Enacting an Enterprise Editorial Strategy for Global Organizations

Grow or die. We hear it so much that it has become normal. Every day, and every minute, organizations across the world are being snapped up or are snapping up entities. Often, domestic companies are looking to grow globally, which dramatically affects the information we provide our audiences. As content professionals, we’re frequently caught in the middle.

In the wonderful world of mergers and acquisitions in the global economy, there are hidden costs and benefits for content producers and managers to be aware of. Too often, the first thought is about the content and the audience (i.e., “Will this data sheet be relevant for an Eastern European audience?”). While that is inherently important, that is very much a front-of-the-house problem. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung so much in favor of the core audiences that we are writing content for, we neglect enacting a global editorial strategy that positively affects your entire team.

As companies shift from a domestic to a global entity, several dynamics are in play, not the least of which is organizational design. A common mistake is to think that decisions made in the C-suite won’t influence your writing practices. The opposite is true; in fact, numerous organizational dynamics affect every aspect of editorial strategy. Regardless of where you sit on the decision-making tree, as content professionals, it’s important to understand the politics at play that will determine how you publish content at a global level.

If you have recently been part of a merger and/or acquisition—especially if it involves business outside of your country—it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Job security, career path, reporting structure, and location can all be unknowns or, at the very least, up for discussion. 

In addition, you are dealing with the added stress of wondering how the products or services you produce content for will be positioned within the overall business strategy. Will the brand change? Will the voice and tone be altered? What is the new approval structure? While everyone else is wondering who their boss is, you must be thinking of these long-term goals.

During any change within a business, especially as an organization enters the global economy, there is always someone who is calm, cool, and collected—and hopefully you have a good relationship with him or her. After all, as a content professional, you are thinking 10 steps ahead, specifically in relation to what your new challenges are and how they do or do not align with your new areas of business.

Having been a part of mergers and acquisitions for the past 20 years, I’ve found the best ally for my content questions (and agendas) is often the person who is the least fazed by the changes. He or she may or may not have anything to do with content. However, he or she has been through this process before and has the invaluable perspective on who to speak with and, more importantly, when it’s the right time to talk about implementing a global editorial strategy.

“But I’m just a writer—what right do I have to vocalize how this all shakes out?” First off, stop. If you feel like you don’t have a voice in your company, that’s not the right place for you. Second, anyone who can articulate a clear vision for any aspect of the business is actually a source of comfort for those who are feeling unsettled.

If you have strong opinions about what the localization effort will look like—or how the editorial calendar should change—jot them down and circle back to your calm, cool, and collected co-worker. Together, figure out who to speak with who will vocalize your open questions or solutions.

You may not have all the answers, but in taking these steps, you can lay the foundation for a successful global enterprise content strategy.   

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