You Need a Content Plan

We were having a staff meeting recently and talking about new and upcoming projects. We realized that about half of them somehow involve creating a content operations plan for our clients. We’re delighted to see folks getting serious about operations — but what does that mean?

There are a several facets to ongoing content operations, or content management. We’ll presume for the moment that you have an overarching content strategy — a business strategy that explains how content helps you meet your organization’s goals and your audience’s needs. That’s always step 1.

But even if you have an overall strategy, you may need to focus on how some of the details work in practice. You need to know how you’re going to solve what Jeffrey MacIntyre several years ago called the “Day 2 problem” — you created content for launch. Now it’s Day 2 of your website — what’s next?

Your content plan might take you in one or more of these directions:

  • Add more like you already have
  • Add new categories of content
  • Review and revise or remove current content [on a schedule or when a trigger event happens]

Most importantly, you’ll have to figure out who’s going to make decisions about all these things, and how. While you may think deciding what goes on the home page is political, just wait til you want to decide WHO gets to decide.

I’m super-excited that Lisa Welchman’s long-awaited book is now available on just these topics. You’ll definitely want to check that out.

On many of the content plans we’ve worked on, we often end up breaking things up into roles and tasks, and only at the very end do we match names to roles. For instance, you might say:

Role Tasks
Chief Content Officer
  • Convene content team for quarterly meetings
  • Represent content strategy to C-suite
  • Guide and advise overall content strategy
  • Serve as the content owner for the org
  • Guide product managers in making content decisions according to standards decided by content team
Product Manager
  • Serve as the content owner for a product
  • Coordinate content work between editors and product team
  • Outline content strategy for product
  • Work with product manager, content creators to execute content strategy for product
  • Assign content creation and review needs to creators
  • Ensure finished content meets standards
  • Publish content to production
Content Creator
  • Create, review content as assigned
  • Adhere to content standards

That’s a pretty basic look at a content roles/tasks structure. You’ll see that most of the tasks don’t actually involve creating content — instead, they’re focused on creating the right environment and set of standards for content to be created.

When I talk about a content plan, it’s this piece I’m most interested in. Yes, we need a schedule. Yes, we need topics to publish. But if we haven’t decided who and how we’ll decide, we don’t have a plan yet.

If you need help creating a content plan for your organization, Creek Content can help.

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