Does the average healthcare marketer have a content strategy in place? Perhaps. But a documented content strategy? Well, that’s another question entirely.
During a 2021 Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) presentation, University of Utah Health Web Content, SEO & Analytics Manager Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC, PMP, polled her audience to see who had a documented content strategy. Only 20% of the session attendees said yes.
“A lot of people think about a content strategy or have an outline in their head,” Jen says. “But the challenge with just having it in your head is that it’s much harder to show your results and to really say ‘here’s what our content did for the organization.’”
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A documented content strategy may be easier than you think
Sure, having a documented content strategy is ideal. But producing one can feel like a mountain of a task, especially if you’re managing a large website with multiple blogs, a health library, doctor bios, and service line pages. And what about all the clinicians and stakeholders who want to weigh in on that content?
Like many challenges we must tackle in life, starting small can make the task less daunting.
“People always think that they need to start from an institutional level with their documented content strategy, but that’s really hard,” Jen adds. “Sometimes it makes sense to just start with a small piece where you can demonstrate proof of concept. Look at small pieces of your website or strategy and create a big picture from that.”
Hear more insight from Jen in our latest Tips in Ten(ish) Minutes episode below. Jen sat down with WriterGirl VP, Client Partnerships Kirsten Lecky to share her expert advice on:
- How to start the process of creating a documented content strategy
- How to involve stakeholders in the content strategy process
- Content modeling and how it helps your content strategy
Watch a full recording of Kirsten and Jen’s conversation, or check out the full transcript below. You can learn more about Jen’s content strategy approach by reading a recap of her HCIC presentation, Autopsy of a Content Strategy.
Do you need a website strategy partner who is 100% dedicated to healthcare? WriterGirl is ready to partner with your team to strategize, plan and produce content that resonates with your target audience. Drop us a line anytime to learn more.
Kirsten Lecky (00:05):
Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of WriterGirl’s Tips in 10 Minutes. Today, we have Jen Jenkins with us. Jen has a very big job at University of Utah Health. She is the web content, SEO, and analytics manager, and now can add even professional speaker to your credentials, as she just spoke at HCIC. If you were there and attended, you probably saw her presentation. It was really cool. We loved it. Thank you so much for joining us.
Jen Brass Jenkins (00:34):
Thank you. I am excited. I love to talk to people about this topic.
Kirsten Lecky (00:39):
We have invited you to come and share some quick tips on getting a content strategy started. So we certainly know we certainly can’t touch on all of the topics today, but I thought in 10 minutes, maybe we can touch on two or three topics. So to get started, we heard at your presentation, you did a poll before the session got started, and you asked the question, who has a content strategy? And I think if I remember, like 70% of the attendees said they did not have a content strategy in place, is that right?
Jen Brass Jenkins (01:08):
It was a documented content strategy.
Kirsten Lecky (01:10):
A documented, okay.
Jen Brass Jenkins (01:11):
Yeah. A lot of people think about it, or they have an outline in their head, or they say these are the audiences I’m targeting. The challenge with that is that it’s much harder to show your results and to really say, here’s what we did for the organization with this.
Kirsten Lecky (01:28):
What’s some quick advice you would give to help a healthcare marketer get started on creating their own content strategy or documenting their own content strategy? Kind of like your two to three essential elements to get started.
Jen Brass Jenkins (01:41):
Always the audit. The content audit is essential. One thing that I always say is it could start small. Like, people always think we have to start from an institutional level. That is really hard. I’m from an academic medical center. It is really hard. You’re working with three to four different business models, which each have different audiences. So who are you focusing on? Where’s the business impact? So sometimes I say, why don’t you just start with a small piece, demonstrate proof of concept, so to speak. And that’s why I was sort of looking at an autopsy, because I was like, here’s a whole bunch of small pieces we put together that create this big picture, which is really almost a different way of looking at it. But it felt so good.
Jen Brass Jenkins (02:31):
You know, Meghan Casey did the content strategy tool kit. She’s with Brain Traffic, Kristina Halvorson’s group. And she said in her book, she was like, “Content strategy is not linear.” And I was like, yes, that totally describes what I’m doing because it’s not linear, but it still works. It’s like the Google algorithm is really made up of tons of tinier algorithms or smaller algorithms that build up to this overall picture.
Jen Brass Jenkins (02:59):
And so that’s really what you’re doing with your content strategy. I guess it’s trying to make it less intimidating. You start with an area, you identify business impact. That’s the most important. That’s so hard to get sometimes, but yes, identify the … Because you’ve got the strategy and then the business impact and you want to kind of chart it. Where can we make the most impact on our business goals with our content strategy?
Kirsten Lecky (03:28):
So if we’re starting small, it’s like we’re walking before we run, you know? So in your case, where did you start? I mean, what was your example of, we started small. Was it like a low hanging fruit in terms of a service line? Maybe give us an example of where you started.
Jen Brass Jenkins (03:44):
Absolutely. I started with auditing things, which seems so obvious, but at the time, nobody was. So as a health institution, we have grown 50% in the last eight years, as long as I’ve been there. So we had content, we had websites, but they really, they evolved hugely, like when we start talking about scalability. And so after a while it was like, wait a minute, what content do we have and what do we not have? And we had specific budgets, backing like women’s health and cardiovascular service lines. In an ideal world, we’d say, here’s our overall, for clinical content, here’s our content strategy. We didn’t have a unified approach to that. So I just started by auditing one service line. What’s in there, what’s missing, gaps, what content is performing well? And just looking at opportunities there.
Jen Brass Jenkins (04:40):
Eventually, another area that I could say is, is there a pet project for one of your stakeholders that they really like? That’s not a bad place to start, because they’ll have a lot of information about that, a lot more than they might with some other area. So there are all sorts of places you can start. It’s just finding what works for you, I think.
Kirsten Lecky (05:05):
I think it’s like once you start exercising that muscle, it gets stronger and it gets easier and then you can start applying it to more and more. And then you have a discipline around doing it all the time. And as you said, making sure you’re documenting it, you’re revisiting it. That it’s this living, breathing thing that’s not just a once in a while thing, that it’s an all the time thing. So that’s a real discipline. But I think if you do that, it becomes a lot easier, and like you said, maybe less intimidating.
Jen Brass Jenkins (05:34):
But the constant strategy, putting together all of these audits, it became so much easier to update them. The second year we did it, we had all the documented work. Then we could go through and update it and say, well, let’s evolve this particular area. We’ve laid all this basic foundational content. Let’s look at maybe patient stories, layering that in on top. And how does that affect it? So it allowed us to start building out a bigger ecosystem really, which was exciting.
Kirsten Lecky (06:04):
Well, it’s exciting. And then it has to be so satisfying, because especially with content production, which is just a mass beast of an animal, it can be hard to really, how did that work and what did we do? And so to be able to look back too and just be like, look at all this master display of work that we’ve done in the last year, that’s so satisfying for your team.
Jen Brass Jenkins (06:30):
And when you come in with these, just even an audit to your service line, and they look at all these pages and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so much work.” And you’re like, “Don’t you worry, honey, I eat this for lunch.” You don’t hear that, but you’re like, of course, it’s so much work. I’ve spent all my time on your service line. It gives them a lot more confidence in you. I mean, who doesn’t it give confidence to when you’ve prepared and brought in a great presentation and recommendations and stuff like that? So it’s all around a winning hand, I think.
Kirsten Lecky (07:02):
Yeah, and collaborating, which leads me to my next question. You mentioned maybe starting small would be a stakeholder’s pet project. You talked about collaboration. So we all know that marketing is such a collaborative effort. And we, especially in healthcare, we’ve got physicians and service line leaders and business owners and lots of different people, too many cooks in the kitchen at times. So you’ve got your strategy and you really, you’ve got buy-in and you feel really good about your strategy. How do you say no to these stakeholders that have competing needs, maybe have particular feedback. So how do you stick to this strategy when you want to also encourage that collaboration?
Jen Brass Jenkins (07:46):
Yep. Well, as I spoke at Confab a few years ago, and my presentation was “never say no.”
Kirsten Lecky (07:54):
Okay. I love it. So how do we do that?
Jen Brass Jenkins (07:56):
How do we do that? There are a couple key phrases. There is, “yes, and.” Usually if the stakeholder makes a request, it’s something, I mean, they feel it’s important. You need to figure out a way to work it in, in maybe either an aspect that sort of reduces the amount of work. I mean, it sounds funny, but all of our stakeholders want to say we are so amazing and we established the center and we have this history [inaudible 00:08:27], they are less inclined to care about that, and more inclined to say, what are the benefits for me? And I’ve started wrapping that into a couple of paragraphs on program pages that’s a little more flowery language, where the physicians can feel proud of their work and proud of it. But we also start with information that patients want to know. Here’s what we treat. Here’s who you contact. Here’s how you get a hold of us.
Jen Brass Jenkins (08:55):
And then it’s like, why should you choose us? We’re this amazing, you know? And so we’re satisfying the need without completely restructuring all of our content and sort of fitting it in. The other thing I always say is, you can say, “not yet.” You don’t say not yet, you say “”not for this budget season, right? Or “this next sprint.” You always put a timeline on it because then it’s like, of course we can do that. Let’s schedule it for fiscal year two, quarter three, you know what I mean? If you attach those timelines, everybody feels better about it.
Kirsten Lecky (09:32):
So I think we have time for one more question, and I’m not sure you can answer this quickly because it seems like a really big question, but you talked a lot about content modeling in your session. And that was something that afterwards, a few people felt a little bit less familiar with that concept. Maybe just tell us a little bit about what that means as it relates to a content strategy.
Jen Brass Jenkins (09:54):
For sure. So content modeling can be more based on a granular, on a page where you say, here are all the specific parts that make up a page. You have the text, you have maybe the physician image, you have a dynamic newsfeed, and it can expand, also, to be as large as identifying all your content types across your system. I’ve heard the word ecosystem to refer to it, your content ecosystem, which is so true because we have at least five different audiences. You’ve got your patients, your physicians, referring physicians, in our case, students, right? We have donors. We have all of these audiences, and it seems so overwhelming. But when you say here are all the content types, we have press releases, we have blogs, we have longer articles, it starts to help you say, what is the intent of each content type and how do they relate?
Jen Brass Jenkins (10:59):
Because I think the hardest part is figuring out how do these interact with each other and what benefits do they have in the overall system? And I will tell you something I discovered. For a long time, we had a really strong blog that was more based around general branding. And that was great, and it was like, oh, the blog, it’s supporting and holding up the website. We had some physician interviews as well.
Jen Brass Jenkins (11:23):
But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a need as well for health library pages. And we had content that was from a vendor, just that we put up, but it wasn’t integrated. Obviously, our physicians didn’t like it because it wasn’t about them. It didn’t have their specific insight. So we started creating this custom content around clinical services, and now it’s built up its own amount of traffic. It’s bringing people in. And so we have to really look at how do these two types of content interact and where are the decision making points for our patients? And so that’s a content model. You identify, like here are all the different content types, and it’s just a more holistic way of looking at it.
Kirsten Lecky (12:10):
I can hear that, pictures, when is it, like the speed of understanding with a picture is so much faster than a reading of something is going to be. So even to be able to see a picture of how all of these different pieces interact and what is the big picture can really get everyone aligned probably a lot quicker, even, too. And reading through your audits is probably exhausting, all the information. So you can distill that into, too, like some sort of a picture, or a puzzle, or whatever that someone can look at.
Jen Brass Jenkins (12:42):
It does help. You need to see content organized in different ways. People understand it differently. They learn differently. But you also see different points of view, at least I’ve found, from reading, you see a different viewpoint than you see, like you said, from viewing it visually.
Kirsten Lecky (12:59):
Well, the good news for our audience that’s tuning into this, you have examples of content models in some of your articles. So we’ll be sure to share that so people can see what that looks like. If they have questions, are you open to emails if they have any questions?
Jen Brass Jenkins (13:17):
Kirsten Lecky (13:17):
Okay, great. Well, I appreciate-
Jen Brass Jenkins (13:19):
[crosstalk 00:13:19]. Yeah. I’m like, if I’ve done the work, feel free to ask for something.
Kirsten Lecky (13:23):
Yeah. Well, you’ve done some really great work, and we really appreciate you taking the time to share that with us and with our audience.
Jen Brass Jenkins (13:30):
Hey, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Kirsten Lecky (13:32):
Jen Brass Jenkins (13:32):
See you later.
Kirsten Lecky (13:33):
Jen Brass Jenkins (13:33):