Omni-channels, tag-mania and organizing closets: Quick takeaways from our annual conference

Digital managers from across the world gathered in Lisbon last week for Bowen Craggs’ annual Web Effectiveness Conference. Jason Sumner shares a few quick lessons from the event.

1. When working across cultures, learn when to adapt and when to ‘add value’

Our keynote speaker, Karen Cvitkovich, kicked off proceedings with a lively presentation about how business team members in different cultures approach communication, feedback, trust and persuasion. People from particular countries tend to operate along a similar spectrum of behaviour, she explained. For example, those in some cultures are more likely to want to ‘get down to business’ quickly with new colleagues, while people in other cultures prefer to build a relationship first.

Understanding and adapting to such differences is crucial if multicultural teams are to flourish rather than flounder, Karen said.

Compromising is sometimes difficult yet almost always necessary when managing cross-border teams, she added. One delegate asked how managers can avoid losing their own ‘selves’ in the process of accommodating others’ cultural styles. The best managers learn when it is best to adapt to local customs and when to ‘add value’ by sticking with their own cultural preferences for the good of the project – regarding the delivery of negative feedback, for example – Karen replied. But even in these cases, cultural awareness is necessary to know how best to deliver the message, she added.

2. Why your content management system is like a closet

When communicating with other parts of the business, Lynne Freeman of Verizon uses the ‘closet’ as a metaphor for her company’s content management system (CMS) – because it helps non-technical people to understand what a CMS is and why it’s important to ensure that it is well organized. To extend the closet metaphor, the shelves are like the navigation and the clothes are like the content, Lynne said. A lot of her current work boils down to ‘keeping the closet clean’. As she often tells her colleagues, ‘if you have a messy closet, you can’t find anything.’

3. Assign tags from the centre to avoid ‘tag-mania’

Another lesson from Lynne at Verizon: don’t let authors choose tags for articles themselves or else you will end up with what she calls ‘tag-mania’. For example, before Lynne got tags under control, Verizon’s CMS contained 11 different tags for ‘Fios’ (a television service) – ‘Fios TV’, ‘Fios Television’, ‘Fios Internet’ and so on. Keeping tags orderly saves a lot of work later on, Lynne said.

4. Amazon’s customer obsession

Amazon is one of the most complex businesses in the world, but it has succeeded by making the complicated simple. The same is true of the way Ashley Brown manages Amazon’s engaging blog, ‘Day One’. All stories, he says, must reflect the company’s wider ‘customer obsession’ and have some connection to the company’s seven reputational ‘pillars’. Just as importantly, they must be genuinely appealing to their target audiences.

5. People do not stay in their lanes

BP is moving to an ‘omni-channel’ approach to online and offline communications, and implementing a strategy that considers what content is trying to achieve – audience, message, etc – before determining which channel to publish it on. Campaigns are first planned around what people want to see, read or do. Only then are materials created; whether a press release, speech or online magazine. The reason, says BP’s Ben Jeffries, is because ‘people do not stay in their lanes’; they move seamlessly from offline (a billboard, for example) to the website, social media, television and so on.

6. Using measurement ahead of time

Novo Nordisk’s digital team is among the most thoughtful in the world comes to measuring the impact of its digital communications. As Benedikte Larsen explained, the company has designed a number of bespoke measurement frameworks for the website and social channels, which have been polished from the digital team’s own experience and by adapting best practice from others.

Novo Nordisk uses its measurement frameworks to help editors plan future campaign content, rather than simply to gauge the success of material has already been published – something that many web teams are striving for but few have so far achieved.

Register for the ‘Best of WEC 2018’ web meeting on September 26th, 2018
Were you unable to join us at our Web Effectiveness Conference in Lisbon last week? Did you attend and are keen to share the learnings with your team after the event? Join our web meeting and relive the Best of WEC 2018. 

To register for Best of WEC 2018, visit our events page (and scroll down to September events)

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.