In a high-energy discussion, AM&P members posed some tough
questions for our expert panel at the Annual Meeting in June. Read on for a de
facto content strategy that works for one association across all its platforms.
By Maggie McGary
I was thrilled to be part of Association
Media & Publishingís recent
Annual Meeting in a session
titled, "Stump the Content Strategist!Ē Amalea Hijar from the
American College of Cardiology moderated, taking questions from the audience in
an attempt to Stump the Content Strategists ó Kylee Coffman from Delcor, Kiki LíItalien from Amplified Growth, and me. The
three of us wore noise-cancelling headphones so we couldnít hear each otherís
answers, and each of us had 120 seconds to answer questions about content strategy.
It was a fun and fast-moving session. Unfortunately, those noise-cancelling headphones really did their job, and I wasnít able to hear Kylee and Kikiís answers; but feel free to hit them up on Twitter at @KyleeCoffman and @Kikilitalien with any questions you may have about content strategy.
Question: How do you define content strategy for your
Response: Iíll be honest and say that as a small staff association (8 FTEs), we donít have a formal content
strategy. As director of marketing and communications, I have had "create
content strategyĒ on my to-do list since I started but havenít had time to actually
craft a formal strategy. That said, this is the de facto content strategy Iíve been
using to structure our content across all platforms:
- Gain an understanding of what kinds of content are important to our stakeholders (members, potential members, the
public) using analytics and feedback
we get in-person, via website, and social media, and so forth.
- Maximize the assets we
which are considerable, by making the best use of
existing content (revamped website thatís more user-friendly;
ability to gate some content just for members; use content to drive traffic to
website; and use analytics to inform future content).
- Invest in technologies
that enable content to shine and enable monetization.
- Generate enough revenue
to support additional resources to devote to developing a more mature content
Question: How does an association begin to develop a content
strategy? What are the first steps?
Response: The first step is determining whether
you have the expertise on staff to craft an effective content strategy in-house
or whether itís worth enlisting the help of an expert to get it right. Content
is about so much more than just an associationís magazine or print publications,
or just the website ó itís about everything the association produces ó web
content, digital newsletters, webinars, technical sessions at conferences,
publications, research, etc. In todayís world where "content is king,Ē
associations have the huge advantage of not only having an archive of valuable
content but also an army of industry experts willing to volunteer their time
and expertise to developing top-notch content. With all this at stake,
enlisting the help of an expert at whatever level the budget can support can be
extremely valuable. Start with an audit of
existing content, figure out how to maximize what you have, and plan for
Question: How do you determine the goals for your content
Response: That depends on the organization. Is
growing membership your organizationís primary concern? Then probably a content strategy
centering around making content a member benefit makes
good sense. Is generating non-dues revenue a priority? A content strategy
around monetizing existing content and planning future content with a
goal of generating revenue is a necessity. Many organizations are concerned
with attracting and retaining younger members; if thatís the case for your organization,
understanding what kinds of content is valuable to younger audiences and how
they consume that content is critical because itís likely different from what
the older generation likes, so creating a strategy that caters to younger
audiences but doesnít alienate veteran members is important.
your organizationís specific goal(s) then work back from that, as opposed to
just starting from scratch or following what brands are doing because that
might not be the right answer for your association.
Again, feel free to reach out to me, Kiki,or Kylee if youíre stumped about content strategy. And if I can leave
association execs with one parting thought about content strategy itís this:Content strategy is about optimizing your content
for your audienceónot about what individual staff members think is
most important or internal turf battles over whose content is most important.
Maggie McGary is director, marketing &communications, for the Society of Fire Protection
Engineers. Association Media and Publishing sincerely thanks her for covering this event for our members who were unable to attend.