According to our State of Digital Copywriting survey almost as many content projects have 3 to 5 stakeholders as have 1 to 2 stakeholders – and having more than 3 stakeholders can quickly make managing a project unwieldy. We also discovered that when it comes to content sign-off, it’s often senior management who create the biggest dent in copy quality.
The lesson of this is simple. If you don’t manage your content project, then your stakeholders will manage it by default. So you need a process for engaging with and managing your stakeholders. Here are 7 reasons why…
1. Eliminate ‘frankencontent’ and replace it with effective digital content
The result of creating content by committee is usually monstrous. By engaging with senior managers early on, limiting the feedback offered by product managers, and educating compliance people about what makes good digital content, you’ll smooth the way for a successful and speedily delivered content project.
2. Turn senior managers into content advocates
Most senior managers are focused on business performance. Help them to understand that rapid and focused content approval should be a business-critical role rather than a time-consuming exercise in offering opinion.
3. Increase the autonomy of your content team
Engage with stakeholders and you build their confidence in what you’re doing. They’ll increasingly trust you to make content decisions without their involvement. And you can establish the value of a content workflow based on editorial hierarchy – rather than the hierarchy of the organisation.
4. Reduce time spent on amends
Have confidence in your own editorial judgement and ask stakeholders for specific feedback on their areas of expertise. Ask brand managers for feedback on tone of voice, for instance, and ask product managers to check specs are accurate. If you think a piece of content is ready to go live, then don’t ask for feedback – ask for sign-off instead.
5. Help your content strategy to be embedded
The easy part of a content strategy is defining what needs to be done – the hard part is getting people to do it. By engaging with stakeholders in a planned and targeted way, you can detect resistance to change early on and take appropriate action to increase motivation.
6. Increase the scope of manageable content projects
The more you’re able to manage content stakeholders and get them to trust you, the bigger and more ambitious the content projects you’ll be able to take on and the more editorial influence you’ll have in the client organisation.
7. Win more resources for content
Gaining support from influential stakeholders early on can help you to win more budget for content. This makes it more likely your content project will succeed and make a positive difference to your organisation (and your career).