How to set up a kickass editorial A-Team for your website, sucker!
Don't you love it when a plan comes together? We look at how to formulate an editorial strategy & execute it for maximum success...
For your brand or business, you should be looking to write blogs and articles or update the pages on your website. Similarly, as part of your overall strategy, you could want to produce a marketing campaign for your online channels - but where do you start? How do you round up your own Special Forces unit and turn them into the ultimate editorial A-Team?
A key part of success in marketing is in the organisation. If you follow the steps of 'assigning roles', 'establishing a process', 'agreeing on style' and 'creating a calendar', you can't go far wrong. Use this kickass guide & learn how to set up an editorial team (or A-Team...) and a strategy for getting great stuff out there to promote your business to the right people.
Assign roles, fool
One key part of the editorial process is establishing who's who in the team. Don't worry if your office is small - one person can take on several jobs, and it's all relative to the size of your ambition.
Typically, the communication will run up and down the chain of command, starting and ending with the editor-in-chief.
The big kahuna who makes sure the process is running smoothly - they have final say on what makes it out alive and what doesn't.
Art / creative director
The person in charge of visual style and imagery used by the team - a key connection between editors, writers and designers.
The creative team or person who produces the visual sizzle. Could be custom imagery for an article or a web page layout.
Responsible for writing the majority of the text outputs, whether it's a blog, a web page, brochure copy, a terms and conditions document, headlines, taglines etc.
This task should be assigned to a member of the team who's meticulous with a high standard of grammar and spelling - this is the B.A. who'll save your a** from slip-ups and mistakes.
One potential pitfall facing organisations is that they feel they can't produce regular, worthwhile content as a team - however, it's important not to try and fix the problem by using bargain basement solutions. Using a random string of outsourced creatives who may not accurately understand your business can lead to marketing outputs that don't accurately reflect your brand. Setting up your own team, or working in partnership with a fully-fledged agency, is the surefire way to keep it consistent.
Or, as our good friend Hannibal says it better;
"If you pay peanuts, you end up hiring monkeys."
Establish a process
Whether you're new or old to this, you'll want a concrete process in place. This keeps the team watertight and accurate, from brainstorming ideas all the way through to publication.
Ideas & concepts to start with
The editor-in-chief can play a big role in organising ideas for your content / website / online channels, but it can be a holistic team approach too. This is the stage where you can focus on your brand's key messaging and bounce around ideas for content or campaigns that would help to support that messaging.
There are a few ways you can decide on the content that'll support your marketing;
- Engage in keyword research to analyse what your customers want - Repurpose your existing outputs like press releases or white papers - Take (loose) inspiration from successful competitors - Ask your customers or clients what they'd like to know from you
Focus on authentic, off-the-cuff posts, but ultimately, everything you put out there should support your business / marketing goals. For extra advice, check out what the professionals say.
Goals & milestones for the team to reach
Take it from us - a goal to work towards is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Set milestones for the team, e.g. 70% of web copy finalised in a month, or publishing 1 article per week for the next quarter.
Mark your successes and analyse any misses; what could you improve within the process to hit those goals next time?
Buddy checks to ensure consistency
It's a great idea to share the creative responsibility between the team. That way, no one person gets it in the neck if something doesn't go to plan. Assign buddy checkers for text content & design outputs. This ensures there's constant communication and feedback which eliminates risk.
Publication & promotion
Often, you can spend so long getting something ready and completed that you freeze the minute you hit that 'Publish' button. Combat this with a set-in-stone process for once a piece of content or a campaign is live - who's responsible for promoting it across your social media channels? Has someone set benchmarks pre-publication?
Rinse & repeat: publish & promote again, again, again...
It's so easy to see the 'Publish' button as the last tick on the list, but promoting something once is never enough! You should push every marketing output into the 'digital world' beyond the realms of your own social channels.
- Put it out on Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Instagram / whatever else is appropriate
- Schedule more updates during the month, worded differently, to go out at different times (use in-channel analytics to understand your audience's peak times first - typically, 8-9am and 8-9pm are busy times on social networks)
- Drop it into your next e-newsletter
- Email the post / forward your e-newsletter to people within your network who'd find it interesting
- Offer it as a guest post on relevant websites / blogs
- Go into your previous relevant posts and add it as a 'Similar articles...' link to cross-promote
Analyse & report your impact
Keep a record of your results - did it work? How many people engaged, clicked, commented? Then, look at how you could improve these numbers.
How long did they read the post for? If it wasn't very long, how could you make the post better at capturing their attention? How could you push them to share it or comment?
Take stock of what went well, and what could be improved for next time. Marketing is a constant learning opportunity so don't worry if you're not Mr T just yet.
Agree on a style
Formatting, fonts, tone of voice, visual style - these should be covered in your brand guidelines (if you have them) but if not, utilise your current branding to decipher how your marketing outputs should look. It's worth getting this solid at the beginning - as they say, "overkill is underrated."
An occasionally-overlooked part of style is grammar, punctuation, and writing style. Ensuring the whole team sticks to the same stylistic choices gives consistency to the brand and no one will have to go through later to 'tidy it up'.
Create a badass calendar, sucker!
"I believe that no matter how random things may appear, there's still a plan."
Alongside goals & milestones, a content calendar will help the team work within timeframes and towards specific dates. We'd recommend a monthly calendar (at least), but try to stretch to a yearly one if you can.
Just bear in the mind the ability to be flexible and react to spontaneous events. We've published articles in response to political happenings across the globe but, in the interest of honesty, we've also had a few misses here and there. If your team is flexible and fast-thinking, you can afford to spend a week away from the calendar occasionally if it's worth it.
burningred's recommended digital helpers
Don't go it alone - there are plenty of apps and online resources to help you learn how to set up an editorial team that can organise themselves and formulate a plan.
Old school cool. Spreadsheets, calendars, to-do lists at your disposal, with real-time working so you can work collaboratively and remotely on the same document.
Will we ever tire of recommending Basecamp?! An online hub for to-do lists and discussions where you can break projects / campaigns down, share files, and check off completed tasks - we use this 24/7.
A super handy online 'sticky note' app full of to-do lists where the team can organise tasks and add comments. Some of the team use this outside of work, too.
A WordPress plugin that's an editorial calendar in itself! Plan your content month-by-month & work collaboratively with the team on which posts are in progress and which posts are ready to go.
You know what we're going to say now, right?
Follow our tried-and-tested steps - as this is genuinely how we do it - and you'll have an organised and productive kickass editorial A-Team ready to fight the bad guys and deliver some seriously good marketing.
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