I’ve recently come across several articles that define various components of the content creation and management community. As a long-time practitioner of content, knowledge, and communications strategies and management, I agree with many of them. However, based on my own experiences, I do have some slight variations in my personal definitions.
More and more, content is the basis of our marketing and PR efforts. Brand journalism, content marketing, storytelling, social media—at the core, there is content. Getting the strategy, development, and distribution of our thought leadership right increases our chances of success.
In a few of my posts I have shared elements that are important to a winning content program. So let me start by providing a baseline definition for each building block of what I call the content ecosystem.
Imagine this rather typical scenario.
You’ve spent weeks developing what you believe will be a prominent article for your company blog. There’s a fascinating and unique success story to talk about, and you scored an awesome interview with the client to weave in a few pithy quotes supporting this banner project. Senior leadership is excited about the piece and has provided a great tie-in to strategic priorities—it’s in the company’s sweet spot. Early on, you engaged with key subject matter experts on the primary trends and innovations in the industry that align perfectly, and they even provided you a few nifty graphics and images to bring some visual life to your story. Final reviews are complete, you publish the story, and presto, you’re done.
Just to be certain the story gets some play, you send a note off to the business letting them know it’s there and ask them to share it with clients and prospects. You post a few tweets to your followers about this latest masterpiece, and maybe you even post it over to Facebook and LinkedIn to pick up anyone you’ve missed.
The high from the fruits of your labor is intoxicating, but maybe over the next day or two it dissipates as you quickly move on to the next writing assignment or project. You review the metrics later and see that audience engagement was minimal and no new sales leads were tied to your story. All that hard work and that’s it—not much to show for it.
No matter the size of your organization, employee town halls are a fantastic way to bring the full workforce together to learn about the company, its projects and programs, and the clients it serves. Where young professionals just starting out, can mix and mingle with senior leadership and top experts. There’s a wealth of information to be shared during regularly scheduled employee town halls, and a great amount of value to be gained along the way.
As the head of communications, I have worked with many leaders to host numerous town halls – for the purpose of regularly scheduled communication checkpoints, for leaders regarding the state of our business, to make big company announcements, or to communicate during times of crisis. The town hall can be an effective tool for building connection, engagement, and credibility with employees.
Communications, and public relations in particular, have gone through significant changes over recent years and are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. Technology, the way we share information, a growing virtual workforce, and the dramatic shift in traditional media–these are all contributing factors to this metamorphosis of the profession.
Successfully keeping up with the innovations and increased competition requires a heightened level of skill and expertise. Today’s communicator must actively build and evolve skills to stay relevant, and to leap ahead of demand.
There are many important skills necessary to be a successful communicator, but I believe there is a core set that will differentiate the empowered master from the average communicator. These skills are important today, but will be even more critical for tomorrow.
A few of the larger organizations I’ve worked for include ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ on their list of core values. Unfortunately, most of the employees are unclear as to what that actually means and how they are expected to display entrepreneurial characteristics in their daily activities. Within a smaller organization or a startup, this may be more easily realized given the inherent mindset and culture of the work environment. But for larger organizations, corporate bureaucracy, complexities, control, and investor pressures bring a host of challenges and barriers. Established brands, organizational hierarchies, and endless policies and procedures can breed complacency.
No matter the size of the organization you work for, or even if you are in fact an entrepreneur launching your own business, proactively incorporating core elements of an entrepreneurial spirit is vital to distinguishing oneself in a sea of talent, building professional excellence, and achieving long-term success.
I was watching this video blog post by Marie Forleo the other day and it got me thinking about the standards we set for ourselves in the work that we do. Not just the goals and objectives we establish in our planning activities, but the actual level of standards applied in what we do and how we do it.
As Marie has noted, all too often we have experiences with brands that result in frustration, negativity, and lack of focus or responsiveness to our needs. We’re simply not being heard. In a competitive market where bottom line becomes the driving force to every interaction, quality, service, and human relationships can take a back seat.
As business professionals, we each have a responsibility to present our best selves to those we serve by constantly looking for new opportunities to raise the bar.
This simple idea isn’t about innovation or creating the next great product or service in the effort to make more money. This is about increasing the expectations we set for our business, ourselves, and those we work with, so we can expand and enrich the collective value and experiences we bring to those we serve.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
For some of us, this may be a horrifying thought. For others, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe not very exciting or empowering either.
When you look around at the people you spend the most time with, both personally and professionally, how do they make you feel or think? Are they supportive, or do they always have a negative or deflating comment for just about everything you share with them? Do they seek out the worst in every situation and complain endlessly, only to suck the joy right out of you? Or maybe they’re the ones that say nothing at all and move on to the next topic, essentially letting you know there is no value in your words. And then there are those that are glued to their smartphones not even listening, only to ask you a question about something you already shared with them two minutes prior. It’s demeaning and disrespectful.
Sadly, we’ve all been there, we’ve all had experiences with people like this, and for many of us, they’re still around. Those people can limit our success and dictate our failure.
The role of brand promotion no longer rests solely on the shoulders of the marketing organization. The proliferation of social platforms and technology tools parlays the voice of many with much greater ease and impact. The active role employees can play in brand visibility and transparency is profound. Organizations now want to partner with employees for greater brand exposure.
Getting our company profiles on social platforms, or launching a corporate blog and communicating to employees is one thing, but how can we go a few steps further to ensure our employees are an extension of our brand and that they proudly share within their own networks our greatest stories. We’re now asking employees to leverage their personal platforms and play the role of brand ambassador speaking on behalf of the organization. 5 to 10 years ago, this idea may have scared off most marketing and legal departments, but today this is a desired practice of the most successful and powerful brands.
How do we not only encourage our employees to spread the word, but to also articulate the brand identity in a meaningful and accurate way? Continue reading
The virtual workforce is a business trend on the rise and working from home offices along with it. The convenience of technology innovations coupled with the nature of knowledge worker professions allows us to work from almost any location we choose.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 2.6% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes at least half the time, and since 2005 it’s grown nearly 80%. This article in the New York Times proves the trend continues. In the latest Intuit 2020 Report, researchers predict there will be an accelerated increase of a “contingent workforce” such as freelancers and contractors making up nearly 40-50% of the workforce by the year 2020.
Working from a home office is becoming less of a luxury and more of a standard. Yet many aren’t certain they have the right discipline or even the proper set-up to maintain an effective professional life within the home.
Driving new thought leadership and premium media opportunities for an organization requires a thoughtful communications plan aligned to core business priorities and goals. But you also have to partner with the best people to develop critical content, leverage in the right press opportunity, and to seamlessly showcase the deep thought leadership of your organization and its clients.
This is where a solid subject matter expert (SME) program can make an enormous difference in your planning efforts.
What is a SME?
Simply put, a SME is an individual with deep knowledge, skill, and expertise in a particular subject area or domain. There may be varying levels of proficiency or focus, and that’s a good thing as it allows you to leverage individuals in multiple ways.
When looking to build a successful SME program for your organization, there are numerous things to consider, collect, and prepare before launching. Below are key components to jump-start an impactful thought leadership program.