Social Influencer Series | Skyword President, Robert Murray
I met Robert Murray a long time ago. We were Freshman at Boston College. He was part of a dynamic group of young men that were on their way to becoming "Double Eagles" (graduates of both BC High and BC). We shared common ambitions and a love of our one day Alma Mater.
Robert went on to Harvard Business School and then Bain & Company, before becoming the Global CEO and President of iProspect. He was on the cutting edge of modern advertising, helping build iProspect into a global digital agency and powerhouse brand. As I began my transition from traditional media to social, I heard Robert speak at an industry event and was fascinated with the work he was doing - moving stories forward with content marketing and modern, digital storytelling. It was time to re-engage.
We met for coffee at Caffe Nero near the Boston offices of his newest venture - Skyword and I knew he was onto something really big. Their full-service approach to helping brands connect with customers with scalable, sustainable content marketing strategies filled a massive void in the marketplace. A common roadblock to content marketing is that organizations lack the bandwidth to execute. Skyword solves for that.
As President of Skyword, Robert Murray is responsible for all go-to-market teams including content services, sales, and marketing. I caught up with him recently and here is a snapshot of what he had to say:
Over the past twenty years you have been an active participant in the ever-changing and disruptive world of advertising. Today you are redefining "Content Marketing" with Skyword. What is the secret to scalable, sustainable content marketing?
It’s no secret that customers are harder to reach than ever before by taking advantage of ad-blocking, caller ID, email filtering, and ad-free subscription services. How can business leaders and marketing teams alike make sure their brand is being heard?
It all starts with telling a story. The truth is, customers don’t want to be interrupted; they want to be entertained. If you tell a great story, consumers come to you, and return to you, instead of rejecting you.
Storytelling is at the core of content marketing, as it takes all shapes and forms (blogs or infographics) across various channels (social media or mobile). The challenge of doing this exceptionally well is two-fold: creating enticing original content from scratch and ensuring it shows business value by driving revenue. How can today’s marketers succeed at both?
Companies oftentimes lack the operational model and infrastructure to carry out this initiative, but that’s when Skyword comes into play. With the right tools, support, and guidance, content marketing can not only scalable, but sustainable, too.
What can you tell us about Skyword360?
Skyword360 makes it easy to plan, create, and activate content at any scale to create personalized, lasting relationships. With a 360-degree view of content strategies and operations, Skyword360 powers a content-centric approach to creating exceptional customer experiences consistently and effectively.
Enabling marketing leaders and teams to coordinate content strategies across multiple audiences, campaigns, channels, divisions, and regions, enterprises can create unique customer experiences that differentiate their brand and drive measurable results. A more granular breakdown of the re-imagined platform includes:
Strategize: record audience or persona insights and map out how audiences typically interact with their brand throughout the buyer’s journey;
Plan: view content that is being created across personas, stages, campaigns, channels, divisions, and regions;
Create: customizable content templates and workflows, content, including social media posts, articles, ebooks, images, videos, case studies, and infographics, can be created, reviewed, and edited;
Activate: preview and publish content right from the platform across multiple channels;
Collect: Skyword’s digital asset manager provides a single repository to easily leverage assets that may otherwise be scattered across multiple locations;
Personalize: provides personalized recommendations both on their websites and through email and newsletters; and
Optimize: measure and share the performance of all of their content through customizable dashboards.
Skyword also provides access to a community of thousands of freelance writers and videographers, an editorial team, and program managers who help move clients’ content marketing programs to new levels of creative excellence.
In addition to your work at Skyword, you (and Skyword) are actively involved in supporting non-profits around education and literacy. Why is that so important to you?
The belief in the power of literacy and education to change lives is foundational to Skyword. We partner with many local charities, but we have a long-standing relationship with 826 Boston. 826 Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life. Since many employees volunteer in the Writing Room and have experienced the 826 Boston slam poetry team, Skyword feels a special alignment between the missions of each organization. In fact, 826 leadership has attended and networked at various Skyword events.
We’re really excited to be partnering with nonprofits like 826 and hope that our motto of moving stories forward reaches all audiences, including younger generations, too. While we recognize the impact storytelling has on brands and enterprises, it’s important for our company to understand the impact it can play in a high school student’s life, and just how powerful storytelling can be. Witnessing real-life benefits of storytelling around our community excites our company to help create that same experience for our customers, and our customer’s customers, too.
What are the top trends in storytelling today?
Some of the top storytelling trends today include data-driven storytelling, philanthropic storytelling, and customer-led storytelling. When brands tell a story that translates key data points or statistics into an engaging image, they are telling a data-driven story, and are far more successful. Think about it—if you’re trying to convince others to purchase, pursue, or at the very least ponder what you’re presenting, the chances of remembering one single statistic are lower versus remembering an image explaining that statistic and telling a story about it. According to Fast Company, we’re more likely to remember content with images and videos (i.e. infographics) than standalone facts.
Philanthropic storytelling is also taking off with brands around the world as customers are connecting to them in a way they never have before. With social media giving a behind the scenes look into companies, more pressure is being put on brands to have their culture take the center stage. Brands are now taking advantage of this societal desire and revealing the inner workings of their offices. By taking an ethical brand storytelling approach, companies are becoming more vulnerable, adjusting mission statements, and applying them in their marketing efforts to gain a deeper connection with their audience.
Customer-led storytelling is becoming a crucial part of brand marketing as it unfolds an additional layer of credibility apart from an overly self-promotional piece of content. Are prospects more willing to believe something your company is promoting itself or from an actual customer? When this type of review comes directly from a customer, it holds more weight since they are actually using the product themselves and can speak truthfully about its functionality from their own point of view, creating a whole new narrative. Case study videos have proven especially successful when shared across social media to help attract other brands and companies who trust one another more so than they trust the solution provider.
What brands are getting it right?
Eastern Bank is a great example of a brand who takes its mission statement and translates it into stories. As the largest mutual bank in the United States and the largest community bank in Massachusetts, Eastern Bank not only tells stories that captivates and entertains its audience, but also tells stories that directly relate to its brand purpose.
Launched in March 2017, Eastern Bank’s Join Us For Good campaign shows how brands can translate their core values into storytelling. Eastern Bank’s employees volunteered more than 60,000 hours in 2017 and donated to causes that are important to them. They incorporated these beliefs into their content marketing efforts to share their story with a larger audience, which resulted in an extremely successful content hub.
The Join Us for Good website goes beyond the familiar sales speak company blogs oftentimes adopt and expands into stories about individuals, organizations, and other businesses that are doing good throughout their community. With stories highlighting the history of Boston and some of the major players who help make Boston what it is today, the stories resonate with an audience of do-gooders who are just as passionate about social advocacy issues as Eastern Bank is.
How does social factor in a storytelling strategy?
Social media has enhanced the storytelling world beyond blogs, ebooks, white papers, and more. Instead of sharing a 10-page white paper, more and more companies are looking to capture their audience in 280 characters or less. This is where the fun comes in—brands can be creative with their storytelling on social and experiment with emojis, GIFs, infographics, and several others. Storytelling doesn’t always need to consist of just words; it should have a visual impact, too.
When implementing an overall storytelling strategy, it’s critical to consider the benefits social media can play when trying to reach new audiences, increase engagement, and page clicks. Social media users are constantly looking to be entertained when scrolling through their newsfeed, why not take advantage of a platform just waiting to be used?
Celebratory Cocktail? Vodka, soda, cran, lime twist.
Proudest accomplishment? My boys—Chase and Grant.
Go to social channel? Have you seen my Facebook?
Favorite BC Moment? Becoming a Double Eagle.
Inspirational #Hashtag? #JoinUsForGood
About the interviewer:
Mark Keaney is a Husband, Dad, Coach, Mentor and Leader. With over 20 years of experience in the media industry and a wild ride in the world of tech start-up & social - Mark is helping brands deliver world class CX at Lithium Technologies, where he is the Regional Vice President of Sales for the East. His mantra is - Brand Globally. Market Locally.
e: email@example.com or m: (617) 513-2668 or t: @markkeaney2pt0