Discontent Is King: How anxiety, frustration, and a CCO can improve your storytelling skills

“Yeah, I’m gonna need you to stay late tonight to finish that release on our new TPS reporting system if we’re going to hit that 5P Friday deadline.” Back in the olden days, putting out a press release was a rare and momentous achievement for most trade associations and nonprofits. Getting that “your release has cleared the wires” phone call from PR Newswire was cause for jubilation, with hugs and high-fives all around. An impromptu Knute Rockne-esque victory speech from the VP of public affairs was not unheard of.

“I’m proud of you guys! I’m not going to kid you; those three days of silence from the big guy upstairs had me a popping Mylanta. I thought we were looking at a major rewrite for sure. But when Samantha dropped that interoffice envelope on my desk this morning, I just knew it was good news!”

The fact that the press release didn’t generate any press was inconsequential. The kids in public affairs had done it again and a wave of contentment washed over everyone.

You’d be amazed at how many nonprofit organizations—and for-profit companies, for that matter—still employ this one-shot-a-month “Guns of Navarone” communications strategy.

"I need these edits made and that release on my desk by V o'clock."

Less amazing is the fact that these organizations are being outgunned on the Internet by millions of relentless communicators who fire every weapon they can scrounge, seize every opportunity they can find--or create--to tell their story.

These content ninjas are never satisfied, never relaxed. They are constantly on the prowl for ideas, inspiration, and intelligence that will entertain and engage their audience. Posting a blog entry doesn’t fulfill them. It just reduces their discomfort a little, like scratching a mosquito bite through a combat boot.

And that’s why those guys are kicking your ass.

A lot of organizations are closing in on these communications warriors. Press releases announcing the "recently hired Chief Content Officer"—a new position—are lighting up the Internet like tracer rounds.

These shiny new CCOs have a tough mission: they must mold every facet of their company into a storytelling battalion or the victories will be few. But they also have a lot of motivation--the future of their organization depends on them. Yes, a good CCO is that important.

To learn more about CCOs—what makes a good one, how to find one, how to become one yourself—check out these sites. They’re worth your time.

  • "How CCOs can resurrect marketing communications" from the good folks at Fast Company
  • A great blog post on CCO leadership by "Chief Warrior of Enthusiasm" Kista Kotrla featuring even more helpful CCO-related links

FUN FACT: Both the “content” you create and the “contentment” you seek from its creation come from the Latin word contentus, which means contained, satisfied. Paradoxically, the more dis-contentus you are the better your contentus will be.