How to win the hearts and minds of content stakeholders

You’ve got the content strategy and the backing of a senior sponsor for your project. But how do you get the support of the people who will actually turn your strategy into content?

 How to win the hearts and minds of content stakeholders

No content strategy can succeed if the folk who’ll be planning, creating and maintaining the new content don’t buy into it. It can often be relatively simple to determine what content should change to meet a new business strategy. But it can be more of a challenge to get people to change.

The power of influence

All of which explains why content strategists need to have an understanding of human motivations, as well as content mechanisms. This is especially the case as they are often faced with the challenge of completing a project without having the authority to drive it through an organisation.

The ability to effectively influence others is often the solution to achieving desired results.

Consulting content stakeholders

A successful content strategist uses the opinions of stakeholders to shape a project at an early stage. Crucial to this is the delivery of a hearts-and-minds session to stakeholders, which incorporates their own views and opinions. (For the wider context, see what McKinsey says.)

This kind of session involves telling people not just the ‘what’ and the ‘when’ of the project, but also explaining the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. A successful hearts-and-minds presentation can consist simply of a PowerPoint deck with some well-chosen diagrams, quotes, stats and one-liners. You need to inform people, but you also need to keep them interested and even entertained.

Preparing a hearts-and-minds deck

As far as an effective structure is concerned, think about following this rough plan:

  • show people a vision of the future
  • demonstrate the current state of play
  • highlight the dangers of not embracing change
  • contextualise with content analytics and audit insights
  • benchmark against competitors and best-in-class
  • share insights and recommendations
  • translate the initiative into a viable roadmap
  • define tasks and timelines
  • ask for selective feedback

A hearts-and-minds session can be a big affair. It can take place in a kind of town-hall environment, with dozens of content stakeholders flown into a venue from all round the country for a half-day session. Or it can be more targeted and focused, a series of tailored, 20-minute talks delivered over Skype to separate individual teams.

The important thing to remember is that it should be a dramatic production. If you’re not feeling it, your audience won’t either.