What Is Content Governance and Why Does It Matter?

February 6, 2020 Andrew Buck

Content governance. If you haven’t yet heard the term, start getting used to it. You’ll hear it a lot. Ten years ago, when “content marketing” took hold, organizations realized that they needed to create useful and beautiful content. Now that that’s done, organizations are beginning to realize they need to govern that content. Enter content governance. 

What is Content Governance? 

Content Governance, noun: The collection of rules, processes, and protocols that define how an organization identifies, creates, publishes, maintains, and archives content.  

You should probably be publishing far more content than you are right now. But first, have a fixed plan for what you’ll say—and how and when and where you’ll say it.  

Content isn’t just what’s on your website. Content is everything. Content is online tools, direct mail, and social media. Content is display ads, infographics, and events. Content is how you answer the phone and the signature in your emails. Anything your organization produces is content.  

Content governance is multifaceted. It involves various elements, like an editorial calendar, workflows, a content audit, style guides, and more.  

And content is never complete. That understanding is the foundation of content governance: If you’re not creating, you’re maintaining or evaluating. You’re creating a continuous cycle.  

content governance cycle

The Benefits of Content Governance 

 

Surface Ideas  

By implementing simple processes for bringing the best ideas from every level of the organization, content governance empowers you to tell your stories. There are specific ways to unlock the knowledge from your subject matter experts and turn it into something your audiences care about.  

 

Accuracy 

Regularly review your content for accuracy. Facts grow stale and details become irrelevant with time.  

Accuracy is far too important to leave unattended. Inaccuracy can do lasting, nagging damage to your brand. Content governance puts rules in place that minimize inaccuracies, ensuring that what you say is true. 

 

Effectiveness  

Let’s say your organization produces three new pieces of content each week. In a year, you’ll have 150+ discrete pieces of content that deserve your attention. In three years, you’ll be pushing 500. What’re the odds that none of that content can be improved? As your expertise deepens and your governance plan takes hold organization-wide, you’ll be able to enhance your content strategy by simply tweaking old content—making the OK good and the good great. 

 

Reduction  

Content governance prevents you from creating content that doesn’t work, making your efforts to make and maintain content more efficient. 

 

The Challenges of Content Governance 

 

Resources 

Most organizations don’t have the people power to dedicate to full-time content governance. But in time, “content governor” will probably become a job title—especially for larger organizations. Investing in content governance now will have a guaranteed payoff long-term. 

 

Customized 

No two organizations are the same, so a content governance plan must be customized. It must mold to the organization’s particularities, not try to overhaul them.  

The content governance plan for The University of Texas Permian Basin includes specifications around their teams’ roles, workflows, requirements, etc.

 

Silos 

Effective content—story ideas, fascinating expert insights, creativity—can come from people who don’t regularly (or ever) work with the marketing and communications teams. This is a governance problem. Workflows can solve it by connecting siloes in an efficient, productive manner. 

The benefits of establishing a content governance plan outweigh the challenges by a mile. Organizations that let their content spin out of control will eventually find it infecting their brand affinity. Organizations, on the other hand, that devote resources and thinking to keep their public-facing content fresh, relevant, beautiful, and engaging will win the day.  

We’ve seen content governance transform organizations, including some of our own clients at Mighty Citizen. For example, take a look at the work we’ve done with the Texas Association of School Business Officials. 

Content governance isn’t easy, but done wisely and intentionally, it will set your organization apart from the rest. 

 

Learn more about content strategy from Andrew: 

 

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