“What is…” Wednesday – What is a Chief Content Officer? Lisa Gerber’s Take

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As you know, our “What Is…” Wednesday column features an expert resource sharing his/her view on a particular subject matter.  This week I asked my friend Lisa Gerber to share with us her definition of "What is….a chief content officer?"

This relatively new but growing “title” interests me a lot; I hope you’ll find Lisa’s thoughts helpful an and informative as you consider how this role might impact your organization.

Take it away, Lisa…

I’ve always argued that there is no such thing as complete selfless-ness. If nothing else, we give because it makes us feel good. Or we give because it rewards us with friends, or recognition. Or customers.

Content marketing plays into this notion of inbound marketing, or giving to receive. It’s about giving content, to be rewarded with loyal and trusting customers. And the chief content officer, a relatively new and emerging title, is charged with doing just that; managing and shaping the content that generates business leads.

The essence of inbound marketing is to be found; to attract your customer with helpful information. Building out a database of articles, videos, podcasts and/or webinars achieves that. 

  • You become more search engine-friendly.
  • Your customers find you because you are solving their problems or challenges.

Take the HMA blog as an example: HMA blogs not only out of the kindness of their hearts (and I know them, they do have kind hearts!), but also to share their expertise, and to earn your trust and credibility. They hope you will hire them or share their knowledge with a friend or colleague who may then hire them.

So what does the CCO do?

The CCO is part publisher, editor, writer, journalist, community manager, and curator. This is a dream job for me, and for anyone who loves to read, write and be a digital social butterfly.

I work with our team to create the goals, and the content strategy. Everything we do ties back into those goals, which for us at Spin Sucks, is to drive engagement, increase subscriptions, and bring in revenue

To manage the process, I have an editorial calendar that is one huge excel spreadsheet. I’ve mapped out the next several months of articles, video, and webinars. I’ve identified the topics, the deadlines and the assigned creator. I work with the various contributors, write my own content, and edit contributed content. I spend time on the social networks and in the blogosphere sharing, and engaging. And I send my thugs out to people who miss deadlines.

Ann Handley, the first ever chief content officer (for marketingprofs), wrote about the 11 Key Traits of a CCO, and Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute crowd-sourced the CCO job description.

Dependent on the amount of resources within the organization, the CCO may be a dedicated, titled person or it might be someone in the PR/marketing department who is charged with the duties.

Online publishing tools have made it easier and easier for each organization to become its own media company, and for that reason, we’ll start to see more of the CCO. That whole idea of giving to receive is really catching on.

Lisa Gerber is the chief content officer at Spin Sucks and the soon-to-launch Spin Sucks Pro, a professional development site for PR and marketing pros.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Lisa, thanks for sharing your thoughts on content management. The role of the professional communicator continues to grow and expand. Definitely an exciting time to be in public relations.

  2. Alison Bailin says:

    I love it that your editorial calendar is an excel spreadsheet too! At HMA, I watch over ours each week to ensure we are fitting our content to our overall goals and even bring a “week at a glance” to each weekly staff meeting so we can review holes to fill, hot news to assign and engagement strategy based on our content. Thanks for the great links and additional tips!

  3. Erin Feldman says:

    This was a fun article to read! It reminds me of what I do, although not on quite the same scale since I’m still relatively new to the entrepreneur world. It’s just me, my laptop (or desktop computer), my phone, me…That being said, I keep a schedule – usually on my whiteboard – as well as notes saved on my phone’s calendar and/or memo apps. It helps me to determine tasks and priorities and to accomplish my clients’ projects as well as my own. I hope, at some point, that I’ll have to upgrade to an excel spreadsheet.

  4. Lisa Gerber says:

    Thank you for having me here today! and Alison, yes, I have one mac daddy editorial calendar in excel (the one for Spin Sucks Pro) with tabs and EVERYTHING. I have heard good things about the Editorial Calendar plug-in for WordPress but I haven’t taken the time to check out it’s capabilities. and sometimes, I’m just slow to adopt. sometimes. 🙂

  5. I love this piece, thanks for sharing! It sounds like a fun job!

  6. The CCO also is in charge of office cupcakes.

  7. Lisa Gerber says:

    I can’t believe I left that out. I am really good at keeping the office stocked with cupcakes.

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