Producing successful content also means rethinking things: Moving away from the lowest common denominator and silos of communication, and going in the direction of ambitious content and new forms of organisation, with the aim of becoming the driving force behind one’s own industry. What this is all about and how you can become a treasure hunter within your own company is the subject of this article.
Speaking of content: Many people associate it with generic “About us” texts, product communication or, if companies are bold, a step towards content marketing. The latter is often in the form of useful texts or videos to solve the problems of the target group and strengthen the brand while doing so. But if you really want to make a difference, you can take a more ambitious path: Take the lead in your own industry and become an active driving force.
Content culture as a booster of innovation
In most organisations, external communication has long been an integral part of everyday corporate life, from press releases and advertising to employee magazines. But not least due to digital media and the “democratisation” of distribution channels, corporate publishing has gained a new and important significance: Today, companies and organisations are on an equal footing with publishers and media corporations. They leverage the wealth of knowledge that has accumulated within the organisation and create far-sighted, stimulating and challenging content in the context of their industry and business activities. This adds value to the brand. But not only that: If a company gives a certain priority to the creation of sophisticated content, positive effects are generated for the innovation culture and internal organisation of knowledge. This is a decisive prerequisite for long-term financial success in times of fast-moving markets and short innovation cycles.
But that also means that we are dealing with a paradigm shift. Anyone who wants to take the step towards a content culture cannot avoid change processes: it is not enough for one or more departments to do their own thing when it comes to communication. It is also no longer enough to achieve the “lowest common denominator” through long coordination processes. Nor is it enough simply to describe products and services. Even classic content marketing can only function as part of a larger vision and strategy, and on the basis of suitable structures.
What does such a strategy look like? It is helpful to differentiate between the actual content on the one hand and the organisational/human factor on the other:
- Substance: core stories, brand messages and themes
- Structure: relevant elements and components, as well as synergies in utilisation
- Workflow: roles, dependencies, tasks and tools
- Governance: standards, guidelines and policies on style and appearance
In particular, the elimination of silos of communication is crucial: moving away from a strict separation of PR, marketing and expertise towards a newsroom. Away from a “parallel coexistence” of communication, research & development and sales towards a common vision and exchange. And moving away from generic content towards convincing storytelling with a stance. In order to get there, it is crucial that the topics be explored from all sides and filled with life. The result is a profound transfer of knowledge.
Changes towards a content culture can be summarized as follows
Going on a treasure hunt
Anyone who is now groaning that this is all too much will certainly be listened to. This concern is understandable, because after all, we are dealing with nothing less than cultural change. Even companies that have recognised how important their role as a driving force in their own industry is sometimes shy away from the actual or perceived obstacles. Based on our experience, the following approach has proven successful:
- A solid strategy
- Implementation in small, well thought-out steps
- Utilisation of cascade effects within the company
The first step is to dig up this content treasure. It is often distributed throughout many minds, departments and systems. In order to integrate this knowledge, overarching themes are an important element of order: What interesting things do we have to tell? What are the topics of the future in our industry and what can we contribute to them? What topics really inspire our target group? What is the core of our vision?
The internal organisation plays an important role here. Do appropriate systems and tools already exist to organise and impart knowledge? At this stage, the exchange between technical experts, communication specialists and sales staff can also be improved, by means of corresponding workshops and regular formats that follow defined rules and are therefore time-saving and efficient. This creates clarity and orientation.
Next, it is important to proceed in small steps. The outsourcing of the entire content production to external authors is not very effective here. Rather, a cultural change towards a content culture only emerges through internal collaboration and the testing of new forms of communication and exchange.
A concrete pilot project is suitable for this purpose, for example. In this way, a core team grows together step by step and the first successes are created. Employees can contribute their strengths and develop their creativity. For example, an expert at a company sees an editor turn the expert’s input into a great story, which often awakens the desire for more. This creates positive cascade effects that spread throughout the company: Momentum sweeps through the departments, traditional boundaries between communication disciplines and between departments blur in the course of collaborative work. On this basis, the pilot project can be extended and expanded step by step and the experiences gained can be incorporated into the next steps. This also anchors workable processes and codifies them in guidelines that emerge from day-to-day experiences, which means they function.
Innovation is the key to long-term success, but innovation needs to be organised and communicated. A content culture creates fertile ground for this by discussing topics and creating space for new ideas. The result is a strengthened self-image, more power for innovation, better information about markets and trends and ultimately the assumption of responsibility within one’s own industry: as a source of impetus, as a publisher of inspiring stories, as a contact for experts and interested parties across all formats.
Utilising synergies, saving resources
The question of budget also pops up time and again. It should be kept in mind here that the step-by-step change towards a content culture can produce numerous synergies: Working thematically means using existing resources more efficiently and in a more result-oriented way. Setting up a newsroom means certain tasks do not have to be performed twice and inefficiencies are reduced. Of course, creating foundations means a certain investment. In the “Content Marketing in Organisations” issue of our magazine sensorium (in German language) you will find a sample calculation for the creation of content as a rough guide. But keep in mind: As soon as the “machine is running”, as soon as processes and organisation have established themselves, as soon as content is tagged and networked, as soon as the company’s wealth of knowledge begins to increase and can be distributed in different channels – then not only have you brought your internal and external communication to a completely new level, you have also strengthened your power for innovation and positioning on the market in the long term. Nothing less is at stake.
You can read more about content marketing in organisations in our magazine sensorium, including:
- More tools and techniques
- How to build a content strategy
- Checklist for cultural change
- Case studies from the field
Available for free download diefirma.de/sensorium (in German language)
If you are interested or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: call +49 (0)611 . 238 50 10 or by eMail to kontakt(at)diefirma.de.
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