How to run a valuable content planning meeting (and have some fun)

Sonja Jefferson

How to run a good content planning meetingIf you’re serious about making this content marketing thing work for your business then you’ll need to give it some regular attention. We’ve found that one of the best steps you can put in place to maintain your commitment is a regular content planning meeting (sometimes known as an editorial meeting). It’s a fantastic way to organise and engage your team, spark off ideas and keep everyone focused on your goals.

Here are a few tips on how to run a good meeting and use it to plan forward for content marketing success.

The aims of the meeting

The aim is to look at what’s worked, brainstorm new content ideas and plan for future content.

We’d recommend a monthly or bi-monthly get together for all involved in the content thinking and creation process. Keeping it this regular will help you to get more high quality content out of the door.

Creating great content consistently is a tough call and this meeting will help you to make the process a strategic, structured and sustainable one for your business.

Who should attend

We’ve seen that the companies who are most successful with their content efforts think wide when it comes to content planning and creation – they embrace it as a whole team effort, not just a one person job and allocate resource and time to the content challenge, across a range of disciplines. Bear this in mind when sending invitations out for the meeting.

Here is a list of roles to include on your invite list. Don’t be put off by the long list: in a small team like ours one person may wear many hats (here at VC our content planning meetings involve Sharon, designer Lizzie and me – that’s it); in a larger operation you’ll be able to spread the load. Divvy up the tasks accordingly depending on the scale of your organisation but make it as inclusive as you can.

Roles and responsibilities in the meeting:

  • Director of content – The senior person responsible for the strategy. Knows where you’re heading. Leads the meeting and keeps it focused on your goals.
  • Content manager – The person responsible for managing the content workflow day to day. Feeds back on how the process is working and suggests improvements. Takes actions and makes them happen.
  • Editor in chief – Responsible for overall quality of the content produced. Understands what customers want and what makes great content. Do the ideas we come up with here meet the needs of our customers? How can we get the message across in the best possible way?
  • Writer – A skilled writer who’ll turn drafts into polished content. Knows how to communicate the message. Needs to understand the decisions and thinking made to write effectively. This role is sometimes outsourced – make sure your writing partner is invited to the meeting.
  • Business representatives – subject matter experts, sales, customer service – Knowledgeable business experts. Their role is to come up with ideas and the substance behind the content. What answers can we provide to the questions are customers are asking?
  • Designer – Responsible for making the content look great and work well. Contributes ideas for creative ways to get your message across.
  • Community manager – Responsible for promoting the content and sharing it widely on social networks, to your internal team, via other sites. Needs to know what’s coming and can feed back on what’s worked to date.
  • Measurement officer – Knows what’s worked to date. Shares information on performance for the month, distilled into meaningful reports that everyone can understand.

(You can find out more about these roles in our ‘Planning your Content Marketing A-Team’ post)

Agenda and structure

An hour to an hour and a half max. should suffice for your meeting. Here’s a suggested agenda:

  1. Why are we here? Introduce and position the meeting. Reiterate the importance of and vision for your content marketing. (c.5 mins)
  2. How are we doing? Overview of the past month’s content. What content have we published, how has it gone down, what results have we seen? Where are we against our goals? And how’s the process working everyone? (c.10 mins)
  3. Content brainstorm. What are our customers asking for? What opportunities for valuable content has the team spotted? What’s coming up over the next few months in our customers’ worlds that we can create content around? What can we produce that hits the spot? In what formats? Big themes? Newsletter plans for the next few months? Remember to strike a good balance between stock and flow content and get your ideas down. (c.15-20 mins)
  4. Do the ideas meet our strategy? Revisit your content strategy. Remind the group of the customers you’ve chosen to serve, the main messages you want to get across as a business and the commitment you’ve made in terms of content volume and topics each month. Have you struck the right balance with your content ideas? Are you creating content for every step along your customers’ buying journey? Come up with content ideas to fill any gaps. (c.5-10 mins)
  5. Content planning. Complete your content calendar – what content are we going to publish when, how, and where? Here at Valuable Content we make a detailed plan for the next month and a high level plan looking forward 2-3 months further than that. How far forward you plan in the meeting is up to you. It’ll depend on how often you meet and how mature your content marketing efforts are. (c.15 mins)
  6. Action plan. Agree actions. Allocate resource and a process to make it all happen. Set date for next meeting. (c.5 mins)

Make it fun

Make the meetings something that the team looks forward to. People are more creative when they’re enthusiastic and having fun so don’t let the meetings drag. Steer discussions of analytics and data on to actionable points, (more headlines like this, this format kept people engaged on the site for longest, this guide led to 4 positive sales calls etc) and keep the focus on ‘how do we create the best content for our clients and customers.’

Prizes for content, like Desynit’s t-shirts

You could stoke enthusiasm to fever pitch by giving out prizes for the best content of the month. Maybe not a holiday in the Caribbean for the best blog (but we bet that would work), but some companies give out T shirts (like the fabulous content team at Desynit – what developer doesn’t love a branded T shirt?), and we use our Valuable Content Award badges as rewards for our clients’ great content creators.*

We know writing can be hard, and for most the task over and above what they do for their day job. Reward your people and keep the motivation up any way you can.

Do this, plan regularly and you’ll keep content front of mind and your team firmly on track.

We really hope these ideas help. Let us know what works for you.

(*Hot off the press – our super-motivated clients Freedman International have just launched two competitions for their content creators: one for best performing blog article based on analytics; the other for overall writing prowess as judged by the team. They’re doing brilliantly with their content and we think this will really help them keep up the pace. Smart move Freedman!)

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