There’s no question that municipal organizations like cities, counties, special districts, and state agencies struggle to find and retain employees. The additional complication of slated retirements (many of which have been moved up due to COVID-19) may have organizations like yours facing a staffing crisis. Of course, your work still needs to be done — and as efficiently as possible. And that includes your website’s content.
When you’re building a new website or improving your current one, high-quality content is integral to its success. But web content development and maintenance, if not strategized and managed thoughtfully, can consume a disproportionate amount of your staff’s limited time and energy. The solution? You’ve got to build a content team that’s both strong and sustainable.
Building a content team may not sound easy when your organization’s resources are already stretched thin. If you take these three steps with a digital partner, though, you’ll be able to identify the right individuals to create meaningful content for your website without putting undue strain on your employees.
1. Survey the Landscape of Your Current Municipal Content
Your website is a tool for your citizens. It has to be useful. If the content is incorrect, irrelevant, or confusing, you have failed at your fundamental mission. So before you begin building your content team with an external partner, you need to internally investigate the status of your current content.
Answer these key questions to fully understand your current content landscape:
- Do you have a content team? Even if you don’t have a defined team, you should know who is in charge of the home page, who is producing news on your site, and who manages the service pages.
- Are content contributors siloed? If contributors (especially from different departments) work in isolation, you’re missing an important opportunity to empower content through collaboration.
- Are you producing content on a regular basis? Content has a life cycle; your content may have gotten stale (out of date or inadequate). New information isn’t new forever.
- Are you making regular, thorough content updates? You should know which pages are affected by changes in roles, regulations, office openings/closings, and the like. Naturally, those pages need to be monitored the most frequently. Don’t forget: updates should be made throughout an entire page to avoid inconsistencies (not just at the top of the page).
You don't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel when building a content team. You can plug into existing workflows and chains of command — but first you have to know what they are.
2. Assign the Right Content Roles to the Right People
There’s no one way to build a content team. What your web content team should be tailored to how your organization is set up and how you’re accustomed to working.
For some government organizations, a centralized team in the Communications or IT department handles the bulk of website maintenance. For others, there is only a central point person, with most content tasks doled out to individual representatives in departments. In either case, these individuals assume the responsibility of making sure site content is accurate, relevant, and digestible.
Bear in mind that not everyone on your team needs to be a content strategy expert. In fact, your team will benefit from the contributions of those who have never worked with content before in an official capacity. Consider recruiting the help of:
- Department members/heads who are tapped into the “latest and greatest” in their respective areas. Even if they don’t contribute directly to content development, they can be great sources of information.
- Those who have longer tenures (and therefore may be able to check content for accuracy).
- People who attend important meetings have access to the meeting minutes. The minutes themselves (or their evolution into an article) may need to be published on your site.
- Aspiring writers or digital content creators who are enthusiastic about getting content creation experience in addition to other job responsibilities.
- Individuals who write your emails or social media posts. They’re writing regularly anyway and may find additional writing for your site an easy lift.
Getting participation and buy-in from content “non-experts” will benefit the overall health and liveliness of your site.
Once you’ve assessed the availability of those around you, you can begin to decide what role each willing person can assume on your content team. Granted, you may have to assign multiple roles to one person, depending on the size of your organization. In general, you’ll want to have these six positions filled:
- Content source: a team member who provides information required to create or revise website content.
- Writer: a team member who creates content and is familiar with content strategy and internal style/usage guidelines.
- Editor: a team member who edits content and is familiar with content strategy and internal style/usage guidelines.
- Reviewer: a team member who reviews content for legal, compliance, or other requirements and is familiar with their particular review objectives.
- CMS entry/updates: a team member who enters or updates content in the website content management system (CMS) but may not have the ability to publish it on the live site.
- CMS publisher: a team member who can publish content in the CMS.
Take stock of the strengths and weaknesses in individuals who are willing and able to help. Then you can wisely connect them to appropriate roles so you can operate smoothly. You’ll also learn where your content team needs more help.
3. Augment Your Content Team With Outside Help
Many government organizations need to augment their content teams with outside help. While no one knows more about your organization than your employees, content experts can help turn your depth of knowledge into actionable content more efficiently.
When you choose to work with Interpersonal Frequency, you’ll be engaging with one of our content strategists from the very beginning. Together we’ll determine what additional content support you need and the best way to obtain it. We may see you’ll be best served by:
- Hiring a freelance writer with municipal content and UX writing experience. We can help you find a right-fit candidate — and onboard them.
- Training your team. Our content strategy coaches can teach your team how to set up easier workflows and improve the sustainability of your site so it’s less of an ongoing lift. Training is a good option if your team has solid writers who are newer to the context of web/municipal content.
- Someone to embed with your team. Our content coach can pick up pieces of content in need of heavy revision but also coach your staff on best practices so that they get better over time. Embedding could be a good fit if you have team members who are interested in or available for some content work but don’t have a lot of background knowledge.
When your team members have agency, a voice, and feel like they're making an impact with content, they’re more likely to feel happy and fulfilled in their jobs. That will make a real difference in your ability to attract and retain staff members.
Interpersonal Frequency understands the unique challenges of municipal website content creation. Let’s talk when you’re ready to build a strong and sustainable content team that will serve your website — and citizens — well.