Real talk: Content marketing is still fairly new. While most companies, big and small, are publishing some kind of content at this point (whether it’s a blog post every six month or a robust, active calendar of ebooks, research reports, emails and infographics), we’re all still figuring out what an ideal content marketing team looks like. And when I say “we,” I mean Rep Cap, too. We’ve been helping clients as a content-focused agency for four years now, and we’re still learning what staffing solutions work best.
We hear the same questions from smart marketers all over the country: Who should be in charge of my company’s blog? Should I hire an in-house writer or outsource that work? How can I staff my team so that content isn’t such a chore? How involved should the CMO get in the day-to-day production?
To help answer these questions, we wrote a guide to building a content marketing engine, which includes a handy staffing chart.
You need people on your team to write, edit, design, report and strategize. But most of all, I think you need a managing editor. Here’s why.
What Does a Managing Editor Do?
I see a managing editor as the person who owns content at an organization. It’s her job to:
- Work with other leaders in sales and marketing to develop a content strategy based on big-picture business goals.
- Create an editorial calendar based on that strategy.
- Manage the process for getting individual pieces of content created. At bigger organizations, that might mean overseeing a full content team of writers, editors, designers and marketers. At a small company, that might mean actually creating the content. In either case, the “team” could include in-house staff, outsourced freelancers, or a combination — but it’s the managing editor’s job to make sure all those roles are filled.
- Review content before it’s published. The managing editor should be the final set of eyes on every piece of content before it’s published. This is an important step, and one I think too many companies are missing. The managing editor makes sure all content fits brand and editorial guidelines and helps the organization meet business goals. If the managing editor’s team is functioning properly, this is a quick step.
Who Should the Managing Editor Be at My Organization?
Depending on the organization, a content marketing managing editor may be a full-time role or just a significant part of another team member’s job. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies making is having someone too senior or too junior in this role.
Here are two scenarios in which things go wrong:
- In many mid-size, high-growth companies, the CMO starts out as the content marketing managing editor. But as the company grows, the CMO is (rightly) focused on new customer acquisition and securing investors — not overseeing the content marketing strategy and ensuring every piece of content published aligns with that strategy. As the CMO gets busy, a backlog of content waiting to be approved for publication — or waiting to be created in the first place — grows and grows. And if you aren’t publishing, your content marketing strategy is going nowhere.
- Just as often, a junior marketing associate is assigned to “handle the blog.” He’s tasked with publishing, but he isn’t given the information about big-picture strategy he needs to create an effective content plan. Or, he doesn’t have the authority to lead a team or make decisions about content pieces, so publishing grinds to a halt — or does nothing to further the company’s marketing goals.
What Should I Look for in a Managing Editor?
The ideal content marketing managing editor has:
- Marketing and business experience. This person needs to speak the language of the C-suite. He needs to understand business goals, see the plan to acquire new customers, and be able to translate that information to other employees and the organization’s external audience.
- Strong writing and editing skills. A managing editor is comfortable writing and editing and can make sure all content (written content, visual content, and everything in between) is consistent with brand guidelines.
- Collaboration skills. She will need to work with different people to get content created and published. She should be able to develop relationships with marketing, sales, product and customer service leaders to keep content ideas flowing throughout the organization.
- Time to spend on content. At a small organization, this role might not be a full-time job, but the managing editor still needs time for planning and execution to keep the content plan from stalling.
- Project management savvy. There are a lot of steps involved in creating a great piece of content, and the managing editor has to divvy them up and ensure they get done on schedule.
- Analytical skills. These are necessary to interpret content performance data and make good decisions based on it.
- Coaching and management skills. The managing editor will need to help everyone on the content team grow and improve.
Having a managing editor – a content champion within your organization who oversees both big-picture strategy and nuts-and-bolts execution – sets the tone that your company takes content marketing seriously. You’ll move beyond thinking about content marketing as tasks and to-dos, and start harnessing it as a serious growth strategy.
Want to learn about who makes up the rest of a content marketing dream team? Download Rep Cap’s new guide: