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When the Girl Scouts talk about working to be “prepared not scared,” they’ve got it right. With a crisis, time gets short, resources are stretched and staying focused is never easy. We all know how important it is to be well prepared.

There are great tools in the crisis preparedness kit, but some of them must get a little more regular attention than others to be truly effective in times of need. Content falls into the needy category, but it is a good kind of needy because it is the content your organization is using constantly in its communications.

So why is it needy? Well, there is a two-part answer to this question. The first part is simply the content itself. You can tackle this easily when you are in crisis training or simulation exercises.

Think about what kind of content you would like to use in your communications. Do you wish you had an infographic to more easily explain complex statistics? Do you think having photos of your people working together on a job site might demonstrate how your company is dealing with an emergency situation? Would a short video demonstration of a mechanical or technical process be effective? Might a glossary on industry-specific terms be useful?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you are on your way to meeting your content needs.

Stocking up on Content

During a crisis, you won’t necessarily have time to create and approve these kinds of content, so getting them done in advance is the best route to knowing you will have them when you need them.

Stop for a minute and do an inventory of your current content. You may well be on the way to a good, strong content library already. But if not, set about to build the kinds of content assets that will work for your company both today and in times of urgency.

And that is an important point: make content assets sweat. They can all do multiple jobs and should be at work, or at least available for work, constantly. Let’s take a look at some of the examples from above:

  • Infographics: Effective for digital and print media, invaluable for presentations and speeches, and easily deployed online for your website and social media channels.

  • Photo images: Always needed for websites, brochures, presentations, conferences, recruitment and social media.

  • Video shorts: Perfect for training sessions, visitor centers and lobbies, recruitment and conferences.

  • Glossary: Every industry has its own terms, so glossaries are great to reference for news release editor notes, websites, and training sessions.

So you can see, we aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we are just rolling it into another use and allowing it to work a little harder for us.

Owning your Content

And that brings us to the second part of the question, which is often the more difficult one: curation.

Having great content is, well, great! But great content you cannot find when you need it is not great at all. Companies everywhere produce all kinds of content, from images, to video and editorial, but too often it is dispersed both within the company and externally among third-party vendors or producers. Additionally, there is often very little understanding of the value of content to its audience. Not all content is received equally!

Image by opportplanet / CC BY 2.0

So here a little investment in curation will save you time, money and vexation in the future, allowing you to clearly rank and value your assets. Luckily, today there are excellent curation options for both internal and external use.

George Ross, a frequent commentator on content management, once said, “The entire organization should own the content, we just need to work out the custody agreements.”

Indeed. Great content needs a home where you can find whatever you need, when you need it. And that’s being “prepared not scared.”

Whitney Foard Small is a Senior Associate of CS&A based in Bangkok, Thailand. With extensive experience in crisis communication and management across industry sectors, Whitney is ideally suited to work with CS&A’s clients at the executive level.

A veteran in the field of communications, Whitney Foard Small’s career has spanned the full spectrum of public affairs – from crisis communications, corporate and product communications to CSR, technology, digital and marketing communications.

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