When your team has had conversations about producing content, it’s likely been focused on things like the topic, tone and purpose. Once those decisions are made, content simply moves into a series of tasks, assignments and deadlines to funnel through to production. But times are changing, according to Doug Kessler, creative director of Velocity Partners Ltd. “More and more, I’m seeing that process shapes content in ways that people tend not to think about at all—or if they do, it’s when it’s too late.”
During a Content Marketing Institute webinar, Re-Thinking Your Content Assembly Line, Kessler said that a typical flow for content often starts with a planner, then on to the writer, then the designer and then several other specialists who take a turn with it.
While that type of assembly-line approach might work for things like toasters, leaf blowers and other scenarios where you’re optimizing for speed and standardization, Kessler cautioned that linearity and silos should be a concern when it comes to a “content assembly line,” because it limits the creative possibilities for content. For example, if a writer’s content has been approved before it gets to the designer, the designer is limited in scope by what’s included in the copy.
In addition to options being limited as the content moves through each silo, there are other concerns as well: Each discipline doesn’t even know what’s possible from the others, changing or pivoting becomes harder to do and the clarity and initial intent of the content can become diluted as it works its way down the line.
Kessler said there’s a better way to create content: “If they’re collaborating before the copy is built, they’re solving problems together. They’re combining skills to say: How can we best tell the story?”
This type of agile collaboration, which Kessler referred to as a “content group hug,” has several key characteristics:
Multi-disciplinary from the start – Instead of being handed over from expert to expert in a silo, all of the experts are involved from the beginning.
Open to pivoting – Kessler said that, particularly for complex pieces, you can’t anticipate everything. “A lot of great content has been the result of some pretty sharp pivots—and agile collaboration is good at that.”
Fluid teamwork, not linear handovers – There is a lot more talking, sharing of ideas and challenging each other in meetings and online.
Supported by collaboration tools – Distributed teams aren’t always in the same room, but tools like can help to get people together who are in different places and different time zones.
And there are several key benefits to the content group hug. It allows you to tap into multiple experts at the same time, empowers team members to challenge each other and it makes for faster learning and pivoting.
The biggest benefit of all, however, is that “you get much, much better content optimized for impact,” according to Kessler.
“If you want to surprise people, delight people, incite action … If you want to move people and make marketing that doesn’t look like marketing all the time, then the process turns out to actually matter. And I’d go for this group hug every time over the assembly line.”