Our industry has been at a crossroads for a number of years. We are tasked with aligning evolving technologies with the humans that interact with those technologies. In my previous column, I discussed how we're constantly lured into a false sense of security with a preponderance of tools that should make our lives easier-but, in truth, either duplicate effort or perpetuate poor digital behaviors. No matter how many tools we use to wrangle content, we still have one constant that is very much a variable: people.
As Jim Collins notes in his business tome, Good to Great, all companies need the right people on the bus to achieve greatness as an organization. That's good if you own the company, but it presents somewhat of an issue if you are the senior editor for the marketing team. While you may be in charge of digital copy and other projects, you can't control staffing, and most likely, you've largely inherited your staffers. Therefore, you must work within the confines of the organization's content objectives and the particularities of the writer producing your content. With these challenges in mind, I've mapped out four key personas that likely produce content within your organization, as well as how to work with them effectively to get the most out of your staff members and maximize your organization's content efforts.
The recluse-Previously freed from the constraints of corporate America, the recluse now finds herself in a cube writing copy for your website.
Challenge: While she's a good writer and diligent about deadlines, she feels that everything she writes is a piece of art to be admired.
Solution: Engage the recluse by having her run certain parts of your editorial meetings. Put her in charge of the editorial calendar and aligning the collaborative tools for the team to succeed.
The detractor--A lifelong writer, the detractor has seemingly worked in every department of your business. Previously a technical writer for research and development, he now works for marketing.
Challenge: He's seen it all, and he's happy to tell you why this new content initiative will fail. The detractor is bought into the organization's initiatives, but implementing any new tool or writing process starts and ends with his adoption.
Solution: Since he's the most resistant to change, flip the script and put him in charge of researching the newest tools, technologies, and best practices.
The owner-She's watched the company grow, but feels as if, lately, it's out of her hands. She's looking for a way to regain control.
Challenge: As the leader of the company, she feels the need to have her voice heard-and what better place to start than on a blog? And she wants it on the homepage ... on a rotating hero.
Solution: Give her a game plan. Owners thrive on strict scheduling. In order for any blog or rolling content initiative to succeed, you need a predictable cadence of articles. Show her the analytics and the reality of up keeping a successful blog. Then, give her the name of a really good ghost writer-and tell her how much she costs.
The unicorn-He codes, designs, and writes. The unicorn is somehow able to maintain his coding blog and his woodworking Tumblr, as well as host the local creative mornings. He is also an organizational all-star and puts in extra hours at the office.
Challenge: Often, there are so many ideas swirling around the unicorn's head that it's hard to corral his ideas and align them with the organization's content goals.
Solution: Similar to the owner, give him a set number of topics to write about, but also put him in charge of defining metrics for the success of your digital content. Run the analytics.
No matter what tools you have in your arsenal, your content is only as strong as the individuals behind it. The more you know about the co-workers producing content, the better you can work with their core behaviors to create compelling content that engages audiences.