I’m not sure that content creation falls into any categories that our blog readers care about, but as a marketer, creating content is one of those things that’s more art (read: “smoke and mirrors”) than science. Having properly lowered your expectations for this article, here’s a few tips for getting other people to write for you. After all, if your company doesn’t generate content, you won’t have any data to analyze.
As I’ve been trying to ramp up the blog at Webtrends, one of the things I have to do is shoot out ideas to people and ask them to write something. Often, there’s more than one person who could write it.
Groups Never Work. Ever.
What I’ve found is that sending one email and cc’ing multiple people routinely fails at generating anything. They all stare at each other and assume someone else who is less busy will take care of it. And after all, it’s just the blog. It’s not like the earth will stop turning if we don’t post something.
Oops, You Made a Committee
Worse, cc’ing people can turn your request into a committee.
- “Should we be talking about this?”
- “Shouldn’t we do more research around this?”
- “Perhaps we can come to consensus. Let’s call a meeting.”
Bang, your blog post is dead. Get out the shovel and bury it. Good luck cleaning up the bloodstains.
(I should, I suppose, defend the honor of my Webtrends co-workers; this rarely happens here. Mostly because I don’t cc people on emails like this any longer.)
Individuals Do Things
The more successful route to content creation is to send a very similar email to one person at a time, asking them to weigh in. In it, I usually emphasize a few points:
- Minimal effort: “I just need a paragraph response. I’ll handle the rest.”
- No writing: “Maybe just swing by my desk and we’ll write it together.”
- Flattery: “You said something about this to me earlier that was BRILLIANT, but I can’t get it quite right. What was it again?”
- Secrecy: “I’m working with a few other people, but I’m really interested in YOUR opinion.”
- Leverage + Flattery: “I talked to your boss, and s/he couldn’t say enough about how much you totally understand this topic.”
The problem with this route: Sometimes you’re fishing, and the person maybe isn’t the best resource. And they forward the email to someone else you’ve already sent it to. If you’re fishing for a source, a phone call or personal visit might be in order.
(It helps that I believe Webtrends houses some of the smartest, most innovative minds on the planet. I really have the easiest job in the world. Sometimes.)
Content Doesn’t Write Itself
Content creation for a medium as free-flowing and loose as a blog can be relatively easy. But it’s precisely that “easy” factor that tends to let people off the hook for NOT writing. As a marketer, you can only dedicate a portion of your time — personally, I spend about 10-15 hours a week on it — cajoling people into writing for you, so use your time wisely: Don’t ask a group; ask a single person.