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Megan Youngblood

Content development

Fly your flagship content

February 16, 2017   //   Megan Youngblood

You’ve penned your key messages. You’ve refreshed your brand identity. But how do you let the rest of the world in on your brand?

Start by developing flagship content.

What’s flagship content?

Flagship content tells a big brand story. It features stories that reinforce your key messages and spotlights your ideal spokespeople.

It connects with your audiences and elicits emotional responses from readers. It drives them to think: I want to be like that, that makes me feel ___, or that motivates me to ___. And because it’s focused on telling a bigger brand story, readers associate these emotions with your institution, not just with your brand hero.

For example, if one of your key messages is about reaping a top ROI, your flagship content needs to show student outcome examples that lead to measurable income growth or career success. Or if you want student prospects to know that your alumni network goes above and beyond, your flagship content should show real examples of how alumni connect graduates to jobs, help line up internships or mentor undergrads one-on-one.

How do you approach flagship content?

When audiences connect with your flagship content across channels, they deepen their relationships with your brand. So when you’ve identified a story that represents a key message, why not adapt it for all channels at once?

You can tell flagship stories through profiles, photography, infographics, news stories, quotes, video, and express them across channels—social media, viewbooks, websites, magazines, email campaigns.

Choose your channel mix and then shape the content to fit. For example, your flagship content elements could include a full article for your magazine or website, a two-sentence summary and pull quotes for website callouts, tweets, a short three-to-five sentence version for viewbook features, or a 30-second script for video. Because you know you’ll tell the story in many channels, you can produce all the versions at the same time for maximum efficiency.

As you approach content this way, you’ll improve your storytelling and efficiency by:

  • quickly identifying the best people who represent your key messages.
  • knowing from the beginning what you need to get out of an interview and shaping your questions to reinforce key messages.
  • listening for the kind of quotes that reinforce your messages.

What is worthy of a flagship story?

You might already have flagship content at your fingertips. Look in your archive of press releases. Remember to reference your key messages and ask:

  • Is there a bigger brand story here beyond the facts?
  • What is the shelf life?
  • Can it appeal to more than one audience segment?

Here are two flagship content examples from Zehno case studies.

Tippie College of Business

Key message: Venture into a new future. If you aspire to be part of the next generation of innovators, Tippie Business equips you for the future with tracks in entrepreneurship, business analytics, and more.

When University of Iowa business major Andrew Shao pitched his desktop expander invention to “Shark Tank” star Daymond John, what started out as a press release for Iowa turned into a flagship story. After inventing his product at Tippie, Andrew perfected his business pitch, won multiple pitch competitions and lined up multiple distributors for the Desk Buddy.

His story was the perfect example of what entrepreneurial students could achieve at Tippie and reinforced a key message that showcases Tippie as a testing ground for next-gen innovators and high-achievers launching business concepts big and small.

Andrew’s story has since appeared in Tippie’s viewbook to prospective students and on its website in various forms.

Andrew Shao Tippie College of Business

Short version in viewbook

Andrew Shao, BBA

Midsize version (above) and long version for web


Forté Foundation

Key message: Inspirational role models. Forté motivates women through role models speaking at events and sharing their stories online.

Through its research, Forté learned that many millennial women don’t have a complete grasp of the limitless career paths available in business. Female business role models aren’t readily accessible on some campuses, and women are sometimes risk-averse and likely to stay close to home for their education and employment.

Forté needed to connect millennial women who might not consider a business career with role models who they could identify with — real examples of women who’ve been successful in business.

Next step: developing flagship content.

Forté profiled women business leaders ranging from Twitter’s senior director of global business marketing to Citibank’s manager of U.S. investments to a global hostel entrepreneur. Then, Forté disseminated its flagship content on its website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Forte Amanda M. You Tube

YouTube version

Forte Foundation—Facebook

Facebook version

Forte Amanda Twitter

Twitter version

Keep the content coming

You should constantly expand your flagship content. That means not automatically retiring content because your flagship student has graduated or you’ve used the story before.

Your students’ stories become richer as they land great jobs or get into prestigious graduate programs. Your content is always reaching new prospects, so keep the best stories in play.

As you build your flagship content library, you can represent many facets of the student experience, appeal to multiple personas and continuously reinforce your brand. This story bank allows you to be more strategic in targeting specific prospects and serving up content just for them.

Learn more

Whether you’re managing a new brand after launch or story mining for a magazine, Zehno can help shape how audiences view your institution. Read more about our content development services.



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