, strategic side of things. And then they’re also responsible for hiring and making sure that your team’s on track to meet your larger goals.

Your managing editor is responsible for actually creating the framework for content production. So, assigning jobs to writers, revising, choosing content titles, choosing launch dates, varying the media format of your content. And they’re also responsible for, obviously, editing all your content and ensuring consistency in brand voice, style, and structure.

So then your writers are responsible for brainstorming, writing all the content, revising as per the editor’s feedback, and giving feedback on the overall progress of your content team.

Once you have your team structure in place, we can talk about work flow. So, first off, you have your editor who’s going to assign a job to a writer. The writer writes the piece, sends it the editor. The editor is going to going to edit, and then the writer will make the revisions. Once the final piece is done, you can publish it, and then you’ll have to promote it. And then, once it’s been live for a bit, then you can track the success of the piece.

Now that you have your team structure in place, you need to create guidelines for consistency. And this will inform how you collectively approach content. So, if you have, you know, three or four writers, all with varying writing styles, and an editor with his or her own style, that’s going to create kind of a hodge-podge of content. And you want your content to sound the same. You want your brand to have a distinct voice.

One way to achieve that is by creating a content persona. And this is different from buyer personas. So, your content persona basically is the personality of your content, or the mascot for you content. And you have to answer a couple of questions when you’re creating your content persona; What’s your purpose? Why are you here? Are you here to delight, inform, or educate? What’s your personality? How do you approach content? Are you casual? Are you playful? Are you witty or are you serious?

And then you have to decide how you want your reader to react to you; Do you want them to be inspired? Do you want them to be motivated? Do you want them to take action? Do you want them to feel like they’ve really gained something of value?

And so once you have your content persona established, you’ll need to create a style book. And these are guidelines for specific pieces of content. So, it’ll include strategies to achieve brand voice, complete with detailed with examples, and it’ll include information on structure; subheadings, bullet lists, numbering, that sort of thing, the details, the nitty-gritty that your writers need to know. You’ll also want to include information on the point of view you want to use; first, second, or third person. And how do you want to address the audience? And you’ll also want to include standard spelling or abbreviations. And this is big deal for Distilled, for example, because we have offices in the UK and the US, so when collaborate on content, we have to decide; are we using American, or are we using British spelling?

So, next you want to establish your writer guidelines. These are the basic expectations or the processes that your writers can rely on. You’ll want to include information on your deadline policies, plagiarism, the quality of content you expect, that sort of thing. And you’ll want to include information on how jobs are assigned exactly; how do you manage a fair work flow?

And writers will also want to know about your editing policy. If an editor doesn’t like anything about a particular piece, how long does the writer have completely rewrite that? And what are the policies on deadline extensions? And what are the consequences if they’re not met? You can also include a general FAQ section to help your writers out.

Now that your team structure in place, and your guidelines for consistency, you can create a framework for content production. The easiest way to do this is by creating an editorial calendar. This is more than just a scheduled blog post, this is a detailed calendar that will keep your team and other departments on the same page. For example, if you have really huge piece of content that you’re launching and you need PR time, you need marketing budget, your editorial calendar is the place where all those departments can collaborate and find the same information for what needs to get done.

It’s great place to also track what does and doesn’t work. If you have a piece of content scheduled, and you can go back and say, “Okay, these were our goals, did we actually meet those goals? What’s the success of the piece?” And it acts as a score card, or a record, of all you published content. And it ensures you add enough variety to your content mix. I mean, if your goal is add more video content, you do that. You can specifically go in and say, “Okay, I’m adding five more videos this month to our content list.”

So, the type of information you want to include; Post date, when is it launching? Who’s the author? If you have more than one editor, who’s responsible for editing? What’s the title? You need a short a description so everybody can stay up to date on what it’s covering specifically. You’ll need your publication channel; so is this going on YouTube? Is it going on your blog? Is it a Tweet? Where is it going? You’ll also want the status. Is it being drafted, revised, edited? Has it already been published? What’s it doing right now? You’ll need your metrics and goals. What do you want do want to accomplish with this piece, and how are you measuring that specifically. And then any important notes that editor needs to keep track of.

And so, sometimes, an editorial calendar, that’s a lot of information, and it can feel really overwhelming, but there’s a lot of tools that can help you do this effectively. My favorite is Excel, because there’s just so many functionalities. But you can also use Google Calendar. If your company already uses Gmail, that’s a really way to do it. And you can also use Trello or any sort of other app that helps you keep track of tasks.

So, again, ahead of content strategy guide that’s launching in April, you need to actually have a content team in place to create that strategic content. And so when you’re thinking about creating a team, you need to think about team structure, guidelines for consistency, and a framework for actually producing content.

My name is Kyra Kuik, thank you for joining us today. We hope you’ll join us next time.