Even if your in-house team is fantastic, your PR agency is reliable, and you’ve got a laundry list of influencers who want to work with you, plans to launch any kind of campaign or initiative that involves content might still require a specialized content creator… or a few.
These could be writers and/or graphic designers or videographers or a combination, but they should have experience, training, and a background in branded content.
As “content creator” has become a title that news outlets hire for instead of hiring traditional journalists — and simultaneously, as influencers have adopted the “content creator” mantle to try to pivot away from their freeloading reputation — the term itself has become either empty, misunderstood or stigmatized, depending who you talk to.
But the essential role of a content creator is to create stories and messaging with images and words that engage people. It’s an important function within a marketing or editorial team, and in many situations, there’s no good substitute.
9 reasons you might want to hire a content creator for your next brand initiative:
1. You’ve got important ideas — a purpose statement, mission statement or mandate — that need to be finalized, and no one can agree on the right words.
A content creator is an expert at processing big ideas and lots of information into succinct sentences and phrases. They will be able to quickly understand and articulate ideas that you’ve been struggling to find the right words for — and they’ll be able to polish up your own words.
2. Your company is doing a lot of exciting things out there in the world, and not enough people know about them.
As much as you may realize that it’s important to document everything, from internal activities to client/partner success stories to marketing activations, it can be very hard to stop at any point and actually do that work.
Capturing interviews and going through photos takes focused effort and thought. People who have other roles often can’t spare the time or the thought. Hiring someone whose main responsibility is to capture and tell the stories of what your company is doing in the world tends to pay off in the immediate sense and the long term
3. A production company or agency produced a commercial that was cool and high-concept, but it didn’t really tell all the brand stories you want to tell.
This happens all the time and is part of a larger, ever-evolving shift away from traditional creative/advertising agencies. An agency or production company might sell your team on a funny, edgy, emotional or expensive big-budget video they swear is going to “go viral” and bring in thousands of new customers — but it almost never works out that way.
Even if they’re putting a media buy behind it to make sure it gets a high number of views, one video typically doesn’t generate the amount of engagement and conversion that would keep your company busy for the rest of the fiscal year.
In the common scenario where 60 percent of your budget is blown on a video, but you’re not seeing a lot of engagement or inquiries, one smart move is to allocate the next chunk of budget toward telling many more stories and showing many more faces of your brand… in a more fiscally responsible way.
Text/photo content for web publication and social media content are both great mediums for stretching out a budget and testing ideas. Content creators who identify as writers and photographers or graphic artists typically have experience working per hour or per assignment and will be able to deliver pieces on a budget of a few hundred or low thousands per piece, for you to publish and distribute.
This is very different from a production company or creative agency that has one deliverable for $50,000 — or no deliverable if you don’t pay them the full agreed amount.
4. You like a few influencers — their stories, photo feeds, and expertise — but you don’t trust them to create assets in your company’s look and feel.
The struggle is real between influencers who want creative control and companies that want good creative aligned with their brand image. Even if your creative parameters are flexible and you’re OK with letting influencers put their stamp on content, you probably still want it to meet certain standards.
A great way to ensure this happens during a campaign is by having a content creator who understands your style guidelines and company voice oversee the influencer content, from initial selection to concept approval to going over it with the in-house SMM before it posts.
5. Your executives regularly speak at conferences or present, and you wish more people could see and hear what they’re saying.
It’s baffling that so many companies let their shining stars go onstage, to speak or sit on a panel or do a demo, and don’t send a team along to capture it. If there’s someone at your company who makes you think whenever you watch them present, “I wish more people could see this,” do not hesitate a single day longer!
Find a content creator who excels in capturing content from live events, who has a rapport with your exec or expert, and understands your voice and goals. Set them up to shadow this company asset at every upcoming activity large and small for a couple months — and possibly set up one-on-one interviews as well. Package the material into blog posts, videos, articles, social posts and more.
6. You’d like to launch a blog or SEO core content initiative, and you want it to happen quickly, but you don’t have the internal bandwidth.
A large-scale content product launch requires a team. It can be a small team, but it shouldn’t be people who already have other job titles and are just contributing as they can. A strategy that works for many companies is to have an in-house content director, editor or product manager who knows the company style and goals forward and backward, and have them lead the content strategy with multiple content creators reporting to them.
These people don’t need to be full-time or permanent by any means — in fact, sometimes it makes more sense to hire them on a project or per-piece basis. The project manager should be able to assign heavily when needed and then scale back rapidly as needed. Once you’ve got the new content product up and robustly filled out, you can pull in other staffers to contribute and scale back on content creators if you prefer.
7. You want to create some new themed content related to your products, and no one on your internal team or other partners has done anything in that wheelhouse.
Any concept that doesn’t fit in with the day-to-day work of marketing and communications might be hard for existing staff to wrap their head around. This could be a series of customer spotlights, a holiday campaign, a recipe section, a blogger-contributed campaign, or any number of other things.
Sometimes your existing team will be up for a new challenge, but other times, these ideas get pushed aside just because no one knows how to tackle them. If you can tap someone with expertise in creating that specific type of content, just on a project basis, you’ll be able to execute instead of constantly pushing till “next quarter” (or next year).
Ideally, some of your staff will become more comfortable with the content type in the process, and you’ll also create a good relationship with someone who can continue bringing new knowledge to your company.
8. You don’t like the pitches you’re getting from existing staff/partners.
A lot of content creators are great at pitching ideas. Whether they come up in the advertising, PR or journalism side, successful pitching is a crucial part of getting work for many self-employed creatives or small agencies. If you’re not loving what you’ve seen from your regular folks, cast a net for ideas from qualified professionals.
9. Your existing team and partners are maxed out.
If people are fresh out of bandwidth, don’t overload them needlessly just because you’ve been listening to too much Gary V. Yes, at the moment, it’s a popular strategy to constantly be putting out quality content — but scaling it shouldn’t be the responsibility of people who already have a hundred other things on their plate. Bring in professionals. Start right here.