Why you need to do a content audit ASAP

December is my favorite month. The holidays are on the horizon, we’re wrapping up website-audit-icon1many of our projects and everyone at work is feeling a little merrier. It’s a great time to set the tone for the new year. If you’re a content marketer, it’s also the perfect time to do a content audit, so you can start fresh in 2017 and work towards your objectives.

Here’s why you should begin your content audit today:

Take stock of what you have, what worked, what didn’t. There’s a whole lot of content on your site. Organizing it in a spreadsheet allows you to examine the subjects you have covered and evaluate each piece of content using various metrics. This can give you insights into what performed well and resonated with your audience, as well as which posts can be archived, scrapped or edited.

Assess content relevance. Go through your organization’s Web pages to see which ones are pertinent for each of your stakeholder groups. The photos of this year’s volunteer appreciation breakfast may be of interest to employees, but they are likely not useful to all your prospects. Think of moving this type of content to internal-facing pages or creating a company social media page, in favor of posting audience-relevant content on your company Website.

Better organize your site. Use taxonomies to classify your content and determine which pages to keep, which to modify and which to discard altogether. Taxonomies can also help you to create relevant links across your site.

Get rid of useless files that take up server space. Some of the content you produced may not have performed well or it may no longer be useful. A content audit can help you identify these pieces and delete them in order to free up space on your organization’s servers.

Re-purpose quality content. Be sure to keep pieces that performed extremely well and that could be re-purposed. Perhaps you have an article that could be turned into an FAQ, a social media post or even a video. Content that resonates well with your audience can be flagged and used as a foundation for other stories.

Use results to guide your content strategy.  Once you’ve inventoried all your content and completed your audit, the outcomes will allow you to produce a more complete content strategy. Start with a clean slate and set your objectives based on what you have learned.

Begin 2017 on the right foot. Think of your content audit as a closet cleanse. Get rid of old, outdated items, rediscover classics that you can accessorize differently, make room for new boxing-day purchases and completely re-think your style strategy.

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Making the Case for Brand Journalism

The majority of PR and marketing pros are buzzing about brand journalism. Last week I attended a workshop hosted by

Making the case for-Brand-JournalismRagan Communications’ Mark Ragan (@MarkRaganCEO) and Jim Ylisela (@jpyjr) on The Company as Media – Your role in the age of Brand Journalism & Content Curation.

Here are just some of the insights from this workshop that can help us make the case for brand journalism in our organizations.

(1) A catalyst for integration. PR and marketing teams may have “beef” with brand journalism, because both functions think they should own it. Turning your site into a storytelling vehicle that provides content your customers actually want to read and share can have an impact on conversion. Why not use this as an opportunity for PR and marketing to collaborate more closely?

(2) Taking a balanced approach yields results. You are NOT talking about yourself; you are essentially becoming a trade publisher. Tell stories about your organization’s people and its area of expertise and pair this with content curation about the industry. Content marketing efforts should not be propaganda. Many companies hire journalists to act as internal reporters and take a more ‘unbiased’ stance and tone.

(3) Why write a news release when you could write a story? So many organizations are still tied to the news release. Some that have storytelling vehicles on their websites duplicate their efforts by using both. There is no need to do this with brand journalism. You can publish a story that resembles what a journalist would write on your site and then send a targeted pitch to your media contacts.

(4) Great content + engagement = success. Nowadays we have to make sure to get people to our site, but we also need to get our site “out there” (i.e. on social media platforms, via email, etc.) If you provide your customers with content that they find useful and interesting they will actually take the time to read it, and even comment on it or share it. By becoming a go-to source of trustworthy information you also drive them through the conversion funnel.

(5) Stories with impact. Your content should make your audience’s life better. It should be relevant, useful, entertaining, consistent, transparent, and targeted towards their needs.  It should practice what Mark Ragan refers to as ‘refrigerator journalism’ – so good that you want to post it on your fridge. Therefore, it should be free of jargon and corporate speak. Keep it crisp, brief and to the point – just like what you might see in your favourite magazine.

(6) The best way to showcase your expertise. Your organization’s brand journalism site is a vehicle to share the range of expertise you have that surrounds your brand. Mark and Jim use the example of Export Development Canada’s online magazine Export Wise that provides advice for Canadian exporters. The content looks like what you might see in The Economist. A brand journalism site can also be useful to your salesforce, as it allows them to easily share stories with clients or prospects.

(7) Creates brand ambassadors. Involve your employees in your brand journalism stories – they will be your best brand ambassadors. They have great stories to tell about your organization at the operational level. Content marketing begins from the inside: engage your employees and encourage them to share.

(8) Takes a strategic approach. Effective brand journalism begins with your strategy. Take a look at your objectives, resources, key messages. What are you trying to achieve? Start with a communications audit to take stock of what you are currently doing to connect with your stakeholders and how content marketing fits in. Build a content strategy, a news desk and an editorial process. Decide on which tools to use for your main site and social media. Determine how you will measure success on your brand journalism site and trace how it leads to conversion (leads, sales, relationships, etc.).

(9) Closes the gap between media sites and corporate websites. Your site doesn’t have to be dull, transactional and text-heavy. By turning it into media site, you can still provide the information and services that your audiences need, but keep them interested along the way. This means changing how we write stories and how we share on social to ensure that they are audience-centric, must-click pieces. Turn your press releases into features, convert expert evergreen interviews into blog posts and pull good stories from research and whitepapers.

Creating a good content marketing strategy and building a vehicle to carry it through is a lot of work. It requires rethinking the way organizations have done things for years and taking on a less me-centric approach to communicating your content. The workshop I attended really highlighted how brand journalism focuses less on corporate priorities and more on the audience. Often understanding that focus on the latter will benefit the former is half the battle.