Publishing Content is a Team Sport and SHOULD BE Played Together

Content Teams and Copy Writing

Content is a Recruiting Strategy

Content is absolutely a recruiting strategy and often a first impression. Whether they’re introduced to your company through the blog or they’ve learned about how you work via pieces included in your job postings, curious candidates want to find out everything they can, and they’ll do so with what you publish.

@ultraspectra I can confirm this is true 🙂 For me, writing about our culture helped a lot in recruiting.— Mathias Meyer

But transparency isn’t so compelling when it’s only coming from the marketing department. What does the rest of your company look like? Writing lets the world know.

Why is this an incentive? Because everyone wants to work with great people, and writing gives you influence. There are few things the team cares about more than the future of the team.

You Collectively form the ‘Writer’s Ear’

A content culture doesn’t mean everyone needs to write, but it means that everyone sees publishing as a valuable asset to which they can contribute. Improvements in communication are a noticeable side benefit when this belief is in place.

Example: Someone on the support team implements a new process for proactive customer outreach. Woah! The results were way better than expected. Nicely done.

But it shouldn’t stop there. Because this person on support has the writer’s ear, she instantly recognizes that what she’s learned would make for a great blog post. Whether she writes the piece herself or helps provide an outline of what went down for the publishing team, she’s helping in a big way.

You’ll experience fewer siloes, more sharing, and better results for your readers when everyone takes notes.

Make it Easy to Contribute

I’m often asked about the best way to “get” the team to write. If you want enthusiasm and authentic ideas, you don’t “get” them to do anything — you explain the opportunity and tear down barriers so the process is frictionless.

Here are important points you must address:

Outline How it All Works

A long while back, I asked my Help Scout teammates what would be helpful to cover in a few internal docs. One of the responses I received asked about how submitting to the blog actually worked. Whoops. For the longest time I was the only writer; I hadn’t considered the benefits of mapping it out.

Don’t make the same mistake. Step-by-step instructions will make the entire effort more approachable. Here’s how our process works: Begin with an idea.

To help, I’ve outlined example posts I’d personally love to see in every department (ex: for engineers in leadership roles, what was the transition like?). You should do the same. Send over your outline or “skeleton.”

Once a teammate has an idea in mind, the first step is to send a bare-bones outline via email or Slack. Here’s where we challenge early ideas, throw around a few angles, and discuss what this thing looks like in the end. A quick video chat often saves many keystrokes. Set a tentative date for the first draft.

Deadlines are like WD-40 for to-do lists. Although this isn’t an iron-clad submission date, we set a deadline in Trello for the first draft to help everyone stay accountable. Complete your first draft.

You’ll now finish writing your awesome first draft. I will only excitedly check in with you over email, like, twice. Tops. Maybe three times. Send your first draft to our editor.

Your post will go to our talented editor, Ashley, for some polish and a fresh perspective. You’re welcome to have as many back-and-forths as you need to get it to greatness. Confirm that the outcome is what you want.

You’ll do one final check to make sure the post says what you want it to say and that it’s reached the standards we’ve set as a team. Our VP of Marketing, Ivana, and our Managing Editor, Jason, both have great insight and are our current gatekeepers—candor matters a lot because making exceptions to “just get this published” turns into a slippery slope.

Help Overcome Writing Anxiety

Publishing can be nerve-wracking. You’re expected to proudly sign your name to thoughts made public for all to judge. Your team could use a little help getting past this fact.

Here are some common sources of friction and what to communicate instead:

Start small. We should be selfless enough to write little things, too. Your contribution needn’t be a 2,000-word behemoth; excellent work can come at any size.

Encourage early feedback. Writing is improved by being broken down and rebuilt. Maybe I’m getting too poetic, but I find Kintsukuroi to be a fitting term:

kintsukuroi definition

Feedback is key, and the earlier you get it the better. Encourage people to submit a “grocery list” first—it’s a skeletal outline on what the post will be about. Better to change course now than later on, when six hours have already been spent on a first draft.

Establish writing as a high-value activity. No one will spend the arduous hours necessary to write something great if the effort won’t be valued. Worse yet, nobody will find the time if they think they’ll be penalized for spending it on writing. There are obvious limits, of course, but rarely does the pendulum swing intoYou’re writing too often! territory.

Reduce FAQs with internal docs. Documenting your publishing strategy offers a two-fold advantage: planning/direction become crystal-clear, and your team has an easy reference for how things work. A style guide is a smart place to begin, but there are plenty of ways short internal docs help reduce confusion. Here’s an example: although great writing isn’t confined to categories and personas, it’s helpful to outline the recurring themes in your publishing, why they exist, and how they relate to your customers. Don’t overwhelm with excessive information; keep it light and interesting.

Share a few team examples. If you’ve had a few team members already step up to the publishing plate, celebrate their success and showcase their work as examples of how to do it.

Writing = Growth

The hurdles of team publishing are worth it in the end, because writing = growth. It helps grow the business, it helps grow the team, and it helps grow the individual — you don’t know what you know until you try to write it down. So when we say publishing is a team sport, it’s meant on every level.

On the other hand we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment so blinded by desire that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound.