5 Essential Elements of Intranet Authoring Guidelines

An intranet is only as good as its content.

And there lies the intranet manager’s conundrum. You need high-quality, useful and timely intranet content. But you have few co-workers who are willing and able to create intranet content.

Or many are willing, but management is afraid all hell will break loose if you give staff free rein to publish content on the intranet.

The freedom of expression a good intranet provides may be new ground to your organization. This means everyone is outside their comfort zone, nobody knows exactly what to do, and nobody can predict what will happen.

Maybe staff members are raring to go, because they’ve been looking for a medium like your new intranet.

Or maybe nobody wants to write anything, because intranet authoring is on nobody’s job description.

What’s an intranet manager to do?

An intranet authoring policy is just what you need. You probably already knew this, but nobody’s telling you exactly how to do it.

That’s what this blog post will attempt to do.

Intranet authoring guidelines will provide an enabling framework to increase staff participation, while minimizing anticipated risks of chaos, conflict, or whatever other fears management can come up with. It’s your tool for walking the tightrope between engagement and control.

Each organization’s guidelines need to be suited to their particular situation and corporate culture. Because of this, I cannot prescribe authoring guidelines for your company to adopt. Instead, I’m going to ask you a series of questions that need to be covered in your intranet authoring policy.

5 Key Areas to Cover in Your Intranet Authoring Guidelines

1. What are the guiding principles and standards of your intranet?

The answers to this question will give the overall context for your intranet content. Principles may include truthfulness, honesty, and respect, as well adherence to the highest standards of excellence. If you’re not sure what principles should govern your intranet, begin by looking at your company’s mission and vision: What values does your company stand for? These should be consistently upheld in your intranet.

2. Who can write/create content on the intranet?

The next big question is: Who gets to be intranet authors? Some sections need to have authors assigned to them. For example, is the HR Director responsible for the HR blog and document folder? In that case, it helps to have this task added to the person’s job description.

Other corollary questions to ask include:

  • Can authorship be delegated? Can a director ask a staff member to write for him or her?
  • Outside of what’s in the policy, who approves requests to create new content?
  • Are anonymous authors allowed?

3. What types of content can be posted?

This question covers what types of content you will allow on the intranet. You can specify formats, such as blogs, wikis and discussion forums. You can also decide which the types of media are allowed: text, photos, videos, slideshows, audio. You’ll want to discuss the latter with IT, to make sure your hardware can accommodate the types of content you want.

4. What is your content approval process?

Create an approval workflow for intranet content. You may want staff by junior staff to be approved by their supervisors. Or you may want a self-governing intranet where everyone is free to publish. Or maybe somewhere in between?

5. Who polices intranet content?

You’ve got all these intranet guidelines and policies — who’s making sure they’re being followed? Who’s going to moderate blogs, blog comments, wikis and updates? If disagreements arise, who will moderate the conflict? And what happens if somebody breaks the rules?

Answer these five questions, and you’ll have a pretty comprehensive intranet authoring policy. It’s a starting point, at least, and you can adjust and improve it as you go along, gain more experience, and collectively gain a better idea of what type of intranet you and your co-workers want.

Speak Your Mind

What do you cover in your intranet authoring guidelines? What have I missed? Share your thoughts below.

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