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Strapped for Content? - 1/8/2013 -

A Content Strategy Task Force may be just what you need to take your content to the next level in 2013.

By Cathy McNamara

Magazine content. Website content. E-blasts. E-newsletters. Books. Technical papers. White papers. Education courses. So much need, so little content? Maybe it’s time to rethink the way you go about gathering and distributing that content, as attendees learned at Association Media & Publishing’s recent 2012 Business of Association Publishing Conference in Chicago.

One of the day’s sessions, "More Than Just a Piece of the Pie: The Role of Publications in Associations,” focused on how publications can be used to drive organizational effectiveness and success. Panelists Maureen Sullivan, of the American Library Association, and Teresa Brinati, of the Society for American Archivists, discussed the use of publications and content to support an association’s mission, vision, operational goals, and strategic plan. A third panelist, Vicki Wiler, director of publications at ARMA International, an association for records and information management professionals, focused on her association’s struggles with content management.

"At ARMA, we had several subject-matter expert groups that were being used to help identify our content needs and strategies,” she says. "But the result was a duplication of efforts, content gaps, and over-taxed volunteers, staff, and financial resources.” What she had, she says, was a serious case of "content uncoordination.”

The solution? ARMA created a Content Strategy Task Force for a three-year term to:

1. Develop a process for identifying trends in information-related professions.

2. Determine the best practices needed to help the association’s 10,000-plus members address those trends.

The Content Strategy Task Force’s goal, she says, was to develop a process for identifying content gaps and to make content recommendations for the association’s content development groups, which included an editorial board, a review group, and a conference content task force.

To achieve its goal, the Content Strategy Task Force, which included 10 high-level information, technology, legal, and business professionals plus key ARMA headquarters staff, implemented a work process that included:

  • Regular conference calls to discuss market trends and needs.
  • Initial, ongoing, and annual evaluations of content mix and existing gaps.
  • Environmental scans and topic recommendations for content production for the publications and education programs.

Thanks to the task force’s efforts, the association benefitted with improved content coordination, allowing it to leverage the content that was developed in multiple areas, says Wiler. Content created for the association’s books and education sessions, for example, was excerpted in the association’s magazine articles. A series of magazine articles was repurposed into web seminars. Information developed for technical reports was used for conference education, web seminars, and even a radio broadcast.

So, the next time you’re short on content, take a look at the other content-creating areas within your association. More than likely, there’s plenty of good information to go around. Consider the creation of a committee or task force to make recommendations for new content and to repurpose the content you have already. Ultimately, a content strategy task force may be what you need to ensure that your association is delivering the very best information to your members through all of your content channels.

Cathy McNamara Fitzgerald is director, communications, for the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee. Association Media & Publishing thanks her for volunteering to cover this education session for our members who were unable to attend.


 

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