At Acrolinx, we spend a lot of time talking about enterprise content. We often use words like “governance” and “guidelines” and talk about why software like a content impact platform helps introduce those necessary guardrails for your content. This blog post explains what each of those words mean, and why we think they’re essential for creating strategy-aligned content at scale.
As part of developing your content strategy, you’ll probably develop content guidelines for different audiences and types of content. These guidelines are the established rules that your business has deemed important to follow for brand and audience alignment. In order to scale your content strategy, you need a way to actively guide your content creators as they’re writing so that following your standards isn’t an afterthought, but rather becomes part of the process.
While your content strategy puts all of the rules in place, that’s only half the work. You need a way to always make sure that they’re followed. That’s where governance comes in.
Governance is a pretty straightforward term. In the world of content creation, it refers to the people, processes, and systems that you have in place to manage content creation. For example, perhaps in your organization every piece of content needs to be peer reviewed by someone else before it can be published. Or your corporate style guide that everyone should follow. There could be any number of other guidelines that you try to enforce, too. All of those types of procedures, and the corresponding rules they represent, are part of your governance and they’re critical for ensuring quality and consistency.
The challenge with governance is that it can fall short for a variety of reasons. Writers can choose to ignore your style guidelines. Or maybe the team of editors you’ve hired to review all of your content doesn’t have the bandwidth to look at everything. As a result, things can slip through cracks, with your organization potentially publishing or distributing content that just isn’t up to scratch. Even with the best laid plans, this is something that happens all of the time in large, globally distributed organizations.
We describe guardrails as the systems, workflows, and technologies that stop content contributors from making mistakes when they ignore a guideline. Guardrails are governance in action.
What do you have in place that helps your writer stay aligned to your corporate style guide, and prevent content from being published when it’s off-brand? Ideally your content will hit a guardrail (such as a quality gate that you’ve set up in your content lifecycle) and bounce back into a team that can make the necessary changes to bring that content piece back into alignment with your content goals and guidelines.
Without guardrails, published content may contain inconsistent terminology, poor readability, or non-inclusive language (just to name a few) which damages your customer experience, or even your brand reputation.
The best guardrails are those that don’t intrude on your writer’s creative or working space. Meaning, they integrate into wherever content is created and don’t just accept or reject content without helpful insights on how to improve it. Even better, are options for automation, where content is reviewed automatically at multiple stages of the content lifecycle. Automation is one of the best strategies to get more out of your content, without investing additional resources. And, it helps you regularly review and update enormous volumes of enterprise content over the course of its lifetime.
Bringing governance, guidance, and guardrails together
The secret to effective content creation at scale is to find an enterprise content impact platform that brings governance, guidance, and guardrails together. That’s because when you’ve only got one or the other, you can’t sustain a great customer experience through content long term. If you’ve only got guidance, people don’t necessarily follow the rules. If you’ve only got governance, you don’t have that enterprise-wide transparency and control you need to ensure total compliance with your content standards.
By bringing these concepts together in a user-friendly way, you get better results with your content. And the results you’ll get will continue to benefit your business long term, because you’ve set up a sustainable way to create, measure, and continually improve content so that’s serving your customers and business for as long as it’s published.
Effective content creation at scale
It’s this one-two punch of having governance and then being able to enforce it with proper guidance (and guardrails) that allows large companies with hundreds or even thousands of writers to create better, more consistent content. Content that’s always 100% on-brand and on-target, imagine that! How do they do it? With an enterprise content impact platform, like Acrolinx.
Acrolinx is the leader in content impact. Our AI-powered software improves the quality and impact of all types of enterprise content. It’s not like other authoring assistance tools because it’s fully customizable to the enterprise. That means you have the opportunity to change its guidance however you see fit to meet your company’s specific style guidelines.
So, say for example that you want to make sure that your content always adopts a conversational tone in one type of content, or that your writers always use the Oxford comma. You can set those preferences (and thousands of others) within the platform. Likewise, you can enter all of your company’s preferred terminology into the system, including things like brand and product names, preferred spellings, and other words and phrases that are unique to your business. We like to think of guidelines not just as guidelines, but as goals for your content. Because behind every content guideline there’s often a deliberate reason for communicating a particular way.
Once Acrolinx has captured all of that information, we offer a combined approach of authoring assistance and automation to implement your strategy and govern all of those preferences. Want to see how it works? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you!