In marketing, and especially content, we often work in a team or group that is in the same physical room and are constantly involved in real-life meetings. That was until a global pandemic made video calling with noisy toddlers and meowing cats the new normal.
But this time can also be an opportunity to reshape the way we work together as remote teams in a productive and meaningful way. Stephanie King, former director of global content marketing at American Express, has worked and led remote content teams for nearly a decade. Her hard-won lessons are educational for anyone looking to increase their team’s productivity no matter where they are.
# 1 – Strategy is a must for successful remote content teams …
All content marketers can tell you a lack of clarity strategy affects your success. Research by the Content Marketing Institute highlights this link. 65% of the most successful content programs use a documented strategy, compared to only 14% of the least successful.
As one of the world’s leading content providers for American Express, Stephanie acknowledges the critical role the strategy plays in keeping high performing remote teams focused on the audience. “It’s important to get to a place where you have this guide,” she says. “We reduced it to identifying five main audience needs that were essentially the backbone of our editorial content strategy.”
# 2 -… but not all teams need the same strategy
While having a strategy is important to prioritizing your content efforts, having a strategy for the entire company isn’t critical. Some companies need this more than others, but according to Stephanie, it depends on the “strategic role that content plays within that organization.”
She notes that at American Express, the strategies were developed globally for each business area to ensure uniform global coverage of the most important audiences without creating impractical rules that parts of the business could not or had to comply with. “We didn’t have a single global plan or program,” says Stephanie. “We have been working towards a single global content strategy within our business unit … a central point of view that we would have in all of our priority regions and markets.”
# 3 – Bake in flexibility in your approach
While the need to stick to proper strategy is clear, Stephanie also believes that having some flexibility in your approach will improve your remote team’s chances of success. Your approach or strategy should be prepared to “have enough flexibility so that you don’t switch from quarter to quarter and year to year,” she says.
Flexibility and consistency seem to be competing priorities, but Stephanie reports that preparing for flexibility at American Express was a big reason content was viewed as an integral part of business operations. “What I’ve seen over the years [is that] You have to be very clear and aware that you are this strategic partner and not some kind of service arm for the organization, ”she says.
# 4 – Simplify the technology your remote team is using
With only 16% of businesses in place with the right technology to manage their content programs (according to a 2019 study by the Content Marketing Institute), Stephanie understands the need for a conscious, simplistic approach to technology.
In her experience, it played a significant role in the success of the remote content teams she worked with: “Technology has been an absolute game changer for us at American Express, and especially for the content team.”
Many remote content teams cobbled together technology in the first half of 2020 with no clear plan on how to scale and maintain this approach. Stephanie’s experience with “many different processes, many emails, many spreadsheets” has enabled her to understand that without a more holistic approach to technology selection and use, it is very difficult to grow or maintain any success within remote content teams .
# 5 – Take the first step to collaborate with other teams
Content is often described as a common thread that runs through many of a company’s marketing, communication, and customer initiatives. If you’re part of a remote content team, it’s even more important to understand this principle and reach out to those other teams to ensure success and a productive working relationship.
Along with the rest of the global content team at American Express, Stephanie spent much of her time talking to and working with other teams to make sure the content was fit for the needs of the entire company. She says this is one of the key roles and most enjoyable parts of working on a remote content team, adding that “This type of collaboration, advocate, or responsibility for cohesion is over and above it all [to do with content]makes it a unique and fascinating place to operate. “
This article was developed from the advice and insight Stephanie shared during a July 2020 webinar hosted by Storyation and NewsCred. Email us to view the webinar and we will provide you with a copy.
Originally published August 5, 2020 4:04 pm, updated August 6, 2020
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