The Best Content is Connected

Written by Hilary Marsh on February 12, 2019

Content strategy helps ensure that your association creates useful, usable, appropriate, effective content. There are several principles of content strategy:

  • The content has to be relevant to the people who are accessing it.
  • It has to be usable, allowing the audience to accomplish their goals.
  • It has to be appropriate for their level of interest and experience.
  • It has to be effective, meaning it achieves your organization’s goals.

There is one more important concept to add to this list: connection. The concept of connection is at the core of everything an association offers. Every association has a core set of topics it works on that transcend and cut across all offerings – advocacy work, publications, original research, courses, event sessions, and much more. Those topics serve to link the organization to the industry it serves – and if the organization operates effectively, they can be a lens through which the association sees all of its work.

When an association adopts a holistic, organization-wide content strategy, its content can become connected both to the organization’s strategic goals and to the audience. Ask these core content strategy questions for each and every piece of content your organization publishes:

  • Who is the audience for this content, and how does it connect to those people’s pain points or needs?
  • What are the specific, measurable business goals for the program or initiative that this content is about, and how can this content help that program achieve its goals?
  • What other content is the organization producing on that same topic or for this program?

Importantly, making sure that content works requires content governance, including consistent processes and clear roles. We must apply this intentional approach to all the content that the organization produces. Almost all outward-facing association departments create content – that’s how our work gets out there in the world. We need to come together and have standards across departments about how content will fit together, and who’s in charge of deciding where it all goes.

Creating this kind of collaborative environment requires rethinking people’s performance measures and including content responsibilities in their job descriptions. Yes, content strategy is a HR issue, as well as a change management one. If people are not rewarded for collaborating, they will not be inclined to collaborate. Make sure their performance will be measured on the effectiveness of their content, and that they have the time and skills needed to make that happen.

Hilary spoke in the “Content Strategy and Designing for Relevance” session during SURGE Optimism 2018, an interactive virtual conference hosted by on November 7th-9th. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.