WEDNESDAY 1 APR 2020 1:05 PM


Companies can use content to make their comms engaging, informative and unique and allow them to reach a broader range of audiences. A recent Communicate and Speak Media event saw communicators share their experiences of developing and implementing content

Corporate content gives companies a voice; a voice that can provide unity of messaging, while helping to establish a position and reach a wide range of stakeholders.

Expertise in the development and delivery of corporate content is growing, although challenges still persist among overstretched and resource-poor internal teams.

At a recent roundtable event hosted by Communicate magazine and brand newsroom agency Speak Media, in-house corporate communications leaders from eBay, Suez, Tasker Insurance, Vivo Energy, St Modwen Properties, Rentokil Initial, Relx, Standard Life Aberdeen and the Church of England discussed their approaches to content and the challenges that they face.

For Paul Williams, head of planning at Speak Media, it is fundamental that companies understand why they are doing it in the first place. “What are you trying to say about yourselves with all of this content? Have a strategy and a target in place,” says Williams. For small and large teams, he added, content doesn’t need to be costly, and it shouldn’t end up being a spending drain, “If a clear plan for the use of content is established, any company can achieve ROI.”

One delegate agreed, “We are a huge organisation, so every single story that we tell needs to be part of a plan. We not only hunt for a good story, but we have a lot of data to back it up and make sure it’s perfectly balanced. It’s about managing the content with the regularity and frequency of posts.”

By approaching content with a foundation in data analytics, the company is able to develop content that can be used repeatedly to facilitate up to 200 posts per week, while still being cost effective.

Conversely, another attendee shared their experience from the perspective of a tiny team of just three. By focusing on internal audiences, semi-internal audiences and ‘not yet internal’ audiences, the organisation uses different kinds of messages across its digital content to reach every audience.

“Not every campaign hits every audience,” the attendee said. “Maybe some go over some people’s heads and some way under. But we consistently show the analytics, the data behind what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I think that’s been key,” she adds.

Doing so, however, requires a company to clarify and unite its content around clear messaging. Even if the content itself varies, the message should be consistent, attendees agreed. For one attendee whose colleagues range from non-desk-bound engineers to HQ-based Millennials, a single corporate voice is the most important aspect of content development.

“You have to talk to people with so many interests” she said. “Having strong brand values and keeping them like that is really key.”

One attendee working for a company with a similarly sprawling structure across a number of countries found that to ring true, even where the content strategy is still being fleshed out. “Getting the tone and the messaging right is how you create your content,” she said.

Content creation, one of Speak Media’s key areas of expertise, can have a huge impact on a business and its reputation. As Williams said, “If you’re thinking about a content strategy, focus on a few things that you want to be known for, and go deep into those in order to create content with real value and impact – so that you don’t end up trying to do a little of everything and adding to the mass of mediocre content out there.”

Messaging is the first step; the second is to ensure that the messaging is aligned to the corporate purpose. Doing so, attendees said, means the company’s reputation will be enhanced or protected through the content itself.

“Purpose gives you something to hang on in your communications. It gives you a reason for doing it. Otherwise it’s like the wild west,” one attendee said. But, he warned against “gratuitously plastering this statement over everything you do.” The point with purpose-led communications is to prove the company’s reason for acting or positioning in a certain way.

For those in the B2B space, or with challenging industries plagued by disengaging content, purpose is a way to enable creativity to be a positive influence. By using purpose as a link between business transformation, values and commercial perspectives, content can change perceptions about an organisation.

One attendee said, “Comms is all about managing reputation over time. But content creation, when done well, helps you take slightly bigger jumps and potentially address historical problems.” Using thought leadership reports or media partnerships can allow companies to establish a statement of record about a particular issue.

Low trust levels and a disengaged workforce are just two of the key issues that can be addressed through the effective use of content. But capitalising on the content produced to reach multiple audiences is also crucial.

Williams suggested that content can be used to break down silos and position the company more holistically. By repurposing content that is relevant to different channels and ensuring all content has a clear strategic foundation, companies can use content to express themselves and position themselves in the market. One delegate suggested that managing different audiences and ensuring message delivery is an effective way of creating trust in the brand.

Creativity also enables communication with multiple audiences. One business works with freelance journalists to discover stories within the organisation and develop bespoke, high quality content for use across its channels.

Such initiatives have been followed with an analytical programme designed to understand the efficacy of the content with each target audience. One organisation measures the effect its social channels have had on the ‘hearts and minds’ of its audiences.

“We’re not going to do everything,” the attendee said. “We’re going to focus on a few things because we can see the impact of that.” When it comes to proving ROI, the attendee suggested, "just bombarding people with the statistics because it’s very hard to argue with data.”

Data can also help remove some of the common misperceptions. “I think we need to demystify content,” said one attendee. “It isn’t this big unattainable thing that we need to curate carefully all of the time. Often it is and it should be treated as something to be curated, to be spent on, to be managed. But actually, we all sit on loads of data. We’re all doing stuff. That stuff is content.”

Harnessing creativity, employees, purpose, messaging and data can all help to create great content. By doing so, companies can not only change perceptions but they can also capitalise on their resources and craft content that has a positive impact on their reputations.

Get in touch with content creation agency Speak Media.