Is your editorial policy dead, or alive?

Outgoing chair of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, maintains that the BBC editorial policy is “one of the most important documents the BBC publishes”.

I concur.  In fact, I think all businesses publishing corporate information for employees or customers, whatever the channel, should have robust editorial standards in place.

Most of us probably do have some sort of guidelines in place.  But, if you are anything like me, you haven’t looked at the policy since it was signed off because you’ve been too busy chasing copy or liaising with the printers and developers.

This must change.  The role and importance of the editorial policy has shifted.  Not least because the boundaries between the corporate and public domains have been obliterated.

A policy used to be about the purpose of the publication, best practice, standards and principles with a substantial section on the style sheet and, more recently, tone of voice.  A good start, but also reflect on these issues:

  • Marketing considerations – such as the brand and the wider corporate communications effort
  • Legal and compliance – particularly with respect to libel, copyright and data protection
  • Responsibility – content decisions, clear signoff procedures and an upward referral process (An Editorial Board, for example, would ensure a cohesive, consistent and considered communication effort.)
  • Other protocols – such as social media, competition and moderation guidelines

Update your standards.  You need them to protect your business.

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