Month: August 2014

Uniquely me….

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Sometimes the interesting thing about being both a communications person and a digital person, is that there can tend to be an assumption that I lean heavily one way or another.  The majority of my career has been in communications and worked my way up through the ranks starting out as an intern at a communication agency.

My interests slowly gravitated towards social and eventually digital, well because I just so happened to part of the era that launched yahoo chat rooms, ICQ, msn chat, the early stages of lavalife etc. etc.  The move into the social space was interesting because it was happening to me and those in my generation and I also happened to be a communications person pondering what it would mean for my career and what it meant for communications as a whole.

Later on I became much more heavier in the technology aspect, and I saw this as a wonderful blend for a communications person.  How useful would it be to really understand the intricacies of how the technology worked and what it could and couldn’t do, and be able to leverage this expertise from ac communications perspective.

The irony however, was that the transition back into communications and the few years in digital that I spent, has turned me into what communications people consider to be a highly technical person that more closely resembles someone from IT.  IT teams relate well to me because they understand that I understand, and that I really get it. It is always a bonus for them to have someone from the client/business side that actually understands what they can and cannot do.

Understanding technology doesn’t limit or reduce the ability for anyone to perform as a communications person.  To write, to lead strategy, to edit and/or approve.  It is highly difficult to do that when you are relegated to a role understanding as the IT person.  I would add to this that my communications background is what landed me the digital role in a media company famous for its content and published brands.  It’s a very odd place to be – to not actually be the IT person or considered to be an IT person by IT people, nor the communications person considered to be a communications person by the people in communications.  I think you can be both roles and really strategic in both of them – which to me is ultimately what makes the most sense since the world of communications is going digital!

How to Develop a Strong Digital Content Strategy

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Credit: Inbound Marketing
Credit: Inbound Marketing

This is what most companies – if not all companies struggle with.  Content strategies can be complex at best, and when you tie in digital content – the level of understanding required takes things to an entirely different level.

Digital content strategies require a different line of thinking than traditional content stratgies – namely and primarly SEO and engagement (think time on site) in real estate that constantly competes for the users attention while encouraging them to go visit other things.

Here are 7 simples steps to take your digital content strategy to the next level:

1.  Know your audience and who you are trying to reach:  from television netowrks, advertisements, magazine content to the web.  Everyone has always known that content is king, but only if it is talking to the right people.  Know who you are speaking too, and who you are trying to reach.  Use analytics, surveys and behavioural tracking to assist in defining who these people are.

2. Define you digital objecties:  Do you need more visitors to your site?  Do you want them to stay longer on your site?  Do you want them to click around on more content on your site?  Do you want them click over to other sites?  Do you want them to comment? Do you need to improve your SEO? Do you want to grow your social following? Do you want to go responsive because your mobile audience is growing?  Moving into ecommerce?  Want to upgrade your technology platform or CMS?   You can’t choose them all, but choose the ones that are most required for your current situation.

3. Ensure that you are properly resourced:  What and who do you need on your team?  If it is a specific CMS/platform, an SEO strategy, community management etc.  you need to make sure that you have the right  people in place to support where you are going  Don’t forget your Information Architects and UX specialists!  Prioritization of information, site layout and taxonomy play a critical role in content strategy for tagging and archiving reasons!

4. Plan your content:   That’s right – the good old editoiral calendar.  Know your dates, themes, company priorities and ensure our site and content managers are prepared.

5. Get geographic: Knowing your audience (point 1) also means knowing where they are.  Region specific content/offers = awesomeness.

6. Think Like a Human Being: Based on your objectives and your audience, remember that you should probably make decisions from the perspective that your audience would appreciate.  What are your CTA’s, are they continuing to ask your audience clearly what to do while at the same time driving to assist in hitting your objectives.

7. Assess content performance: Stay on top of what works for your audience and what doesn’t.  Clean up your content, remove what is old, repurpose content that may be more relevant or previously performed well.  Be the ultimate curator and historian of your own content.

Moving Through Digital Landscapes: One Company at a Time

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The-Changing-Digital-LandscapeIt’s always interesting when you enter into massive organziations and begin to look at how big brands interact with the ever changing world of digital.  Especially when the organization has a complex structure and IT systems that can make digital strategy easier said than done.

I heard an interesting and salient point from someone the other day, that I think really impacts the way that digital people often approach new landscapes and roles. Myself included!

We are often able to come into new environments and quickly “detect” what is “wrong”, or which “process” needs to be implemented/improved, or where there are huge “gaps”.  I put those in quotes because our wonderful changes today are also the major pain points for those that come into replace us tomorrow.  The situation we enter today, was also once someone’s solution for some other issue they were trying to solve yesterday.

Often times, we bring in processes, ideas and stop gaps that are not net new,  but borrowed from previous places.  This doesn’t make us innovative ( A word that digital people love to associate with themselves).   Every new company that you enter will provide you a new digital landscape that you are facing.  This can be something as basic as not having an environment where everyone is working from the same operating system and know very little about digial at all, to incredibly forward thinking places where you feel inadequate because you don’t seem to be on the pulse as much as everyone else is.

When I first began at Rogers media, I felt so inadequate.  I joined their digital team, and as a communications person I had very basic understandings of technology.  In my almost 3 year tenure, I learned so much and at such a quick pace that I was often the only person in many scenarios who had either encountered, heard about, solved through some abstract digital strategy or solution.  In my new role, I am super savvy in an environment that works on antiquated platforms that have limited technological capabilities for core things like search and analytics.

What I am learning every day, is that it has less to do with how forward thinking and innovative I believe I am – but more so in understanding the culture and environment and determining what  digital strategies make the most sense based on the technologies I am working with.  Part of my role involves pushing forward and challenging my team to think outside the box including being current with technology.  However, driving the company into a digital direction that I have seen before may not be the answer that complex matrix type organizations with strong history and culture need.  What is needed is a lot of observation and finding technology solves that can marry old with new allowing for a smoother and more unique transitioning of those landscapes.