High-quality content takes time—and it’s worth it

Of the perils of recreational softball leagues—including scrapes, broken fingers, and ball bruises—I didn’t expect a torn ACL to be one. This spring I twisted my right knee and was shocked to see an MRI showing total darkness where my ACL used to be. I had reconstructive surgery about a month ago. Since then I’ve been constantly reminded that the only path to regain my strength and range of motion is three-times-a-week physical therapy and completing a list of daily, somewhat painful exercises.

But the most painful thing of all is losing that time. The benefits—a fully functioning knee and once again knowing the joy of playing shortstop—are clear, and I’m therefore willing to commit the time to achieve my goals. Similarly, many of our clients understand the benefits of spending the time to develop high-quality content: it pushes their ideas out into the world, advances the conversation on key issues, and builds their reputation as thought leaders. The most common obstacle to accomplishing this task, hands down, is that folks are busy. They just don’t have the time.

There are ways to get more mileage out of content-development resources, but there’s no doubt that high-quality content takes time. And this time commitment goes beyond the marketing department and those in your organization whose jobs entail reputation building. It requires the time of your subject-matter experts—those whose in-depth knowledge makes stories both interesting and credible; whose hands-on experience brings case examples to life; whose insight shapes powerful and distinctive narratives that truly enhance the reputation of the organization.

Of course, these people are busy. Many content developers figure that a 30-minute phone call between an expert and an editor will suffice. This is indeed a good place to start; a top-tier editor should be able to leave a 30-minute interview and draft a solid storyline with some detail. But in my experience, the next step, where educated editors query the experts and push them to add details and fill in gaps, is the most critical. The best, most interesting content comes from experts who actually put their fingers on their keyboards to type out edits and add details, because it forces out less obvious ideas, underlying insights, and different angles. This, compared to chatting on the phone, requires a totally different level of engagement with the material. Yes, it’s more painful and it does take a bit longer. But experts who engage with the written word invariably produce a superior result.

Among the many motivational images and signs taped up to the walls of the rehabilitation center is one completely relevant cliché: no pain, no gain. In physical therapy and thought leadership, there’s just no substitute for putting in the time.

Alia Samhat

Alia is a partner at Leff. Her expertise is in creative strategy and content development. She spends her time working with writers, marketers, designers, video producers, analysts, and subject matter experts to produce meaningful work.

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