Creating and executing a great content strategy


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Step-by-step information about how associations can create an effective content strategy. Presentation given by Hilary Marsh and Rana Salzmann at the Association Forum Annual Meeting, June 2013

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Creating and executing a great content strategy

  1. 1. Creating and Executing a Great Content Strategy
  2. 2. Rules of the Road 1.  What is a content strategy? 2.  What strategies and challenges can content solve? 3.  Content strategy facets 4.  Collaborations & bridges 5.  Association audiences – layers of the onion 6.  Questions you’ll be answering 7.  Tools you’ll use
  3. 3. What is a content strategy? §  The who, what, when, where, why, and how of all the content a digital experience will offer §  A statement showing how content will help the association meet its strategic goals §  And the people, processes, and power to execute that statement
  4. 4. What is a content strategy?
  5. 5. Why do people visit your website? Not for your design Not for your widgets Not for the flash on your homepage Not for the technology you use They come for the content! A good content strategy ensures that they can find what they were looking for
  6. 6. What strategies and challenges can content solve? §  Attract prospective members §  Retain and engage current members §  Increase usage of specific programs, resources, tools, and information §  Increase awareness of and participation in political advocacy efforts §  Increase non-dues revenue
  7. 7. How are these content challenges? §  Language/jargon (web writing, audience awareness – “HOP e-news”) §  Online “real estate” space (roles, ownership) §  Mass of content (everything ever published is still online) §  Badly formed content (4002.pdf, no title or other metadata) §  Latest updates missing, outdated content online §  Different content on social media & home page
  8. 8. Collaborations & bridges §  Technology §  Marketing §  Communications §  Membership §  Management §  Program staff §  Member committees
  9. 9. Association audiences: layers of the onion §  Knowledge/ communication §  Accountability §  Drivers/goals §  Politics – budget, recognition, results, incentives
  10. 10. Questions you’ll be answering §  What does your audience want from you? §  What do you have? §  What are you missing? §  How are you deciding what to publish, where, and when? §  How are you ensuring that you’re publishing content in the most effective way? §  How are you getting buy-in?
  11. 11. Tools you’ll use §  Content inventory/audit §  Stakeholder interviews §  Analytics – website metrics, customer service calls, etc. §  Content matrix §  Editorial calendar
  12. 12. Exercise What’s in the bag?  
  13. 13. Putting a Content Strategy to Work …in 10 minutes and 7 steps (or less) 0. Realize there is a problem 1. Build a team 2. Brainstorm 3. Streamline 4. Prioritize 5. Apply (use tools) 6. Socialize 7. Repeat    
  14. 14. 0. Realize there is a problem §  No one can find anything on our website, and they’re starting to complain to the CEO §  Practically everyone in our organization can – and does – publish content to the site. §  No one is in charge of the home page. §  Everyone is in charge of the home page. §  Our best material is presented as PDFs, with titles like “4002.pdf”
  15. 15. 0. Realize there is a problem §  Our website is organized based on our org structure rather than on how our audience thinks about us or our content §  Our audience can’t get the information they want from their mobile devices §  Our content isn’t appearing on Google like we think it should §  “We should be on YouTube”
  16. 16. 1. Build a team Select ambassadors from key departments (marketing, publications, IT, membership) You can’t implement a content strategy in a vacuum…
  17. 17. 2. Brainstorm (a.k.a. Think the content strategy through silos) -How does the CS affect workflow, business goals? -How could processes change to maximize the CS? This is the fun part…
  18. 18. 3. Streamline (a.k.a. Eliminate redundant workflows and extraneous content) -Where are silos getting in each other's way? -How do we efficiently create good content? -What can we just stop doing?
  19. 19. 4. Prioritize projects! -Low-hanging fruit, highest potential ROI -Test case -Pet project for management -Shiny tool for members @ APA, we chose to start with taxonomy
  20. 20. Too many lists….     AICP Advanced Specialty Certifications List   Files List APA Library Classification System and Vertical AICP Jobs Analysis Survey List List   CM Activities Topic Lists (one for staff, one for users) CM List Conference Session Topics List PAB Accreditation List PAS Topic and Subject Index …result in complete chaos online…… ResourcesZine Youth & Planning Subjects List Website Short Lists for Region, Audience, Topic
  21. 21. 5. Apply Select tools to operationalize the CS in each silo or project. -Taxonomy -New CMS or LMS -Editorial calendar -Content creation guidelines -Content audit
  22. 22. 6. Socialize (& train) Move beyond your project team to generate whole-office buy-in. -Staff meetings -Brown bags -Management retreats -In the hallway, at lunch, etc… Create a culture of learning and experimentation Note: Governance is different
  23. 23. 7. Repeat Apply lessons from your pilot project to the next thing. -Take advantage of snowball effect -Use successful projects to gain legitimacy -Establish metrics and evaluate Branch out from a one-off to a whole system revamp.
  24. 24. Exercise:  Where  does  it  hurt?    
  25. 25. Thank  you!       Hilary  Marsh,  Content  Company     Rana  Salzmann,  American  Planning  AssociaFon