Five Steps to Creating Content Your Audience Actually Appreciates

Membership, Social/Mobile, Corporate Support, Major Giving, marketing

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Have you ever wondered how we bring you the insightful commentary and research you read on EDGE? The EDGE blog you trust doesn’t stand alone. It’s part of an ecosystem of content created by Greater Public, a nonprofit that serves the professional development of public media fundraisers. 

Creating quality content that people actually want can feel exhausting sometimes, especially when fundraising is your primary objective. Producing the very best blog on public media fundraising is possible thanks to our strong process for vetting, selecting, editing, and publishing content.

To help you streamline your work process and create better content for your members, we want to share the content creation process developed by our senior manager for content and projects, Ellen Guettler. These tips could help you increase engagement and warm feelings for your organization. 

  1. Figure out a problem that’s relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach.

    The easiest trap for any content producer to fall into is focusing on what you want or think is best, instead of focusing on your intended audience. Understand whom you’re trying to reach. Imagine how their day plays out, the obstacles they’re encountering, what’s slowing them down or keeping them from what they want. Content that doesn’t help people is just an ad, which can lose your audience’s attention very quickly.
    You may hope to create content that encourages people to volunteer with your organization, for example. Compelling content doesn’t just say “We need volunteers,” or even “Here’s why it’s so great to volunteer with us.” Maybe your audience would like to feel more connected to your organization, or they cannot give money but would like to help in a different way. In the case of underwriting, business owners may have a need for exposure to new audiences, or the “halo effect” that comes with affiliation with a public media station.

    The starting place for your content should be rooted in what your intended audience needs or wants. Then you can explore how you might offer solutions.

  2. Research existing content.

    As you establish the problem you’re trying to solve for your audience, you don’t need to shape the full narrative yet, but you do need to have a sense that someone hasn’t already solved that problem better than you can. Understand what unique value or perspective your team or organization can add. You may not be the ones to explain the benefits of volunteering overall, but you can highlight how your volunteers’ experiences have benefitted them, through the impact they’ve had, connections they’ve made, and results they’ve produced.

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  3. Take the time to create a content proposal.

    Hold a meeting to discuss what problem your audience needs solving and what you can offer that uniquely solves it. At Greater Public we go through this exercise for each content idea. We identify:

    Whom we’re aiming at [audience]
    What this audience feels [problem]
    What their constraints/assumptions are [their reality]
    What format the project might take [article, quiz, survey, video, etc.]
    How it benefits the audience [solution]
    How it solves the problem uniquely [unlike what’s out there]

    If you can answer these questions (and write them down!) you know you have something worth moving forward with. At Greater Public, these meetings often help us identify which ideas we shouldn’t pursue. We lovingly call these “near-miss” or “successfully-pruned” ideas.

    Use your written content brief to keep everyone on-track. Your project can change if new information is revealed that pushes you in a new direction. But if that happens, return to your content proposal process to agree on the changes.

  4. Build your team.

    It’s important to divide up responsibilities based on your team’s strengths. At Greater Public, our advisors hold a tremendous amount of professional expertise, but they’re very busy, and perhaps may not hold the same expertise in the creative format we’ve chosen. We can’t assume everyone is a skilled writer, audio engineer, or video producer, for example.

    We’ll sometimes have someone with writing/editing expertise interview a content expert, or work closely with them to refine the content. People often feel more satisfied when they’re working at the top of their skillset and not slowed down by something that doesn’t come easily to them. When trust is built within these creative partnerships so that each knows the other doesn’t want to step on their expertise, the results can be exceptional.

  5. Clearly communicate timeline and deliverables.

    Once you’ve solidified your content proposal, you can map out scope, timeline, deliverables, and areas of responsibility. Do this in your content proposal meeting so everyone leaves with a clear understanding of what they need to do by when.

    There are a couple of ways to ensure that deadlines are met and the timeline is preserved:

    1. Capture the interest or passion of your work team. Make sure they understand the outcome, see it as a part of their mission, and believe it will benefit your audience.

    2. Make content creation an official part of work responsibilities. Creating content is no small task. Those who do it should have it as part of their job description, deliverables, goals, etc. And completing the content successfully should be recognized and rewarded alongside other important obligations.

  6. Edit.

    Enlist an editor who understands the principles of great writing (or video editing, audio production, design, etc.) Your content will only be effective if it’s well executed in the format you’ve chosen.

We hope these steps toward making great content are helpful to you.

We at Greater Public generate best-in-the-nation public media fundraising content on the EDGE blog, but we keep the most refined and important resources behind our paywall for our members to access, like our searchable FCC language library, our on-air scripts and letter templates, webinars about cutting edge fundraising issues, and 1:1 advice from our advisors. An entire staff has access to these resources when an organization becomes a member. If you’re not a member, consider taking advantage of a trial membership to see the content that we’ve created using this process.

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