Content Therapy is Managing Editor’s 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.
I’m Being Used to Distract From a Scandal!
Dear Content Therapist: Recently, our content marketing agency came under fire due to working with a now-former client whose business connections went against our mission and values of diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging. Our background research didn’t turn up any red flags. But now, we’ve been made aware that many of the client’s close partnerships aren’t supportive of DEIB efforts. This revelation then turned the spotlight on my company because although our values are to be diverse and inclusive, it doesn’t actually show in our staff besides me. To save face, my bosses are making me the poster person for our upcoming DEIB initiatives and the unofficial spokesperson for DEIB in our organization. I feel as though I’m just being used to cover up the mess. Being the only person of color in my workplace doesn’t automatically make me the expert to solve all these problems. I believe in the company and what it stands for, but being used as a tool to save face isn’t in my job duties. How can I help the company move forward and be diverse without becoming the poster girl for DEIB? — THE OLIVIA POPE OF CONTENT
Paul Chaney: There are two ways to look at this: as a problem or opportunity. While it’s important to recognize the value of DEIB initiatives, it’s also essential to acknowledge your feelings and concerns. Let’s examine the issue from both perspectives.
A Problem to Be Solved
Looking at the issue from this perspective, here are steps to take:
- Communicate your concerns with your boss. It’s understandable that they want to improve the company’s reputation and save face, but it’s crucial that they understand its effect on you. Be honest about how you’re feeling and how you think this responsibility will impact your job.
- Remind your boss that DEIB is a collective responsibility. While it’s essential to have someone spearhead these efforts, it’s equally important to involve the entire staff in the initiatives.
- Consider proposing that your company create a DEIB committee. Include representatives from all departments. This would provide a more comprehensive approach and help guarantee that everyone has a stake in the effort.
An Opportunity to Be Embraced
Being the face of DEIB initiatives can be a significant responsibility. Instead of viewing it as a problem, embrace it as an opportunity to advance your career.
It requires a strong understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles, as well as the ability to communicate effectively with different stakeholders, including clients, colleagues and the public.
Take the lead in creating a DEIB committee (or task force) that’s inclusive of personnel from all departments, and express your willingness to serve as chair. Such a proactive approach can make your boss and the company at large view you as a genuine asset. As the adage goes, don’t just curse the darkness; light a candle.
You may also want to recommend that your agency invest in DEIB training for all employees. This would help to guarantee that everyone in the organization has a strong understanding of DEIB principles and can contribute to initiatives in a meaningful way.
Just remember that you aren’t alone in this. Many companies face similar challenges and struggle with DEIB efforts. How you view this — as a problem or opportunity — could influence whether your company views DEIB as a face-saving measure or a genuine part of its culture..
I’m A One-Person Team … Help!
Dear Content Therapist: For the past 3 months, I’ve been a content marketing team of one. Unfortunately, due to financial challenges, everyone on my team was fired except for me. The termination happened quickly, which left no time to put systems into place that I could handle. Fast forward to today; I’m basically drowning, with no clear solution in sight. I’ve asked for help, and aside from hiring a freelancer who only works once a week, it’s just me. I want to put some structure into the processes, but I’m not sure where to start. How can I build a process that can keep me afloat until we’re able to hire another team? — THE LITTLE CONTENT MARKETER THAT TRIED
Paul Chaney: I’m sorry to hear about the situation you’re facing as the sole content marketing team member at your agency. Being the only person left to do the work previously shared by a team is challenging, to say the least.
I was in the same situation a few years ago, and it became untenable. In frustration, I reached out to my supervisor. We worked out an equitable solution and hired someone to handle responsibilities in areas where I wasn’t well-equipped.
Let’s see if we can find some ways to manage this that keep you from reaching a similar level of frustration. These steps can help:
Assess Your Workload
First, step back and assess your workload. Make a list of all the tasks you need to carry out, including deadlines and priorities. This will help you comprehend the scope of work and what tasks you should prioritize. Getting a clear picture of everything you’re responsible for will give you some sense of relief.
Develop a Process
Once you have a clear picture of your workload, develop a process for managing your tasks. One approach is to use a project management tool, such as Asana or Trello, to help you keep track of your tasks and deadlines. You can also use these tools to create task lists, which can help you prioritize your work and stay organized.
Break Down Tasks
Another approach is to break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. This helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed and makes it easier to focus on one task at a time. For example, you could break down a blog post into smaller tasks, such as researching the topic, outlining the post, writing the post and editing the post.
Use Automation and AI
You could also explore automation software to streamline some of your tasks, such as scheduling social media posts. Also, check into some of the new AI content creation tools, like ChatGPT. While they shouldn’t replace your efforts, they can help make creating content more efficient, enabling you to do more in less time.
Talk to Your Manager
Communicate your workload and any challenges you’re facing with your manager. They may be able to provide you with additional support, help prioritize your tasks or even remove some from your plate. .
Maximize the Freelancer’s Time
Even though the freelancer only works one day per week, make sure you maximize the value of their time. (That’s another area where project management tools can help.)
These steps can help to alleviate some of the pressure you’re under (if not the workload) until you’re able to hire additional team members.
To sum up, the key to managing your workload as a team of one is to be organized, prioritize your tasks, and communicate with your manager about the challenges you face. By developing a process for managing your workload and seeking support where needed, you can keep your head above water until you’re able to hire.
Most importantly, take care of yourself during this challenging time. Take breaks when you need them, and prioritize your mental health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, reach out to your manager or HR representative for support. This, too, shall pass.
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.