FirstWord’s greatest hits of 2018: novel content that made clients happy

We’ve helped companies say what they have to say in an accessible and interesting way – whether talking about technically complex subjects or exploring the values of their brand

‘If you have something to say, then just say it’ is one of our founding mantras. That can be harder with some subjects than others, but we thrive on making the complex simple so that clients can curate conversations about issues that matter in their industry, in a way that strikes a chord with their audience and builds their brand reputation.

In 2018, we helped clients make fintech, fraud and data regulation accessible and turned banking, real estate and industry into something beautiful. These are our content highlights of the past 12 months:

1) Who: CNH Industrial
What: Hidden in the doorstop sustainability report produced for its analysts and institutional investors, CNH Industrial had a galaxy of good news stories of interest to a far wider audience. We worked with the maker of New Holland tractors, Case construction vehicles and Iveco trucks to create A Sustainable Year, a 45-page document shining a spotlight on the role of sustainability throughout the business: the contribution of the Case team in the US to post-Hurricane Harvey clean-up operations in Texas, for example, and education projects in Ghana and India. Attractive photography and infographics helped tell the story of energy-efficient production lines and the prospect of energy-independent farms in the future.

Why: FirstWord first created a report highlighting the role of sustainability throughout the business in 2017, around the theme of ‘from field to plate’. It was so appealing as a calling card that managers throughout the company ordered reprints. Work has already started on next year’s edition.

2) Who: Pirelli
What: Pirelli‘s World magazine, a bi-annual large format publication printed on high-quality paper and designed to be collectable. Pirelli sees the magazine as a high-value business card that can be left with clients and contacts around the world. We work with Pirelli and an Italian agency, More + Studio, to produce it, contributing articles and editorial support.

Why: Pirelli’s magazine is journalism at its best. Each edition is focused on different aspects of innovation and technological change, mirroring Pirelli’s business focus. Gathered in its pages is a rich mix of new thinking, art, design, music, technology and cars, featuring star names such as Greta Gerwig, Frank Ocean and Steven Soderbergh, and writers including novelist Tom McCarthy and journalist Tim Harford.

The most recent edition is titled ‘Get Uncomfortable’ and looks at what is possible when we strive to be the best we can. Before that, ‘Smart Dreams’ explored the power of technology to make our lives better.

World also taps into the company’s long tradition of consumer engagement beyond tyres. It produced the highly innovative Pirelli: Rivista d’informazione e di tecnica magazine between 1948 and 1972, and was an early adopter of content marketing with its famous calendar, first produced in 1964.

3) Who: Orbium
What: Orbium, a specialist global management and technology consultancy for financial services, wanted to talk about the ways in which wealth managers are adapting to work with new types of clients, while also responding to technological change, increased regulation and greater competition.

We decided to look at five distinct types, or ‘tribes’, of new client and compare and contrast them in an infographic.

Creating an engaging, at-a-glance format such as this requires considerable research. We worked with Orbium to decide which clients to focus on, understand those clients’ needs and then match them to solutions that forward-thinking wealth managers now provide. We also used a spider diagram to rate the technological and business capabilities that each client sees as a priority.

Why: The graphic told a new story in an engaging way and highlighted Orbium’s reputation as a solutions provider and ideal partner for wealth managers. Following positive response to the ‘five tribes’, Orbium is keen to develop spin-off pieces.

4) Who: Intesa Sanpaolo

What: Italy’s biggest bank wanted to talk to tech companies and start-ups about its experience working with these sectors globally and how it aims to support them. We made 12 videos in which we talked to Intesa Sanpaolo’s experts and clients, as well as to independent voices – from fashion businesses in New York to tech frontrunners in Israel to Italian start-ups in London.

Why: At 3-4 minutes long, each film is an exercise in brevity, distilling the bank’s market knowledge into something informative and interesting to watch – which also looks good.

We worked with video production agency Peanut & Crumb, using our knowledge of the client, their Italian heritage and their markets to ensure the films ticked the boxes of message, aesthetic and viewer interest.

5) Who: Cluttons
What: A landmark residential building integrated into the urban grain of London’s Southwark, designed for architects by architects, needed a stand-out brochure to reflect its status.

Why: Cluttons has ambitions to drive change in the property sector, particularly in how boutique developments are taken to market. They needed a more refined and thoughtful marketing document that reflected the exclusivity of The Bankside Collection and went over and above the usual property particulars. FirstWord commissioned two prominent property writers, Zoe Dare Hall and Stuart Penney, to tell the story of the building itself – the nine flats were originally designed by award-winning architects Allies and Morrison for the firm’s partners – and chart the fortunes of dynamic Southwark (which has been attracting crowds since Chaucer’s day), with all its cultural and foodie hotspots.

6) Who: Consentric
What: Remember the spring, when the trees were bursting into life and your inbox was crowded with emails asking for your permission to keep being emailed, in order to let the sender comply with the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? Every company doing business with Europeans urgently needed to comply or face hefty fines. But very few businesses really understood what the changes involved or what action they needed to take. Step forward Consentric, whose software allows companies to record how they handle personal data, fully complying with GDPR requirements.

Why: To make the most of data protection’s moment in the sun, we worked with Consentric to create a simple guide to GDPR compliance, suitable for a wide variety of audiences. Written in short sections each containing five steps (‘five problems to avoid’), the practical guide was super clear and super digestible.

7) Who: NetGuardians
What: NetGuardians’ anti-fraud software uses machine learning to understand the normal activity in a bank’s internal system and spot unusual or illegal activity when it occurs. The company wanted to take the opportunity of opening a new office in Singapore to speak to banks across Asia about the fraud trends it saw emerging there and how data analytics can help combat new types of risk.

Why: The Asian market is huge and incredibly diverse, ranging from first to third-world economies, in which the levels of people with bank accounts, mobile access and public awareness of online security varies greatly. We gathered together huge amounts of data, from GDP to the use of mobile banking, created easy-to-read graphics and spoke to partners at banks to put together a thought-leadership document called ‘Combating Financial Crime in Asia’ – and only occasionally mentioned NetGuardians.

8) Who: FirstWord
What: Our A-Z of content, plus Creating words that work – a three-minute video explaining why we are uniquely placed to help every company become a publisher.

Why: Success in content marketing comes from knowing what content your audience wants to consume, where and when they want it served up, and how to tell your story for maximum impact. Our handy primer set out the 26 ways that companies of any size in any sector can create great content and use it to talk to the people they want to reach. Our snappy corporate video, meanwhile, distils the essence of what we do for potential and existing clients in a highly shareable format.

Interested? Companies have never had so many opportunities to tell their own stories in their own way on their own platforms – but standing out from the crowd requires quality content, told at the right volume and frequency. If your company has something it wants to say in 2019, we would be delighted to help you say it.