Breaking Through Content Silos: Your Questions Answered

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In a recent webinar Laurel and I shared our proven tips and tricks for breaking through work and content silos. If you missed the webinar, fret not, here is a free on-demand recording.

During this presentation we covered a lot of topics from conceptualizing a unified content strategy to finding the right teams and champions to participate. We also touched on the finer points of the settings, expectations and deliverables of a unified content strategy. After the webinar we received a few additional questions that we want to answer. In this article we are hoping to share some ideas and tips from our own experience tackling some of these challenges.

What do you do if people stop coming to the content potluck meetings?

People are busy, go on holiday, or can get side tracked. Another possibility to consider is they are simply not as dedicated or interested in a unified content approach as you might be. With that in mind, we always highly encourage you to track attendance for your content potluck events. This lets you thank members that engage, volunteer for projects, and provide useful source information. Identifying slackers coming for free food but not contributing is important. Some champions were assigned this task and have no passion for it, some simply have zero bandwidth. They can however demoralize the rest of the team, so watch out for them. It is important that we recognize such incidents and return with feedback to the assigning manager and seek help to find the right team members to join your efforts. Selecting the right participants will make or break your content potluck efforts.

On a more pro-active side, make sure that you keep asking and exploring what will help participants in their work life. Make sure you share wins as much as failures, and communicate achievements up and down, so people receive recognition and have a vested interest in their continued participation. Metrics can help in this case. Someone new in their career might want to build their reputation. Someone experienced might be suddenly motivated to participate once s/he sees a blog go viral. Never forget that any initiative needs to be a give and take, or a win:win situation to succeed long term. Inquiring what matters to your participants, and making sure that what you are doing benefits all will make sure that your executive support and team dedication will stay unwavering for the customer’s ultimate benefit.

Independent contractors and their fit  within the content potluck model?

Believe it or not, independent contractors can be a huge boon to a content potluck initiative. Many times, people have incredible stories and insights to share, but can’t turn it into a finished product, no matter how simple the process. They want to do a 60-minute brain dump and let the difficulty of crafting a content asset to someone else.

If you are willing to work in a “gig economy” model, consider signing up for services that unite businesses in need with people who don’t mind short term assignments. Indeed is a good example; so is crowdcontent. Next Avenue has 10 more to consider. If/when you post, emphasize your ability to learn subject matters quickly, your ability to work remotely and/or independently, and all the different content type development projects you excel at. If you have metrics around your throughput times, numbers of hits/views of content you wrote, etc., that will help you stand out.

As a hiring exec for content developers, I frequently need stopgap help. I appreciate knowing there is a community of writers I can tap helps me support my internal clients. This turns into a great way for you to fill gaps between longer contracts and for people like me who might have to let go of a content development project. (Sometimes I can’t afford a traditional contractor or employee assistance)

Working with UX designers… How do you include them in the Content Potluck process?

UX has become a major influence and impact on all aspects of doing business. If you do not involve a UX designer in your content processes yet, you really need to rethink what you do and how you do it. UX designers can help you plan how your content will have a maximum impact on customers. They can help you test, iterate and improve on content layouts, surfacing information, publishing tool chains and so  much more. More importantly, they can help open doors to direct customer interactions. Many content professionals I know have a difficult time engaging customer feedback before a project goes live; UX can help.

Think about your last experience searching for a DYI fix for some computer or phone issues. Are you a visual, aural, verbal or physical learner? Was there one way to cover most of these learning types? Finding bullet points with steps to take might work for some, watching a 30 second video and following along each step will work for others. Through UX research and design, you can find a snapshot into how your audiences learn.

UX can help with so many things. Look for a UX professional who is passionate about the entire customer journey, from initial evaluation to renewals and upgrades. If you are unsure what to ask of them, explain your goals to your UX champion. Ask them to participate and observe the first few sessions. Then accept their guidance on where they can see themselves fit into the practice your content potluck evolves.


Breaking through silos is hard work, and no single person has all the answers. Embark on this journey of discovery and detective work. Test and iterate and most importantly, don’t try to do it all on your own in a work silo.

If you have any further questions about content potluck, come join us at or on social media @Nikschen and @lvnicholes.


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