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Creating Content for Impact and Value

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Keynote presentation for the Council for Exceptional Children Leadership Conference, July 2017. The content you create is smart, full of depth, and has the potential to advance or transform the field of special education. Content is what connects most from an association to its members. In fact, content is an essential part of the value that your unit or division provides – and a critical aspect of CEC’s survival. But in these busy times, it’s all too easy for members to miss out on your content, and pass up opportunities to get involved. That’s when they wonder whether the organization is providing enough value to keep their membership.

This session will illustrate what successful content looks like for associations and how to create it. Spoiler alert – this doesn’t mean creating more content, but in fact, doing more with the content that exists already! It will include real-life stories about associations that brought content forward and how that led to greater member satisfaction, higher retention rates, and improvements to their profession.

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Creating Content for Impact and Value

  1. 1. Creating Content for Impact and Value Hilary Marsh Content Company
  2. 2. h"ps://www.flickr.com/photos/olegshpyrko/7275227208/
  3. 3. Photo: h"p://www.aikenstandard.com/ar>cle/20160704/AIK0101/160709797
  4. 4. Content producer Content Content consumer Photo: h"p://www.northbeachmd.org/pages/NorthBeachMD_Special%20Events/market
  5. 5. Content is the way our organizations connect with our audiences
  6. 6. Content is why people join associations • Training/professional development opportunities • Technical information • Timely information about the field • Networking with others in their field • Access to standards of practice —The Decision to Join, ASAE
  7. 7. Content is why people join associations • Training/professional development opportunities • Technical information • Timely information about the field • Networking with others in their field • Access to standards of practice —The Decision to Join, ASAE
  8. 8. Associations publish a LOT of content
  9. 9. What don’t we publish?? • Product information • Reports • Press releases • News stories • Member success stories • Executive bios • Event details • Course content • Policies • FAQs • Mission statement • Job listings
  10. 10. 11
  11. 11. Just because…..
  12. 12. Because the boss said so Because the committee asked us to Because the committee told us to Because we have this program Because we do this thing Because we created the information Because we have no way to say “no” to the request Because we think we have to Because everyone else is Because Because
  13. 13. h"p://www.amazon.com/Have-Always-Done-That-Way/dp/184728857X/
  14. 14. h"p://gregoiremichaud.com/2013/07/peach-and-rosemary-roux-buns/
  15. 15. 2015 2015 2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2014 2015 2016 2017 U.S. Economy Annual Growth Rate Real GDP 2.0 1.4 1.1 2.3 2.4 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.0 2.4 2.4 1.9 2.2 Nonfarm Payroll Employment 1.9 2.0 1.9 1.3 1.3 1.1 1.0 0.9 0.7 0.7 1.9 2.1 1.6 1.8 Consumer Prices 1.4 0.8 -0.3 2.5 3.2 2.8 2.7 2.5 2.5 2.8 1.6 0.1 1.4 2.7 Consumer Confidence 98 96 96 95 102 98 98 100 106 105 87 98 99 102 Percent Unemployment 5.2 5.0 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 6.2 5.3 4.9 4.7 Interest Rates, Percent Fed Funds Rate 0.1 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.6 0.7 0.9 0.9 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.8 3-Month T-Bill Rate 0.0 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.1 0.0 0.1 0.3 0.9 Prime Rate 3.3 3.3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.8 3.8 4.0 3.3 3.3 3.5 3.8 Corporate Aaa Bond Yield 4.1 4.0 3.9 3.6 3.4 3.5 3.7 3.9 4.1 4.3 4.2 3.9 3.6 4.0 10-Year Government Bond 2.2 2.2 1.9 1.8 1.7 1.8 2.0 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.5 2.1 1.8 2.3 30-Year Government Bond 3.0 3.0 2.7 2.6 2.4 2.5 2.7 2.9 3.1 3.3 3.3 2.8 2.5 3.0 Mortgage Rates, percent 30-Year Fixed Rate 4.0 3.9 3.7 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.8 4.0 4.2 4.4 4.2 3.9 3.7 4.1 5/1-Year Hyrbrid Adjustable 2.9 3.0 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.9 3.0 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.0 2.9 2.9 3.1 Housing Indicators Thousands Existing Home Sales* 5403 5200 5300 5503 5556 5388 5404 5636 5593 5497 4940 5250 5437 5533 New Single-Family Sales 487 508 529 579 540 564 587 615 595 623 437 501 545 604 Housing Starts 1156 1135 1151 1160 1264 1284 1255 1246 1314 1350 1003 1112 1214 1291 Single-Family Units 745 755 790 762 842 838 858 848 900 908 648 715 808 879 Multifamily Units 411 380 361 397 422 445 397 397 414 441 355 397 407 413 Percent Change -- Year Ago Existing Home Sales 8.2 2.3 5.0 4.2 2.8 3.6 2.0 2.4 0.7 2.0 -2.9 6.3 3.6 1.8 New Single-Family Sales 10.9 7.9 1.6 17.4 11.0 11.0 10.9 6.3 10.2 10.5 1.9 14.6 8.8 10.8 Housing Starts 13.0 7.4 16.8 0.3 9.3 13.2 9.0 7.4 4.0 5.1 8.5 10.8 9.2 6.3 Single-Family Units 14.6 8.0 22.9 7.6 13.1 11.0 8.6 11.2 6.9 8.4 4.9 10.3 13.0 8.8 Multifamily Units 10.3 6.3 5.2 -11.2 2.6 17.2 10.0 -0.1 -1.9 -0.9 15.7 11.8 2.5 1.5 Median Home Prices Thousands of Dollars Existing Home Prices 227.3 220.8 215.8 239.2 238.2 230.4 223.7 247.1 245.5 237.3 208.3 222.4 231.1 238.6 New Home Prices 301.3 304.9 304.6 305.2 305.2 300.9 312.1 314.9 297.4 308.4 282.8 296.4 309.5 317.5 Percent Change -- Year Ago Existing Home Prices 5.1 6.3 6.1 4.9 4.8 4.4 3.7 3.3 3.1 3.0 5.7 6.8 3.9 3.2 New Home Prices 8.4 1.2 3.9 5.3 1.3 -1.3 2.5 3.2 -2.6 2.5 5.2 4.8 4.4 2.6 Housing Affordability Index 159 166 172 164 165 169 173 154 152 155 166 164 167 159 Quarterly figures are seasonally adjusted annual rates * Existing home sales of single-family homes and condo/coops; ** billion dollars U.S. Economic Outlook: August 2016 Annual History Forecast History Forecast
  16. 16. 5 ways to make your content better 1.  Connect with the audience 2.  Make sure it’s relevant 3.  Make it effective 4.  Repurpose/curate it 5.  Clean house
  17. 17. 1. Connect with your audience
  18. 18. h"p://blogs.lib.tcu.edu/whatsnew/2009/09/03/grad-student-orienta>on/ •  Will I really like this field? •  Will I find a job? •  How will I repay my loans? •  What do I look for in a good boss?
  19. 19. © John Lawrence: h"p://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ar>cle-1222014/Is-wind-wine-turning-alcoholic-like-frazzled-mothers.html •  How will I get all my work done? •  Will I ever get promoted? •  How do I find time to keep learning?
  20. 20. •  Tenure •  Networking, finding a mentor •  Supporting my students and preparing them for the real world h"ps://www.facultyfocus.com/ar>cles/teaching-professor-blog/the-power-of-language-to-influence-thought-and-ac>on/
  21. 21. h"p://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2015/12/08/will-nclb-update-help-underserved-students •  Keeping faculty happy •  Keeping enrollment up •  Getting funding •  Being recognized by the university
  22. 22. It’s never “everyone”
  23. 23. What does our audience want that we offer?
  24. 24. The consumer owns the process!
  25. 25. Are we delivering it so its value is obvious?
  26. 26. What association audiences want 1. Give me benefits, not just information 2. Approach me as a person, understanding my life stage and struggles 3. Give me the freedom to use the site as I want 4. Make it peer-centric 5. Simplify! Shorten! Avoid jargon 6. Don’t make me waste time looking for what I need Source: American Medical Associa>on member study
  27. 27. Facts Emotion/Package/Context Voice and tone
  28. 28. h"ps://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/blog-ar>cle/relevance-is-in-the-eyeballs-of-the-beholder 2. Be relevant
  29. 29. http://xkcd.com/773/
  30. 30. Old thinking Staff department Content Audience Staff department Content Audience Staff department Content Audience Staff department Content Audience
  31. 31. Organization: Programs, offerings Audience Content Audience Audience Audience New thinking
  32. 32. So what?
  33. 33. WIIFM?
  34. 34. “Mom test” h"ps://bellegardens.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/a-love-note-to-my-mom-concerning-aprons/
  35. 35. • What do you want to communicate? • Just tell them • “What do you have for me?”
  36. 36. Ultimate goal Audience centric Business sensitive Content
  37. 37. What does it mean to be audience centric? • Delivered when, where, and how they want it • Using their words • Show the benefit, not just state the facts • Lead them to more
  38. 38. “Users don’t care about your org chart” --Lou Rosenfeld Author, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
  39. 39. What does it mean to be business sensitive? • Is created to meet an explicit business goal • Written in the organization’s voice • Crafted in partnership between communication pros and subject matter experts
  40. 40. h"p://www.i].org/Public-Policy-and-Regula>ons/Policy-Developments/FSMA/FSMA-Updates.aspx
  41. 41. Useful tool: the “we we” score To convert a larger share of the visitors, you must focus more on the visitors than on the business. www.customerfocuscalculator.com/
  42. 42. •  Useful •  Relevant •  Timely
  43. 43. •  Org-focused •  Narrow interest •  Not actionable
  44. 44. My 3 pet peeves online • “Resources” – what’s in there? why would I click on that? • FAQs – my question probably won’t be included, and question-wording isn’t findable • PDFs – information is trapped inside
  45. 45. h"ps://www.northstargroupllc.com/blog/project-managers->ps-effec>ve-wri"en-communica>on/ 3. Be effective
  46. 46. Principles of effective digital content
  47. 47. Effective writing •  Sounds like the organization •  Has a goal •  Uses the active voice •  Is specific •  Is focused on the reader, NOT on your organization
  48. 48. Planning for successful conversations •  What do I want to achieve from this content? •  Who am I talking to? •  What brings those people to my site or app? What are their top tasks? Top questions? Conversations they want to start? •  Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and focused on what you want your site visitors to do. - Ginny Redish, Content as Conversation
  49. 49. Write for the space •  Avoid long paragraphs or other heavy blocks of text •  Write half as much as conventional writing – people read 25 percent more slowly online •  Use bullet points, subheadings, and other visual cues to make information more manageable •  Keep sentences short – ideally, no more than 15 words
  50. 50. Bite, snack, meal • Bite: A headline with a message • Snack: A concise summary • Meal: The full thing – Leslie O’Flahavan, ewriteonline http://ewriteonline.com/articles/2011/11/bite-snack-and-meal-how-to-feed-content-hungry-site-visitors/
  51. 51. How people read online http://www.useit.com/eyetracking/
  52. 52. How people read online
  53. 53. People scan, they don’t read •  They are pressed for time •  They’ve become “Twitter-ized” •  Screens are reflective and cause eye fatigue
  54. 54. Writing shorter is not easier I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. -- Blaise Pascal, 1657
  55. 55. What is “usable” content? Four measures: 1.  Task time: How long it takes users to find answers for specific questions about the content 2. Errors: How well users do in getting the facts correct 3. Memory: How well users can recall the information 4. Satisfaction: How users rate the content on quality of language, ease of use, likeability, and energy level after reading the content http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/
  56. 56. An example Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 2015, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
  57. 57. Shorter Concise text: about half the number of words In 2015, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska were Fort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park. Usability improvement: 58%
  58. 58. Scannable Scannable layout: same text in a layout that facilitates scanning Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 2015, some of the most popular places were: •  Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors) •  Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166) •  Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000) •  Carhenge (86,598) •  Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002) •  Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446) Usability improvement: 47%
  59. 59. Objective Objective language not subjective, boastful, or exaggerated Nebraska has several attractions. In 2015, some of the most- visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446). Usability improvement: 27%
  60. 60. Shorter, Scannable, Objective Combined techniques: concise, scannable, and objective In 2015, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were: •  Fort Robinson State Park •  Scotts Bluff National Monument •  Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum •  Carhenge •  Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer •  Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park Usability improvement: 124%
  61. 61. The inverted pyramid •  Open with your conclusion or most important point first •  Provide most relevant, compelling supporting information next •  End with background information and links to info that creates context Most Important Informa>on Suppor>ng Informa>on Background
  62. 62. Why do this? • Mobile • Responsive • More easily read by non-native English speakers • More accessible -- > now a requirement
  63. 63. Online Readability Calculator http://read-able.com/
  64. 64. Writing mobile-friendly content • Write fewer words • Don’t rely on visual cues in the content, since the visual placement of components is likely to be rendered differently on a mobile device •  – for example, “see related links at right”
  65. 65. Writing reusable content •  Clear vs clever, especially for headlines. A magazine cover line is not a good model for a headline •  Don’t assume context. A headline will appear not only on a destination page but also on a landing page, in related links, on social media, etc.
  66. 66. 4. Repurpose Photo by James Wocjik: h"ps://www.realsimple.com/new-uses-for-old-things/new-uses-wine-items/cork-as-earring-holder
  67. 67. Create less, repurpose/reuse more
  68. 68. How to reuse content • Show based on topic • Show based on new relevance • “Best of” • Show because it’s still really good and deserves more exposure • Turn one thing into many
  69. 69. A single conference session can become… • A video • A webinar • An article summarizing the top takeaways from the session • A checklist of top tips • A follow-up interview with the speaker • Highlights to use in marketing next year’s conference • and more!
  70. 70. 5. Clean house
  71. 71. 100
  72. 72. h"p://professiongal.com/2011/02/22/five-signs-youre-an-office-hoarder/ •  What’s here? •  Is it useful? •  If I was looking for something specific, could I find it?
  73. 73. h"p://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/how-to-pack-your-backpack/ •  Is anything here relevant? •  Does this meet my current needs?
  74. 74. h"p://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/how-to-pack-your-backpack/ ß2008 ß2008 ß2012 ß2012 ß2012 ß2014 ß2013
  75. 75. ß2010 ß2014 ßrange ß2012 ß2012 ß2011
  76. 76. h"p://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/how-to-pack-your-backpack/ The content I was 
 really looking for
  77. 77. h"p://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/how-to-pack-your-backpack/ 2004 2007 2010
  78. 78. How to tackle this 1.  Audit your content to know what you have 2.  Look for content ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) •  Usage (unique page views over the last year) •  Date last updated •  Content owner – does the person still work here, do that job? •  From a program or event that has passed or is no longer offered 3.  Create criteria for what constitutes effective content 4.  Remove content that is no longer needed
  79. 79. Not more work • Think differently • Get more impact from your effort • Provide more value to members
  80. 80. Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash Partnership
  81. 81. CEC overall DivisionsandStateUnits DivisionsandStateUnits DivisionsandStateUnits DivisionsandStateUnits
  82. 82. Thank you! @hilarymarsh hilary@contentcompany.biz

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