I’m allergic to complexity, at least when it comes to content. So when I tried to find a simple org chart to help organizations visualize their own content team, I couldn’t find anything quite simple enough. So because I didn’t major in PowerPoint, I drew one with a Sharpie instead. (Also, my artistic “skills” reinforce the need to keep my day job. Ha.)
Right now, you are probably thinking two things:
1. Ann should stick to writing;
2. There are six heads in this org chart… Holy Toldeo! Does that mean we need to add six people to payroll?
To quote Honest Toddler: NOPE.
Rather, these are roles not staff positions. Each role might be filled by one person or perhaps by a dozen, depending on the size and complexity of your own organization.
That chart is based on a conversation I had with Michael Brenner a year or so ago (and that’s my rendering of Michael in the lead position there) when I asked him to share what his team looked like. Michael is VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP, and he graciously sent me back something that looked like this to me:
I’m joking. It wasn’t quite that bad. But nonetheless, the chart Michael shared was impressively substantial. Meanwhile I was looking for something more streamlined, with the functions more distilled.
In other words: What is a model that would help any organization visualize their content team, even without the budget of an SAP (or without Red Bull’s or Chipotle’s billion dollars)?
Why? Because I want every organization to embrace the incredible opportunity that all of us now have as publishers. Publishing is a privilege; we shouldn’t squander it. Yet many companies are. As my friend Joe Pulizzi said, “Every company is already a publisher. But there are two types… those that know it and those that don’t.” (I love that.)
I hope the simplicity of this chart underscores the idea that making the leap to publisher is doable if you know what you’re… well, doing. And as I learned in my journalism days: “No one will complain because you made something too easy to understand.”
Here’s the content team org. chart breakdown.
This might be a chief content officer, or a content manager, or a VP of content. I favor a C-level title, because it’s just that critical to any organization.
This is the person who sets the content strategy throughout the organization, the one who answers these big questions and more: What is our bigger story? What are we trying to accomplish here? Who are we talking to? How are we going to produce and sustain a content program? How will we know if it’s working? Where are we putting all this content? What are we going to do next?
If you were trained in journalism, like I am, you might notice that the bigger questions a content strategist considers are not unlike the overarching Who-What-When-Where-Why questions that every news article answers. It’s a similar sensibility, which is why I like the idea of journalists as content strategists, such as at Kapost, HubSpot and Qualcomm. Only, instead of answering those questions on a particular news story, a strategist answers them more broadly on behalf of the organization.
Worth noting is that this person often doesn’t touch any content. They don’t create or produce much content at all.
But, that said, please hire a content strategist who nevertheless does create content on a regular basis. Producing content might not be part of his or her current job description, but content creation is still so much in their DNA that they can’t help themselves.
For more on this role, see:
- How to Hire a Chief Content Officer: 11 Key Traits
- Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson’s book is a rich, substantial look at content strategy and the strategist, kind of like the bock beer of content.
Editorial Director. This might be called a managing editor, or (sometimes) a content director. This person is a doer, implementing strategy. In my experience, many brands skip the content strategist role and go straight to hiring a doer like this. Which is fine, assuming that the editorial director also has an eye on big-picture strategy.
This is the person who maintains an editorial calendar and hires or nurtures content creators (writers) and content producers (video and audio creators) and designers (who can and should differentiate the look and feel of your content). Those creators might be freelance or staff—again, depending on your budget.
This role also understands search, and he or she believes that the world would be an inherently less confusing place if it had more copyeditors scouring every bit of content produced on the Web, in print, and on restaurant menus and municipal street signs. (I’m kind of joking about that.)
(But not really.)
For more on this role, see:
- How to Hire a Great Editorial Director in Kapost
- We talk a lot about this role in Content Rules, too.
This is an often-overlooked role in the content team, but it’s an important part of the content publishing process. Often, it’s not a separate role, it’s part of a job above and/or below.
Your content curator scours sources on the Web for the news, developments, and resources that your audience will find interesting, or that your content creators can use to enhance their expertise and (therefore) create better content. He or she is constantly watching and listening for information. Filtering the best stuff and sharing it with your audience either directly or through your content creators makes you a go-to source; in other words, it enhances your credibility.
There are tools—free and not—that help you streamline the task of finding and sharing good content to share or inform other bits of content. Some are free or low-cost—like Feedly, Scoop.It, Newsle—and some are geared more toward the mid- or enterprise market with more functionality and higher pricing, such as Curata and TrapIt.
For more on the role content curation plays, see:
As the Curator pulls the great stuff inside an organization, the Syndicator shares it out.
Content syndication is the process of sharing your content with third-party sites or in social media—either in full (in partnership with other compatible Web properties) or as a link or teaser (such as on social media platforms liked Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, or through tools like Outbrain.)
And speaking of sharing, make sure all of your content is outfitted with social bling (or sharing buttons) to allow stupid-simple sharing on the major social platforms (I’m always surprised at how often this simple step is overlooked).
(This is probably a good time to point out that the syndicator is not a snowman, as depicted. I just ran out of hair options to draw. See the part about “keeping day job,” above.)
For more, see:
Content Analytics Expert
This is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? How will you know what’s working unless you are constantly looking at your data? Is your content meeting the objectives your strategist set? How’s your audience reacting? How well is your content fulfilling stated business goals?
For more on what metrics matter, see:
- 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, the latest research report we produced in partnership with the Content Marketing Institute
This person is the one who physically puts the content onto the website, or uploads it to YouTube, or figures out how to syndicate your podcast on iTunes. He or she ensures that your website works, in other words: ensuring functionality, handling software and platform updates, monitoring and assessing website performance, updating content.
You might have someone from IT handle this, or your website designer might continue to manage your site for you after the initial project, or your editorial director might handle the day-to-day “putter-upper tasks,” as Gerry McGovern once called it.
If this sounds low-level, it’s not. This person is the glue that holds the operation together. When he or she goes on vacation, everyone should panic.
So that’s my simplified, distilled look at a content team, with necessary data, creative and social components baked in. Again, these are roles, not necessarily people. You might have many site managers, for example, with various areas of expertise. You might have a few Editorial Directors, too, with various responsibilities. Or you might just have one or two people to fulfill all of these rolls.
The bottom line is this: Be sure someone is responsible for every role in this process. And, below, let me know below what I missed.