Content Creation Strategies for Nonprofits


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Tips for nonprofits on how to effectively manage the content creation process to market their organizations and build support for their good causes. Excerpted from a live webinar presented on July 23, 2009.

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  • You have many buckets to fill: Newsletters, web content, direct appeal letters, thank you letters, program flyers and brochures, etc.
  • Now you have blogs, facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr, and potentially hundreds of other sites.
  • The solution to this madness is to come up with a Content Creation Strategy.
  • Some people like the symphony analogy. Pieces of content are notes in a symphony. You create them independently, but they all work together to create a beautiful messaging melody. You are the conductor. But I rarely listen to classical music and I don’t play any instruments, so this doesn’t work for me.
  • This is more my level. I’m a busy mom, with a full-time job, 2 little kids, and a husband who travels a lot during the week. So, we think about meals a week at a time, and even do some extra cooking or meal prep on the weekend so we’ll have those meals ready during the week. In this scenario, you are the mom.
  • Three steps to a sane, manageable content creation strategy.
  • This is your publishing schedule, but can also add when you’ll actually do the work, including research, starting conversations, editing, etc. Some people like to sit down and right three blog posts all at once, for example.
  • May use all of these, but pick the timeline that is practical for you. May use this as a once a month planning tool and not look at it again until next month, or you may use it to determine what you do every single day. The more you use it, the better, because behavioral scientists tell us if you put in writing what you are going to do, and when, and where, you are more likely to do it. But you have to find the system that works for you.
  • Channel: Have a calendar for your newsletter or your blog. Audience: These are the people we need to reach, here is where, when and with what Program: Which topics you are going to talk about Format: What form the content will take
  • These are all available to download as word docs, just simple tables. Can edit them, print them out for yourself, upload into Google Docs or Sharepoint, whatever you use. You could do the same thing in excel or any spreadsheet program.
  • Bookmark webpages Tag photos and other media, as well as documents Use descriptive titles for file names Group documents into folders This can be a hard habit to get into because it does take time upfront, but you save immense amounts of time later, because you can find everything quickly. This is really the equivalent of chopping all your vegetables and cooking the pot of beans on the weekend.
  • The most important thing is to find a system that you will actually use.
  • So we have our editorial calendar – we know what content we need to produce. We’ve been tagging and categorizing helpful items as we run across them. Now it’s time to actually create some original content. Make content now, and we are also going to let some bake and see what happens.
  • Don’t get hung up on the length of your pieces at first, especially if you have some flexibility in which channels you use. Do what you can, and use it where it works. You can always work on it again later.
  • Most popular formats; also called link bait.
  • Creating the other 50% of the content
  • Webinars are $35 each, or you can get our All-Access Pass, which allows you to attend any and all of our live webinars, plus get access to archive which has dozens of recordings, for 12 weeks for $97. I do have a special coupon code for you today that I’m going to send you over the chat now. (Coupon code is the word content) – 25 available or expires on July 31, whichever comes first.
  • Content Creation Strategies for Nonprofits

    1. Content Creation Strategies for Nonprofits Making the Most of Your Writing, Photos, Etc.
    2. Want to Hear the Recorded Webinar? These slides come from a one-hour webinar I presented on July 23, 2009. Would you like to watch the recording and download the handouts, templates, etc.? Kivi Leroux Miller EcoScribe Communications and Register for a free membership at Nonprofit Marketing to access these files and other free nonprofit marketing downloads.
    3. Nonprofits Have Always Needed Content Newsletters, donor appeals, thank you letters, your website, and program materials are like bottomless buckets. Flickr: Tracy Hunter
    4. And Social Media Makes It Worse And now you have to update your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. too. Flickr: couragextoxlive
    5. You Have Waaaay to Much to Do Flickr: sashaW
    6. And Never Enough Time to Do It! Flickr: laffy4k
    7. Content Creation as a Symphony Some people like this metaphor: content = musical notes; you = conductor. Flickr: PeteWright
    8. Content Creation as Make-Ahead Meals I think this one works better for the overworked and underpaid! Flickr: pieterjanviaene
    9. The Three Steps Flickr: Tiberiu Ana 1. Think Ahead & Get Organized 2. Make It & Bake It 3. Reheat & Remix It
    10. 1. Think Ahead & Get Organized
    11. Who’s Hungry? Flickr: freeparking Who needs feeding, through which channels, and how often?
    12. How Much 100% Fresh Content? Shoot for 50% and adjust from there Think about when you’ll reheat or remix it to get the other 50%. Flickr: nmarritz
    13. Keep Track on Your Editorial Calendar Filling out your editorial calendar is like planning your menus for the week or month. Flickr: burningkarma
    14. Pick a Realistic Time Frame • Quarterly • Monthly • Weekly Flickr: tanakawho
    15. Several Ways to Organize Calendar • By Channel • By Audience • By Program • By Format (e.g. Standing Heads) Flickr: ifindkarma
    16. Register at to download this template.
    17. Register at to download this template.
    18. Register at to download this template.
    19. Clearly Mark Priorities • Must Do • Like to Do • Fine to Bump Flickr: Sleeping Sun
    20. Organize Your Ingredients Use categories, tags, and folders to organize your ingredients, including web pages, photos, etc. Flickr: Collin Anderson
    21. My Favorite Tools • • Labels in Gmail • Also try: – –
    22. 2. Make It & Bake It
    23. Finding Ideas Inside • Brainstorming • Mind Mapping • Holding Pen or Tickler File (use those tags!) • Stories • Archives • Web and Email Stats Flickr: alexandralee
    24. Finding Ideas Outside • Social media listening tools • Surveys • Aggregators (e.g. • Mainstream media headlines • Trade news Flickr: farleyj
    25. Go Long or Go Short • Both work for first use of the material. • Cut or stretch when you reheat/remix. Flickr: Robyn Gallagher
    26. Got Writer’s Block? • Lists • How To’s • Reviews • Tips • Opinion • Q & A Interviews Flickr: psyberartist
    27. Who Can Help Create Content? • Guest columnists • Experts • Board members • Partners • Clients Flickr: AlishaV
    28. Managing Contributors • Make your expectations clear • Spell out the process • Give yourself a little cushion Flickr: DrBacchus
    29. Putting Social Media into the Mix “Social media boils down to the marriage of two main concepts — content and conversation. Without content, conversation is mere networking. Without conversation, content is dead. It goes nowhere.” ~ Brett Virmalo Tippingpoint Labs Flickr: charlietphoto social-media-experts-dont-understand-social-media/
    30. The Conversation as the Content • Highlight trending topics • Publish Q & A • Summarize debate Flickr: Kris Hoet
    31. Let Conversations Bake into Content • Throw something out there and see what develops • Ask questions! • Refine your ideas based on comments, then write. Flickr: ifindkarma
    32. My Favorite Tools • Blogging ( • Live Radio & Podcasting ( • Webinars ( • Cheap Video Recorder (Flip, Sony Webby) • Screencasting (Camtasia, • Flickr - Creative Commons “By” License Flickr: Southern Foodways Alliance
    33. 3. Reheat & Remix It
    34. Fearing Repetition? Flickr: CarbonNYC • Repetition has its benefits in marketing • But don’t just reheat all the time; remix too.
    35. Go Back to Your Editorial Calendar • Reheat/Remix: – Into Different Channels – For Different Audiences
    36. Make the Short Stuff Longer Add • Examples • Descriptive Details • Quotations • Opposing Points of View Flickr: Robert S. Donovan
    37. Make the Long Stuff Shorter • Use just the headline as status update • Reduce paragraphs to bullets • Pull a teaser out with link to longer piece Flickr: Brian Teutsch
    38. Change the Lead • Start article in a whole new way Flickr: Declan TM
    39. Change the Perspective • Tell it from another point of view Flickr: nickfarr
    40. Change the Format • Live Audio > Recorded Audio > Transcript > Text Everywhere Edit article into a • How-to • List • Opinion • Review Flickr: roger.karlsson
    41. My Favorite Tools • Simultaneous Social Media Updating & Scheduling (TwitterFeed, Selective Twitter. Also, HootSuite, TweetLater) • Transcribing Audio ( Flickr: Southern Foodways Alliance
    42. Benefits of This Approach • Less Frazzled • More Time and Focus on Creating Great Content • Better Message Consistency across Channels You’ll still be on the content creation treadmill, but you’ll be much happier. Flickr: burge5000
    43. Get Your All-Access Pass Get Full Access to All of Our Webinars, Live and Recorded, for 12 Weeks for $97.
    44. Let’s keep in touch! Blog: Twitter: kivilm Contact me at to discuss how I can teach this or other nonprofit marketing training to your group, association members, or grantees.