“Content is the gateway drug of small organizations.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Your organization probably needs to create more content than it is right now.
Like, much more.
In fact, it’s maybe the only way to accomplish some of your big organizational goals. Do you want to become a thought leader? You need quality content for others to critique. Trying to drive more online traffic? Good content brings conversions. Need to remain relevant to your audience? You have to consistently share valuable content.
It’s time for organizations (and especially mission-focused organizations) to really invest in their content. That means figuring out the structure of your communications team and hiring strategically. In the same breath, I’ll say that that’s all easier said than done.
Your Content Squad
Ideally, we all have the budget to hire a full team of highly-specialized people to produce and maintain our organization’s content. But, back here on planet Earth, that’s rarely the case. Maybe you’re a one-person show holding it all together. Maybe you have a small team, but there’s still too much to do.
So, what’s the best way to ensure you have a well-oiled content machine? You build your own content squad!
Whether you have the resources to build a content squad today or you’ll have to wait a little while, planning ahead (and dreaming!) is essential, especially as people move in and out of your organization. You can also tap into contractors as necessary.
The responsibilities of a solid content squad fall under three vital roles:
The managing editor is the linchpin of your content marketing squad. They generate ideas and act as project managers, sourcing subject matter experts and running point on the execution of each piece of content. They do all the logistical framework that makes the work of the rest of the team as dynamic as possible. A good managing editor is obsessive about details, deadline-conscious, has serious copyediting chops, and checks their ego at the door.
More than that, a managing editor prioritizes content governance. It’s not just about publishing, but also maintaining, updating, and leveraging existing content to get it in front of more people. Time waits for no (wo)man…or blog post. As long as you’re publishing content, there should be as much focus on keeping it fresh and up-to-date as there is on creating it in the first place. Our own agency has adopted a best practice to update older content, especially if we know that it’s popular among our audiences.
Repeat after me: If everything else is equal, hire the better writer.
If everything else is equal, hire the better writer.
It’s simply not enough to hire a technically strong writer. It seems crazy to say, but mastery of elements like grammar, punctuation, usage, and syntax only go so far. You’re looking for someone who can bring your content to life and make people want to read it.
Here’s a good test for hiring a writer: Have them write something for you about your organization. If it can hold your attention as someone intimately involved with the organization’s day-to-day, there’s a good chance it’ll captivate the audiences you’re trying to reach.
Always hold out for a strong writer with the power to weave a good story. Desired skills include curiosity, flexibility, and the ability to accept editing. Look for personality and someone who can bring ideas to the table, and the rest will follow.
Good design is no longer a luxury, it’s the cost of entry. Remember, bad design breeds distrust. Having a designer on the team helps extend what you’re able to do with your content. 65% of people are visual learners, and social media content will generate almost double the views if it contains visual elements (Source). Design is not always a high priority for budgeting (and not having a designer won’t break you), but giving your organization a unique visual identity is ideal.
When it comes to hiring a designer, you’re looking for someone prolific. Speed is important if they’re your only designer. This may be a great opportunity for a junior-level or even an entry-level designer. Look for someone who is user-focused, social media savvy, and can bring new ideas to the team.
Building your content squad won’t happen overnight—it’ll take some strategy and potentially some restructuring. Combine roles where it makes sense to staff the team that you need with the resources you currently have. Something is always better than nothing, and your organization (and your audiences) will surely benefit.
Need some help organizing your content? Read my colleague Caroline Fothergill’s post “Creating the Perfect Editorial Calendar – A Cinderella Story.”