Must-Have Checklist to Creating Valuable Content  

6 August 2019:

“Every day, there is more and more to manage and get right and learn.”

Who said that? It’s definitely someone in content marketing, web strategy, or digital communications, right?


It may surprise you that the quote is from Dr. Atul Gawande, who wrote The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. A general surgeon, Atul suggests that applying simple checklists to both complicated and routine medical procedures can affect overall success rates and reduce infection and mortality.

What does his quote have to do with content marketing? A lot.

Great content strategy is all about taking the guesswork out of execution, so that creative content can flourish. To help get all of the details straight, we developed (and have since updated) the Creating Valuable Content™ Checklist.

As the doctor explains, most professions resist checklists because “we believe our jobs are too complicated to reduce to a checklist.” But if doctors, project managers, and the World Health Organization are convinced of the power of checklists, then why shouldn’t we be?

Overview of valuable content

The checklist is designed for digital content creators and marketing teams. It defines valuable content using five benchmarks:

  • Findable
  • Readable
  • Understandable
  • Actionable
  • Shareable

Hat tip to Colleen Jones, founder and principal at Content Science, who inspired some of these benchmarks.

Get decision-makers in the same room
Before you start using this checklist, it’s important to understand how to use it. The first thing is to get the right people involved.

One of the most persuasive stories Atul tells is about how some of the most run-down hospitals in Detroit instituted a checklist for inserting a central line, also known as an injection port, which is used to minimize the number of times a patient needs to be stuck with a needle. However, these lines can often become infected.

To reduce the probability of infection, a Johns Hopkins Hospital physician created a central-line checklist and persuaded the Detroit hospitals to participate in a study to see if the checklist was effective. Each hospital was assigned a senior project manager as well as an executive who would visit at least once a month to hear the staff’s complaints and help them solve problems.

Why did the executive need to be involved in something considered tactical? Some of the staff’s issues were things that only the executives could solve, such as supplying the right kind of antiseptic soap and proper size drapes. By capturing the attention and action of the executives, these hospitals in Detroit brought down central line infections by 66%.

In content marketing, your executives may be the people who can effect changes in your resources, influence your company’s policy toward social media, or become champions for the voice of your brand. By educating your key executives about the content marketing challenges facing your team and proposing solutions, you have an opportunity to make a difference.

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Source: Content Marketing Institute

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