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Cool Story Bro! Relationship Building for Better Content

Getting to know your co-workers and harnessing the power of in-house experts allows you to create your best content.

Want to reinvent the wheel? Fine. But I bet someone in your office already did that. And they could probably save you a lot of work.

Here at iAcquire content marketing is our specialty. Why are we so good at what we do? We create publishable content on a huge range of topics. We also have something no one else has: distribution. We can get content onto websites with audiences worldwide.

It’s pretty cool. But it’s also where things get a little tough for us in the content creation department. No matter how much I know as a writer, I just can’t know everything. I can’t even know everything about a single vertical, like movies.

I want to create content that serves my clients and my publishers. I also want to work efficiently. That means I don’t have time to get a degree in every topic I cover. I have to combine the flexibility of an Olympic-level gymnast with the speed of a champion runner and the accuracy of a sharp-shooter. That’s how we succeed.

Does it sound impossible to you? It’s sounding impossible to me. But it isn’t. Why? Because, as the Beatles so wisely said, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” And no, that’s not code for performance enhancing drugs (unless you count caffeine, in which case we’re all in trouble). I’m talking about my co-workers. What’s my favorite thing about working here? My co-workers. I work with some amazing people. They are so talented and those talents range far beyond SEO, content marketing, PR and all of the other things we do on a daily basis here.

The Strategy behind Teamwork

Coffee at iAcquire + Teamwork =Success

So, when I have a publisher that wants a story about something I am unfamiliar with, I can handle that. Nine times out of 10, I know who to message (or visit, if I need a break from staring at a monitor) to figure out where to start or what the angle is. I’ll give you an example:

A fashion publisher wants to talk about men’s sneakers and the phenomenon of collector kicks. I’m not a man. I’ll pick heels over flats any day and I’m not into collectible stuff. I’m more utilitarian. Should we ignore the publisher’s request? No. I’m going to email Norris Rowley in our New York office and pick his brain. How do I know this? I’ve talked to him. I’m friends with him on Facebook. His Instagram feed is peppered with shots of his funky and fantastic kicks.

Norris Rowley's Cool Shoes

From the Norris Rowley Collection of Awesome Kicks. Used with permission.

Now, where I would have gone down the rabbit hole of the internet for a few hours to try to find authoritative resources and choose an angle, in a few minutes I have those bases covered. It doesn’t interrupt Norris’s day significantly and we’ve just improved our product immeasurably.

Now, say I’m editing an article. It’s about electronic music and that’s just not something I listen to. I can take care of the grammar, punctuation and spelling. I can be sure it adheres to AP Style (no oxford commas here!) and check the HTML code. What I can’t do (without hours of research) is tell if it would resonate with that audience.

But, I could ask a half a dozen other people. Why struggle with something like that when we can all benefit from my asking for help?

Organizing Relationships

How does this apply to you? I don’t know yet, and neither will you — unless you make the effort to know who you work with and what their hidden strengths are. Since “I don’t know” isn’t very actionable (and we LOVE actionable here) let’s talk solutions:

team bonding

Maybe it happens casually over ping-pong (have you noticed we also LOVE ping-pong?), a monthly potluck or an impromptu happy hour.
Pro: You’re having fun collecting potentially useful data.
Con: It’s not very efficient when you need something in a hurry, and all of that information lives in you alone.

team bonding at the pool tables.

Team Bonding. This time over pool rather than ping-pong.

Take a Poll

Maybe you use tools like Survey Monkey to crowdsource information, feedback or expertise from your entire office.
Pro: Sending an “everyone@yourcompany.com” email is very efficient and the information can be
organized.
Con: It’s a little impersonal

 

email to everyone asking for help

Effective? Yes. Impersonal? Definitely. And will everyone PLEASE stop clicking “Reply All”?! I know it happens at your office, too.

Start a Database

Maybe you actively catalog expertise. Does your company have a wiki? Make a page dedicated to identifying the expertise employees have outside of their job functions. Bonus points if it’s searchable (though there’s always Ctrl + F) No wiki? Try Trello. Build boards and encourage employees to subscribe and contribute.
Pro: Everyone wins and you’re a hero for organizing it.
Con: What con? This is awesome!

According to the iAcquire wiki, I can ask Mike Z about sports!

According to the iAcquire wiki, I can ask Mike Z about sports. That’s good, because I do NOT know what is up with football. Except for the tailgating. That’s good stuff.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you make it happen, just make the time and make the effort. Because it’s true what Wayne Gretzky said: that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take — on the ice and off of it.

  • Heather Ferris

    I’m still mortified by the slow death of the oxford comma. Sigh.

    Great post, though!

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