If you are a web writer, web editor, or content manager, you often find yourself trapped. You have loads of responsibility for publishing user-focused content, but too little authority (or none at all) over the people who contribute that content. You can’t “make” your colleagues update their pages, follow the style guide, or meet content deadlines.
Your manager or boss is the one with all the authority. So, how do you get your manager’s attention and support for your web writing projects when he’s focusing on a thousand other topics and really doesn’t understand the challenges of publishing good content?
I opened this topic up for discussion during an Advanced Writing for the Web course I taught last week, and as a class we came up with some great ideas I thought I’d share. Here are eight strategies for getting your manager to focus on the content at your website:
- Work on one small part of the site and document how much time you spent. Then you’ll be able to give your manager a concrete idea of how much time you need for web projects. Say: “It took me 4.5 hours to update our Outreach pages. It’ll take at least that much time to work on our Products and Services pages.”
- Show your manager your web writing work in hard copy. Hard copy often helps people focus on the site’s content and message rather than the design, technology, or the latest widget.
- Show your manager the source code. It may help him understand that you can’t merely “webify” documents and put them up on the web.
- Draft a policy, purpose, or scope statement for the website. Get your manager’s approval on your draft statement rather than waiting for your manager to draft the statement himself.
- Gather the telephone or e-mail questions that front-line staff receive from the public, customers, and site visitors. Show your manager how the existing site does not answer these questions clearly or efficiently.
- Document how many days, weeks, or months (?!) draft web content sits in the pipeline before it gets published. Show your manager the consequences of the delay.
- Present your manager with a content calendar that shows deadlines for publishing new content and retiring old content. Identify the owners of content that needs to be written or deleted. Ask for your manager’s support in getting people to comply with deadlines.
- Ask your manager to identify priorities for the site. Say: “I need a clear statement of what’s the most important thing here. What should we do first and when do you want it completed? Who should do each task and how much of their time should they spend?”
Do you have any strategies for getting your manager’s support for your web publishing efforts? If so, post them as a comment here or e-mail me.
— Leslie O’Flahavan