Interview: Content Production with Vanessa Rhinesmith – Part II

by Kate Brodock on 6 May 2010

Posted in: Interviews

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This is the second half of our interview with Vanessa Rhinesmith on her experiences with a content production strategy.  The first half of her interview can be found here.

Make sure to check out the comment, as we’ve referenced it below.  You can find more about her on her blog.

Can you give a couple of examples of continual archiving of content for future use?  What’s the “one day” pile?  Had you been gathering these pieces of content specifically for your CP strategy, or was it just part of your “regular” process?

For me, gathering content ideas has always been more of a subconscious process.  I take lots of notes – on my computer, in various notebooks, on my iPhone, etc.  Not always the most efficient process, but it’s effective for me.

My one-day pile consists of many “nice to haves”.  This includes larger projects and content ideas that may not align to my current strategy or I may not have the time for.  Right now my biggest “one-day” item is a video introduction and bio.  It’s something I’d love to get done, but really can’t justify putting other items of greater importance on hold to tackle.  Stay tuned, because it’ll happen.

With my brainstorming and content being scattered, archiving that content for future use is critical.  Currently, I use Excel, Backpack and one designated notebook.  Everything is transferred into the Excel spreadsheet with priority noted and then, depending on where in the editorial process I am, the other two locations come into play.  Detailed outlines, brainstorming and production iterations are done online via Backpack or more organically in a notebook.

For clients, I always keep in mind that people work differently.  It’s important to identify what type of work flow a client prefers and then create a content production flow that works for them.  The amount of people involved in content production also has to be taken into consideration.  There are more complex and robust ways of archiving content, but some times simple works.  For example, Google Docs is a quick and easy archival solution.  Plus it can be easily shared and updated among a team of contributors.

So far, what successes have you seen from your content production strategy?  Anything you need to work on?

Success is an empowered client.  One who has a greater understanding of what they are trying to achieve, how that strategically aligns to his/her goals and an enhanced awareness of the type of communication opportunities that.  Basically, a success is when I am no longer needed – and that’s awesome!

What do I have to work on?  Everything!  There’s so much to learn.  The challenge is trying to keep up, stay relevant and share as much of that knowledge as possible.  Making time to focus on my own content production strategy is a unique challenge as well.  Still working on a solution to that one.

What about for those people out there that don’t know where to start?  Do you have any advice for them on where to look, and how to start organizing it?  When did you guys say to yourselves “Hey, we’ve got great stuff here, let’s get it together and make it work for us?”

I think that content is always there whether people realize it or not.  There is always a story to tell – it can take the shape of a picture, a success, or a person.

Content production doesn’t have to be created from scratch – great content happens in the everyday moment.  The trick is selecting and aligning the stories to the appropriate, most effective communication outlet that will do the content justice and aligns appropriately to the goals of the organization and/or program.

Ways to uncover hidden content:

Dissect the big picture.  Take apart your organization’s mission or break down the marketing communications plan into a couple of one-liners or words.  Then pull one picture, story, success, event, or announcement that aligns to each.  It’s a quick and easy exercise to discover strategically aligned content.

Bring a mix of people to the table.  Don’t simply brainstorm content with your marketing communications team.  To attain diverse content, you need to enlist a diverse mix of content contributors.  Seek help from across the organization, especially people who are tapped into other areas to ensure the broadest mix.

Listen to your customers.  What do they want to hear, read or see?  Who is at the front of the organization?  Who is interacting with your customers?  Talk to those people and listen to their stories.  This is a great way to not only uncover great content, but offer content that’s both the internal and external community can engage with and benefit from.

Keep it simple.  It’s easy to get too complex – I do it all the time.  I end up with an incredibly long blog post, when the most compelling piece is one eighth of what is originally produced.  So often people dismiss amazing content ideas and opportunities, because they think it’s too insignificant when often simple is best – it’s real, relatable and aligns back to the mission

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