Content Management: Simply Complicated

I enjoyed this week’s assigned readings from Rachel Spilka’s “Digital Literacy for Technical Communication”, which I found to be quite thought-provoking. However, between the three chapters, I was most intrigued by Chapter 5, William Hart-Davidson’s “Content Management: Beyond Single-Sourcing”.

Hart-Davidson defines “content management” as “a set of practices for handling information, including how it is created, stored, retrieved, formatted, and styled for delivery” (p. 130). While this basic definition accurately summarizes my general understanding of content management, I appreciate how Hart-Davidson thoroughly explores the process while detailing its evolution.

Content Management 2

Image courtesy of Das Tor News

As Hart-Davidson explains, a Content Manager has many responsibilities, making him/her an integral cog within an organization. However, before a Content Manager can take on such responsibilities, a content strategy must first be devised and implemented, preferably by the Content Manager AND his/her colleagues. If this crucial first step is skipped, the content will not maintain consistency with regard to format/style, organization, or placement. Sure, the organization’s decision-makers may provide free rein to the Content Manager, allowing him/her to make executive decisions with regard to content. However, I have firsthand professional experience that suggests this could greatly backfire.

Just over two years ago, I was hired as a Content Editor for a reputable pipe & supply company on the south side of Chicago. Though a Content Editor is not the same as a Content Manager, the former belongs under the proverbial umbrella of the latter, with the two sharing several of the same responsibilities. In my role as Content Editor, I was responsible for creating and maintaining product descriptions/navigation for this company’s new eCommerce website. However, having not previously worked in the supply chain industry, I blindly stumbled into this role without a clear blueprint in place.

Regardless, having received minimal direction, I did the best I could in this role, having surprised myself and others with how well things turned out. However, despite some positive feedback from my colleagues, there were several others who were displeased with my product layout. Accordingly, this layout was reworked several times over by me and others as we aimed to create something that everyone would be satisfied with. Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly), this did not happen.

I have to imagine that no work-related project will ever appease all employees within an organization, regardless of how much time and effort goes into it. However, I firmly believe that, had my colleagues and I worked to establish a blueprint that (most of us) agreed on, this product layout would have required far fewer redos thereafter. In other words, had we actually executed the first step, the subsequent steps would have been far smoother.

Content Management 1

Image courtesy of GetRedtie

In summation of Chapter 5, my general takeaway is that the larger an organization is, the greater the amount of pressure on the organization’s Content Manager. While this may seem like common sense, I do think such an individual’s performance could “make or break” an organization’s, productivity, workflow, results, and bottom line.

About delwichej8841

Writer / Editor / Content Developer / Communication Specialist

Posted on November 3, 2018, in Blogs, Digital, Social Media, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I completely agree that it’s imperative for staff members to buy into a content strategy so that they have some ownership of it. Content Managers must constantly “feed the beast,” and it takes everyone’s input to make sure an organization is generating enough content for the many communications channels organizations have today.

    I would also add that the Content Manager (CM) and the Content Strategy must have the full support of senior leaders in an organization. It’s essential that the CM has the authority needed to implement the strategy. He or she must be able to make assignments, then hold staff members accountable for providing the assigned content and meeting deadlines.

    It is also helpful for a Content Manager to oversee a budget and have hiring/firing authority. If the CM does not have direct reports, he or she should be able to hire vendors and freelancers who take the direction of the CM.

    Thanks for your post.

    Angie

    • Hi Angie,

      Thank you for your feedback and insight.

      You make some excellent points, all of which I agree with. Most notably, for a Content Manager to be successful, he/she would need their superiors AND subordinates to buy into the content strategy as a whole.

      Also, yes, if a Content Manager has crucial responsibilities, then he/she should certainly have the authority to make executive decisions, including but not limited to hiring/firing.

      Thank you!
      Jeff

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