Content Therapy is Managing Editor’s twice-monthly advice column, where Paul Chaney responds to your questions about the messy dilemmas content marketers face in their work. We are (obviously) not licensed therapists. Email us your questions at email@example.com.
Help! I’m Struggling to Collaborate in My New Job!
Dear Content Therapist: I recently started a new content marketing job, and I’m finding it challenging to collaborate effectively with other teams in the company. It seems like there’s a lack of understanding and appreciation for the value of content marketing, and it’s hindering my ability to execute successful campaigns. I need their help to succeed, and I’m trying to get to know them, but it’s been tough. How can I bridge this gap and foster better collaboration with other departments? — STRUGGLING WITH INTERDEPARTMENTAL COLLABORATION
You are not alone in that, believe me. I’ve been part of at least two companies where marketing was either looked down on or simply disregarded. It is a VERY frustrating feeling to know that the work you’re doing isn’t appreciated.
Part of the reason is that in many companies, marketing is viewed more as a line-item expense than as an addition to the bottom line. Unfortunately, that’s often a truism.
While I was never able to completely solve the problem of interdepartmental collaboration and teamwork — even yelling and stomping my foot didn’t seem to help (LOL) — let’s see if these ideas can work for you.
With respect to Stephen R. Covey and his classic book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” let’s refer to these as “The 7 Habits of Highly-Effective Content Marketers.”
1. “Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood”
That’s a direct quote from Covey’s Habit No. 5. By that, he means listening to other people and understanding their perspectives. In your context, seek to understand other teams’ goals, challenges and priorities before asking for their help with your initiatives. It’s all about showing empathy.
2. Develop Personal Relationships With Colleagues
Have watercooler conversations to build rapport and camaraderie. Collaboration is easier between people who know and trust each other.
3. Present Marketing’s Value
You may have to show how content marketing contributes to ROI, either directly or indirectly. That means digging into analytical data and preparing reports. It’s hard to argue with empirical metrics. Use case studies and success stories as evidence, too.
4. Invite Other Departments to Collaborate
The other departments may not feel an affinity for marketing because they aren’t invited to collaborate during the content planning process. Give them that opportunity. Not all will respond, but they can’t point a finger saying you excluded them.
5. Involve Management
If they won’t listen to you, maybe they will listen to your manager or supervisor. Sometimes, things work better top-down than bottom-up.
6. Communicate Well and Often
Open clear communication channels to regularly update and get feedback from other teams. That could come through scheduled meetings, email or messaging platforms like Slack.
7. Offer Personal Support
Be proactive and reach out to other departments to offer help and support. Anticipate their needs before being asked. (Refer to Covey’s first habit.)
Perhaps the best thing you can do is be patient and persistent. Building trust and changing perceptions takes time.
Remember, you’re not alone. Many marketers face these same challenges. By being patient, proactive, collaborative and transparent, you can build relationships and trust that benefit all parties.
Does the Work Never End in This Job?
Dear Content Therapist: I’ve been working as a content marketer at my current company for the past three years. Lately, I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of content demands. Between managing a company blog that requires three posts per week, creating engaging social media updates for multiple platforms, and developing email campaigns for different target segments, it feels like there’s never enough time to produce quality content. On top of that, our marketing team recently launched a new podcast, and I’ve been tasked with creating show notes and promotional materials. With all these responsibilities, I’m starting to worry that I’m sacrificing quality for quantity. How can I effectively manage my workload and ensure that I’m delivering valuable content without compromising on quality? — FEELING OVERWHELMED BY CONTENT DEMANDS
Paul Chaney: First, let me address what I feel is a more important issue — your well-being. Don’t allow yourself to get dragged down mentally or emotionally due to overwhelming responsibilities. No job is worth that!
Take some time for yourself to relax, step away from the pressures and, to quote the well-known saying, “Put your oxygen mask on before helping others.” You certainly can’t meet the demands of your job when you’re not at your best.
With that concern out of the way, here’s what I would do to mount a defense.
Identify what tasks deliver the most value and focus on them. Don’t live under the “tyranny of the urgent” (i.e., the tension between those things that are urgent versus those that are important), sacrificing the important to react to the pressing.
Create a Content Calendar
Even the most organized content marketers can benefit from planning monthly, quarterly or yearly content via a content calendar. Putting content deliverables into a calendar will reduce some of the stress you’re feeling. You may be surprised at how getting those tasks out of your head and onto a calendar can help. Many digital calendars are available, but you may benefit even more by actually writing them down on paper.
Delegate When Possible
Is it possible for other team members to tackle some of the tasks? My concern is that your desire to ensure you produce quality content may mean taking on the task yourself. You know the adage, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” However, if other team members can shoulder some responsibilities, trust them, and don’t hesitate to delegate. You can always edit the content if it’s not up to your standards.
Standardize and Optimize Work Processes
Streamline your work processes to remove redundancies. Use project management tools like Monday, Trello or Asana to help.
Consider Using AI Tools
Another option growing by leaps and bounds is the use of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT. If you’re wary of trusting a public tool with your intellectual property, there are countless alternatives to ChatGPT that are designed for brands. While we don’t prescribe implementing copy verbatim, these paradigm-breaking tools can save you tons of time in research, ideation, draft writing and more.
Discuss Reducing Quantity to Ensure Quality
If the goal is to produce quality content, discuss with your manager or team whether a reduced production quota is feasible.
Unless you’re Wonder Woman or Superman, there are limits to how much you can take on. It sounds like you’re approaching that point, if not already there. You may need to say to your manager, “No more.” (Not those words exactly, but you get the gist.) If the person has any empathy at all, they’ll understand.
Ask for Help
If you have to maintain the current production schedule, ask for help. There’s no shame in doing so.
I recall a time when I had reached a similar limit. I told my supervisor that a particular task was outside my area of expertise and, despite making several attempts, I was unable to accomplish it.
Graciously, he relieved me of that specific responsibility, and we began a job search for a more qualified person. The result of that search led us to an ideal candidate and a much higher level of productivity than I could have achieved on my own.
Perhaps you could outsource some of the work to freelancers or even discuss hiring a part-time or full-time employee to lighten the load.
Navigating content marketing demands to meet quality and quantity goals is no small challenge. However, using these tips, it’s possible to manage your workload effectively and maintain the quality standard to which you aspire.
And one more time for the record — take care of yourself first.
Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed mental health provider, health care provider or legal professional.
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