Maintaining content quality with multiple stakeholders in your university

Maintaining content quality with multiple stakeholders in your university

6 minute read

Maintaining content quality with multiple stakeholders in your university

6 minute read

Maintaining content quality with multiple stakeholders in your university

Joseph Smith

Head of Digital and Print Publications at Aberystwyth University

With a number of people part of the content development process, the draft version will be returned in a new structure, different tone and violations of a consistent style guide

So, how can we maintain content quality while developing and approving copy with a large internal stakeholder group? 

As content developers, we just have to accept that on occasions there will be a need for us to turn around content quickly.  In preparation of this, these are my top three tips that will enable you to develop content consistently and with integrity to the brand and organisational values.  

Three tips for creating consistent and high-quality content

Here are three tips for creating consistent and high-quality content with your stakeholders, for your university.

Develop your university’s house style guide and tone of voice

When developing and sending content out to your academic colleagues for approval it is a natural habit or instinct that the academic contributor will want to change the content to reflect their tone of voice or simply how they would describe the course to a prospective student. 

As content developers, you should be engaging with your academic colleagues and signposting them to the organisational tone of voice and style guide. 98% of the time, your colleagues will have no idea that they exist nor be able to locate it on your organisational website.  

If your colleagues understand and are aware of the existence of the document, you may find that the role between content developer and approver becomes better defined, we’ll discuss the role between the content developer and academic contributor in more detail later in this article. You may also experience a smoother approval process with your academic counterpart.

Establish and define the roles of individuals involved in the content approval process

Whether you’re working on a large project such as prospectus development or something more every day such as developing new content for the website, it is vital that you to identify who your academic contributor is and establish their role in the beginning stages of the project. 

You should also dedicate time within your project to educate your academic contributor on the organisational tone of voice and style guide. This will avoid any potential disputes over house style rules and patterns. 

Whether you’re working on an online or offline content piece, ensure that you clearly define what you expect your academic contributor to be doing once you share your content. Consider the following: 

  1. Are you asking your counterpart to proof for errors (grammar, references to key messages e.g.)? 
  2. Are you asking them to purely fact check your content to ensure that it’s accurate and CMA compliant before publication? 
  3. Do you need them to confirm what the key statistic for the course is?
  4. Do they need to have say or an input into the choice of image for the course profile online or within the publication?

If the answer is YES to the above, you should invest time as part of the project in communicating the project steps which involves the following steps: 

  • Note / document who you’re working with 
  • Define their roles and provide clearly their objectives- what is it you require them to do? What should they be doing at each draft stage? Are they allowed to change the content? Or are you just allowing them to comment? 
  • Embrace their opinions in the early stages, make them feel they are part of the project and have an element of contribution.
  • Consider using one system to store content ideas and completed work (side note: not using word or e-mail).
  • Share your project plan – show them the detail, it will help them prioritise their workload appropriately to ensure that they can work to your deadlines. 

During these conversations you will be able to establish how the academic contributor will want to engage. Universities are large organisations and engagement amongst staff within different subject areas vary, so you may want to consider tailoring your project plan per subject area.

Move away from developing content in word documents or equivalent software! Are you deliberately trying to tease your approver on what they can change? 

Have you ever felt proud of a piece of content you have developed for approval? However upon return you open up and find that it’s been torn apart using track and change by multiple users?  

Unfortunately, this is a common re-occurrence for content developers. You can overcome this and achieve greater control of your content. To do this you need to move away and leave the world of documents and word processing applications behind. 

GatherContent enables you to develop your content and lock your content down before you share it with your academic approver.

If you have identified who your academic contributor is and defined what their objectives are in the content development process, you can share a link of the proposed content and enable the academic to make comments and ultimately approve before publication. 

The ability to lock content down at draft stage removes the temptation to skewer the tone and overall structure of the content. 

Gather Content enables you to do this easily and successfully. When developing content, you can choose the specific access your academic approver has. The level of permissions vary from ready only, comment and full access to edit amend the text. Depending on how you use GatherContent, the best way is to share the link of draft copy, require them to sign in with a name and e-mail and require them to approve the content before proceeding to embed within a designed document or for online publishing. 

By following this workflow, you’re streamlining the role of the academic contributor to fact-checking and ensuring that the content reflects the course/department correctly.  

A reminder for how to be confident your university’s content is high-quality:

  1. Ensure that you have a developed house style guide and tone of voice.

  2. Engage, educate and regularly communicate your academic contributors on these key documents, enable them to utilise the brand’s voice and values.

  3. Move away from word processing software. Discover other ways of controlling your draft content and streamlining your academic contributors’ role in the process.

With a number of people part of the content development process, the draft version will be returned in a new structure, different tone and violations of a consistent style guide

So, how can we maintain content quality while developing and approving copy with a large internal stakeholder group? 

As content developers, we just have to accept that on occasions there will be a need for us to turn around content quickly.  In preparation of this, these are my top three tips that will enable you to develop content consistently and with integrity to the brand and organisational values.  

Three tips for creating consistent and high-quality content

Here are three tips for creating consistent and high-quality content with your stakeholders, for your university.

Develop your university’s house style guide and tone of voice

When developing and sending content out to your academic colleagues for approval it is a natural habit or instinct that the academic contributor will want to change the content to reflect their tone of voice or simply how they would describe the course to a prospective student. 

As content developers, you should be engaging with your academic colleagues and signposting them to the organisational tone of voice and style guide. 98% of the time, your colleagues will have no idea that they exist nor be able to locate it on your organisational website.  

If your colleagues understand and are aware of the existence of the document, you may find that the role between content developer and approver becomes better defined, we’ll discuss the role between the content developer and academic contributor in more detail later in this article. You may also experience a smoother approval process with your academic counterpart.

Establish and define the roles of individuals involved in the content approval process

Whether you’re working on a large project such as prospectus development or something more every day such as developing new content for the website, it is vital that you to identify who your academic contributor is and establish their role in the beginning stages of the project. 

You should also dedicate time within your project to educate your academic contributor on the organisational tone of voice and style guide. This will avoid any potential disputes over house style rules and patterns. 

Whether you’re working on an online or offline content piece, ensure that you clearly define what you expect your academic contributor to be doing once you share your content. Consider the following: 

  1. Are you asking your counterpart to proof for errors (grammar, references to key messages e.g.)? 
  2. Are you asking them to purely fact check your content to ensure that it’s accurate and CMA compliant before publication? 
  3. Do you need them to confirm what the key statistic for the course is?
  4. Do they need to have say or an input into the choice of image for the course profile online or within the publication?

If the answer is YES to the above, you should invest time as part of the project in communicating the project steps which involves the following steps: 

  • Note / document who you’re working with 
  • Define their roles and provide clearly their objectives- what is it you require them to do? What should they be doing at each draft stage? Are they allowed to change the content? Or are you just allowing them to comment? 
  • Embrace their opinions in the early stages, make them feel they are part of the project and have an element of contribution.
  • Consider using one system to store content ideas and completed work (side note: not using word or e-mail).
  • Share your project plan – show them the detail, it will help them prioritise their workload appropriately to ensure that they can work to your deadlines. 

During these conversations you will be able to establish how the academic contributor will want to engage. Universities are large organisations and engagement amongst staff within different subject areas vary, so you may want to consider tailoring your project plan per subject area.

Move away from developing content in word documents or equivalent software! Are you deliberately trying to tease your approver on what they can change? 

Have you ever felt proud of a piece of content you have developed for approval? However upon return you open up and find that it’s been torn apart using track and change by multiple users?  

Unfortunately, this is a common re-occurrence for content developers. You can overcome this and achieve greater control of your content. To do this you need to move away and leave the world of documents and word processing applications behind. 

GatherContent enables you to develop your content and lock your content down before you share it with your academic approver.

If you have identified who your academic contributor is and defined what their objectives are in the content development process, you can share a link of the proposed content and enable the academic to make comments and ultimately approve before publication. 

The ability to lock content down at draft stage removes the temptation to skewer the tone and overall structure of the content. 

Gather Content enables you to do this easily and successfully. When developing content, you can choose the specific access your academic approver has. The level of permissions vary from ready only, comment and full access to edit amend the text. Depending on how you use GatherContent, the best way is to share the link of draft copy, require them to sign in with a name and e-mail and require them to approve the content before proceeding to embed within a designed document or for online publishing. 

By following this workflow, you’re streamlining the role of the academic contributor to fact-checking and ensuring that the content reflects the course/department correctly.  

A reminder for how to be confident your university’s content is high-quality:

  1. Ensure that you have a developed house style guide and tone of voice.

  2. Engage, educate and regularly communicate your academic contributors on these key documents, enable them to utilise the brand’s voice and values.

  3. Move away from word processing software. Discover other ways of controlling your draft content and streamlining your academic contributors’ role in the process.

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About the author

Joseph Smith

Joe Smith is the Head of Digital and Print Publications at Aberystwyth University. Joe leads a creative team whose responsibility include developing content for all offline and digital platforms and outputs, brand management, graphic and digital design, digital accessibility and video creation.

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