HUMAN DATA STORIES
- Complex communication issues solved within tight timelines and budgets.
- An agile approach covered multiple streams in a highly collaborative way.
- Achieved goals set and increased internal capability for short- and long-term.
To optimise investment in a trade show and to position the client as an enabler of collaboration across commercially-sensitive data sets. Within the supply-chains to large transport engineering companies, some struggle to share and interpret data and to communicate their insights.
The client engaged Contented to explore the human stories underlying data in order to engage better with local authorities and citizens and highlight the benefits of collaboration across supply chains.
The client is an SME helping Tier 1 engineering companies bring innovative solutions to local transport authorities. It has engaged Contented since 2017 until today in an ongoing effort to develop and communicate its offer. Our company was chosen for our flexibility, strategic thinking, our senior expertise and experience across editorial, international events and learning and development, our willingness to work in close collaboration or independently, and for the fit with client values around sustainable development.
We facilitated workshops to help engineers think differently about complex data sets, what they might mean for the business, and how they could release additional benefit to stakeholders by sharing data among different suppliers.
We helped promote the company and prepare its team for a flagship international tradeshow, delivering a simple strategic and operational communications plan, with in-market activities.
Follow-up included building and managing an online innovation forum to share and promote thought-leadership. The client is now positioning itself as a go-to service provider helping suppliers share their data to bring new services to passengers.
With only 12 weeks to go before a major international B2B trade show, the client sealed a partnership with the event producers to deliver a high-profile exhibitor feature at the fair. Directors had broadly discussed the concept of a mini-hackathon, within the confines of a 9x6m stand, to showcase the benefits of sharing data across SME supply chains. But details had not been worked out. Sponsors had still to confirm investment and resources were consequently tight.
Within the team and its network of technical specialists there was room for greater clarity of roles and of the value-exchange for content creation.
Although the producers offered access to their marketing channels, the client had no communications strategy and needed to define target audiences and messages. A plan was needed quickly for the stand; to generate content and attract prospects to visit it; and for follow-up activities in the year before the next edition of the exhibition.
At stake, were the company’s reputation and a hefty bill.
Because of the tight-deadline, we chose a highly-agile approach that would reduce time to publication: from the start, we worked closely with the directors and their small network of transport specialists. We began by setting up a simple collaborative online environment where documents could be shared selectively, dynamically and in confidence. We supported our work programme with 1:1 coaching for the directors.
Step One: pre-event preparation
Gap Analysis: With the team, we facilitated a simple gap analysis and workshop to review the company’s business plan and sketch a communications plan – covering both internal learning & development and external marketing and stakeholder engagement activities. We reviewed previous publishing, quality marks, awards and past tenders, procurement sites and internal/external collateral, as well as participation in trade fairs and market visits. We generated a short report and action plan.
Research and planning: we met with the event production team to discuss available support, audience segments, promotional opportunities and messaging requirements; we met some of the client’s network of technical specialists to understand their capacity and needs. We created a short-term strategy including initial work on defining and segmenting the market and a proposal for a knowledge community around the product. To support quality content production and manage risks, we designed a simple publishing workflow that either the client or we could implement and monitor. We also established systems for capturing leads from the event.
Media & Marketing: our solution was to leverage access to the event producer’s own media resources and the client’s network of technical specialists generating content. We clarified a value-exchange for authors to support the client. We coordinated publishing activities in order to orchestrate multiple feedback loops across email, LinkedIn and Twitter platforms, leveraging personal and company networks and group memberships to maximise reach. We helped parse published articles into short posts for social media channels.
We learned that employees of a key customer had observed that a technical article commissioned from a transport journalist had limited reach. They expressed interest in generating a report that was ‘more human’. We piloted an experimental approach using a coaching style of questioning to elicit more reflective responses and explore the challenges from a behavioural perspective.
Step Two: in-market activities
We brought in a small creative team to carry out activities inside and outside the exhibit, complementing the hackathon. A professional journalist/coach, camera and sound assistant recorded audio and video interviews to explore some of the human aspects of data collaboration. Throughout, we took care to manage intellectual property and data protection concerns. All content was archived securely and logged for use over the coming months.
Step Three: post-event activities
Consolidation and planning: A debrief workshop reviewed a spreadsheet of contacts and learning.
Content post-production: we prepared audio files for sampling by the end customer and a list of themes arising, for selective commissioning. We prepared audiovideo for viewing and presented ideas for an audio podcast format.
Internal skills: the client team attended our internal storytelling workshops and input to a brief for our open programme helping creatives and engineers to prototype innovative media. We continued to offer the directors 1:1 coaching.
Innovation forum: with the team of technical specialists, we seeded a new knowledge community to share practice and develop thought-leadership. This was managed on Slack and LinkedIn. We adapted elements of our proprietary learning and development programme to support leadership and storytelling skills aligned to the strategy of the sector professional body, to facilitate collaboration with the client.
Social media traffic increased significantly, with the feedback loops generating more than 7,000 shares. These included some 120 employees within one Tier 1 prospect.
Costs were covered, with sponsors confirming investment by the deadline.
A bank of audiovisual content assets were created with a list of potential storylines for exploration in the coming year.
Senior decision-makers from most of the client’s target prospects visited the stand where we interviewed them for press or audiovisual content production.
The learning community, seeded by the client’s network of experts, created a vehicle for delivering membership-based open innovation services to clients. New thinking is helping the client to work with professional bodies to shift engineering companies to a more sustainable way of doing business.
Contented is fulfilling its purpose to create a better world through story.