In search of a content-tracking tool to love. (Image via smemon)
If someone had told me a year ago that I would be fantasizing about editorial calendars, I would have let out a good snort.
Yet, here I am, daydreaming about a digital handmaiden that would help me realize what have come to feel like flights of organizational fancy.
It really shouldn’t be so difficult to track content development and approvals and easily communicate progress with a team dispersed across the globe. It’s been done a million times before, but I have yet to encounter a system that goes beyond adequate.
Some background: In the last few months, my team has helped to establish an editorial governance board with our client. The group’s members work across business groups and continents. The board meets regularly to coordinate content needs and sourcing and in the next few months we’re going to be creating a greater volume of content, necessitating a more robust tracking and management system.
Hence, my figurative fever dreams in which a single super-light tool is just beyond my grasp, a tool that would allow me to map out content requirements months in advance and assign the various components to different people – the video production to the communications group, let’s say, the accompanying text to a copywriter and the promotional image to a designer. Wouldn’t it be grand? And when the time comes, they could register their assets as complete within this wondrous piece of software, at which point the content would automatically move into the tracking flow where it could easily be pushed along to its next editor/approver.
In my calendaring reveries, I can easily view which content creators are at risk of a deadline slip because they can use the tool to log their impediments, triggering an email alert to relevant parties.
Versioning concerns would fly out the window as there would simply be a single instance for viewing and editing.
In this planning candy land, I can upload content to the tool and it would all be neatly associated with its sibling content. Just picture that video landing in the same place as its supporting copy). Yes, just picture it.
Alas, two additional constraints make my thorny case even more challenging: Security is of prime concern, so a tool like Google Docs has been ruled out. And our groups don’t share a content management platform, which is why being able to post assets to the tool would be super extra special!
Colleagues in content strategy and publishing have been supportive but not particularly optimistic about my pursuit. Most accept the sufficient but limited functionality of the software they’re using. And if they ever did once yearn for better tools, their passion has long since been quashed by what appears to be the harsh realities of the editorial software market.
(Note: Basecamp launched its calendaring tool as I was completing this post. At first blush, it could meet some of my needs when combined with the tool’s other functionality, but the content tracking and approvals remains a sticky wicket. I’d be interested to hear if any readers have dived into the new feature.)
In the meantime, I’m left to wonder if the content-tracking chimera I’ve been describing does or will one day exist. I haven’t yet seen it, but I’m putting this out to the content community with the hope that you, reader, can prove me wrong. If you use or know of a genius calendar/tracking/approvals tool, I implore you to comment on this post. Maybe together we can make the editorial planning world a better, cleaner and more secure place.