Five stories that helped define content strategy in 2014
A year in communications is never a quiet one. From writing press releases to being smart with visuals creation, communications professionals are always busy implementing a communications strategy. We are also busy measuring our success by paying close attention to the number of page views, or the number of mentions received from our press releases and the attendance at our events. But we all know that this is not all that can become possible with communications.
2014 has been my year to further practise the use of content marketing as it can make an impact on topics of interest rather than the usual pitch of selling or raising awareness. Of course, what was achieved didn’t come out of thin air. A few very inspiring resources, as well as lessons learned from mistakes, played their part.
Below are five stories that helped me define our content strategy:
If there is one resource that drove me to get our content strategy right, it has been “Contently”. Contently introduced me to ‘brand publishing’ and taught me that “great content speaks for itself.” Also, it drove me to find ways to tell our story. Following this article’s lead, we created a platform to help us reach decision makers, thought leaders, customers, tech enthusiasts, and the industry. But, for that, I knew we needed to remain open – open to criticism, open to allowing those with strong convictions to speak their minds.
“The homogenized and inauthentic communication that plagues the business world is exhausting. Whether it is too formal, too boring, or too buzzword-y – this content clutters inboxes, news feeds, and brains. It is generally devoid of voice and personality — the elements that appeal to the human need for connection. No one wants to interact with that type of brand and, naturally, no one wants to be that brand,” confirms NewsCred. Taking their advice, we stopped pushing industry jargon via our communications channels; instead we launched a brand journalism platform. We invested in educating a sector of the population about new technologies and their impact on the world.
From 140 character-length messages to long-form narratives, storytelling is changing how we communicate in the digital era. This gem from The Rockefeller Foundation, made it clear that your storytelling strategy is “only effective if your senior management understands the value of storytelling and everyone in your organisation understands how your organisation makes a compelling story.” Following this advice, I took the long-form narrative route only when it was absolutely necessary. I chose SlideShare to explain progress on a topic, highlighted various views on awareness days, and made our blog an integral part of our event toolbox.
“How do you raise awareness about a boring, un-sexy topic like colon cancer screenings? Convince a grown-up man that doctors found a toy car in his butt and capture his reaction on video, of course,” – starts this Contently article. Point is simple, raise eyebrows in order to raise awareness. So when we were pressed to create awareness surrounding a technical topic, we did just that: asked the audience: “Are we winning?” Everyone jumped to share their strong opinions. We listened and as a consequence became an important partner in the discussion.
At a glance, the idea behind De Correspondent, the crowd-funded Dutch news site, seems fairly simple: a news site created exclusively for the kind of stories that go unnoticed by traditional media. But what is impressive is how they go about it, “At De Correspondent, we see our journalists as conversation leaders and our members as contributing experts.” For me that meant, it was time to let go of lengthy commentaries about our activities while making it sound like we did it all alone. Taking De Correspondent’s lead, we focused solely on concrete achievements, and provided space for our members to speak their mind on what our work has meant for them.
In conclusion, 2014 has been a year of impactful communications. I would not be completely honest, if I said no mistakes were made. From pushing more content for more impact to creating content without targeted distribution lessened some of the impact of our platforms. I have also realised that a blog is not the only tool for doing content marketing. I hope you join me in jumping onto this content marketing trend and see its potential in driving your message ahead.