Yahoo’s head of international media on managing a global content team

It’s not easy managing a content team. There’s lots to keep your eye on. Processes and tools, standards and guidelines. The people themselves.

  • By Blaine Kyllo
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  • Jun 24 2016
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  • Categories: Articles

Being able to manage all of those things is how your content director ensures that your organization has content that is optimized and consistent, content that is created efficiently, content that serves your customers while fulfilling the goals of your business.

Now imagine how difficult that job might be like if your content team was scattered across the globe.

Marie-Hélène Savard doesn’t have to imagine it. As the head of international media for Yahoo, she lives it.

Marie Helene Savard, Yahoo's global content team lead

A Montreal native, Savard lives in Toronto, but spoke with me on the phone from Yahoo’s offices in New York City. When you’re managing a global content team with offices in Asia, Europe, and South America, you tend to travel a lot.

“Culturally, not all teams operate the same way,” Savard explained. “But those are not challenges that are insurmountable.”

Savard said that there are standard processes in place for all content teams, regardless of location. “We try to have a guiding editorial voice across all regions. But then we leave it up to the different markets to adapt to what works for them.”

Some things, though, are the same around the world.

For instance, content decisions at Yahoo are made, said Savard, based on data and user behaviour. “And that doesn’t really change whether you’re in Singapore or India or Brazil or Canada,” she said.

Content success at Yahoo also comes from bringing together different departments so everyone understands their role. “That comes from very open communication and lots of cross-functional meetings where we meet our counterparts in different departments,” explained Savard.

And when new people join the company in sales or business development, she continued, their on-boarding includes time with the editors, “to really understand what they do, how they spend their day, why content is important.”

Responsible for driving growth in news, sports, finance, and lifestyle verticals across Yahoo’s priority markets through premium content experiences, Savard has continually adapted and evolved her approach to online content, and is constantly reassessing how users consume content online.

“We always have to reevaluate what we're doing to see what's working, to change the workflows, and the way that we approach content,” said Savard. “Put yourself in the shoes of a typical Internet user and talk to people around you to understand how they're getting their news. Because otherwise, it's easy to get into the silo of continuing to do the same thing.”

Regional audience trends and content preferences are also a huge consideration for Savard’s content teams.

“You can’t assume that what works in one region will work in another region, which is often the mistake of someone starting out in a role that’s international, wanting to apply the best practices from wherever they were to other regions,” she said. “A user is getting their news on Facebook in one market, in another market it might be What’s App. It might be another social network that you’ve never heard of.”

“We’ve been a global company for a long time and we have really strong editorial teams around the world, so we can share and pick up on content that’s starting to trend in one region and give it visibility to another region.”

“We can give global reach to these really great opportunities.”