The job of professional communicator includes wearing many hats. One day, we’re creatives, brainstorming ways to bring a message to market in a unique way. Next, we’re firefighters, trying to contain an issue before it grows into something more. We also consult with top executives, maintain relationships with influencers, read everything that affects our industry, manage teams…. I can go on.
So, it’s understandable that when it comes time to write a blog post or any other piece of content, we want to just get it done. It’s yet another item on our to-do list, and one that’s sometimes given a lower priority.
We constantly tell our executives to prep and practice when it comes to media interviews or speeches, to take the time and get it right. Perhaps it’s time to take our own advice. Content is one of the few direct lines to your audience. Treating it as an afterthought or always doing a rush job only adds to the low-quality content pollution we see everywhere today – endless articles that read like corporate-speak, interesting to few people outside the walls of the author’s office or organization.
So while your time probably isn’t going to get any less precious any time soon, here are a few things you can do today to develop better content:
Use Your News Addiction to Your Advantage
Rule number one of dating (aside from minty-fresh breath!): don’t drone on about yourself. Good content is no different. Not every post has to be about your product, your news, your community activity. Instead, turn the tables. As PR professionals, we often assume everyone else is as plugged into news and trends as we are. We forget that we *have* to, and that others simply don’t have the time.
Make a habit of saving everything interesting thing you read – news, industry blogs, articles from PR industry trades, anything. Then write up a reaction or assessment in a way that’s relevant to your organization, or do a round-up of interesting news. If citing other blogs, give them the heads up so they are more likely to share your piece when it goes live.
Mine Your Co-Workers
We all likely share big employee moments – the annual retreat or holiday party. But you spend so much time with your co-workers, so take advantage of that. Hobbies, sports, volunteer activity, travel, career stories – all those things can be mined to create short, personalized pieces of content that put a more human face on the company and shine a spotlight on culture. The best part is you can do this anytime. Get the information, and store it up for when news is slow.
Get an Outside Perspective
The fact that you’re writing content in the first place probably means you don’t have budget for outside resources. And that’s fine – but mixing in even the occasional post from a writer who doesn’t drink the Kool Aid every day can pay dividends. It doesn’t have to mean paying a content provider, either. Consider approaching people who are active in your industry to provide a guest blog.
We’re often too close to the products or services we talk about day in and day out, so briefing someone to handle a post tied to a product launch or upgrade will be worth the investment. Provided they are interesting, those sorts of posts tend to be promoted and read widely. That means you will also want to make sure your content tells a story in a way that works for the biggest possible audience.
Stop Watching, Start Participating
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients say, “that’s interesting, but we can’t talk about that.” Usually, we hear this comment regarding topics seen to have even the faintest whiff of controversy. Yes, there are things you definitely don’t want to talk about. But an increasing number of brands are becoming unafraid to take a stance and engage. Blog posts that feel timely and plugged in to issues of the day are simply going to be more appealing.
Look at ways of tying in what you do or what your brand stands for into current events, and craft content that speaks to that. Start with what’s natural to you as a company, and go from there. Your organization has smart people with insights to share – so share them!
Look to Your Greatest Hits
Remember those posts that were well-received? Great engagement and feedback, lots of shares? They’re not gone forever. If the posts have become stale, bring them back by doing an update or follow-up. Or, do a “part two,” taking a new perspective months or years after the original was first posted. Bottom line – take full advantage of your best material.
Any other tips? Things that work for you? Let us know.