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Using Competition to Create Content: PRP’s Blog Challenge

Jan 22, 2018

By: Jacob Hanson

What do great content, team-building and healthy competition have in common? 

At face value, not a whole lot, right? But in the context of fostering a collaborative culture and creating awesome content, they have everything to do with each other!

 

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Just like you, we at PRP work hard to create dynamic blog posts and marketing materials that both speak to our audience and makes Google happy. It’s even more important to us that we’re creating and fostering a culture that empowers our team and allows them to play on their strengths while having some fun doing it!

 

Over the third and fourth quarters of 2017, we hosted a blog challenge to build collaboration amongst team members, create an environment for healthy competition (and some friendly smack talk!), and produce some really fantastic content. Everyone wins!

 

The rules of the blog challenge were:

  1. Each PRP team member partners with another member who they do not work with often.
  2. Previously created, well-performing content cannot be used. However, teams can leverage data to decide the focus of their blog.
  3. Teams must create blogs that are either:
    1. Written for our audience, not for Google
    2. Written for Google, not our audience
    3. Written both for our audience and for Google
  4. Blogs must remain top secret!

 

We based the winners of the competition on the judging criteria below:

  1. Blog content must be submitted on deadline
  2. Each person has five days to review each post and rank them based on the most effective headline and the most engaging copy. The team members who captured the most votes won a ½ day of PTO.
  3. One blog a week from the competition will be posted in addition to our regularly scheduled blogs.
  4. Each blog will be supported by the same quantity of posts on social media, posted at the same time with the same effort.
  5. Four weeks after the posting date, a number of data points will determine the winner of the second half of the competition:
    1. Page views
    2. Source of page views (social, organic search, email, direct traffic etc.)
    3. Conversion rate: which blog was best aligned with a content offer to entice readers to fill out the form and access that content
    4. Social interaction: retweets, shares, and likes

 

Over the two months or so it took to complete this competition, we had plenty of time for smack talk, to collaborate with our partner, and to watch the results pour in!

 

As any leader would, I had expectations for what success would look like when the competition was over. The results far exceeded any of these expectations. Below are some of my initial expectations, along with my observations that may help you replicate this process with your team!

 

  1. Goal: Create more, dynamic content

    This was the initial idea behind the challenge. We wanted to publish blog content more frequently to see how that would impact results on our end. Those results were primarily SEO and increasing blog subscribers. Additionally, we wanted to excite more members of our team to want to write for our company blog.

    Actual result: We accomplished everything above to a T. However, our team actually gained more by creating content with a partner who has a different set of skills, focus, and job description. The strengthened relationships and collaborative efforts ended up being the shining star here!

 

  1. Goal: Breaking down silos between our internal PR/storytelling and marketing teams

    One of the challenges we consistently face is simply the nature of our company and how we serve our clients. This can create natural “silos” for team members, specifically between those who focus on PR work and those who are responsible for marketing projects. We asked that each team member pair with someone from the other side of the aisle.

    Actual result: Not only did we achieve the desired results, but also the collaboration hasn’t stopped. Each of us is much more aware of all that individual team members bring to the table, which allows for collaboration in areas where one may be able to help the other. Content brainstorming and campaign strategy are two areas in which I have seen collaboration increase the most since the challenge.

 

  1. Goal: To have fun and get some awesome work done!

    We are always busy and constantly working on a deadline. Sound familiar? It can be easy to forget that we should be joyful about the work we are doing. After all, we are in the business of helping kids!

    Actual result: We had so much fun with this blog challenge! From creation, to voting, to the anticipation of each blog being published, to the results coming in, we had a blast. While not everyone won (no participation trophies in this competition), no one was disappointed and all the feedback from the team has been positive. We have also seen a number of suggestions on what we could and should be looking at for our next competition.

 

My parting advice is to find a competition that will work in your organization to produce the results you need and to help build your team (and content library!). Be very clear about expectations, criteria, and, of course, the rewards!

Interested in checking out the blogs that were a result of the challenge? Please see below, and enjoy!

 

Thanks for sharing!

   

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