At content publishing companies there are many key business units that do their part to make the magic happen, from editorial, marketing, ad sales, and business development, to platform & product management. When operating as a content publisher, it is essential to unify the agendas of all of these departments so they work together. This tends to be more challenging the larger the company grows in terms of the workforce. When departments start to become siloed from each other, competing agendas can put goals at risk as well as expend resources ineffectively, costing the company more in the long run in terms of money and morale.
Here are my recommendations on how to stay unified and all moving in the same direction.
1. Create the Vision Together
The vision is the frame that the business operates under. This often involves modifying the company’s mission to make it more personal and applicable to it’s workforce and customers. This should be done at the enterprise level and be for all hands. I recommend to bring an outside facilitator in that way no biases come through which will create a higher level of trust in the process. Usually the process will take at least a week. I recommend utilizing an insights company such as Magid, that can gather outside data on your company and market to show you the current makeup and motives of your target market and opportunities for you to act on those insights.
2. Globally Prioritize via Roadmap Planning
Gather everyone in your department to participate in brainstorming and contributing ideas that will help advance the department and the company. This is an important step because you want the talent in your department to feel connected to the ideas on the roadmap and feel sense of ownership because this will bring about higher performance levels and dedication. Do this annually in preparation for a larger enterprise-wide roadmap planning where all stakeholders meet at the end of their fiscal year to prioritize their agenda items. This is the time to work out priorities as well as align initiatives. Stakeholders should then meet monthly to see how well they have been able to meet their goals, the impact of those initiatives and address changing market conditions. These meetings allow the company to pivot and re-align, which is necessary to remain competitive.
3. Share Departmental Calendars
With a shared console, such as Google Docs, departments can easily house and share their calendars. The calendars should be available enterprise-wide so that everyone has visibility into what they are working towards and what cross-departmental interactions need to take place.
4. Host Initiative Kick-offs
Gather all stakeholder departments and share the details behind initiatives/events as they arrive, that way other departments can learn more details and ask questions to see how they can coordinate their calendar events with what’s on the table. Always give options for continued communication preferences on how each department’s stakeholders would like to be kept in the loop, whether it be a weekly status email or call, or just a link to an initiative page that they can visit when they want.
5. Create Written Agreements on the How’s
It’s relatively easy to get departments to agree on a broad level objective or strategy. The challenge that most people run into is not the What, but the How. It’s important to get management buy-in on the How if an initiative is going to succeed. When presenting the initiative, be explicit on the How, address any other alternative Hows that get presented and come to a written agreement on the one everyone is going to work towards.
Some examples of ways that publishers have created alignment through these tools include matching a product launch with a particular event to maximize adoption, developers front-loading pesky bug fixes prior to marketing campaign launches to improve UX, Ad Sales adjusting ad load for newproduct/feature launches or marketing campaigns to maximize ad revenue, Marketing targeting specific niche markets for Editorial Special Features to maximize subscription sales, and Customer Service scheduling more heads for product launches to handle heavy incoming call load.
Share your story on how you were able to align cross-departmental initiatives and the benefits that resulted.