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23/05/2007

How to evolve content

I was having a good discussion with Matt Locke yesterday about how the roles of producers and directors are changing in the multi-platform world. I was glad to hear him say that these projects need to be allowed to evolve, rather than be pre-packaged and over-planned.

Matt used a lovely phrase, that producers must be choreographers of content. I took that as meaning the role of a producer is to elicit talent from an expanding troupe of players, encourage a coherent direction but to be open to, to encourage interpretation and improvisation.

If you create monolithic websites, "brand experiences" or programming content with too pre-defined an idea of how it will turn out you're not leaving any room for the networks (users, communities, audiences - whatever phrase you prefer) to change the project as it develops. 

That kind of approach to content comes from the channel age of media, when research was difficult, expensive and basically not very likely to happen in any meaningful way for a lot of projects - be it PR campaigns or TV documentaries.  

Now that content creators, brand and media owners, are operating in an age of  networks they must invest in deep understanding of their potential online stakeholders at the outset of a project and then let the project develop with space and opportunity for feedback and participation to shape its direction.

What does this all mean for marketing communications? I think it means developing better research and listening techniques and it means the end of the 12 month activity plan. Among other things...

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