By Reba Hull Campbell, Deputy Executive Director (from presentations to the 2017 Connect Conference by SCPRSA and IABC-SC on November 3, 2017 and the International City/County Management Conference in San Antonio, TX on October 24, 2017)
We hear a lot these days about the need to “tell our story” of the value of our local communities to residents and businesses. This is especially true as the proliferation of fake news – or maybe it’s just “news” that’s not grounded in truth or accountability – has often hijacked our ability to do just that.
But, if we’re strategic in our thinking, we can get around this onslaught of “fake news” by taking our stories directly to our residents, customers and others interested in the success of our communities.
The same internet that allows the spread of fake news can also allow the spread of our stories. Let’s use it for the good.
We used to hear about the old adage of the “rule of seven” in advertising. Someone must read or hear something seven times before remembering or taking action. In today’s world, that seven times has likely doubled.
According to a Pew Research Center report, our brains just aren’t wired to keep up with this rapid pace of information flow caused by technology. Unfortunately this article also points to many reasons why the proliferation of “fake news” will only get worse.
So how do we cope?
Let’s take our stories (or content) and SCORE using Strategic Content Organized for Reuse to Engage.
The SCORE strategy involves reusing, recycling and reformatting content to tell your story in a deeper, more engaging way to make new topically-connected content from different parts of the organization’s storehouses of content.
SCORE involves going directly to your audience rather than depending on others to tell your story.
This means more than just posting links to new website content in a weekly email or adding a paragraph at the end of a print magazine article about where to find more detail on the website.
It’s about strategically involving the entire organization in getting the maximum impact from existing content.
Tips for a successful SCORE strategy:
1 – Prioritize SCORE as an organization-wide strategy. This process must address both long-range goals and short-range targets of opportunity for all outreach and communication with your important audiences. It’s not just a function of a communications department.
2 - Audit all the platforms (or communications tools) you have available to your organization. Make a simple spreadsheet that lays out all the ways the organization has to communicate – anything that communicates your message and your brand to your target audiences. Think beyond just print and digital and beyond traditional communications tools.
3 - Brainstorm with people all over your organization, not just the communications staff. You will probably be surprised to find how many platforms your organization uses that you may be overlooking. Are there staff members who regularly visit with or interact by phone with your customers? What are the information entry points into the organization (receptionist, front line workers, voice mail prompts)? What other organizations does the staff interact with that help (or could help) get the message out? For members of the communications team, this process also has the added benefit of increasing the visibility of the communications staff throughout the organization as a problem-solving, boundary spanning team.
4 – Identify the content you are pushing out over these platforms. This isn’t about creating more or new content . . . it’s about leveraging the most and best use out of what already exists. Does the organization publish an article once in a newsletter and never reference that content again? Does its online newsletter link to new website content when it’s posted with the hope people find it after that? How can the content that is similar in topic be re-used to information out in another way?
5 - Integrate the SCORE strategy into all outreach efforts. An editorial calendar can be another page of the spreadsheet that inventories all of the organization’s platforms. Use the calendar to plan how content will be used.
For example, a newsletter article may be reformatted into a shorter, more conversational blog post with a podcast attached. The article can be posted on the website with links to other site content related to the topic. Copies of the article can be used as training materials at a conference and condensed into a Power Point format. Content from the article can be reformatted into an editorial in the local newspaper from your organization’s leadership that would then reference back to the deeper content on your website.
The SCORE strategy is intended to be an ongoing process that’s constantly changing based on the content an organization has available to it. Being flexible and on the look-out for new content all the time are key.
What you do with your content after you create it is what really matters.
That’s what the SCORE strategy is all about.