Can you hold your RUM? Being from the East Coast of Canada I attended many social events where a significant amount of dark rum was consumed…kitchen parties, wakes, the odd nor’easter even a few heat waves for that matter. In this case though I mean RUM: relevant, useful, managed information.
The search for information has become either an ordeal or the Holy Grail – depends on your results. Your audiences (employees, customers, investors, peers, decision makers) search for meaningful information and if you are the source – count yourself very fortunate because becoming a trusted source of information is priceless.
Keep in mind that content development is no cake walk – you must invest time and resources to ensure the content offered is relevant (what they want to know) useful (what they need to know) and managed (timely, credible, worthy of their trust). To do anything less puts your own reputation at risk – the consequences of having flimsy or unsupported information can lead your audiences to feel betrayed by you and your organization.
These stories and information come from your own audiences – if you have a relationship already – ask questions. What do they see as the biggest obstacle for their success? Are there certain trends they are watching closely? Do they feel their industry requires advocacy? Who stands up for them?
Build content based on what they want to know – stay away from providing a lot of detailed information about your own services or products – there is a time and place for sales info. Create feedback channels for clients and partners to suggest topics they care about.
Are there changes taking place that impacts the business of your audiences or existing clients? Find out how you can provide information to help them manage that change. Become an ally. Invite guest bloggers if you don’t have that expertise on staff.
Use FAQs to create useful content. What are the questions your front-line or service contacts are most asked? Building posts around those questions would make for useful – and customer focused – content. Providing need-to-know information offers an express lane to trust.
Manage your own resources to deliver the content. Spoiler alert! If you don’t stick to a consistent schedule and maintain standards of content quality you will lose trust. In any situation that trust can be a powerful success factor. Keep your word – by offering useful and relevant information you are making a promise “you can trust us to be a source of information you can use to do business.” Don’t start it up and then lose steam – plan for an editorial calendar of three months and assign several contributors. Make your culture one that appreciates the value created by staff who can write. Demonstrate that staff who create content are special – use tangible and high profile incentives and recognition to assemble your own content kings.
Ensure information is correct and use third part Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to reinforce when topic/discussion can benefit.
Remember that not everyone is a writer – recognizing that you need outside help is a good decision and resources are out there to help. Freelance writers, editors, association and industry newsletters, traditional media, videographers, social media managers and public relations consultants. Another option is to contract a coach for your own internal SMEs until they are comfortable with developing content on their own. You may even need to have a communications audit carried out to formally capture who you are and who you are trying to inform/influence/advise.