Content Strategy in Seven Simple Steps

Sometimes it can feel like the growing demand for content is like a hungry wolf at our door.

You are not alone – the explosion of content demand matches the increased availability of information historically accessible only via specific gatekeepers – libraries, media outlets, publishers and government sources. Of course there were always dedicated (paranoid?) individuals cranking out hand copied pamphlets of government funding misuse, surgeons mistakes and entertaining gossip. The Internet has changed the game and now everyone is a publisher and gatekeepers can’t control information the way they once did.

So, how does that impact those of us who appreciate the power in producing and sharing quality content but feel like we are falling behind?

First – Make a plan. Seriously, if you don’t have a clear plan targeting audience segments with a desired outcome you will fail. I like using the example of Alice in Wonderland when she encounters the Cheshire Cat and asks for directions. When Cheshire asks where she is going and she says she doesn’t know. “Well’, said the Cat, “then it doesn’t really matter what path you choose.”

Second – Build a realistic resource and governance management grid with clear indications of timelines and who researches, writes, edits, approves and distributes. When each player knows what they are responsible for and how their work impacts others there is a higher likelihood of actual collaboration and communications (i.e.: teamwork). The benefit for this if you are on your own? Process and timing guidelines are your map to getting it done.

Third – Create a sense of fun. Writing and producing content in all its lovely forms can be drudgery or an adventure. You have the power to encourage creativity and still hit those targets (remember the plan?). Fun generates energy and energy makes for great content.

Fourth – Due diligence pays off. From a commitment to researching topics and interviewing subject matter experts to having an amazing copy editor, your content will get high marks form your audiences when it is obvious your process was thoughtful and professional. This also increases the “share-ability” of your content – no one shares garbage.

Fifth – Brainstorm and bring in external experts. So many content managers or developers feel they are THE source and it is not necessarily true. The pleasant surprise is that people will often lend a hand – all you have to do is ask. Create a calendar and ask your experts to sign their name to the date they could submit a post. Invite ideas from your audiences, ask frontline staff about FAQs, talk to customers, clients, users, students and invite suggestions or even submissions.

One last thing – there are a lot of very qualified writers who can step in and deliver impressive results – worth investigating. Online resources like www.writers.ca are a great starting point.

Sixth – Have a style guide and editorial calendar. These simple tools can be a part of your plan. The goal is to be more time effective. The benefit is streamlined processes. This is your map – tone and branding elements that are mandatory, important dates and events to prepare ahead of time, topics that can be expanded or repurposed later.

Seven – Save for a rainy day. Set up a bank account of generic posts and stories ready for you to use when the timer just ran out. These are evergreen content and incredibly useful especially when the deadline is looming and you are busy putting out a fire. I suggest at least three feature posts and a dozen social media posts with links to evergreen blogs or web content. I expect thank you cards and a bouquet or two on this one!

 

So is all this content too much? Well I imagine the demand for content is our hungry wolf prowling and howling around our cozy cabin demanding more and more information and scaring the living daylights out of us. But, when you apply these seven steps – you feed that wolf so darn well you not only get it to see you as trustworthy but the whole pack might just gather for a serenade of appreciation.

wolves