2021 Content Booklet

noun 1. the topics or matter treated in a written work con•tent

2 con . tent It’s the work-horse darling of marketers. It’s the spark that ignites an effective marketing and communication strategy. So, how do you go about creating content that’s not only good, but also catches people’s attention and makes them want to engage? And more importantly, what exactly is content in the context of communication? Content is the siren song for relevancy.

3 con . tent Table of Contents Content Marketing Huffington Post Suggests That Good Content Should Follow These Three Rules The Meaning of Relevance The Characteristics of Relevancy People are Wired to Respond to Stories The Architecture of the Story How Do You Get Someone Interesting to Talk to You? Interesting Content, Begins With Interesting People So, What Do You Do With All This Great Content When You Have It? 4 6 8 10 18 22 17 20 Official publication of The newsLINK Group, LLC © 26

4 con . tent “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” There are two words in this definition that are important to note: valuable and relevant. The word “valuable” refocuses this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing to something the target audience finds interesting. You can tell if a piece of content is the type that should be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, if people want to share it and especially if people act on it. The word “relevant” is especially important, as it’s really the gold standard for effectiveness. If content isn't relevant, no one really cares. It's just noise. The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing as: Content Marketing

5 con . tent The sum total of freshness, readability, relevancy, and usefulness of the information presented, as well as the manner in which it is presented. So, it can’t just be good, it has to look good too. That’s a tall order. An exercise in relevancy: If the word “customer” were exchanged for the word “member” the definition becomes a lot more relevant in the association world: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable member action.” Who doesn’t want more profitable member action? Content has also been described as something that combines both information and communication into one effective package.

6 con . tent Huffington Post Suggests That Good Content Should Follow These Three Rules: The content should provide valuable and useful information to the reader. It should teach them at least one or two things, or answer at least one question they have. While information is a key factor in great content, information alone won’t do the trick. You have to keep in mind that real people are reading this content, so it has to be interesting; the content needs to catch and keep their attention from the title to the last period. Things like facts, statistics, metaphors, analogies and funny anecdotes are all great ways to keep people interested in what they’re reading. Another good rule of thumb is to not be too technical, keeping a conversational tone and using words and phrases that are easily understood, because most people read at a 7th-8th grade level. Informative Interesting 1 2

7 con . tent The final rule for creating great content is also one of the most important. Relevance applies to a few different things. The content must be relevant to the niche, business, or company that it’s being written about. It must also be relevant to the audience for whom it’s being written. Knowing your target audience is important, but ensuring the content you’re writing is relevant to that audience is even more important. Writing properly relevant content comes from doing research and knowing enough about the subject of your content and who it is being written for to make it relevant to both. Relevant 3 Relevant Informative Interesting

8 con . tent The Meaning of Relevance The Oxford English Dictionary defines "relevance" as "the state of being closely connected or appropriate to the matter in hand." To be relevant then is certainly to be important, but the term implies more than that. To be relevant, an action, person or organization, must be connected to a larger scheme, a grander plan — the ultimate "matter in hand" in their industry. In the business world, to be relevant means being an integral part of your organization, or your company; of the information economy; and of the long-term plans. It means being the kind of person or organization on whom others depend, whether for leadership, expertise, decision-making abilities, or networking support.

9 con . tent In order to produce relevant content, the organization itself needs to be relevant. Therefore, if the organization is relevant, the members typically are relevant within their own business spheres as well — which, incidentally, makes your own organization a "target rich" environment for relevant content. It has been said that we are the average of the FIVE people we surround ourselves with. This has actually been found to be NOT TRUE. It's bigger than that — we're actually the average of ALL the people around us, making the case for organization relevancy more important.

10 con . tent Authenticity is the foundation of relevance because if you don't have a clear idea of who you are, and what you do, you can’t really be a thought-leader in your industry and therefore, influence anyone. When put into practice, authenticity allows your organization to not just be real, but be also in touch with your member base. It means listening and being responsive in a way that speaks to the need, as opposed to simply supplying rhetoric. Be Authentic 1 The Characteristics of Relevancy:

11 con . tent Mastery goes beyond mere competence and skills. Mastery is achieved through a process of continuous improvement of talents and abilities, combined with a statement of purpose that stresses the importance of both professional and personal development. Developing mastery requires the ability to put first things first, be proactive rather than reactive, and to be aware of the consequences. Mastery is essential because, if you have no useful purpose (or skills), you cannot be useful to others. Achieve Mastery 2

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13 con . tent Empathy creates relevance because it creates the deep connection that brings people together. In business, there are three levels of empathy. The first is "on-demand" empathy, which is the ability to sense what members want. The second is "solution" empathy, which entails understanding a member’s problem and figuring out how to address it. The third is "transcendent" empathy where you create solutions to problems that members don't even know that they have. Be Empathetic 3 Ultimately, it is the actions of the organization that make you relevant to others. All the authenticity, mastery and empathy in the world remains useless unless put into motion. Be Action Oriented 4

14 con . tent As relevant content is developed, it should be authentic, have purpose, bring about a connection between the reader and the organization, and create an action … the email needs to be interesting enough to be opened, the magazine needs to relevant enough not to waste someone’s time. Together they should inspire action.

15 con . tent "You don't just dump whatever is on your mind into the conversation; you purposefully shape it to make it interesting. Start thinking of your life as a gift you can give to others. Wrap it in the finest paper you can find." —Marcus Geduld

16 con . tent A study conducted at Temple University, found that print holds more persuasive weight than digital, and participants in the study showed more emotional connection to print, and emotional connection is, interestingly enough, a key characteristic of relevancy. Learn how to tell a good story. Quality is one piece of the content puzzle, presentation is the other. Some things are best presented in a digital format, other things need the tactile endurance of paper.

17 con . tent People are Wired to Respond to Stories Holding Interest 1 Not to be confused with a happy ending; a good ending is one that makes sense. Building Connection 2 A Good Ending 3 There are three components to a good story:

18 con . tent Holding Interest • Start with a hook • Have a point • Timing is everything • Be vivid with details Building Connection • Tell personal stories, but make them relevant to the topic • Share thoughts and feelings A Good Ending • Move the reader towards the "lightbulb moment" • When you get to the end, stop The Architecture of the Story: As the late writer, director and journalist Nora Ephron famously said, “Everything is copy.”

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20 con . tent Getting someone to talk about themselves — which many times is the foundation of good content — is actually ridiculously easy. How Do You Get Someone Interesting to Talk to You? Apparently, talking about oneself activates the same areas of the brain that eating sugar, taking drugs and having sex does. Simply put, selfdisclosure is gratifying. It turns out that science has now proved what reality-show fans and Catholic priests have known all along: humans just can’t help talking about themselves. And recent research suggests a simple explanation: it feels good. Harvard’s psychology department, found that humans actually get a biochemical buzz from self-disclosure.

21 con . tent “In the end, we listened because, in the core of our being, we need something, a little meat — a lesson to take home with us. We are often drawn to someone because they are funny, or charismatic, or weird. But we are held in their aura because they are helping us with some fundamental, raw, and rudimentary need. Isn't that why TED Talks exist?” —John Braden

22 con . tent Here’s how to conduct an interview: • Ask thoughtful (not prying) questions, about them, their interests and priorities. Listen to the answers and follow up with more questions. • People are interested in other people. What they know, what they have learned, what was the turning point of their success. Those are the interesting stories, because they help people connect with each other. • Prepare a list of questions that will move the story from point A to point B. The sequence needs to make sense. The emotional connection is a hardship or a lesson learned between the person being interviewed and the reader. • Let the person being interviewed see the list of questions so they have an idea of what will be asked. • Always let the person being interviewed proof the interview before printing. Interesting Content, Begins With Interesting People

23 con . tent Share them with members digitally or in print. Post them to your website, and encourage social media sharing. We can’t emphasize this enough. When you focus on a member and allow them to tell their story, you are accomplishing several things: first, the person who gets to tell their story is engaged, their friends, family, and employees are also engaged because they know and respect the person who is the focus of the story, and second, you are using someone who is respected and well-known in your association to speak for you. Voices of authority are respected. What they think matters. And finally, especially if the story is in print, you are delivering mentorship right to the desks of your members. Use Member-Based Storytelling. 1 Regularly Present Data Trends, Surveys, and Forecasts. 2

24 con . tent Contact the experts in your field and praise their professionalism and accomplishments by inviting them to share what they know with your members. Many will want to work with you because they know that you can help them as much as they will help you. Here’s a helpful hint – many of these are your associate members. Take care of them, and they will take care of you. This is what brings people to your door – hiding information behind a members-only wall stunts reputation-building and potential membership growth. And this is especially true for your association magazine – which is one of the best ways to renew, recruit and retain members. An association magazine with quality content is a great way to grow membership. The reality is this; an industry trade journal can get to the desks of your members and potential members much faster and easier than your business development person could ever accomplish on their own. Contact the Experts in Your Field. Make Most Content and Information Public-Facing. 3 4

25 con . tent “Throughout recent history, we have seen a lot of events that have impacted the magazine industry, but nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic. Stores shut down, bookstores and newsstands disappeared – all the vehicles that magazines depend on to reach their audience disappeared, with the exception of the post office. That’s one reason why subscriptions have seen a hike of anywhere from 15% to 30%. It’s also because these days, people are bombarded by information but have less understanding, so they want somebody to explain, to curate, to vet, to provide a trustworthy conversation with them." — Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, Ph.D. We believe that content – quality content – when presented in a way the blends mentoring from respected industry leaders, data and trends, with educational relevant topics, is a winning combination that sells your association to existing and new members. And it sells the experience to vendors who want to reach your members. Its advertising with a purpose — which isn't going away any time soon. There’s a reason that content is the currency of relevance and value.

26 con . tent Well, you distribute it to your members. It’s what thought leadership is all about. Create and curate quality content and share the relevance with your membership. It’s actually one of the things that draw members to your organization. The sharing of relevant content is the exchange of inclusivity. Simply put, it engages and adds value. A recent survey asked 1,030 young members of professional associations about their primary motivations for joining, breaking down responses by generational responses. But for millennials and Gen-Xers, the benefit they sought most was clear: networking, mentoring, credentials, training, and increased potential for job opportunities by expanding their pool of business colleagues. So, What Do You Do With All This Great Content When You Have It?

27 con . tent “I talked to a journalist recently who said it’s harder and harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story. But mention that it will be a printed feature and executives rearrange their schedule. The printed word is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything on the web. It goes to the old adage, ‘If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.’” — Joe Pulizzi