An Article by Gerry McGovern
There is a need to connect the person who creates the content with the person who reads it. Content creation must be seen as an important and valuable task within the organization. When a piece of content delivers value, the person who created it should be praised and rewarded.
A major problem with content is the disconnection between creator and reader. Much content is published today with no clear idea of who it is for or why they would want to read it.
Someone, somewhere, at some stage, decided that content should be created for some reason. This may have been for a marketing, administrative or legal reason. Over time, the reason for creating the content has disappeared.
However, the content keeps on getting created. Every day, organizations create significant quantities of this type of content. Nobody is interested in reading it. There is no value created. There is just a cost.
If we connect the creator with the reader, we will be able to significantly reduce this wasted effort. If nobody is reading this content, it needs to be seriously questioned as to why it is being published. If, after people read content, most of them are confused, it needs to be rewritten. If, after people read content, most of them are more knowledgeable, creators need to be told that they are doing a good job.
Most content creators are starved of feedback. They create content and they rarely find out if it was useful or not. Telling them that the document they published on the intranet helped another member of staff fix a difficult problem makes them feel good. They realize that what they are doing creates value.
People want to create value. Many of them see content creation as a cost and a burden because they cannot see the value being created. They need to be told they're doing a good job. They need that pat on the back. They need to hear about that success story. It makes them so much more motivated to create great content.
If you want to get great content from people it is essential that content creation is part of their job profile. It is essential that they are measured on how well they are doing. If they do it really well, they should get some extra bonus.
If they're not doing it well, they should get some guidance and training.
These are simple management concepts and yet they are often lacking when it comes to content. I have sat in workshops with people who were surprised to find content they had written on their own websites. The content had been published in the wrong section of the website and it was out-of-date. These people were unaware of this because they never felt any ownership towards the publishing process.
When high-quality content is not recognized, it gets mixed with low-quality content. For every document of high-quality content, there are 99 documents of low-quality content. Thus, intranets and public websites quickly become dumping grounds.
Let's connect the creator with the reader. Let's reward and motivate those who create high-quality content. Let's ask some basic questions of content we publish. Is this content creating genuine value? Does anyone really need to read it?
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. He has also authored several authoritative books
on the subject.