07 Feb Finding the Story: How to Identify Valuable Content in Your Organization
The struggle is real when it comes to finding good, shareable content for your business marketing efforts. Even if you already understand content marketing, and know what makes for quality content, you still need to find great topics to cover – and that can be tough.
Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to ferret out valuable content.
Stay Connected with Your Co-Workers
Connecting with your co-workers can be tough, whether you have a team of 5 or 500. But if you want to identify great stories to tell, getting to know your team is key. This is especially important for staff who are outside of your area of focus, as they are often sources of the best information!
A commonly-recommended tactic to begin sourcing content from your team is to talk to the employees who field customer questions/complaints. Ask them what questions they regularly receive and you’ll easily find topics that will be valuable to your customers. It might be a “Top 5 Questions We Get About Widgets” blog post or a more in-depth video demonstrating how to troubleshoot your whatsits, based on their feedback.
To go beyond answering FAQs, you should make a consistent effort to:
- Talk to your team members regularly – especially at times when you don’t need to ask for help and can catch them at lunch or swing by their cube to chat about life, work, etc. This will not only help build rapport that will make working together more enjoyable, it will also ensure that you’re not only coming to them when you want something. Plus, you never know what ideas might pop up in casual conversation!
- Make it clear that you want content. Ask for a moment at the next staff meeting to share with your team what type of stories you’re looking for. Repeat that ask through appropriate mentions in company emails or internal newsletters. Once your co-workers know what you need, you’ll get some unsolicited ideas. Take advantage of meetings (when appropriate) by including a request at wrap-up for any organization happenings, stories, trends, etc. that are worth sharing. Keep in mind that opening the door to suggestions also means you will likely get ideas that you can’t use, so just let them down easily so you don’t discourage that flow of information.
- Keep it out of the lunch room. You don’t want your teammates to run when they see you coming!
Stay On Top of Industry Trends
You don’t have the be a subject matter expert to know what stories are worth telling. When I’ve worked in marketing for technical industries, I would regularly check trade magazines, industry blogs and set up Google Alerts on topics that were relevant to our businesses. When you come across a trend or piece of legislation that is interesting to you – run it by some of your subject matter experts to see if it has legs.
The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to naturally identify topics that can inspire content.
Make It Easy On Your Sources
I can’t put enough emphasis on this – the easier you make it to work with you, the more easily you’ll find stories. Asking a subject matter expert to whip up a blog or even produce an outline on a piece of content (especially if they don’t enjoy writing) can be like pulling teeth. They have their own work to do, so if you want their help you shouldn’t add anything time-consuming to their plate.
Here are the steps I like to follow after a source has presented a valid topic, or validated a topic I suggested:
- Research – Especially if reporting on a piece of legislation or industry standards, researching coverage of the topic is essential (make sure to source in your final piece of content). If you’re not sure where to start, ask for your source’s suggestions.
- Interview – If you don’t have enough content from your initial discussion and research, ask for a quick conversation with your source or another expert in your company. Handle this reporter-style, making sure you ask the questions to fill in the blanks in your story.
- Edit – Come back to your source once you have a blog or script drafted for your content, and ask them to review for accuracy/clarity. If time allows, have another coworker who is not related to the project review the content as well.
- Thank Them – Publicly! Quote them in the article if appropriate, but at the very least share the final content with their superior with a great big thanks for their help.
When your coworkers see that it’s easy to work with you, they’ll be more likely to throw ideas your way. You just need to be willing to put in the work.
Try Something New
You’re going to hit a content rut. When you do, consider some of these alternatives to keep the information flowing:
- Blog Topic Generators: There are a handful of fun, free tools to get your creative juices flowing. I thought these might be kind of hokey (and sometimes the ideas they spit out are) but scrolling through different blog prompts can be a great source of inspiration. My recent “5 Things Your Website Designer Wants You To Know” was a product of brainstorming with these generators.
- Curated Content: Curating content that others produce is a fun way to create enjoyable, skimmable content. We use this technique monthly in our “Check It Out” blogs, and it gives us a chance to get creative and share content with our audience that isn’t all about us!
- Ask Google: The good thing about struggling to find content topics, is that you quickly find you’re not alone. There are numerous resources out there to help you find ideas, like this one one: “101 Ways to Source Content Ideas.” Or, if you’re not finding inspiration, you can just look at pictures of internet cats and feel better for awhile.
Bottom line here: make an effort to stay in the loop at your company, seek out content, make yourself easy to work with and get creative when you hit a content wall! If you’re still struggling with where to start, give us a shout to see how we can give you a content jump start.