Tag Archives: content strategy

Managing the digital content strategy for the Jingle Bell Ball 2014

One of the reasons I absolute love working for Global Radio is being involved in the amazing selection of events they put on each year. Whether it’s Capital’s Summertime Ball, Jingle Bell Ball or XFM’s Winter Wonderland – it’s always an exciting time of year as the company rallies round to deliver a brilliant experience for our audience.

As a content person I particularly love these live events because, no matter how much you plan in advance, there are always challenges (and opportunities) that crop up which need to be dealt with in the moment. If you want to get academic, it means providing an editorial structure that is nimble enough to adapt to traffic behaviour, potential technical difficulties, competitors or just amazing stuff that just happens on the day that you couldn’t have prepared for in any planning session. And it rocks.

This year covering Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball has been extra special for us as we’ve recently launched our brand new mobile site only a few weeks ago. As the majority of the Capital audience visit us via mobile, it’s been important to ensure they get the best experience possible and, looking at the positive growth in audience numbers, it’s good to see they agree!

Besides updating platforms, I think the biggest change we made this year to cover the ball was just around workflow. This is the nerdy side of editorial that, I must admit, I’m very interested in. This year we really looked at the time it took to deliver content to our audience from inception (onstage performances or backstage antics) to delivery (video, gallery, article etc) and eliminated any obstacles. That meant creating a workflow that adapted throughout the day and in accordance with the content we wanted to prioritise.

Layer on search and social and that’s an interesting beast to manoeuvre – and only made possible by a brilliant digital content team working within a slick operation that is all working towards a common goal.

Day one is now over and I’m about to head over to the O2 to prepare for the arrival of another fantastic lineup of artists. If you’re with us today in person, or through radio, online or mobile, I hope you have a brilliant day!

Follow Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball live blog here.

Capital FM website.

Content Strategy Links of the Week, November 20

Why social is key to creating habit-forming news products

“According to Nir Eyal, it’s often fear that encourages a person to return to a product again and again. Boredom drives return visits to YouTube, loneliness encourages people to go to Facebook, uncertainty encourages people to search Google, he says.

So for newspapers, news sites and digital products, perhaps the driver is FOMO, a fear of missing out. People return to find out about the key news events that they don’t want to miss.”

Latest from the NPR social media desk

“1. Everyone’s talking about Serial. Seriously. Vox has gone one step further and built an interactive guide to keep track of who’s who in this character-driven crime story. Brilliant? Yes. A step too far? Maybe. But the resulting audio cards are really user friendly and offer sideways entry points into the story, in addition to making it all easier to follow. Now, just think of other ways we could break down a story that might make it easier to for the
audience to enter and understand.”

Why We Crave Human-Curated Playlists

“Context is key for music, and that is where services like Songza and Beats Music are picking up tips from FM radio. These services are essentially using algorithms to help people discover new playlists, instead of discovering new songs. This allows for a marriage of both technology and human curation.”

This woman is Hearst Magazines’ secret digital weapon

“Sharing content is another key part of the strategy. Other publishers aggregate news from elsewhere or open their sites to outside contributors to increase their publishing volume quickly and at low cost. With all of Hearst’s magazines as well as newspapers to draw from, the publisher has a long way to go before it has to look to outside sources for content. Part of Lewis’ mandate, then, has been getting Hearst to surface stories that can work across brands. Ultimately, the goal is to have 20 percent of a given Hearst site’s content coming from another Hearst property.”

More than 7 in 10 believe radio will not decline, survey finds

“An ageing population and an increasing numbers of retirees could mean increasing popularity. However, the test is to ensure that young people continue to reach out to radio as they grow older.

“To address this challenge, radio must continue to be a place of ‘music discovery’ and must adapt to new ways of enjoying content on the go – and on modern media devices.”

Quartz rethinks the newsroom for the digital age

“We don’t adhere to the preset roles you have in news organizations,” Seward said. “It prevents a myopic view of how stories need to be told. When you have the ability to think about how to tell a story differently, then it leads to more creative ways.”

Why Instagram isn’t (yet) a great platform for news publishers

“So while Instagram currently isn’t the best host for what most publishers are doing right now, as the platform becomes more video focused publishers with expertise in creating narratives in video form will find Instagram’s a more effective way to reach audiences. Until then, though, as Guyatt says, there’s very little purpose to publishing content to a platform on which it does not belong.”

Why podcasts are suddenly “back”

“The money and raw numbers have finally gotten investors to pay attention, and investors have a lot of press influence. But podcasts have never exploded and have never died. The truth is that they’ve grown boringly and steadily for almost a decade, and will likely continue to do so. And that’s great!”

The web is alive and well

“To see the mistake here, just look at the most popular mobile app supposedly leading this turn away from the web: Facebook. A substantial portion of Facebook content offers links to other websites. Tapping them opens a browser within the app, and there you are, on the web. The latest version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, in fact, brings in-app browsers on par with the company’s own Safari browser in terms of capabilities and performance.”

It’s small touches that can make a difference in New York’s layouts

“Each week, Williams and his designers choose one of the feature articles set to appear in the print magazine, usually the cover story, and brainstorm ways they can add visual design elements that improve the storytelling process. This has become increasingly common at many publications ever since the launch of Snow Fall, the multimedia story project produced by a team of New York Times journalists, designers, videographers, and coders — though when I mentioned Snow Fall, Williams was quick to note that New York’s forays into the medium are much less epic in scale. “It’s possible to build them with each issue and without overwhelming the team,” he said in a phone interview.”

Content Strategy Links of the Week, Oct 24th

The time has cometh. Here’s another roundup of my favourite links from the week covering digital strategy, social media and radio. Enjoy!

18 companies with brilliant digital strategies
Nice overview here by Ben Davis. I’m particularly intrigued by ASOS placing their editorial content (i.e. non commercial content) on their homepage and still driving sales. Obviously, they are still promoting their top offers but they’ve recognised that the homepage can be used more for inspiration and reinforcing key brand messages. Their SEO, CRM activity and search function can do the work of driving ££££.

Obviously, I don’t think I need to mention the GDS but if you haven’t read their service design manifesto you can do so here.

And finally, as a former member of the Lego Club back in the 80s (I got my bronze, silver and gold badges back in the day don’t you know…) I’m a sucker for anything about those plastic bricks. Here’s an interview with their Head of Social Media.

What 12-Year-Olds Do On Social Media – Consumer Reports News
Two things I learnt from this US report. One, don’t dismiss Instagram. Second is wrapped up in this line: “The general rule was that the girls used public settings on their fandom accounts, but strong privacy settings for their personal accounts.” That is very significant if you’re targeting a younger demographic.

Social Proof in the User Experience
I’m a big fan of these reports from Jacob Nielsen’s team and this one drives home the advantages of displaying social proof without smothering the user. Back to the old rule: Keep It Simple.

Bedtime stories: What Metro and BuzzFeed’s stats tell us about mobile readership
Loads of insight here from two well-known publishers. If you agree that ‘mobile is social’ then this quote from Martin Ashplant will particularly ring true:

“I think in terms of the type of content that works well – it’s the intrinsic link between social that works on mobile. We’re finding that so much social activity happens on mobile, well above what we’re seeing on desktop or tablet. It’s about producing something that works on social.”
 
Radio: It’s a love thing
Nice update from  over at Earshot Creative regarding the latest marketing campaign from the Commercial Radio Brand Committee in Australia. Perfectly summarised by a tweet I saw from Matt:

And lastly, we stumbled upon the video below this week and, as a result,  I’ve been listening to those old Metallica tracks all week. Dead jel. I’ve been trying to learn those riffs for years and I still haven’t cracked it. Oh well! 😉

 

Until next week!

Best content strategy links of the week: September 12, 2014

Greetings interweb people!

Like some beautiful burning phoenix rising from the flames I present to you my often-cited but never seen, content strategy links of the week. I’ve been a little preoccupied by a new job recently but no more excuses – let’s get this off the ground again. So here it is, in all it’s glory, repeated every Friday.

(I mean the blog series, not the actual same content.  That would be ridic.)

Next Radio 2014 Highlights
Obviously, I’m going to mention the UK radio industry event that was held in London on Monday first. I’ve written about it here but it’s worth flagging that the presenter videos from the event are now being posed on Next Radio website. Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for organising the event.

The container model and blended content – a new approach to how we present content on the Guardian
Interesting overview by Nick Haley on the content strategy decisions behind the new responsive Guardian website. Nice notion around ‘blended content’ and how they are using this new modular approach to inspire serendipity and increase dwell times. As Nick himself writes: Blended containers were a vehicle which exposed content to people they may not ordinarily encounter but is interesting to them. The containers both support existing patterns of behaviour and may spur on new patterns.”

Interestingly, when I visited the site it took me a while to realise I wasn’t actually on the Beta version. But then again, that might be me just being thick.

Vertical campfires: our user research walls
I loved this overview of the UX process at GDS from Kate Townsey. Check out the use case scenarios. Notice these are not fully-fleshed personas which have the tendency to drift off into fantasy – this is just enough detail to help the team focus on the user needs.  And notice it’s on a wall, not hidden away on someone’s laptop.

How we built the the new wired.co.uk homepage
Again another open, honest account of a responsive site launch – and I don’t just like this because of the cool parallax formatting (although the responsive ads absolutely rock). I particularly like the question posed by Pete Miller: “…what is the purpose of a website’s own content discovery experience when there are extremely popular purpose-built cross-site content discovery platforms – search engines, social media, content curation apps such as Zite or Flipboard”.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to this either, but worth pondering.

Does journalism still require impartiality?
Great article by Kellie Riordan on the importance of editorial curation to help users identify the best bits of info each day. This has to be balanced, of course, with the fact that people are now posting clips faster to social media than can be identified, verified and curated by journalists.

What has changed in the digital era is not so much the need for impartiality but the method to achieve it. New media prefer transparency and plurality to achieve impartiality, old media achieve it with objective methods. Let’s acknowledge that both methods can lead to quality journalism, or for that matter, to poor journalism.

But it’s also important to recognise what hasn’t changed. Audiences now have access to more information and a variety of different perspectives to form their own conclusions. Do audiences need a journalist to de-code the news or contextualise the facts anymore? I think they still do. This is what hasn’t changed. “

Does The Internet Still Need Comments? Yes, But A Different Kind
Interesting article on a the recent trend of bloggers and publishers removing comments from their articles. It also highlights how users are simply using the comments section to share the article on their friend’s Facebook pages and not commenting at all. In which case, should we really be calling these comments at all?

Responsive Web Design Podcast
No weekly content strategy roundup would be complete without mentioning Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte’s excellent weekly podcast on responsive design. They’ve interviewed some great companies (Capital One, Fidelity, Marriott and The Boston Globe) about their responsive design decisions and it’s compulsive listening. Highly recommended.

And finally, fans of this post will know that I have an eclectic taste in music. I found this the other day and I’m still trying to make sense of it. Good ol’ Brian…

See you next week!

My Highlights from the Next Radio 2014 conference

As always, this year’s Next Radio conference in London featured plenty of great speakers discussing the impact of digital on traditional radio business models and how they’ve used content to re-engage with their audience across multiple platforms.

Global Radio, NPR Radio, BBC, CBC Music – these were just some of the brands that presented, but the most significant was the inclusion of Tom Loosemore from the GDS who discussed how an effective content strategy is not just about delivering a better UX, it’s about changing the organisation. But more on that later.

Kicking off proceedings, James Rea from LBC talked about the impact of going national earlier this year and how they’ve repositioned our journalists across the UK to deliver the biggest breaking news first. Although he spoke about the importance of the presenters who help shape the personality of the brand, he emphasised that the whole radio proposition  starts with the audience. Without callers phoning in and trusting the brand to express their ‘live, immediate, moments of personal relegation’ (to quote James O’Brien) the station wouldn’t have any ‘hit records’. For LBC, the focus on the audience is an absolute prerequisite for a successful talk radio show.

Mike Hill from UK Radio Player argued that the industry will face real problems if it continues to release complicated devices with confusing interfaces. “Radio should be Simple”, he said. Simple tasks like tuning should not be difficult. It’s a problem that has to be nailed soon particularly with the release of new connected in-car audio systems. If we don’t make UX intuitive then we’ll all lose out. Mike also teased a new hybrid digital adaptor that will hit the market soon.

Another highlight included Anya Grundmann from NPR Music who showed how their digital presence now exceeds that of their traditional radio reach. The NPR’s content strategy has already been well documented but I was particularly interested in their Tiny Desk series which demonstrated how a simple live artist performance can be extended across digital.

Here’s a personal favourite of mine featuring John Grant:

Our very own Charles Ubaghs (Head of Social Media, Global) took us through the hugely successful social media strategy on Classic FM.  “Treat Social as a distinct editorial channel” he said and took us through several examples where the brand has bridged the gap between what many people may consider a niche topic, and what people want to read in their social media streams.

Finally, hats off to Tom Loosemore from GDS for his inspiring overview of their content strategy and their objectives. This is someone who certainly doesn’t pull any punches: “We’re not here to create a better user experience, we’re here to change government”. As a content strategist it was fantastic to see Tom’s inclusion as part of this event and I’ll certainly be taking a few tips. If you’ve not read about GDS then you can read more here.

So there you go, just a few highlights from the event. I can’t go without a final thought from radio producer Jonathan Ruffle who told us that the big idea behind his forthcoming radio WW1 documentary Tommies was simply this: “Mankind is a moth to the flame of war”. Wow, wasn’t expecting that at a media event and I think I’ll be mulling that over for the rest of my life.

Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for putting such a fantastic event together.

See you all next year!

Three Amazing Things I learnt from News:Rewired (July, 2014)

I went to Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired conference held at MSN in London on Wednesday (23 July) and here are my random notes from the event.

1. “Newspapers will outlive sites”
This was by far the most provocative statement of the day, delivered by WSJ’s mobile Editor David Ho and beautifully crafted for a roomful of journalists. However, his statement was heavily qualified as he pointed out seven signs that has led to this change:

  • News consumers are shifting to mobile.
  • Most data traffic on mobile happens via apps, not websites.
  • Mobile Web visitors tend to skip home pages and go straight to articles via search and social.
  • Tech companies are focusing on deep-linking technology to take users from one one app to another, bypassing Web browsers.
  • Technology is becoming more personal and anticipatory – contextually aware of user actions and environment.
  • User interfaces are evolving beyond screens to focus on voice and gesture control.
  • The Internet of Things and wearables loom right behind smart phones poised to deliver a profound change.

He spoke further:

Newspapers have been around for about 400 years and they have a lot of staying power. The people who like them really like them.People are beginning to understand something that we at the Journal figured out four years ago when we launched our iPad app. A finite self-containing non-updating content set still has value – the concept of the edition still matters, especially in a world of non-stop news.”

These are not new facts but they were eloquently put and Ho even got us to play Flappy Bird after his opening keynote which is no small feat. In short, think platform, not destination.

2. “Explain it in one sentence and why people should share it”
Bella Hurrell from the BBC raised some very valid points around infographics – and I agree. Sometimes you have to question if your infographic project is communicating knowledge in the quickest and most informative way possible or is it just an exercise in pretty looking graphics? Does it really need to absorb so much resource? What are your trying to achieve? Have you lost the plot? (This is a question I often ask myself). 

Further reading here.

3. Buzzsumo
There were a lot of social media tools presented at the event but Buzzsumo really stood out for me. If you haven’t explored it yet you can find out more here.

Until next time.

What makes great content? Global Producer’s Day at Global Radio

Last week we held the first of our Global Radio Producer sessions in London, discussing with Global Radio producers from around the UK, not only our digital plans for the year ahead, but also how to produce great content that can be easily shared across multiple platforms.

It was an interesting couple of days as was a great opportunity for the digital teams to hear about the challenges and opportunities the radio teams face on a daily basis and how to make content work in that unique environment.

Here’s some random thoughts from the event and I look forward to the next session early next year.

  • Amazing content doesn’t necessarily mean complex ideas, the ideas themselves can be quite simple. What’s more important is that they are executed brilliantly with an attention to detail that demonstrates you really understand your audience. Sometimes executing brilliantly means stripping away the idea to it’s simplest (and most understood) component.
  • Make it as easy as possible to share these ideas in your organisation. Identify silos and training requirements otherwise you’ll have teams trying to reinvent the wheel every time they sit down to plan the week ahead. Avoid the trappings of email where there is often the illusion of communication and understanding.
  • Radio is an extremely reactive environment buzzing with brilliant ideas so getting the right balance between proactive planning and spontaneity can be tricky.
  • Discussing what makes great ‘content’ is a fruitful conversation to have in any organisation – but let’s talk about content with a small ‘c’ shall we? Take radio as an example, there are very slight but important differences between digital and radio editorial ideas and sometimes we run the risk of obscuring this with conversations around Content. Let’s recognise the differences so we can recognise the best ideas and facilitate them through the best platforms available.

Covering the Capital FM Summertime Ball 2014

I always get such a buzz covering live events for a couple of reasons: firstly, no matter how much you plan in advance, something always changes at the last minute and you have to adapt accordingly. Of course, this doesn’t mean PANIC, it just means PROBLEM SOLVING AT A RATE OF KNOTS – and that’s half the fun!

Secondly, with the kind of analytics tools we have at our disposal, we get such an insight into what the audience actually want to consume that you can publish with confidence. No more guessing in the dark about what you ‘think’ the audience might like to read – now you can give your audience exactly what they want, when they want it and on whatever device they choose.

Our coverage of this year’s Summertime Ball was extra special, not only because it was our own event, it was also a chance for us digital types to step away from the laptops and mix with the actual audience we’re writing for. It was a real privilege to be able to speak to fans and to hear their stories. Some might call this AUDIENCE RESEARCH, I just call it REALITY CHECK.

Two days after the event and we’re still producing some crackin’ features. Find out more about our Capital Summertime Ball 2014 coverage here.