Established companies face a mediascape that is structurally biased toward tech startups, which makes it hard to achieve recognition for their innovation. No amount of money, content, or creative storytelling can overcome the assumption that big businesses will be disrupted.
So we change the terms of the conversation instead, both in substance (talking about innovation in processes, policies, and people, as well as tech) and scope (talking to media and other influencers outside Silicon Valley).
Founded in 2003, Arcadia Communications Lab is a boutique communications agency that specializes in helping global, publicly traded B2B brands play to their strengths, and therefrom realize latent value by using earned and owned content to talk about innovation both to internal and external stakeholders.
We’ve proven our proprietary approach with dozens of client engagements, working with category leaders in agriculture, automotive, CE, computer hardware, energy, entertainment, industrial equipment, IoT, insurance, manufacturing, non-profits, semiconductors, software, transportation, and retail.
Innovation communications is all that we do, and our services fall into three broad areas:
Replacing storytelling with news sharing
We don’t believe in telling stories better, but finding better stories to tell, so our creative approach is to look to the totality of our clients’ work to invent a coherent, memorable, and newsworthy communications strategy. We take news announcements and embed them in ongoing narratives that are anchored by news that’s worth publicizing.
Bringing technology to new audiences
A lot of owned content tends to hide in on client websites, or in technical journals; we act as editors, and sometimes as outsourced managers of entire production processes, to recast it — mainstreaming the topics and issues embedded in the technologies, and mining it for different angles — for a variety of new and different stakeholder audiences.
Involving employees as participants
Employees can be a brand’s best communicators, but only if they feel informed and involved in the larger issues and purposes on which a company is focused. We work with clients to transform internal communications from being a channel for repurposed marketing communications, and become instead a platform that inspires employees.
Whether we’re working on a publicity strategy, internal communications plan, or big picture creative challenge, our approach is consistent. Here it is in a nutshell:
A big data context engine
We see journalists, bloggers, and other opinion-makers as customers, not simply messengers, which means we strive to understand not only their personal proclivities, but what qualities constitute their understanding and expectations for innovation. Our proprietary Context Engine collects and aggregates this data, and then informs our clients’ strategy development. We call it ‘outside-in’ strategy.
Once we understand the context for innovation in a particular industry, we partner with our clients to develop a strategy that directs and links its activities to that reality. This means we work with operations, not just communications and marketing, to identify the content that will accomplish our differentiation goals. Nothing has intrinsic value for us, yet everything has potential uses. Actions speak louder than words.
Our approach to creativity isn’t to focus only on tactical techniques to deliver content, but net new creative approaches to how it’s produced. This can include recommendations for new partnerships, programs, or even changes in product functionality or services offerings. The overriding purpose is to maximize our clients’ opportunities to participate meaningfully in conversations about innovation. Less ‘me too,’ and more ‘only us.’
An actionable roadmap
We don’t deliver plans promising “to work with key media,” or “position you as so-and-so in front of employees.” Our initial engagements produce actionable roadmaps that start with communications goals — what, where, and when we want outcomes — and then work backward to specify the actions, required work, cost, and likelihood of success for each step. Clients can use it on their own, or we are ready to help deliver it.
A better approach to placing content
Unlike agencies that expend endless hours ‘working’ with media to try and make client stories fit their needs, we get most of that work done via our Context Engine at the start of our engagements. This means we have a far better understanding of who will use what (and when), and rely on our Content Tool to aggressively manage its delivery.
We’re constantly innovating communications technologies and approaches, and our clients get visibility into this work (and often participate). Our latest project is exploring public engagement on cutting-edge technologies such as AI, autonomous vehicles, and smart cities (essays are posted at A Cross of Silicon).
Unlike other agencies, we don’t reveal client names, but we’re happy to share examples of our work.
Here’s our thinking on key communications topics, available via .pdf for download.