Content Strategy #101

Content Strategy #101

Content Strategy #101 2560 1707 Sean Cullen

Every day at Byfield, we asks ourselves (and our clients): “how do we tell stories people will actually listen to?” That question is as old as the communications industry itself, and the absence of a eureka answer means client briefs haven’t changed much in as long as anyone can remember.

What has changed is the canvas at our fingertips. Modern media and the explosion of channels and attention have extended the shelf life of the media mix. It’s our role to keep up with the pace of that change. In a way, it’s as simple as pausing the next time a client asks us to make a video, or put a LinkedIn calendar together, and ask yourself – and them – whether that video or social campaign really is the right way to tell the story lurking behind the curtain. It may be, but it’s essential to ask the question.

Content strategy is the discipline of constantly bringing the newest trends and techniques to meet the most ancient principles of storytelling. If we can do that, it becomes that much easier to help our clients’ stories stand out, get remembered, and drive preference in their market.

At Byfield, that question – “what makes a good story?” – drives our extremely successful press office (which at times looks more like a major national newsroom than an agency office). My colleagues’ “little black books of contacts” are among the most robust in the legal communications sector, and the results speak for themselves: here, we talk about national coverage as though earning it for a client is an everyday occurrence – because it is. Anyone who has cut their teeth in PR and comms will tell you, that’s no small thing. From a content strategy perspective, our team’s hard-won networks of media relationships means the hard part of my job is already done – valuable client stories are being told everywhere, on the most important channel: earned media.


So that’s a bit about what content strategy is. Now let’s examine why it matters:

  • Smart content strategy matters to the legal industry because, like anyone else, we don’t consume stories or form opinions about a firm in a one-off, single-channel way. A law firm’s reputation is its most critical asset, an asset earned – and kept – on the strength of a firm’s work and client service. However, the story of that firm is often meekly told to the outside world. When we talk about content strategy, we mean the process of wrapping a firm story in the right supporting content, distributed on the right channels at the right time. Getting this right is essential: it helps our audiences understand both exactly what we are saying, and exactly who is saying it.


  • It matters strategically because good content can be scroll-stopping, trust-driving, authority-building, traffic-generating, trackable… whatever job needs doing, content that is well-planned and expertly made is critical to ensuring a firm’s story is told, heard and remembered.


  • It matters to Byfield because it isn’t – and shouldn’t be – everyone’s job to know how to turn a great piece of creative thinking, or an elite client strategy, or a super robust slice of competitor analysis, or cutting-edge package of media or digital trends, into something a client or a prospect will understand or feel comfortable buying. Content strategy does that job.


  • It matters to every one of us in the Byfield team – not just me with my content job title – because it’s our job. It’s up to each one of us to make sure we know where our own specialism (whether that’s media relations, client experience, asset creation, copywriting and more) intersects with content strategy.


Everything – everything – starts with the attention-worthiness of the story:

  • Earned first, always. If there’s no story, there’s no coverage. And if there’s no story, there’s definitely no point creating any content. Find the story, and the sky is the limit
  • Always track back to the job to do. What story are we telling? Who are we telling it to? Why should they care about it? How do we make it useful for them?
  • Never, ever, just produce ‘stuff’. It may sound cheesy, but there really is a fine line between filler content and killer content. Building a proper content strategy – early in the planning cycle – is how you find it, and how you avoid spending hours, days or weeks on an infographic that goes nowhere (for example).


So: Content strategy is no more and no less than the red thread between the different functions of an agency: media relations –– copywriting –– asset creation –– client experience –– crisis response –– anything and everything else that goes on at a madhouse of activity, hard work, and productivity like Byfield. Done well, you won’t even know it’s there – but our clients’ stories will be better built, told and remembered as a result.


More questions? Let’s chat: // +44 (0) 7966 506 031