Website Launch: Years of Living Dangerously
We are proud to announce: the Years of Living Dangerously website!
What is Years of Living Dangerously?
Years of Living Dangerously is a new Showtime series about climate change. Executive Producers James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jerry Weintraub teamed up to create a unique documentary series that tells the stories of people affected by events such as Superstorm Sandy, or drought in Texas–all as a result of human-caused climate change. What I love about the series is that celebrity correspondents such as Harrison Ford and Matt Damon go to places where climate change has devastated the local economy, political environment, and public health. They interview the people behind what caused the climate change.
We were hired to work on digital strategy, and lead the Content Strategy on this project, through Tractor Studios. The YEARS project hired Tractor Studios to be the web design firm, which consisted of the User Experience, Creative Direction, and Development. When the team realized that this website was a “content monster,” consisting of thousands of pieces of content, they knew they needed specialized help, and that’s when Kusadama Enterprises was hired.
Kusadama Enterprises led the Content Strategy, Content, Editorial Calendaring and Process, and SEO for the website. The content included taglines, image choices, and determining the right scientific content that would appeal to the target audience.
Our Content Strategy
Before we start any content project, we look at the big picture. We ask, “What are the main goals of the website, and who is the audience?”
For the Years of Living Dangerously website, we knew that we needed compelling content that would provide sneak previews of the show, and of the stories. We wanted to tell the story behind the story–including background information on all the correspondents.
We also wanted to make climate change solutions simple–one or two solutions rather than 100 (where people get confused), and, we wanted the science behind the stories to make sense. Here’s a specific example of oue role, and how we determined content. We needed a page for Harrison Ford, who is a correspondent for the Last Stand story.
We determined that the primary goal of this page was to explain why Harrison Ford got involved in the series. We also wanted to intrigue people and give them something extra about Harrison Ford, that they would not get from watching the T.V. show. We achieved these goals by having an amazing quote from Harrison Ford about why he got involved, and, lots of behind the scenes photos that truly captured his personality, and the substance of why the story matters.
Digital Strategy, Content Strategy, Content Matrix, Calendaring, SEO
1. Digital Strategy: We started our engagement with conversations with the client. Together we brainstormed ecommerce and advertising, social media, and the big picture. Our role was instrumental in helping the client understand how generating any real income from online ads can be difficult. Often the actual numbers of people who will actually make a purchase, or share something on a website, help clients see that a good idea might simply not be worth the time and effort. Or, conversely, that it is something we should definitely pursue. We were able to focus the website strategy on what we knew would be the biggest wins.
2. Content Strategy: Next, Julie Elaine Brown worked closely with Jamie Zirkle on the overall architecture of the site–what pages were we creating, what was the mission statement (reason someone would come to the page), and what kinds of content needed to be on that page to achieve our goals. Many people identify content needs in a very vague or high-level way, but my role was to not only identify the strategy behind what types of content and why, but also to get into the details. What would the headline be? Subhead? What other types of content might help people share the page on social media? What types of things might help someone become more involved or bonded with the content. How could the content tell the story behind the story? And, most important, what content would help drive traffic to the website, and get people to stay and explore the content.
3. Content Matrix: Content matrixes are essential for large website creation or for any ecommerce site. A content matrix identifies every single possible piece of content, where it goes (what page, and where on the page), why it needs to be there, who is responsible for creating or editing the content, and who needs to approve the content and when. It also schedules content, which is critical for a big launch. It even identifies the CTAs–and what we call the conversion points. A content matrix reflects every piece of content, and ties it back to the goals you want to achieve with that content. The content matrix for the YEARS website was more than 6,000 identified pieces of content, and ended up being 24 tabs in a a google docs spreadsheet, with more than 1,000 lines of content on some tabs.
4. Sourcing and Calendaring: After the matrix (which was a living, working document for more than 6 weeks), we worked closely with the client to source the content, organize the content, and prepare the content for design and development. Film and TV websites deal with what we call “heavily regulated content,” because you have rights-management and legal clauses with celebrities and producers. This can be a cumbersome process, but since we are well-versed in even more complicated regulation (FDA, SEC), we were able to navigate the process smoothly.
5. Content Formatting, Editing, SEO: The last step of the process, once we got all the content, was to finalize it in wordpress, our content management system of choice. In wordpress, we edited and formatted content so that it would would not only ensure it was read (people tend to scan content online, so the formatting is key), but, we ensured that the content would drive traffic through good Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Formatting your content means making it very readable to people. Headlines, subheads, and bullets all help a visitor to your site read the content (or scan it quickly).
5. Training: After our work was complete, we scheduled a training session with the client on content strategy, and good SEO processes. This was a way to help the client be self-sufficient with future website updates.
What We Liked About The Project
Harrison Ford with baby orangutan photos, Matt Damon quotes…James Cameron quotes…Joel Bach behind the scenes…we enjoyed working with this content, and also the team on the client side. Ultimately we were happy to learn a great deal about human-caused climate change. We made a decision on the website to spotlight one partner and one solution each week, related to the episodes that were airing. All of this helps people embrace the fact that we really can impact climate change.
Importance of Process and Content Strategy
It is important to develop a good foundation for your content, and to understand WHY you need certain content, and what goals that content will achieve. Doing this will guarantee you will achieve your business goals, and engage with your target audience. We believe a solid content strategy is the differentiating factor between websites that engage with customers, and those that simply get lots of visits.
Check Out The Years of Living Dangerously Website!
Let us know what you think of the Years of Living Dangerously website.