One of the major pain points of any content professional is how your CMS authors handle content as they post it to the CMS. Think of a chef and a waiter: The chef has just spent hours preparing this gorgeous dish. If the waiter slams it on the table in front of the diner, the entire presentation and drama is lost.
Content must be handled properly to perform properly. As Sally Bagshaw, a content strategist with expertise in content authoring explains, “Content will turn to crap if the people putting it into the CMS don’t care.” (See our awesome interview with Sally in this month’s Confessions of a Content Strategist).
Different Types of Content Authors
There are a couple of different types of CMS authors. They include:
- Assembly line posters: They update phone numbers, bios, rosters and input event calendar information. Their knowledge of the CMS may be as limited as their permissions.
- Part-time content producers: They know enough to get into trouble, and not enough to get out of trouble. They may feel capable of making template changes or using some advanced features. Sometimes they get it right; sometimes they don’t.
- Full-time content producers: They know the ins and outs of your CMS cold because they are inside of it all of the time. They may write inside of the CMS, or post others’ content to it.
There are other challenges with CMS authors—they may be distributed, not under your control or not even in the same country or time zone. What’s the best way to manage all of these challenges and still maintain consistent governance so your content gives your customers a cohesive feeling?
How to Manage a Distributed Content Workforce
Here are some tools you can use to manage all of your different CMS authors and keep them publishing consistent content in line with your brand:
- Use a centralized style guide: Make sure everyone in the company who touches content knows how to access it, and more importantly, how to use it. Trained writers and designers know how to use style guides and brand guidelines. Not everyone else does. So make sure they understand how to look up naming conventions, appropriate department names, and the like. (Don’t have a style guide? Get started with our 10 Essential Elements of Style Guides. Want to learn more about brand guidelines? Check out our Brand Guidelines 101.)
- Educate and train: Find a way to train people, even if it’s for an hour. For many assembly line posters, one hour is more than enough. Consider making a two-page training document and jumping on a Google Hangout with some people. Run the trainings at least once a month, so that when new people are hired, they aren’t left behind.
- Do regular checks and communicate problems: There’s some great automated software for checking your site’s governance scores. Definitely do your homework and find an automated package that works well for your site. You can also do a check by hand on several pages in one section, so you can contact the content owners and let them know about the mistakes. People can’t fix things if they don’t even know they are there.
How about you? What are some of the ways you manage the challenges of CMS authors? Let us know in the comments below.