Putting Our Best Face Forward: Business Case for Content Strategy

June 20, 2017
Illustration of a fisherman reaching to hold his line over a specific fish in a crowd of fish.

I’ve been working on the GeorgiaGov team for more years than I’d like to admit, in many different roles. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to get a pretty good view of agency needs, challenges, and priorities. What I’ve seen is that for most of you, your web content is not a top priority. You have a lot to do, and obviously you can’t focus on everything. So as you talk through your goals, your mission, and your priorities, I see that you’re focused on:

  • Providing services for residents
  • Providing services for other agencies
  • Improving the public reputation of your agency (or government in general)
  • Improving public sentiment about your commissioner or leader
  • Reducing call volumes and office visits, or other methods of saving money

The thing is, each of these goals is more strongly tied to your web presence than you may realize — and they depend on your online information being presented in a way that your audience can find and understand.

When you don’t prioritize quality and accuracy in the information you put online, you’re sending a message that you don’t prioritize the very people you’re supposed to serve.
 

Now, if you discover gaps in your security, I know you would drop everything to fix it, before it makes the 6 o’clock news.

But your digital presence — that is, the information you push out to the world across your website, services, call centers, and social media — can make or break you, too. It’s the difference between serving your audience well the first time, and sending them mixed signals and confusing answers because no one manages your channels.

It may not get the attention that a security breach does, but that doesn’t make it less important. A poorly managed information system is more of a slow, silent killer of your image.

To take control of your agency’s image, you need to have a consistent message. To have a consistent message, you need to meet your audience where they are. You have to take control of your online content. If the information on your website is poorly organized, poorly written, or out of date, your organization will still experience high call volume, visits to your offices, or — even worse — misinformed constituents.

So how do we take control of that information? From where I sit, these are the steps that agencies need to take towards effectively managing a digital information.

4 Steps to Future-Proof your Content

  1. Add content management to your strategic vision.
  2. Ensure the right people are on the job.
  3. Educate them on what’s needed.
  4. Empower them to do their job well.

Step 1: Add Content Management to your Strategic Vision

Okay, we now know that the information on our websites is key to informing our audience and meeting our goals. That information needs to be accurate, it needs to be clear, and it needs to be easy to find. If you want to reduce support center call volume or improve your agency’s image with your audience, you need to put key constituent services front and center online. There needs to be a priority placed on removing outdated information from your site, and making sure current information is well written.

None of this will happen on its own. The strategic vision to make web content a priority comes from the top. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of talking to content managers, it’s that unless they have support and direction from their C-suite, they are hamstrung in their efforts to do their jobs well. But once this approach is a stated priority, you can put structures in place to make it happen.

Where’s Step 2?

The rest of the journey toward a mature digital presence can only happen after you’ve taken that first step toward making intentional content strategy part of your organization’s strategic vision. If you want to learn more, this 20 minute presentation from the 2017 Technology Summit (embedded below) goes into more detail on how to select, educate, and empower a content strategy team to tune your information landscape.

In addition, our team at GeorgiaGov Interactive has started offering a Content Strategy Certification Series of courses to help you train your content teams.

For even more food for thought, check out the article I wrote on this topic for StateScoop: Nobody cares about your government website.  

We’re successful when you’re successful. If you’re looking for more direction on how to successfully integrate content strategy into your agency, reach out to us to request a consult to discuss your agency’s use case in more detail.

Kendra Skeene

About the Author

Kendra oversees the state’s enterprise web platform, directing product strategy and working with development partners to create new products for the platform’s customers.

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