The phrase “content is king” has been thrown around so much in the last few years, it’s all but lost its meaning. What content is king? What does it mean to be king? What is content even?
In 1996 it was Bill Gates who coined the term in an essay called Content is King. Originally published on the Microsoft website, Gates foresaw the importance of content (written media, videos, photos, etc) for the internet, which he believed would lead to the ultimate downfall of traditional media outlets.
Relating mostly to digital content marketing efforts today, the phrase is generally broken down into two parts: quantity and quality. Quantity, in chasing to publish as much as possible, usually seen in product marketing. Quality, a mission to create valuable and insightful material, which lends itself more to media publications.
Neither one is good nor bad, but each strategy speaks to audiences in a vastly different way. For example, when you create content for internal communications, do you …
In its barest bones, internal communication is about engaging employees, and not overwhelming them with information they neither want nor need.
Unfortunately, the nature of internal communications does not always lend itself to rational thinking when it comes to quality over quantity.
As an internal communicator, how can you focus on creating quality content?
Where many internal communicators struggle is that they are so focused on getting their messages out, they don’t step back to see the bigger picture.
To see the full view, you need to create a channel audit to form part of your internal communication plan.
What are the current communication channels currently used in the organization? Answering this question will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and furthermore allow you to tailor-make content that plays to those strengths. Remember to look at both official company channels as well as social channels.
Once you’ve analyzed your channels, the second step would be to segment each channel by audience.
Emails might work better for executives and frontline staff, while if you need to get a message out to factory staff, it might be better to set up posters or video screens.
Different channels work for different organizations, but only by strategically thinking about where and how to use those channels, can you optimize your chances of getting your message heard.
The last phase of your internal communication plan is a content calendar – what you’re going to share, on which day, on what channel.
As and when urgent and ad hoc messages come through, you’ll be able to see where it could fit into the calendar. If it really needs to go out at once, you’ll also know how it will affect the rest of your calendar.
Scheduling issues aside, a calendar will give you a broad overview of your messaging tactics and touchpoints. Are you using some channels more than others? Is your content plan balanced? Are you speaking to different stakeholders on the right platforms?
If you need some help to get started, read this best practices guide on creating a channel strategy. It also includes three free internal communication plan templates sure to set you off on the right foot.
Getting your message delivered is the first step towards creating meaningful content. Once you have people’s attention, you need to make sure your message sticks.
Most communications professionals know that it’s not about what you say, but how you say it that matters. This can’t be truer when it comes to internal communication.
If you are speaking about something serious and important are you speaking with clarity and empathy? When it’s something fun, can your excitement be palpable through your message?
Using appropriate voice and tone in your messaging has the power to elevate your message beyond what is being said, to truly connect with your audience.
Voice is the personality used in the language. Depending on the organization, this could be either the personality of the internal communicator or the company brand.
Some communications professionals have a signature style of communicating and put their unique stamp into their content so that their audiences can connect with them on a personal level. Other communicators see themselves as the voice of the company and therefore an extension of the company brand.
Whichever voice you choose, however, you need to keep.
Where you add color to each piece of content, is tone. Have you ever received a text message from a friend and thought they might be upset solely based on their punctuation, emoji or sentence structure? Tone is what’s said between the lines, which is what makes it such a powerful tool in communications.
If you’re unsure about using the right tone, read Grammarly’s tone guide. For more hands-on help, sign up with a grammar tool such as Grammarly for live tone analysis and monitoring.
When Bill Gates penned the phrase “content is king” 24 years ago, it’s doubtful he knew how it will take a life of its own among marketing and communications professionals. In a digital age where quantity often outweighs quality content, it might be time to rethink Gates’ phrase.
No, not all content is king. Content that is focused on quantity may have its place in the king’s court, but meaningful and thoughtful content that connects with its audience, that’s the real king.
In this IC 101 guide, we looked at content, channels, and audience, but three of the seven best practice principles for internal communications. For an overall view, here are all the best practices for effective communication in the workplace.
IC 101 is a blog series dedicated to sharing internal communication best practices. The principles discussed in this series are drawn from research from Simon Fraser University and learnings from internal communication experts in the field. Join us in this series to empower your communication efforts today.
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