By Elizabeth Sosnow published November 4, 2010

How to Grow a Content Creator: A 3-Month Boot Camp (Months Two and Three)

In yesterday’s post, we discussed a common problem that many marketing agencies face today: helping younger professionals become content creators.

The problem? As senior professionals, we don’t have the luxury of time to mentor in the way we might like. Enter ”Content Creation Boot Camp.” Today’s post describes months two and three of our boot camp.

Month Two

1. Include teaching moments.

Now that you have a customized program in place for your colleagues, it’s up to you to look deliberately for chances to give them feedback against goals. On a daily basis, consider if their client work shows improvement. This sounds easy, but it’s not. We get busy in our lives, and forget that our colleagues need continuous feedback. Don’t cheat them of the time they need to grow. Help them recognize how to learn from their experience and articulate their frustrations to others.

2. Kick off a group assignment.

Sometimes peer groups are the best teachers. Group individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, then have them attack a two-week project that pushes them into unfamiliar territory. (This might be an excellent time to focus them on responding to your own company’s analytics. After all, you need content, too.)

3. Assign a group presentation.

At the end of the month, schedule a presentation from the group that encourages them to demonstrate how the content they just produced reflects their own emerging best practices. This is critical – if you can get someone to start articulating what is meaningful content, chances are good they can produce it.

4. Leverage failures.

Real military boot camps use failure to drive change. You should, too. Embrace assignments that head south because they could become the “a-ha” moments you need to help people evolve. Identify one to two mistakes you can diplomatically discuss with each individual. It will also help you tee up the final month of boot camp.

Month Three

1. Bring in outsiders.

At this stage, it’s important to add some new “drill sergeants.” You could select this content creator based on a skill set (video editing or organic keyword analysis, perhaps) or teaching style (demanding versus your nurturing approach) or industry depth (e.g., consumer products). The point is, show your colleagues there are many different ways to build extraordinary thought leadership.

2. Create an outsider assignment.

Their new teacher should work with you to define a final four-week project that asks your student to build on what they’ve learned from both of you. Make sure that the assignment requires developing multifaceted content that can be packaged to extend across multiple platforms. At this point, they should understand that superior content can sustain different forms.

3. Gather all boot camp participants.

Ask them to come up with a “Great Content Is” standards document that helps teach clients what to look for when developing their own content. Identify a client they can help to teach.

4. Present to an Editorial Board.

Select a group of internal peers and external advocates (at least one client is a must) to review the final assignment. The “Board” should fill out a scorecard that specifically examines the individual’s progress against their own goals. Celebrate their progress.

If you commit to this process, you should see a marked improvement in your junior creators. But what if you don’t?

I’ve discovered that some folks are not creators, they are connectors. And that’s just fine. Nurture them, too. But that’s another blog post…

What do you think are the major hurdles for developing content marketing professionals? Do you have a teaching success story that you can share with us?

Author: Elizabeth Sosnow

Elizabeth develops strategy for large clients in financial and professional services, with a particular emphasis on the legal, insurance, marketing services and consulting industries. She leads BlissPR’s Digital activities, including blogger outreach, influencer engagement, SEO benchmarking, email strategy and social network analytics. Elizabeth is the incoming Chair of the Digital Practice for Worldcom’s Board of Directors in the Americas region. You can follow her on Twitter @elizabethsosnow.

Other posts by Elizabeth Sosnow

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