Interview: Content Production with Vanessa Rhinesmith - Part I

by Kate on 4 May 2010

in Interviews

Vanessa Rhinesmith

A little while back, Vanessa Rhinesmith left a really great comment on our post, “Why I Like a good Content Production Strategy.” I liked it so much, I wanted to find out more about her experiences with content production.  What does Vanessa do?  In her words:

I am an enabler.  I help organizations identify the right mix of communication methods and relationship building activities to achieve their goals.  I come from a communications centric mindset where the means of  communication may change and become more varied, but there will always be a need to establish strategy, value and audience to ensure value.

We’ve posted the first half of her interview below. Make sure to check out the comment, as we’ve referenced it below.  You can find more about her on her blog.

How are you using content production as part of your marketing and social media strategies?

I use content production as a critical support element to a larger marketing communications picture.  Content production should compliment several predetermined strategies, including organizational and marketing strategies.  From there,  a content production strategy with quantifiable goals can be drafted.  Once these strategies are in place, actual content production can begin.

Ideally, content should not be a stand-alone item. Developing a cohesive approach can increase value and enhance editorial impact. Even though the communication mediums may vary, a defined strategy ensures consistency and commonality that minimizes any potential message confusion.

You mentioned the idea of conducting what you called “pre- social media” activities.  Can you talk a little more about that, and why you think it’s important to think of them as “pre”?

New technology and communication outlets are in overdrive.  Barriers are low, making it all too easy to sign up for an account and go, but folks need to slow down and think about where exactly they’re going.

It’s important to take a moment to think about several questions: Does this social media tool align to the organization’s current strategy?  Will it enhance the strategy or conflict with it?  Does the organization have the resources needed to implement it successfully?  The appropriate sequence of strategic execution and the development of a complimentary or parallel social media strategy is key.

Social media is only one component of a bigger picture and a much greater need.  I’ve described this in more detail in a blog post entitled, “sequence of execution and the development of a social media strategy.” Pre-work can help organizations be more successful and sustainable with their social media implementation.  It puts the tools into context.  Meaning that social media strategy derives its purpose from the organization’s strategic communication goals.  Social media strategy can be a powerful opportunity for an organization, but only when it has been implemented in the appropriate order.

Great identification of the cultural issues that have to do with starting a content production strategy.  Do you have any suggestions for people to get this momentum going within their companies when it might not be there to start?

Corporate culture can nurture or deter a content production strategy.  For companies that are collaborative and open to sharing, content production may flow easily.  However, there are many organizations where content production is in direct conflict to the culture.  The creation of a self-sustaining content production strategy rests on the shoulders of not just a strategic initiative, but also a cultural shift.  This type of change is hard, period.

Here are some ways to tackle cultural issues when initiating a content production strategy:

  • Executive buy-in.  Change needs to come from the top.  Members of the executive team should be on board with the production strategy and understand the value it brings to the organization and its customers.  This is where alignment back to the organizational strategy is critical.
  • Establish expectations. Start small.  Select one or two priority components to implement first.  Not only does this ensure you can realistically and effectively implement the program, but is also less scary to an organization that isn’t fully on board.
  • Be patient. To ensure success patience is required for a variety of reasons – to create content, to identify the appropriate platform or communication means, and to measure results.  Also, remember that you don’t have to go it alone.  Find your cheerleaders and enlist their support to foster momentum from within.

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