C is for engagement – Part 1 of 4


It’s a hackneyed phrase, but if you are to engage with your audiences then content is not only king, but the supreme ruler of your communication universe.

Let’s not forget how big that universe is. IBM estimates there are 330 libraries worth of data for every person in the world. And that is doubling every eighteen months.

What chance do you have of penetrating through that sheer mass? The biggest is to create and deliver content your audience wants, trusts and finds useful.

Steve Forde, director of marketing at ITV, claims 80%-90% of engagement is driven by content (view his presentation here).

What’s in it for me?

To create content your audiences will engage with means you have to have a deep and on-going understanding of their needs, concerns, aspirations and preferences.

Much of what we do in corporate communications can be about challenging and influencing these. But we still need to create content that acknowledges and empathises with your audiences’ perspective.

You will have your objectives, but it is no good telling your audience that these should be their priority too. You need to show them how they will benefit from the collective achievement of these objectives.

Neuroscience tells us that humans make the vast majority of decisions based on emotion, not logic. You need to appeal to those emotions if you are ever going to influence their thoughts and behaviours.

The comfort zone

Another common mistake made in corporate communications is speaking in a way that jars with what your audience is used to.  Put bluntly, if they read tabloids then your content shouldn’t be shaped as an editorial comment in a scientific journal. If they are obsessed with Snapchat, long-form journalism and dense blocks of copy are not going to hold their attention.

The tone of voice you use should not only reflect the values of your organisation, but also the values of your audience. If there is a mismatch or a significant disconnect, you have either misunderstood the needs of your audience, or you are targeting the wrong audience.

Often in corporate communications the comfort zone is to produce content that is formal, risk-averse, anodyne. If you know this is what your audience wants then fine. But most won’t. They will want content that is articulated in a way that they are used to consuming.

Content first

In our opinion, far too much emphasis in corporate communications is placed on the means of delivery, rather than what is being delivered. Clients often speak about a ‘digital first’ communication strategy.

All communication strategies should take a ‘content first’ approach.

Think of the story you are going to tell, and how you want and need to tell it (i.e. to match your audience preferences). By doing that first, you will more easily be able to decide which channels are most appropriate.

But that is something we’ll come to later.

None of this should come as any great revelation to any professional communicator. But it is sometimes a challenge to keep this focus. But always try and remember content:

  • Is the number one driver of engagement
  • Needs to appeal to your audience’s emotions
  • Should be the first consideration in all strategy.

To find out more, email Daniel Lambie or call 0141 560 3040