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Developing a content plan: 10 top takeaways from Your Year in PR

On Thursday 23 November 2017 I attended content planning workshop ‘Your Year in PR’, run by PR expert, author, keynote speaker and podcaster Janet Murray.

The premise of the workshop was to help small business owners develop a content plan for 2018, including what content to publish, when and where.

If you are in thinking about or are in the process of developing a content plan for 2018, here are my top 10 takeaways from Your Year in PR 2017 (#YYIPR17).

Developing a content plan: top tips from #YYIPR17

1. Plan ahead

One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is staying consistent with content.

Without a plan, you may stay on track for a few weeks, or months. But then business and life take over. You fall behind and struggle to come up with content ideas. We’ve all been there. Before you know it you haven’t posted for a week. A month. A year.

Developing a content plan will help you stay on track and will enable you to create content that is:

  • Of greater quality
  • More creative
  • More valuable
  • Timelier

Ultimately, these things will make your content more shareable.

And don’t forget you’ll need to commit the plan to paper. We recommend getting hold of one of Janet’s media diaries to do just that.

2. Set yourself content goals

There are four key areas that fall under the ‘content’ umbrella. Before you begin developing a content plan, set yourself some goals for each of these areas:

1. Your blog / other content (eg podcast, video)

2. Email marketing

3. Social media

4. Press coverage

 

 

We recommend making the objectives SMART, which you can find out more about in our blog post on writing a business plan.

3. Map out key events for the year ahead

Before you can decide what content you are going to create and when, you need to know what events are coming up for the year ahead.

Consider events that are external to your business, as well as those in your business calendar.

External events

  • National holidays and events 
  • Awareness days
  • Political events
  • High profile court cases
  • Film, TV and book launches
  • Key dates in your industry

Events in your business calendar

  • New service or product launches
  • Team expansion
  • Team socials/events
  • Attendance at events
  • Speaking opportunities

4. Start with the big picture

I’m guilty of trying to jump straight into the detail, but when it comes to developing a content plan it’s much more efficient and less overwhelming to start with the big picture.

Try tackling your content plan in three stages:

A yearly overview

Your yearly overview should note which events and milestones you intend on creating content for.

Don't worry about what format the content will take, or other details about the content at this stage.

Quarterly plans

Try to get into the habit of creating quarterly plans ahead of time. The end of February, May, August and November are ideal times to do this.

For each month in the quarter you are planning, note down what content you intend to produce each week. 

Weekly plans

Here is where you get down into the detail, describing what content you will publish on each platform for each day of each week.

Plan at least 1-2 weeks in advance to allow time to create the content and assets you need.

5. Everything that happens to you is a content opportunity

This was a great tip from Janet and is especially true when it comes to PR opportunities.

 

She said:

"What's more interesting than our buissinesses is the content that sits around the edges"

Consider content related to:

  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Money
  • Work
  • Life and death
  • Hobbies and interests

Obviously, these topics won’t be right for every business or platform so consider carefully which you choose to discuss and where.

 

6. Use blog content to answer potential customer questions at all stages of the sales pipeline

One of the speakers at Your Year in PR was Kate McQuillan, owner of Pet Sitters Ireland. She attributes the success of her business to generating consistent, quality content that addresses the questions and concerns of her potential clients.

 

Kate recommended aligning content to three key areas:

 

Awareness articles

These articles are not about your industry, product or service but will be of interest to your potential clients.

 

Taking Kate’s pet sitting business as an example, these are articles such as:

  • Unique puppy names: how to choose a name for your puppy
  • Winter safety tips for pet owners

 

Consideration articles

Consideration articles are those that target potential customers who are in the market for your service or product but may not yet be considering your business. These articles will educate customers specifically about your industry.

 

For example:

  • How much does a pet sitter cost?
  • Home boarding for dogs: pros, cons and alternatives

 

Decision making articles

Decision making articles are those that target potential customers who are considering using your service or buying your product. They answer questions or address concerns that the potential customers may specifically have about your business.

 

For example:

  • How do we choose a home from home boarding host?
  • Hiring a rabbit sitter: can you take care of my rabbit?

7. You don’t have to come up with content ideas from scratch

There are lots of online tools that can help with generating content ideas.

Those mentioned during Your Year in PR included:

  • Google search (see what Google suggests when you start to type about topics in your industry)
  • Quora
  • Answer the public
  • Buzzsumo
  • Customer and potential customer questions
  • Other blogs – both within and outside of your industry

8. Repurpose your content to make it go further

Don’t just write a blog post or create a podcast and leave it at that. One blog post, podcast or other piece of ‘meatier’ content could be used to generate a handful of other pieces of content.

 

Consider the following content types when developing your content plan:

  • Podcasts and other audio content
  • Blog post
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Emailers
  • Social media updates
  • Ebooks
  • Cheatsheet downloads
  • Slideshares
  • Quotes
  • Images

9. Be consistent

One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is staying consistent with content.

But being consistent is a key element of successful content marketing. To increase brand awareness, engagement and ultimately sales, you need to be consistent.

If you make content creation a habit the rest will follow and developing a content plan is the first step to creating this habit.

 

9. Stop thinking, start doing

Looking at the volume and quality of content created by business owners like Janet and Kate can be overwhelming.

But they were quick to reassure everyone at Your Year in PR that no one's content is perfect in the beginning.

The key takehome? Just start. Content marketing is essential to the success of most online small businesses - but all that content won't create itself!

 

 


I hope you found these insights from Your Year in PR 2017 helpful.

Will you be developing a content plan for 2018? What approach will you take?

For further information about how we can support small business owners with content marketing please get in touch.


 

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