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Improve Your Content Marketing with the 5W1H of Collaboration

July 20, 2016

Improve Your Content Marketing with the 5W1H of Collaboration

As content marketing has gotten more sophisticated, there's been some discussion whether some types of content marketing blur the lines between marketing and journalism. Flipping that coin over, others argue that tapping into journalistic tricks of storytelling creates awesome content. So this got me thinking about how the journalist's 5 W’s and 1 H could be used to as a framework to produce and publish standout content.

The 5W1H framework's beauty lays in its simplicity — it covers all the important issues without losing focus. The volume of content being created on a daily basis, and the relentless demands to keep up makes it easy to lose the forest among the trees.

A marketing team can only consistently produce a stream of consistently great content through the combined efforts of a broad array of people. If content marketing really is the only marketing left, there's no marketing without intentional, effective collaboration.

Let me take you through the 5W1H framework and show you how to use it when you're collaborating:


Every stage of content marketing requires the participation of the right group of people. Make sure you have a process and collaboration platform that actively elicits and manages their tasks and contributions.

The marketing team frequently collaborates with outside agencies and a stable of freelance creatives. But digital marketing has increased the number of marketing tactics available, each of which requires their own expertise to execute. So not only have the tactical roles grown, there's a new host of strategic roles tasked with overseeing it all. Someone has to make sure all the marketing efforts support and not contradict each other.

Then there's the content itself. The most fascinating and relevant content comes when Marketing actively collaborates with Customer Service, Sales, Training, and Product Development. They know the on-the-ground stories and concerns that help drive the messaging, tone, and verbiage.

You might consider bringing other “who’s” to the table. Where are the subject matter experts in your company or field who can offer their perspectives? Are you inspiring and curating user-generated content? (Consumers love user-generated content.) When it comes to content ideation and creation – all these groups have role to play.

When it comes to "distributing" content marketing, you'll realize there are more loops and still more people in your process: site editors, influencers, social media managers, SEO campaign managers — to name a few.

Be sure to ask yourself: "Am I bringing in all the right voices into my content marketing?" Not everyone needs (or can) participate in each stage. Asking that question makes sure you don't leave valuable voices out by mistake.


“What isn't content today?” is really the question. Your logo is content. Your blog post, landing page, email, any retweet from your company's account – all of them become your content. Is a company exec speaking at an event? That’s right, her speech is also content.

Collaboration is key to creating content, from locking down the creative brief to collecting and sifting through feedback in the iteration process. Effective collaboration connects content to the conversations about it. So it's easy to see what version of the content is being discussed, and what feedback merits getting incorporated into the next version.

Because of the high demand for more content, planned collaboration during the creation of the actual content sets the stage to let you leverage that content across channels. Is the event sponsor where your company executive is talking recording the conference? Will you have rights to use the speech in video or audio clips in your own marketing collateral? You should.

Does everyone on the social media team know where to find the current version of your logos and branded emojis? How much does the Sales team know about what webinars are coming up? Can they view recorded webinars on their own and share them with targeted contacts?

Good collaboration makes the "what" of your content available, reusable, and easily repurposed.


People's insatiable appetite for content on the Internet requires still more people in and outside of an organization become involved in executing the content marketing strategy. Did you read the "who" list? Even those not directly involved in the conceptualization, creation, or distribution processes have thoughts and expectations of what content marketing is supposed to look like and achieve.

If you aren't asking “why” and using strong collaboration principles and tools, your content will go off message. Worse, it may go off your quality standards.

Where and When

OK, I'm cheating a bit here, since the answers are: everywhere and always. Different people prefer to communicate through different channels. A quality collaborative process captures all the different ways people want to create, discuss, and share. Whether it's mobile notifications for when new drafts get shared for feedback, integrating with whatever file sync 'n' share cloud people use, or capturing the video chat of a team working on a new lead nurturing campaign.

The second critical half of the "where and when" of content marketing collaboration is reducing the effort it takes people to find the content and discussions around it. The conversations should be accessible in the same place as the content itself and “where and when” you need it.


Just because a lot of people are working on a common project doesn't mean effective collaboration is happening. It starts with a clear cultural expectation supported with well-defined collaborative workflows and tools. Collaboration tools abound, you want to work with the one that best fits your organizations' needs and processes.

Collaboration well done is the secret ingredient that paves the way for regularly publishing unbelievable content. Using the 5W1H framework ensures you don't inadvertently overlook valuable assets you need to keep your content fresh, accurate, and engaging.