The FT noted a campaign for Calvin Klein in 1992 built Kate Moss's career, turning an unknown teenager from Croydon into a global icon. The CK campaign is currently fronted by Kendall Jenner, who has 27 million Instagram followers and is part of the Kardashian reality TV dynasty.
Now I'm prepared to concede ANZ is not exactly Linda Evangelista. If we were a celebrity, we might be a character actor – not the star but critical to the economic story. But corporates like ANZ still offer valuable content, content which has long filled the business pages and shows of the traditional media.
We know there is an audience for that content – when it is compelling. We know that in the social world, if we are going to be part of the conversation – and we need to be, otherwise our brand suffers – we now have to be our own publisher as well as talent.
Corporates in the new media landscape, the social and digital landscape of fragmented audiences and myriad channels, need to be their own Letterman, in a niche way and recognising no one anymore holds the centralised power Letterman once did.
The daily challenge with BlueNotes is to produce ongoing, quality content which will keep the right audience returning.
Having shifted from mainstream journalism to corporate journalism in my career, it is vital to understand the fundamental components of the message remain the same – audience, content, distribution. The three must work together.
We have a team of three on staff and the actual content is only ever the start of our conversation. The bulk is how do we get this to the right audience? Which social networks would it appeal to? Who are the influencers? How do we design the story to suit that audience? What illustrations? Should it not even be written, should it be an infographic?
Audience, content and distribution are all necessary. None are sufficient. Fantastic content is no good if no one reads it or watches it.
In the old days of newspapers we used to worry about missing deadlines because then the papers would miss the trucks which took them to the newsagents where people could buy them – and maybe read the stories.
Today, one challenge is we tend to get carried away with distribution – the latest platform, the latest toy. That is necessary – we have to get to our audience – but not sufficient. You don't become a supermodel – or a character actor – by just focusing on the distribution channels.
In the supermodel world, the talent are now “brand ambassadors". Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Model Management, which looks after some of the industry's top Instagram talent, told the FT: “We have monetised it. If Cara Delevingne does a big campaign, you quote for her to model and then you quote separately for the fact that she has 13 million followers."
That's a spectacular demonstration of content, distribution and audience.
So how can you take the content creation production line from the creative media and bring it into a corporate newsroom? Quality content takes time, resources and talent.
As corporate content creators, we have to find a way to fund journalism – for our own production base but also to support the content creators. Great journalism takes great journalists and I think learning how to build strong relationships will be critical to corporate journalism.
What is the audience interested in? Are we actually adding any value to the discussion with our content? We don't want to produce content just because we have pages to fill or because some event has happened or – worst case – the bank has a new product.
Equally, we don't want to simply chase numbers driven by sophisticated analytics.
Our total universe of potential audience is not huge: business, policy, academia, financial services in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The numbers of those we really want to talk to are in the tens of thousands, not millions.
We've had a first year at BlueNotes we're very proud of. We've gone from zero to over four thousand subscribers, more than 200,000 unique views, over 3000 followers on twitter. We've won global awards, just this last week a Gold Quill at IABC2015 and a Gold at the 2015 PRWeek Asia Awards.
But a video interview with our chief financial officer dissecting our profit numbers may be read by only a few hundred – however we basically know those few hundred by name: it's the business media, the analyst community, the major investors in ANZ.
If we want to influence and participate in important conversations, we don't need to do it in football stadiums.
There is an opportunity to produce compelling journalism in a corporate environment – if you get those same fundamentals around content, distribution and audience right.
And by the way, you'll note the most fascinating insight I shared today about supermodels came from the FT – a traditional newspaper. But I read the story on Fast FT, one of their new channels designed expressly for mobile.
This is an edited version of a presentation delivered at IABC2015 on June 15 in conjunction with BlueNotes publisher Paul Edwards. For a version of Paul's presentation see here.
Photo: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com.