Whether you’re starting a blog or you’re a seasoned writer, inspiration for content topics is closer than you may think. Capitalizing on the expertise of both internal and external stakeholders can be advantageous for any content strategist to create fresh and interesting articles. The keys to doing this effectively lie in:
- Establishing overarching themes of focus
- Identifying internal or external stakeholders that have expertise within that area
- Conducting an interview with each stakeholder to develop content
Establish an Overarching Theme
First, it’s important to identify a general theme of focus to help guide your content development. This can be pertinent to the niche of your business or within an area of interest that’s particularly topical. Picking the right theme can spring forth relevant ideas which, in turn, inspires more content. Here are some examples of this type of theme development:
- Retirement investing for a financial advisory group – If you’re a group of financial advisors, you’ll want to develop content on a variety of subjects from retirement funds to stock market investing to real estate and more. When you choose retirement investing as your theme, that can be broken down into 401ks, Roth IRAs, how much you should save, and when you should start saving. Each of these can then be broken down further to specific areas, specific income demographics, and anything else that’s relevant.
- Lead Generation within Power Digital – There are many different services offered by Power Digital, lead generation being one of them. When we make lead gen one of our content themes, we can explore everything from outbound email marketing to social advertising to search marketing. Each of these has different areas to cover: how they work, what are their benefits, who should use which service. This theme then allows the content creation to be exponential.
Once you’ve developed a general topic area, you’ll want to identify the right people who have knowledge within that topic. These can either be people within your organization or clients of your business.
- Internal stakeholder – Trust in the diversity of your team’s knowledge. Within Power Digital, there are channel experts who have a strong understanding within a certain topic. If we want to speak about a new social media trend, we could ask someone on the social media team about that subject and how they think it would impact different aspects of performance for clients.
- External stakeholder – Going back to our group of financial advisors example—they might provide services for a real estate company. In return, that real estate company is now an external stakeholder that could provide information on content that surrounds real estate investing.
The benefit of communicating with these stakeholders comes from their familiarity with a given topic. Content can be created from scratch with little prior experience. But by speaking with knowledgeable people or experts, your content will become richer and more informative than it otherwise would be.
Conduct Information Gathering
After identifying your key stakeholders, the next step is figuring out how to draw the information out of them. Try to come prepared with specific, niche questions from your own research. This will lead the conversation to the heart of the matter, where their expertise can shine.
Some preferred methods for gathering this information are:
- Interview – This could be over the phone, in person, or through email.
- Draft development – Work with them to develop the content. This strategy will differ based on the role of the stakeholder, how much time they have, and how closely they want to be involved.
- Draft editing – Come to the experts with an already written piece of content. Ask them where the writing feels topical and could use some expansion. This could lead to entirely new branches of content otherwise unknown.
- Collaboration pieces – Creating content pieces that benefit from both parties’ expertise can be a great way to produce informative content. Offer credit and a link to their company with each collaborative piece. Not only will this create stronger material, but the workload is halved.
Double Down on Your In-House Team
When considering internal and external stakeholders, you’re likelier to find dedicated minds from your in-house team. They share the same goals as you and are readily available. For this reason, it’s beneficial to double down on your in-house team and try to bring out the creative aspects that will lead to new content ideas.
Some people say they have their best ideas in the shower. But before you make showering mandatory at work, there are a few other tricks you can try. Creativity and where it stems from is an exciting source of research, and scientists are developing new ways of thinking about creativity and how to spark it.
Share Your Vision
Sharing with your team the end goal in terms of content creation can facilitate helpful ideas. Otherwise, their ideas might be great but completely unrelated. To get your team up to speed, share with them:
- The goals of the content creation
- Where new opportunities are available
- What challenges the business faces
- Any ideas you’re currently thinking about
Hold Brainstorming Sessions Once a Week
One key to boosting creativity is repetition and exposure to new ideas. Allowing people to share their thoughts once a week and to hear others’ opinions will help form new ways of looking at whatever problem you’re tackling. These brainstorming sessions could be the whole team, a select few individuals, or one on one conversations.
The marketing team usually handles content creation. But that doesn’t mean only good ideas come from marketing. Try to bridge departments and pick people’s brains from other areas of the company to figure out how they would come up with content ideas.
Make Learning Part of Work Culture
One of the best ways to spark new ideas is to learn. Learning develops new ways of thinking and offers information outside our daily routine. Cultivate this type of atmosphere at work to encourage learning.
- 1-hour Rule – Offer your team one hour each day to dedicate toward learning something new that applies to the business. This is a stem off of Google’s policy allowing 20% of employee time to be spent on personal projects. The idea is to allow the workplace to become a place of growth and development.
- Start a book club – It may sound absurd to start a book club at work, but think of it as a way for employees to share books that changed the way they view the world. Allowing these texts to spread throughout your team means more creative juice will be flowing.
- Develop projects around learning – If a member of the team wants to learn how to do something outside of their normal expertise, structure a project where they can do that. Even a little experience can have profound effects on one’s creativity.
Creating a Comfortable Environment
For people to share their ideas, they have to be comfortable in their environment both physically and mentally. Our creative muse, for lack of a better term, is incredibly shy, and one negative remark can send a sensitive thinker into a spiraling silence. Positive atmospheres are conducive to sharing these ideas and building on top of them. Comfortable seating, bright colors, things to play with or toss back and forth are small adjustments in a physical environment that can bring out creativity from employees.
Make the Content Personal
Everybody working at your company has a different background, different life experiences, hobbies, and ideas to offer. Try to incorporate these personal stories into your content creation strategies. Maybe a member of your team is a musician; another was a college athlete. Try to connect the dots and allow for creative avenues of content to emerge.
Offer Multiple Avenues to Share Ideas
Not everyone is comfortable sharing ideas in front of others. Call it insecurity. Call it whatever you want. The fact is, these ideas aren’t being shared. To open up those who don’t want to share publicly, offer private idea lines.
- Create an idea jar where anybody can submit ideas for the next brainstorming session.
- Allow your team to submit ideas through email.
- Keep an open-door policy where people can share ideas one on one.
Learn How to Embrace Failure
The fundamental underpinning of creativity is that most ideas aren’t going to be good. It’s the nature of idea generation. You have to expel the absurd, the ridiculous, the unfeasible, and the plain wrong, before the correct and the unique can proliferate. To move past the first stage and onto the second, embrace the bad ideas. This doesn’t mean implement them, just build off of them. When in doubt, remember the first rule of improv: “Yes, and…”
Using your team’s expertise is advantageous for your content development strategy. It’s a source of new content, ideas, and opinions right at your fingertips. Plus, involving your team will make them invested in the company. If their ideas succeed, the business succeeds, and they appear to be the creative genius wizard who crafted the idea from thin air. Not only that but as you start to develop and nurture your team’s creativity, it will spread throughout the whole company. Then everybody will be seen as creative genius wizards who are at the forefront of your niche. Because you are.
PBS. The secret to creativity – according to science. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/the-secret-to-creativity-according-to-science
Steelcase. Creativity, Work and the Physical Environment. https://www.steelcase.com/content/uploads/2017/06/360_Focus.pdf