Not the infinite monkey theorem: The case for the content champion

You’ve probably heard the thought experiment: an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters could create the works of Shakespeare. But in the real world, real people create Shakespeare-like content. They do so in an environment that supports effective communications, meaning they have the processes and knowledge in place to ensure success.

In recent articles, I’ve written about the content strategy model, and the types of actions needed to create effective and actionable plans for content in a digital environment. No content strategy is complete without the human side: your content strategy needs champions who create (write or produce) and champions who protect (via processes, governance and standards). Because humans ultimately produce content, you need content champions in organizations large or small, and the roles are remarkably similar in all organizations.

Skills for effective content champions

Skills for effective content champions – they aren’t necessarily all the same size for every champion 

Who makes a great content champion?

Content champions are people who can bring your content to life. We really recommend looking inside your organization before turning to external sources: who knows the subject, who understands the brand, who understands the audiences? They don’t necessarily need to be the best writers – but they need access to people to help them to create for a digital environment. They need to be energetic and engaged with the subjects, and understand the brand, products and issues that make the organization tick.

 

What does the content champion need to be able to do?

A content champion needs to be able to structure information journalistically and answer the famous questions: What? Why? How? When? For whom? By whom? They need to know the subject well enough to know what will be useful and of interest to the audience, and they need to know where to turn to get in-depth subject matter expertise when required, and to inspire creators when they aren’t doing the creating themselves. They need to know the business and know to only create content that supports business objectives. They need to think quality over quantity. In the digital world, less is almost always more. They need to understand what the users are telling them by studying and analysing statistics, user testing and other relevant data sources. They need to remember – and work to – deadlines.

 

Where the content champion may need help

Creating great content for a digital environment requires a team. Many actions may fall outside the direct skillset of the content champion. For instance: you need an ability to structure and categorize information effectively. You need to understand search engine optimization, meta-data and descriptions. You need a thorough knowledge of standards, accessibility and style. Finally, you need to be able to say “no” when there is too much content, or content isn’t strategically supportive. The content champion, a person who is creative, energetic, analytic and productive, may need help to say no.

There are some excellent resources on content champions. Here are two I turned to when writing this post.

Identifying internal content champions

Content Strategy for Marketers: Insights From Kristina Halvorson

By the way, the infinite monkeys theorem is actually a thought experiment on the infinite, not on the ability to create Shakespearean content.

Let me know how your content champion’s skills might balance out. Next up: the people side of process.

 


Scott Duncan is a senior consultant with Systemscope. He has nearly 20 years experience as an information architect and communications strategist.


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