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EPISODE 63: SOS – What to Do When Content Strategy Shifts

by Dec 7, 2021Brand Your Voice, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • Types of changes that impact content strategy
  • How to manage a sudden shift {without adding extra stress}
  • Ways to mitigate the chaos of future SOS moments

As content creators, we like to be prepared, plan ahead, and build a buffer. Buuuuut, as we all know, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes, life happens. Launch plans change. Your client decides to pivot. A global pandemic breaks out. 

Big or small, surprise shifts can send entire content plans flying out the window. When that happens, it can feel like all the work you’ve done is for nothing. As frustrating as sudden strategy shifts can be, there are ways to manage {and prepare} for change. 

Jessi + Marie are back to share stories, tips, and strategies around what to do when your content strategy shifts. 

 

Here’s a few ways to help you handle your next SOS experience:

  • Release the frustration. The sentiment behind the Serenity prayer is spot on {God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference}. When you’re stressed, creativity falls off a cliff. Whatever form of meditation, mantra, or positive affirmation works for you, remember to pause and take a breath. 
  • Determine the level of urgency. What constitutes an emergency to your client, might not actually warrant throwing all the plans out the window. But, if it’s something that does in fact need to be changed, does it need to be expedited? Right now? A few days? A few weeks? Have a conversation with your client to help determine a manageable timeline.
  • Identify what can be deprioritized. Don’t try to do it all. That’s when you set yourself up for frustration. If you’re worried that all the hard work you’ve already done is getting dropped from the content calendar now, don’t worry. It might be useful somewhere else in the future.
  • Keep a strong, collaborative connection with your client. The more secure your client-creator relationship is, the easier it is to have an honest and strategic conversation about triage with your client. Remember: it’s all about boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!

 

The good news is, there are things you can do now while the waters are calm to help prepare for stormier seas. Writer resources {like templates} can help make new content creation easier, so you can build up a buffer now. Establishing processes {hello, SOPs!} and better client-writer boundaries ahead of SOS moments can help you remain grounded in the midst of chaos. 

 

Homework: 

 

Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced:

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi…

Marie:
…and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
Welcome, welcome. And today we are back with Jessi and Marie.

Marie:
Hi! Did you miss us?

Jessi:
We're excited to be back and excited to dive into today's topic, which is something that I think plagues a lot of content creators and copywriters, and maybe even just business owners who are creating their own content and copy. Although I think that those people have a little more control over it. So we're talking today about what to do with content strategy shift. It's often suddenly those SOS moments where it feels like all of those carefully laid out content plans that you've been creating, just sort of go up in a of smoke and suddenly everyone's scrambling to create something new because something has changed. And that something that has changed can fall into a few different categories, which we'll talk about in a minute, but we really wanted to dive in today from the content creative perspective. If you are serving clients and this happens, not these SOS moments, you all of a sudden realized that the content strategy that you have is no longer going to work. And you may have already created quite a bit of content for that old content strategy. What do you do and how do you not get overwhelmed and in over your head?

Marie:
Yeah, exactly. This happens all the time, as much as we would like for it, not to, no matter how type a you are, how well prepared you are, how well prepared your client is sometimes unforeseen things pop up out of the blue. You know, we really like to be prepared if possible, as content creators. It's so nice to be able to batch ahead and to be able to plan ahead, build a buffer of content. So that way we're not scrambling at the last minute when... [Dog barks] plans go awry.

Jessi:
And dogs bark.

Marie:
But here's the thing. Things don't always go according to plan, right? Thank you, Mitchell, the Chihuahua for demonstrating this. And the thing is like you already in your life have so many where you can roll with the punches, right? Like maybe you have kids and based her screaming, all of a sudden our dog, he started screaming all of a sudden, or like your kid has to be picked up sick from school, or, you know, you were going to bake this awesome cake. And then you realize like, oh, you don't actually have cocoa powder, but you do have everything. You need to make a vanilla cake or whatever it is like, this happens all the time in your life. And the good news is like, you were resilient and you can figure out how to do it. And so that's the good news I think, from all of this, and look at that, Mitchell's quiet now.

Jessi:
Oh that dog.

Marie:
I love him and his ridiculousness.

Jessi:
He has a sweetheart and I think, you know, you're, you're right, Marie, like I think if this is the sort of thing that we're really adept at handling in our day-to-day life, you know, obviously things kind of just our plans shift all the time in life. We have to kind of navigate around changes that are unexpected, big ones and small ones. And I think sometimes it's hard to take that over to content creation, especially if you're a super type A like I am a, and you really do want to have that buffer. You really do want to have a plan and a strategy in place. And you pride yourself on having a strategy in place that you can deliver to your clients and say, Hey, this is what we're going to do. And then sometimes it can feel like when those plans change, and you're not a part of that decision making process that, you know, a grenade has just been thrown in the middle of all of your carefully laid plans. And you're the one kind of left to pick up the pieces and scrambled to create something out of what is left.
And that can be really frustrating. And I think it's worth acknowledging how frustrating that can be, especially if it happens over and over and over again, whether it's with the same client or with different clients. And so, you know, that may be an invitation to kind of look at the parameters and boundaries that you have in place to make sure that you're not setting yourself up for too much frustration, which isn't to say that this isn't something that happens even with the best laid boundaries, even with the best laid plans. And it can still be frustrating and there are ways that you can work around it. So before we go into that, how to work around it, how to ease the frustration, all of that, let's talk a little bit about the types of changes that can impact a content strategy or a content plan that you've been so diligently working ahead on.

Marie:
Yeah. So the first type of grenades, as you put it, that can be thrown into things, can just be sort of hyper-localized to you or your client's situation. So there was an example of one that happened recently that I was thrilled happened actually. But it's still definitely like required little bit of shifting implants, right? So I have a client who I love, I consider a friend. Her success is, you know, some that's a goal for me. And one of the big things that happened recently is she gave a talk at a TEDx event. This is something she's been wanting to do for years. She prepared like wild for this year and it happened. But it was interesting to me to see kind of the, some of the behind the scenes of something as prestigious as Ted it's, you know, some of it's a little last minute, she only had about a month heads up that she was going to be giving this talk.
Fortunately she had been preparing for a long time, but some of the parameters were different. So she had to scramble right. In order to like cut down an 18 minute, talk to a 12 minute talk in order to travel because it was out of state for her repeatedly to be able to practice and then there for the event. So there were a lot of changes on her part. And then the way this impacted me is, I was actually out of the office when this happened. And so couldn't really plan ahead, and came back and I knew that it had just happened. And she said, yeah, and their heads is going to release the talk on like the recording of the talk, sometime in November. So if we could prepare for this was in early mid-October when she told me this, if we could prepare for announcing that in November, that would be great. Just slot into the content.
And lo and behold, like a couple days later, Ted's like, nah, it's like now, like right now, and this is something that we were planning on kind of making a big splash about like a book launch or something, right. With like a bunch of posts leading up to it, a bunch of emails, trying to get people to kind of join like a hype squad to be able to like talk it up and share it with their friends. And all of a sudden it's like that thing that you thought was happening a month from now is happening this instant. And so it was one of those things. It wasn't in anybody's control. It was a great thing that we wanted to lean into and it was worth shifting our plans over. But it definitely did require a shift in everybody's plans, not just ours, but the clients too. So that's a perfect example of something like this happening that affects content.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think the, so the next level out from that, so you have personal changes, things that happen within that individual client or businesses sort of purview that are kind of unique to its own situations. And then the next sort of ring out are changes within the community or the industry. And this is something that, you know, similar, the personal changes, can't always be prepared for, kind of come out of the blue and have a really profound impact on the way that content is supporting the business. So there are, there's one specific example that comes up for me. We have a few different clients who work in the education field and while COVID when it first hit, and when you're in the US things initially shut down in March of 2020, impacted everyone globally, which is the next type of change. We'll talk about it impacted the education industry in a very specific way.
Education, you know, schools were shut down. It was March. And so schools were in the last few months before summer break. And all of a sudden they closed their doors, had to shift to virtual and our clients who were in the education industry, who had all of this content that was planned around a certain dynamic for education of parents dropping their kids off at school students and teachers having these in-person interactions. And then students going home from school and having time with their parents to potentially spend more time, you know, learning concepts, doing homework, whatever it might be, and also the needs that came along with that for additional tutoring, for additional peer to peer relationships, parent, to teacher relationships, all of that was constructed around a world of in-person schooling and all of a sudden overnight, basically that changed.
And as a result for those of our clients who were in the education industry, their content needs changed all of a sudden the blog posts and the webinars and the programs that existed around these in-person dynamics weren't relevant anymore because we were stepping into a new world of not just virtual learning, which everyone was scrambling to figure out, but also managing the emotions that went around this global event that impacted everyone. And therefore also impacted the education aspect of it. You know, how can students who are used to going to school and being surrounded by their peers in this relatively, you know, stable environment suddenly be expected to learn in the same ways when they have the pressure of knowing that, you know, the world feels like it's falling apart and they're in a new environment and their parents have new expectations, may or may not still be going to work all of these different things that it led to industry-wide changes that, you know, as we're recording this a year and a half later, almost two years later are still being felt within the industry, even though many schools are back in person.
And so from a content perspective, we had all of this content that was lined up or education clients that suddenly was not relevant. It needed to shift, it needed to change. Some of it needed to get thrown out altogether and new content needed to be created to deal with what was happening in that industry in that moment. And it needed to happen quickly. And unlike the example with the Ted talk, this wasn't exactly a change that we were super excited about, but it was one that felt super, super necessary because our clients felt a responsibility to help these parents to help these teachers to help these students navigate the sudden changes in the industry that really had a profound effect on their lives. And so that meant that we had to be flexible on our end.

Marie:
Absolutely. And, you know, this happens a lot in full industries. It happens less often, but it does happen on sort of a global or just super wide scale. Something like COVID itself impacted content for basically every business. I mean, it basically became a joke, right? Like in these troubling times or in these unprecedented times, you know, you would see that over and over to the point where, you know, every copywriter probably spat out that phrase at some point that first, like, you know, March of 2020. And it became kind of like a joke almost at some point, but, you know, when there is something like that, regardless of how it affects an industry, it is something that's affecting a lot of people. And so just to feel sensitive to your audience, it's important to do that, to talk about that.
Like, for instance, if you are, you know, in a nation that has experienced a lot of flooding or something like that, right. Like just acknowledging that sure. Maybe that's a community change, but if it's something as large as that, I mean, it's probably affecting your entire audience. Right. So, sometimes it's just a matter of shifting that and it sounds so simple to say, okay, well, we're going to be empathetic and we're going to be respectful, and we're going to be current. But a lot of times it falls upon the content writer to be the person who goes in and says, okay, well that means we need to change this welcome email to the opt-in and maybe we need to change in the opt-in altogether.
One of the clients that we worked with, for instance at that point, had language about their eat course, basically. And it was like, you can, one of the benefits of it was like, you can take this course right now and not have to close your brick and mortar business. Like, you can take this from home at a time when people were closing their brick and mortar businesses. And so just, it was messaging that didn't make sense. And it was only like one sentence that needed to be changed, but it needed to be changed in like 14 places, right then, otherwise it really made the client sound like they just were under a rock or something. So, you know, that's the kind of thing that, you know, we're talking about there in terms of these global changes, as opposed to the personal changes, a community or industry.

Jessi:
Yeah. It makes me think too of, you know, it's not always about changing content sometimes it's about just pressing pause.

Marie:
Yeah.

Jessi:
I remember back in 2016, this is something that happened with our own business. The election here in the US in 2016 was really not a good time for a lot of people who are, you know, liberal hopefuls like Marie and I are.

Marie:
It was a little intense.

Jessi:
It was really intense. And I remember the week of the election, we had an webinar planned or a masterclass. I don't remember what it was, but we had something planned that we had spent some time and energy creating content around and had, you know, our schedule made the content created. We were ready to go, and then the election happened and-

Marie:
It was supposed to be the day after, right?

Jessi:
Yeah, yeah, it was supposed to be like the day after. And we were just like, we can't like, not only are we not in the emotional space to be able to like, pretend that nothing is happening and nothing is wrong, but also that's not fair to our audience who, you know, we've taken a lot of care to curate an audience who, you know, have similar core values as we do. And they were equally shaken by that particular election. And so we ended up just sending out an email that said, Hey, we're just canceling everything.

Marie:
We'll reschedule it later.

Jessi:
Yeah. Yeah. Like it was just, it was not the time. It was not the place. We were not in a place to do it. And we knew our audience wasn't in a place to receive it. And so we just pulled the plug on it. We have that content for later, which is something we'll get to in a minute. But we also, you know, I think a lot of these SOS moments, whether they're personal industry or global rely on someone having the sense of empathy and understanding of how the content is being created is going to impact the people who are receiving the content as the circumstances around those people change. And so it's not just about knowing copywriting best practices, is not just knowing, oh, well, this converts better than that. It's also about knowing that the people who are reading the content live in real life society, which is always changing and that's going to change how they receive content. It's not static.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. So let's dig into how you handle situations like this. Bare in mind, we're not the fountains of all wisdom. So if you have a way that you like to approach this, probably the best thing to do actually is join the Polaris writer's lounge and we can have a conversation about that. Every week we have a new topic that comes out to discuss. So, we will give you that link, you know, at the end of the episode here, but we would love to hear your tips.
So, the first thought that comes to me is taking a look at that frustration. I don't know if you know, anybody listening to this is the praying type or not. And I don't know that it particularly matters for this point, because I think the sentiment behind the serenity prayer is actually like really helpful here. The clip from that is "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things. I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
So like, you know, can I change this thing? Do I have control over it? Maybe it's something where your client thinks it's an SOS, but you can have, you can have the wisdom to come to them and say like, I don't know that this actually is an SOS. Right. Or maybe it really is. And it's something where you can say, you know, I can't do anything about this. You know, we just have to roll with it and that's okay. You know, so I think, like, thinking about that first is this something in your control? Is it not, is it really a great starting place? Another thing is determining the level of urgency.
So even if it is really something that you can't change and does need you impact the content, what's the level of urgency. Does it need to be changed right now? Like drop everything right now sometimes. Yeah. If it's for, you know, a webinar that is happening in 30 minutes and suddenly your client has to go to the hospital and can't lead it, like yeah. Drop everything and do it now. Right. Maybe sometimes it's something we have a few days, right? Like the whole Ted talk thing, we decided we had a little time, we had a few days to figure it out. So it was okay. Maybe it's something we have a few weeks or even months. Right. It just kind of depends on the situation. And a lot of times this is actually best done in collaboration with your clients. And you know, having that conversation with them about like, what else can be de prioritized on your to-do list for them. But then also having that conversation with yourself, what else could be depraved prioritized on your own to-do lists? Because if you try to do it all that's when you're setting yourself up for frustration.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think too, you know, we're kind of talking about the client and the content creator as like two separate entities who are in two separate doing their two separate things. And the content creator is supporting the client. And the client is, as I said earlier, kind of throwing these grenades in, and then the content creator is like trying to fix things. And this is another way that you can mitigate that feeling just by making sure that you have a strong relationship with your client. So that these things that come up are sometimes surprises happen on and everyone is caught unaware, but mitigating the amount of surprise by having a really close relationship and strong communication with your client. And then when something does come up, you can sit down with them and you can have this honest conversation about the strategy moving forward, how to triage the content that you have, maybe some of it needs to get pushed back, maybe like using the election example where we paused everything. Well, that was a point where, okay, we have no new content coming out for a little while, or is there content that got pushed back from an previous SOS that could get repurposed and slide in, you know. Look at the content inventory that you have and see if there are ways to be strategic about handling the SOS, whether it's creating new content, repurposing old content, making adjustments to existing content to just make sure the verbiage is a little more on point. Have that conversation with your client work together, come up with a solution that everyone feels good about and get in on that conversation as soon as possible. So it doesn't feel like there are extra surprises being layered on top of the initial surprise.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. I think another thing is like sometimes as content, a content creator, I suppose I feel like I live in the future, right? Like I, as of the date of me recording this it's November 11th. Well, I'm currently working on content for mid to late December for a client. I feel like I'm in the holidays. Right. I feel like I'm about to say happy new year. No, there's still like a month and a half left. And so just also like bringing yourself back to the present and saying like, okay, well what's happening now. Like Jessi said, people are living in like the real life world. So like, what does that actually look like right now? And how can that help you shift things around? Because it may be that you're not as far behind her, you know, even ahead is as, is going to be harmful to you.

Jessi:
Yeah. And to make the time travel metaphor even more wild. This episode is slated to be released in, I dunno, December, January, February, somewhere around there in the future, obviously from us recording it. And so, you know, the creation on our end for our content, like show notes and transcript and emails and everything that goes out when a new podcast episode is released, our own team, who's helping support us with that or living in the future. And so, you know, I think it's worth mentioning that we are not immune to throwing the grenades ourselves. Sometimes we change plans. Sometimes we create these moments of like, oh gosh, everything has to change. And I think if you're a content creator, who's also a business owner, especially if you also have a team taking all of these things that we're talking about and making sure you're applying it to your own business is so important because you don't want to end up accidentally taking those frustrations and feelings of overwhelmed that you are so familiar with and just passing them over to your team member and be like, you get them now.

Marie:
Right. I mean, I think within our lives, there are untold numbers of opportunities for us to stop harmful cycles. Maybe that's something that we inherited from the way we grew up. Right. Or maybe it's something that, you know, we collected from other clients that we're now putting into our business. Whatever that thing is, just being mindful, right? Like coming back to the present, having empathy, thinking about how this impacts their people.
A couple other things, a couple of other ideas for you, to make this SOS shifting process a little easier, when you're stressed, your creativity falls off a cliff. Jessi and I recently actually attended a fiction writing conference where this was a reminder that we gained from some of the really wise presenters that helped me realize like why my creative output has been, felt like, you know, kind of bleeding through molasses during COVID, and a divorce and a move and like all the other things going on in the last couple of years.
And I was like, oh, okay. That makes sense. Like, I'm stressed about like more basic things. And so that creative energy is harder. So what are some resources that you could use to make new content creation easier? For example, one of the things that we created, and we're so glad we did for our internal team are content templates. So that way, if you're writing a home page for a website or you're writing a sales page, you don't just have to stare at a blank page. When you go to write that thing, you actually have a template you can start from, that's like, okay, yes, we're going to put us a header here. And it's the type of header that accomplishes this thing. Okay, great. You know, like that way, it just kind of prompts us to think like, ah, yes, it's a question that I can answer as opposed to, I don't know. I have to create this thing from scratch.
By the way we do offer the exact copy copy templates that we use to other writers as a paid product. You can check those out at northstar.vipmembervault.com. You can find several different types of templates, but there's one specifically for writers for one copy that you may find useful.
Another thing is you don't have to wait until the world comes crashing down to prepare for these moments. If there's a calm moment or season in your life, what are some of the things you can do now to just give yourself an easier time if one of these SOS moments comes up, right? So could you create some SOPs for that client, right. That way? Like what if you just, again, aren't available. And whether you work with somebody or not, or maybe, you know, another copywriter who you could call in a favor for, to help you or whatever, like having some processes written down or recorded as videos or audios will help so much, even if it's just for yourself to say like, oh yeah, that's where that thing is. That's what that thing is. Maybe it's having, you know, staying up on your project management tool that way.
I remember like one client I had she's full of ideas, right. And so she's always like, oh, I kind of want to do this thing, but I don't want to do it yet. And so I'll just go into the project management system and I'll say, six months from now, ask this client about this thing. Is this still something they want to do? Right. Um, and then I seem really on top of things, he's like, oh, I forgot about that. Great idea.
Can you build up your content buffer now, can you go ahead and get weeks months, whatever that means to you ahead on content. If you're instead kind of churning like day to day, right? This is the same idea as like, what can you do financially to build up that like buffer that emergency fund, right? As opposed to being paycheck to paycheck, that's maybe kind of hard to do financially. It's actually a lot easier to do in terms of content, because literally all it takes is just your time sitting down and doing it. You know, can you, can you build some better boundaries at this point, Jessi, you want to talk about how that can impact this?

Jessi:
Yeah. You know, I think it's important to note that, you know, as a content creator, there's a really strong desire obviously to make sure that your client is happy and that you're serving them in the way that you promised and that you are delivering the content that was promised in a contract or promised into the conversations that you had. And I think it's also important to remember that not everyone's emergency is your emergency. So I think Marie mentioned earlier, you know, if a client comes and says like, oh, we have to do this right now. It's totally within your means to say, well, do we like, is that actually true? And what boundaries do you, as a writer have in place to keep yourself distanced a little from the franticness that can come from a client who sometimes thinks everything is an emergency, because that happens, there are clients who like to change things a lot and know through no fault of their own. And that may just be the way that they gather energy and they get excited about one thing, and then they get excited about another thing. And then they get excited about another thing. And that's just how they work. And that's fine. However, if you, as a content creator are planning for thing, number one, and they're all the way over on thing, number four or five, and they don't communicate that to you until you've finished writing things within number one-

Marie:
Or you're halfway through even more annoyingly, right?

Jessi:
Yeah. Then that can get really frustrating and overwhelming really fast. So what boundaries do you have in place for things like new content that goes above and beyond if you created an entire email sequence for a webinar and they decide, oh, wait, we're not doing this webinar anymore. We're going to do this other thing over here. And you have to either adapt or rewrite from scratch. Is that a separate fee? Does that require a separate contract? Is that something that, what is it? It doesn't count as around a revision or is it so robust of a change that it actually comes as an entire new thing? How much time do you need in order to create these new last minute changes?
Sometimes like some of the examples we gave, you know, obviously there needs to be a very quick turnaround. What's your policy for those quick turnarounds? Do you have, you know, basically SOS, you know, passes that they can use, like maybe one a month or two a month where it's like, Hey, we have this really big emergency that needs to be taken care of right now. And your clients are allotted those, but like not a hundred of them, like one of them in order to keep yourself at a place where you can be responsive, be flexible, but also not feel like you are in this constant mode of reacting to what they're kind of throwing at you, making sure that you actually can step back.

Marie:
Yeah. And do you have a clause in there too? That's like, you get this SOS content if I have the capacity to do it, right. Like, because again, you don't want to be called up probably on like a Saturday night, you're at a movie or something and you're, or you're on a date. And like, last thing you want to do in that moment is go sit down and write a blog post.
And also too, like, what is your policy, and have you communicated it with them? Because just sometimes putting in the contract isn't good enough. Right? Like also let them know, like, what happens if you do get halfway through writing something that they asked you to do. And then they're like, nevermind, I changed my idea. I want to do something else. You haven't finished that thing. You haven't delivered it, but you still put in five hours working on it. Do you get paid for that? Does your contract cover you, have you communicated that with your client?
I think this goes hand in hand with something else that you said previously, Jessi, too, which is building a strong, positive, collaborative relationship with your client because when you're holding up boundaries, it can feel like you're kind of just like the content contract police being like, yeah. Well, according to the contract and you like whip it out and it's like this long, you know, roll scroll. You know, sometimes if you don't have a positive relationship that can feel really awkward. But if you have a good relationship with them, you can say like, okay, yeah, no, I totally understand that. You want to do that. Just a quick reminder of the contract that, you know, these are the things that we can do. So let's, collaborate together to figure out how we can resolve this. There'll be a lot more receptive to that if you already have a positive relationship with them.
Also, you know, even if you're a solo freelancer or something like that, like, do you have another trusted copywriter friend or colleague that you could potentially call upon in those urgent moments? Building those relationships before things get hairy, and you're suddenly like full of frantic energy saying like, I just really need your help with this thing. Let me explain it to you. And then you just like ramble on and on and on. And they're like, I dunno what was going on? And I'm feeling some anxiety about stepping into this project. Like, that is how that relationship's going to go. But instead, if you are able to say like, Hey friend, you're a great copywriter in the event that something ever happens. You know, if I'm ever just, you know, in the hospital or like, whatever, something like that, you know, would you be interested in potentially partnering so the client deliverables don't get delayed. These are my processes, these are my clients. This is what's going on. Like, and then they were able to step in, especially if you're able to give them those SOP is they're able to step in. And you're like, oh, that was the moment I'm entering the hospital.
Whatever it is, the bat, the bat signal goes on, whatever it is, you know, that lets them know like that. They're going to be stepping into that with a lot more like confidence. It's going to make your clients feel better, you know, like all of that is going to be good. So what can you do when it's called to prepare whatever those things are, whatever your comfort level is with those, those are just a few ideas, but do be thinking about that when things are calmer.

Jessi:
Yeah. This is actually tied pretty strongly to one of the foundational pieces of how our agency is set up. You know, we have a number of writers on our team and every single client that we have gets assigned to writers and in the kind of base agreement, one of those writers is in the writing role. And one is in the editing role and that serves a couple of purposes. First of all, it allows them to be an extra set of eyes on all content all the time before it gets delivered to the client, which is appreciated by the writer, by the client, by, you know, it just, it adds that level of confidence to the deliverables, but it also serves the purpose of if one of our writers has an emergency there's a backup, who's familiar with the project who can step in and take over. So this isn't necessarily just about like the client has emergency or the client has something going on. It also could be in your own business that having a backup is really, really valuable to allow things to continue running smoothly.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. One other thought that came to me of something you can do, this is a principle taken from Clockwork or Run Like Clockwork the agency. So as part of clockwork, which the idea behind that is building a business that can operate without you, the owner. One of the things to do is to take a series of one plus link week vacations with the knowledge that seams are going to break when you leave. But what you can do is keep a note. I remember one time Jessi, you and I went camping in the middle of nowhere. And we were like trying to find the internet to fix these things. But as we were fixing the things, you know, as there were little client emergencies flaring up or questions that our team wasn't equipped to answer because we haven't equipped them to answer them or whatever, and what's going to happen with it, whether you have a tiny business or whether you have a hundred people, it doesn't matter. It could happen at any size. What was really, really important is we took note, these are all the things that broke, or these were the worries we had, like this thing didn't break, but it could have. Right. And so we just made a note of all those things. And when we got back in the office, we're like, here's our list of 15 things to fix. So that next time we go out on a week vacation, those aren't a problem anymore.
And if you take enough of those or as things fall apart enough, and you make note of it from sort of a it's okay. And data gathering perspective, as opposed to a it's not okay, I'm a horrible person. If you just kind of take it more from an analytical point of view, or at least bring that into your perspective, um, it can really help you prepare better for next time. So just always be learning from things that go awry, whether it's technically your fault or not, whether the earth just opened up, like it doesn't really matter whose fault it is. It's just like, oh, okay. Now I know that's another thing that could go wrong. And here's something I can do to put a patch over that hole.

Jessi:
As we wrap up this episode, I want to also just sort of direct you to a few resources that we're going to be including in the show notes, because we do dive deeper into this topic or tangentially related topic and other episodes that I think if this is something that you feel you struggle with, if you kind of constantly feel the pressure and the pull of that, oh, things are changing constantly. I'm always just sort of like barely keeping my head above water. These episodes may help. Episodes 11 and 12 are about creating content in a crisis specifically. We talk a lot about COVID in that episode, in those two episodes. But we also talk about this idea of there being a kind of those three levels of crises, personal community industry, and global, and how you can handle each of those from a compassionate content creation perspective, without feeling too overwhelmed.
We're also going to include links to episodes 20 and 27, both of which talk about creating boundaries in your writing business so that you can handle emergencies so that you can go to the movies on Saturday and know you're not going to be interrupted by frantic phone calls to create new content. And so that you can set yourself up to have stronger client relationships, increase retention, and also be able to increase your client load potentially because those strong boundaries are in place.
We'll also link you to those copy templates that Marie mentioned. There are several different versions. We have website copy templates, launch, copy templates. We also are going to link you to that run like clockwork program that we told you about. It has been really transformative. We actually, this is our first episode recording after our four week vacation where we had four weeks where our team took over for us. And we did exactly what Marie just talked about. We just paid attention to what broke, and now we have our list and we are tackling it item by item to see, okay, what happens the next time we leave the office? And how can we implement a program like this for our team members too, so that they can take time off and not worry about things breaking.

Marie:
Yeah. And what was amazing about that? Because we followed this process not to get us off on too far of a tangent is I think there were fewer things that broke on the four week vacation than there were on several of our one week vacations, because we had, as I said, sort of patched other holes in the meantime. And so there are fewer things to break because we've been really intentional about paying attention to it in those SOS moments, whether it's an SOS content moment or just an SOS business moment or life moment.
The last thing that we will, a resource that will link you to, but it's also part of your homework is to join the Polaris Writer's lounge. This is a free community. It's always growing. I think we get new people basically every day who come into this community. It is specifically for writers by writers. We're in there all the time. Our team is in there all the time and we're there to facilitate conversations around this. So the week that this podcast episode drops, we will be talking about this topic. So we want to hear from you within that community. And if you're, this is again, something you're struggling with, trust me, you're going to have supportive friends and, help within that community to commiserate with you, to come up with ideas together. So that's my homework for you is to join the lounge and continue the conversation there.

Jessi:
Thanks for joining us.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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