TL; DR (also known as takeaways): Your culture may be standing in the way of…
What do we mean by “publishing process”?
Content doesn’t just appear on a site by magic. At a minimum, it has to be written and it has to be posted. Between those two steps, it is usually checked for its writing quality and correctness. Legal and compliance may need to review it. And ideally, it will be reviewed by a high-level editor or editorial board to make sure that it is consistent in style and fact with other information on the site.
What do you gain by having a centralized set of processes?
- Accuracy. Only by making sure that all content goes through similar steps — and, often, a small set of people — can you make sure that all information on your site says the same things.
- Brand consistency. Every interaction you have with current or potential customers, investors or employees adds to the impression of your brand. And you want to make sure that those interactions give a positive impression of your company.Some real-life examples of inconsistent brand identity:
- Print materials from one business unit’s brochure (created three years ago but still distributed) show an old logo and say the organization has been in business for 75 years and have 5,000 employees and your website says that you have more than 3,500 employees and were founded in 1938.
- The product instructions on your site are different from what the customer service department says, because they were produced by a different department.
- Employees in one business unit get regular updates about the company’s performance and strategies, but those in another unit get none.
- The opportunity to share knowledge among people producing and reading your content.
Assess your current processes
There may be multiple processes, or there may be none at all. In your quest to develop smart processes, you’ll need to
- find all the people who currently create content for your external and internal websites
- work with them, probably in person individually, to identify their approval and publishing processes
- validate these processes with all the people in the publishing chain, to see if their experience of the process matches that of the content creators
In addition, gather information on the publishing processes your organization uses for print. In this more established medium, you are likely to have more quality checks and formal sign-offs.
Develop a set of best practices
Once you have gathered information about the processes you currently use, you’ll probably have a patchwork of different individuals, departments and numbers of steps used to publish information.
Gather your web editorial board or your communications group and look at these processes as a group. Ask questions: why is legal involved for print communications but not Web? Why does Business A run their press releases by corporate communications but Business B does not (and how does that affect whether Business A’s releases get posted on the corporate site more often than Business B’s)?
Start with the communication goals for each type of content and each medium, and see whose information is likeliest to meet those goals. Then assess what they are doing right. Do they have a regular publishing schedule? Do they allow enough time for reviews? Follow these examples for all of your content.
Automate your process
If you have a content management system, these publishing processes can be set to happen automatically. A CMS can ensure that each press release goes through its originating business unit, including a writer and a manager, and then be approved by corporate communications and legal. Most CMSs can notify people via email that they have content waiting to be reviewed, and many can allow them to review and approve, edit or reject content directly from the email.
If you do not have a content management system, you may want to appoint someone as the central contact point for all content. This contact point will track the status of content manually and ensure that every piece goes through the appropriate steps.
If your organization would benefit from a smart publishing process, contact us.