Creating a web content strategy

In this episode of our popular Tips in Ten(ish) minutes video series, Kirsten Lecky, EVP insights and growth at WG Content, sits down with Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC, PMP, the web content, SEO and analytics manager at University of Utah Health and a seasoned digital content strategist.

Watch this 13-minute video and learn:

  • Important steps for developing a documented web content strategy
  • Advice for working with stakeholders on your content strategy
  • Why content modeling is an important step in your strategy process

This video was recorded on January 11, 2022, before WriterGirl became WG Content.

Watch the video

0:00:05.0 Kirsten Lecky: 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.

0:00:34.1 Jen Brass Jenkins: Thank you. I am excited. I love to talk to people about these topics.


0:00:39.5 Kirsten Lecky: 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 that in 10 minutes, maybe we can touch on two or three topics. So we heard… 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?

0:01:09.3 Jen Brass Jenkins: It was a documented content strategy.

0:01:12.6 Kirsten Lecky: Documented, okay.

0:01:12.7 Jen Brass Jenkins: Oh, 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.”

0:01:29.2 Kirsten Lecky: What’s some quick advice you would give to help a health care 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?

0:01:43.2 Jen Brass Jenkins: Always the audit, right? The content audit is essential. One thing that I always say is it could start small. 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 I felt so good. Megan Casey did the content strategy toolkit. She’s with Brain Traffic, Christina Halverson’s group.

0:02:39.3 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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, it’s really made up of tons of tinier algorithms or smaller algorithms that build up to this overall picture. 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… ‘Cause you’ve got the strategy and then the business impact and you want to chart it, where can we make the most impact on our business goals with our content strategy?

0:03:28.4 Kirsten Lecky: So if we’re starting small, it’s like we’re walking before we run. So in your case, where did you start? What was your example of we started small? Is it like a low-hanging fruit in terms of a service line? Maybe give us an example of where you started.

0:03:44.0 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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. And so we had content, we had websites, but they evolved hugely 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 have specific budgets backing women’s health and cardiovascular service lines. In an ideal world, you’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.

0:04:40.9 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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, [chuckle] 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.

0:05:05.5 Kirsten Lecky: And 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. And it’s like this living, breathing thing that’s not just a once in a while thing, but 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.

0:05:34.8 Jen Brass Jenkins: But the content 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. And 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. [laughter]

0:06:05.4 Kirsten Lecky: 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 of this master display of work that we’ve done in the last year.” That’s so satisfying for your team.

0:06:30.1 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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 know that? [laughter]

0:06:44.8 Kirsten Lecky: Right.

0:06:44.9 Jen Brass Jenkins: But, yeah, 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, right?

0:06:51.6 Kirsten Lecky: Totally.

0:06:52.5 Jen Brass Jenkins: Who doesn’t get confidence too, 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. [laughter]

0:07:04.4 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah, and collaborating. Which leads me to my next question, you mentioned maybe starting small would be like a stakeholder’s pet project. You talked about collaboration. So we all know that marketing is such a collaborative effort. And especially in health care, 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 how do you… So you’ve got your strategy, and 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 the strategy when you want to also encourage that collaboration?

0:07:47.4 Jen Brass Jenkins: Yeah. Well, as I spoke at Confab a few years ago, and my presentation was, “Never say no.” [laughter]

0:07:57.0 Kirsten Lecky: Okay, I love it. Yeah, so how do we do that? [laughter]

0:08:00.7 Jen Brass Jenkins: How do we do that? There are a couple of key phrases. There is yes and, right? Usually, if the stakeholder makes a request, it’s something… 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. 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.” Physicians 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 ahold of us.” And then it’s like, “Why should you choose us? We’re this amazing… “

0:09:00.3 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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 can say… And you don’t say not yet, you say, “Now, for this budget season, 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 sort of timelines, everybody feels better about it.

0:09:32.9 Kirsten Lecky: 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.

0:09:55.8 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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 news feed. 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 physician, like referring physicians, in our case, students, 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?

0:10:58.6 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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? 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. 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, “Here are all the different content types.” And it’s just a more holistic way of looking at it.

0:12:10.2 Kirsten Lecky: And you hear that pictures… What is it? The speed of understanding with a picture is so much faster than a reading of something. So even being 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 than reading through. Your audit’s probably exhausting in terms of all the information, so you can distill that into, too, like some sort of picture or a puzzle or whatever that someone can look at.

0:12:42.1 Jen Brass Jenkins: 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 found, from reading, you see a different viewpoint than you see, like you said, from viewing it visually.

0:13:00.1 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah. 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.

0:13:10.0 Jen Brass Jenkins: Awesome.

0:13:11.8 Kirsten Lecky: And if they have questions, are you open to…

0:13:13.5 Jen Brass Jenkins: Oh, yes.

0:13:15.0 Kirsten Lecky: Emails?

0:13:16.7 Jen Brass Jenkins: Yes.

0:13:16.8 Kirsten Lecky: If they have any questions. Okay, great. Well, I appreciate…

0:13:19.0 Jen Brass Jenkins: They can have the information. Yeah, I’m like, “If I have done the work, feel free to ask. ” [chuckle]

0:13:23.7 Kirsten Lecky: 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, Ms Jenkins.

0:13:31.2 Jen Brass Jenkins: Great. Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

0:13:33.1 Kirsten Lecky: I’ll see you later. Take care.

0:13:34.0 Jen Brass Jenkins: Bye.

0:13:34.4 Kirsten Lecky: Bye-bye.