Cortlan McManus, Head of Content Practice at Publicis Media.
I work with great people who inspire me to be better than I would be myself. I get my hands dirty in <code> to think of internal products that allow us to make better products for our clients. We think about people – their problems – and the solutions that our clients can offer. After validation, we go off and make stuff. And if we do it strategically, our audience makes stuff with their taps and swipes.
Recently, my mom asked me, “So, son, what exactly is… content?” I asked her, “Moms, do you mean, like, what does a typical day look like?” She said “Yeah, sure, honey.”
This is what I told her:
08:15 am – “The influencer missed her plane.”
When I saw this message, you better believe I thought of paraphrasing one of Coppola’s famous lines: “I love the smell of WhatsApp messages in the morning” – content people like to quote content. Right about now, I’m wondering if this will work out by the end of the day. Thus far, I’m 100% confident we’ll find a solution.
08:47 am – “THE ‘GOLDEN HOUR”
In ad-land, any time before 9 am or after 7 pm is usually pretty quiet and allows one to do more wacky stuff than they normally might when everyone is around. Today is no different – and no, it isn’t me acting a bit wacky. I see one of our Content Managers walking around with her phone stretched out in front of her face. From afar, she’s doing a Lens test – a client product she’s been passionately working on for the past couple of months, since she pitched the original idea.
“See this sound effect? It’s still coming in too late. Can you try it? It does a weird thing when the AR scans my open mouth too. Does that really look like I’m puking rainbows to you?”
“Did you get the same results from the agency user testers?”
“Depends on the OS – going to add this back to the backlog. The UI/UX is also still a little off.”
She’s a great example of what we call a Content Manager. At their core, they find solutions to customer problems through insight, research and validation; but they also have a product mindset – delivering continuous value through continuous improvement. The notion of UX is being spread and pulled further out from the original confines of a brand’s site or app as well, to now being what I’d call ‘cross-tap and swipe’ Content UX: the user experience needs to make sense from the beginning (wherever that platform is) to the end (whatever that action is).
10:32 am – PROCUREMENT EMAIL
“You’re invited to a pitch. Please confirm participation by end of day.”
That 01:30 pm internal meeting can be shifted – need to see if we can pull together a team and some initial ideas. Look at calendar and physically count with index finger the number of days between now and the day of the actual pitch. Download “Deep Breathing” app.
11:14 am – I pass by a break-out room and see our head of branded content directing an editor.
“Hey, nice edit! Is that the Ramadan piece for [insert luxury brand name – no Moms, I’m not name-dropping!]?”
“Yes! It’s turning out nicely, right?”
You better believe it is – mainly because of her strategic direction. You see, she used our Content Intelligence internal product, which allows us to get deeper insight into the values of our audiences. Instead of taking a global campaign that mixed luxury and music, she used the CI results to develop a local version mixing luxury, fashion and art. She then found a local illustrator and a regional fashion designer – who had created some beautiful art and a full collection of abayas – and we created a nice little series.
“Any update with the influencer? You sure there isn’t another plane she can grab?”
“There is… after the event ends! Lol. Don’t worry, I’m looking at new possibilities with Fluency.”
“When you say ‘Don’t worry,’ you mean…”
“Yep, just like I said.” She smiles to add the cherry on top.
In content, it is impossible to have a top-down management style (which is great because I’m not any good in that realm, as you know, Moms). In fact, we need to be decentralized and empower each person on our team to drive forward what is best for our clients and agency. So, we have confidence in them and they then have confidence in themselves. We also need to make sure they have the right toolkit. Fluency is our internal product that we use to plan and design our influencer campaigns. I wasn’t kidding about tech!
01:30 pm –
CALENDAR INVITE: “See if we can pitch” meeting
“Thanks everyone for coming. Enjoy the pizza. Here’s the RFP. Let’s set the Working Agreement for the brainstorm:
Cool. Let’s now count off by 1, 2, 3 – that will be your group. Take your Sharpie and Post-Its and choose a place where your group will work. For this first exercise, we’re timeboxing to 15 minutes. Go!”
You see, content isn’t a one-human show – it’s a team show. Ever since we started following design thinking, our brainstorms and sprints really move fast – which is good because when the pizza runs out, the meeting is over.
02:31 pm – COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT
No, Moms, old skool community management isn’t done anymore. That’s kind of Content 1.0. This is Content 3.7. Now, we set up communities using more pieces of tech than fingers on your hands. I pass by two of our team members who are reviewing our latest implementation for a new community that is going live next week.
“Hey guys, how’s it going?”
“The content supply chain is almost set, but we’re having an issue with one or two of the APIs still [note to Moms: API = Application Programming Interface – how two pieces of tech are connected]. But everything else is testing well.”
“This is the Big Kahuna, right?” (btw, that’s a Tarantino quote, Moms)
“Yep – full ecosystem: bilingual website, eCom, social, app, email marketing program… Heading over to workshop now. Wanna join?”
“You know I’d never pass up a chance to attend another meeting, right? *smile* Keep me posted.”
Collaboration has always been part of our way of doing things. But now, with SEO content, eCom content, website content, social content, email content, video content, influencer content, brand content, AI content – an ecosystem of content – we use internal products that allow us to do all of this while working across more teams, more seamlessly.
I get more of my daily exercise in as… I RUN TO PHOTO BOMB!
“…happy birthday to you!”
Dude has been with us for the past four years. He’s still 27, lol.
04:16 pm –
“Is the drone charged? We have the event this weekend.”
We can’t normally cover the 20+ live social Stories we do each month with drones, but this one is a desert race. Should be fun.
05:00pm – EMAIL
“Dear _________, thank you for inviting us to be part of this pitch. We would like to confirm our participation. We look forward to meeting in person soon.”
07:14 pm –
“I found a new influencer – meeting with her in a bit – she’s a great fit!”
Delete “Deep Breathing” app to save space for this weekend’s desert race.
So, Moms, this is what I do.
The cross-functional aspects of our roles – mixing technology, strategy and creative – allow content folks to touch the many forms of brand experiences people come into contact with today. This could be content on platforms or the actual (software) products we make for our clients. It could also be the technology we create in the backend that allows us to do what we do. It could be the images and videos we create, edit and animate that pop, the podcasts that hum or the copy that sings. Whatever tactic we take, it always follows from a strategic roadmap of how we help take our clients to where they want to be. So yeah, Moms, if you ask me, people who work in content have some of the most interesting agency days.
This article was published in Communicate’s January edition. You can access the full magazine here