The past two years were historically significant for a lot of reasons. (Any in particular come to mind?) Among all the notable and notorious milestones, this period should be known as the time every association turned its attention toward fully integrated content strategies.
There’s a reason for that, and it transcends the boundaries of traditional association publishing and content strategy. When your organization’s whole world is online, it becomes even more critical that everything you do, everything you communicate, and everything you pursue is in lockstep alignment. Associations that have shifted their in-person event strategies to virtual, their education strategies to online, and their print publishing strategies to digital, for example, must take steps to ensure that everything is in sync.
Content is at the core of all of that:
- As events—the lifeblood of many organizations—transition to new virtual formats, organizations must carefully consider the ways content can augment and support those efforts. That certainly means event content in the form of panels and presentations, but it also means new forms of published content that supports those event efforts—new articles, Q&As, videos, podcasts, and other initiatives that complement a virtual event. More than ever, it critical that published content aligns with event content.
- As education initiatives become online-only, associations likewise need to ensure they maintain strong alignment with content publishing. If an important milestone for certification is approaching, that may mean more focus in an organization’s publishing channels and outlets on the value of that certification and the professional development it enables, in the form of case studies, interviews, profiles, and other content efforts that promote education’s value.
- Finally, and perhaps most obviously, as print publishing shifts primarily to digital, associations must maintain not only the right frequency and cadence that matches the needs and desires of their membership and industry audiences, but also the right balance of topics and themes. When the world suddenly changed in early 2020 and businesses and industries found themselves in survival mode, the optimal role for many associations was to provide advice about how to survive. Now, months later, it’s incumbent on associations to find and maintain the right balance between content about recovery and advancement and a return to normalcy.
Regardless of the broader circumstances (such as a global pandemic), association content strategy always should be about delivering the most relevant content to targeted audiences in the most timely manner. That strategy requires constant, ongoing assessment of what is most relevant and what the audience considers appropriate and acceptable timing, but it also helps ensure maximum levels of engagement. But in times like these, it’s even more critical that those strategies are tightly integrated with all other functions of an association’s strategy.