#ContentWritingChat Recap: Sensitivity in Content Creation with Jenn Renoe

In this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we covered a topic we’ve never truly discussed before: sensitivity in content creation.

Although it’s something we’ve never talked about extensively during our busy hour on Twitter, it’s an important topic for any brand. We covered what’s okay to discuss online and how you can find your voice when talking about sensitive topics.

Let’s dive into the recap!

Sensitivity in Content Creation: Deciding What You Can Discuss & How to Find Your Voice with Jenn Renoe

Our guest host for this week’s chat was Jenn Renoe. She’s been a regular participant during #ContentWritingChat, so having her step into the guest hosting role was a real treat. Jenn is a public speaker, as well as the host of the Our Fractured Minds podcast about mental illness.

Q1: What makes a topic a sensitive one to talk about?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share what they felt a “sensitive topic” was. Here are a few responses we received:

As Jenn said, many topics have become sensitive ones to discuss these days. However, some common subjects include politics, religion, sexuality, disasters, and mental health.

Gene knows two topics that can stir up controversy are politics and religion.

As Julia said, we generally steer clear of sensitive topics here at Express Writers. She avoids taking sides in politics and religion. Another thing she avoids in her content? Cursing.

Jason said a topic is sensitive when there’s real potential to offend another person. If you spend any time online these days, you know that happens quite often now.

Bill feels the same as Jason. If a topic has the potential to offend a group of people, it’s definitely a sensitive area.

Even if you think a topic might be safe to discuss, there are others who might not think so. If you aren’t sure, you can always get a second opinion.

Andrea said the more personal you get, the greater your chances are of hurting someone.

Q2: How do you decide if a sensitive topic is one you should have a voice on?

If there’s a sensitive topic you have an opinion on, should you really speak up about it? This advice will help you decide if it’s wise:

Do you have a story worth sharing? That’s what Jenn feels you should think about when deciding to cover a sensitive topic. Her advice is not to fuel a narrative unless you have a unique perspective on it.

Sarah said you should ask yourself if the topic is relevant, meaningful, or helpful to your brand or customers. If that answer is yes, then you’re good to go.

If the topic is relevant to your business, David said it might be appropriate to discuss. If not, his advice is to avoid it.

One important thing to consider is why you’re writing about a certain topic. There should be a real purpose behind the opinions you want to share.

Is your audience affected by the topic? Can your brand hep the topic or will it only hinder progress? Does the topic align with your brand’s values? These are all great things to consider that Anne shared with us.

If it stirs your soul, you’re going to be more inclined to step up to the plate and talk about a particular topic. That’s often a good sign that you have something important to say.

For Amanda, it’s all about going back to her values. If something is happening in the world that she wants to stand up for, she goes for it.

Another thing you may wan to consider is whether or not discussing a topic is going to call damage for your brand. When it comes to sensitivity in content creation, this likelihood is pretty high.

When you do decide to write about sensitive topics, Jessica says you should have a heart. Consider all sides of an argument and approach it in a respectful manner.

Q3: How do you find your voice when it comes to speaking about sensitive topics?

If you’re planning to move forward with talking about a sensitive topic, you may be wondering how to find your voice. Fortunately, our chat participants had some great tips for you!

Jenn feels your voice should come naturally. If it feels forced, then that’s a good sign that it might not be the best thing for you to discuss.

Lexie’s advice is to think about the main point you want to get across. If you don’t have a point to make or you aren’t passionate about the discussion at hand, she said you may want to reevaluate the decision to write about it.

Always make sure you have your facts straight before speaking up. Otherwise, you can wind up causing way more drama than you intended.

Always write from the heart. Jay suggests finding people who have a personal stake in a topic to share their stories.

Always be authentic and transparent with your audience, no matter what you’re writing about.

Make sure you’re being careful when discussing sensitive topics. Andrea’s advice is to recognize the many sides in a discussion, avoid name calling, and don’t fuel controversies just to get more views.

Julia feels it’s best to get a second opinion on a potentially controversial piece before publishing it. It’s always helpful to get feedback from an outside source.

Anne also agrees with getting someone else to look over your work. You never know how another person may perceive your work and the editing phase is perfect for getting feedback.

Q4: What kinds of things should you talk about when discussing topics as these?

When dealing with sensitivity in content creation, what should you actually be discussing? Here’s what you need to know:

One thing you shouldn’t talk about? Your product. When discussing a sensitive topic, it’s not a good time to focus on selling. It’s only going to backfire on your brand.

A great place to start is to understand what your audience wants to talk about. You can use that information to determine what you’ll discuss with them.

Jason’s suggestion is to offer insight that shows you considered both sides to a topic.

Why is it important for your audience to know where you stand on a particular subject? Why is it too important to ignore? These are crucial questions to ask yourself.

Jim’s advice is to always cite credible sources. That’s important in helping you back up your opinions.

Another great opportunity comes from sharing your own experiences. That’s something your audience will surely be able to relate to.

Ashley feels it’s best to outline a solution, instead of just focusing on the problem at hand.

Q5: How do you integrate current events related to these topics into your content strategy?

With so many brands wanting to talk about the events currently going on in the world, it can be tricky to implement into an overall content strategy. To help, our chat participants offered up some helpful advice:

Jenn feels you should find your voice ahead of time so you’re prepared for what’s to come.

Sarah said you should make sure any current events you discuss are relevant to your reader. If it’s not helping them in some way, it’s probably better to pass.

The rule of thumb here is to stick with what makes sense for your brand.

Carla will discuss current events if there’s a teachable lesson she can share with her audience.

Don’t create content for the sake of creating content. Lexie’s advice is to make sure your content will be beneficial to your audience.

If current events are significant to your niche, Zachary feels it should naturally integrate into your content strategy. If it doesn’t fit with ease, you might want to pass.

You always want to make sure that discussing current events feels natural and comes off that way as well.

Don’t be afraid to share your experiences that relate to a topic. It brings a personal connection to the conversation.

Stay focused on the events that are impacting your customers. Those are the most important ones to discuss.

Don’t be afraid to keep your content schedule flexible. You can always move things around if an important topic comes up.

Even the very morning of the chat, Patagonia took a stance on a sensitive topic.

Megan shared some other great advice to consider. Be careful about which organizations you align yourself with. Not all nonprofits are truly being helpful in times of need.

Q6: What channels are best for these kinds of conversations?

When it comes to sensitivity in content creation, are there specific channels that are ideal for discussing such topics? It really all depends on you and your audience, but here are some suggestions from the chat:

Jenn said to find a medium where you can have conversations with your community. You don’t want to ignore anyone.

As Lexie said, your best bet is to pick the channel your audience is already on.

If you have somewhere that you’re already engaging with your audience, that’s a great place to start.

Any channel with an open-minded audience and the ability to share feedback is great.

Social media will always be a go-to for important conversations.

Jade said Twitter is one place you can start the conversation.

For Julia, she prefers blog format because you can put time and thought into it before it goes live.

Javier feels the same way. He acknowledges the power a blog post or your website can really have.

On the flip side, Gene recommends keeping the conversation private if you want to avoid dealing with internet trolls.

If you aren’t willing to have these conversations on public forums, don’t do it. You have to be prepared for any potential backlash that may come your way.

Q7: What happens if you receive push back from others on your stance?

When speaking up about sensitive topics, you’re most likely going to receive some sort of push back from those who disagree with you. How do you handle it? Check out this great advice:

If you receive push back, address it. Even if you disagree with someone, it’s still worthwhile to hear their opinions.

As Jason said, ignoring it may cause more problems in the long run.

Acknowledge the views that others have, back up your own opinions, and keep it civil. There’s no reason to engage in a nasty argument.

Don’t take anything too personally and make sure you respect the opinions of others.

For Cheval, he doesn’t let push back get to him. He just moves on, recognizing that those who disagree might not necessarily be his people.

Always keep your cool!

Stay on message and stick to the bigger picture at hand.

Amanda says she would stand by her stance, despite push back she might receive. She wants to stick up for the things she’s passionate about.

Listen to others and be open to their criticism. It can often be a learning experience.

Q8: Tag some brands that have impressed you with their voice and willingness to cover sensitive topics.

Which brands can we learn from when it comes to sensitivity in content creation? These are some examples worth checking out:

Jenn was a big fan of what JELLO did during the legalization of gay marriage.

Cheval mentioned that Wendy’s has done a great job at handling sensitive topics through their social media presence.

As for Anne, she’s a big fan of Buffer and their honest approach to a variety of important topics.

One brand you might not want to look to is Pepsi after sparking controversy themselves.

If you’re going to take a strong stance on a sensitive topic, make sure you can handle the heat.

Join us for the next #ContentWritingChat! It takes place on Twitter every Tuesday from 10-11 AM Central Time. Just be sure to follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat!

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