Proactive Content Workflows for Planned and Unplanned Content
The ability to control content is imperative to becoming a media company. Having controls in place helps deliver content that’s integrated, and it also ensures that the content shared externally is aligned with your brand’s storytelling narrative. There are two sets of workflows you should consider as you build your content governance model: proactive workflows and reactive workflows. The good news is that many of the Content Management Systems (CMS) mentioned in this book allow you to build and customize these workflows. Figure 10.4 is an example workflow for proactive (planned) content creation.
Figure 10.4 Example proactive workflow for planned content
The foundation of this workflow starts at the beginning with content planning. As discussed in Chapter 3, “Establishing a Centralized ‘Editorial’ Social Business Center of Excellence,” your Social Business CoE (or centralized editorial team) is responsible for driving the content strategy and facilitating your content planning sessions. This can be done daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly. It depends on how far out you are building your editorial calendars. Many of the topics discussed at these meetings include brainstorming content topics or themes, assigning content to various contributors, discussing historical content performance, sharing best practices, and trendspotting.
The next phase in the workflow is when the contributor submits the content for approval. This can be done via email or a CMS that has this built-in capability. After the editor is notified that there is content submitted, he or she approves the content or sends it back for revision. If approved, the editor can schedule it to be published or add it directly to the editorial calendar for the next round of approval. If not approved, the editor sends it back for revision or rejection. At that point, the contributor can choose to revise the content and resubmit it for approval.
The next phase of this workflow comes after the editor approves the content. The editor then sends the content to be approved by your brand or legal team. If approved, the content will go live at the day and time the editor scheduled it. If not approved, the content gets sent back to the editor for revision.
There are a couple of things you should remember when designing your content workflows. First, content approvals can be sequential or simultaneous. With a simultaneous approval workflow, when the content is submitted for approval, it goes to all the approvers at the same time. Each approver can “approve” or “reject” the content, and then it is sent back to the contributor. With the sequential approval workflow, the content goes through each approver in order: editor, brand, legal. In this case, for example, the legal team would not be notified that they need to approve the content until after it’s approved by the editor and the brand team.
What you find in this process is that there will always be bottlenecks in the content approval process. And based on my experience, that usually happens with the legal team. What you might want to do is build a workflow that gives each approver a certain amount of time (say, 24 hours) to approve content before it goes live. In other words, if legal does not approve the content within the allocated time, the content goes live automatically. This approach ensures that any and all approvers are held accountable in this workflow.
Having a 24-hour approval process is “nice to have” especially if you work for a large organization, but 24 hours is way too long to take to capitalize on real-time marketing. Chapter 9, “The Role of Converged Media in Your Content Strategy,” discussed Edelman’s Creative Newsroom, which is a real-time content marketing approach that can help you transform a trending conversation into a brand-relevant piece of content that resonates with your audience in hours instead of days. Figure 10.5 is an example workflow in the Creative Newsroom.
Figure 10.5 Example of a proactive workflow in the Creative Newsroom (unplanned content)
In this workflow, a community manager or monitoring team identifies a real-time opportunity to insert your brand into a trending conversation. As discussed in the last chapter, there are several tools in the marketplace today that can surface real-time trending data: the Dachis Group’s Real-time Marketing Dashboard, SocialFlow, Trendspotter, and Rt.ly. When the content is spotted, you must determine whether your brand has license to actually talk about it (that is, it’s somewhat relevant to your brand and what it stands for).
After the trend is spotted, it then kicks the Creative Newsroom operation in gear to start creating the content. Copywriters and designers are then deployed to create a piece of visual content and then submit it to the approvers. In this case, it can be the editor and brand and legal team, sequentially or simultaneously. The main difference between this workflow and the previous one is the approval time. For real-time marketing to actually be in real time, approval cycles should be no more than one hour. This is certainly much easier said than done, but if you can establish a level of trust with the approvers, specifically brand and legal, eventually you can work your way to under an hour approval time.
As much as proactive content workflows are important to your media company transformation, you must also be prepared to be reactive and respond to issues when they arise.