Melissa Bailey-Harris

Melissa Bailey-Harris

Assistant Vice President, Strategic Marketing Communications

Technology meets storytelling: Content as a service

Melissa Bailey-Harris

Jun 22, 2017

Ohio State is a unique place. In my first year as a Buckeye, I've come to realize that it's an academic institution with such depth and breadth that I've continued to learn something new about this place each and every day. Whether it be the latest discovery a faculty researcher has made, the story of an outstanding student, or an alum making an impact in the world — Ohio State has endless stories to tell.

In Kristen's last blog, she wrote about the “buckets” of stories we’re looking to elevate as a part of brand storytelling. The response was overwhelmingly positive! Every day, I continue to discover more great stories within these areas, and I'm sure countless others can attest to the same.

This bounty of stories presents amazing opportunities for us as marketers. But it also presents a challenge: I've found that manually discovering and collecting great stories at Ohio State is an unmanageable feat (truly!).  So, the technologist in me starts to wonder: “How can we make this easier?” 

When I arrived on campus, I was impressed to see the teamwork behind projects such as Media Magnet and StoryShare. I recognize these as a collaborative effort to find and make sense of an endless stream of stories — an exciting, but sometimes unwieldy, aspect of being at such a comprehensive university. With both Media Magnet and StoryShare, marketers and technologists worked together, toward a goal of collecting and curating an overwhelming stream of stories and content.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, I wonder: What next? If we can combine the momentum we have with mechanisms to collect (find), curate (discern the best) and amplify content, we will be effectively working to increase positive perception of the university. We can build on the good work already done, as we enhance our marketing capabilities.

Enter Content as a Service (CaaS). In the technology space, this is an emerging term that is beginning to define a new model for web content management. In the marketing realm, it's also picking up some interest, because it harbors two key principles: centralized content that is “channel-agnostic” and “dynamic.” This is important because it gives marketers flexibility as we seek to share stories widely, in relevant and resonant ways.


In the simplest explanation possible, think of it like this:

Traditionally, when you want to post content on a website, you'll likely log in to a system (say Drupal, WordPress, ModX, etc.), you author a web page, format your content and publish it. If you want to do this somewhere else, say, on a social media channel, a mobile app, even another website, you often need to go elsewhere and do the same thing again.

CaaS operates on an efficiency: It allows you to separate assets (the words, the photos, the videos, etc.) from the delivery, allowing it to exist and be managed from a single location.  The “service” part is about wide dissemination: The content is available on demand, fluid and malleable. That makes it easy for channel editors and audience owners to find and use it for multiple websites, emails, social media platforms, mobile apps, web-to-print applications and even extending into emerging tech like wearables and "IoT" (like an Amazon Echo device). In short, it gives one piece of content many lives.

But we're not talking about traditional databases or systems that hold bits of course or directory information. This is truly about marketing content — specifically, brand storytelling and the assets that come along with it.  CaaS is scalable, it's flexible and it doesn't have strict limitations or another purpose beyond the goal of the content it holds. It exists solely to be integrated with the channel(s) delivering the content. And this is what sets it apart from the traditional “get what you can get” database integration.  The best part is that, when done right, the same content is able to be used and reused, even altered (if needed), in different ways, depending on the context.

At Ohio State, the CaaS concept presents a unique, profound and efficient opportunity to share and aggregate our stories. Ultimately, it will accelerate our ability to deliver audience-focused digital experiences in an ever-evolving landscape, today and in the future.

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