By Jonathan Lehrer
Ideas for Web site articles and blog posts are all around you. Literally.
To find them, use what I call “The 360 Degree Process.” Simply put, this system involves searching your surroundings for possible stories.
Let’s say that you’re building out the Editorial Calendar for your organization’s intranet site or the weekly employee email alert. Take a walk over to the employee cafeteria or break room. Stand in the middle of the room. (Plant your feet firmly if you think that might help.)
Finding blog ideas in the corporate setting
Slowly rotate in a complete circle, or 360 degrees, whichever comes first. Look carefully. What do you notice?
Over there, people are lining up for today’s special. Who determines the menu? Maybe it’s cafeteria manager, or possibly someone in H.R. Make a note to interview that person and you’ve got an employee profile for your newsletter.
Keep rotating. On the wall, there are several advisories from OSHA. That might give you the idea to ask the company’s safety director about the Top Five Safety Tips for Employees. Another article for the intranet.
More rotating. You may notice that a certain group of employees end up at the same lunch table the same time every day. Ask them why they always sit together. That may give you a great article on the importance of developing long-term friendships at work.
The 360 Degree Process works just as well if you’re an independent consultant promoting your business. An Editorial Calendar will help you keep your content on track and on schedule.
How to find content for your blog
For this example, I’ll assume your office is in your basement (only because my office is located, as I like to claim, on the “garden level”) and that you might have work-papers from various projects-in-progress in clear view (or, as it is in my office, scattered around the room).
As above, stand in the middle of the room and start rotating.
There’s an early draft of a brochure you designed. The finished product came out great and the client was very happy. Interview your client and write a piece about how best to manage changes and iterations that will lead to an exemplary result.
Next you see your trusty old color inkjet printer, the one with the built-in fax machine. It looks lonely, like it hasn’t received a fax in ages. You could offer tips on the best ways for clients to send content to you (email a Word document? upload a ZIP file to a Dropbox account? create a shared Google document?).
Even the clock on the wall might spark a story idea. How about a piece about tools free-lancers can use to track your hours?
Story ideas are all around you
The 360 Degree Process is nothing more than a different way to open your eyes, to observe the most mundane or minute details around you, exploring each one as a possible story idea.
OK, you get the point. Now get started.
Caution: Rotating too fast may cause dizziness and prevent you from seeing the most obscure objects which could have turned into the most interesting editorial pieces.
Need help getting started with an Editorial Calendar?