I have worked with talented writers and award-winning writers. Whether those writers were staff, members or paid freelancers, here are three ideas on generating content for your association publication. I am also married to an entrepreneur who loves the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross. If you are not familiar with the movie, the guy “from downtown” played by Alec Baldwin has plenty of “motivational” advice to share with this sales team. One of the more memorable movie moments is when his character talks about the idea that sales people should “Always Be Closing” or the ABCs of sales. The other famous clip is the line that “Coffee is for closers” meaning you don’t have time to drink coffee if you haven’t closed your sales. The YouTube videos have colorful language in them, so if you watch, be prepared. The movie is a harsh look at what happens in the real estate sales world when you do not make your quota. So, in the spirit of ABCs, let’s briefly look at how the editorial team can fulfill their content needs.
1. Ask. I know this sounds so simple. But, I cannot tell you how many editorial staff simply fail to do this. Do you put a call out for authors on your association’s private community platforms or LinkedIn group? What about your other social media platforms? One association I belong to has a writer’s group that you can voluntarily sign up for. When they need experts or content generation, this group gets pinged. Are your author guidelines on your website for easy access and sharing of information? This is a great way to generate content from the members you serve – the ones in the trenches. I have generated a ton of content for magazines over my career by simply asking. And, get over the fact that your members may not be the best writers in the world. You never know who is out there among them and remember that’s why editors have jobs.
2. Be in front. When was the last time you put out a call for authors via your regular communication with members? Do you advertise for story ideas or call for authors in your own publication? The ad should be consistent and run in every issue. Don’t have advertising in your publication? What about putting a tip-on on the cover? Use your print distribution to reach potential authors and experts.
3. Conferences. When you attend your association’s conferences and meetings, do you attend the sessions? Not only does this help the editorial team understand the member’s world and improve editorial content, it also can lead to content generation. If a topic is interesting and the panel is sharing good information, that information is only reaching a small audience. Ask the panelists if they would create content for your magazine, newsletter or blog. The background work for the article is essentially done anyway. I realize that the staff on site are often busy with the business of helping the meeting run, but plan ahead. A strategic approach to this will help sell it. Get buy in from your meeting planners and make sure that you are committed to your other onsite duties. Here is my blog post about intersecting publications and education in case you need more tips about the benefit of showcasing content from educational offerings.
Finally, be thankful that our jobs do not depend upon the ABCs of sales…or do they?