[Editor’s Note: This is Part II of an article about storytelling. The previous article appeared in the January 2020 edition of PRNEWS. It continues a PRNEWS series that introduced and explained the ABCDE model, which helps PR pros create and tell stories. ABCDE refers to Audience, Behavior, Content, Delivery and Evaluation. See PRNEWS July 2019 (Pearson), October 2019 (Knight) and December 2019 (Tazzia). As you might recall, the model developed when PR pros taught US Department of State staff the principles of storytelling.]
Three Ways to Drive a Story Every Day
We live in a world where what we do each day matters. How we create content, how we engage with our audiences and how we call audibles on what to do next can make or break success for brands.
We call these three areas Content Stewardship, Continuous Engagement and Decision Support.
Stewardship of content will become one of the most critical marketing and communications competencies in the future (see Figure 1). We will connect the dots in order to learn the skills to create, prepare, store, distribute, publish and optimize content that is user- and channel-specific. It can also scale to country markets.
Great engagement is linked directly to a story’s quality and relevance, as well as the target audience’s perceived value of it. Content Stewardship means that we obsess over the power of our stories and don’t confuse action with success. Achieving our business goals defines success.
A Digital Asset Management(DAM) solution will be required to sustain this type of robust content ecosystem, which is consistently maintained, evolves over time and is effectively curated. Think of it as a combination of your library and brain for stories.
It can also include persona user journeys, smart taxonomies, smart tagging and additional automation, based on analytics and insights that enable the right content to be available to the right users, at the right time. And, of course, all in near real-time.
Content Stewards will focus on substance and will not chase the latest tech solution/platform. Your DAM will deliver current, accurate and consistently branded content; users can easily find the content they want and need, and they can automate the lifecycle management of the content. The value to the company is compliance with regulations and policies, strong governance and knowledge transfer and an enhanced user experience. DAMs are darn good.
Continuous Engagement is a way of life (see Figure 2). Considering today’s rapidly evolving tech platforms, the demand for more 24/7-relevant and compelling content continues to rise. Content on-demand and proper search are expected as a matter of convenience – when, where and how users want them.
Today’s search and voice-activated assistants fill knowledge gaps where we have questions and help us navigate the world more easily.
The role of the influencer is also increasing in importance. For most industries, this means customers are increasingly looking to and trusting peers, advocacy groups and their networks for information before they directly engage with a company. Traditionally, customers received a lot of information from companies. Today, we share content and partner with our customers to tell a similar story.
Continuous engagement is a requirement of our audience. Already it is dramatically altering the primary focus of today’s marketer. It means our insights should enable us to continually improve our story and outreach; we can keep refining our personas for target audiences, and we realize what content should be created that does not exist today.
Optimize continuous engagement with investment in five key areas:
- Content platforms that permit creation, preparation, storage, curation and governance;
- Engagement platforms that permit both distribution and publishing;
- Interaction platforms that enable marketing automation;
- Transaction platforms that enable CRM (customer relationship management); and
- Analytics solutions that deliver actionable insights.
The results are efficiencies across the board, ranging from improving how affiliates access content to lowering the cost of acquiring customers, and to making it easier to protect and promote the company’s reputation.
Decision Support refers to solutions and insights an analytics team provides for marketers and communicators to make informed decisions that influence plans (Figure 3). It’s the equivalent of glasses, allowing us to see what matters to customers and how we can improve. It is equally important to store insights, so we build cumulative intelligence.
Another plus is the ability to mine data and insights to understand where content can be inserted into conversations and micro-moments. This allows communicators to meet targeted audiences where they want to engage with us.
There are four key benefits to Decision Support:
1. We become continually smarter about our audiences.
2. We make better decisions via insights from analytics.
3. We save, and can reallocate, resources and time.
4. We correlate marketing spend to revenue.
What to Do Next
- Assess the marketing maturity of your organization. Understand the levers you need to pull on an individual and organizational basis to enhance maturity, and then drive the right incentives, accountability and measures to ensure adoption and maturity.
- Leverage contemporary learning and development approaches by enabling real-time and continuous learning experiences for marketers and communicators.
- Focus on knowledge transfer. Ensure best practices, processes and tools are codified and institutionalized so they endure and have change, governance and lifecycle-management built in to the organization’s systems
- Assess and align marketing and communications organizations to fit the new paradigm and align roles and responsibilities. Pay special attention to roles that are needed or do not exist in the company. (For example, data librarians, storytellers, interaction drivers, engagement drivers, etc.)
- Ensure your marketing technology stack is on track. To enable your new marketing and communications ecosystem and ensure it is well integrated, focus on identifying subject matter experts to properly nurture and evolve the technology platforms.
- Invest in a team that is forward-looking. Change occurs via humans. Who will move the ball forward, test new online solutions and help adoption occur?
- Ensure there is a focus on analytics and actionable insights. This is a must.
- Pay attention to organizational change management, to ensure effective implementation and adoption of solutions and other changes.
When you are able to build excellent stories via the ABCDE model, you are well on the way to success. Still, like anything in life, our ability to plan, integrate, learn and scale what we do makes all the difference. This is why the discipline to “CE-IT through” (CEIT, or Content, Engagement, Interaction and Transaction, discussed in our first article) is an important companion model. It’s not as sexy, but it is equally important for brand and organizational success.
Note: Ayaz Malik’s views are his and not made on behalf of Roche.