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How to Hire the Perfect Chief Content Officer

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Your company’s primary means of communication is content. Your content strategy can boost or sink your brand, your relationships, and your entire company. It’s the responsibility of your chief content officer (CCO) to set, share, and uphold your company’s key messages through content.

This makes the position of CCO one of the most pivotal and complex roles in your company.

The best CCOs are more than just writers, managers, or salespeople. They’re all of these things, and they work across several departments to develop unique, valuable content that distinguishes your company and drives new business opportunities.

Doing content right takes design and editorial skills as well as industry expertise, and finding someone with the right mix of talent and knowledge is not easy. The ideal CCO profile will vary depending on your company’s needs, but there are some key traits you should look for:

  • Analytical: Your ideal hire should be able to combine qualitative and quantitative data to extract actionable insights from your content efforts. She also should be able to predict future trends because today’s best practices aren’t going to be tomorrow’s best practices.
  • An agile learner: The digital content landscape is constantly evolving. You need a CCO who regularly reads blogs such as HubSpot and The Content Strategist to stay on top of new tools and trends. Your CCO should be able to adapt to changes on the fly.
  • Creative: Look for someone who can see beyond industry norms to create groundbreaking and engaging content. Your CCO should be setting trends, not following the crowd.
  • Social: Your CCO is ultimately a champion for your customers, so she needs to be able to communicate with them to tap into their wants and needs. She should be comfortable exchanging ideas with colleagues, peers, and customers and be able to convey key messages in a way your audience will understand.
  • Organized: Collaborating with different departments and tracking every aspect of a multi-pronged content strategy aren’t tasks for the disorganized. Your CCO should have the skills to effectively manage content creation workflows and organize an editorial calendar while overseeing A/B testing, conversion funnels, and many other facets of the content department.
  • Sales-minded: Your content is a powerful sales tool, and you need someone who can put on the sales hat when necessary. A strong CCO understands the role content plays in converting readers into customers and knows what types of content will fuel the process.

5 Questions to Help Identify the Right CCO

It goes without saying that you need to use care in making this hire. Here are a five tried-and-true interview questions that will help you find the right CCO:

  1. How do you teach yourself? This is one of my favorite questions. It’s important to know how the candidate thinks, what methods she uses to test her strategies, and how she gets results.
  2. What’s the latest thing you’ve written? If the answer is an email or a short blog post she wrote six months ago, that should be a red flag. Your ideal CCO should enjoy writing and do it often — regardless of whether it’s part of her job.
  3. What is the first thing you’d do as CCO? A promising CCO candidate doesn’t walk into an interview without doing her homework. If she isn’t familiar with your content strategy or armed with suggestions for improvement, you should probably continue searching.
  4. How do you make sure people read your content? Just sharing links on Facebook and Twitter won’t cut it in the content marketing world. If this is her answer, you should think twice. The best content marketers regularly research and test new distribution channels to ensure their content reaches the intended audiences.
  5. How do you manage the content creation process? Although developing content is a creative process, you still need a system in place to keep the supply flowing. Knowing how a candidate would manage this process will reveal her ability to scale your content efforts in the future.

The hiring process is just the start. After you’ve hired a CCO, remember that she has a big job to do. Maximize her chances for success by giving her the right resources to deliver results. Your new CCO needs a content management system, content and knowledge management processes, and potentially even outside help from vendors as you scale content or change distribution methods.

Most importantly, make sure your team is committed. Some company leaders grow impatient if they don’t see radical results within three or four months. Solid content strategies can take up to a year to produce the ROI you’re hoping for, so set realistic expectations.

Be patient, and as long as you’ve carefully selected your CCO and supplied her with the right tools, you won’t have to question your investment. The results will speak for themselves.New Call-to-action

 

About Joshua Johnson

I am a Vice President of Influence & Co. I'm passionate about entrepreneurship, technology, Mizzou, and all St. Louis sports teams. I've contributed to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Under30CEO, and Linked2Leadership.

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