Amazing. Three emails this week: “Can you meet with the team to talk about the new website content?”
I’ve seen those meetings before. They can go one of two ways:
- With content
- Without content
Bright optimistic faces in the meeting room say: “We’ve got some new content that describes our new initiative. It’s been all approved by legal and the higher-ups. It’s going to be so exciting. People are really going to want this content. We’re just doing a little polishing before we send it to you. And there’ll be a press release.”
Blah, blah, blah.
What I care about:
- Is this ready to go?
- Where’s it going?
- Have you really thought about what might happen as a result of this content’s being posted? (aka, Is this REALLY ready to go?)
- Can our users do anything with this content?
Some recent content snafus:
- Rush, rush, rush — only to have the program lead ask me to take it down for more edits.
- Material written only from the team’s perspective, not the user’s–all about the history
- Links to nonexistent content.
- Description of a new contract but no way to order.
- Made-up acronyms that duplicate existing, better-known acronyms.
People can turn in what they want; I rewrite it to be from the customer’s perspective and in the language the customer uses. It just won’t happen as quickly as the team hopes.
Bad as the first meetings are, the second are worse. These are the meetings where people say “The webpage should say …” “We need more emphasis on … “ and “We want our customers to …”
These aren’t bad goals, but at some point someone has to write something.
So I’ve accepted the last two content meetings, but with one condition: Before we meet, I need at least one page of content from you. Until I get that, I won’t accept a calendar invite.
A lot of people spend a great deal of time thinking about notional content — content that doesn’t exist.
People think “someone” will write it. Or the webpage will fill it out somehow. Or it will magically happen. Or editorial elves will start up the content generator in the basement,.
No, I made all that up. There’s no content generator in the basement.
But asking–and getting–that one page means someone has to start thinking, has to start writing, has to produce something. It will probably change–definitely will change–but it has to start somewhere.
What’s your content ask?
Katherine Spivey is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.