Association Connect

Planning Content in Ever-Changing Times

By Ashley Reid | September 15, 2020

Fall has almost officially arrived, and the end of the year is drawing near. In many ways, it almost doesn’t feel real. This year has been full of tumult and uncertainty, thanks in no small part to the pandemic, racial tension and civil unrest, natural disasters … the list goes on. But, as they say, time stops for no one, and for many associations the fall season means the time to plan publication content for the coming year is nigh. This begs the question: How do you plan content several months in advance when the state of the world is changing so rapidly? Here are a few pointers:

1. Do a survey. With all that’s changed in the last year, there’s a good chance that the content needs of your membership have changed, too. Consider surveying your members to find out what content they care about in this new climate and how they prefer to receive it (via print magazine, website, blog, enewsletter, etc.) Post in member message boards and on social media channels, or try using resources such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms.

2. Embrace the new normal. Take a good hard look at your magazine in its current form, and ask the following:

  •  Do all the columns and departments still make sense given the current state of things?
  • Do any of the sections now seem tone-deaf with all the changes your association and its members have undergone?
  • Does your current method of delivery still make sense?

Now is a great time to evaluate the architecture of your magazine and adjust accordingly so it accurately reflects this “new normal.”

3. Identify the evergreen. No matter what curveballs might be thrown your way, there are some content topics that will always be relevant and meaningful to your membership. Identify what those topics are and incorporate them into your editorial calendar plan.

4. Stay flexible. It’s a sound strategy to have a content plan in place for the coming year, but it’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone. Be sure the topics you choose to cover are broad and nimble enough to change based on current events and the changing landscape. And, if something just feels completely out of touch, don’t fret about changing the plan completely. Relevance is key, and members will appreciate you giving them information they value, even if it deviates from the original plan. (If you do deviate from the plan, however, check with your advertising team to ensure no ads were sold around the planned content.)

5. Get retrospective. We’ve all learned a lot over the past year. We’ve had to adapt to many difficult changes in circumstance and overcome adversity in myriad aspects of our businesses and our lives. Use the knowledge you’ve gleaned from 2020 to inform your 2021 content. Share valuable advice with your membership on how to make proverbial lemonade from a year that’s been filled to the brim with lemons.

If you’re still unsure of how to get started with next year’s content planning, drop us a line. The YGS content & copy team is more than happy to help you come up with a content strategy that will help your association achieve its goals for years to come.

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