A professional communicator wears many hats.
One day we’re creatives, brainstorming ways to bring a unique message to market. The next day we’re firefighters, scrambling to contain a minor problem before it erupts into a disaster.
We also consult with top executives, maintain relationships with industry players, read everything that affects our profession, manage teams and so on.
It’s understandable, then, that when it comes time to write a blog post or other content, we just want to get it done. It’s yet another item on our to-do list—a low-priority task, at that.
We constantly tell our executives to prep and practice for media interviews or speeches, to take the time and get it right. We should take our own advice.
Content is a rare direct line to your audience. Treating it as an afterthought or rushing through it only adds to content pollution—the endless articles written in corporate-speak, interesting to only a scant few outside the author’s office or organization.
Here’s how to develop better content:
1. Use your news addiction to your advantage.
One essential rule of dating: 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 be and that others simply don’t have the time.
Make a habit of saving every interesting thing you read—news, industry blogs, articles from PR trades, anything. Then write up a response or assessment that’s relevant to your organization, or do a roundup of interesting items. If citing other blogs, give them the heads-up so they can share your piece when it goes live.
2. Mine your co-workers.
Colleagues’ hobbies, sports involvement, volunteer activity, travel tales, career stories all can be used to create short pieces of content that give the company a human face and shine a spotlight on its culture.
You can do this anytime. Get the information, and store it up for when news is slow.
3. Get some outside perspective.
That you’re writing your own content probably means you don’t have money to hire outside resources. That’s fine, but mixing in even the occasional post from a writer who doesn’t drink the company Kool-Aid can pay dividends. It doesn’t have to mean paying a content provider, either. Consider approaching industry peers about providing 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.
Make sure your content tells a story that works for the biggest possible audience.
4. Stop watching; start participating.
“That’s interesting, but we can’t talk about that.”
Usually, we hear clients say that regarding topics without even a whiff of controversy. Yes, you don’t want to talk about certain things, but more and more companies are willing to take a stance and engage. Timely, issues-focused blog posts are increasingly appealing to readers.
Find ways of tying in what you do or what your brand stands for into current events, and craft relevant content. Start with what’s natural to your organization, and go from there. Your smart colleagues have enlightening insights to share—so share them.
5. Look to your greatest hits.
Remember those well-received posts—great engagement and feedback, lots of shares? They’re not gone forever.
If the posts have become stale—but not completely obsolete—bring them back by doing an update or follow-up. You might even offer a “part two,” adopting a new perspective months or years after the original was posted.
Any other tips and tricks that work for you? Please offer your ideas in the comments.
A version of this post first appeared on Provident Communications.