Finding content when it’s scarce

Running a blog or an organization’s website means having to feed the content beast, usually daily. Rather than racking your brain and forcing an idea, try these techniques.


It happens more frequently than we’d like to admit: an unexpected content void. The article scheduled for the front page of your company’s website has fallen through, and you need another to fill the space right now. In my day job as an internal communicator for a regional health care system, I am responsible for developing content for two websites with very different audiences. In my “other” job, I write weekly for my own blog, Impertinent Remarks. So I know how tough it is to scramble when content is in short supply. If you find yourself asking, “What can I possibly write about?” or, “What can I pitch to a reporter this week?” keep reading. Here are some tips on how to find content among your current resources. 1. Repurpose content from other publications. Reprint content from your company’s newsletter or annual report. Collect customer testimonials or case studies from your website. Have any of your employees published white papers or research studies? Tell a new story with this content. For example, our nursing annual report recently featured stories about individual nurses giving extraordinary care. I am posting these stories to our intranet for all employees to read. 2. Work your “sources.” Ask your colleagues from other departments for article ideas. What projects are they working on that would be of interest to internal or external audiences? If you interviewed someone six months ago about a new project, follow up with that person and ask about other new projects. People love to talk about and promote their work. 3. Attend meetings. I know, I know. No one wants to attend meetings, but they’re a good place to harvest story ideas. Though they can be incredibly boring, budget and planning meetings are a great place to learn about what’s important to your company or client. Staff meetings in which attendees discuss current projects can also generate content ideas. 4. Summarize and link to an outside article and ask for comments. Check trade journals, industry-related websites, or competitors’ websites for articles that would interest your readers. Write a brief introduction of the article, provide a link, and ask readers to post comments (on your site). This works especially well with op-ed pieces or blog posts about changes in your industry. Don’t shy away from controversial articles; they’ll prompt comments. 5. Write a summary of the comments from a previous article. If last month’s intranet article on the recycling program resulted in 100 comments, write an article on the comments. “Staffers offer 50 more recycling tips” could be as popular as the original post. Be sure to link back to the original post in the follow-up article. I’ve done this several times with my posts for PR Daily (10 more made-up words from PR Daily readers; Your writing pet peeves). PR Daily readers are a garrulous group, and your comments make for compelling content. 6. Ask a question, and write about the responses. What is the worst career advice you ever received? How did you find your way to our company? If you could change anything about the company, what would it be? Are you for or against the serial comma? Think about questions that will get your readers talking, and post them on your site. Write a story about the answers. 7. Check your wiki. Does your company have a wiki or other type of “knowledge center” where employees post content about how they do their jobs? Could any of it be used for a “how-to” article? I recently reviewed my company’s wiki and found information from our social media manager about reputation management. I’m going to use that information to write an article about reputation management for physicians for our intranet.

Content can be found in places where you least expect it. Stay sharp, everyone. PR Daily readers, how do you find content when you’re in short supply? Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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