What’s Ethics Got to Do with It? Responsible Content Curation

responsible content curation

By Sarah Sain, CAE

YOUR ASSOCIATION’S CONTENT – both what you create and what you curate from expert sources and established publishers – has the power to educate, inform and advance your members forward as an industry. And, yet, with power comes responsibility.

Responsible content curation means promoting content that is written, sourced, and presented in a way that is factual and accurate, gives credit where credit is due, and shows respect to readers by not willfully misrepresenting information.

Your members’ expectations for content shared throughout your association media brand and communication platforms are high. They know that you’ve selected relevant and timely content that will resonate in their professional lives.

In essence, it all comes down to trust. Your association is a trusted source of both original and vetted content and news. However, if members feel you’re being unethical in your content selection, you risk losing their trust and your standing in the industry.

In today’s media environment, content ethics goes far beyond the legal requirements. At a minimum, your communication and publishing teams must consider plagiarism and copyright laws, intellectual property, trademark rules, data privacy and collection policies, ADA compliance and advertising ethics.

There’s more to consider though when developing your content strategy and selecting sources or stories to share with your audience. Transparency and honesty are key. For example, does your association’s curated content…

Inform or persuade?

It’s possible for content to do both, but be wary if a headline or article is overly sensational; if content is missing information, important facts or context; if content lacks preliminary sources or quotes from subject matter experts; or if editorial is illustrated by photos or graphics that misrepresent the topic at hand.

Share an opinion?

Opinion-based content should be clearly labeled. There is a place for op-eds or first-person storytelling as part of a well-rounded media diet, but sources should be honest about what is opinion vs. what is editorial reporting.

Tell the whole story?

Content often relies on statistics and analysis of data to illustrate a point, which makes it important to avoid sources that cherry pick or manipulate data out of context. The content you share should include links or references to original survey or report findings so a reader can dive into the data themselves if desired.

Include a sales pitch?

Paid or sponsored content – when clearly labeled – can provide real value. Sponsors and advertisers still have relevant knowledge and thought leadership to share. That said, readers don’t want to feel misled or like they’re being sold to when they’re not expecting it.

Recognize bias?

We all have bias – both as individuals and organizations that share content and as readers who consume content. Bias is the lens through which we present or interpret what we read, watch and listen to, and it’s impacted over time by our education, experiences and relationships. Because a source has bias does not automatically mean it is factually incorrect, but it can impact how a piece of content is presented.

Represent your entire readership?

Prioritize sources that offer diverse voices and sources that represent your entire audience. Share curated content across a variety of communication channels as well, since your membership consumes your content through different platforms that best fit their preferences.

Admit to mistakes?

As much as we try to avoid them, errors do happen. The true test is what happens next. Sources should acknowledge when a mistake has been made and make good with their audience through corrections, clarifications and retractions.

Remember, your association has a voice. It’s a voice that often speaks for and on behalf of your industry and your members. What you say through the content your association creates and curates speaks volumes. Use that voice in a way that shows you take your responsibility as a content leader seriously.

Sarah Sain, CAE, is the Senior Director of Content Services for Naylor Association Solution. Learn more at www.naylor.com/associationadviser.

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