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Behind the scenes with ANZ BlueNotes

As more brands become publishers in their own right, ANZ is leading by example.

As more brands embrace content marketing and become publishers in their own right, ANZ is a company that’s leading by example. We spoke to Amanda Gome, head of Digital and Social Media, ANZ about the rise of BlueNotes and the practicalities around publishing your own brand story.

One of the essential elements of fantastic content is that support for the strategy comes straight from the top. While getting buy-in can be a hurdle for many organisations, this was not the case with BlueNotes, with the platform conceived as a direct result of CEO Mike Smith’s desire for ANZ to become a leading social bank.

For the remaining executives who weren’t so quick to show their support, Amanda Gome says reverse mentoring was the trick to getting them on board.

“Once they had their story published and they realised how many people they had reached and influenced, they were converts. You can’t possibly understand unless you’re doing it or experience the impact first-hand.”

Having existed now for over a year, Gome describes BlueNotes as a thought leading publication that talks to the people that matter.

“The people that matter are our customers and our stakeholders. Whether they’re running things, selling things or buying things; we wanted to provide stories that are going to inform, educate, give news and insights to people in that area.”

Supported by an 11-person editorial team, ANZ is committed to producing content using the knowledge and expertise they possess internally.

For Gome, this means training their executives to be successful journalists.

“When I got to the bank, I was like a kid in a lolly shop. There was a huge research department with more than 100 researchers. There were executives with 30 years expertise in building wealth in Asia, in building small business across New Zealand and in the mortgage and property markets. But they weren’t talking to customers and nobody really knew they existed. The opportunity to unleash that knowledge was huge.”

At the beginning of the BlueNotes journey, Gome and her team identified that women, particularly those in executive roles, were the most difficult to on-board.

“Women working at an executive level were the most difficult to move. They have children, they have community interests, they have aging parents, they’re wearing multiple hats and performing to a very high level. We know that women at that level sometimes think they have to perform more than their male counterparts. We identified that these women had a huge opportunity to start to build their profiles in social media – through the BlueNotes platform – but we needed to figure out a way to earn their support.”

In response to this blockade, ANZ launched a training program called Notable Women.

“We identified their areas of expertise, got them on social media and taught them to write content. We’re training them up to be content creators. Some of them have great ideas and just need help forming their content while others are natural writers. You just think, oh my god, where did that story come from? Just brilliant. It didn’t take them long to realise how effective the platform was for building a profile for themselves and ANZ.”

While there may be amateur journalists creating the content, an industry heavyweight, Walkley Award-winning journalist Andrew Cornell, is at the helm.

“As Managing Editor, Andrew is responsible for the quality of the content. He is the gatekeeper who understands what the readers want, who sets the tone of the publication and makes sure that the content aligns with the bank’s values. When you’re doing corporate journalism, you have to be expert or better than the mainstream or nobody’s going to read it or take any notice of it.”

Discussing the rise of native advertising, Gome says that while the format is fine, she is strongly opposed to native advertising that isn’t marked, viewing it as immoral and potentially illegal in the financial services sector. When asked whether they were using their content in a native capacity, Gome says they haven’t had to.

“We’ve actually grown incredibly fast just by building up and using the people in the bank. It’s not to say we won’t do it, but we just haven’t done it.”

So how does BlueNotes’ content measure up?

“We’re using quite a bit of data and produce a detailed report on how the content is tracking each month. The executives are particularly interested in the reach of their articles and it has created a bit of friendly competition amongst them. They’re very proud and they should be as it’s a huge feat. We monitor our social performance using things like Hootsuite and we’re introducing Social Chorus, which will allow us to measure who the biggest influencers are at the bank and who’s posting the most. It’s also an easy way for our staff to be able to share the content.”

Part of the premise for BlueNotes was that ANZ would be able to break their own stories, doing away with press releases and press conferences and giving them control of their brand story.

“We now announce our results via video on BlueNotes. We have done away with press conferences, which I see as a positive for time-poor journalists, as they can now follow up with a list of questions based around a specific angle. BlueNotes hasn’t and won’t replace the exclusives we offer to mainstream media. They can cover an angle and then we will produce a deeper niche version for BlueNotes. The result is that the media is getting far greater access to our executives than ever before.”

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