Should a firm concentrate content-creation staff in one standalone unit?

It's inefficient, expensive, and hard to keep content teams fully utilized when aligned exclusively to a single account.

Christine Bridger
Executive creative director, Current Lifestyle Marketing
Has created digital brand experiences for some of the world’s top brands

Content marketing or content creation is not a new concept. We have produced online content since the mid-90s, and the creative process needed to execute strategic and compelling content remains the same.

That said, the increasing volume of content being created and demanded is new, with constant format innovation and expanded distribution opportunities challenging today’s marketers. To meet the needs of brands in an ever-evolving, real-time landscape, housing content creators in a specialty department is the way to go.

It’s inefficient, expensive, and hard to keep content teams fully utilized when aligned exclusively to a single account, as content needs ebb and flow with client workstreams and budgets.

Content covers many formats and types, so it’s ideal to be able to deploy a team of connected content experts for specific needs, with skill sets that match the assignment. If video is needed, tap a producer, editor, copywriter, and art director. If a content strategy is needed, tap a roster made up of a planner and content strategist. Having the flexibility to pull in experts ensures each project has the right team, resulting in the best content and time utilization, and thriving business results for both the agency and client.

I’ve seen cases where content creators are aligned to specific accounts and feel they are alone on an island. The content suffers, the exploration process is limited, and there is less creative collaboration among peers.

I understand the importance of being ingrained in the brand, but it is even more important to give a fresh prospective, stay up to date on tech and trends, and apply insights gained from working on other accounts.

Establishing a specialty team allows people to focus exclusively on content, resulting in stronger expertise and strategic council for the rest of the agency.

The content team is better equipped to share best practices, leverage emerging vendors and platforms, and refine processes to become even more effective in the content space. So don’t sprinkle content folks around to feel covered off on client needs – be strategic by engaging the right talent for the job.

Paula Cavagnaro
SVP, Bateman Group
Senior-level marcomms pro with 15 years’ experience. Manages the firm’s content studio and media and marketing practice

There is no question that having a content practice that is integrated into accounts, rather than standalone, is the way to go for a PR agency.

Content creation is key to the work we do for our clients, and specialists need to develop deep industry expertise to write with authority, much like reporters do in newsrooms. Managing writers in a silo leads to impromptu utilization, making this knowledge sharing difficult.

Companies with complex stories – and technology – require a deep technical and narrative understanding. Content creators must be able to align their writing with a client’s messaging, voice, and the trends that shape their markets. Specialists have to be embedded with a client and internal account team to do this right. All for one – focused on the same end goal.

Including content specialists on accounts also means there are no internal fights over resources or hours. We’re all working for the client in unison, offering the best possible strategy and service, regardless of what percentage is content versus media outreach and traditional PR activities. This ensures high-quality content leads the way. 

The Bateman Group has always hired strong writers, but formally created its content studio three years ago when it hired a former journalist, Elinor Mills, to lead it. Today, it has expanded to a stable of content specialists, including in-house writers, marketing, and social media experts and freelancers. While the studio operates as a distinct, specialized unit, staffers are embedded in many accounts. They create and amplify stories that elevate clients as industry leaders, within the context of account teams. They attend internal and client meetings, and clients see them as the go-to experts for all things content-related.

We find that having a focused content practice comprised of team members who are well-integrated across all accounts is attractive to our clients. This allows us to apply a team approach while giving us the flexibility to easily assign new team members from the Content Studio to accounts as the work and engagement evolves.

PRWeek’s View: Whether they’re technically part of a standalone group or embedded with account teams, the top priority has to be content creators working seamlessly with clients and other colleagues. No content creator is an island.

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