How do you create that awesome flip-flop B2C content for AARP?






If your content is for everyone, it's not for anyone.


No one can accuse AARP of ignoring that bias. The association's high-volume magazine and newsletter provides the perfect content for all 50 herds. They go further by recognizing the different needs, interests and experiences of Generation X, baby boomers, and the quietest or greatest generations that make up that group.


And they've gone even further over the past few years, including 2018 launching their e-newsletter and website, Sisters From AARP for Black Women over 40. Initially, the site served only as a repository for articles in the newsletter.



Claire McIntosh, editor-in-chief explains: “I remind the sisters from AARP's multigenerational collaborators that this organization will reach all generations. " The younger you are, the more you need AARP. Your approach and strategy takes that into account.”


An April 2020 redesigned website creates space to feature Spotify-themed playlists featuring Black artists, as well as polls, games, online events, and other exclusive content . It also marks a more coordinated push to engage readers and create community.


An image showing an example of an AARP Sisters newsletter.


While the pandemic raged and social justice concerns dominated the news, the team ramped up communication on its Facebook and Instagram channels. Content selections prioritize lifestyle, informational content and even humor to promote “a sense of belonging and contentment,” according to AARP.



And it worked – the Sisters team noticed more engagement on social channels (including enthusiastic comments, not just likes) and more subscribers. Now, they reach audiences in the hundreds of thousands.


Its responsive editorial focus and distinctive new voice delivered across its platforms have given the AARP content initiative an edge. 2021 Content Marketing Award for Best Digital Publishing and Claire were named 2021 B2C Content Marketer of the Year.


@sisterletter won best digital publishing and editor @ClaireRMcIntosh was named #ContentMarketerOfTheYear from the @CMIContent Awards. #CMWorld Click to post a Tweet We asked Claire to share the story of Sisters From AARP and her thoughts on building a successful team and content product.


Establish visual branding and a distinct voice


Prior to building the Sisters' web, email, and social channels, Claire and her team worked out object study and testing concepts with its audience.


Claire established the Sisters' content portfolio, editorial calendar, and brand voice, which she conveys to writers as "the same conversation the tone they would use with their brunch snack. ”


And when one writer's content doesn't quite impress, she offers even more specific advice: “Write it the way you would share it conversationally after ordering a second mimosa plant. . We want it to be really friendly. ”


@sistersletter's voice resembles the conversational voice used by women at brunch, said editor @ClaireRMcIntosh via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click to Tweet



Listen, learn and adapt


Claire takes a practical approach to guiding her editorial decisions and writers.


“From the beginning, I shared with AARP Media senior vice president and editorial director Myrna Blyth that I see my role as a good listener,” she explains.


She monitors reader responses, and gets ideas and inspiration from readers' emails. “It is the readers who are driving what we talk about. That comes from subscriber surveys, my inbox, what people are asking for, what they tell us they like, what they tell us they don't. ”


Reader input – solicited and unsolicited – drives what @sistersletter has to say about their magazine and newsletter via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click to Tweet Claire also listen colleagues and contributors. “I would meet a writer for lunch or virtual coffee. She would tell me how she dealt with the school principal when her daughter was being bullied, and I would ask her to write about it. ”



Work as a content team


Claire works closely with Sisters creative director Dian Holton, visual brand shaper, and senior editor Leslie Quander Wooldridge, social media manager and Q&A producer, information celebrity updates, first-person stories and opinion polls.


All three women are on the team led by specialized content executive editor Shelley Emling and general manager Sami Amad. That group produces Sisters and two other niche platforms: The Girlfriend for Gen X women and The Ethel (named after AARP founder Ethel Percy Andrus) for women over 55.


A team of project management, marketing, design, business development and web development colleagues supporting all arising newsletters, social channels, websites, events and e-commerce services from the project.


Claire also contributes to AARP print publications, shaping food content for AARP The Magazine.


All of that collaboration contributes to the power of signal boosters for all dedicated publications. “When you collaborate with innovators from across the enterprise,” says Claire, “you access a vast range and caliber of talent that a dedicated team would not have. You can punch above your weight class. ”



Creating meaning and fulfillment


Sisters From AARP connects to a niche that Claire describes as “unaccustomed to targeted media that celebrates and supports them at the age and stage they – we – are at.”


Engage this often overlooked audience in a way that makes a real difference in their outlook and life, giving meaning to the team's work.


“This engagement makes a difference as the African-American community faces serious challenges related to the pandemic, voter suppression, employment and wage discrimination, and violence.” racist force. I am equally proud of how we bring joy and resilience by enhancing joy, friendship, and fulfillment. ”



Towards the horizon


Sisters sends every reader a happy birthday, which is a great reminder for recipients to share how they think about the newsletter and what they want. All in all, says Claire, "They just want more."


Look for more of that sense of fun and camaraderie as the Sisters launch some new products social media initiatives will make it “more like a party” and a new e-commerce project to assist readers with stylish self-care options. They hope to resume live events.


While Claire and her team work to ensure Sisters content reaches audiences in more ways and places, the team knows its overall purpose.


“Above all, we will advance AARP’s mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.”


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Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute








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