What Does a Content Director Do?October 10, 2018 | Jameson Zimmer
“Content Director” is one of those titles that makes you dread social gatherings; the inevitable “so what do you do?” questions; and the blank stares that follow your answer.
In these situations, I usually describe content direction as being “like a Creative Director, but for content-heavy products.” (Or “Storytelling-focused brands” if I’m feeling poetic.”)
It’s a bit more complicated, however, so I’m writing this to walk through the details for anyone who’s curious. (And not just asking to be polite.)
Content Director job description
The work of a Content Director is a mix of creative direction, editorial or content strategy, and project management.
Content Directors are often compared to Creative Directors since the role requires a strong understanding of the business side of the company. Rather than creating campaign-heavy storytelling projects, Content Directors look at the long-term needs of the company and build ongoing communication strategies and systems between a company and their customers.
On the business side, the core of the job is translating an understanding of the company’s goals into a digital media strategy that supports those goals. (Both roles also gravitate towards the advertising and marketing industries.)
In terms of creative skills, Content Directors must have a vision for the products or services they’re responsible for, and a strong storytelling ability across digital media including editorial, audio, and video. They will often get their hands dirty writing, wireframing, and working to stay familiar with all technical aspects of the content process.
When working with a team, Content Directors have to be comfortable managing and incentivizing specialists who create content. Content Directors will inevitably spend a lot of time building clear briefs and processes so writers, designers, and other specialists can do their work efficiently, with a high quality of output.
The Content Direction Workday
Content Direction is a social role, and Content Directors can expect to spend a lot of their day in meetings, or communicating directly with content creators and other stakeholders between departments. Working closely with a more technical director (analytics, development, etc) is also common.
A typical day for me personally looks something like this (I’m adjusting the hours to disguise my night owl tendencies. In practice, this is usually 2–3 hours later, or split between morning and evening working blocks):
- 8:00AM: Wake up and putter through a morning routine.
- 9:00AM: Establish priority projects for the day. (Or better yet, do it the night before.) Read through emails looking for emergencies, ignoring all non-emergencies for now.
- 9:30AM: Creative tasks. Mid-morning is a high-energy time for me, so I schedule creative hands-on work like copywriting or wireframing for this block.
- 11:00AM: Meetings with team members or management.
- 12:00PM: Lunch, get outside, check email for more emergencies.
- 1:00PM: Meetings with writers, editors, creative specialists.
- 2:00PM: Go the gym or bike for an hour to recharge.
- 3:00PM: Email and communication. This is a low-energy time for me personally, well-suited to working towards “inbox zero” and checking off small to-do items along the way.
- 4:00PM: Must-do tasks that are low-interest but important. This is when I’ll handle creating training documentation, or working with team members on less interesting content and marketing projects.
- 5:00PM: Somewhere.
Who hires Content Directors?
The obvious answer: any company that uses content as a core part of it’s product, service, or marketing strategy. It’s increasingly common with tech companies, and a lot of marketing in particular is moving towards multi-channel storytelling as the public gets fatigued with traditional marketing mediums.
In smaller companies, Content Directors will be hired to take on work the founder is struggling to get done themselves. In this context, they’ll take on a lot of additional roles and tasks that would usually be covered by a dedicated Marketing Manager, VP Marketing, Editor, or Copywriter.
In larger companies and corporations, Content Directors are most common in content-dependent business like marketing companies or consumer service sites, where a content specialist is needed mostly to manage more specialized roles. The Content Director will answer to a VP of their department, or to the executive team.
To be continued, with case studies…