Friday, August 2, 2013

Discontent Is King: How anxiety, frustration, and a CCO can improve your storytelling skills

"More edits from Legal. And the old
man wants it out by the high
middle ages at the latest. I'll get
you some Starbucks."
Pakistan!! Welcome! We're thrilled that you're now reading our stuff. You join an elite team of  "Flack-Operators" from 70 countries from around the globe--most of which I am actually familiar with.

(Straight dope: I had to Google Moldova. In my defense, you guys declared your independence exactly two months after my twin daughters were born. I was up to my adenoids in dirty diapers and baby formula so I completely missed the party. But congratulations, anyway. And I hope you got some great pictures.)

So, Pakistan, in honor of you joining the gang, I dug up one of my favorite posts from my day job at  Czech it out.

Back in the olden days, putting out a press release was a rare and momentous achievement for most trade associations and nonprofits. Getting that “your release has cleared the wires” phone call from PR Newswire was cause for jubilation, with hugs and high-fives all around. An impromptu Knute Rockne-esque victory speech from the VP of public affairs was not unheard of.

“I’m proud of you guys! I’m not going to kid you; those three days of silence from the big guy upstairs had me a popping Mylanta. I thought we were looking at a major rewrite for sure. But when Samantha dropped that interoffice envelope on my desk this morning, I just knew it was good news!”

The fact that the press release didn’t generate any press was inconsequential. The kids in public affairs had done it again and a wave of contentment washed over everyone.

You’d be amazed at how many nonprofit organizations—and for-profit companies, for that matter—still employ this one-shot-a-month “Guns of Navarone” communications strategy.

Less amazing is the fact that these organizations are being outgunned on the Internet by millions of relentless communicators who fire every weapon they can scrounge, seize every opportunity they can find--or create--to tell their story.

These content ninjas are never satisfied, never relaxed. They are constantly on the prowl for ideas, inspiration, and intelligence that will entertain and engage their audience. Posting a blog entry doesn’t fulfill them. It just reduces their discomfort a little, like scratching a mosquito bite through a combat boot.

And that’s why those guys are kicking your ass.

A lot of organizations are closing in on these communications warriors. Press releases announcing the "recently hired Chief Content Officer"—a new position—are lighting up the Internet like tracer rounds.

These shiny new CCOs have a tough mission: they must mold every facet of their company into a storytelling battalion or the victories will be few. But they also have a lot of motivation--the future of their organization depends on them. Yes, a good CCO is that important.

To learn more about CCOs—what makes a good one, how to find one, how to become one yourself—check out these sites. They’re worth your time.
  • "How CCOs can resurrect marketing communications" from the good folks at Fast Company
  • A great blog post on CCO leadership by "Chief Warrior of Enthusiasm" Kista Kotrla featuring even more helpful CCO-related links
FUN FACT: Both the “content” you create and the “contentment” you seek from its creation come from the Latin word contentus, which means contained, satisfied. Paradoxically, the more dis-contentus you are the better your contentus will be.

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