Is a Chief Content Officer right for your organization?

The Content Marketing process of creating, organizing, and distributing rich and engaging customer content is quickly becoming a strategic imperative for many leading and fast-moving organizations.  In recognition of this ascent of content as a strategic corporate asset, several progressive companies have created the new role of Chief Content Officer to help provide vision, coordination, and leadership over their company’s entire content domain.  In this first entry of a 3-part Insight series on this topic, we’ll take a look at why the Chief Content Officer role is needed and what areas of value may be delivered from such a position.

<Insight Post 1 of 3-Part Series>

Top 3 Benefits Chief Content Officers Deliver to Companies

What do companies like Netflix, Petco, Bloomberg, and PBS know that the rest of us don’t?  These companies, along with several others across an array of industries, are up-leveling the importance of content across their organization and have created the role of Chief Content Officer.  Is this a role or position that would benefit your company?  Let’s take a look at three major areas where a Chief Content Officer can add the most value within an organization.

#1: Accountability & Ownership:

Creating content: It’s everyone’s job but not usually anyone’s Job 1.

We’ve seen it before…

“Can you ask Doug, the engineering lead and defacto knowledge expert on the company’s new product, to write a Blog Post?”

Sounds simple enough, since Doug knows the product specs better than anyone else, but here’s the rub.  Doug is a busy guy, writing content for the marketing team is not in his job description, and sure he’ll do it this time, but can we really count on him to be able to break away from his daily responsibilities to author regular blog updates, or to truly understand the target audiences and their needs?

The truth of the matter is that as businesses add product lines, new customer segments, or geographic markets to their equations, the number of “Dougs” (knowledge experts) expands.  Marketing is often faced with the challenge of chasing down these knowledge experts and begging and pleading with them to pen content.  It’s a time-intensive exercise and one that often breaks down.

When an organization has a Chief Content Officer, empowering support can be given by the Executive Team, the importance of content can be up-leveled across the company, and organizational groups and boundaries can be bridged in support of a valuable corporate asset such as developing engaging customer content.  When an organization makes the bold decision to create the role of Chief Content Officer, they are demonstrating to the entire internal organization that this is important and it will be supported across the company.  This visible communication stresses that everyone in the organization, despite HR job descriptions, is now accountable for content.  This organizational accountability is a very important and significant first step.  A parallel step that should be taken simultaneously is to also establish Ownership.

Content development has always suffered from lack of ownership.  Although accountability can be dispersed broadly across an organization, ownership needs to be concentrated and centralized.  With the advent of the Chief Content Officer role, there is now a desk where the content buck can now stop.  Ownership should not imply that any and all content must be authored, edited, or policed by the Chief Content Officer themselves or their team, but rather that ownership establishes common and consistent expectations, usages, roles & responsibilities, and coordination across the organization for the process of developing, distributing, and measuring effective customer content.

With the advent of the Chief Content Officer role, there is now a desk where the content buck can now stop.

#2: Vision & Leadership:

Bankrupt for content ideas?  Is your current collection of content disjointed and lacking a consistent message, tone, or call to action?  Has it been tough to rally the troops to see that great content is everyone’s job?  If so, what your company may be lacking is the right person and platform to provide both vision and leadership over how your organization approaches content.

Establishing and leading content workshops or map days to stimulate idea generation across disciplines or groups is a valuable leadership action for a Chief Content Officer.  Their knowledge and experience can be utilized to tease out and encourage fresh ideas and approaches and push participants to take new methods to crafting great stories with clear actions.  Here also is when the Chief Content Officer can lay out their vision for the brand’s voice in order to facilitate understanding and alignment across the company’s many knowledge experts and authors for achieving consistency and continuity of message, tone, and appeal.

Most importantly, as with any effective leader, a Chief Content Officer has the opportunity to paint the picture of how the team and organization will work together and the roles and responsibilities that each group and team member will have in the overall effort.  Clarity of objectives, direction, approach, actions, and accountability is the mark of not only great battlefield commanders but also inspiring Chief Content Officers.

#3: Communication & Coordination:

Hand-in-hand with effective leadership is being able to communicate to and coordinate the actions of multiple players and team members dispersed across the typical company who will be generating content.  It is one thing to create a grand vision but then after the dust has settled an effective Chief Content Officer can reinforce key directives, monitor outcomes, take quick corrective action or make refinements, and encourage and reward accomplishments as well as fast failures and turn-a-rounds.

Communication is not just pushed downward or across.  Having a Chief Content Officer also has the added benefit of being able to communicate status, challenges, and achievements upwards to the company’s executive team as well.  The Chief Content Officer’s position within the organization should allow for quicker decision making when strategic shifts are planned so that content can quickly support and align to new directions.  Performance dashboards for content can also be created by the Chief Content Officer so that the executive team understands the value and ROI that engaging content is having for the company on the generation of both qualified leads, closed sales, and customer retention.

Think now of your own organization in terms of developing, distributing, and measuring creative and engaging customer content.  Is there a single person or direct team that is accountable for content?  Better yet, is there a group or individual who sees content as their Job 1?  Is there anyone who sets the tone or vision for what great content looks like inside your company, or who leads the process of developing and mapping out the content needs of the organization?  Lastly, does your company understand the process, roles and responsibilities, as well as the overall ROI being achieved via content?  If you answered no to any of these questions, then your organization could consider the role of Chief Content Officer as a viable way to deliver these important values that enable exciting and sales-driving customer content.

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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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