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Charis De Craene and Claire Mertens from Visit Antwerp will be joining us on stage at Content | Campus on the 30th and 31st of March in Copenhagen. They will be showcasing how they've come together, from a Communal and a Tourism perspective to champion and advocate a brand new joined-up content strategy for the entire city. If you haven't done it yet, make sure you secure your place to the leading event all about Content! 

Quick introduction to yourself and the work you do at the City of Antwerp

My name is Charis, 32 years old, born and raised in the magic city of Bruges, but Antwerp finally stole my heart and that’s where I live today with my boyfriend and son. I work as a content strategist for the City of Antwerp, and as a huge fan of my city, it’s really the best job in the world!

How many people are part of the City of Antwerp and your content team in particular and what is the main focus of your organisation?

The City of Antwerp is a huge organisation, in total it has more than 7,500 People working for it. It’s split up in several companies that all have a different focus. For example: there’s a company with focus on Culture, Sport and Youth, another company with focus on city development and urbanisation, etc…

I work for the company Business Development and City Marketing. This company has four target groups, we call them the four B’s: inhabitants, visitors, businesses and brains (in dutch: Bewoners, Bezoekers, Bedrijven, Brains or students) We try to communicate, inform and talk with all these groups.

Tell us more about your work on building a city content hub?

In our company we have four content teams. Those teams work close to the target groups and that’s a good thing. The teams know what their target group needs, what content they need to provide to inform those target groups. However, the different content teams (although they all work for the same company), don’t seem to talk to each other. They create loads of content and manage several media channels (online, social and print), but often same stories are told and even the same content is being created.
By building a city content hub we are trying to get the bigger picture right first. We create brand stories around themes that are important for the four target groups. Those brand stories are the foundation for the content that is being created afterwards. That content is then customized for the specific target groups by the content teams

Why did you bring together the communal and tourism perspective to start this process?

To be honest, the first eye opener came when I switched jobs with my colleague Claire Mertens. I worked for 4 years at Visit Antwerp, the DMO of the City of Antwerp and Claire worked as a strategist for the City. In the beginning of 2016 I started as a strategist, Claire became head of marketing and communications at Visit Antwerp. Both on the new job we talked quite a lot and came to see that our teams often do the same thing and are in fact in need of the same information. The only thing that differs is their target group.

I started talking with several people in my organisation and concluded that this wasn’t only the case for my team and Claire’s team, but for a lot of people working in our organisation. We then started thinking what that means, where we can work together and came up with a new content flow, where we first of all start centralizing content, determine the several brand stories and then start with content creation.

The other focus point is providing content. How do we get the right info with the right target group.

We believe that building (a) network(s) is key!

 

What are the three levels that are important considerations for your approach?

The three most important considerations are:

- relevance: is the content or are the stories we bring relevant for our target groups? If not, we will never be able to get their attention. Today we live in a world where information is constantly popping up, it’s everywhere! To stand out as an organisation, you need to bring only relevant information to your audience.

- we take our information there where our target groups are. It’s a big mistake to think people will come to you. On the contrary, you should try to get people’s attention, inform them there where they already are. And that’s really important in a city marketing context. For practical information people know what to search and where to find it. But when you want to tell people stuff that isn’t top of mind, you need to come on the radar.

We also need to create a network with partners, stakeholders, intermediary companies. Let them talk for you.

- no more double content, no more double work: we are so eager to tell everyone about what we do, what we organise, what we believe in, … but we forget that in one organisation, several people are telling the same stories. People make the same content twice without knowing it from each other and putting it both online, you make sure google won’t help you to pick it up.

How did you convince your department heads about the importance of changing the content strategy?

First we made them aware that a new approach was needed. We gave them insights in the way communicating with our target groups is shifting. After that they were open to our story of efficiency and the way we want to bring our stories to our target groups.

What were the biggest challenges when working on building a city content hub?

We won’t be able to roll out our complete strategy without redesigning our organisation. At this point we are implementing the strategy wherever we can, but if we want to be a true content marketing organisation, we need to alter the organisation. That means new roles and new profiles. We are now taking our first steps in a big change program. So our biggest challenge so far was our own ‘sales pitch’ throughout the entire organisation and maybe even our own teams. Because change is always a bit tricky for some.

To implement our strategy building a network in different sectors to gain and to distribute content is key. That will probably be the biggest challenge of the whole project.

 

What are some of the outcomes / learnings / results so far?

Main outcome so far is an intense collaboration between my team and Claire’s team. We’ve tried to apply our strategy on a few campaigns and that already gave us some insights. We learned that it is not only an organisational challenge but also a technical one. At the moment different teams use different systems and we don’t even have a technical solution to centralise all content in one place.

But getting all key players on the same page to get our strategy implemented is already a result in itself.

Why should DMOs not miss your talk at the Content | Campus?

A lot of DMO’s are working on a strategy to connect locals and visitors, to create support with their locals for the tourism in their city or to make their locals ambassadors. We believe that a good content strategy can help to achieve that. And we will not only talk about strategy but we will give honest examples from our day to day experience too.

What are you looking forward to the most at the Content | Campus?

Two full days of inspiration and practice. All workshops sound great! It will be hard to choose.

If you want to learn more about content strategy, make sure to join the Focus and Consistency workshop at Content | Campus. In this workshop, you can expect to deep dive on the subject of focus and consistency, looking at how to find the right 'tone of voice' for your for your brand and how to really master niche content marketing as a central driver in your content strategy. Led by the content team at Wonderful Copenhagen, the team will take you on a journey exploring and delving deep into their content processes.

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