You’re a media company now, what, you didn’t get that memo?
Even if you manufacture pencils, rent cars, sell art, or have a sell flowers online.
Every company is a media company
Dan Scheinman a VP at Cisco at a recent new media conference said something to the effect (I don’t have the exact quote) “All companies are media companies, they just don’t know it yet.” This rings true for many companies, how? If your consumers, customers, prospects, and your marketplace is creating, joining, consuming or becoming media then you ought to think about joining them.
[Every company is a media company, even if you sell blenders. But before you innovate to innovate, what questions should you be asking yourself?]
How it’s been done in the past
Traditionally, corporations have added to the media in one of three ways: 1) Established a relationship and fed mainstream media (Media Relations manager in Corp Comm) or 2) Hired an outside firm to create media such as a webinar, video, or even an advertisement. 3) In some cases there are internal audio and visual teams that can create media for the corporation, but in my experience, they don’t get the resources and attention to produce as fast (and sometimes as creatively) as modern outsourced firms.
For the purpose of this post, I’m referring to audio, video, and interactive media created for the web: online video, podcasts, webinars, images, and sometimes presentations. This crosses over to web, widgets, mobile, and eventually virtual worlds and someday video games.
Exactly what does a “media” company of the future look like? All along the customer lifecycle is an opportunity to create media, it’s great for injecting and encouraging conversation, telling a story, or demoing a product. It’s amazing to see how quickly Dell has created a massive arsenal of product and lifestyle videos at Studio Dell. You’ll see that they’ve segmented it by just about every product line, and need. Also take a look at the Intel channel who’s worked with my previous employer to create many podcasts, videos, to tie and supplement announcements, initiatives and events. Take a look at BlendTec, who created videos around their product and it quickly spread around the web. Take a look at Innocent drinks in europe who integrates customer pictures from flickr across their whole website and events. Also see how Microsoft’s development team has interviews and demos with the product team in Channel 9 (and now spread to Channel 8 and Channel 10)
Here’s a quick checklist of things to think about before you start creating media:
I know this space pretty well, having worked in it, am creating media, and analyze how companies do it, so here’s a few things to help you get started
Do you have a strategy? Let’s start with the start. Why create media? What story are you trying to tell? Don’t just do this because it’s hot, understand how it can impact your company. What story are you telling? Sometimes, media doesn’t have to be just a product demo, but could ‘go up a level’ and tell a story. Relate to your customers life style, understand and relate to how they work and live, rather than just push features. Got legs? Does your player of media (audio/video/webcast/powerpoint/images) have ‘legs’ so it can spread to other websites? Is it embeddable? Do you want it to be? Got a loop? How can customers give feedback? In the era of two way communications, customers are going to want to talk back, what avenues are you giving them to rate, comment, or approve content. If you’re thinking strategically, you’ll use this feedback to improve your media, involve them, and make it even more relevant for them How can I use their media? You don’t have to create it all. This is a true nightmare of legal or branding teams, but a blessing once you get past the scary part. What’s going to resonate more with customers than their own videos? Consider a strategy that incorporates customers as creators, nods to them, or gives them some ability to direct how it’s going to be created. You’ll be surprised at how much they may embrace you back. Mobile and Distributed? Have you answered how your medium will spread to mobile devices? Can it be embedded in widgets and let go? Long or Short form? There’s a time and a place for both formats, it depends on what your objective is. I’ve found it helpful to also provide digests and summary pieces for long form content, as well as giving the audience the ability to scan content (like a chapter) and fast forward to other segments. Which to choose? Be Interesting or Add Value. Fit into those categories or it’s just not worth making, the truly savvy will do both at the same time. There’s a bunch of ways to listen, read, or watch what is already interesting to your market base before getting started. How do you Integrate your media? When you integrate these new media tools with your existing traditional tools they both will have extended reach. Learn how these tools mix with email, your corporate website, news feeds, events, brochures, and even email signature and business cards.
The following are select submissions from the comments:
Who is it for? “Pinpoint the buyer persona you are after. This could be done by setting up listening posts (feedback loops) throughout your current media, or by conducting some research. Before any content marketing initiative launches, the business must have a very good idea of the informational needs of the buyer.” (submitted by Joe in comments) Are you in it for the long term? “In most cases, the content must be consistently delivered and not a one off. So many companies are looking for that big viral hit, but what works most often is delivering consistently valuable information to buyers, which is available through a variety of channels.” (submitted by Joe in comments) What are you NOT going to do? Yes, that goes to your item #1 “do you have a strategy”, but less face it, not many people have internalized their Porter well enough to know that the strategic trade-offs you make are the cornerstone of sound strategy. So, then “Mobile and Distributed” goes to, “are we gonna do that or not” informed by, a solid “where are your customers, what are they doing, what do they want” analysis. (thanks from Joe 10) Who will you be? “From what point of view will you be communicating? Third-party observer? Voice of reason? Passionate insider? Aggregator of others’ ideas? For crediblity and for establishing expectations among your audiences you’ll need a consistent — though not monolithic — personality to project. An individual doesn’t need to spend as much time on this since it will come fairly naturally. But for media being developed by a number of content sources you’ll want to think this through.” (strategic marketer DJHowatt)
Add to the checklist, leave a comment
This checklist by any means is not completed, so I need your help. What other questions should companies be asking before diving into integrating media in many areas? If you work at an agency, or have deployed within a corporation and have deployed, here’s your opportunity to strut your stuff.
Quick self-analysis. How well am I practicing what I preach? I’m trying to integrate my media across few channels, from twitter, facebook, and my email and business cards have my blog address on it. I experiment with new ones channels (like micromedia), find their limitations and see how they can integrate into the mix. I use these mediums when at events and conferences, tied to my employer or not. One of my biggest strategies is that when I use video, I actually like to interview you, the community and surface your knowledge.
In any case, I’ll be at Nokia’s Mobile Mashup event in Palo Alto, where we will be tying the web, mobile, and media into something new. At 3:30pm we’ll be meeting in the lobby to answer the question “How is communication changing” using Micromedia only. It’s an experiment with the medium, but a question that must be answered.