How to develop a Content Governance Model for your corporate website?

Author: Sonu Rathore | Categories: CMS, Content Marketing

Last year Duchesnay, the manufacturer of drug DICLEGIS, got in hot water with the FDA. The company used pregnant celebrity Kim Kardashian to endorse their morning sickness medication. The post included links to the official drug page and that’s when the trolling began. Now that Kardashian's 40+ million followers were not exposed to this endorsement for the drug was deemed "false or misleading".

Today, more companies are creating content to support branding and demand generation than ever before. Increase in customers’ engagement with digital and growing channels (social – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) is driving the need for more content. There is a need to create and publish content quickly. This has also exposed more brands to reputation issues for producing incorrect information or data.

To manage risk or rather more importantly to support scale, organizations need a Content Governance Model. In simple terms, Content Governance is a mix of policies and processes, security, and editorial guidelines for producing content. The model helps bring in scale, sustainability, repeatability and security for marketing content. Content Governance Model is nothing but a plan to help you achieve your content strategy.

While many Content Management Systems (CMS) purport to take care of governance, the tools are only as good as the process you create. I tell clients to 'Define before they Design'. Through this content piece, I wish to share some tips on how one can develop a simple, and easy to use, Content Governance Model.

Following are the challenges that the Content Governance model should cater to:

  • To ensure the content on the website is current and is reflective of company goals

  • To ensure content at various locations is meeting the regulatory needs

  • To ensure your social media content is consistent with brand messaging

  • To identify the duration for the content to remain on the website

  • To determine SMEs for content creation, review, approval and publishing

  • To safeguard the website from hackers
  1. Set up a Content Governance Steering Committee
  2. The first step towards a good governance model is to formulate a Content Governance Steering Committee. The committee must comprise of key members including the editorial lead.

    The Content Steering Committee works establish standards and ensure compliance. This committee must exist at multiple levels and hold several roles such as:

    • To understand the content strategy and content marketing goals of the organization

    • To define roles and responsibility of the content teamDefine processes around content strategy

    • To set up tools that support content marketing

    • To define workflow for Authoring, Publishing, Archiving, Retention, and Disposal of Content

    • To ensure that legal, regulatory and security needs are met
    • Content Management, Content Strategy

    Some recommendations on the structure are that at an executive level Steering Committees all policy level decisions, content strategy, technology decisions and content management platforms can be made, however, at unit level and day to day level, decisions can be decentralized on content review, content approval and publishing.

    In order to get everyone involved with the higher degree of commitment, the committee members can meet at regular intervals - once a month, to identify key issues faced by different communities, customers and provide recommendations.

  3. Document Policies and Processes Enabling Governance
  4. Your structure and needs are unique and so are your governance policies and processes. For example, how important is the speed of publishing vs the approval process? Are the marketing and content teams centrally organized or everything is de-centralized? How many people across the organization need to review the content? What are the levels of risk you are comfortable with?

    Before a site is launched, consideration has to be given to the end readers and frequency of content updation? For example, on an e-commerce website like Amazon, content updates are every second. You need to define the roles and responsibilities in terms of editors, reviewers, approvers, publishers. The content life cycle has the following steps:

    Define Content Lifecycle

    • Define - Define guidelines, policies for content creation and timelines for the content to stay on the site?

    • Plan - Plan how the content will be created and who all will be involved

    • Create - Identify Subject Matter Experts for each verticle so that the content is easily searchable on the internet?

    • Review - Identify the person who will review each piece of content

    • Template - styling guidelines, legal and regulatory requirement.

    • Validate - Test the content, how it appears on the website. Check if the image uploaded in the blog is relevant and it is getting subscribed seamlessly

    • Approve - Once the content is validated, the final stage is to get approval from different steering committee – all levels.

    • Publish - Publishers have an important role to play. They need to get the content out at the right time, publish the correct version and test if it is working fine.
    • Content Management, Content Strategy

    Define Workflow

    Set a workflow to ensure that processes and the steps in the content lifecycle are followed. The workflow should permit access to all the users to edit and approve.

    Establish Editorial Guidelines

    The Web Content Steering Committee will then make some clear guidelines for content production. There needs to be a central repository where style guides are created, followed and implemented. And everyone in the organization must develop content in line with the official editorial guidelines. A good rule of thumb is that the guidelines should be precise and clear – it’s much easier to read a one-pager style guide than a ten-pager guide.

    Ensure Regulatory Requirements Are Considered

    The regulator requirements are many, and it becomes difficult to meet the expectations if processes are not documented while taking care of these needs. Be it, Sarbanes Oxley Act 2002, HIPAA (The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), PCI –Payment Card Industry or any other. Global websites today pose more challenges than localized websites. These local sites assure that all legal and regulatory requirements are met and regularly updated.

  5. The Process and CMS Have Built-In Security
  6. Since companies have a high volume of data online on their websites, social and other channels, security is considered critical. For example, validate how secure your website is, what tools you must use to ensure content is held securely. You must identify resources to perform certain tasks and use tools in your CMS. And, most importantly, your CMS should be able to manage workflows.

    Daily, about 30,000 websites are victimized to hacking, and with this frequency, it becomes imperative to choose a reliable website CMS.

    To avoid your software from getting hacked, have the following
    expertise in-house:

    • how security is supported

    • how can one build controls to avoid a malicious attack.

    The hackers today target website vulnerabilities through some of the penetration tools and figure out a code or a page where a malicious code can be inserted.

    Some tricks to safeguard your information

    • Selection of a CMS platform to ensure features like workflows, roles are built in, it provides password encryption and SSL integration

    • Incorporate good coding practices

    • Perform Penetration testing

    • Any e-commerce transactions must be verified by a third party agency
  7. Training and Change Management
  8. All the above steps become ineffective if people are not trained and refuse to adhere to the guidelines.

    • People should be trained on policies, standards, styling guides

    • Educate them to use a CMS. Teach them the various roles and how they will work in a workflow?

    • Acquaint them with who they need to go to incase of security breach and what steps should be taken further

    • Provide everyone the access to FAQs, Videos, Online help and Tutorials are a great help.

    Finally, to conclude well, a Content Governance Model brings you success when the right set of people, processes and tools are put in place to define a robust strategy. But do remember, these steps further need to be implemented along with measuring the effectiveness through a strict audit program.