Content insight / Content Strategy

Distributed content contribution model: the pros, cons and how to manage it

As the volume and importance of digital comms increases, a distributed content contribution model can prove an effective use of time and resources.
What is a distributed content contribution model?
Webpages are maintained by digitally trained subject specialists (message), not digital specialists (medium). They are the ones who know their area of the business best and can ensure the website reflects it. For example, they know if a phone number is wrong, application dates  change or a fact is incorrect.
The ‘specialists’ are trained by the Website Manager/Editor to plan, create, deliver and maintain content but the Web Ed still manages how the organisation ‘does’ digital:
What are the benefits of distributed content contribution model?
  • Remove the ‘webmaster’ bottleneck
  • Correct content is published quicker
  • Contributors have autonomy (and accountability)
  • The website becomes a shared responsibility we should all be proud of
  • Digital becomes integrated into all business functions
  • On and offline activity becomes integrated
  • Employees are skilled up
What about the downside?
  • Requires governance
  • Contributors need motivating and training
  • Someone still needs to approve content changes (to join the dots,  ensure quality, avoid duplication and conflict)
  • Can be seen as a ‘burden’/unfunded mandate not empowerment (there are plenty of arguments that this isn’t the case)
How do you manage the contributors?

Through governance: A framework through which contributors are accountable for improving the quality of their content, high standards are safeguarded and an environment for excellence to flourish is created.

  • Learning and development: Training (CMS, writing for the web, SEO, using images online, Plain English, Tone of Voice) and Knowledge and learning development (Lunch n Learn, Show n Tell, sharing hub, email bulletin, ‘Drop in’ sessions)
  • Support: Supporting documents: CMS how to guides, SEO crib sheets, ‘Before you submit’ checklist, image size cheat sheet, lines of support organogram , templates
  • Accountability: Content contributor contract and/or objectives in appraisal
The role of the Web Editor
One person must have oversight of the website, to provide the optimum user experience, prevent sprawl and ineffectiveness, and ensure the website performs well for you. They are responsible for:
  • Processes: Maintain the content production framework, digitise business processes, map processes and streamline them, ensure they are agile
  • People: Bridge skills gaps, train, ensure each webpage has an owner
  • Culture: Instil culture of customer centricity, insight sharing. Champion digital
  • Join the dots: Have an overview of the organisations digital landscape and activity, integrate messaging to avoid conflict & duplication, exploit opportunities
  • Gatekeeper: Site structure, known as Information Architecture (IA)
There are all manner of documents that supports the Editor in doing all of this – I’ll blog about them later!
For now – what do you think the benefits are? The downsides? What are your experiences?

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