Why Your Company Needs to Hire A Head of Content - Part 1
Updated: Jan 18
By Barbara Roy, Content & Communications Strategist / Writer
Does your company have a content strategy? How about a professional long- and short-form content writer? You have a marketing director, copywriter and design leads, you say?
It's a common misconception that one of these, or a combination of similar roles, provide content "coverage" (See the Content Creator Spectrum for info on different types of content creators.) While it may be technically true in the way some organizations are structured, a combination of roles don't (and often, can't) function the same way a role dedicated to content does---and there are several reasons why. Let's look at just a few here.
What's the Strategy?
The greatest drawback to not having a dedicated head of content role is the resulting ineffectiveness of a dysfunctional plan. Imagine this scenario: the head of product go-to-market defines the routes to market and wants content and collateral to align with GTM strategy; the marketing director's team is responsible for collateral development and campaign execution, but doesn't create product-specific content; the organization decides it's prudent to hire another writer---one to develop product content. What could go wrong?
The most glaring gap to a content person would be the absence of the content strategy aspect. In this case, what's needed is the translation of GTM strategy into source content that can then be leveraged by copywriters to create collateral.
The source content creator isn't the primary missing link in this scenario; the content strategist, who would recognize the gap, is. Presumably, a wealth of research should be available from GTM, along with competitive analyses from marketing/sales, to inform source content development but, if it is light (or absent), the source content creator would need to know to begin there.
I know you're probably tired of hearing it (and I'm tired of writing it), but Covid changed the landscape for, well, everything. With a shift in business models moving to e-commerce and omni-channel, content marketing is growing, and the sheer volume of it for content creators can get big...fast. Managing your content development-optimization-publication-evaluation-repurpose-storage-maintenance lifecycle won't be nearly as streamlined and efficient as it could be with advance planning.
Everyone's a Writer (but, not)
I work with talented people every day. From business thought leaders and savvy marketers to talented developers and design geniuses. One thing they have in common is, they are experts in their space. Because of my early background in UI content, I generally think in terms of process flow + content + design. I also enjoy creating new imagery; but would I put myself up against a UI designer in designing a multi-step e-commerce checkout experience? Yeah, no. That's what each professional content writer is faced with when subject matter experts or executives who want to "control the narrative" try to write their own content (I don't use the word "try" by accident.)
The reality is, professional-level content writers write every day, and have likely done
so for years. Someone who actually chooses a career doing this loves to write, values languages and all their nuances, has a strong creative bent or some other version of love for this form of expression that goes beyond just writing. Many are also expert grammarians and linguists who study multiple languages. Real pros honor the practice of looking up anything that may need confirmation before risking reputation on an assumption.
Content Is About More Than Copywriting
Essentially, without an informed arbiter, all writing is perceived as equal by the average onlooker... and that's a travesty. The greater issue though is that the approach contributes to many avoidable business roles misunderstandings; neglects the very necessary need for content strategy, planning, management and development oversight; and, worst of all, impacts your content consistency, quality and value. Like campaigns that promote your products and services, content needs to be high-value, relatable for your customer base, engaging, and measured (then adjusted) to meet your business objectives. An "occasional" writer might know a little about SEO, but they won't be able to deliver to a schedule, define quality standards, or grow your content function.
Watch for "Why Your Company Needs to Hire A Head of Content - Part 2" next week.