Collaborative content occurs when two brands, with common characteristics, co-create content where the outcome of the content is mutually beneficial for both brands and their audiences.
In the pharmaceutical space, it's a tried and tested technique that has the twin benefit of promoting a company (or brand) but also providing engaging content that a publication's readers want to know about. Put simply, collaborative content is content developed in partnership between a publishers brand and that of your company.
One of the main benefits of this sort of content is in its name: collaboration. When two or more people are involved in the process of content creation, the content itself is enhanced in a number of ways.
Quality. With different people contributing to an article, more perspectives and points of view can be included, strengthening the overall piece of content.
Efficiency. Good content requires researching, writing and proofing. With more than one person involved, resource can be shared with a faster process of completing the content.
Distribution. Multiple contributions usually means multiple distribution channels for that content.
Securing collaborative content
Securing the collaborative opportunity is often the hardest part of the process, certainly in the sciences industries where there are lots of potential contributors wanting exposure. That said, there are also many publications boasting large audiences – and collaboration possibilities as such will lie with the editors.
For the company looking for the promotion, you first need to select your subject matter. It has to be 'non-salesy' and be solution based. Focus on the problem that your customers may have look at solutions without 'pitching' your product lines. think 'concept' rather than 'product' and remember with collaborative content you will relinquish most of the control of whats written to the respective editor who can spot blatant sales plugs miles away.
Once you have secured a topic, decide what publications this topic fits with and then approach the editors directly with a personal email outlining why their readers would lie interested in understanding more on this topic. Some publishers may have 'special projects' editors specifically for this purpose.
Organising collaborative content
It is often that you will have an idea for a piece of collaborative content, but if you haven’t got the blessing of the editor, the content won’t see the light of day within a publication. Therefore, the organisation of the content will include your brand (and another if applicable) and the publication for which it is intend for - so think like a publisher.
Depending on the opportunities presented by the editor, you might have a number of (or limited) amount of content type opportunities. But you should always play to your organisation's, your core product's and your employees' strengths and have a clear direction of the sort of content you are looking to produce and what the goals of that content is.
Here are common types of collaborative content.
panels, Q&As and Original Interviews
This sort of one-to-one content is highly engaging, where the publisher (or a representative from the publication) asks a series of questions to an individual or group of industry influencers/experts in an interactive format. It involves both parties and the finished article is usually one that is shared via a number of contributors.
Thought leadership and Expert Roundups
All publications will feature opinion pieces and guest posting within their publications, but having your opinions featured isn't easy if you are not too well known within the verticals that you serve. Again, this will come down to the editor. But providing your opinion is relevant and suitable for the publication, you may be able to produce a collaboration piece between yourself and the editor.
Success stories, and step-by-step examples, of how an organisation completes a certain task can be highly educational for other organisations - people like to see how others complete tasks similar to those they need to complete. In the process, an in-depth case study can promote an organisation with a target audience and prove its competency.
Podcasts are similar to panels, but are different in form. A webinar is a great way of discussing certain topics alongside the organiser or host, usually from the publication. Delivered mostly via audio, it differs in its delivery for those who prefer to listen to content, or consume content whilst on the go. The conversation with the host can also open up to the listeners, where questions can be answered and the brand can be positioned within a market.
Original research is highly effective content. It is educational, useful and in demand. This sort of content, however, is usually costly and time consuming. Collaboration, therefore, takes the pressure away from the research and the bulk of the work is shared. And since this sort of content is in demand, you will more than likely be able to publish the content in a number of publications.
Suggested topics could include trends or challenges in a given field to raise awareness. or an overview of a field/technology area as it looks now Readers are always interested in how you are Incorporating new methods and processes in practice and also any professional development that the industry is feeling.
Publishing collaborative content
Once the collaborative content piece is completed, it's therefore time to publish and share the content. Always share the content round the contributors before it is published, as there may be some final tweaks. This will also give you the opportunity to nudge the contributors that the content piece is imminent, reminding them to share the content once it is fully completed. You should publish through social media and on your own website in the first instance. If you are looking to spread the content further afield, always seek permission from the editor first out of courtesy.
The interviewees are best coming from a non-corporate external source. Also, content must not be product or company focused, however, can be technique focused.
Advantages of collaborative content
Done well, collaborative content is a hugely effective alternative to traditional intrusive marketing techniques. It will take time and effort, though. Be prepared for a project to take a little while and be prepared to be the middle man between editors and product managers. When this is done right, it's hugely impactful.
If it wasn't already obvious, collaborative content is tremendously beneficial for all involved in the process. The company gets positive promotion, and the publisher underweights the content which the readers enjoy.
Collaborative content also allows the publisher to provide the readers with engaging stories whilst the company has the opportunity to be seen as thought leaders and innovators who are not afraid to raise interesting and challenging issues to the market. What reader does not respect this position!?
When nobody sees your content, it becomes unsuccessful before it has even been given a chance to succeed. Collaborative content creation means collaborative sharing, and multiple channels means multiple sources of traffic.
Gareth Pickering is the co-founder and director of Orientation Marketing.