Get the Most Content Out of Events
If my former life as a newspaper reporter taught me anything, it’s that everyone has a story.
This can be a difficult concept for non-content creators to grasp. In the association world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of covering what’s happening at an association at face value: the release of a new report, an updated membership offering or the same old event recap.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Events can be the impetus for story opportunities that can feed your content calendar for an entire year.
Think of Events as a Reservoir
When we think of event coverage, several staples come to mind: a single recap highlighting award winners, the number of attendees and maybe a keynote speaker or two.
That is an important part of an event coverage plan and shouldn’t be ignored. These pieces drive a lot of engagement on social media channels (especially if there are pictures). But your coverage plan shouldn’t stop there.
Events are ripe with content. Keynotes, breakout sessions, expos and reception are not only educational and networking opportunities, but also amazing content fuel. A panel discussion on a hot topic can turn into a magazine article for a later issue. A session about what one company or person is doing can turn into a case study. A networking lunch for women in the industry can turn into a podcast series.
Go through your event schedule and ask yourself: What can I do with this topic? Is this something that is evergreen and relevant to our membership?
Have a Plan
Once you change your frame of mind regarding how educational content can be transformed into content marketing materials, you can start building out your plan of attack.
Let’s say you have a three-day event with three keynote speakers, 20 concurrent sessions, a poster session and an expo hall. Create a grid of things you think are most important and how you think the story is best told. Establishing a schedule for yourself takes all the stress out of finding something to cover because you have already identified what you want to tackle.
Also consider how you want to take down a record of each thing you attend. For me, it’s easiest to record the sessions in their entirety on my phone and take written notes on my laptop while the event is happening. I also add summaries directly after each session so I won’t forget when looking back on my notes.
Decide if you want to transform these things into different content formats. A session or a speaker could turn into a single written article, but your imagination shouldn’t stop there. Do you have the ability and funding to transform it into something visual, like an infographic or a video? Do you need special equipment on-site to do so? Connect with your creative teams before setting out on an event to identify possible multimedia opportunities and how you can best capture what they’ll need.
It’s also important to talk to members of your events and education teams to see whether your plan is missing anything. They might point you in the direction of something else based on its relevance or importance.
Once you have compiled what you want to do—and what it will take to do it—do an audit of how many pieces you think you can gather. In one conference I attended, I managed to audit for 20 pieces of content (not including the one-off stories I encountered while I was there). This can be a great tool if you need to convince someone that going is worth your while.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
As I said earlier, everyone has a story. Being at an event gives you an opportunity to talk to people and hear how they became involved with the organization. Give out business cards (and take them as well), and make sure you spend some of your time simply talking.
Having those contacts in your back pocket from an event helps you connect with members who might not typically be featured. It also humanizes your association. Telling the personal stories of those who belong to the association can help get you away from the regular run-of-the-mill content offerings.
And don’t be afraid to ask people to write for you. If your content outlet allows contributors, events like this help you tap a large amount of already-involved volunteers.
Events should be looked at a smorgasbord of content that can fuel your content marketing efforts for weeks, if not months. Don’t think of an event as a one-and-done thing that yields just a recap. Utilize the content brought by presenters and the like to craft different types of content on a variety of topics.
Kate Jacobson is a content coordinator at SmithBucklin.
SmithBucklin Content helps you position your organization as an authoritative source of timely, relevant, comprehensive and engaging industry intelligence. Contact us to learn about partnering with SmithBucklin Content to create a customized content strategy for your organization.