Jessica Brown’s Best Practices for Managing an Editorial Board
Jessica Brown is the marketing content manager for Citrix, provider of the popular GoTo brand cloud services, such as GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC, among others. She is responsible for managing the division’s content creation program, as well as its editorial board, a traditional publishing concept more businesses are adopting as their content marketing efforts grow.
Like most legacy-media processes crossing over, however, editorial boards serve unique purposes in this new context. So we recently asked Brown, who is also the eLearning producer for the Knight Digital Media Center, for some insight into best practices for editorial board collaborations.
TCM: What is the purpose of having an editorial board?
Jessica Brown: The ultimate purpose of having an editorial board is to keep your sanity and, in addition to that treasured sanity, benefit the business in these four ways:
- Reduce duplication of work across content creators.
- Ensure consistent messaging across channels.
- Evaluate what content works and what flops.
- (most importantly) Give customers the best experience and journey possible.
Overall, the editorial board is responsible for what the audience sees, hears, and understands about the brand. It’s essential that content creators meet as a team to ensure consistency and quality in what they create and distribute.
TCM: What kinds of responsibilities do its members carry out?
JB: The number one responsibility board members have is to bring an efficient and collaborative attitude. The board is designed to take care of business, not complain about business or problems. Our board meetings are 30 minutes for a reason—no time-wasting.
Roles and responsibilities include:
- Executive support: Ideally, this is a vice president or head of marketing, depending on company size. The executive attends meetings when needed or once a quarter to check in.
- Board leader: Drives the editorial board (manages the master editorial calendar, schedules and leads board meetings, sets agenda, ensures company is aware of content announcements). This leader is chosen for two reasons: 1) They have the most visibility into creation and distribution programs (i.e., knows their way around the marketing organization); 2) they deeply understand the messaging, personas, and company objectives.
- Secondary board leader: Stands in for board leader when needed.
- Social representative: This person brings the outside community perspective. They are they advocate for the customer and audience. They should report on upcoming activities, posts, and what is resonating with the audience. They can also pinpoint influencers who can develop custom content or where content should be syndicated.
- Creative representative (copy and design): The representatives from copy and design should keep the group aware of style and brand changes, such as a new boilerplate or brand identity. They are the keeper of consistency of look, feel, and style.
- Public relationships/communications representative: The public relations representative is the voice of the outside world (i.e., external events, product or company announcements of note, press opportunities, etc.). They generate content through press releases and articles, as well as rely on content to support their pitching efforts.
TCM: How do you determine who sits on your editorial board? Does the membership change, and if so, how often?
JB: The first step in determining who should sit on the editorial board is to think about the customer journey. What are the touch points your customer is exposed to? Then track those touch points to their source. In other words, what team created that touch point?
For example, a prospect receives an email with an e-book offer, and then responds to the call-to-action, visiting the website. What groups are responsible for the email and website content? The asset creation team is responsible for the e-book, the copywriting team is responsible for the email and website copy, and the design team is responsible for the branding and imagery on the website. Therefore, a representative from those functions should attend.
Of course, a board cannot include everyone who creates a piece of content. However, it should include those who have the most visibility into ongoing projects per each function. For example, the design manager should attend versus the design assistant. Or the community manager should attend versus the social director, who is thinking more strategically.
Additionally, membership does not rotate or change. The goal is to have a consistent group attend in order for the efforts and result to be consistent. However, proxy situations do happen when needed.
TCM: How often does the board meet, and how long is a typical meeting? How do you keep meetings efficient, as well as creative?
JB: The optimal cadence of an editorial board meeting is once a month for 30 minutes. The board should meet at the end of the previous month to discuss plans for the upcoming month. Topics include notable announcements, new finalized assets, webinars, reporting, etc.
The best way to keep a meeting efficient is to keep it short and planned. Our board meetings are 30 minutes at max. Having a planned agenda ensures the board stays on point. Emailing an agenda with talking points ahead of the meeting is an efficient tactic to keep people informed, as well.
TCM: What should a typical agenda look like?
JB: An editorial board agenda is straightforward and structured. As board leader, I create a PowerPoint for each meeting with the agenda as the slide first. The typical flow is as follows:
- New developments
- Branding changes, company announcements, executive update
- Reporting: which content worked and didn’t work in the previous month
- Editorial calendar review
- Round-robin from board members on upcoming content and plans (activities, assets, webinars, social content, etc.). This results in coordination of assets and messaging; board members map assets to marketing activities, themes, and objectives.
- Questions, comments, and documentation of action items for next board meeting
Does your content marketing program include an editorial board? What other best practices would you add to this list?
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