As Britain was dangerously close to defeat in 1940, Winston Churchill put the English language into battle. He inspired the people of Great Britain with his defiant, heroic speeches, rousing challenges that were full of hope, humor and direction. By using language strategically, he delivered some of the most powerful and moving speeches that were broadcast across Britain and the rest of the world, including Nazi-occupied Europe. History now attests to the power of his carefully chosen and skillfully delivered words, which moved a nation and ultimately helped win an ideological war of good versus evil. As one of the world’s finest orators, Churchill is probably turning in his grave at what has happened to the English language.
Churchill had very few weapons at his disposal to fight the Nazis, so he was forced to rely on his oratory skills and his powerful command of the English language. Content was his currency. He set the linguistic standard with well-crafted monologues delivered with passion and authority that riveted a nation huddled around the radio once a week. People were craving content with substance, waiting to be inspired and encouraged. His words were carefully choreographed with meaning and sincerity. Imagine Churchill today as a master orator with all modern communication tools at his disposal. He would be a prolific blogger, his twitter feed would be constantly active and he would have one of the most-visited websites on the Internet. Churchill used masterful content as his secret weapon: Content was his currency, and his means of mobilizing a nation to action.
Sticks and stones will break your bones, but content can affect your stock price
As leaders today, we can learn from Churchill that when the correct words are used with sincerity and passion, they can have a mobilizing and lasting impact. They can affect employee morale, consumer relationships, and impact your stock price. Great communication is an art and a science and needs to be treated as one of the most valuable currencies of your organization. Many companies have their obligatory mission statement framed in their offices but never use them to guide strategy or communication. Authentic communication as a meaningful currency comes from the soul of a company, and the first step to achieving this is to understand and answer why you really exist as a company. Crafting a compelling and living purpose with words that are carefully connected, easily understood and passionately consumed is the foundation for communication that is alive and vibrant.
Getting executive leadership teams to understand the implications of great communication as a currency for change (and ultimately for profit) is a massive untapped opportunity for innovation in many organizations. The personalities of the CEO and senior executives definitely set the tone for how a company's culture and internal content manifests, but many fail to understand that they indirectly affect external content as well. Content should be a living strategy and a currency traded between employees, customers and consumers, and it is as important as the actual product a company produces.
What are you talking about?
Just because you can broadcast content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube, that does not necessarily mean people are interested in what you have to say. People are intrigued by those who can entertain, educate, or intrigue them. Meaningless and forgettable content is ignored. Dull content is the equivalent of boring and meaningless conversations that are quickly forgotten. The digital world makes it easy for us to contribute to the conversation with opinions, narratives, pictures, and videos, so it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd.
What you talk about and how you deliver your content matters more now than ever before. Companies no longer have the luxury of communicating in a controlled monologue with consumers through traditional advertising. Technology creates an open environment where millions of people are vying for attention. With content as currency, you must have something relevant, compelling, and meaningful to say. Today, people respond to content that moves or entertains, so make sure your content is relevant and riveting.
An uncommon sense guide to using content as currency:
- Many executive leadership teams are still struggling to embrace content as the new frontier. Your company must be educated and immersed in the power and mechanics of social media and content development.
- Illustrate the power of relevant and compelling content by building valuable relationships to both indirectly and directly drive revenue for executives.
- Use tools like missions, visions and values to set a strong foundation for meaningful, powerful communication and content strategy.
- What you have to say, how you say it and where you say it may not have the same impact as it used to, so make sure you have got something interesting to talk about. Map out how you are going to entertain, how it is relevant, what stories you will share, and what value it will deliver to your community.