How is your content created and maintained? Who does what? How do you decide what your content priorities are? The answers to these questions will help shape your content governance. The people, processes, and policies that impact content are all part of content governance. A governance plan can provide clarity and transparency to your team and your stakeholders. Ideally, content governance would be part of your overall content strategy.
Effective content governance can:
- Clarify roles and responsibilities for content owners.
- Establish a basis to manage content strategically.
- Help content owners plan, prioritize, and allocate resources.
- Guide decisions throughout the content lifecycle.
Get started with content governance and become a content hero!
Make it specific
Content governance, like your content strategy, needs to address the specific issues facing your organization. Changes you recommend should solve a problem or create an opportunity. While there are common pain points and best practices, people need to see their issues represented in a governance plan to get on board.
Examples of how governance can address specific issues:
- Cross-channel coordination: If you don’t have consistent messaging across content channels, an editorial calendar can help align content owners by communicating content priorities, plans, and schedules. Your calendar could be high-level or more granular, depending on your needs. Your governance plan can describe the purpose of the editorial calendar and how it will be managed.
- Legacy content: If you have lots of legacy pages that no one owns, then establishing ownership and content owner responsibilities is needed. Your governance plan can include how often you conduct a content inventory, who will do it, how to establish ownership, and how to prioritize. Governance can help ensure that your content has end-to-end business ownership.
Figure out what’s happening now
To shape your governance plan you need to first understand what’s happening now. Map your current workflow. Document what it takes to create and manage content at your organization. Use real examples, like blog posts or videos, and gather the people involved to talk through the process. This can help everyone understand the steps, and the costs, of your current workflow.
- Each stage of the process (drafting, editing, reviewing, publishing, revising, retiring, archiving)
- People involved at each stage and what they do
- System access requirements
- Standards compliance
- Reviews and approvals
- Pain points
Once you have a sense of your current process think about what’s working and what isn’t. Now you can start creating your governance plan.
Put it in writing
Think about what you need most and write it down. It could be accountability, documented processes, a shared vision, or something else. Start with the most important thing and iterate. Your governance plan could include any or all of the following components:
- Vision for how your content is managed
- Roles and responsibilities for everyone involved
- Priority principles (i.e., What makes something a priority?)
- Content lifecycle (end-to-end, from creation to retirement)
- Before-you-publish checklist
- After-you-publish checklist
- Standards and policies
- Points of contact and where to go for help
- Content community opportunities (standing meetings, Slack channels, brown bags, listservs)
Links to key resources:
- List of content owners and corresponding areas of responsibility
- Content inventory
- Editorial calendar
- Style guide
Develop your plan with content owners and other stakeholders. Your governance plan should alleviate one or more pain points you identified together. Governance should be specific, transparent, and clear. If these changes represent major shifts, determine what support and resources you’ll need to make progress. Culture change takes time and persistence. This is often the most challenging aspect of improving content governance.
Start small and keep going. Create a roadmap that aligns with your vision to plan your governance work. Remember, your content governance plan is content. The plan needs to be owned and maintained. Notice what’s working, what isn’t, and iterate.
- How agile and lean principles can improve content strategy and governance (Josh Tong blog post)
- Content strategy and life cycle (USDA Digital Strategy Playbook)