Content strategy and editorial planning

Content strategy encompasses the entire content lifecycle, from creation through to ongoing content management including updating and removing information. The starting point often requires a thorough analysis of what content exists, as well as a meeting to determine who the stakeholders are and what they consider priorities. This step alone solves many of the questions for businesses.

A typical content strategy project involves the following:

Phase 1: Planning for agreement and the big picture

  • Identify stakeholders. Determine key business objectives and get everyone in agreement on what constitutes success and a final product.
  • Conduct a content audit of what exists. This includes looking at the websites and their existing content to identify what is out of date, as well as thinking about where content has been posted or distributed over the years such as social media or abandoned (zombie) sites.
  • Set a budget and decide what tools are worth paying for (social media tools to plan schedule posts? AdWords budget?).

Phase 2: Establish who does what and define their workflows

  • Identify who will be the content creators and how much they can realistically produce (can the marketing team handle all the writing, what does a videographer cost, etc).
  • Create the content approval cycle and establish any restrictions (can the CEO really approve every blog? Does legal have notes?).
  • Create an editorial calendar with the type of content, the dates it is due, and the dates it will publish. Planning here prevents surprises and panic later. Consider major holidays and other opportunities. Your staff will thank you for this.

Phase 3: Create and share style guides and measurements of success

  • Establish a style guide (how do we talk about the brand, what’s verboten, what is the tone?) and set standards for frequent events (how to respond to comments, who manages things when someone goes on vacation?).
  • Review if information is properly structured, and test it for usability on different devices. Have several people try it out and give feedback. Can they find what they need to, quickly and painlessly? Content structure prevents labyrinth websites.
  • Set success metrics, including what will be measured, how often, and how to celebrate content creators. Plan to create reports for different teams (weekly, monthly, annual) as needed so everyone sees the value in creating content.

Phase 4: Make a governance plan (aka zombie prevention)

  • Identify the content owner who will remove expired content and update info as it changes (who will take down the holiday special ad? Who will sweep through to ensure contact information changes when staff do?).
  • Plan for the next round of review and decision making. Set a budget for tools or staff that weren’t available this time but could be worked in next time.