TL; DR (also known as takeaways): Your culture may be standing in the way of…
Your organization has an important role to fill now. If you’re like most, you are revisiting the way you offer your products, events, and services, and you’re using technology to connect to your audiences more than ever.
Are you paying attention, too, to how your work needs to get done in this new environment?
As you shift to a work-from-home environment, you risk losing the informal glue that connected your staff. It’s wonderful that people are using technology to maintain and even extend relationships and show their personal sides. But in addition to video chats, there are some internal communications lessons and tools that can help you make the most of the new normal. And you may find that once the pandemic has passed, the lessons and tools continue to serve you well.
1. Share content plans
Each department – products, events, education, publications, advocacy, chapter relations, membership, marketing, member relations, etc. – is likely drawing on their expertise to create content that helps.
But when departments plan and create content independently, there is a risk that they are creating content that duplicates or potentially conflicts.
Instead, the organization needs to come together to identify what members need, and then each department can envision how they can contribute to meeting those needs. The most important step of all is that every department has to share their plans, ideally both through regular conversations as well as a shared content calendar, or both.
2. Collect and use analytics to power your next decisions
This is a new world. We can no longer count on anecdotal sharing to define content success.
Instead, data is your friend. Before you publish any piece of content, make sure it has an explicit audience and a clear, measurable, useful goal.
Examples of useful goals:
- Increase by 25% the number of people who give us their email addresses after downloading our checklist
- Increase the number of people who share our ”why use a licensed subcontractor” video by 50%
Examples of not-useful goals:
- Increase engagement (why? what does that look like?)
- Have more visitors (why?)
The 5 whys is a useful technique to probe beneath goals that start out as less useful to uncover the important reasons.
In addition, with no one having time to waste anymore, you need to be sure you’re only creating content your audiences need.
3. Keep your people at the heart of your work
While technology tools are invaluable in recording plans, they are not a substitute for discussion. Consider having a regular call just to discuss content. Every content-creating group should have a regular representative on the call, and it should be led by a senior-level sponsor.
We suggest a weekly call with three agenda items:
- What new needs do our audiences have, and how do these new needs fit in priority with the ones we already know about?
- All groups have the opportunity to contribute to this discussion.
- The sponsor should make sure that all audience needs are captured in a single, prioritized list that the entire organization can access.
- How can/does each of our groups meet our audiences’ new and existing needs through content?
- Each department should be prepared to propose new content or refer the larger group to content they’ve already created.
- The organization may choose to approve content ideas on this call or create a separate content approval process.
- All approved content ideas need to be recorded in the content calendar, with an owner who will be accountable for the goals and the timeline.
- How well is your existing content meeting its goals?
- Each content owner should be prepared to discuss their existing content.
- For content that is not meeting its goal, anyone in the group may offer suggestions about how to improve its performance.
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