The latest episode of our In-House Life online series, in partnership with Adobe Workfront, focussed on content, with Claire Dormer, Head of Content at TUI Group; Christopher Bedson, Senior Director Content Creation at Calvin Klein and Niall O’Rourke, Content Lead, The National Lottery at Camelot.
Across our IHALC community, there is a wide variety of in-house agency, both in terms of size and scope. Our content session illustrated this well. Niall O’Rourke’s team at Camelot consists of just three people, who are responsible for telling stories about lottery winners and the good causes that the lottery supports. At the other end of the scale, Claire Dormer has a team of 75 with responsibility for everything produced at TUI that is not an above-the-line ad campaign – from social media posts to good old-fashioned printed brochures. And with nine people, Chris Benson’s team also sits at the more modest end of the scale, producing original content for Calvin Klein Europe as well as repurposing assets from the New York-based global team for the European market.
We’re sharing some key insights from the session.
What is ‘content’?
Content has become such a nebulous, catch-all term that we thought it helpful to start the session by asking each of our panellists to give us their definition. Since taking on a global role, Claire told us the she has been working on establishing a definition with key stakeholders as the business lacks a clear one. “One of the key stakeholders said, ‘content is everything. And without it, we have nothing’. Obviously, when you’re head of content, your head might explode at that because you’ve got to manage it all!” For Niall, ‘content’ was defined more by the focus of his team – on “discovering, amplifying and sharing great stories [that will make people] more excited about our brand and about playing the National Lottery”. While for Chris, content can be anything “from a billboard to an email and everything in-between”. “It’s become a catch all term for literally everything – pictures, videos, words… stuff, basically. If you were to replace the word ‘content’ with ‘stuff’, that’s pretty much where we are,” he told us.
Opportunity – and challenge
For Chris, the open-ended scope of content can be seen as an exciting creative opportunity: “From an operational perspective, it can be really challenging. Do you have the right talent in place? Have you got the right resource? Do we even know how to make stuff for that particular channel? But I think from a creative perspective, it’s actually very exciting. And it’s a real opportunity. That access to everything and the possibility that literally anything could can land on your desk is very, very challenging, and also extremely exciting at the same time.”
With content having such ill-defined boundaries, resource planning and budgeting can be extremely difficult. All our panellists talked about the importance of covering off key scheduled activities through the year while allowing for extra bandwidth to be able to react to ad-hoc opportunities or crises. “I think integration is key,” Niall told us. “So we have some seasonal moments that we work towards in terms of our brand work – we’re currently working on a summer sports theme and we’ve been out filming content for the women’s Euros. We also have some ‘business as usual content’ that we gather for all the winners that come back and do some volunteering work and that sort of thing. That’s the content that can be shifted, if you get a big winner coming forward that we need to react to, in a very quick way. So there’s room within the programme to shift some things. And the great thing about being integrated [with not just marketing but the wider business] is that everyone’s on the same page, we know that the brand pieces are really important, we know that the public winners are our most engaged content. So it’s never a difficult conversation to say we need to shift something else. So I think it’s that integration, those conversations with the other parts of the business, that give you the flexibility to work outside of that the planned moments.”
Can you get what you need?
All our panellists talked abut the challenges of going on shoots without clear media plans or knowing exactly what assets are needed beforehand. “It’s great to be able to be agile and reactive, but, on the other hand, some other parts of the business can sometimes take that for granted and not realise that you’ve got deadlines as well,” said Niall. “I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds that sometimes we’re shooting and we don’t have the media plan yet, or we don’t have all of the deliverables yet.” “It’s also around that sign-off process as well,” said Claire. “Because you’re the in-house team, and you’ve got a video editing team sat nearby, people think that they can always make changes even when that video editor needs to move on to something else. That discipline that they would accept from an agency is harder to accept when you’re the in-house team.”
And sometimes you have to say ‘no’: “Sometimes you have to push back if something isn’t properly, fleshed out, or it is too late, or it is too much, or they’re asking for too much with not enough budget,” said Chris. “Sometimes you just do have to say no, and that can cause some tension. But I think in the long run it’s the right thing to do, because it sharpens everybody’s attention to the realities of how much we have to do. So I think that’s quite important sometimes just push back and say, well, actually, no, we can’t do that.”
In terms of measurement and analysing the effectiveness of content, it’s a much more complex picture than simply counting clicks, views or likes, as Claire explained: “It really does vary depending on the channel and the objective of that specific piece of content. From a social point of view, we have specific content pillars that we’re trying to create content for. And we work with partners, so they equally have their own objectives that they want to get out of it. So it’s a really hard one, but actually just having people engaged with the content and finding it useful, or saying they found it really interesting, or that they’ve learned something [is success]. Like any other brand, we run attribution modelling and econometrics, so that certainly gives us a lot when it comes to the value around channel content. My pet project at the moment has been around trying to attribute a value to a brochure – that’s a very physical thing that you go into a store and you pick up and you walk away. And no-one ever knows whether the amount we spent on that brochure really added any value. So I’m working with our digital teams to see if we can try and digitise them in some way and then understand a little bit more about the value of that because it’s quite a significant spend on print and paper and distribution and we need to really think about that carefully in a world of sustainability. It’s really then around the customer journey and what touch points they interact with when they’re consuming content. And you really quickly learn that it’s really complicated, and they might interact with every single touch point that you’ve got. So it’s not a quick and easy answer, it is really complex.”
Showing the business the value of what you do
This is a perennial issue in our in-house sessions, but Niall told us about a novel approach at Camelot that goes beyond slide shows and ROI data. “We have these learning months, several times a year, which are open to everybody across the business. We just had a whole month dedicated to the Camelot Creative Hub where people got the opportunity with my guys to go and learn how to fly a drone and film content. There were drawing sessions, there was story writing, all kinds of things. And it was by far, the most popular learning month we’ve ever had at Camelot and the reaction’s been great. And that’s that kind of soft power way of getting across what we do, and all of the skills that we have in the Camelot Creative Hub. Rather than going into a meeting and showing the slideshow, coming up with a creative way to play what you do back to the business can be really effective.”
Thanks To Claire, Niall and Chris for such a great session. See our Events page for upcoming sessions