As marketing content becomes more complex – touching various systems, translated into multiple languages, published across all kinds of channels – managing and maintaining it does, too. Although technologies, such as content hubs, do much to organize, store, and help direct the flow of your content, the human part of content creation and management still needs to be handled. Enter content governance, or the shared policies and procedures for how, when, why, and by whom content is created and published. In another post, I briefly discuss what content governance is and why it’s important.
Content governance represents organizational change, which is one of the reasons many companies resist creating policies and procedures to guide their content creation, approval, and publication workflows. “We’ll just handle it internally” no longer works for departments and business units as content production becomes less siloed and more reliant on shared resources. That’s why you need a Content Governance Board.
The most effective Content Governance Boards comprise members across brands, business units, and levels of responsibility. Few articles address the details, so I thought I’d offer you these five quick tips for recruiting and running your own Content Governance Board, based on Alpha Solutions’ experience across industries and from B2C to B2B clients:
- Recruit your worst offenders
- Recruit your loudest complainers
- Appoint a devil’s advocate
- Lay ground rules for participation
- Focus on successes
Recruit your worst offenders
These are the folks who buck the system – the quiet rebels who find ways to avoid accountability. Sometimes, they’re members of leadership teams who always seem to find ways to move their projects to the top of the priority list. Sometimes they’re that frustrated marketer who’s been told to “just get it done” and has created workarounds in the system to bypass bottlenecks.
Whoever they are, they’ve found the weaknesses in your workflow, and they know how to exploit them – which means they have something to teach you about getting things done more quickly and efficiently.
Recruit your loudest complainers
While your worst offenders often fly below the radar, engaging in quiet subversion, your loudest complainers are the boat-rockers, the people who have itemized, alphabetized lists of what they think is wrong with the system (and why).
Giving these complainers a chance to be heard – as well as responsibility for helping solve the issues they complain about – can be a powerful way not only of uncovering pain points more widely shared than you might suspect but also of converting complainers into advocates for the new way of doing things. Complainers who have a stake in the end product often work hard to troubleshoot the issues. And, if they aren’t willing to lend a hand to make the system better, you can always vote them off Governance Island.
Appoint a “devil’s advocate”
We’ve seen governance boards that got along so well that they were ineffective. A little managed conflict is good for creativity, so appointing a “devil’s advocate” to help you avoid “group think” is important to your success. Unsurprisingly, compliance officers make good devil’s advocates. Just make sure they don’t get carried away and grind all productivity to a halt.
Lay ground rules for participating as members
Content governance boards, like any other effective committee, need rules of conduct if they’re to operate effectively. Don’t assume you all understand each other or that you’re all adults who can handle conflict as it arises. When things get tense, having an agreed-upon set of rules to fall back on can refocus everyone and take the pressure (and blame) off anyone attempting to settle disputes.
Simple considerations like the following can save you a lot of trouble, especially when interdepartmental tensions arise:
- Attendance and contribution policies
- Roles and responsibilities for each member (which might rotate on a schedule)
- Conflict management
- Facilitation cues (e.g. what to do when someone is dominating or how to draw a shy person into the conversation)
The best governance boards cross departments and include representatives from every content touchpoint from its inception to its publication – and beyond. Therefore, it’s important that discussions focus on solving problems and optimizing processes, not on pointing fingers.
Focus on successes
The most important thing your content governance board can do is to build on what you already do well. Creating content governance is a collaborative process and sharing your own successes (as well as celebrating others’) means you’re exposing opportunities for creative problem-solving that empower people to make the changes that will allow everyone to do better.
And remember: Change isn’t easy
Because it often requires not only interdepartmental cooperation but also organizational change, content governance won’t always be easy. Just remember that new road construction is always bumpy. There are traffic jams and irate drivers and lots of digging to do. But if it’s carefully planned and communicated, with the end in mind, the effort of building that road is almost always worth the initial bumps. The same is true of getting your content governance board – and by extension, your content governance plan – up and running will yield payoffs that will help you get better control over your content and use your content hub software more optimally, which will save you a lot of trouble in the long term.