Campaigning with your content

Gretyl Kinsey / Opinion5 Comments

The recent slate of announcements for candidacy in the 2016 US presidential election got me thinking—how do campaigns relate to content?

With every election cycle, candidates start their campaigns earlier, spend more money on them, and distribute them in a larger variety of ways. Your company’s content is just as important and serves a similar purpose—it’s the most direct way you engage with your audience.

(flickr: Theresa Thompson)

(flickr: Theresa Thompson)

Political candidates use different campaigning styles for different demographics based on what they believe will be most effective. One group of voters might respond well to campaigns based on facts and statistics, while another group might respond better to campaigns that tackle hot-button issues.

Just as a candidate may run different ads focusing on different aspects of their campaign, you may need to reach your customers in multiple ways. Gather as much information as you can about your customers (or potential new customer base) and use voice, tone, style, and presentation to make your content (and, by extension, your product) more appealing to them. The more diverse your audience is, the more important it is to make sure your content is appropriate for the demographics you’re targeting.

Another way you can connect with your audience is by using more channels of distribution. Candidates deliver their campaigns in numerous ways—running TV and print ads, giving speeches and debates, meeting face-to-face with potential voters, getting volunteers to campaign for them door-to-door or over the phone, and spreading their message via social media. Similarly, you should deliver your content in a variety of output types (such as print, PDF, HTML, EPUB, or webhelp) and optimize your electronic delivery formats for different devices and browsers. Find out which output types your audience prefers and focus your efforts on those especially.

Sometimes campaigns can affect candidates in a negative way. If a campaign includes factually incorrect information or demonstrates a lack of understanding of crucial issues, it can hurt a candidate’s credibility. A scandal (such as illegal use of campaign funds) can also be extremely damaging. Don’t let your content do this to your company.

Evaluate your content to make sure that nothing about it is harming your company or holding it back. Inconsistencies in your content’s style, language, and design can make your company seem less professional. Content that is inaccurate, difficult or confusing to use, unavailable, or that has accessibility issues will frustrate your audience and fail to provide them with a positive customer experience.

When you create content, you’re campaigning for your company. Customers ultimately decide whether you fail or succeed, and content is one of the most powerful ways to reach them. If you’re efficiently producing high-quality content, the company has a better chance of doing well in the polls. And if you’re not, it’s time to start thinking about a content strategy that can get you back on the campaign trail and help you win the election.

About the Author

Gretyl Kinsey

Twitter

Technical Consultant. Content strategy, tech comm, and LearningDITA. Musician, cosplayer, and devourer of delicious desserts.

5 Comments on “Campaigning with your content”

  1. Nice analogy. Political campaigns are essentially marketing campaigns — which is no accident since they both use the same metaphor of a military campaign.

    One more you might add, and you hinted at it in the paragraph about scandals: if something goes off the rails, despite your best efforts, have a plan in place to control the damage and get back on track. This probably has more to do with the governance aspect of content strategy than anything else: when the crisis hits, make sure that all of the messages are targeted, on-point, and in harmony.

    1. Re scandals, well-governed scandals give us an opportunity to trigger controversies, something content marketers cherish and they can leverage smartly for content reach and engagement. 🙂

      1. That’s true—the controversial aspect of a scandal can be as much of an advantage as a disadvantage, if you know how to make it work for your company. Thank you for your comment!

    2. Thank you for your comment. You make a very good point about damage control and having a plan for what to do if things go off track—having a unified message in the wake of some unexpected disaster is so important. I wrote another post recently about building an exit strategy into your content strategy, which goes into this idea in more detail.

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