Are You Ready to Hire Quality for Your Content Team?. Many companies just aren’t ready to hire quality. To gauge employer readiness – and to ensure that the executives I place will be successful and satisfied – I ask these questions of chief marketing officers. It’s important to figure out whether a company plans to publish product-oriented content or idea-oriented content. They might say, “We have a lot of writers internally we can move over to this group.” Often they are referring to legacy marketing writers who are not always suited to developing thought leadership. I also ask about their data-viz and design resources specifically, since these skills are increasingly important to set companies apart. Are you ready to do the original research? But how do you keep top talent engaged when, realistically, great writers and editors often have little-to-no opportunity for advancement? The company wants consultants, who are on the front lines of client engagements, to keep their eyes open to original ideas that can feed the content creation machinery. I worked with a company that gave their content team a list of five customers each week who they were required to call.
For the past 20 years, my Boston-based practice has supplied content talent to Harvard Business Review and Fortune 500 CEOs, as well as more than half of the top 10 global management consulting firms, among others. On average, I turn away one in three prospects who get in touch requesting my services. Why? Many companies just aren’t ready to hire quality.
To gauge employer readiness – and to ensure that the executives I place will be successful and satisfied – I ask these questions of chief marketing officers. (And I think these same questions apply to candidates interviewing prospective employers.)
What motivates the hire?
Content marketing is a discipline that requires sustained commitment. When someone from a company calls me saying they are ready to hire a director of content marketing, chief content officer, or editorial director, I always ask to what extent they feel pressure to set up a content team to follow in the footsteps of competitors. I want to know if the move is genuine, or whether it’s about keeping up with their peers.
What types of content projects do you envision?
It’s important to figure out whether a company plans to publish product-oriented content or idea-oriented content. I ask for specific examples of what they have in mind. If they are coming out of traditional marketing, they’re programmed to think in terms of the 4 Ps, but I also want to know about “perception” and “proficiency.” Can they exhibit proficiency and knowledge, and in doing so build their brand as the smartest in that field? The only way to figure it out is to see whether they recognize the difference between product-based marketing and idea-based marketing. That shift requires a completely different mindset and skill set – a balance of rigorous critical thinking and storytelling expertise.
What are your content goals?
For example, do they want to be news-driven and topical, or publish analyses of long-term trends. Do they want their content to have a social impact? Questions such as these indicate how deeply they’ve thought about their strategy. It also helps me understand whether they are interested in filling a content quota or making a lasting impact.
Who is behind the hiring effort?
Is it just the CMO who believes in the importance of the role, or is there a real commitment from the C-suite? I try to identify all the internal champions. If it’s just the CMO, any candidate I send will be doomed from the start.
Who’s on the team?
Sometimes there are clear indicators…