Last year, I found myself in the center of a football-focused flashbulb moment. If you’re in content marketing, chances are you remember exactly where you were when Oreo struck big during last year’s big game.
Work In Real-Time. Yes — That Means on a Sunday.
I sat on my mother-in-law’s brown canvas sofa, typing too quickly to notice her, let alone drink the tea she had set on the end table beside me.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Working.” I replied, too curtly than I intended.
“On a Sunday? It’s the Superbowl. Why don’t you just relax and enjoy the game?”
I couldn’t. Even though the office was closed, I worked for a digital marketing agency as the Content Lead for a Fortune 100 company that relied heavily on sports marketing.
Myself, the project manager, and one of our community managers were busily messaging each other about executing the campaign we had spent weeks planning. So far. So good.
And then the lights went out.
The weight of the opportunity hit us hard. Right in front of us was a captive audience of over one hundred million people — a marketer’s dream. While the community manager and I brainstormed ideas, the project manager looked into what it would take to secure an approval for a creative response to the situation.
Don’t Scurry — Create!
While we were emailing our designers and internal stakeholders, Oreo was pushing content out. In just a few moments they posted a professionally designed image on Twitter that was had a consistent look and feel with their successful year-long campaign. Within an hour, that tweet was shared over ten thousand times. Some experts claim that that single tweet garnered more attention than the advertisement that they actually paid for. In that moment, I knew the game had changed.
The next day, when we reported on the feeble success of our campaign and shared Oreo’s success, our client quickly quipped, “Why didn’t you put that kind of creative out there? That’s what we pay you for, isn’t it?” My skin warmed with anger and I swallowed my frustration and pride and understood that I was the easy scapegoat for a missed opportunity.
Refine Your Process Ahead Of Time
Were we capable of producing buzz-worthy creative? Of course we were. We had a team of incredibly talented writers and designers, some of the best I had ever worked with. Our internal contacts worked just as hard and did their best to navigate their tricky internal review process. So if talent didn’t hold us back, what did? I’ve had a year to reflect on this, and I believe Oreo won the content marketing game last year because of these three key ideas:
1. Get Executives & Creatives in the Same Room
While my team was working, but scattered, Oreo’s team (of both creatives and executives) was assembled together in the same room. This gave them an edge because they could secure approvals much more quickly than we ever could.
2. Support Your Content from the Top Down
Brian Weiner, CEO of 360i, the digital agency responsible for sending out Oreo’s famous tweet, attributed their success to his 3 P’s: Planning, Process, and Practice. From my experience, the trickiest of these to secure is process, because it often requires executive buy-in. As Weiner says, “Marketers must be organized for nimbleness with clear rules of the road and escalation procedures with your agencies, internal PR and legal. You also need the flexibility to reallocate resources on the fly.” Without strong content leadership, you won’t have strong content.
3. Foster a Culture of Content within Your Organization
As content marketing becomes a larger part of overall marketing budgets, we need to recognize that creative teams do not work in isolation. Just as a football team’s success does not depend solely on the quarterback, the success of your content doesn’t begin or end with your marketing department. In order for your content to really work, you must have an organization that works together and understands how their work contributes to the greater whole.
So, just how much did this experience change me? I’m currently working with Debbie Weil, author of the Corporate Blogging Book on my first book, The Message Playbook, which will outline the details of how to create a winning content marketing team and drills to consistently produce impactful content. Follow me for more articles about Content Leadership and sign up to get a free copy when it comes out later this year.