The content of FedEx is as global as its business.
The multinational delivery services firm produces a wide-range of compelling marketing collateral for every region of the world, tailoring the pieces to local languages and tastes.
How do they do it? How does FedEx create content at scale? What has the company learned from its experiences with international creation?
Recently we chatted with Jeff Martinez, Global Content Production and Brand Journalism Advisor at FedEx, to find out.
Check out the Q&A below:
Q: What is your role at FedEx?
A: I work on the Global Content Production and Brand Journalism team. We are part of a larger team that encompasses our group, Global Media and Social Media.
We are the storytellers of FedEx. We do everything from breaking news to customer stories to corporate social responsibility efforts to team member profiles that appear on about.fedex.com and our various social channels.
Q: Why are you creating content?
A: There are a lot of different groups in FedEx that are creating content for various reasons. Some work on how to videos, some have an internal focus, others are more for advertising purposes.
For us, our ultimate goal is to humanize our brand. We want to go beyond just the products and services we offer and talk about our culture, our customers, and how we help businesses grow.
It is putting a face to FedEx. We want to show that we are not only shipping packages: we are
helping businesses succeed and delivering for good.
Recently we’ve been focused on disaster relief because of the hurricanes, earthquakes in Mexico and California wildfires. On about.fedex.com we’ve documented relief efforts to show what we’re doing and why it is important for companies to be involved in communities. Telling that story helps to humanize the brand and show that we want to have a positive impact on the global community.
Q: What is your team like? What are the skill sets of the
A: We have a team of 6 that includes photographers, writers and producers. Most of us come from either a news or television background.
I specifically lead the Global Production Network and team up with our regions on international storytelling.
Q: What’s the scale of your global content production?
A: To give you some history, when I started in 2011, there was very little international content produced out of the USA. FedEx has so many great world-wide stories to tell so we started
the Global Production Network.
We originated with Europe and now we’ve since been around-the-world, including to MISA (Middle East, India, Australia), Latin America, Asia, and North America. As of spring, 2017 we’ve been to 14 countries and over 35 cities.
The goal has always been to get a good base of content to tell the FedEx international story and also to get the regions set up to be able to produce their own journalistic content.
So, we focus on showing local teams best-practices of video and photographic storytelling. We essentially teach them how to fish so they can produce their own content that’s cost
effective, not cost prohibitive and more documentary/journalistic style vs. advertising.
Q: What lessons have you learned from the experience of growing the Global Production Network?
A: It gets easier as you go along.
There are so many challenges that go along with creating international content. Language barriers, local laws, permits, proper visas for video production, the list is pretty much endless and you really need to have all of your t’s crossed and i’s dotted.
Those are the sorts of things that become easier over time.
In terms of a specific lesson, one was around interviewing.
When we are creating content in a foreign language we are working with an interpreter or with a local FedEx team member to translate. Initially we would translate each question and answer as we went along, but that disrupted the flow. Over time we learned to have the native-language speaker ask the questions directly and then do the translation later. We go into the interviews with the questions and talking points we need to hit ready to go.
It sounds basic, but something as simple as changing that order of translation really helps the quality of content.
Q: How do you maintain a brand voice and content quality standards across so many regions?
A: When we start creating content in a market we are always there to show the local team the
dos-and-don’ts of the brand from a global perspective.
We talk about how to tell a good story and explain that not everything has to come with a strong advertising angle. We discuss how to let the customer or team member tell the
story. That’s the sort of thing we work hard to instill.
Q: How do you measure the success of a piece of content? Which metrics do you pay close attention to?
We look at many elements to determine success, and pay attention to metrics associated with all of them.
That includes: How and where was the content used? Was it shared in multiple social media channels? Picked up by a traditional media outlet? Modified for an advertisement in one of our global regions? Repurposed in our FedEx Small Business Center or some other external FedEx site?
Also, did the content perform in social media? How many “likes” or “shares” or “retweets” did it have? What was the sentiment in the comments section? Did it meet or exceed our social media benchmarks? How was total engagement?
And we look at whether a piece of content has life beyond a single moment in time. For example, if we feature a small business customer who has a strong sustainability angle, can we repurpose the story for our Global Citizenship Report? Can we use the product this small business makes for a “gift giving” story during the holiday season?
Q: What are a few pieces of FedEx content that showcase what you guys do well?
A: There are a couple.
One is a video featuring a company called Devoción, which is a coffee firm that ships fresh beans out of Colombia.
Their whole idea is going from farms in Colombia to the cup in the United States within 10 days.
Another one is about a woman, Cleuza, who makes dance costumes. She started making them for her daughter, then more people in her area, started shipping in Brazil, where she is located, and now ships internationally.
With that one too we were able to cut it into a thirty second piece that aired as a television
commercial in Latin America.
Q: Finally, which content marketing trends are you watching closely?
A: Some of us on the team come from the television/documentary backgrounds. So, for us organic storytelling – having other people tell your story – is natural.
Now you see many more brands starting to do that. They’re creating more documentary-style videos and moving away from agency-produced videos. That’s one shift I see clearly, moving from being brand-centric to story-centric.
Another big thing is creating different versions of the same content for different mediums. Five years ago when I did a cut-down version of a longer video one of the responses was: “Why do we need two videos if it’s telling the same story?”
Now it’s commonplace to create custom versions for different social channels. I see that trend
continuing as there become more and more channels. Custom content isn’t going away any time soon.
That was Jeff from FedEx on how one of the world's largest logistics firms deploys content to connect with their audience. If you are a digital publisher - be it news or opinion, you can put content intelligence and audience insights to great use too, check out NativeAI for realtime analytics.