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While I’m not technically a content marketer, the workflows I’ve developed as a journalist and researcher can benefit anyone creating content in our diverse, information-rich environment. In this article, I’ll explain my philosophy and share the elements that are working for me, with the aim of sparking ideas that benefit your content marketing program and, by extension, the audience you’re trying to reach.
First, let me take a step back and explain a term I used in the headline: Knowledge management. I remember back in high school learning about how the U.S. economy was becoming driven by information. As a budding writer, it instantly made sense to me — I was going to be a “knowledge worker.” What wasn’t so clear back then was how complex this task of knowledge management was going to be. Instead of going to a library and furiously documenting book-borne facts on notecards, today, the information is everywhere.
I have ADHD, so this issue may be more intense for me than for others, but do you ever find yourself lying in bed at night going through a mental list of things you’re afraid of forgetting? It’s like you’re juggling dozens of bits of information in the foreground of your mind, which is preventing you from doing the important job of recharging your brain with a good night’s sleep.
The goal of knowledge management, in my view, is taming all of the important information coming at you — emails, newsletters, trade publications, webinars, events and even conversations — so it’s available when you need it, and only when you need it. For content marketers, some of the things you might want to manage include:
A few factors make this challenging. First is the fact that different types of information are optimally stored in different ways. An editorial calendar might be best captured on, say, a calendar application, or something organized in a temporal order. Information about people and companies lends itself to a CRM-type organizational scheme, with multiple contacts per company. Content status might call for a checklist or other task-management application. Data might be best stored and analyzed in a spreadsheet.
And then there’s everything else — web content you read that sparks ideas, a white paper you download that makes an important point you want to cite, a great infographic or data visualization whose structure would apply perfectly to something you want to express, a Twitter thread that captures the zeitgeist better than you ever could by yourself. I’m sure you get the idea. And I haven’t even mentioned email.
I’ve struggled with this for years and tried just about every productivity tool you can imagine, but, recently, perhaps because of advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, things in my world are starting to take shape. The principles guiding my knowledge management these days include:
Over many free trials and proofs of concept, I’m settling into a few tools that I’ll describe to you below. I’ll start with connectivity here because it’s the most important element. With the ubiquity of APIs, connectivity should be a given. But not all integrations are created equal — the way an API is set up can make a difference between seamless synchronization and endless frustration.
There’s so much more to say, and in the coming weeks and months, I’ll continue to explore these personal-level technologies that can boost your productivity as a marketer. Stay tuned for deeper dives into the subjects I’ve touched on here, including specific examples of workflows that make a difference.
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