Have you ever considered why railroad tracks have two rails? Probably not because the answer is obvious. Unfortunately too many organizations only lay one rail of a communications strategy yet expect it to offer a smooth ride and a destination arrival ahead of the competition.
I was talking with a prospective client and exploring what it is his company needs as it repositions itself following a couple of years of rapid growth. We talked messaging, and vision statements, and speaking points, and visual branding, and elevator pitches, and content marketing strategies; you know, the bling people see and hear. But then I asked him about the other rail.
[Insert crickets here.]
“The other rail?” he asked. “What other rail?”
“You know,” I said. “You’re delivery channels. How are you currently delivering your content to stakeholders and prospective clients?”
[Insert more crickets here.]
Upon further review, he actually had more content delivery “rails” than he knew he had but the truth is there was nothing intentional or strategic about them. They were channels that emerged about as uniformly as tacking one addition after another on to a house. He got that, and it didn’t take him long to see the two needed to align and that the new strategy needs to develop these two simultaneously.
Not every communications plan is strategic, but those that are account for both content creation and delivery channels. Here’s a closer look at both.
Content creation accounts for all that is said and done in support of the organization. Content consists of news releases, videos, podcasts, speaking points, speeches, white papers, case studies, marketing statements and so much more. I wrote a series of articles on brand journalism, starting with, Brand Journalism: The who, what and why. Throughout the five pieces I delivered an understanding for the value of brand journalism as the foundation for an organization’s content marketing strategy. The articles are a helpful read, but the gist is that in today’s business world, you have to be seen as the expert and thought influencer who freely shares knowledge. That knowledge is the content and it is more important now than it ever has been.
But what good is having great content if it sits in the warehouse with no way to deliver it? Imagine if Ford made all those beautiful Mustang GTs and they just sat on a big lot in Detroit because there was no way to make the cars available for purchase. Well, that’s what happens to content if part of the communications plan lacks a structured delivery strategy. The best delivery strategies account for both traditional channels (such as media relations, press releases, share holder reports, commercials, etc.), and non-traditional channels such as social media tools and the organization’s website.
The point is, messages and medium can’t be silos. They are not mutually exclusive but inter-dependent. There should not only be a reason for creating each piece of content, there should also be a designated outlet for it all – every drop; and there should be multiple channels for the content.
Rails lay parallel with each other for the purpose of delivering a train where it’s supposed to go. Likewise, content and delivery outlets lay parallel to each other and carry the organization where it needs to go.