Let’s Steal from Web Developers to Make our Content Lean

Let’s talk for a moment about better content marketing through simple theft.

I’m not talking about lifting Joe Pulizzi’s last blog and posting it as your own. I’m talking about taking from web developers processes to make lean content.

Lean content is a workflow adaptation that ensures your team produces more content that can go more places.

Why should PR pros care? Because if you spend time and/or money to create content, going through a lean content development process promises it will become an asset of your business.

Development teams can teach us a lot about lean workflow and working in distributed teams. They have a unique advantage: They created their workflow on the fly as technology has evolved over the last decade or so. Those of us in the content world were hobbled by existing workflows passed down from years of print and desktop practices.

But we can take the fresh perspective devs have and make it our own. This is the idea that we started with when we began building Beegit, the easiest way for teams to write together. Here are some basic principles of lean software development and how it applies to content production.

Eliminate waste
Dev teams are top-notch at trimming down the steps to a product launch. Most writing projects suffer from inefficiencies built in because of an extra step needed to format and reformat written content.

Many shops still write their copy in Word, which is notoriously difficult to translate to the web. But even those who write in Google Docs tend to write first and then have someone else do the formatting for web and print.

Forget all that. Give your content flexibility with Markdown , a syntax that’s easier than HTML that will simplify your process so you’re ready web or print.

Amplify learning/create knowledge
What did you learn about your team’s writing process the last time someone sent you a Word or Docs file for review?

Nothing, right? What is there to learn from a flat document? Development workflows are all about learning from the process to see who did what and see what can be applied to the next build or iteration.

Doing this with content writing means creating a light workflow that shows who wrote and edited the content so you can learn where and how work is getting done. It also means taking a page from the devs and using version control.

Deliver as fast as possible
Delivering good work in a timely fashion has long been the goal of writing teams. With copy writing, that means doing work that is streamlined and creates content that is reusable.

Forget about the end display as you write and focus on creating reusable chunks. Treat each little chunk like a reusable part, maximizing each bit like a lean manufacturing process. Writing a press release? Every graph should be a stand-alone chunk that can be used on a website or in social media.

Empower the team
One of the most amazing things about dev teams is how distributed they are. Working together on content can be similar if everyone has visibility and the power to work wherever they are.

That requires you to communicate in real time, in the context of what you’re working on. I recommend our platform for enhancements like automated notifications and real-time visibility, but I feel about this like I do about voting: You need to do it, even if you don’t side with me.

Let the theft begin
Lean content is a new adaptation, but it’s all about making your team more effective when you write — whether that’s for your business or your clients. So get out there, and start stealing.

Mike Cottrill is the co-founder of Beegit, the easiest way for teams to write together. You can find Beegit on Twitter @ProjectBeegit.