How To Plan a Content ‘Season’ Like a Hollywood Showrunner

What ought to we speak about in our content material?

This query plagues many content material advertising and marketing groups. The model message could be crystal clear. The merchandise have clear worth propositions and differentiators. The advertising and marketing group understands its paid media schedule, the company is figuring out the artistic parts, and the PR group is readying information round new hires, merchandise, and partnerships.

The content material group, nevertheless, struggles with subjects.

Content entrepreneurs usually strategy this by getting a assembly collectively to brainstorm.

Here’s how that often goes:

Someone from the demand era group suggests creating a record of all of the questions consumers may ask in regards to the firm’s specific strategy.

The product advertising and marketing supervisor likes that concept and says, “We could create articles answering those questions and then sprinkle in how we solve those challenges.”

The model advertising and marketing supervisor says, “Why don’t we write some posts about our new brand mission and how our products and services are helping solve climate change?” They punctuate their suggestion by throwing a copy of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why onto the desk.

The product advertising and marketing supervisor chimes in: “Yes, and we could sprinkle in a bit about how our product solves those challenges.”

“I know,” says somebody from PR, “let’s write posts that feature profiles of our executives and their thought leadership in the market.”

The model advertising and marketing supervisor nods in appreciation. “Yes, great idea. That’s storytelling. It’s got a hero.”

The product advertising and marketing supervisor stands up and says, “I like it. And maybe the executives could talk a little about how our product solves difficult challenges.”

Only the content material advertising and marketing group sits silently, trying down at their notebooks. They’ve taken precisely zero notes.

The pizza arrives, and the assembly ends. The model advertising and marketing supervisor says, “I don’t know what you all were so worried about. We’ve got tons of things to talk about.”


Finding the larger story

I work with content material advertising and marketing groups for manufacturers everywhere in the world. I’ve observed that when groups battle to seek out a centered editorial path for his or her content material platform, it’s often as a result of they haven’t set the muse for a larger story.

Without a centered story (or tales), any various feels legitimate. As a outcome, their weblog seems like an advert hoc assortment of solutions to FAQs. The useful resource middle is a random assortment of promotional supplies and case research. Their webinar program is simply a catch-all that includes whoever is offered to speak about how their product solves issues.

I’ve mentioned the significance of planning earlier than. But inside that planning course of description lies the belief that the related groups have met to determine on a larger story to make use of as a basis for planning.

But what if that hasn’t occurred but? How do you go about discovering that larger story?

As it seems, you may be taught a lot from media operations.

An overarching story helps #Content end the struggle to find editorial direction, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

What TV showrunners know

Television collection are created by groups representing all points of manufacturing nice content material. There are writers, administrators, actors, editors, manufacturing specialists, and so forth.

Similarly, a number of groups come collectively when a model’s content material advertising and marketing group embarks on a thought management program or content material advertising and marketing initiative. These groups additionally depend on various consultants: writers, designers, subject material consultants, and others.

Both groups face related issues. This chaotic, artistic course of requires participation from many alternative teams.

How do you align all these disciplines and develop a cohesive story?

The query in Hollywood: “What’s the story?”

The query in content material advertising and marketing: “What’s the story?”

Here is an strategy that I’ve seen work in each conditions.

Find the story – then plan it out over a season

The very first thing I counsel content material advertising and marketing groups to do is that this: Find the main target for a story they wish to inform over a particular interval on particular platforms.

I’ve talked earlier than in regards to the strategy of utilizing your model story to seek out your content material tales and even rebooting your story from content material you’ve written earlier than.

But one other (usually missed) side of this primary step is to plan how your story will play out over time.

Hollywood showrunners do that by bringing all of the writers collectively to generate concepts about episodes and character improvement arcs.

Content entrepreneurs can be taught from this. Why not deliver the group collectively to plan out a bunch of concepts that may show you how to inform a full story?

Think of it like planning out a complete season of content material. For instance, you may theme your editorial technique for the approaching quarter, construct it round a curriculum, and even align it to the seasonal calendar.

With this strategy, you’ll find yourself with greater than a record of titles of articles, posts, or property to create. You’ll have deliberate completely different chapters (or episodes) of a broader story that will find yourself as many sorts of digital property for various platforms.

Think of #content planning like plotting out an entire TV show season, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Outline the chapters – then create your packages

The subsequent step for showrunners is to create outlines of the episodes that make up the present’s season. These detailed story outlines assist the opposite professionals perceive when issues like particular locales, visitor actors, or larger budgets could also be needed.

In content material advertising and marketing, outlining your story’s upcoming chapters may also help you determine which codecs would work finest. For instance, you might determine that for the preliminary “episode,” you wish to create an article and a weblog put up. But you wish to mix the second episode with a white paper, a webinar, and a weblog put up.

Deciding on these packages separates the content material improvement from the digital property you’ll package deal them into. Creators get a heads-up that they’ll want to write down the content material for the varied interfaces chosen to optimize accordingly. Designers may have a full portfolio of content material that they’ll use to create all of the property wanted.

Planning at this stage of element allows the true advantages of a content material calendar. All the groups can see plans for the story to unfold and all of the completely different platforms the place it is going to be instructed. They might begin to see that the content material season will meet their wants – decreasing the demand for advert hoc property.

Planning a full season of #Content lets internal teams see how the story will meet their needs, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Create the content material ­– not essentially the property

In the subsequent stage, Hollywood showrunners assign the writing for the varied episodes. All the writers know the story and the outlines for upcoming episodes in order that the showrunner can select the optimum author for every episode.

A content material advertising and marketing group may assign the primary couple of episodes to 1 writing group, then assign one other group to take up the challenge for episode three.

Think of it like this: If you’ve mapped out your complete story, you and the group know what’s coming. You can work on the chapters concurrently, understanding that issues can change if wanted. More importantly, this strategy enables you to work forward as a substitute of regularly chasing deadlines.

The key right here is to write down the content material, not essentially the digital property. The objective is to have the tales created nicely forward of the deadlines in your story schedule. For instance, one profitable content material advertising and marketing group I’ve labored with makes a “content digest” for every of their episodes. This single doc consists of all of the written content material for all of the locations it’ll dwell (e.g., promotional advertisements, weblog posts, social posts, long-form articles, and so on.) and a artistic temporary for all of the asset parts the content material might be packaged into. Once the content material reaches manufacturing, the artistic group creates all of the design containers concurrently.

Approaching content material individually from manufacturing means you will have 10 or extra episodes able to go earlier than the primary one even publishes. This enables you to alter the manufacturing schedule as you be taught from every episode because it rolls out. If episode 1 goes exceedingly nicely, for instance, you may make adjustments to episode 6.  You’ve seen this in motion along with your favourite collection. A personality turns into a fan favourite in episode 1 – and all of a sudden has way more display time by episode 5.

Additionally, it’s a way more environment friendly course of. You know episode 3 (which is already written) will want a thought management paper, a webinar, and a weblog put up. Fantastic. Now, you know the way to assist the manufacturing group schedule their efforts. And, you’ve the room to vary if the primary webinar is so profitable that you simply wish to add extra.

One story to rule (out) all of them

Setting the larger story in place and dealing the plan by means of cross-functional groups does greater than provide you with manufacturing effectivity. It additionally supplies focus. You can weigh any proposed thought in opposition to one thing essential: the larger story.

So, when that inevitable “Yes, and can we sprinkle in a little more about how our product solves that challenge” remark is available in?

You can look down at your copious notes and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not part of this particular story.”

Remember, it’s your story. Tell it nicely.

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Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute