PRHK Viewpoints: Let’s celebrate the ‘C’ word

"Content is King" is one of the oldest clichés in our business. Yet many counsel that strategy has assumed the throne. Strategy is, of course, a critical and necessary part of any communications or marketing plan but sitting on the agency side for many years, it got us thinking. What role does content now play in the equation? Are channels and context more important?

Agency value should be demonstrated by successful partnerships that solve business issues, sell product, hire and keep people, maintain share price, manage crises, protect reputation and lots more. We’re not here to denounce high-value agency strategic counsel that defines the path to achieve these objectives, but day-to-day we contend that one of the key reasons our clients come to us is because they are after something more prosaic and yet nonetheless valuable.

Whether it’s a press release, a social posting, a video script, a website rebuild, a branding campaign, an eDM, an infographic, a report, a recruitment ad…there it is at the centre, the common denominator, the critical core: content.

Our contention, and forgive us for making this personal, is that a key reason we exist (for clients at least!) and a key driver why many of our clients choose to spend their valuable budgets on our agency services, is that we have the skills and expertise to originate, develop and execute on content beyond their own in-house capabilities. Of course, the review, revision and approval of that content is a partnership process. But, at the very least, we set the direction and create something to work with.

Creative thinking to conceive the "big idea" is arguably of the highest value. Every client satisfaction survey sees creativity near or at the top of the list of the client wish list, and rightly so. Yet it goes beyond this. Every single client assignment challenges us to develop content, be it in words (across multiple languages), be it in pictures, still or moving, that is the very best it can be in achieving those business objectives.

With COVID-19 driving many organisations to use research to find out how the pandemic has affected their customers and stakeholders, and therefore impacted their businesses, the challenge we have been set of late is to craft meaningful communications and messaging from reams of data. Let’s not underestimate the content crafting capabilities this requires and its value to clients.

To us this is a key reason we are in the agency business. Every day we navigate across a diversity of industries. We face off multiple complex communications challenges. We write copies in many formats that influences hearts and minds. We design to make brands sing. We strive to produce and execute flawlessly. Long-form or short-form. Visual or virtual.

Yes, we should certainly continue to provide strategic counsel. But we should also continue to invest in the talent to create. Those in our teams who have the capability to originate and craft content, whatever its form, must be nurtured and valued. Let’s celebrate not relegate the "C" word.

This piece was written by Chris Plowman, SVP and Partner, BlueCurrent Group Hong Kong and James Hacking, SVP and Partner, BlueCurrent Group Hong Kong and Digital Chair of PRHK. PRHK Viewpoints is an article series contributed by members of PRHK, Hong Kong’s PR & communications association.