Case study: engaging staff in digital content creation

This case study, from our Let’s Get Real action research program, explains how the organisation took a cross-departmental approach to creating content to consider audiences and tell a story. Challenges included persuading staff of the value of digital content and of keeping it light and topical when they are up against deadlines.

About the participant:

Name: Christopher Ganley

Organisation: National Galleries of Scotland

Jump to:

What was the research question behind your experiment? | Why was this important to your organisation? | What did you do to implement this? | What happened? | What were the personal challenges you faced when carrying out this experiment? | What did YOU learn? | What did YOUR ORGANISATION learn? | What next?

What was the research question behind your experiment?

How do we engage staff in the creation of appropriate content for our blog?

The question encouraged people to think about storytelling, the audience and what’s unique about the organisation.

Why was this important to your organisation?

The period of the research coincided with the development of a formal Digital Content Framework for the organisation. The blog and the experiment were used to help inform types of content created, to increase content created for digital platforms and to increase staff engagement in the blog (as well as other digital content). This is important to the organisation because it wants to elevate the status of digital internally, encouraging all members of staff to think about the audience and digital content.

What did you do to implement this?

The blog was launched in August 2014, replacing the existing ‘news’ section on nationalgalleries.org while creating a forum which was intended to be more discursive and flexible. We recently conducted a content audit and review and this concluded that the majority of content created for the blog was too wordy and often too dry.

We encouraged everyone in the comms department (digital, press and marketing) to create content for the blog (to fully understand what we were asking colleagues across the organisation), which would in turn help inform the guidelines and key messages for the blog.

What happened?

We developed and established a group with cross-department representation who became known as the department digital content liaisons. We met with the group three times over the period of the experiment and asked them to come up with ideas for content (which incorporated ideas around storytelling) and introduced them to analytics and different approaches to generating content. These meetings helped inform the key messages for the blog and encouraged department contacts to become champions for content creation.

We also started using the project management tool Trello so we could schedule and view content plans, which could be viewed by departments across the organisation.

What were the personal challenges you faced when carrying out this experiment?

Staff in the organisation generally don’t see the value in the creation of digital content and it is often a challenge encouraging staff to do so while working to deadlines which would maximise the potential audience i.e. publishing while topical. It was also challenging to get people to move towards creating ‘lighter’ content. We worked closely to cut content back so it could be more image and/or story driven.

The experiment itself was significant in scale involving people from across departments and a lot of new content was created. Overseeing the project during our busiest period and bringing it to a close was a significant challenge.

What did YOU learn?

Most of the useful insights I gained from the project were from the workshops and discussions with my project mentor. The Culture24 project team and network were an invaluable source of support and knowledge. The keys things I learned were around strategies for developing organisational change and methods for making a strong case to senior management to rationalise particular decisions and develop objectives.

The storytelling activity was particularly useful for me in terms of thinking about audiences and types of content.

In practical terms I learnt how to use the project management tool Trello which has become embedded in the department and used colleagues throughout the organisation. I also learnt how important our working group was and how imperative sharing our findings (analytics, user-feedback, and other evidence) was to them.

What did YOUR ORGANISATION learn?

The blog guidelines were migrated into overarching social media guidelines and key aims and objects, sitting alongside the blog template. This has helped us open up digital channels and focus on creating content relating to key messages.

The organisation (or at least some of the key individuals we have been working with) has learnt about the importance of scheduling and creating content with an audience in mind. While it was challenging, a number of our colleagues did learn how to create content which was less ‘heavy’ and less academic.

The key thing which colleagues took away from the project was how interlinked our different channels are and how they all relate back to the primary channel: nationalgalleries.org

What next? 

Our next step is to share the social media guidelines across the organisation and embed the key messages across all of our content, further developing these streams of content.

For example, towards the end of the project we set up an online survey about our video content and we can use this information to inform future video content used on our social channels. The majority of those who completed the survey indicated they wanted to see more content about artistic and creative processes which will become the next strand of our output.