Content marketing strategist Andrés López-Varela recently wrote an article entitled ‘Content Crush: CSIRO uses storytelling to make the pandemic personal’ for the Storyation blog.
Andrés wrote that while many brands were producing content about topics like the mental health impact of COVID-19, few could actually claim to be producing content about the frontline fight against COVID.
“One such organisation is CSIRO, the peak public-sector scientific research agency in Australia. CSIRO holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Australians and, during its lifetime, has been responsible for society-changing innovations such as Wi-Fi and early detection blood tests for bowel cancer,” Andrés wrote.
I loved Andrés’s article, as I too am a fan of what CSIRO is doing in terms of content-led communications, including social media.
And I also happen to be good friends with CSIRO’s Editorial and Content Manager, Summer Goodwin.
So I connected Andrés and Summer on LinkedIn (gotta love social media!) and then dropped in the idea of all of us coming together on Zoom to discuss the topic of CSIRO and its content marketing efforts, with a view to publishing the resultant chat on YouTube and here on PR Warrior.
And BOOM! Here we are. Below is a video replay of the discussion, along with a transcription for those who’d prefer to read.
My key takeouts from the interview?
- The fact that CSIRO celebrates diversity as an organisation has really helped it develop a ‘culture of content’ which, I think, is critically important if you’re going to successfully become a bona fide media publisher (which CSIRO is).
- To create and publish at scale, you need effective systems and processes in place; this is especially important if you have multiple stakeholders internally who need to give the ‘tick off’ before any content can be published.
- Internal communication is key: Summer and her team effectively are running a newsroom. Importantly, they hold work-in-progress meetings with key personnel on a very regular basis.
- Understand your audience: CSIRO does this brilliantly – they know who they’re creating content for (they have multiple target audience groups, as Summer explains in this interview).
- Inject storytelling into your content: As Andrés highlighted in his article, CSIRO tells the story of the science, and the story behind the science.
- Further to point 5, shine the light on your people, and let’s hear their stories! We want to hear from the experts and the leaders, and CSIRO does this well through its content efforts.
Alrighty, here’s the video replay of the interview!👇
This is a Zoom phone call and I have got with us the one and only- actually it’s the one and only – Summer Goodwin, and we have the man known as ALV – Andres Lopez Varela. Summer, we’ll get into you and what you’ve been doing because you’re going to be the main person here we’re going to pump for information because you’re at the CSIRO and we’re talking all about content and the ‘Content Crush’, where it all started. Andres, do you want to fill us in on why we’re going to be talking about content and CSIRO in particular today?
Well, I’m very happy to be here.
I’m very happy to have this chat with you and with Summer in particular. I am a big fan of CSIRO’s communications and content marketing and have been for many years I’ve had personal experience working with CSIRO comms teams as well from outside the organization. And last month after keeping a close eye on a lot of the CSIRO content throughout the pandemic, wrote a piece in my capacity as the head of strategy at Storyation called Content Crush, where I sort of, you know, I guess tried to do a bit of an anatomy of the CSIRO’s amazing coronavirus pandemic content.
And really the strength of the content being that it really personalized the pandemic, took it out of the kind of realms of sort of, you know, science, data and abstraction and really made it personal using storytelling, real people’s stories, working at the CSIRO, their personal passions. And I guess you know how those, how that storytelling technique used consistently develops a really sort of accessible story around the pandemic that perhaps a lot of other scientific bodies around the world haven’t done well, haven’t even attempted, frankly.
And so, Trevor, I’m very happy to chat to you guys about it, because I think it’s a really fascinating case study, not just for communicators and content people in the science and government space, but for anyone really.
Yeah, I agree.
Summer what’s your role at the CSIRO? And we’re going to dig into a little bit about what you’re doing.
So for internal people, we call it CSIRO (“Cyro”). So both of you are very welcome to call it CSIRO from now on. And Andres, I feel like you’ve just got into our hearts and minds because part of our remit, I guess, is really about creating accessible science that people who don’t necessarily have a science background or science degree can understand.
It’s relevant, it’s useful, it’s compelling. And it breaks down really complicated, complex science into terms that you and I can understand. I come from a communications background. I don’t come from a science background.
So if I can’t understand the blog that I’m reading, probably the person next to me isn’t going to be able to either. So my role is to lead the editorial and content team. We provide a service, I guess, for across CSIRO providing a space so the channels, the social media channels, the website, EDM, blog, a space for our scientists to share their work and share the impact that our science is making on the community and the world.
And I’m just sitting here just … what am I here for? … my role, just so you don’t think I’m just a shag on a rock … Andres and Summer are two of my favorite people, and Andres wrote this story and Summer loved the story and talked about it on social media. And this is what I love about social media, because I know both of you very, very well. But you guys didn’t know each other. I introduced you both on on LinkedIn, but then said, let’s have a chat about this and dig a bit deeper because we all love our content and we all love social media and content and telling the story of an organization.
So thought it would just be a just a terrific idea, Summer you’ve done a lot of the hard work and Andres has done a lot of the hard work putting together an article, and I’m just gonna float along the top. So I mean, just getting into it guys … Summer walk us through what’s the breadth of the content, and, you know, you cross multiple channels. You’ve got some terrific social media followings. Can you give us a sort of a thumbprint of all the things that you’re doing from your perspective, social and content wise, just so people can get an understanding and then we can go deeper into the type of content and how you structure it and some of the most strategic things behind.
Yeah, so I guess there’s a couple of key pieces of work that CSIRO is involved in. So one is the vaccine development.
So working with CEPI, it’s a global foundation and we’re working with universities and scientists across the world, essentially, which is, to my understanding, the first time this has really happened where scientists from different organizations, have collaborated, shared their data, shared their information and their expertise to solve a shared problem, a global pandemic. And the other part we’re working with is there’s a lot of different areas that we’re doing, but another one is manufacturing.
So working with organizations, start-ups around the country to scale up production of face masks, you’ll probably see recently we opened a face mask testing facility at Clayton. So when this pandemic started, we did have a global supply issue with face masks. So really working to ramp up local production so that we could ensure that we have the medical PPE that we needed.
So the big picture is we’re doing a lot of work across CSIRO to do with the pandemic in different areas, in manufacturing and health and biosecurity particularly. So I guess it was really important to us to be sharing that information. There was also, I guess, a need during this pandemic for really accessible, evidence-based information that was factual, that was local, that was relevant. And we saw that there was a place for us, I guess, an important place for us in that conversation.
How do you make the decision about what is, I guess, elevated to that sort of discussion, like the outward-facing kind of public conversation that you do in the content, because, I mean, there must be so much of it.
And I’m sure that in my limited experience, working with scientists and researchers in the past, everyone thinks that their piece of research and their piece of data they’re finding is the game changer. How do you make those decisions? How do you kind of decide, well, this is something that needs to be told broadly. We need to make it accessible. We need to open it up. What kind of decision-making process do you go through to make sure that that’s essentially your mission of making it accessible?
It’s a good question, I mean, in relation to COVID, we drew a line between us and the Department of Health, so anything that the Department of Health was leading from a federal or state level was out of our lane. So what was absolutely in our lane was vaccine development, the virus, health and wellbeing, tech and data. We’ve been doing a lot of work around, as you’ve seen in some of that content, around tech and data, and manufacturing, that I’ve mentioned before.
And then it was really looking at, well, what’s the what is the information that people really need right now? What are the hot topics? What are people talking about? What’s missing? I set up a weekly editorial meeting. So a group of people from around the business representing different parts of CSIRO. So everywhere from energy through to oceans and atmosphere, through the land and water, ag and food, H&B obviously, ACDP, having a real mix of probably 20 people in that weekly editorial meeting where we would brainstorm ideas, talk about different story ideas we had, how could we bring them together, how could we bring them to life?
And that’s where things like meet the researchers came out of that and meet the researchers is an interesting one from a number of fronts. So firstly, one of the things was that Trevor Drew, who’s our director of ACDP , and Rob Grenfell, he’s the director of health and biosecurity, were so busy with media interviews that they didn’t necessarily have time to review blog content. So part of it was who else is working in Covid research? And when we asked that question, suddenly there were all these people around the business that were doing different pieces of work.
And so there was an opportunity, we thought, to showcase some of those people who weren’t as visible as Rob and Trevor. But we’re also doing incredibly interesting, important, valuable work in relation to this pandemic.
Can I ask a silly question. ACDP, what is it?
Australian Centre of Disease Preparedness, and I’m glad that I remember that acronym. So that’s in Geelong. So it’s the former AAHL (Australian Animal Health Laboratory) and that’s why we’re doing the vaccines.
So I have very fond memories of AAHL, because in a previous life I was fortunate enough to work at an agency that worked with Pfizer when they were developing the Hendra virus vaccine in conjunction with the scientists at AAHL. And that was eye opening. We made like a documentary, a lot of good video content with them and with the industry, and it was just fascinating, the work they do there was incredible and also, of course, the team that work with them specifically in sort of making those stories accessible and relevant beyond just, you know, horseflies, bats, you know, rabbits, agricultural, and actually making it known why it matters why Hendra virus vaccine was important. You know, in protecting horses, we’re protecting humans and livestock and agriculture and all this. And I think that was kind of where my sort of fanboy days of CSIRO started because I worked there, that facility.
So to see it, I remember, you know, at the time it was like one of the only facilities of its type in the world and it was, you know, incredibly secure. And this like I mean, you as you drive down the road to it, you turn in the gate. It looks like, you know, like an outpost of like the Pentagon in some kind of disaster movie, you might say it’s sort of like not only it is obviously doing amazing work there, but it’s kind of like everything that you imagine, like a really kind of serious, intense disease lab is.
And that’s just really satisfying on a nerdy level, like those fantasies were actually true, that was my first exposure to CSIRO and incredible stuff and content you guys were creating about science back then, but then all the way through now, like I mean, the way that you sort of, you know, kind of wove it in the back story to sort of, you know, like Professor Vassen, the pathogens team leader I think, and Dennis Bower, some of the stories are just really eye-opening because these people aren’t the guys don’t exist in a vacuum, don’t just exist in the context of this disease and this time, they, you know, this is how their own personal passions kind of imprint on the work and the way the work kind of evolves and comes to life. So it’s really interesting because if you’re even vaguely interested in science or any of those topics, then it’s a really interesting way accessing those topics as opposed to having to be, like, super learned about the research and the data itself,
That’s making it accessible, I think, you know, we only have to look at your blog and the social channels, there’s you know, there’s a lot of creativity there and it is really accessible. And, you know, for younger or older, it’s you know, you don’t need to necessarily understand the ins and outs of science to really be curious about what you guys are doing.
Summer, you’re talking about, you know, you’ve created the the editorial team. But at this point, at which point, you know, Covid really the pandemic is probably March, I suppose, is when things started to ramp up. At which point did you guys say, listen, we’re going to have to do a lot more around this and focus because, you know, CSIRO is still doing so many other things. Yes. I doubt whether the whole thing is Covid but obviously, this has now taken priority. How did you approach that? When did you approach it? And and when you said, well, we’ve got to stay in our lanes and that side of things, you’ve got a lot of lanes still. How did you piece that together? How long did it take to sort of how did you approach it from a strategic point of view? And just are you still reiterating as you go or you really got down and had a strategy straight up and then just built on that.
Yeah, so I think it was and it’s a bit of a blur, as I’m sure you can both appreciate, I think it was late February, early March, that things started to ramp up. I don’t know if you remember, we had a press conference at ACDP saying that we were starting the pre-clinical trials. I’m pretty sure that was late February. So what happened after that, I guess, was we started having a daily WIP which was to say, you know, what’s happening in the space. Things were starting, the pandemic was starting to, I guess, take hold in Australia. Numbers were going up, changes were happening around how we were going to be working and living.
And that’s with your team, the daily WIP?
Yes, also with our team and it’s important to remember that during this we were all going through a pandemic as well. And there was a great quote about you’re not working from home; you’re at home during a crisis trying to work. And, you know, it was like that that while we were doing all this external comms and ramping up our external comms, we were all getting used to working from home and moving home and all that stuff.
So in relation to our people first, we have a value at CSIRO, which is people first, it was really important that our internal people had all the information that they needed about the changes to their work. At the same time that we were communicating about these major milestones in the work that we were involved in. So we had a WIP every day with a key team of people. I was in that team. My boss was in that team. My social media adviser was in that team.
And we would just basically say, what’s happening? What are the big announcements that are coming up? What news was broken overnight? Sort of where were we at? And then we had the weekly editorial meeting. We went to 100 percent Covid content for quite some time. It would have been at least eight weeks, I think, of one hundred percent. So anything else that wasn’t Covid-related was kind of postponed. A lot of things were getting postponed anyway because events were getting cancelled and pieces of work were getting moved to later in the year, so, yeah, we really went to one hundred percent Covid. I pulled out some numbers.
Since January, we’ve published 42 blogs related to Covid, 603 social media posts. Interestingly, our social followers in the last year have gone up 31 percent across all our channels. Yes, around that people first, I guess, so one, letting our people know so they’re not finding out about news externally before they know internally so really staggering announcements holding off externally while we make sure our internal people got the information first, in my team is also the internal channels. So the Intranet, the internal newsletter, Yammer, we use Yammer internally as well. So lining up all that content, I guess the other part of it is giving other people in my team.
So Kashmi, you will have seen Kashmi’s name on the byline on a number of those pieces. One of the stars in my team, she did a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts and then honours in health communication. This is her first job out of uni. And last year she said to me, I really want the opportunity to work more directly with scientists. And Covid came along, so Kashmi, meet your researchers. And she interviewed (Professor) Vasan and he left me the loveliest phone message you could possibly get, just about what a delight Kashmi was to work with, and so professional and patient and accommodating.
And, you know, Andres, when we saw your article, as I’m sure you’re both experiencing as well, it’s been a really stressful time for all of us and those phone calls, those articles, those words of thanks and appreciation about the work that we’re doing have meant so much to the team … and that the message from Vassan to Kashmi just made her year, so, yeah, so there’s that element of people as well.
And I guess the other part of it is really showcasing diversity. We’ve got an incredibly diverse organization. So when you think about something like CSIRO and I think this is one of the challenges for the big brands is it’s often this idea that they’re kind of these faceless entity. But at CSIRO, there’s more than five thousand people with their individual stories and their drivers for being there and the contribution that they make and we all come from really diverse backgrounds.
So, again, I’ve got some stats for you. So our researchers 50 percent are from non-English speaking backgrounds. Twenty-six percent of our researchers are female. So overall in CSIRO, it’s about forty-two percent female, which is pretty impressive for a scientific organization and something that CSIRO works very, very hard on, really flexible working before Covid, particularly during Covid, but before Covid, really for me personally to work in a leadership role in an organization, I feel I’ve never felt more respected, empowered, valued as a woman in a leadership role in any organization. It’s really … it’s a very collaborative, supportive environment and very respectful, and I think one of the fundamental things about CSIRO is this belief that diversity and inclusion are key drivers for innovation and collaboration.
And without diversity of thought and diversity of perspectives, you’re not necessarily going to have brilliant, creative, innovative work. And it’s that difference in perspective, I guess that is, is there’s a richness in that.
Do you reckon Summer that has helped you in terms of the content and the willingness, again, I always think that to do content very well in a big organisation is you need a culture of content, and obviously a culture of content comes from a culture, a workplace culture, that feeds it and that embraces it.
Because if if the organisation didn’t embrace storytelling and content, then your job is going to be a lot harder. Do you think that having diversity, by embracing ideas and innovation, all of those things that you just touched on there, do you think that that has a really big effect on content and by default social media as well?
Yeah, I really do. And particularly in my team, I think I’ve worked really hard to create a culture where it’s expected that you’ll fail. It’s not just okay to fail it’s we will fail. So take risks. And when you fail, inevitably, I will have your back. And you know, when things go wrong, it’s the team. And when things go right, it’s the individual, you know, and I think that’s so important in social media.
I remember going to a conference years ago in Amsterdam and one of the speakers saying that in social media we’re all just conducting experiments and some people are more successful with some experiments than others. And I really think that experimental culture, that culture of entrepreneurship and creativity, is so important in social media.
And I mean, some of the things that we’ve just tested out, like “Wombat Wednesday”, for example, was just like, ha, let’s try out “Wombat Wednesday” and it’s stuck. It’s absolutely stuck. And we’ve done posts related to Covid. But “Wombat Wednesday” about social distancing, turns out, the common wombat are champion social distancers. And I remember during the bushfires and the director said to me, oh, we might have to hold off on “Wombat Wednesday” and I said, no, no, people will not be happy if we remove “Wombat Wednesday”. We’re just going to have to do something that is related to bushfires.
And we know I’ve shared this story with you before, Trevor, about how we tracked down this wombat whisperer because there were rumours about wombats herding animals into their burrows. And, yeah, we found out if it was true or not. Probably not, but … we investigated those claims in the news.
Isn’t that a good thing that they say that if you if you weren’t there, that’s a good indicator of success? If you disappeared, would anyone notice? So obviously Wombat Wednesday, if you took it away, people would notice so it’s got a degree of success there.
So today, you know, so at the start, you’re doing your sort of your daily WIPS and your sort of weekly editorial meetings, I mean, it sounds like a newsroom, would that be sort of the thing, you’ve got a pipe to fill basically, and what are the priorities, but also, are you doing it from a messaging point of view? This is what we need to get out there vs this is stuff people are interested in or a bit of both? Because I think sometimes in content it’s audience, audience, audience, of course, what’s of interest and relevance to the audience but sometimes the audience actually doesn’t know what’s of interest and relevance to them until you give them something on a plate that’s just really cool. How do you approach that side of things?
Yeah, I would say that we definitely run like a newsroom. So my team has a morning wip where we talk about what happened overnight. What third party pieces have we got? What do we want to talk about today, I guess, and what do the people need and what do they want? I guess in relation to Covid specifically, we moved away from attention and to information. So really just wanting to share that evidence-based factual science around key areas. What was your question? Sorry.
Well, there wasn’t really too much of a question. It was really more about, you know, knowing what the public wants and then serving up to them versus, you know, these things that are happening. And I would say the behind the scenes stuff is is stuff that it’s about interesting messaging and cool stories that people aren’t necessarily asking for, but they’re resonating anyway.
Yeah, yeah. It’s a bit of a mix I guess, we definitely use social to inform what we’re going to produce. So social media played a key role in what are the sort of key topics of interest that people are looking at? What questions are we getting? What’s happening? So we have milestones. We have announcements that we know are coming up. So obviously we’re wanting to tell those stories in a way that is compelling and relevant.
So we’ve used quite a lot of video. You’ve noticed probably in the campaign we’ve got a videographer now, an in-house videographer, and that’s been an amazing addition to the team.
You’ve probably seen Larry’s updates, so Larry’s our CEO, so putting him sort of front and centre again, putting our people at the front to talk about the, if you’ve missed all our content for the last couple of weeks, here’s a wrap-up of all the stuff that’s happened and they went so well, on LinkedIn particularly.
But, yeah, a really good way to just summarize (and digest). A little digest of the last couple of weeks. This is all the stuff that we’ve done in covid. And so they went really well.
Trevor loves an executive on social media story it’s one of his areas of expertise, I would say. And you know, it is very good, especially for an organization like a government organization where, you know, that degree of transparency, I guess, is part of the best practice in sharing how taxpayers’ bucks being spent. Like, why wouldn’t you do that?
You know, it obviously depends on the personality of the exec as well but, you know, you guys have incorporated that really well, I thin. You mentioned you had a videographer, you have a social media adviser, Kashmi. who is obviously an enormous asset, if you’re watching Kashmi, keep it up, love your work but also a few other roles internally I am fascinated with from a strategy point of view because I believe when you put together a strategy, if you don’t have a view on the operational element, it’s pointless, it’s an idea. It’s like a utopia, if you like but it’s not necessarily practical because you don’t know if you can implement, if you’ve got the right skills and the processes and technology and whatever.
Can you kind of talk to maybe like the structure of your team in terms of how much your content is kind of created in that team, how much was created elsewhere in the organization, how much of it is created by external parties?
And then maybe like what kind of processes in tech you used to support that?
So it’s very collaborative. So there’ll be a piece of scientists, a team of scientists, and there will be a communicator, a business unit communicator who is in charge of communicating that particular science. That person will work with a lead from my team.
So we’ll get we have an editorial meeting across CSIRO once a week and we’ll have a pipeline of stories, pipeline of announcements, you know, events, all sorts of papers that are being published, and I’ll assign a lead to work with the BU communicator on the blog content, the social content, it’s very collaborative.
So how we see it is, the BU communicator is in charge of making sure that it’s evidence-based science, that the scientist is happy, that it’s absolutely 100 percent accurate, that partners are happy, that any partners that they’re working with get a draft in a timely manner so they can approve it. Sometimes the approval processes are quite extensive, as you can appreciate.
And then our team is really about bringing the social media expertise and making sure that the piece is relevant, its optimized for search, it’s accessible. It’s optimized for readability. It’s compelling.
Part of our remit, I guess, is around engaging young people and the next generation of STEM. So and women in STEM. So really, that 18 to 24 year-old audience is really important to us. So trying to make the stories really engaging and interesting to that particular age group, I think it’s easier with my team because we are quite probably with the exception of me, they are really quite a young team.
And so it is kind of that peer to peer marketing where I’ve got a team of young people who are really writing for young people, which I think it really helps. So, yeah, so they work together, they work collaboratively to produce the best kind of suite of content that they can around the story.
I’m one of the editors of the blog. I share that role with my second in charge. So and that’s really for a fresh set of eyes, a bit of a risk lens if there’s anything that might have been missed, you know, has this partner been consulted, have we ticked this off, that sort of thing? Yeah, and then we publish.
Is all your content produced internally, like like you don’t you don’t sort of bring in people externally, like maybe there are some expert, like, you know, like if you’re writing a long-form piece of content, or if you’re creating a long-form video and you need some kind of external expertise or just kind of for scale, do you ever sort of work externally or have you sort of managed to, I guess, build a program that works? It’s kind of self-sufficient internally.
Yeah, we do use some external people, so we produce a blog, not my team an ECOS blog. And I know that they work with freelance writers.
And again, that same sort of model where the freelance writer will work with the BU communicator to ensure that the science is accurate and evidence based. And then it’s written in a really compelling way. So it’s kind of bringing the strengths, I guess, together. So the science and then the comms, and trying to really create something that’s really useful for people.
And I mean, I learn something. Every blog I edit, I learn something. And again, back to Kashmi and we’re her greatest fans clearly Andres, but she has got … she’s kind of getting this beautiful style where it’s easy to understand, but it’s not patronizing. I never feel like I’m being spoken down to, I feel like I’m having something explained to me in a way that is: “Oh yeah, I get it. Oh yeah. That makes sense. I get that right.” But it never feels like I’m being yeah, I’m being patronized
Generally for case for all the CSIRO content really. I’ve never had a piece like, you know, where I felt like “oh wow, I feel like, I feel like this is too simple or like i’m missing something”. And so I think yeah. Just the skill and the commitment of the team.
And when it comes to the way you kind of support that program. Do you use the kind of, you know, what kind of technology, what kind of apps, platforms, programs for whatever do you have anything that kind of facilitates that, you know, keeps a paper trail, helps you understand because the volume of content is enormous and so many channels.
How do you do you have the technology in place that really consolidates that, because I know that a lot of the brands I work with, that’s like one of the biggest challenges and sometimes something that the brands frankly stick their head in the sand about. You know, we use Trello and it’s fine, like, yeah, it’s OK, but actually it doesn’t scale at all, you know, it’s in the Google Drive and Dropbox, you know, what do you guys do to kind of stay on track in that sense?
Yeah, it’s a really good question and it’s a challenge, I think. So in terms of social media management, we invested in Sprinklr about twelve months ago now. So it was when I first came on board and everything was being done natively, including reporting, which as you can imagine, was just so onerous.
So we’ve invested in Sprinklr, which is amazing. It’s the first time I’ve used a lot of other social media management platforms but yeah, love Sprinklr. The reporting is beautiful and it’s great platform to use.
So in terms of social media, that’s what we’re doing there, in terms of editorial process and bringing all of that together. A lot of it is still done via email. I hate to confess, but we do use Teams, which is brilliant. Yeah. So having an editorial plan, I guess, so we have at the moment I have this week all the blogs that we’re publishing, days against them, our lead, the status and then a social media planning calendar that we’re dropping things into as things go live or things get added or people come and say, can you share this?
So a lot of it’s done in one document in Teams all the planning, and it’s really my job to make sure that all the different parts from across the business, all those multiple emails, “oh, can you do this? Can you do that? Can you share this?” coming into that central point
So at least some of they are actually coming to you, which I would have thought in in big organisations. The hardest part is to actually get people from organisations to proactively give you stuff, give you a story. my experience is there’s usually one or two outliers who are who are fully invested in it.
But to get a full spread of people, this is a pretty good outcome, I think, and yes, you’ve got to manage it all, but at least you’re getting it, again you’re getting that diversity, you’re not getting one or two people who are the champions of it.
And therefore, you know, you’re not over-indexing on one or two departments. So that that’s that’s that’s obviously something that’s had to be built up and taken taken time to do. But I think that that, again, a culture of of content.
Yeah, absolutely, and I think it really is about those relationships, and whether those relationships are with your community online and being respectful in terms of giving them really useful content, accurate content, responding to questions, managing your community, so it remains a safe space for people.
And that’s you know, all these things are important for us internally as well. So, you know, I really try and create value for the internal stakeholders. So, you know, providing training around readability and SEO and how we manage the editorial process so that people understand the process that they’re going through and there’s not an editor at the end to dumb down your work or to add another approval spot … so that there’s a fresh set of eyes, so that we ensure that everything is accurate.
So really, I think, just really explaining that kind of complicated process in a way, in a way that’s really useful and relevant and helpful to people.
And so recently with Covid, is it gone like you’re putting out a mountain of stuff? But as you said, you pull back on a lot of stuff. But, you know, are you producing 20 percent more, 30 percent more than you did or just it’s just now more very Covid-related. And that you’ve got to a level that you’re at ,you’ve got a level of output that you can’t really exceed anyone given resources.
I think that’s right, Trevor. It’s more of a split. So now it’s probably more covid is more business as usual. It’s probably about 20 percent. And a lot of the other stuff has come back. So we’ve kind of dialed down from one hundred down to where we are now, which is I think about twenty to thirty.
And audience wise or I guess traffic-wise. Have you seen a difference in that obviously Covid being more topical. and in Andres’ article, he does show the the Google Trends map with the interest went right up, and have you seen that? Is that if you track that as well?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we set targets for increasing blog visits by twenty five percent. And we’ve just we’ve absolutely smashed our targets.
I think that might just be me.
I think now obviously you’ve hit it you can just take the rest of the year off. I’ve just got one more question. More on social media Summer. Which channels are just really working for you, they each do what they do. But is there anything that’s knocked it out of the park or you know, you’ve been in the space probably from the early days of social, so you’ve seen a lot.
But is there anything that makes you go, wow, that just really took or anything like that thats blown you away and just really. Well, didn’t see that coming
Instagram has grown a lot. I can again, I can pull out some numbers, I’ve got some numbers here. I’ll just bring them up. Yes, so we’ve had 107 percent growth in Instagram followers.
LinkedIn has been really good for us as well, so I think before I started in this role, LinkedIn was kind of not given that much love, but because I’ve come from a B2B, just come from a B2B agency, I’m like there’s huge opportunity for us on LinkedIn, particularly with our leaders, so one of the things we started doing such a simple tactic is sharing our media releases on LinkedIn, and that is our killer content on LinkedIn, a media release.
Who said the media release is dead? Andres, I’m sure you’ve said that at some point.
And Facebook in terms of I mean, you’ve got 230,000 followers, your Facebook page is massive. What are you thinking? What what’s the organic reach like? And I suppose because, you know, you’re putting out some pretty heavy, you know, some heavy topical stuff at the moment, you would have probably had a fair bit of engagement with that.
Did you see your organic reach? Is that sort of going up as a result of increased engagement?
Yeah, yeah, it has, absolutely. And Facebook is still a giant. I mean, it’s it just eclipses the other channels in terms of the reach that we can achieve.
Yes. Our kind of five key audiences are really around the younger people. So we call them purpose seekers, the younger millennials, Gen Z, and then there’s kind of Gen X and and baby boomers in another group.
And then we’ve got government and big corporate, and then we’ve sort of got start-ups, universities, and then we’ve got parents and educators.
Facebook is is pretty much a key channel for the consumer audience particularly, we’ve been doing some beautiful nurturer’s content. So I don’t know if you saw our Parks colouring-in companion set. I talk about it any opportunity I get, but it was actually a piece of Covid content. We thought it might be really lovely to do a quiet activity where parents and children could both learn about science while they were doing home schooling or working from home.
And then we had Parks listed as on the National Heritage List, and we bought those two things together to create this colouring-in set. So things like that, just things that are, I guess, quite creative ways to talk about science and really relevant to that particular audience.
So what we’re finding on LinkedIn is really that curious leader. That’s what we call them, so that the government and and large corporates, they really resonate with Larry and Cathy Foley, our chief scientist, because, again, it’s that peer to peer marketing. It’s that their peers talking to them about relevant content. Yeah. So I think that’s something that’s working really well for us.
And Twitter from an influence point of view and journalists and all of those people on Twitter. That sort of would serve that purpose, I would imagine.
Yeah. And Twitter’s kind of got everyone. That’s the great thing about Twitter is it’s kind of. Yeah, it’s kind of for everyone. We’ve also been doing some Spotify playlists. You’ve probably noticed.
Oh ALV …
The most most successful one was during the bushfires and people were getting really, really depressed with the state of affairs.
So we created a ‘This is Australia’ playlist with just the classic Australian tunes, everything from Kylie Minogue to Yothu Yindi and that’s been the most successful one. But we’ve created some during Covid as well, like one music you can move to. And so I think we’ve seen like a thousand, almost two thousand per cent growth in Spotify channel. So that’s been a new way to engage people with the brand
I mean and funnily enough, that was probably the hardest one getting everyone’s having consensus on how the hell do you get consensus on something like that? You need a dictator for that one. This is the way we’re going to do the playlist.
Well, that was an interesting one, because I sort of suggested that the bushfires meeting and I said, look, I feel like the community is just getting really depressed and we need to do something that’s not so just doom and gloom.
And I want to do a playlist and there’s kind of silence, like, “are you sure”? But yeah, I really have a good feeling about this. I really want to do it. And yeah, it was just the right timing of the right content.
I’ve just found it and following it … so I’m going to get on that.
And I think on that Trevor I think you were speaking about it before we got into this interview, but it’s about that kind of optimism and hopeful content.
Like if I look at all the content that we produced during this pandemic, it’s been hopeful and optimistic, and kind of uplifting. Like this is what our scientists are doing. This is, you know, I think that’s been so important in the overall mix.
Yeah, I think you’re right. There’s so much obviously news which isn’t good. And but to be able to have some hopeful content and it’s not sugarcoating, it’s just … it’s just having a different mindset on stuff as well.
Andres any last big questions? I will give people a link to your very good article, ‘Content Crush: CSIRO uses storytelling to make the pandemic personal’. And that’s what this has been about and all about the personal stories that come through.
I just want to keep reading those stories. I want to keep seeing and understanding science through that lens. And frankly, not just from you. I’d love to see that from other sciences organizations around the world because there is that dumbing down of science.
It’s kind of like the Young Turks kind of science dumbing down, which is frankly irritating. And then there’s like the bloody World Health Organization. It’s like, well, there’s a whole gulf in between. And I think that you clearly have a great understanding of your audience, and that is number one for great content, what is the audience demanding what can we give them uniquely.
And you were just kind of nailing that over and over. So I’m really grateful to chat with you and I hope that we can, you know, geek out on science stories in the future and , you know, Team Kashmi all the way.
Well, if you want to do an interview with Kashmi, I’m sure she’d be wrapped to do that, she has been kind of the lead on a lot of the blogs and then Georgia, my social media adviser, has been getting every single one of the social media posts related to Covid approved by a little committee. It’s about a group of five people just making sure that it’s accurate and that everyone’s happy. So it’s been yeah, it’s been quite a journey.
But, yeah, just really appreciate the opportunity to chat about it. And I guess to me, I mean, I love working at CSIRO, it’s such interesting science and I guess just being able to make a contribution on this level at this time is so deeply fulfilling to me and being able to give the young people in my team the opportunity to play a key role in telling these stories i know has meant so much to them. So, yeah.
Andre, thanks again for your beautiful article, because it really, really meant so much to Kashmi especially, and Georgia as well. The whole team, we were just wrapped.
Thank you Summer keep up the amazing, amazing content and thank you Trev for this chat.
And thanks for taking us on the journey of CSIRO – never to be said as CSIRO again – the CSIRO content machine.
Thanks a lot, guys.
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