Most successful content operations involve passionate and skilled people.
But those people don’t need to stay in their traditional organizational structure or hierarchy. As long as they have a shared passion for great content, they can come together regardless of their everyday role or department.
At Corteva Agriscience, we created a content council to advise, support, and advocate for successful content operations and implementation. Let me walk you through the process and share how we’ve done it.
Step 1: Create a charter
Create documentation explaining why and how the council exists. Answer these questions to create your charter:What is the council’s purpose? This is the North Star for all activities. What are the roles of the council members? Do any of them have specific responsibilities? Is there a leader? Where are the boundaries? Spell out what the council will do and identify what the council will not do. These help the council prioritize ideas and activities. Is the council permanent? Does it exist for a specified time? What are the criteria for disbanding it?
Step 2: Get buy-in and nominations from leaders
Bring leaders into the process early. Explain the purpose and goals of the council. It also is important to make the time commitment and expectations clear. In most cases, participating on the council is an add-on to the members’ heavy workloads. Get buy-in from more than the content marketing people. It’s important that the council isn’t another silo in your organization, so everybody can learn from each other.
At my company, marketing teams are present in most of the countries where we do business, and each team has a leader. We also have regional marketing leaders and corporate communication leaders in many of our countries and regions.
I asked our marketing and communications leaders to nominate people to be on the council. I sought council members who were passionate about content and content marketing and had influence with their peers and extended marketing teams.
Our council meets one hour every month. Each member volunteers to create a piece of internal content (blog post, infographic, resource, etc.) once every six months. Because we were not requiring a huge time commitment, we did not get any pushback from the leaders. All of them were excited to have their team members learn more about content marketing and content best practices.
Step 3: Build the council
The nominees from your leaders have their seats on the council, but don’t stop there.
I added several people who either expressed an interest in content marketing, showed out-of-the-box thinking when planning content campaigns, or excelled in creating effective content. They have influence among their peers. They are willing to advocate for good content practices and use content marketing to educate our audience and to build brand advocates.
Our 40-member council represents a variety of countries and functions. Approximately 25% of our council comes from corporate communications functions and 75% from marketing. We have representatives from every region and 14 countries. And we always are willing to have others join the council. (The more, the merrier!)
Step 4: Make a plan
You need to identify how the council will fulfill its purpose as identified in Step 1.
Our council works along two tracks: content and content marketing (which as you know are not the same thing). These two tracks, as detailed in the chart below, reflect our industry’s relatively new use of content marketing as a holistic strategy to build brand advocates and provide value beyond our products. It has traditionally focused only on the content side – pure product marketing.
Our council created a global content philosophy, which answers, “What do we want our content to do?” and “How should our content make people feel?” The council brainstormed and agreed on 10 criteria by which all our content must abide. We then socialized it with the marketing and communications teams.
Another core function of our council is to “raise all boats” in terms of understanding content and content marketing throughout the organization. To accomplish this, we choose one topic a month and use different types of content to help our marketers understand it. Whether it be a video on SEO, a content audit checklist, or an infographic on the purpose of content road mapping, the in-house educational content is created by council members.
Council members can choose to create content for the topics they are interested in either because it’s their expertise or they want to learn more about it. I meet with the council members who volunteered a month before their topic is scheduled. We talk through what would be valuable for people to learn and what content types would be appropriate to create. If a council member is more comfortable writing, they may create a blog post. If they are more comfortable with design, they may create an infographic.
We also consider the information we are conveying when determining the content type. For some types of content, a checklist is more appropriate than an interactive graphic. Or a video might be a better format than a blog post. When people are passionate about the content they are creating, that makes the content better. Our team members then share that content across all our internal channels – Yammer, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Outlook. We share one piece of content each week on the topic, then we send a wrap-up email at the end of the month.
The council members also share best practices with each other. Each meeting includes a roundtable where council members can ask how others are tackling a certain content challenge. Some members share content campaigns they have run and explain the process to develop it. Since we are rolling out a new content marketing platform, current users share how they are using it with other council members.
Connect the company
Even though our departmental teams can be highly siloed, the content council’s cross-geographic and cross-functional representation helps us maintain connections at a high level. Learning from each other can be highly beneficial to smaller teams who may not have the resources or an agency to assist in their marketing efforts. They can learn from larger teams who have tested different content applications or content marketing campaigns.
That last, important purpose of the council is to advocate for content best practices and content marketing as a strategy. Members often are the eyes and ears locally. They see across marketing campaigns. They are in meetings where they can help reinforce our guidelines, content philosophy, and processes. In a large organization, this type of network of advocates is invaluable.
Whether you are in a large, global organization like me or a smaller company with several business lines, creating a content council is possible. And advisable.
Catch Andi Robinson’s presentation, Building a Content Marketing Program in a Complex Global Organization, with Content Marketing World on demand. Sign up today to access dozens of breakout sessions and keynote presentations over the next six months.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute