C is for content, no matter how many platforms it touches

In today’s always-on media landscape, content created for one platform doesn’t stand a chance, argues MindShare strategist Cathie McGinn. 

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Unlike storytellers of old, I estimate I’ve got about two more seconds to keep your attention. If I lose it now, it’s gone for good. That’s a high stakes play.

Even if my tale is compelling, my words balm to your soul, you’re not cross legged at my feet, eager for the story to unfold. The phone’s ringing; an email lands; a million things might interrupt or distract.  That’s why creating content that works on a single channel is not merely tactically unsound, it’s actually bordering on criminally irresponsible. Yet hundreds of great content ideas fail to live up to their potential because they are created for a single channel or platform, with little thought given to how, where and when the audience might want to experience the story.

Too often we see campaigns and concepts that are clearly made for television, with other media added on almost as an afterthought.

Think of any of the big, bold pieces of work you’ve seen recently. How many of them are executed seamlessly across numerous channels, revealing different facets of the story or the message in relevant environments?

The film industry has begun to do this well, acknowledging that to reach cinema audiences the content has to leave the building, engaging viewers through online gaming, teasers, social media and search. But other forms of content creation – from news to ad campaigns – are lagging behind.

Media consumption habits have changed. Achieving cut-through is becoming more challenging.

The market will only become more competitive. This is an inevitability: to fail to respond and adapt to audience behaviour is to lose your opportunity to connect.

Start with the idea and develop it for all touchpoints. We’ve been living in a multi-screen, always-on environment for long enough to be familiar with its requirements. This isn’t just creating matching luggage; get this wrong and it’s like dressing in a beautifully tailored suit and forgetting to put on pants.

Cathie McGinn is strategy director at media agency MindShare. 


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