By Adam Hartung, Chief Game Changer and Insights Guru, Content Laboratory
Communicators can make shareable content more accessible to our teams and organizations. Why don’t we?
It is a sad and lonely place. It is a place where thousands reside and yet most are lost and forgotten. Our content too often lives in the modern equivalent of a dusty library shelf, like hidden first editions just waiting for a moment back in the sun.
As communicators, we spend enormous time and money developing content for our critical audiences. Content is thoughtfully created and carefully curated. It is dispersed through emails, newsletters, leadership communications, presentations, PR campaigns or social media posts — then buried on servers, intranets, file transfer sites, or the dreaded collaboration site.
Poorly tagged, often impossible to find under layers of security, our content often lives in the deep, dark places that are the stash of global communicators. We are certain we will use the content again when the time is right, like the skinny jeans we fully intend to wear again once the diet takes and the treadmill gets some use.
Or, our content is flung out to end users who are drowning in an ocean of emails and, much to the dismay of legal and IT, housing thousands upon thousands of homeless old communications on their laptops, hoping they will some day find the needle in a haystack at a moment’s notice. And, never certain if they do find something whether it is the current version.
Tech people developed the old tools, not communication people
If we’re lucky, we have huge budgets to create a proprietary solution for content sharing. Most likely, we ask IT to set up a generic filing or collaboration tool claiming then we can share archived content with our teams or users across the organization. But, we know when we ask that ineffective meta-tagging, inconsistent file naming, improper date management and usage difficulty means almost nobody will even try to use these tools – and most who try will give up long before they succeed.
Next time you mention using a collaboration site, wait for the pained look on the faces of team members. Or listen for the gulp of anxiety on the other end of the phone while users figure out how to archive and search content with their own secret work-around. Email archives, FTP sites, cloud storage houses and collaboration tools just become messy for communicators. Intranets sitting behind VPNs can be impossibly slow and unapproachable. These are definitely not the navigable solution users need to find specific content.
And, none of these are mobile-friendly. Even though the vast majority of communicators and users do most of their work from a tablet, phablet or smartphone today.
Websites are frequently confusing containers of dot-something files that are impossible to search unless users know the right titles or meta-tags – and dates for most recent versions. Google-style keyword searches return lots of links, when users want just one.
Most IT departments deploy a CMS (content management systems) as the engine behind an intranet or a social media platform. These assume that communications are all directly controlled by templates or by the communicators themselves. What about all the people in our organizations who have to talk to their internal teams and regularly talk to external audiences? Other than the emails they receive regularly from their communicators, where do these people go for the content they need to communicate?
New tools developed by communicators for communicators can offer your organization a communications resource center to access shareable content
Today, a modern communications resource center, like ContentWeb.com, can accommodate all the people who should be communicating for your organization. Well beyond a handful of identified spokespeople, all employees are eager to communicate key talking points. In most organizations, due to the speed of interactions, everyone needs to communicate more than ever – with customers, suppliers, other employees and local governments.
A good communications resource and distribution tool is a content shopping mall, where everything everyone needs is well merchandised, described, timely, findable and accessible no matter where they are, when they need it, what device they use or where the content has been stored.
Imagine pulling up key messages that summarize a 100-page position paper on your phone while you are in a taxi to your next meeting, waiting for a media interview or actually talking to a customer. Imagine not digging though email for a headline you think you remember buried in the scroll from three months back – or longer.
Rather what you need is in a post, just like you’d find on Facebook or LinkedIn, but easier to access because all content is pre-categorized and pre-grouped so searching is context-based. Key bullets for legal are grouped for legal, and key bullets for sales grouped for sales – giving everyone what they need without search and interpretation nightmares. And, eliminating fears that the information they are looking at is out of date. Or worse, fears that the content they are viewing is for in-house use only, and not really shareable.
Bring all shareable content into the bright light of day for the communicators in your organization
Tools like ContentWeb.com operate as apps that work on mobile devices and laptops. They help communicators create, comment on, approve and distribute content. Such apps make content available 24×7, year round, for not only the communicators but directly to users. And, these applications make sure available content is both approved and the most current version.
Whether it is graphic files or the traditional documents – .pdf, .doc or .ppt – all of these can become individual posts on a content sharing site, well described for end users and well organized. But today, more than 80% of users don’t want documents, they need a headline (title) and key bullets. They want, and need, the most critical, salient information.
“Document management” focused on loading content into a database or onto a server. That is passé. Users don’t have the time, often not the technology in their hands, and almost always no inclination to open, peruse and summarize a document to answer a question.
In a cloud-based, social-media driven world questioners, communicators and users want answers, not documents. They want 140 characters, not 140 paragraphs. Modern content resource center apps avoid duplicating and storing files, and avoid lots of IT work setting up and organizing databases.
Instead, new apps let communicators post leads and links (as well as docs, videos and audios) – cutting costs while improving access to all shareable data regardless where it is stored. They act as a portal to everything users need, in just one step. As a visual system to all content, such a portal is very easy to set up (think minutes or hours, not days,) configure (communicators can do it, no IT required,) populate and keep current.
So rescue your valuable content banished to the deep dark places. Bring all that great content back to the surface and make it usable by everyone – all of the important communicators in your organization. The communicator’s job will be a lot easier.