Inside Yorke’s Kitchen

Like everything else in life, creating content like a cooking process

 

Many years back, while traveling in the UK on work, I remember ordering a particularly exotic rabbit dish from the rather limited menu at a fancy restaurant. I was just being a curious diner. When the steward asked how I wanted my rabbit cooked, I played it safe and said, “Well done”. A few minutes later, the steward came back from the kitchen and said in a quite a matter-of-fact tone that the chef quite plainly disagreed. Rabbit must be eaten medium rare, he said. Not wanting to offend a chef in a Michelin Star restaurant, I agreed to eat my rabbit as the chef recommended, though I was a bit offended at this blunt recommendation. But after the first bite, I was only glad I listened to the chef. So, why am I writing about my rabbit eating experience now? The short version of the answer would be, we have a kitchen too. No, we don’t cook cuddly animals, but we produce content for businesses. Our kitchen too has chefs and recipes, and most importantly processes. Over the last decade, since Yorke Communications opened shop, we have worked with over 150 businesses, many of whom are leaders in their sector. Our work covers every conceivable format of content including text, AV, and infographics.

To understand what we do, it is important to know where we are in the big picture. As a content specialist, we are part of the communications business which in turn is part of the larger media space. So, it would be fair to say we are a super-specialist when it comes to content. The combined domain experience of the content team at Yorke runs into a couple of hundred years.

Thanks to the wide range of clients we have worked with over the years and the challenges we have overcome together using content as the weapon of choice, today we have a robust process in place. This is the ‘secret’ sauce in our kitchen that we are only too happy to share with the rest of the world.

Build your Mise en place

Content (let’s assume a text-based story) is basically messaging. How, where and when are the three important elements that form the building blocks of content. The ‘how’ is the format (prose, AV, infographics), ‘where’ is the platform or medium (blogs, newsletter, website, social media) and ‘when’ is the timing, i.e., why are we telling this story now. Once these three are decided content creation starts.

First, it is necessary to define the story. The answers to three questions will help flesh out the story. What is the story, why is it a story and what are the key messages (no more than two or three). This is the base document for the first round of discussion on how to take the story forward.

Inside Yorke’s kitchen-content marketing

Taste Early – Taste Often

After the first client sit-down, the foundation document for any story is created. The story brief, as we like to call it, captures every element of the story like working title, story peg/angle, and tone, synopsis, key messages, list of supporting illustrations, word limit, and references. The idea behind the story brief is to ensure that the client’s intent and the writer’s understanding of this intent match perfectly. The clearer this document is the lesser will be the number of iterations the story goes through. A good briefing document will help finish the story in two steps – draft and final copy.

Knives – Always Sharp

Armed with the briefing document, background materials, and completed interview transcripts, the writer goes to work. The first draft of the story is usually approved by the team lead within Yorke Communications, which then goes to the head of content for internal approval. This is to ensure that the story meets all the basic requirements and is ready be shared with the client. At this stage, the story is checked for basic hygiene including a double-check of facts and figures.

In an ideal situation, the client returns this document with comments and facts verified with the primary source. In most cases, the changes that are done at this stage are around the tone and language of the story.

After the second iteration, the story goes through the final stage of proof-reading and editing. The final version of what comes after this stage is usually ready for publication.

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The Afterthought- Right Content Brief

 

Buon Appetito

At the end of the day, storytelling is a creative process. The building blocks, story brief and the editorial process of creating content are just the ingredients of the dish. The style or tone of narrating the story that is often taken for granted is like the right temperature and the mixing of the cake batter to get the right consistency.

Based on what has worked well in the past and what hasn’t, defines the style of narrating the story. Some stories are heavy on facts and figures, while some stress on the emotional content. There are explanatory stories and anecdotal ones that use real-life event to drive home the point. The best judge of what the tone or style is the writer.

Telling the chef at the Michelin Star restaurant how to cook the rabbit would have been a big mistake.

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  • Anand Vihari

    Amazing post Peter, There’s a great hidden message in this blog i.e the person responsible for the work knows it better. Better not to give instructions in the field we’re unaware of. When it comes to content, i strongly agree, many a times the client is partially aware of the different elements of writing, still has some unnecessary comments to modify the piece of content.

  • Hrishikesh Mandara Halekote Sh

    Nice post. Always leave it to the the experts.

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