6 Tips for Managing the Content Chase

Web editors usually edit other people’s content. Depending on your particular business, that content may come from people for whom producing content is not the primary focus of their job. In fact, it may be 84th on their list of 10 things to do today. But for you, the web editor, the publishing deadline is approaching and without the content, your blood pressure is rising.

Does this sound familiar?

Here are 6 tips for managing the content chase:

  • Use an editorial calendar – Create it, publish it, and keep it front and center with your content producers. You shouldn’t hear “I didn’t know” from a content source. The best result to to never have to chase people in the first place.
  • Send reminders – Being polite but persistent is a pre-requisite for being a web editor. Reminders shouldn’t sound like nagging or threats because most people are just really busy. Give them the benefit of the doubt and remind them. I occasionally use the words “Friendly Reminder” in the subject line of an email for such a situation to set a positive tone.
  • Be an accountability partner – This is a much more evolved version of reminding. If possible, establish yourself as a partner who is helping your clients succeed. Producing good content on time is a building block of their success. It can motivate more responsiveness from your sources if they see what’s in it for them.
  • Have a backup plan – If your content producers are routinely late, it pays to have alternative content that will work regardless of time frame. Then again, if you have announced to the world that the “blitzheimer gadget” will be launching on date certain, and key content fails to appear by then, you can’t talk about the weather instead. Have a realistic Plan B.
  • Call the boss – In my knowledge manager days, there were rare instances when lack of timely content could potentially damage the firm or waste significant money. These situations can be delicate, but if you are down to the wire with missing content, clue in senior management. One phone call from the “right” person can magically produce content in minutes. Don’t blame anyone, empathize with everyone – and get the content out!
  • Recognize good behavior – From a simple “thank you” to a short note to the content source’s supervisor to a monthly “Content Hall of Fame” report to senior management, there are many ways to reward content sources when they come through. Yes, it takes extra time, but it also builds relationships and can be a simple way to make someone smile. Those are opportunities you should seize every day.

Is the content chase an issue for you? If so, how do you avoid or address it?


3 thoughts on “6 Tips for Managing the Content Chase

  1. Great article, Alison. I can’t overemphasize the importance of the last bullet in encouraging writers, both in meeting their deadlines but also in creating exceptional content. The best manager under which I served when I was a senior writer was a big believer in short supportive notes after assignments. They might be as simple as saying, “Great piece!” on a post-it note when an article came off the approval route, or a brief, “Thanks for pitching in,” when I’d pick up the ball for a struggling writer, or a mention during staff meetings for anyone who met tough deadlines and helped the team launch on time. Letting people know they did well and that you appreciate it often encourages more of the same great effort the next time, even if meeting deadlines and producing sterling copy is in the job description.

  2. Very nice, Alison. Good tips! Scrambling for content is never fun, but you have provided very sound, plausible and possible solutions. I agree with you and Alan on the encouragement front. A kind word at the opportune moment can work wonders for those who write, and help keep them motivated to continue producing.

  3. I’ve been working on a large web update project and what’s really worked for me is to create short (around half hour) meetings to go through my list with that person in that meeting to resolve outstanding items. It works a treat.

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