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27 Things No One Told You about Sex (Ed)

Content marketing for an issue – done right
April 25, 2017

Let me start by telling you there aren’t 27 things in this article.

I stole that headline tactic from Buzzfeed, which last week ran an excellent series called Sex Ed Week.

It was an AMAZING example of content marketing done right – one that organizations should be copying.

And I’m about to tell you why.

But first, a bit about content marketing.

It’s a tactic wherein an organization produces interesting and valuable content for an audience to pique its interest and lead to some desired action or outcome (like increasing understanding of an issue, getting a donation or making a pledge).

While Sex Ed Week wasn’t sponsored by an organization (it was produced by Buzzfeed staff writers), it is exactly the kind of thing organizations that work on important issues should be doing to reach and engage their audiences.

Here’s why I think it was so good, and why you should be doing it:

  1. Only 22 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex education, which means that most kids in the U.S. do not receive comprehensive sex ed in school. Had this been a content marketing campaign sponsored by a health organization, it would have been brilliant because it provided youth and young adults the information they need to make safe and healthy choices about sex by circumventing schools and communities that don’t teach sex ed. Producing compelling content for underserved audiences to find online is an effective way to get critical information into the hands of the people who need it.
  2. They went to where their audience is. We increasingly tell clients that websites are not always the answer. In particular, getting youth and young adults to visit a website that they have never heard of is a darn near impossible task. A clever organization would instead invest in producing good content like this and paying to place that content where their readers already are – on sites like Buzzfeed and Tumblr – instead of trying to drag them to a website they’ve never heard of and don’t trust.
  3. They developed content that flies in the face of abstinence-only education. Gender and LGBTQ discrimination is often a part of abstinence-only education. Headlines alone like Here’s What My Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Actually Taught Me, 23 Things LGBT People Wish They’d Actually Learned In Sex Ed and Here’s How You Can Get Pregnant Without Having Sex indicated that perhaps the reader wasn’t getting the whole story from parents or schools. The headlines conveyed the message without the user even needing to click into the article.
  4. They channeled their audience’s voice. Not all organizations can be provocative. But what works about this content is that perfectly channels the language of the audience and doesn’t come off as public-health speak. You won’t find headlines like 21 Bad Penis Habits or 23 Times Parents Taught Their Kids About Sex And Were So Extra on the CDC’s website, but it IS the kind of thing that you know your kid would click on. And that’s the point.

Organizations with a mission to educate an engage an audience on important issues need to embrace this form of marketing and communications…because it works. And it doesn’t just work for kids or young adults. (I guarantee that you engage with several pieces of content marketing every single day.)

If your organization isn’t investing in content development and content marketing, you ought to be.

Hopefully, stellar examples like this inspire your thinking about how you can be talking about your issues with your audiences, and how to place that content for maximum impact.

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