Planning content – slides and notes from our seminar at Charity Comms

As part of the Charity Communications content event, Katie Smith and myself hosted a session on planning content programmes.

Take a look at the slides below… and read on for some notes about the rest of the event.

We have shared our 6Ps Planning Model a couple of times before – but this was the first time outside of client workshops that we have gone into detail about how to use it.

Three things we learned from feedback from the charity communications professionals who attended:

1. The importance of having a model (whichever one works for you)

We’d said that “we won’t have all the answers by the end of this session, but hopefully you’ll have all the questions”. That’s really what strategy models and frameworks do – structure the process of asking the right questions and not missing anything out.

Another model that was mentioned by a senior communicator there was the Forrester POST model. Like our 6PPM approach, it means that you don’t forget or gloss over precisely defining objectives, purpose and measurement.

2. Measuring and business cases

Another consistent theme in the coffee-break conversations we had was how important connecting metrics to outcomes was as a way of building a business case for investment in content. There was clearly frustration for some with the difficulty of persuading senior leaders of the need to build proper systems and treat content capabilities as capital expenditure, rather than something that could be adequately done with short-term, or campaign-focused budgets. As we note below, this approach – and strong support from their boards – was part of the success story for the two charities which presented their case studies.

3. Stay focused on the user

Last, but definitely not least, we had a chorus of support for the “customer first” principle (or stakeholder, or employee, or donor, or beneficiary) for planning content. Listening to the user, both when they’re talking about you and when they’re talking about your organisation’s focus more generally, is incredibly valuable. We illustrated this with our report on the conversation about mental health on Twitter in the UK, published yesterday to a really encouraging response.

Oxfam’s website re-design

After the Brilliant Noise session we heard from Gez Russell, content editor at Oxfam, who talked through the radical redevelopment of the Oxfam website (a new presence, not a migration), which saw a rationalisation of their content from 20,000 to just 400 curated pages – supporting the Kristina Halvorson assertion of “less is more” from her Content Strategy book, the bible of many forward-thinking content professionals.

Gez’s talk emphasised the importance of principles in getting a good website and content processes in place. We love principles, so here are the ones that the Oxfam project used:

  • Always inspire action
  • Design for persuasion
  • Reinforce trust
  • Always deliver onward journeys
  • Design for mobile
  • Ongoing evidence-based optimism

COPE as a production process

Getting down to the brass tacks of content creation publishing and management, Zoë Camper of Arthritis UK gave an incredible useful overview of that organisation’s purchase and roll-out of Sitecore as a content management system (CMS), allowing the organisation to Create Once and Publish Everywhere (COPE).

Some things we took from Zoë’s presentation:

  • The importance of a mandate from senior leadership
  • Investment in technology and the right processes reaps massive benefits in terms of cost and efficiency
  • A proper COPE strategy future-proofs your content – “I don’t know what device we’ll publish to next, but I know we will be able to…” said Zoë.
  • She’s a huge fan of Sitecore, which I was delighted to walk away with a clear understanding of, thanks to her no-nonsense, jargon-free explanation of it.

As a last point – Charity Comms is a really great organisation with a hugely engaged membership. If you are a professional communicator, working in a charity and not a member yet – join today!