Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who "Owns" Content?

Seems like every other thing I've read this past week has been about curation and/or content marketing. Call me a snob, but something about the word "content" makes the writer in me cringe just a lil' bit. Is that what writing has come down to--a delivery mode for marketing messages? Granted, in the context of marketing, obviously this moniker makes sense--but in the context of associations, "content" is a murkier notion. Associations produce great publications of many types: journals, books, guidelines, industry standards, magazines...the list goes on and on. Obviously all those things count as "content" does the content of emails, websites, social media site status updates, blog posts, etc. Unlike for-profits for whom such content is likely just about marketing copy, in the context of associations, content has a much broader meaning. A for-profit company produces white papers as marketing collateral to generate sales leads. Associations produce papers for education, to elevate a profession, even to save lives. Ok, yes, that's sappy, but it's true. I think that it's a slippery slope to talk about association content like its marketing collateral, destined to be overseen--the lot of it--by a "Chief Content Officer." Given the complex nature of association content, who "owns" content in an association? Where would this Chief Content Author sit?

All those things I mentioned above--the journals, books, guidelines, standards, etc--does it all come from one particular department in an association? Depending on the size of the association, almost surely not. There's likely to be a web department, a publications department, marketing, research, PR....who knows what else. So now that "content" is the new black, we're starting to see concepts like "Chief Content Officer" swirling around. While clearly a marketing function (the job description mentioned, after all, is being defined by the Content Marketing Institute)--where would that sit in an association? Would it be the director of publications? Probably not--because that person is likely not a marketing person. Would it be the director of marketing? Probably not, as that person probably doesn't have the publishing or editorial background. How about that still in-flux social media person--could they get a crack at trying this new job on for size? After all, they're curating, monitoring, creating and slotting content, right?

I think I am all thunk out on this one--what say you people? Where do you think this vaulted chief content Officer should sit within an association? Or is chief content officer a position that may do well in the for-profit wilds but not siloed world of associations?

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