Coaxing Internal Experts to Participate in Content Marketing Efforts

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Image via Unsplash

This post was written by Boston Content committee member Christine Warner, senior content strategist at Skyword. Follow her, @cvwarner.

Internal experts are a gold mine of brand and industry knowledge. With your organization’s best interests in mind and day-to-day brand immersion, they are the ideal voices to contribute to your content marketing efforts — if you can get them onboard. And for many content marketers, that’s a big if-clause.

Naturally, content creation tends to fall under job-related priorities on to-do lists. As a content marketer, how do you coax internal subject-matter experts to share their expertise, and do so consistently? Do you incentivize? Do you flatter? Do you threaten?

This shared challenge was a topic of discussion in Boston Content’s Google Group initiated by Suman Sridhar, senior content marketing specialist at TandemSeven. Suman requested tried-and-true tactics for engaging non-marketing team members and thought leaders to support internal content marketing efforts. And, of course, Boston Content members eagerly came to the rescue.

Alyce Currier advises, “I've had decent luck with easing people into blogging in a couple different ways," which are:

1) We have a weekly blog series called "Non Sequitur Fridays" that everyone writes for. We randomly cycle through everyone at the company to generate the schedule, and it's meant to be a very low pressure way to get something posted on the blog and get comfortable working with our content team.

2) In the past, I would interview people about the thing they're working on, take a ton of notes and essentially translate that conversation into a blog post with their name on it. After seeing that I basically published what they said anyway, they tended to be more comfortable drafting something themselves next time.

3) I think you really have to meet people where they're at — if someone is most comfortable outlining a post together, help them that way. If they want to draft it and then get help, do that. If they want to draft it but don't really want to go through multiple stages of editing and instead put the draft in your hands to take control of, make that compromise.

4) It can be really easy for people to write off blogging if it's "not part of their job" and they would rather work on the tasks they're being rated on by their boss. For that reason, it's important to get buy-in from the team leads, etc., who are doing those performance reviews — it helps make documentation/transparency/sharing a value for the company as a whole, and makes the time investment feel more justified.

Lisa Jacobson suggests, “It helps to work with your new colleagues on how they like to play a role." Noting:

Some may be comfortable and eager to write and contribute, and welcome your editing suggestions.

Others may value your ideas for topics on which they can share their expertise, along with your guidance on how to get started. For example, rather than expecting them to put together a start-to-finish post, you can encourage them to come up with “talking  points” for the post. You can then expand and develop the content in a way that fits the voice of the company’s blog, for their review and approval for accuracy prior to posting.

Let them know that you are available to work with them one-on-one in the manner that suits their schedule and style.

Also, is it possible for you to brainstorm with the marketing group to come up with a series of topics covering the latest and greatest at the company, and designate who internally can best address and put their the name to those blog posts? Then you can approach them with an opportunity, as in, “Hey, we’re always looking for fresh blog content, and I’d like to run an idea by you. I understand you’re working on/are the resident expert on [topic]. It would great to address it on our blog. Do you have a few minutes to talk about how to cover it?"

What works for you when cajoling your colleagues to participate in your content marketing initiatives?