Scared people will behave in all kinds of strange ways. When it comes to your publishing activity, you must learn how to detect and deflect fear: It can sometimes be the only thing that saves your project.
Producing any kind of content with the input of others takes loads of time and effort. I believe the concept is of ‘herding cats’. It’s the prime reason why many organisations just don’t do it.
Imagine, then, how you would feel if you had spent close to two grand, about eight weeks, several emails, and tons of excitement, only to have someone veto a piece of content because they were a bit damaged by their experience.
(I was going to write “a bit nuts”, but that seemed unfair.)
A story about someone who got scared
I’ll tell you a story.
It’s a true story, by the way.
Last year, I worked with a fabulous woman who did everything the right way with her business. She did all her hard thinking up-front. This meant that she thought about her branding, and her message. She brought in consultants to work with her on the strength of their work, even though she wasn’t able to service clients immediately. She paid big money for big expertise, so that she was guided in the right way.
It’s not always possible to do this, by the way, so don’t feel like you need to do it. I sure didn’t! Maybe that’s something I can share with you if you wanted me to?
Back to the story.
My client had done some seriously amazing work in the previous six to twelve months. She felt (and I agreed) that the best place for her spend, therefore, was in a couple of representative case studies.
One of those, we booked people in, no problem.
Interviews went off without a hitch.
Approval process with our clients, also no problem. There were a lot of things we had to change. The matter that was the subject of the case study was something currently before the courts.
This meant we had to change a bunch of details: Names, titles, places; remove paragraphs. You know, take out all the identifying matter.
It left a killer story, one you would never have picked unless you were intimate with the interviewee.
But the interviewee was still scared.
Did the interviewee reply to the approvals? Nope.
Did she acknowledge the emails? Nope.
Phone calls maybe? Nope.
Did the interviewee flip out and want to renege on the entire thing? Oh yes, she did. This poor, scared woman was terrified.
The interviewee had a problem, and it wasn’t that it was a problem with the case study. It was that it had a problem with participating.
The trouble was, this interviewee could have simply declined to start with.
That way, no wasted time, no wasted money, no back-and-forth with counsel to find the most appropriate solution.
The moral of the story
However good you think your consent processes are for your clients with your case studies, they’re not good enough.
Engaging a client for an interview for a case study isn’t even as complex as engaging a subject-matter expert from inside your business. It’s much more complex.
It is especially complex if there are additional factors at play.
If you’re smart, though, you can think three (or four) steps ahead, and stop them before they start.
You’ll do it, too, if you want content that works. It speaks loads about why it’s important to work with experts who can guide you through what to do if you hit territory like this.
That’s why I’m giving away an hour of expert advisory with the this case studies deal. If you’re smart, you would use that to work on your content governance framework, to prevent people with problems trying to railroad your production.
You know. Just sayin’.