Can Content Marketing Create Corporate Culture?

August 25, 2015

Film and TV have shown us a host of nasty bosses that make our days at a desk look pretty tame. There’s a slew of horrible bosses from Don Draper, Michael Scott, Miranda Priestly and even cartoon bosses don’t fare much better.

We cringe and enjoy them because we know they aren’t real. Or are they?

Can Content Marketing Create Corporate Culture?

What the management of some companies pass as good judgment makes the truth weirder than fiction. There’s the Microsoft exec who laid off 12,500 employees with a memo so awful that employees had to read through to paragraph 11 to know if he was talking about them. Or the Sears exec who wanted to bond with employees so badly that he had IT create a social network, required employees to join it, joined himself under a fake name and argued with people who had negative things to say about the company.

Does content create corporate culture? Absolutely. Content – good, bad or indifferent – sets the tone for how much employees trust management, how enthusiastically they support or diss a brand and how deeply they engage with what’s going on.

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that people trust companies and the media less than in previous years. Who do they trust? Employees. But Gallup’s 2013 State of the Workplace poll reports that a jaw-dropping 41% of employees don’t even know what their brand stands for. How can you trust an employee who has a pretty high chance of not knowing what they’re talking about?

Your company’s culture is a shared purpose. Content is how you share it.

When I talk about content and culture, I’m not talking about creating a culture of content, but rather creating culture through content.

All companies have a shared purpose but unfortunately many companies keep that under wraps. Management is so focused on the business that it hasn’t invested the time to communicate to employees exactly what that business in.

And therein lies the problem.

If you’re not building a team of employees who are engaged in your purpose, then you’re not building a company that believes in its purpose.

In reality, defining and sharing your brand’s purpose doesn’t have to be an eye-rolling affair, but that’s often what happens. Sharing it becomes so ridiculous, so unbelievable and so disconnected from how people actually communicate that it’s no wonder that people don’t pay attention.

I’m going to point out that before content can create an enviable culture, there has to be clarity on what the purpose of the company is. That’s table stakes. If you want to know how to do that, here’s the best book I’ve ever read on how to do that.

But what happens then? Who makes it come alive for employees? Usually, no one.

Marketers focus on external audiences and generating sales leads to drive revenue. Internal communications pushes out company newsletters and benefits information. Both bring incredible talent and skills to the table, we just need them to come together.

Creating content-driven employee experiences

There’s been a lot in the news in the last week about Amazon’s culture and how they treat employees. I don’t know enough about Amazon and their culture to comment.

But I do know that creating remarkable customer experiences always has, and always will, start with employees and how you engage them with your brand.

It’s not about “marketing” the brand to employees. It’s about clearly and consistently creating a dialogue that brings your brand purpose and story to life.

This is where the combination of talents is most valuable. Creating excitement and inspiring employees through the experiences you create should be your goal.

It’s so important that you need a process for it in order to be successful just like you do when you want to create rich, meaningful relationships with customers. In our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, Robert Rose and I talk about why internal audiences are always the first place to start with any experience you hope to create for an external audience. Just as we strategically plan and manage the stories we tell external audiences, we need to plan and structure how we manage content creation for internal audiences. It’s a key part of how develop a dialogue with employees and create remarkable experiences for them.

Source: Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

In few weeks, Mark Wilson and I will talk at Content Marketing World about how BlackBerry focused on employees to turn the iconic company around in just a short 12 months. While there’s still more work to be done (isn’t there always?) it’s proof of why employees are always your most important audience – and should be your first.

Your role

Empowering employees to become brand storytellers and experience creators is critical to delivering seamless experiences for all audiences outside the company. What can you do? It’s a lot about collaboration. If there are people in the internal communications role, find out what’s going on in their world. They may have a better line of sight into your company’s business objectives and what the C-suite wants employees to know. Lear what their challenges are. Most are great communicators but need help understanding content distribution and making it shareable. Maybe they’ve used creative approaches to capturing attention that could be helpful to you. Perhaps there’s details about integrating technology that would make their life easier.

Regardless of the conversation, it’s time to step across silos and create a more unified team so you can build rewarding relationships with employees.

Because, as Herb Kellehar, co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines said, “You have to treat your employees like customers.”

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author