How to build a content team that rocks

One evening in 2o14, when I was a scribe, banging out stories after stories on crazy deadlines, I remember something a colleague said to me in the newsroom.

I notice you have a lot of fun writing your pieces. It’s almost like you’re an artist having a wonderful time painting a blank canvas.”

I was completely humbled by his words that struck a chord with me — never had I seen myself from another’s lens. And that my passion showed everytime I typed rapidly was a refreshing perspective. 

The art of storytelling has always excited me —written and spoken.

I’ve had a long standing relationship with content in all its avatars for as far as my memory goes back. From being part of editorial teams in school to an active member of the dramatics society in college, and then a 16-year long career as a writer across domains and sectors, words have literally shaped me as a professional and as an individual.

If it were not for joy I found through writing I perhaps would not have burnt the midnight oil over piles of copies through the years —all with the excitement of a child. 

I have lived, breathed, and dreamt content all my life. 

CONTENT IS KING

Today, content has found its way to every company’s marketing mix. The unmistakable power of content marketing to promote a brand, generate leads, and build relations with a company’s customer base is being milked to its fullest potential by all. Startups and corporates are both running their business with a unified mantra that content is king!

And this means everybody needs a content team that rocks. 

HIRE PASSIONATE PEOPLE

As the saying goes, a leader is only as good as their team. A team is therefore only as good as its resources. If you’re looking to ride the wave of content, you’ve got to make sure you have best in class writers. You need folks who find it fun to spend their days (and many long nights)  with  MS Word, Google Docs or any content management software you use as part of your production cycle. They are the ones who will creatively sell your business through informative, educational and inspiring multi-media content for your company’s website, blog, and social media channels.

Writing, the poorer cousin of other upmarket jobs (think law, accounting, engineering, medicine et al), is a mentally and emotionally taxing job. Ask any writer what a writer’s block feels like or what it’s like to make the most mundane subject (Ertechnical writing) be as interesting a read as your favourite novel and you will know. This especially so when you’re churning out a high volume of content daily, weekly or monthly. So if your foundation is weak your content will go nowhere in all sense of the term!

#1TEAM BUILDING TIP: Hire writers from diverse backgrounds to bring flavour to your content 

THE VISUAL GANG

Every story needs visuals. Every bit of consumable content will need images, videos, graphics to tie the entire narrative together. And with today’s hyper connected, technology-crazy generation that has the attention span of an ant, images have become the main protagonist in the content story so to speak. Yes, people are reading less. Visuals that tell the story solely on their own generate more traffic.

Now this is really good news for all the creative geniuses out there. Never has there been such a demand for the artists of our time. 

So if you’re in the early stages of building a content team, factor in costs to hire a photographer, graphic designers, and videographers for they will form a major part of your arsenal. 

Also, the younger your visual team is the better. Millennials in the creative field are enthusiastic and eager to make a mark on the world wide web. The young mind is a fresh mind. And trust me that’s all you need to give your consumers something new to chew on in a digitally noisy world.

#2 TEAM BUILDING TIP: Try and find multimedia specialists who can make GIFs, graphics, videos, and click photographers so you save some bucks

THE REVIEWER

Every copy needs a fresh eye. Your copy editor (s) play devil’s advocate in your content journey. These folks, also dedicated to crafting a good story, are meticulous people. Known to be nitpicky, critical by nature and with no emotion whatsoever attached to the piece of content they are working on, copyeditors package content well to give it final form. After they dissect, remove and restructure everything your content is ready to take-off into the vast expanse of the internet to marinate, rank and move your topline north. 

#3 TEAM BUILDING TIP Copy editors from newsrooms are trained to edit high volumes  in less time and live up to exacting standards of fact checking

THE CONTENT STRATEGIST 

And now you need someone to bring method to this madness. Your gang of creative peeps – writers, copyeditors and visualisers need a strategist who will decide how, when and what to write. Your content manager will also manage the content calendar and publishing cycle to ensure everything goes live, on time. 

This person therefore needs to be someone who has seen the highs and lows of managing complex production cycles through decades. So we’re talking pre and post internet era, preferably. Hiring someone from the media (a former journalist or editor) is a great idea because there is no space more dynamic than a newsroom. 

And since I’ve been part of a few newsrooms over the years I can confidently say that I’ve developed those skills, imperative to any production cycle, working amidst the mayhem of competitive media houses.

Speed, attention to detail, ideation, multi-tasking and collaborating with several teams/ departments is now second nature to me. 

And more importantly pitching the story idea to all stakeholders – why a piece of content needs to be created. This girl or guy does all the heavy lifting for the team! 

#4 TEAM BUILDING TIP: Hire a content manager who can think from both the brand and consumer’s lens to fully optimise your content marketing efforts

And this dear reader are the necessary pillars for your content team. From here the jobs flow to the SEO and technology teams who optimise content and upload it on the desired channel. 

STRUCTURE TO SCALE

However, what you need to keep in mind is that you structure roles and responsibilities to scale. Remember, your content is being developed to boost business. As it brings in more business you will need more hands. But if budgets are a constraint you will need the same hands to deliver more, in shorter deadlines and multi-task too. 

Can some of your writers also edit over time? Yes they can, provided they improve their writing skills and stay consistent with deadlines. Can your team also learn how to make graphics, shoot or edit video content? Absolutely! The tech-heavy era we are living in has seen multiple innovations viz-a-viz creative software that’s easy to learn and use with just a little practice. And when business spikes, you will have all the hands and minds to deliver everything you need in no time.

#5 TEAM BUILDING TIP A winning formula is to have a mix of in-house employees versus a network freelancers across all roles 

Remember no company is too small to house a content team. All it needs is a bunch of passionate folk committed to create and deliver on time, every time. 

What are you waiting for? Go get your company content ready!

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Shonali Advani
Shonali Advani is a trained journalist with 16 years of experience in news, content and communications. She has worked with marquee media brands like BCCL's The Economic Times and Network18's Entrepreneur Magazine in Bengaluru. She has been working as an independent consultant for the last four years managing content and communications for various consumer centric brands. Shonali holds a BA (Hons) degree in History from the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College For Women (Delhi University) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Asian College of Journalism (ACJ).

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