Content creation for digital & print – a collaborative approach

Shifting where the content buck stops

The really interesting thing about content projects is that when they go well, the world and his wife will claim responsibility for their success – from the giddy echelons of the csuite down to the guy in the car park in the hi vis jacket.

But when a content project fails to meet targets, or overruns (time and/or budget), or simply doesn’t seem to change the universe very much, the buck stops with the content creator or team.

One reason for this is that content and its creation is still regarded as a linear process. It wends its way from idea to specification, to creation, to approval, to publish, with the ownership and control shifting along the way.

For example, the content team may feel they have complete control at the initial creation stage. But as soon as it goes into any form of approval process Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) will be all over it like a rash. But by the time it’s published they’ve lost interest and the content team (or person) will be running around like a demented banshee trying to keep the content fresh.

Collaborative content creation techniques, such as the Core Model and Pair Writing, are useful. I recently covered these off in a blog for emarketeers. But it’s also worth looking at raising overall content capability and understanding within an organisation.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock

Content capability workshops

Content capability workshops can be particularly useful in organisations where content creators (or the content creator) are less well resourced. I’ve used this approach effectively in the third sector.

The purpose is to enhance the content creation and publishing capabilities of entire organisations.

Everybody is giving a basic understanding of key areas (along with very visual and succinct handouts designed to aid topic recall). Topics covered typically include:

  • internal writing, editing, layout and publishing skills
  • developing and managing print and digital projects inhouse
  • social media
  • the importance of search
  • the role of measurement
  • collaborative creation and delivery.

Collaborative content creation and delivery

This overhauls the traditional content creation and publishing model. Rather than the skills and the means to publish being focussed on a few specific individuals, they are shared across whole departments and organisations.

It can seem a bit scary and you have to assume their will be the odd whoopsy. But if the reality is that you can’t do everything – YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO SHARE IT OUT!

‚ÄúCollaboration has no hierarchy.” Amit Ray

As well as workshops for each topic, participants are encouraged to buddy up with people outside of their normal work groups to share learning. So somebody who is really good at making website updates pairs with someone who has an eye for visual print design. Again, this is about people who show a flair for these things even if their “day job” is adding up columns of figures.

The workshops are designed to nurture a collaborative and self-motivated approach to projects (their initiation, development, management and implementation) – both web and print.

They are delivered in bite-sized sessions that can be worked in around the other activities of the day. Anything which involves lunch or breakfast seem to go down well. Who knew?

“Those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Charles Darwin

The workshops should also cover off -and collectively agree – what a workablechain of information custody looks like and who needs to be informed about what’s being done and by whom, including agreeing budgets and getting them signed off. It’s surprising how many organisations say that content responsibilities belong in one specific part of the organisation, while huge numbers of people all over the shop seem to be running cheeky little budgets for this social media campaign or that poster.

Uber critical is that the final way of working is collectively agreed and owned, even down to where master copies of templates and spreadsheets are kept. Please save me from SharePoint folders but better that than people recreating the wheel all the time, or assuming that content is someone else’s business.

If you are interested in content collaboration workshops – let me know