The sales person or IT person shares their insights on the company blog. The blog post is posted on LinkedIn by a social media manager, accompanied by a Slideshare presentation. The PR department then gets annoyed because the content could have been offered exclusively to a trade magazine. The marketing employee reads the post and in turn realizes that the topic would have been very exciting for the trade show documents. But these are now already on their way. The HR department is pleased because the article has attracted new applicants to the company. The CEO just shrugs indifferently because the content of the article is miles away from the strategic priorities that have just been defined.
This scenario is becoming increasingly likely in many companies. The boundaries between marketing, PR, employer branding, etc. are increasingly disappearing thanks to storytelling and content strategy. However, thinking in terms of classic departments continues to keep the walls up. Either there is too little communication among each other; or too much, and everyone wants to have a say in every Facebook post, no matter how small.
My plea is therefore that companies should break away from the classic domains and install a central editorial department instead. To explain what this might look like, I bring in Steve Wiens, Managing Editor of Microsoft Stories, as a sparring partner. I had the privilege of discussing exactly this approach at Microsoft with him in an in-depth interview two years ago for my book “Storytelling für Unternehmen” The following quotes are taken from it.
The newsroom and new roles
Steve Wiens: „Our daily work actually looks very similar to a newspaper editorial office, except that we have the luxury of being able to create our stories under less time pressure. We have news meetings and our editorial processes also remind me a lot of my early days as a journalist. Like newspaper reporters, we walk the campus, always looking for people and moments that define Microsoft, its vision and values. In our still quite manageable editorial team, it’s not the number of stories we publish that matters, but the quality. On the other hand, however, there is a lot of creative thinking involved that I tend to associate with advertising. For example, we often brainstorm what visual potential a story has and how we can prepare this accordingly. For certain stories, we also talk a lot with designers to find the best presentation.“
Instead of sabers being sharpened internally between Marketing, PR & Co., in a brand newsroom, as in a traditional newsroom, the editor-in-chief maintains a strategic overview of topic planning and the associated goals. Depending on the size of the company, he or she delegates stories to individual editors; or an editorial meeting plans them together. Specialization of team members – depending on the topic and structure of the company – could take place at the following levels:
- Format: While one employee specializes in writing blogposts and knows all the corresponding WordPress and SEO aspects, another editor is focused on extensive whitepapers, including graphics and layout. Or it differentiates into technical topics and personal employee stories.
- Process: Editing is subdivided into individual production stages, from research, writing, graphics, video, to proofreading, SEO, etc.
- Department: Editors work on different topics.