According to Coral Communications’ Nick Barnes, the Holy Grail for any communications professional is figuring out the right message for the right audience and the right channel.
With new consumer technologies driving changes in the way people expect to receive, consume and share information, getting the message right has become increasingly more complex than in the past.
What is largely undisputed however, is the importance of having a structured and systematic approach to the content communicators develop and disseminate to their intended audience.
At my previous company – a leading communications agency in London, UK – we fell into the trap of creating ineffective content; content which simply resembled much of the shite that you see out in the world every day.
We had all the ingredients. Our people were great writers; sharp, talented and as communications ‘experts’, prided themselves on being able to write compellingly about any topic. We used to put several hours a week into content creation – blog posts, company magazines, even white papers. So to say we expected more from our marketing efforts is probably an understatement.
Nothing ever ‘caught fire’. We picked up some followers and generated some leads, but there was no sharing, no comments, and no sense of anxiousness for our next post. Our content efforts simply fell flat.
Why? Because we failed to walk our talk – the advice that we’d give out to our clients, day-in, day-out. In short, we overlooked the need for having an overarching strategy to guide our content and tie it together into a more cohesive, compelling and relatable story.
What we did at Coral
Before we embarked on any marketing, and to avoid the pitfalls I’d experienced previously, we defined and constructed our company’s narrative. This would become the backbone for everything we produce; the storyline which we would use to continually advance our audience’s experience of Coral.
Here’s a condensed version of it:
We’re brand, communication and measurement specialists and we’ve got knowledge to share. . We’ve come from generalist backgrounds so we know how all the moving parts should fit together and can focus on those areas we are most passionate about. Our experience spans professional disciplines, geographies, industries and all sorts of organisation shapes and sizes.
We punch above our weight; – we’re competing successfully against the billion dollar giants out there and we’ve learned a lot from holding our own against these industry goliaths. Communications functions struggle with limited budgets, resource constraints and keeping up with new trends and we offer solutions for these to organisations of any size.
We will share everything we’ve learned in the past and everything we learn going forward. We offer communications practitioners the opportunity to learn deeply from our experiences. We can’t do everything but we are good at what we know and will try like hell to help you on your journey.
We believe there are many things that set us apart from others but our ability to marry measurement, insights and experience to deliver tailored strategies and solutions is a big one!
Having this narrative made sure that, rather than picking random topics related to communications, like we used to at my previous company, we had a clear and consistent theme we could stick to from the outset – a theme we can leverage on an ongoing basis.
Our narrative creates clear storylines which make it easy for our audience to understand who we are and why we matter. Most importantly it is personal and authentic to both us and our audience.
Three guiding principles to creating great content once you have developed your narrative:
- Think like you’re creating a TV show designed to entertain and educate the audience you need to reach. Imagine yourself in the position of a director creating a show for exactly these people. Use plots and sub-plots with your content to keep it fresh while remaining tied together.
- Produce content that impacts hearts and minds. Think deeply about the audience your content needs to reach and understand what the common threads are that affect their lives.
- Be efficient and effective with your messages. Don’t recreate the wheel each time, you can generate a lot of activity without necessarily generating a lot of new content. Make sure to recycle as much content as possible – that will not only save you work, but will also reinforce the message – a win-win all around.
A narrative is not a ‘nice to have’; they serve as the foundation that will drive business success. The best companies live by narratives and are able to harness them in ways which leave others sitting back in begrudging admiration.
Narratives are a powerful and compelling way to transfer knowledge and information in a memorable way. Having a narrative at the core of any content strategy will ensure it promotes a shared understanding among your audience and will help people make sense of what you’re saying. Narratives provide meaning, and these tales and anecdotes help us to connect our content to the bigger picture.
ABOUT NICK BARNES
Nick Barnes is a specialist in measuring people engagement, with more than 10 years agency experience supporting some of the world’s best known and most complex organisations, including HSBC, BP, Travelocity and BAA. Nick has extensive experience working in and in close partnership with HR and Corporate Communications, in the areas of measurement , strategy creation and brand,. Nick spent 11 years in London before moving to Australia in 2012 to establish Coral Communications. Nick believes strongly in partnering with people to develop and deliver complimentary and sustainable communications and measurement strategies.
ABOUT CORAL COMMUNICATIONS
Helping people in business thrive!
At Coral, we partner with people; likeminded professionals who are passionate about creating an environment where people can thrive. We help connect a business with its people. How do we do this? By restoring the balance to your communications processes; activating brands in the hearts and minds of people; holding the mirror on what matters most; and releasing creativity by navigating the path to innovation.