As with many phrases that are industry specific, people often ask us what is a content strategy? The simple answer is that it is a plan which supports what information you will share, where and with whom.
There is a misconception that marketing and communication for a business is easy. You simply talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. Ok. In principle that is correct. In practice it takes a great deal more thought, time and effort than that.
The first challenge is to define your audience groups. This can be more difficult than it initially appears. The reality being that once you are honest about who your customers are, the rest will follow.
Knowing who is purchasing your product or service is key. This doesn’t mean that this will be your audience forever. It is possible to have a captive audience, preferred target and aspirational community.
This is where PR can be really beneficial.
You see, nothing is fixed. The idea that you put together a plan and that it never changes would be absurd to anyone working in the specialism. Much of what we do is about test and measure. Even when you get the results you are looking for the strategy will need tweaking to make sure the plan evolves alongside the business.
Getting the messaging right
The next step in preparing a content strategy is getting the message right. Consistency is really important if what you want your communications to resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate what you are trying to say to sound intelligent.
This is one of the most common pitfalls with companies that want to engage with their prospects. The belief is that using big words and jargon-laden phrases will impress. The truth is that people don’t have the time to digest what you are trying to say.
Getting straight to the point and showcasing expertise in the examples you share will work far better than writing like you have swallowed a thesaurus.
Choosing the medium
We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. As well as printed marketing materials and company websites, we also have newspapers, broadcast (TV and radio) and social media channels.
The trick is to identify what mediums your audience(s) will be most likely to access on a regular basis.
Putting your message in the right place is what makes PR so powerful. It allows you to speak directly to those that you hope will buy your product.
Going back to mapping, think very carefully about where to put your energies. Businesses can find PR overwhelming because there is so much to do. Breaking this down into bite-sized chunks and being honest about where your customers access information will make life simpler.
Timing is critical when it comes to getting the best results from PR. If you have a product that you sell directly to consumers, then you may want to consider how soon you can make announcements about new products.
With some of the clients we work with, we are planning more than six months in advance. It seems inconceivable but in February we are planning for Halloween and Christmas. This is because consumer publications work so far in advance.
With business to business, it’s essential that you keep abreast of the wider media agenda. Even local events that are taking place could command space within a newspaper that may otherwise have been allocated to your story.
Think about what is happening, key dates throughout the year and the local and wider media agenda. Identify the times that would give you the best opportunities to share your message with the right people.
Don’t choose those that will be most popular. All you will do is make your job harder than it needs to be. Think about your angle, the news you want to share and then draft the content for that specific medium with your audience in mind.
Pulling the plan together
Once you have covered the above, it’s time to pull it all together. This is where you start to see a content strategy unfold.
There is no need to purchase expensive software or to find impressive charts. Use an excel document with relevant columns; audience, message, medium and timings throughout the year.
Once you have populated your spreadsheet, you can identify any gaps. This will give you the chance to think carefully about what you want to do in this space. It may be that greater thought needs to be given to this or that it is a longer-term objective.
The devil is in the detail
Content strategies will evolve quickly. You will see what your audience is most receptive to and you can do more of that. Equally, you will see what they choose to ignore, and the time spent on this can be redirected accordingly.
Make sure to review your content strategy regularly, then you know you have a document you can work from that will deliver results.
Alternatively, call an agency and get the professional help and support that you need. PR may not be a dark art, but it is an essential and business critical tool for those that want to succeed and expand.