I was just a young morning show television producer when my News Director approached my desk one day and said: “Hometown Friday, make it happen!”
He turned and started to walk away.
“Hold on a second, what is ‘Hometown Friday’?” I asked
“That’s for you to figure out – but make it happen!” he said, and went back to his office.
The reporter sitting in the next cubicle from me said: “I think he just said ‘we sold something to an advertiser, now you get creative license to make something happen.’”
“Funny! I heard that too!” I laughed.
We decided “Hometown Friday” would be a live remote show from the towns in our viewing area that we only visited in times of terrible tragedy. This new segment gave us the opportunity to highlight what was going right in those areas.
But how would we fill four hours of a morning show with stories from a place I’ve never been? The answer was in the Unofficial Mayor of Town.
Every place has one.
It’s the person who can tell you where to find the best meal in town.
They know all the stories (and the secrets).
They’re a treasure trove of information, and it doesn’t take investigative journalism skills to find them – all I had to do was to call the Chamber of Commerce in town and ask: “Who is your ‘unofficial’ mayor?”
They always had a name.
And that person became my Content Champion – someone who will find and share stories with you – before you have to ask.
Finding Your Content Champions
A Content Champion can be found anywhere. They can be your superstar employee who your customers come to see. They can be your #1 customer.
And don’t overlook your own friends and family. Often those close to us know enough about what we do, but can give us a different perspective on it.
You don’t need a lot of Content Champions, but you do need quality Content Champions. They are connected to enough people and that means they’re connected to countless stories.
Those stories are ones you can share on your website and your social media platforms. Stories that further your business’ marketing messages.
Coaching Your Content Champions
Summer is a great time to look for your Content Champions and begin to develop that relationship.
- Set aside time to take your potential Content Champion to lunch, or coffee.
- Ask them about their work or their connection to your business. One question I like to ask is: What’s a good day for you? (The answer always surprises me.)
- If they’re a super fan of your business, ask them why they support you, what is it that keeps them coming back again and again?
- Explain to your Champion what you’re trying to do, and the stories you’re looking for (stories that illustrate your business’ mission statement).
- Show them how to use their phone to take a proper photo or video (horizontal, get closer to the subject).
- Give them your direct email and cell number and ask them to send you stories.
There will be times when they send you stories that may or may not be quite what you’re looking for. But that’s okay. Thank them for sending it, and explain it’s not quite there, but to keep sending in stories They will get the hang of it sooner rather than later, and you will end up with a great resource in that part of the community or on campus.
From Champion to Influencer
When your Content Champions are knocking it out of the park, you want to make sure to give them a shout out on social media as you share the stories they shared with you. They will then turn around and share that post or tweet with their friends, and give you an organic expansion of your social media post.
If you have someone who is really helpful, thank them for that help by doing something nice like: give them some swag, or tickets, or a behind the scenes tour, something that would make them feel special. They will also take photos and videos and share on social media – another way to increase your reach organically.
These Content Champions can then also become your social media influencers – people who will amplify your message. They don’t need millions of followers on social media, just a few hundred. And the more you shout them out, the more people will follow them, and the more your message will increase.
Making the Time
I realize when you’re a small business owner; you have a lot on your plate. You’re running the business, keeping the books, overseeing marketing and advertising and even changing light bulbs.
It can be overwhelming to look at your daily to do list and wonder where in the world you have the time to go find your Content Champions and cultivate that relationship.
But I argue this is exactly why you need to make time to do this now. Set yourself up for success by finding people to feed you stories. The important stories that will make your job easier down the road. Your future self will thank you for it.