How to Create Content That Project Managers Care About
In its 2016 “Pulse of the Profession: The Strategic Impact of Projects” report, the Project Management Institute (PMI) noted that 40 percent of respondents indicated a senior executive would identify how a given project might benefit the company. That is, the executive must know at the start of a project how it will support the company’s overall business purposes and improve performance. Another 40 percent of respondents stated that finding those project benefits was the project manager’s responsibility.
To put that another way, benefits realization management is a place where a project manager’s duties may overlap with those of business executives. If your website can’t help a PM navigate that terrain, she probably won’t read it. Focus on crafting content that helps a PM work and think more like an executive by improving her time management skills, becoming a stronger negotiator or using technology more effectively.
When researching project management topics, start with PMI’s website, especially its section on learning, tools and templates. A review of these materials could help you identify key terminology, important trends and industry standards. This allows you to select search terms for further research, as well as concepts and skills that could be the focus of longer articles. And, these search terms could be keyword tags for your website.
No matter your topic, always be skeptical of your sources. Eliminate articles or websites that don’t pass a “sniff test.” If the information seems questionable or you can’t tell which organization is responsible for the content, you probably shouldn’t use it. Even if the organization has a name that sounds reputable, it’s wise to research that group before trusting what you’ve read. Once you’re sure the source is reputable, skim the material and evaluate its usefulness to your target audience. Don’t spend too much time on articles that don’t fit your target audience.
A good place to start is with accredited college and university websites. Many schools are adding project management certificate and degree programs to their catalogs. The required coursework could provide additional topics to cover, along with books, scholarly papers and news articles the students will study. Review these materials to identify common practices and standards, which could be just what an aspiring PM or general reader wants from your website.
A graduate program’s curriculum is a good source for articles intended for experienced PMs. These professionals are eager for time management tips, best practices when negotiating contracts and technology that can aid their daily workflow. However, most project managers don’t have a lot of spare time, and master’s degree programs can be expensive. Providing a summary of the important information learned in these programs or giving them insights into new research can aid these professionals in keeping abreast of important trends without the time and expense of enrolling in an advanced program.
If you’re writing for one of the many project management specialty audiences, then educational searches are only the starting point. Look for professional organizations within a given field and see if they have a subchapter or committee focused on project managers.
For example, the American Chemical Society has information about project management careers for chemists on its website. The society also has a Division of Business Development & Management, which includes a newsletter and regular meetings. In comparison, construction management has its own professional organization with industry-specific training and certifications. Choose sources that fit your audience.
Perhaps the most challenging part of writing content for project managers is to find something new and innovative to say. A PM with a couple of years’ experience has already mastered many negotiation and time-management techniques, and they tend to be tech-savvy consumers. That means you will need to go beyond the more obvious tips and suggestions to catch their attention. When you’re first researching project management topics, a lot of the material may be new to you. That’s where comparing several articles or sources on a specific topic comes in.
Let’s say, for example, you want to write an article about negotiating the best deal. Using the search methods suggested above, you may have three or four business articles about top negotiating techniques, which you found via university websites and reputable business publications. Knowing that most PMs have some experience with negotiating, you read your sources with an eye to eliminating the tips that overlap. Your four articles may all agree that good negotiators plan ahead, rank their priorities and understand how the background and culture of each negotiator might affect the deal. You can probably assume, since all four sources mention those points, that an experienced PM already knows it.
The information you want is the tip or fact you haven’t read anywhere else. That is what you want to share with your readers, the piece of information that could give them a new insight they hadn’t encountered before.
5-Star writer Ruth S has worked as a web content writer and editor for six years. During that time, she researched education and career articles using government agency websites, professional organizations, and colleges and universities as sources.
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