In management circles across the land, there’s an ongoing debate around corporate hierarchies and org charts. With the need for speed and agility – and employees increasingly hungry for autonomy – does the classic structure, with diktats delivered down from on high, still have a place in modern business?

Bloomberg thinks not, and in 2016 went as far as to declare it OFFICIALLY DEAD (hyperbole much?) Still, questioning the way we’ve always done things is key to improving and innovating.

When it comes to content, however, I’m inclined to politely disagree. Much like publishing, you still need editors to orchestrate the whole machine. You need proofreaders and writers, whether in-house or freelance. Increasingly you need video people, you may have a PR firm, an SEO agency, a branding team.

But these things can’t operate independently. The left hand needs to know what all the other hands are doing (in this metaphor the business is an octopus. With hands.) You need someone sitting on top of everything is the point.

Brands have been encouraged to ‘think like publishers’ for a while now. This is true in some ways. An editorial strategy needs to be compelling, needs to consider readership and be bloody interesting.

But brands are not set up like a publisher. A publisher’s sole responsibility is to produce ‘content’. Their machine is set up to do that and that alone.

Often businesses have an enthusiastic marketing director, a team that is somewhat engaged but has better things to think about, and a business leader that just wants growth.

Someone has to supercharge the content function in the business, and that’s why, for most, a content hierarchy is a must.

Content marketing

The other reason is that content by committee is a fool’s errand. Collaboration, absolutely. A bunch of people poring over every article? Simply not sustainable.

The editor’s word should be final. The editor’s job should also be to define the roles and responsibilities within the content function. Each person needs to know where their responsibilities begin and end, and also the process by which content is produced, discussed, assessed, distributed, communicated with the team, PR’d, designed, and however else you want it to work.

Hey, I’ve written a bloody massive post about how to create a content marketing machine already, so go read that.

So, homework. Take a look at how content is produced in your business. Who’s doing what? If there are bottlenecks, common confusions, dropped balls or missed deadlines, it’s likely because the roles and responsibilities are ill-defined or not defined at all.

We do content marketing strategy and creation for knowledge-driven agencies, B2B SaaS providers and membership organisations. Learn more about what we do.

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.

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