3 Must-Have Skills for an Effective Chief Content Officer

If you’ve agreed that senior leadership over your organization’s content is needed, then the next step is finding the right person for the job.  In this second entry of a 3-part Insight series on this topic, we’ll take a look at what skills and competencies make for a valuable and effective Chief Content Officer.


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<Insight Post 2 of 3-Part Series>
3 Must-Have Skills for an Effective Chief Content Officer

So you and your organization have reached the correct realization that “Content is King” and that there is a ton of this stuff being created inside your company which rightfully should be proactively led and managed. You need a Chief Content Officer but are not so certain what skills and expertise would make for an effective one. In this second installment, we’ll walk through the Top 3 most essential skills that your Chief Content Officer should possess.


1) Functional Skills:
These are the foundational background skills that would serve a Chief Content Officer well. At the top of the list would be a preference for strong journalistic and writing skills. Good journalists and writers know how to build a story and have the ability to connect with their audience and readership. Editorial skills are important as well to ensure consistency, accuracy, and integrity for both compelling Calls To Action and On-Brand messaging. Past experience in marketing & PR is beneficial in order to thoroughly understand the demands of these internal functions and how great content can feed into and out of these groups. In today’s always-connected & always-available mobile world, strong familiarity with social media channels and how to harness eye-balls and cut through the clutter within these domains are basic table stakes for a successful Chief Content Officer. Lastly, to round out our functional skills component, I have added either direct Sales experience or at least exposure to working with or supporting a sales function. In the end, compelling content is about propelling customers to buy. Understanding the needs of the Sales organization and how they operate is the difference between having a Chief Content Officer who is an effective advocate of Sales and one who is merely a convenient punching bag.

Regardless of leading up, down, or across, the number one leadership attribute is the ability to build consensus and establish buy-in


2) Creative Skills:
Lots of individuals have the basic foundational skills in place to be considered for a Chief Content Officer but we’re not looking to settle when we’ve achieved the minimum. We want a Super Star and what starts to separate the contenders from the pretenders at this stage are strong creative capabilities. Being creative in this context does not necessarily mean that the individual dreams up fanciful imagery and content themselves, but rather knows and understands well the creative process and how to summon and spark creativity within others. Although not glamourous or thought of as being creative per se, strong inclinations and comfort with Process Orientation are often key to establishing methods to developing fresh content and nurturing would-be authors across the organization. Brainstorming, workshops, & frameworks are all examples of processes that can be used to instigate creative and compelling content. Make sure your would-be Chief Content Officer has the chops in this important area.


3) Leadership Skills:
Having “Chief” in the position’s title implies a serious degree of leadership. To find our Rock Star, strong leadership is essential. Experience working with and influencing executives is where we start in assessing the leadership capabilities of a strong Chief Content Officer. How have they set and communicated strategy to senior leadership and aligned that with overarching organizational goals? When they’ve been told “No” or “That Won’t Work”, how have they responded? Communicating and influencing is not only a Managing Up approach. How have they managed conflicts and perceived turf battles with peers? Regardless of leading up, down, or across, the number one leadership attribute is the ability to build consensus and establish buy-in. Make sure your potential Chief Content Officer is fluid and well-versed in organizational communication & coordination and has the leadership skills to step out, take informed risks, bare the brunt of arrows and set-backs, and rally executives, peers, and individuals to the crucial Cause For Content.


About David Fosberg

David is Market Rhythm’s strategic practice Lead and brings close to two decades of senior executive marketing experience spanning 3 different continents for top Fortune 500 organizations

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