Folks who deal with content on a regular basis seem to fall into one of three categories when describing their content environment:
1. The Deluge
These clients are frustrated and frazzled because they are flooded with constant requests to add new content to their site or change content that’s already on the site. The work is always more than they can manage and there’s no rhyme or reason to the requests. The organization is always responding to external forces and trying to keep up with their members’ expectations or their executive team’s newest ideas. There are often also forces in the middle of the management chain who are trying to influence the publishing program to meet their own ends, which may not always align with the website’s driving goals. These conflicts lead to extra work and frustration, and they also dilute the effectiveness of the organization’s efforts on the Internet.
2. The Drought
These clients experience a feast-or-famine cycle of content flow resulting in moments of desperation or extreme boredom when the content runs dry interspersed with periods of intense pressure when the spotlight is on them to get things done immediately and get them done right. This inconsistency makes it impossible to push out quality content because there’s no planning and no time to properly vet the content when it does materialize to be published immediately. And when it’s slow, it’s often because the subject matter experts are disengaged — or they’re too busy with other matters — so that they aren’t concerned with how their program is represented on the website. This inconsistency is bad because it can also negatively affect your various audiences’ perception of your organization.
3. The Desert
Clients in this situation are often demoralized because their colleagues are apathetic about content — either because of the lack of time or resources, or because their online presence has not matured to the point where it matters to them. There is literally no content to publish and their site is either completely outdated or it is a static “brochure” website that only offers basic information about the organization. In this scenario, the organization’s website and online presence is actually a drag on its reputation. Most nonprofits don’t have a bricks-and-mortar storefront where they engage their audiences, so an internet presence is vital for engaging audiences and presenting the image of a vital and growing organization that is worthy of the viewer’s valuable time, attention, and perhaps even money.
Where do you stand? Post a comment below to describe your experience, and check out our guide Building a Sustainable Content Ecosystem: A Guide to Developing Web Content for Nonprofits, Foundations, + Associations to learn more about how you can learn to mitigate the experience of the deluge and the droughts and content shortages, and stay out of the content desert.