Publish and be read

We are living in a digital age and know that the competition for readers’ time is increasingly fierce. The line between private and business life is blurring and there are fundamental differences between the depth of the relationships required to sell in professional practice and the often transactional nature of the B2C environment.

What do I mean by this? Premium retailers are setting the benchmark for customer expectations online. That’s all well and good for other retailers who, if they meet those expectations, achieve more visits and a greater share of wallet of an individual consumer.

The value exchange is different in our environment as we deal, first and foremost, in information. How much to publish, how often, how detailed? How likely is it that this information will encourage repeat visits or enquiries – the two things we desire most? These questions are not simple to answer. Some organisations in professional practice have become online publishers that now rival traditional media in terms of quantity of output. Inevitably, such publication gains momentum.

The key here is relevance, and how to identify it. Also, how to recognise when it’s no longer present. Easy, I hear you say, data is the answer! If people are still reading the content, great, if not, then stop writing it! A simple statement indeed. And it may be that I need to redefine my previous comment; that it is actually most pertinent to accept rather than recognise when content is no longer relevant. That is, to call out any declining readership, suggest changes of focus and, in terminal cases, propose graceful retirement.

By doing so, precious resources in terms of both practice time and money can be effectively diverted and the marketing and sales teams can address newly relevant audiences and issues. However, ‘pet projects’ can and do stack up. What can be done to stop this?

A content audit – what is the current state of play? Who is engaging with what, how often and with what outcome?

Cull regularly – you want the new material found, not the old. And, when it’s very new, without promotion, this is a massive challenge on such a crowded stage.

Plan content – get ahead of the curve. Can you have an editorial group focused on the next big issues to address? What are the regular search terms you’re getting found for – is that what you want to be famous for?

Deliver consistently – create governance and structure around the programme. Get some competitive spirit going if you need to. Above all, get it out there in a timely fashion – if you’re the only one onto this theme, and people want to know more, it’s easy to guess where they’ll go…

Measure – you’ll know if you get it right. Fewer things, done better, achieving more cut through and more leads.

Liz McCloskey, Chair, PM Forum South West