If you are waiting for someone to step up and volunteer to write next week’s blog post, stop. Your job isn’t to wait for volunteers, it’s to empower and enable your colleagues to become the great content contributors you know they can be.
Of course, we know this is sometimes more easily said than done. There is certainly no shortage of excuses available to your teammates when they don’t want to be involved. Christine Warner recently provided some great tips on how to coax internal experts into participating in content marketing. Now, we are back with tips and insights to help you deal with a few more common obstacles and objections.
“Last time marketing asked for my help, it was a terrible experience for me.”
Be the better leader. You probably had nothing to do with the previous experience, but take the necessary steps to show your teammates you understand their reservations. Reassure them that what they are working on matters and that their efforts won’t be for nothing.
Be careful that your request doesn’t come across as a cold, directed assignment – invite them into the planning and creative process and allow them to feel ownership and creative license. Show them the full picture so they can see how this is going to work and exactly what their role is. Demonstrating you have a vision and a clear plan to make it happen will help you clean the slate and renew confidence.
Also, words may not be enough here — take the extra steps to properly capture the process on paper and include goal dates so they can see you have a real plan in place.
“You want me to write a blog? But I’m not a marketing person.”
Time to earn your own marketing stripes. Marketers are storytellers and sellers, and sometimes that means selling something internally. In this case, you are selling perspective.
Your colleagues are probably intimidated by the notion of blogging. After all, they aren’t professional writers. But it’s funny how applying a new label is all it takes to make someone forget he or she do this all the time. At the end of the day, a blog is no different than an email — a well written, organized email. And while your colleagues may not be marketers, they are definitely emailers. (Aren’t we all?)
Get them to see this really isn’t anything new and they will stop freaking out. If you can provide some form of a simple creative brief to help them organize their thoughts, that can be extremely valuable. You can always come back in later to add a headline, edit formatting, or help with a visual.
After you publish the post, you can smile when your colleagues start bragging about how they are bloggers now. It’s OK, let it go to their head — it will be easier to convince them to help again in the future.
“I’ll get to it when I can, but I have a lot of other priorities on my plate.”
Manage up. If the people you need to work with are from another department or are more senior than you, and they aren't respecting the deliverable or the schedule, you likely won’t have the necessary authority on your own to change their attitude. You might be the project owner, but that doesn’t make you the boss.
Don’t take it personally — your colleagues on other teams have different responsibilities and performance goals. This can feel like a battle, but don’t try to fight it alone. Back in Christine’s post, you heard about the importance of getting buy-in from managers to help make content creation a priority. This concept of managing up bears repeating here. It’s not just about telling the manager about the project so they know it exists.
What you are seeking is ongoing and consistent support across the organization. Be proactive and work with the contributor and their respective management to align around the goals. By providing the context in terms of company success, you can help create a shared sense of ownership and, more importantly, accountability. Sometimes this may mean managing all the way up and getting back on the radar of senior leadership to ensure the right priorities are being reinforced from the top down.
Embrace those opportunities to remind the key people about the important, strategic work you are leading. In the process, be sure to praise the valuable contributions of your colleagues across the hall (even if you haven’t quite gotten that yet). When you make everyone look good, getting help hitting those next deadlines won’t be such a battle.
The bottom line: A lot of this comes back to relationships and optics. By being an expert on the process, treating your colleagues like partners and removing the stress of unfamiliar territory, you can make content creation look easy. When teammates around the office are having fun working with you, you’re doing it right, and others will notice.
Have different suggestions? What other excuses may be holding you back?