Dylan Tweney

Release management for content products

A checklist for teams preparing to publish content
Dylan Tweney 4 min read
Release management for content products
Release the Kraken! Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’ve been following along the past few weeks, I’ve been going through the stages of the POWERS process for creating and publishing content as a team.

For the most recent stages of the process, check out my pieces on getting started writing, writing as a team, and the role of an editor.

Today, I’m going to share how my teams approach one of the final steps: Getting ready to release the content product. (That’s the R in POWERS.)

Whether you’re publishing to an internal blog, handing copy off to an internal design team, or submitting an article to a news publication that takes op-eds and bylines, you want to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to make the handoff smooth and seamless. The easier you can make it on the recipients, the more likely they’ll be able to publish your content quickly.

Like a crew of astronauts or the flight crew on a commercial airliner, a content team will greatly benefit from having a preflight checklist to ensure everything is in order before you press Send.


Although the content may be publication-ready, there’s almost always a bit more work before you can drop it into your content management system or send it off to the op-ed editor who’s promised to look at it. There’s metadata, such as the author’s full, correct title and bio. There’s often a call to action that you need to add at the end, including a trackable URL with a UTM code. You’ll probably need some imagery, including possibly the author’s photo, any charts or diagrams to illustrate specific points within the piece, and a “hero” image for the top of the piece.

You should combine all of that into a checklist and include it in the document containing your final draft. Here’s a document template you can use as a starting point.

As you collect each item, you can include it in the document itself (if it’s a snippet of text, like a bio) or add a link to it (if it’s an external file).

Don’t embed images directly into a document, as it can be tricky for the recipient to extract them later, and they will prefer to have a separate image file. Instead, include a link to a high-resolution image file on a shared drive (Google Drive, Dropbox, or the like) and ensure the file is accessible to anyone with the link.

Ensure that any images you include conform to the specifications requested by the publication. Usually, this means providing images at a certain minimum resolution (for example, 1200 by 1600 pixels), but occasionally, there will also be guidelines on content (no brand logos, for example).

Calls to action are a commonly required element in any piece of marketing content, including blog posts, that you produce for a company. These often take the form of a short bit of text — a sentence or two, or a short paragraph at the most — that reaches out to the truly engaged reader and asks them to take the next step by checking out a product page, signing up for a newsletter, downloading a research report, or contacting the sales department. Invest some time and effort into ensuring that this call to action is compelling, is well tailored to the content it’s attached to, and includes a unique identifier so you can attribute any website visitors or sales leads to the content.

That identifier is usually a tracking code (a UTM) that your analytics team can use to identify visitors coming to your site because they clicked that URL. If you’re a content team, you definitely want this, because it allows you to attribute any site visitors to this content. That’s valuable information that can shape your content strategy going forward — and help demonstrate the value of the content you’ve been creating.

News publications generally don’t allow calls to action in bylines or op-eds that they publish, and they often remove all links back to your site. (You should still include a link to your company’s site, linked to the first mention of your company’s name, though — sometimes these are allowed, and it’s an extremely valuable link if it passes muster. In some situations, such as sponsored content you’re paying a news site to publish, you can add a CTA. In these cases, however, the CTA usually has to be a bit more muted and less promotional than it would be on your website, and there’s a good reason for that — you don’t want to undercut the value of your article by suddenly making it look like nothing more than an advertisement. You may still be able to use a URL with a unique tracking ID, though, and if you can, definitely take advantage of that opportunity.

With all the pieces in place—draft, images, everything on the checklist—it’s time to do one last review before sending it off. Ideally, you’ll have a smaller, limited set of stakeholders to do this review because sending it around to everyone who contributed will slow the publication process down a lot. Reviewers at this stage should focus on ensuring consistency, brand guideline adherence, and ensuring that earlier comments or requests for changes have all been addressed. This is not the time for major overhauls; hopefully, the review team understands this.

You can include the names of reviewers in your publication checklist and mark their reviews as “completed” as each one signs off.

Finally, when all systems are go, you can send the document and any accompanying linked files to the publisher.

You’re done for now! Go take a breather and treat yourself to something nice: a cup of tea, a cookie, a walk around the block. Little celebrations like this are important for maintaining your motivation and positivity. You did it! Enjoy the moment.

MORE: The collaborative writing series

This post is part of a 12-part series. Click here to see the rest: A short course on collaborative writing

Bonus recommendation

I enjoyed this in-depth interview with Maria Popova, who has been creating The Marginalian for over 17 years now. The Marginalian (formerly known as Brain Pickings) is a reliable source of inspiration, reading suggestions, and unexpectedly delightful connections. Brooklyn Magazine’s Brian Braiker interviewed her and somehow managed (mostly) to avoid gushing too much. Complement with Popova’s 17 life learnings from 17 years of the Marginalian.

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