Like everyone else on the planet, you have a complex and interesting story to tell. There are all of your childhood antics, and accidents. There are the exciting and trying times through your high-school years, and all of those crazy things that happened to you in college. Your family, your job, your hobbies, your dreams. They're all part of the "story of you."
But when you meet someone new at a party, I suspect that you don't recount your entire life story with them; at least I hope you don't. Rather, you start with some of the more pertinent parts of your story -- your name, where you live, where you work, how you know the people who are hosting the party. That type of information.
As you engage in this dialogue, you begin to learn more about the other person and can slowly add other relevant parts of your personal story into the conversation.
Depending to whom you are talking -- someone you've just met or an old friend -- you relate different parts of your life story. It's as if we have an innate ability to edit parts of our personal stories based on whom we're communicating with.
Companies have complex and interesting stories to tell too. Unfortunately, companies cannot rely on some innate "corporate" ability to help them tailor their story for different audiences. That's where a well-designed, content-centered communications plan comes into play.
Think of all of the different audiences your company might engage on a daily basis, often simultaneously. There are employees, customers, potential customers, former customers that you're trying to woo back, investors and shareholders, distribution partners, application developers, user groups, traditional media, industry analysts, bloggers, those following your company on social media sites, government agencies and regulators, and on and on.
At any given time, your company may be telling various parts of the company story via specifically tailored content to a wide range of audiences. Further, there are likely to be dozens, if not hundreds, of people within the company having these variouis conversations.
Without proper planning, through the use of a content-centered communications plan, you run the risk of not communicating the right information to the right audience at the right time. That could hurt your company through lost customers, wasted time, energy and money, and could tarnish your company's brand image.
Even if your company has gone through the disciple of articulating its business objectives and has a clearly defined its brand story, without properly targeting your audiences by segment, and identifying which parts of the company story you're going to tell to each of them, you could create confusion rather than inpart useful information.
Think about the golf story your Uncle tells every single year at Thanksgiving dinner. You've heard is so many times that once he launches into his tale you automatically tune him out. Without targeting your company's story (content) for specific audience segments, you run the risk of them tuning out your message too.
Do you have a content-centered communications in place that tailors your company's unique story of your various audiences? If so, we'd love to hear your story.