How to be heard: a guide to doing business in an age of information overload

Gay Flashman’s new book gives entrepreneurs the tools to take control of their message and do their own story telling.

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Have you set up your own business and are you thinking about how to get the word out about it?

You may be worrying about how to approach the media, whether local or specialist or national.

A new book says the way forward is to become your own content provider. It’s not about producing endless blogs and press releases promoting your own products, says Gay Flashman in her book Powerful B2B content.

There are countless blogs and news articles on the internet. The competition is fierce and getting more fierce as time goes by so a good content strategy relies on the quality of that content. Much content on the internet, she says, is mediocre and based on cut and paste jobs. Much of it is not based on fact, leading to a trust vacuum.

What is needed is, as Adrian Monck, managing director of the World Economic Forum, says in the foreword, “not marketing editorial, but genuine editorial…substances over slogans and insights over earworms”.

Flashman is a proponent of what she calls brand journalism, where businesses operate almost like news organisations, turning out interesting, quality, multi-platform content based on their particular expertise and their brand’s values.

Story telling

Flashman knows all about content, having worked for the BBC, Sky and ITN where she was managing editor of Channel 5 News and Channel 4 News. Now founder of Formative Content, a global digital marketing and communications agency, she says businesses need to change how they promote themselves by building a brand narrative and seeking to attract the right kind of audience for them based on a solid news strategy.

Flashman cites former Forbes journalist Dan Lyons saying: The media is overwhelmed and simply can’t keep up. The best way to be part of the story is simply to become a journalist yourself.”

That means understanding your audience, tracking what competitors are doing and setting up a newsroom structure to mine stories and turn out consistent, quality content, based on your expertise, but also on telling human stories.

She talks about the various different forms content can take, from videos and infographics to long-form articles, and how businesses can harness the expertise of employees to create useful thought leadership articles that other businesses will share.

Flashman states: “As audiences and buyers wrestle with the complex nature of our communications and marketing environment there has never been a better time to cut through with your own stories.”

Monck says workplace changes, including changing expectations of employers [a sense of purpose and values], a desire to share insights and knowledge through social media and different ways of consuming media, mean businesses need to approach the whole issue of being heard creatively. Content, he says, “needs to develop an organisational voice, to give shape and meaning to business issues, to encourage knowledge to slip the bonds of jargon and make the effort to be discoverable, discussable and shareable”.

Powerful B2B Content by Gay Flashman is published by Kogan Page, price £17.99.

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