For startups as well as small and medium-sized businesses, there is great pressure to build a robust content strategy as businesses look to find new ways to gain visibility, attract customers, extend their reach and attract leads. Yet, a content strategy is not a simple undertaking. We’ve already offered a few ideas on the Voxus blog for tips on developing your strategy, refurbishing your content library and tips for using what you already have to create stellar content.

However, there is no shortage of industry-led research showing content marketers are unsure how to scale an effective content strategy, how to make enough content or how to build the right content. And unless your company can afford to build an entire expert content marketing team, there are common pitfalls to watch out for that, if you’re not careful, could become larger public relations issues.

Content marketing and content copying

Just because you call it ‘copy’ doesn’t mean you need to copy it from someone else. It may not be a surprise, but instances of plagiarism are more common than ever. I know how devastating it can feel to discover a well thought out piece of content, authored by an internal or hired writer, that was actually pulled near-verbatim from a competitor’s own content marketing program. No content program is immune. Luckily, there are ways to catch it before it gets out of hand.

How does it happen?

Typically, marketing departments feel pressure to implement a content strategy with inadequate training or resources. For example, in 2013, only 32% of marketers felt like they were creating enough content. This can lead an already overburdened staff to resort to drastic measures to churn out content at an unsustainable rate (leading them to use outside content without permission).

The content copying crisis

Companies invest a lot of time and effort in creating content and many now invest more time looking out for copycat content. Discovery of plagiarized content on your site (no matter if it is written by you or someone you hired) can lead to a very public process of trying to resolve conflict. In an extreme case, one content marketing company pulled out all the stops to call out the company that was found copying material.

What you can do

Needless to say, it is best to avoid a PR crisis before you have one on your hands. There are many ways to build your content strategy not only for success but also for avoiding a plagiarizer in your midst.

1. Carefully select your content creators

Select or narrow down your content writing staff. Vet your in-house or hired writers thoroughly. Your company’s internal experts are often the best resource for content creation, but choose wisely. While they may know a lot about the technical details of your company and its offerings they may need a little more help on how to formulate content for your marketing program.

2. Train your content creators regularly

A training for all staff responsible for creating content–whether they’re creating e-books or social media posts–is necessary to clarify boundaries for content use. Setting aside time to explain to staff what they can and can’t do will help eliminate time wasted in the future cleaning up the mess. Items like borrowing photos, Ctrl+C best practices and expected citation guidelines should be on your agenda.

3. Plan and develop a strategy

Setting up projects with clear explanations and boundaries for staff will help guide your writers in the right direction. Without clarity from you, your writer may take on something he or she knows little about, leading them to ‘borrow’ from the expert who does. Planning up to one year of content can provide a useful framework, as well as building in opportunity to discuss current events in your industry, will take your content strategy to the next level.

4. Build a checks and balances system

No piece of content should go without a verification process. Yes, that means in the era of brand journalism, you are now also Editor-in-Chief on top of all the other hats you wear. While it may be tedious, checking content before it goes live is better than having to eliminate half of your content due to a bad author. Use resources like copyscape for preliminary verification, but usually a simple Google search will do the trick.

At the end of the day, pay careful attention to your writers and content creators. If you don’t, rather than asking Voxus to help in your content strategy, you may end up needing us for crisis management instead.