Building a digital content team: Lessons from publishing and tech comm

It's time to pick your team

  • By Team CSI
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  • Nov 28 2017
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  • Categories: Articles

Who do you need on your digital content team? Is it more important to cover every skillset with experts, or to focus on the most common tasks? We look to two content-focused industries to learn what works: publishing and technical communications.

Lessons from publishing

  • Publishers typically hire well-trained writers and journalists who know how to engage an audience, tell a story, and write to standards. They write copy that is concise, tight, and impactful.
  • The entire team works together to meet tight deadlines, supported by clearly defined systems, processes, and responsibilities. Writers who consistently miss deadlines won’t last long.
  • Publishers employ editors who keep a finger on the pulse of their audience and plan content well ahead of time. There are also editors who are responsible for developing and maintaining ready-to-go processes to quickly create and publish unplanned content when necessary.

Lessons from the technical communications industry.

  • Tech-comm teams lead the content world when it comes to standards and structure. These writers are familiar with consistently structured content types and components, and writing to design constraints.
  • Tech-comm teams are often closely connected with usability and user-experience departments. They love plain language and user-centred writing, and test their content with real users.
  • Tech-comm is the industry that brought us intelligent content and content reuse. DITA and XML were originally created so that tech-comm teams could effectively reuse content across different publications platforms. Tech-comm teams are the experts when it comes to writing and governing component-based content for reuse.

What does this mean for digital teams?.

Both publishing and tech-comm industries are very clear about the type of content they’re producing, for who, and how often.¬†Digital content teams should be equally clear about these things.

If you’re building a content team, ask yourself:

  • Is story-telling and customer engagement a high priority?
  • Is content reuse and customized content experiences super important?
  • Do we need to design for both?

Tips for building your content team

To get your team off to a good start, follow these tips:

  • Know what kind of content you’re producing, for who, how much, and how often.
  • Know why you’re creating content, and the intended impact on the audience and your business.
  • Hire the right writers.
  • Hire a content leader.
  • Develop systems, processes, and support tools to enable writers to meet tight deadlines.
  • Plan for future content needs, and exceptions for unplanned content.
  • Get to know your audience, and test your content with your audience whenever possible.
  • If content reuse is important for your company, understand the skill sets and processes required to write component-based content.
  • Provide continual training and professional development opportunities.

Further reading

Keep it together: Implementing a content strategy working group

Content leaders: manager, strategist, or practitioner? 

Our content strategy services