It’s no secret that inbound marketing is a game changer for small businesses. However, many entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to keep up with multiple platforms and processes.

Couple that with outsourcing of your content development to employees or contractors, and what’s the result? A lack of cohesive messaging for your brand.

In the past, editorial policies were used mainly for journalists, publications, and online bloggers. As businesses have begun to curate content as part of their marketing strategy, the same principles apply.

Let’s take a look at what an editorial policy is, and what it can do for your brand.

It Keeps Your Message Cohesive

An editorial policy defines the objective of your content marketing strategy. Is your goal to drive people to you website? Is it to generate leads? Is it to sell products? Perhaps one of your goals is to provide added value to your customers. Whatever your purpose, an editorial policy helps to keep your brand messaging on track.

This policy establishes parameters for what kind of content your business will produce and promote. It can also inspire you if you find yourself with a dreaded case of writer’s block.

An editorial policy for a business is a bit different than those used for publications or bloggers. An effective policy should cover:

Brand objectives
Brand color & image parameters
Guidelines for social media posts
Guidelines for blog posts (if applicable)
Crisis management procedure
Link policies
Press guidelines

By establishing exactly how you want to be perceived on a variety of platforms and situations, you can better communicate your message cohesively.

It Keeps You Focused

As entrepreneurs, we’re all guilty of this. We see another business using a new tool or strategy, and we assume that it MUST work for us, right? Maybe not.

There is no “one size fits all” content template that will work for every business. Your brand is unique. You solve specific problems using a creative approach or product(s).

Having a documented editorial policy for your content strategy forces you to think twice about every new marketing opportunity. You have to consider:

“Is this really a good fit for me?”
“Is this really going to help us meet our goals?”
“Does this really fit with everything else we’re doing?”
“How can I make my content parameters fit within this platform?”

This is good for three reasons:

First, it helps you to stay the course for maximum results. You’ll be focused and consistent with the platforms you’ve already engaged – which is vital for success in social media, blogging, and other inbound marketing practices.

It also keeps you from spending money on projects that don’t work for your brand.

Finally, it helps you benchmark specific practices to determine the best method to grow your following and generate leads.

Risk Mitigation

At some point in the life of your business, you’re going to deal with difficult customers. In today’s world, it’s fairly likely that there may be an exchange on one of your online forums. Having an editorial policy in place will take emotion out of the equation and gives you a set of guidelines to follow to manage the situation professionally.

Another consideration comes in when you outsource your content development and audience engagement to an employee or an outside firm. You want the transition to be smooth, and for your audience to never know the difference between you posting and an employee posting.

An editorial policy establishes boundaries for your team, and empowers them to post without having to worry about whether they are doing it correctly. They know exactly how they are supposed to represent the company, because you’ve documented it for them. This means fewer headaches for you, and less potential for disaster for your company.

Creating an editorial policy is time consuming, and it can be easy to overlook important factors. Heeren Content & Strategy offers comprehensive packages to help you identify your brand objectives and create an editorial policy to keep you and your team on the right track.

Contributor: Erika is the founder of Heeren Content & Strategy and serves as Project Manager for Wright Stuff Radio. A 13-year marketing and public relations veteran, she has a professional focus on integrated media spanning 16 different industries. She works with small businesses and non-profit organizations to provide affordable, professional-quality content development, marketing, and public relations services. Her clients include local small business owners, marketing agencies, public universities, media outlets, Huffington Post-published authors, IT firms, and non-profit organizations.

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