Content and Mission: Finding Balance in Principles, Strategy and Success

If you could wave a magic wand and create an instant, organization-wide content strategy, what would it do? What problems would it solve? How would you measure its success? And how would it be sustained over time? This panel will discuss strategies that balance mission-supporting principles, aligning the disparate desires of internal stakeholders, and the day-to-day work of creating effective content. In an age of increasingly diversified technology platforms and their never-ending evolutions - from social media, to onsite kiosks, to voice assistants, and mobile web - the process of creating robust content has never been more complex. An enduring challenge is measuring success across digital experiences and for different audiences, and going beyond traditional numbers-based metrics to define outcomes like “engagement.” For museums and cultural organizations, this is where meaningful, mission-centered content strategies can be born.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
All right, you're all gonna get to see if I can walk and chew gum at the same time. Good morning. Thank you to everyone in the room for being here for the bitter end of the conference. I was thinking last night there were going to be four people in the room. And those were my fellow panelists. So thank you very much. I'm Laura Mann. And this is about content strategy. And we're going to talk a little bit about what a content strategy is briefly at the beginning. And then I'm really my job though, is to tee up my stellar fellow panelists, Susan Edwards from the Hammer Museum, Brad Dunn, from the field around a French from the American Museum of Natural History, and Jessica Bertie, Frank from the Adler Planetarium. And I think from their presentations, you're going to see that there is no single recipe for content strategy, no single way to make one or do one at a museum. And that should prove I hope, both inspiring and something of a relief for the folks in the audience. It certainly does for me. And for me, I'm just going to talk a little bit about why are we here? And what's the problem space? And what is the content strategy? And why might you want one for just a couple of minutes. So I'm from frankly, grin and Webb and we are a consultancy that works with lots of different museums, on all kinds of things, including content strategy. And we've been hearing a lot of pain points around content recently, we have too much content, it's impossible to manage or to organize or maintain. We're making lots of content, but we're not sure who it's for. We don't have enough content for the right people. We don't know if the content we're making is successful or having an impact lots and lots of questions. And we don't have an agreed upon process for how content gets made, just to name a few. And I want to suggest that one of the reasons for that, at this particular moment in time in the museum space, is that historically, online content, at least has been imagined as like kind of the web has been seen as sort of a limitless place for content, you could put content endlessly on the website, it would never fill up and all that information that didn't fit on the name, other content channel could go on the website. And I think and that was the thinking was there was no real cost to that. And I don't think I really need to say to the people in this room, that of course, there's a cost to that in the content that we don't make because we made this other stuff, or we're too busy maintaining the stuff we have, or the cost and the fact that our online visitors can't find what they need. Or Google is unhappy with our our content because there's too much confusing content. And our search results for our current and relevant stuff actually drops because we've got too much archival stuff. So what I want to suggest is that at this moment in time, the museum sector is moving from an idea of let's publish all of it. And of course, our content should be for everyone to a more strategic approach. So if this has been the default thinking for a long time, I would say that, what we where we're going is this.

Unknown Speaker 03:32
And so but the question is, what does that actually look like? And what I want to suggest is that a content strategy is really a tool and a process for helping you get to the right content for the right audience at the right time on the right platform. And so this is an extremely helpful diagram from a firm called Brain traffic that specializes in content strategy. And the way that they visualize content strategy is that it is both an external and an internal thing. So it includes external requirements, the needs and motivations of the audience and the internal requirements, the objectives of the organization, resources, processes, things like that. So at the top here, we've got editorial and experience. That's the outward facing stuff. What is your experience design? What's your editorial approach? What voice and tone? What language do you use with your audiences and which audiences? And then internally, how is your content structured so that visitors can find it? And what are the processes needed to develop publish support, maintain your content over time? So that's the inside outside diagram. And what I also want to suggest is that content strategy is both strategic and creative. So it is both a thing and a process. us. And so what I mean by that is from a strategic standpoint, it has, it can have components like strategy statement content principles, a workflow diagram for how you make content. But content strategy is also in the doing. It is also in the making and testing of new content or revised content or existing content, for example. And so, just to give you a quick example of this, and then I'm going to hand things over to our next panelist, this is a core content strategy statement for a museum. This is a for content around to K 12, educator audience. And there's a lot of words on that screen. And I'm just gonna break that down for you a little bit. So we've got and the way you make these is madlibs. So you have content helps the museum what's the organization's goal, grow its online audience and change the way science is taught? Who's the target audience K through 12? Educators? What's the impact on the audience? Well, they feel confident, informed and supported. And they become more effective educators. When you articulate a content strategy statement like this, you can begin to see not only what it would enable you to say yes to but what it would enable you to say no to and my test for a good content strategy statement is, is there something you've done recently that you wouldn't do now? Thanks to your new content strategy statement? If the answer is a yes, it's working for you. And so what I want to argue is that there is no single formula for doing content strategy. There's some elements as my little two by two diagrams suggested, but there's no recipe, and but there are some themes that you're going to hear in the next four presentations from a whole range of institutions, large, small, natural history, art, etc, etc. And what I want you to listen for is ideas around audience who is this for? What are their needs? What how does each organization develop a content strategy that is authentic to the institution to its values to its mission to its culture? And finally, how does the content strategy support decision making? Because when it comes right down to it, that is the mark of an effective content strategy? Does it help you make decisions and make choices, but what those choices look like are really different from one institution to another. So with that, I'm going to hand things over to Brad, who's going to talk about things at the field. Thank

Brad Dunn 07:37
you see if this works. So when we were starting to work on our slides, and I was describing our dilemma, our situation to Laura, she was like, Brad, that sounds like you're describing, it sounds like you're going from the pitch of the Internet to something more strategic. And I was like, that's going to be the title of my part of the presentation, because that's pretty accurate. So my name is Brad down. I'm the web and digital engagement director from the Field Museum in Chicago. So we want to I'm just going to talk briefly about the sort of bigger, that sort of higher level structure, we've actually some smaller wins that are happening, they can briefly mention, but I'm going to try to keep it sort of bigger picture. So. So yeah, so a little bit of context from talking about so scientific content, not exhibition content. What does that mean? It means content originated in our instance, it means content originating directly with curators and collection managers, that does not first pass through exhibitions. It's not totally always true, we do actually work a lot with our exhibition developers. But we also work my content team works a lot directly with our scientific staff. And we're not done which of course, none of us are ever done with us. So a little bit of the past, I have a former staff member here, and I'm wondering that my slides are gonna give her PTSD. So when, when we arrived at the museum, we had over 150, people that could write and publish content live to the website, just pausing for a moment. So there were literally hundreds of orphan pages, meaning they didn't like show up anywhere in the navigation. These are pages that were out of date had missing content, missing content, broken links, things that were completely had no brand identity, no visual standards. They weren't the website was not accessible. Obviously, there was no strategy involved. And frankly, most of the content that our scientists were publishing was really getting like little to no traffic. Anyway. So that's kind of where we're coming from. So I'm going to just show a couple of slides that are really honestly very overly simplified and are not exhaustive in terms of the channels, the types of content and they don't it's it's it's again, like very high level but this is actually a preview of a presentation I'm about to give to a series of curators in the next couple of weeks. They all want publishing privilege back on the site. And I've explained to them that when they come to us and say, I want to publish X thing I say, we say, Don't come to us with the what and the hell come to us with like the what it is, and the why. And we'll get back to you with how and frankly, a lot of times the how is we're not going to publish that there because it doesn't belong there. It actually belongs somewhere else. And some are quite open to this message, and some are not. So we think of the website in terms of the message. So remember that my audience for this are scientific staff. So the message to them, if there's three areas of the website, there's the scientific area, which is literally the departments, the research projects, they're undertaking, the staff members sort of information, access to the collections, that sort of thing. The blog, which is more for sort of like I lovingly call science nerds or science enthusiasts, so oftentimes, our visitors but not always. And then, of course, just events, we have a million events at The Field Museum. And so we publish them there, there's social media, there's PR, again, not an exhaustive list. So I'm not going to go through all of these word for word, because that would be painful for you. But we'll share this all out. But the point is, what I tried to say to them all is that each of these channels have a different audience, right? There's a why, right. So to just take website science, that audience of their academic peers, they're not actually our visitors. They the why of it is that we're trying to provide access to their peers into their collaborators around the world. We're not succeeding in this area, by all measures. In fact, at the current moment, the science section is the era we still have to do the most work. So there'll be a point in time when I want our collection databases, integrated the website, so that people can find so their peers can find what they're looking for under sort of like our brand, if you will, and then identify sources. So the sources for that are direct direct traffic or search. So compare that to like, content, we put in social media, that's more for a general audience visitors or science nerds, I actually try not to say general audience, because that's like everyone, and which means no one. We tell the story of our museum, we share our work, we're trying to get science ingrained in people's lives. Even if it's just a flip, quick flip of the thumb moment, they're thinking about something in science they weren't earlier. And the and the source for that one particular, obviously, just social media, but we also use social media to push to other channels. I also think it's important to point out to them that overall, that there's one section of our sort of digital ecosystem that is really meant for our scientists, the audience, and then the rest of them are various versions of the non scientific audience, which is important to note that we're producing content for both of these audiences. Often they're producing content for their own audiences. And what we're trying to do is build ways to empower them. I can talk more about that later. So the types of content again, overly simplified just for like our curatorial and collections, staff, I can't wait to I get to tell them that I'm simplifying some content for them. So there's informational content, there's academic content, again, the informational is who's in this department, what do they do? What are the projects we're undergoing? Academic actionable, story based content, the stories of the work we're doing? Often it's about the science, sometimes it's about someone out in the field, doing work, sending stuff back with us, or we're able to send our social media managers out fairly locally, at this point to kind of do lives as they're hunting for fossils or doing other things. And then of course, there are events. So then what we do is we line up the types of things that like the examples that we're talking about, which is kind of what I just took you through a little bit. So actionable would be like the collections database, fellowships, scholarships, internships, grants, ways that you can get involved in the museum. And again, we'll provide, we'll provide the slide deck, so you can have all of this from all of us. And then I match up the digital distribution. So what things go into which channel, I think you get the picture, worth noting that part of the overall ecosystem, part of the message I'm sending, sharing with them is that part of the overall ecosystem does include personal websites, and personal blogs that are not branded Field Museum, because we can't be liable for what they want to write, we can't ensure that they're following brand guidelines and standards, we can't ensure that what they're building is accessible. So a scientist might want to write about science, which they can do on their own channels, then we're going to turn it into science for the blog, and then science for social and newsletters. So it's gonna it's going to be augmented for different channels, which is kind of a new concept for many of them. Just fair because they're academics and are used to writing having to go very in depth of the things they're writing. So events belong in certain places, many of them double up, we obviously put events on the website and social and you can kind of like see how the rest of that works. So what is the future of it? Where is it that we're headed? With all of this So so we're, we've arrived at some of this, and we haven't made it to some of this yet. So strategy has to guide everything and audience has to come first because that dictates where it's going to go. And I know that all of you know this, again, I'm, this is a dry run for me for what I'm going to be telling the curators. So this is the message we have to share with our staffs, that audience has to drive it that says where it goes, how it gets crafted, and dictates other ways that, you know, if we have to think about whether or not it's actionable. Accessibility Standards have to be maintained. It's the spirit of the organization that we've embraced. It's also a legal mandate, actually, science section of the website still needs to be redesigned and built, I lost funding just as we were getting ready to get to their part of the section. So that's just important to acknowledge that we're still in the middle of this as well. The web team is going to work with science and education to identify key publishers in different areas. So right now, no one has publishing the building on the site, except people on my team, we do want to put some strategically placed publishers in different departments that will write an author that then final publishing will go through us there's a number of the number of publishers will be kept small. And ultimately, I'm trying to fundraise to develop a set of tools for our scientists, they output a lot of research papers. And I think it would actually be really great if we gave them if we had a templated way of publishing their research on the site that was indexable. So it could be you know, we could tag it, people could search for it. I think it's a missed opportunity for the museum that we have all this intellectual property being generated through their research work that then lives on microsites and lives in different places and not under the Field Museum brands. So that's the thing that we're trying to tackle right now. And that's it for my part. So we'll bring up Susan Edwards.

Unknown Speaker 16:54
Excuse me, I'm having a Can you hear me? Okay, I'm gonna talk about video strategy. And I work at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, which does not have 150 people even practicing on staff, much less editing the content, we're a much smaller institution. And to Laura's note, like the size of the institution also has to do with how you can implement your content, strategy and creative. So the hammer is a contemporary art institution, we also have Renaissance to 19th century paintings in works on paper, we also do a lot of events. So we have over 300 public public programs every year, and we live stream online about 125 to 150 of those every year as well. We think of the exhibitions, programs and our public programs events, as equal on equal footing and just as important in our institution, and we think of ourselves as a community center. So we make a lot of video, and it's everywhere. And it's been a little bit of a process to get there. And video itself is is pretty complex. So I'm just gonna share a small bit about what we've learned in our content strategy, and developing our content strategy for this. And it's just I realize making this that I we can talk about, we should have a session just on video strategy. Okay, so I have some I have three guideposts for you tell your story, go where the audience is, and experiment. These are actually not very different guidelines from any other type of content that you might create, right, your text and your images and your blog posts, right or your other anything else a lesson plan even looking at Darren, but video, there's a there's a little twist on these classics that happens with video. And I'm going to try to explain some of this, I hope. So first of all, all of our content strategy comes out of our strategic goals at the institution. And so we try to ground our content in our goals. It's hard. One of our these are two of our major goals right now. One is to grow our audiences. And this means two things, it means reach over our digital platforms. And it also means bringing in actual visitors and increasing our attendance on site. And video really provides a done a really dynamic, immediate medium that can grab people in that social feed on on as they're scrolling through their feed on social media. And it's it's great for awareness because it grabs people's attention is very immediate. A second big goal of ours is to add to our community. And we do this through broadening scholarships, republishing through sort of adding to art history, but also through our public programs, which are often very political in nature. We want to encourage civic participation. So we had last week, just last week alone, we had a program of we had Naomi Klein at the hammer talking about the Green New Deal. We had a constitution happy hour where we had a scholar from UCLA come talk to people about one of the one section of the Constitution, and the week before that we had an impeachment program. A couple weeks before that we talked about abortion like we we want to educate people and get them part of society's conversations on these current issues. And the video allows us to literally to Take our programs outside of our walls and into the community, people who can't come to the hammer, can see the program and watch it online. So my first paradigm tell your story, we used to be very didactic at the hammer, I think a lot of museums have taken like the default in a lot of video production is sort of a didactic, like the curatorial way of telling a story in an exhibition. And we have turned towards really leaning into the specifics of video medium to become more evocative, and then to experiment by using the medium of video itself, to bring out the message that we need to bring forth. So our mission, this is our mission. This is the hammer Museum's mission, which is also the core of everything we do. The Hammer Museum believes in the promise of art and ideas, to illuminate our lives, and build a more just world. So we have a we have a visionary mission that is very action focused and one of the things that we've done is really thinking about the words in the in our mission and how what they mean and what they imply and how we can create story filters, out of those ideas that we can then play out into our into our work. So you'll see the art and ideas I underlined is very important. Again, that's the exhibitions program the work with local artists, and the ideas are our public programs and these conversations we try to create. But we look at things like promise, the word promise, which means we are future looking the word the words, build a more just world which imply that we want to actually be action focused, we want to put information into people's hands that they can then take action with.

Unknown Speaker 21:43
So I'm gonna show you a video, we have a video that we want, if I can, like, here we go. This video isn't one of our evergreen sort of brand videos that tries to activate our mission. And you'll see how that mission is translated into the video format in this in in this example so oops, oh no. Okay, I gotta come back here. What did I do? Arianna Thank you all right. So this video really activates our mission in a without being a didactic thing, right. It's sort of using the short words, clips from our public programs, lots of motion and action to get across the idea of future thinking and diverse viewpoints and things like this that are core to our mission. This video took a lot of experimentation, we had a previous version of it that was ran in our theater for three years, two years, and then we scrapped it. And we started working on this one, which had like, I think two or three iterations. It is now an ad that we're running online, it shows in our theater before public programs. And it's also an ad that is a provides a click through to a landing page on our website that then introduces people to what the hammer is. So it's it's aimed at audiences who don't know who we are and raising awareness. Okay, the next principle, oh, no, it doesn't want to. There we go, go where the audience is. Okay. So very much. We have a very similar approach that Brad does, but it's a little simplified. So what we used to have back in 2015, when I started at the hammer, we were producing art videos, exhibitions, programming, don't take pictures of this, this is out of date. This is like don't do this. Like no, this is what not to do. So we were making videos about our exhibitions promoting our exhibitions, and we would put them on Vimeo because we liked the Vimeo player. It looks really good embedded on our website. And then we would we started live streaming our public programs, which are the ideas and those would live on live stream Yeah, so we thought of video is something that like the the public programs that you live here and these live over here. And yes, everything fed back to the website, but we had a very simplistic view of why the videos were there and who they were for. We started getting a lot of requests for video. So we have one video producer, we're very lucky to have one. But she started getting a lot of curators coming I wanted video to and curatorial doing a public program and wanting to have that artists work document, I want that video too. And we had to really think about prioritizing and asking questions like who is this for? And what is the goal of the video? Why are we making this video. And what we have come to is something a lot more like what Brad described, which is we think of it as the content, we think of the different audiences we're trying to you reach and I have the word generalist in there, which is horrible. I know it's, it's nobody, it's everybody's nobody the different format. So we've developed a bunch of different video formats, including 15 Second teasers that go on Instagram, or that our ads on YouTube. It's longer explanatory videos where we interview an artist and we talk about their process we've create, we're creating ads, we're creating short clips from our public programs that we're sharing on Instagram, which I'll talk about in a minute. And then we think about the platform. And this is sort of a mix and match, like, what's the content? What's the right audience? Which format is going to work best for that goal? And where does it need to go and it can live on multiple different platforms, and the same content might spin out for different audiences on different platforms in different in different formats.

Unknown Speaker 26:30
Okay, oh, I had a note here to talk about. And you also have to think about SEO and metadata and even like, the title of your video is super important to determine what it looks like on Instagram on YouTube, on Livestream like on all the different platforms a whole nother talk there. Okay, so experiment, video is a fast moving thing. How many people are like looking at tick tock now, right? Like, I remember Vaughn, what was it? Vine, right. So there, it's especially in the social media world, these things are common and going in the new platforms. And you have to be okay with experimentation and trying out new things and seeing what sticks. The technology is even evolving. We've had so many we've played with so many Gimbels mics to in the galleries. We've experimented even with different file formats for our videos, and also thinking about like things like accessibility, captioning, SRT files, translation, etc. Experimenting is important. I only again, I could talk about this forever. I'm going to show you two examples about how we have experimented. So with live video, our public programs are normally on live stream, which is the view on the far left and they're embedded on our website. Every once in a while. We have been experimenting with live simulcast not just on live stream, but also on Facebook or on YouTube. Those are the two we've done. We are now actually thinking about Periscope again, on Twitter actually haven't done it yet. And one of the this is it. This is Ted Lieu of California congressman, talking about the impeachment report. No, the Muller report, sorry, talking about the Muller report, or the Trump Russia investigation or something a while ago, and we like we simulcast it to Facebook. And one of the things we learned right away was that the audience on Facebook is very different from the audience on live stream, live stream. People are watching online, but they're not commenting. They're not writing anything. You put it on Facebook, and it's your community. And all of a sudden, they're asking questions, and they're writing back and they're like they they're like, can you ask Senator Liu what it is. So we realized we needed a staff person to be there to watch it. So that was me that day. And then my puppet programs manager was in the program at the hammer, I was at home because it was a Sunday, and she's texting the AV manager who's then texting me like, you need to put that document that he just mentioned up on the Facebook. So there's a whole other sort of workflow that happens in a team of people who have to make these happen. We live streamed to YouTube, also for a while. And our account, our ability to livestream was shut down by livestream because of copyrighted content. We were shut down for three months. We don't do that anymore. And then the other example, here is an ASL tour that we did a live ASL tour on Facebook. And so it's hard to capture, I couldn't get a screenshot that made it look like he was signing. And this was incredibly popular. We don't have a lot of opportunities to do this. But the different format that wasn't just a curator walking in the galleries talking from a script, usually which is not the best, was really popular. And I think it's opened our team up to the idea that we need to work with our curators to have a better onscreen presence and not just read from their notes. And then the second experiment was IG TV. So for a long time, we've had this challenge of these big public programs videos, which are an hour and a half to two hours long because it's documentation of the entire program. And how do you get people to watch and commit to a two hour long video, especially when the first 10 minutes of it is our Public Programs Director standing there talking about all like introducing People for many, many minutes. And we had tried taking short clips a couple years ago and putting them on Facebook. It was very labor intensive. And we didn't have a great return on anything. But then about less than a year ago, igtv starts getting really interesting. And we're like, what if we put our clips, we did some clips, and we put it on an IG TV. We did the first one of these back in April, and immediately had like, 40,000 views within 24 hours. And we were like, Whoa, this is something and so we, we experimented with the format, we had to figure out like what makes a good clip from one of our public programs? What kind of stuff do people have to stay? What kind of angle do you need the people to be at. And we created guidelines that we gave to an intern that would spend like like day like entire hours looking through the video looking for these clips, we have to make transcripts, we we log the transcripts, we have to figure out we had to figure out how to make the captions work, where to place them so that they look good. And so if they show up in the Instagram TV, but also on the feed and still look good. And in the feed, so that elders head isn't chopped off like this, which we did a couple of times. There's like a bunch of stuff that needs to be figured out here, the workflow is one of the more challenging things, but we've committed to keep doing them. And if you go to our Instagram feed now you'll see lots of these clips. And they all have 10s of 1000s of views. It's kind of amazing, and lots of comments to lots of people commenting and asking questions and joining a conversation. So

Unknown Speaker 31:28
I wanted to bring in that are over a bigger digital strategy that we have at the hammer, because it aligns to the content strategy. And it brings in this third column I think of which is the process and the workflows of people that need to do the work to get this happening. So you'll see like publishing is really that sort of we like to add to the community aspect of things. It's the more scholarly civic engagement aspect. And the awareness aspect is the growing audience, part of our process of our strategy. And but the process, the idea of having tools that your staff can use setting workflows that that work for them, communication, internal collaboration, making sure that what we're doing is going to be sustainable and can scale for growth into the future is a huge part of the strategy also, and we are working on it, we it is not perfect. So finally, tell your strategy, go where the audience is, and experiment. And I could again, I could talk about this forever and ever. So another session.

Unknown Speaker 32:37
All right, well, shifting gears just a little bit to talk a little bit more about like the how. So I'm really interested in building really smart strategies in organizations, whether it's digital strategies, or content strategies in this case. So this is why you see building a content strategy that has a fighting chance of survival, because it's grounded in organizational priorities. This is sort of an appeal to come at the problem or the the opportunity of Content Strategy less from a project perspective, and more from more from an organizational culture and values space perspective, because our best strategies are really the ones that are woven into the fabric of our organizations, right. And, you know, we talk increasingly, especially about digital strategy is not this thing you do over here, right, but something that you you integrate, and you apply to the processes that you already have going on in your or in your organization. So I'm trying to sort of make the bit the same argument for content strategy. In other words, it's something that really needs your attention, not at sort of this project level and this thing that you start, and you finish, but more is like an ongoing part of how you build content and how you engage your audiences. So and the other thing I want to add is that, you know, the strategies are really they should be dynamic, they should be fluid and adaptive. Because, you know, increasingly, a lot of how we engage our audiences is not getting mediated by us, you know, it's getting, it's being mediated by the Google's the Facebook's, the Amazons. So if we approach this type of a problem as like a one and done, then we're missing the entire boat of how, you know, these third parties are increasingly telling us how we need to and how we can engage with our audiences. So where do you start? Looking around at what your organization values today kind of gives you a clue for where you can take things going forward. So, you know, you might have leadership that values attracting repeat visitors, and maybe that's something that that you start with, you might have an upcoming membership campaign that you really need to get everybody on board with. And that offers you an opportunity to kind of get carry things forward. The point is, you know, taking a look around not at sort of like the Big Bang, massive problems, which we all are all aware of in our organizations, but more about sort of those mid and near term opportunities, and the existing values that you know, that already have your leadership buy in. So for us, that really comes down to kind of a more of an evidence based approach. We are a science organization and natural history organization, so people really care about. Okay, so you want us to pay attention to this, show me the data that says why we should? So what does the content strategy look like, I think you probably have one, or at least the beginnings of one, and maybe you don't know it. Or maybe you hadn't sort of considered it to be part of the content strategy that you can carry on and develop. So I think it can really be a collection of small things, you know, templates, template tips, how tos, tutorials, you know, all those guides and things that you think get created and ignored over the years, there are germs and kernels of truth and traction that those create. And over time, those can add up, believe it or not, I think, to the beginnings of a content strategy. So this is really anything that already informs how content is generated in your organization. And anything that positively impacts you know, the audiences and the strategies that you want to evolve. So this is again, just an appeal to sort of lean on what's word to lean on what you already know, to be sort of true to the organization's mission, but also true to sort of the culture and the resources that your organization is prepared to support. So for us, that comes down to just these are really more examples. This is not comprehensive, building out a search strategy beyond what we already do with SEO, the impact of mobile continues to be a massively, and I can't overstate like how important this is. dimension of our content strategy. And then finally, you know, again, we love we love data. And so using a B testing and building that program has also been really instrumental in how we talk about this type of thing.

Unknown Speaker 37:21
So beyond beyond us, yeah, we've kind of currently started kind of a mini project and taking a look at, you know, when people get to A M and, what are they searching for? And when they get the search results, are they getting the stuff that they're looking for? Pretty basic, right? But this is building on an organizational interest in SEO. So this notion of well search is important user search. Therefore, we need to pay attention to you know, how we appear in Google. But also, we're arguing that we need to also pay attention to how people are navigating our site, through search our search functionality and how that informs the content that we're creating on our site. Because if someone comes to our website and searches for parking, or planetarium, or, or in one case, strollers like we discover that, oh, my gosh, we don't really have a whole lot of stroller content on our site, I guess we should build it right, or we should create it publish it. So it sounds like no brainer stuff. But this is again, just incremental, incrementally building that content strategy out over existing priorities that are already received by in. Again, the impact of mobile. So I think the initial introduction to our leadership around mobile was back in 2014, when we launched a responsive redesign of Over time, I think the conversation around mobile continues to continues to move on. More recently, you know, this, the concept of using the mobile experience as a very key dimension of our content strategy is picking up steam, especially as it integrates with the visitor journey research that we've been doing. Under Matt Tarr, who's also at amination has been facilitating that as well. So this content, this is a really old conversation. This is nothing new. This does not demand, you know, brand new tech or anything like that. But it does, again, sort of we're trying to extend and inform you know, how the mobile experience should should factor into what we think of when it when it comes to a content strategy. And then finally, AV testing. This kind of was a surprise for me. Thanks to our director of business analytics and insights. We have found that building up our AV testing program on m&a strategy, Eric is really helped, I think, grease the wheels for some larger conversations around content strategy, and just keeping the focus on again, just tiny, incremental moves towards engaging our audiences better online. So in the previous sort of mini search initiative I mentioned earlier, we're finding that a number of our hypotheses about like how people are getting to the site, what they're searching for when they get there. Are there additional cues we can offer to people who are using our search functionality? And then when they get results, you know, what is the information that we should be providing in that moment? All a lot of those questions are now getting mapped into a series of AV tests and qualitative research tests that we're currently building out. So more to come on that front. But in in terms of how we again, sort of bring this back to our leadership, all the findings that we want to present and the recommendations for next steps, this is continually been really invaluable in sort of underscoring those priorities. So all this is to say is that content strategy is not this monolithic thing, it's not, it doesn't have to be this monolithic thing that you do, like one and done and then you move on to the next thing. This is an appeal to maybe think, or look more closely at what you've already got going on that works or something that you want to extend into a more mature content strategy for your organization. And you might find recently that those building blocks are already all around you. So that's all for me.

Unknown Speaker 41:39
Hi, everyone. So I'm going to be a little bit different than everybody else who just talked to you all, kind of going off of Laura, and Susan's notes, the size matters in your institution when you're thinking about your content and scalability. But so do your priorities. And I'm coming from the Adler Planetarium. So we're not only a planetarium, but we're also a museum, we're kind of part Science Center. And we haven't quite figured out who we are. So trying to communicate that to the 600,000 people who come in every year has kind of been a challenge for us, not in any way helped by the fact that we've realized in the last three months, we don't actually have a content strategy as an institution, each department made their own, it didn't tell anybody. So this is a cautionary tale. And we're going to learn some lessons that the Adler has just now started to put together. But the upside is you can learn from your mistakes, and then use that to convince your executive team that you do need an institution wide content strategy. And I'm gonna show you how.

Unknown Speaker 42:48
So what we've figured out is each department had made their own policy. So I've sat in the collections department, and we had made this beautiful, like 10 page document about how you're going to create content, how you're going to share it, who was interested in it? The answer is we do scientific instruments from 1600 to 1800. So not a lot of people. But we can find ways to incorporate that. What we discovered, though, was that our marketing colleagues who actually control all of our outward facing technology, so our social media, our website, anything that's going to the press didn't know what our mission was, and like what we were trying to do within the Adler's goals. And that started to make sense to us why we felt our content never reflected what we were saying. For them, they kind of have said that we lack an institutional clarity on our prioritized audience segments on our content prioritization and actual content. So they never created a content management or content strategy, because they've been doing it piecemeal per project. Which means if you come to the ad layer for a certain project, if you come back, you're looking at two different Adler's here, because we create new stuff ad hoc as we go. And this has actually been a real problem for our guest experience team, not knowing how to create overarching content then, for people who are coming on a daily basis. It's only been in the last three or four months, as I said that we realized none of us had these standards. And it kind of came out of one large scale event that was quite a failure for us. And quite humbling. And that was Apollo 11. So it was the 50th anniversary this July. And as the Adler Planetarium, the country's oldest planetarium and the only space place in Chicago because we don't count MSI. Because we're the Adler we decided we were going to take ownership of this and like the 50th was going to be our big moment. This is what was going to bring people in the door all year. Our marketing team was so excited about it. They planned a three day event. And then the budget came in and marketing pulled out because they could not afford the experiential marketing they wanted to do, but they had already informed the public that we were gonna do a three event. So those of us who were tasked with planning this three day event had about three months to plan an event to serve about 10 to 20,000 people that was the goal, and center around Apollo 11. So I put this image up because this was this beautiful graphic or designer made that we were going to talk about Apollo 11. And but this was the website that our marketing team made for us. And as you can tell, it is mainly image, and very hard to figure out what we're actually doing. We gave a pretty succinct history of Apollo 11, we kind of encourage people to come celebrate with us, our quote was small steps lead to the giant leaps, be inspired by the moon and explore how NASA and other organizations are planning our return to the moon and beyond. And how everyone can be a part of the ongoing story of discovery. That never made it pretty much anywhere else. Outside of the website, we made this promise, we said we were going to do this and then after that all the content devolved, because we didn't actually discuss amongst ourselves what the plan was. So what I was informed our vision was was called Voices of Apollo. So on my content that I was in charge of, which was online exhibitions, we focused on the 40 400,000 people that it took to make the Apollo 11 program work who were not Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Michael Collins, because that was what we told our, you know, theme was going to be. So we created this great Google Arts and Culture exhibit, it got picked up by Google, it kind of went fairly viral. For the Adler, we're really proud of it. We started planning on site programming, where we brought in five different speakers who had presented on this online exhibition. They were spacesuit engineers, they were rocket fuel chemists, they had all been a part of the program, it was very diverse selection, we were very excited. And then we started seeing how marketing was marketing the event. They did not come to any of the talks with the speakers, they were not aware of what we were setting up, because they did not sit on the planning committee. And we didn't have any way to inform them besides a Slack channel, which we found out later. They weren't necessarily reading. So they went into our Google drive of the transcripts from the interviews, and started pulling content to throw up online. This one up the week of the event. We didn't tell anybody the event was happening until the week it started. Not sure why never was informed. But you can see here they started focusing on two of the people who are going to come in. But the problem was they had not been in the talks. So they started interpreting their transcripts, and actually misquoted them quite a few times in our marketing material. And we were told this was their interpretation of what the person said. And we had to point out that that is not what quotations are for.

Unknown Speaker 47:49
Yeah, so that's all to say they were trying to spin this in a way to fit with what we had told the public we were doing. But I am now worried that I have 285 year olds who I have promised, you're gonna come on site and talk and really hoping that they're not tech savvy and going on Instagram and being like, I never said that. We eventually were able to get these changed, but it took a lot more steps than it should have. Because that team believed that they were the owners of the content, that they did this right, we provided them with what we had. And this was what the message was, how did we not know. So as we moved on, we had these speakers come in. And we saw it as the highlight of the day. There was one other programming that was really pushed out by our marketing team. That was we had Captain Jim Lovell come and do a conversation in our theater 200 people could get in, the tickets sold out in less than a day. And then we had to try and explain what the other 10,000 people were going to do for that day. So that's where this came in is we were going to have the speakers in our bigger theater where we could fit four or 500 people they were going to do due to different talks. And people could kind of shuffle in and this was not going to be a separate cost, the level ticket was a $50 up charge for the event. So you can see where not as many people can actually enjoy this. The problem was, again, this was not what marketing picked up as our priority for the event. So on this list, because you can't see it very well, because it's so tiny. It's at the very bottom mentioning that these people will be on site. It does not say when and it does not say where. So when the event started. It turned out that they were placed at the 11am time slot in our smallest theater. The event started at nine and ran till six. So people showed up at 4pm asking when they could talk to the spacesuit engineer and we had to tell them that that man went home three hours ago, because his talk was at 11 Only 25 People stumbled upon this actual talk with people who have worked in NASA because it was not included on the map. It was not included on the program for the day. It just listed that this was going to happen but didn't say They went and it didn't say where. So, as you can tell, that's a problem. And part of the problem was that this website was embedded within three different clicks from our homepage. So if somebody wanted to find what we were doing for Apollo 11, they basically had to know what was happening because it was not listed in the navigation bar. So you just had to kind of keep clicking through. So we had very few people actually find out this was happening. And so we kind of got to the point where we all knew it failed. And partially because there was zero difference between last year's July and this year is July on that same weekend, despite investing over $10,000 into an event that we thought was going to be our biggest for the year. And so it's very easy for people to throw everyone under the bus, which we all did. As we sat in this meeting, trying to figure out how this failed. There was a lot of talk about like, our guests just don't like this content. Nobody was interested, people don't care. But we all know that's not true. That was just the excuses. We were making the cover the fact that like we didn't tell people what we were doing, we didn't explain why you should come. But when we can point it out, and you can hit the bottom line, you can very easily convince your executive team that like something needs to change. So despite the fact that we've known since I've been at the Adler, which is three years that we don't have a unified content strategy, we're just now taking steps to handle that. So I titled this Houston, we've had a problem. Tom Hanks messed that lineup. So it is they did call and say it in a past tense because the Apollo 13 astronauts are already determined to fix it. And that's part of what we're doing at the Adler we have not yet fixed our problem. We're not at the point where we're like, No, it's great. And here's my 10 slides about why we're better. We're trying, but we've already committed to making that step. So what happened is we've learned all of us were so possessive of our piece of the pie. So marketing was very possessive of the site's we were possessive of the content. And it was just all down the line, nobody wanted to share and open up and accept the fact that maybe they're not the expert on how to do this. So what we did is instead of fitting content strategy into marketing's plans for the new year, is we've created a digital working group. So now we have pulled from all of our eight departments, two representatives to sit down in a room together and figure out what we need to do. This is partially because we are launching new exhibits, we're doing a new brand, we're gearing up for a capital campaign. And no one has time to make content strategy, which is why it's been kicked down the line for the last at least eight years. But having everybody sit down together kind of helps open that up. And so that's kind of my takeaways is if you know something is failing, if you can get it in writing, and you can get it with statistics that really hurt the bottom line, you can tend to get more institutional changes made, we'd been kicking around this idea of an institution wide content strategy made by a working group for over a year now. And we just got the executive approval after these numbers came in. Similarly, we decided to do this cross departmental Lee because we've realized that when we don't talk to each other, this is what happens. And so you just can't be afraid to point out your mistakes. What we've learned at the Adler is our institution memory is very long, but it's also very selective. So this was not the first time we had something like this happen. But we all sat in this room. And we're like, how we don't know. And we're like, yeah, no, we do. We're just pretending. And so now we kind of have this going. So as we launch our new exhibit, we've reformatted our website, so you don't have to click through five or six lengths to find the website that tells you what the new exhibit is, we put it front and center instead of focusing on buy a ticket or get a membership, which is what probably 80% of our front page of our website used to be. So with that, I am done.

Unknown Speaker 53:56
But hopefully, you've learned that like failing, can sometimes be helpful to get things done. But I am just as interested in you to see how are working together ends up for us.

Unknown Speaker 54:18
That was awesome. Thank you, everybody. I think I'm actually not gonna like talk about these takeaways. I'm just gonna let him sit here because it's 1225. And so I'm going to toss it out to the audience because maybe there are questions. You've heard. We just threw a lot at you. All really good stuff. Thank you so much to my awesome panelists. Questions.

Unknown Speaker 54:50
Great job, everybody. Susan, I want to ask you about your you're saying experiment right. And tick tock specifically, I had to have this conversation The other day, I said, I'm scared that we're not on there, and we're not doing anything on it. But is it? Is it? Should I be scared? Or is it just going to be the thing that disappears in a couple of years? How do you feel about tick tock? Because

Unknown Speaker 55:12
I don't I don't know anything about tick tock. I just know it's a thing. And I've seen the word and so I think experiment with knowledge, like do some research first. When we experiment on IG TV, we had already been on Instagram for years. It was one of our biggest platforms. We knew the audience we under it, we understood that there was a potential there. And that we we had a hunch that we were testing out, right. I don't nothing about tick tock like, I need to go do some research. I actually asked my social media manager a couple of weeks ago, I was like we need let's just find out what this is about. Let's learn and she immediately uncovered like the issues with like, the Chinese government or something? I don't know. Yeah. So I just use that as an example of how quickly things are changing. But yeah, do your research.

Unknown Speaker 56:05
Okay, I have one question. One comment. Susan, I was wondering, you were saying that you had one, producer for video? How big is your team for production? And do you have a video team production? Or do you rely on facility rentals and other departments.

Unknown Speaker 56:23
So we have one video producer in the comms department. And she's the one who makes all the produced videos. So the one that I showed you guys she made and she's a beginning to end, she does everything. She's amazing. Do not try to hire her. And then we also have a very large AV production team that does all of our public programs. So this is like a feat theatrical team that does all the lighting and everything. And they have a dedic they have a dedicated team of people that run the livestream operation. So there's a live stream application. And there's a switcher who's doing the live editing. And there's cameras, too, usually two cameras that they're editing in between

Unknown Speaker 57:03
your production team isn't necessarily part of the live video production. I

Unknown Speaker 57:08
know, they work really closely together, because she says she says her video producer, she has to work with them on getting all the stuff up online. And then often with live video live stream, there's an issue the next day, and she has to actually edit the video or she has to cut off the intro or shorten the outro if something happened. And so there is work that she has to do also regarding publishing that online and getting it online. Okay, cool. Yeah, it's a collaboration. It's a big collaboration.

Unknown Speaker 57:32
Yeah. And, Jessica, I just wanted to say that your talk hurt me physically. I've done the exact same process so many times, but from the marketing perspective, and I want 100% Understand.

Unknown Speaker 57:51
Hi, is directed at Susan at the hammer, as a resident of Los Angeles, I can attest to the really wonderful presence at Hammer Museum has online and I find that it reaches, you know, a wide like breadth of Los Angeles. And also as a UCLA alum, I'm proud to be somewhat affiliated with the with the Hammer Museum. I was going to ask you, does your affiliation with the University of California system, like affect the way that you present? The museum online?

Unknown Speaker 58:26
Yeah, I mean, we think of ourselves as part of that community. Right. And a lot of the speakers actually a huge amount of the speakers that come to speak in our theater are UCLA professors. The person who did that constitution half an hour last week was a UCLA professor. And we like to think of ourselves as that's part of the civic engagement and the education of our audiences. Right, is we are providing you with information that will help you become a better citizen. And I think that's on par with the the goals of the larger university.

Unknown Speaker 59:00
Don't have a question as much as a comment. I want to commend you all for the valuable information you've just relayed to us at the last session of this conference like fabulous job. Thank you so much. And just to add to Susan's answer to the Tiktok question, I think that is exactly what they're trying to convey here. The solution really is in the evaluation, the individual customized solution for your institution based on your resources, your bandwidth, your abilities and limitations and where your audience is and how you're going to effectively reach them. One more question. Another because it's what 30? Actually,

Unknown Speaker 59:50
we're not then Bueller.

Unknown Speaker 59:52
Exactly. I think one more I think this is a good wrap up question. Just you mentioned the presentations will be available. How will they be available?

Brad Dunn 1:00:05
What's the very least we can all? We can share it? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:08
Yeah, I was I'm on the board. There's Matt, I was told that all of these sessions are being recorded. Is that true? audio? Audio, right. Right. So at some point in the next couple of months to be realistic, there will be audio um, but we can definitely share this live. Yes. For the internet, because there's MCs content strategy