Profile Interview – Janet Du Chenne discusses her role as editorial director of flow, Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank’s thought leadership magazine for clients, and how it has been affected by the Coronavirus lockdown.
“I define myself as a passionate storyteller, I enjoy making connections between wider macro themes and trends, and bridging that with some of the financial topics and trends relevant to that sector.”
You went from being a journalist on trade magazines to editorial director of flow, Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank’s thought leadership magazine for clients. How did you make the transition a successful one?
JDC: This question takes me back to 2015, when I first started having conversations with marketing professionals at financial and technology companies, mostly about what makes a journalist good for a content role. I remember thinking to myself that I was a firm believer in really helping these organisations, and believing that they had a challenge in engaging their audiences to get their message across.
At the time, I saw some of those challenges as coming from increased regulation, in particular as a result of the financial crisis. There were also internal challenges. For example, some large organisations had become accustomed to using a lot of jargon in their communications, perhaps believing that an internal message is what an external audience wants to hear.
At the same time, technology companies were also offering similar services as banks, just more quickly.
Those were the key challenges. I define myself as a passionate storyteller, I enjoy making connections between wider macro themes and trends, and bridging that with some of the financial topics and trends relevant to that sector. I found that, if I could do that in-house, I would continue to be able to help organisations deliver content that engages with audiences.
Flow was a great fit for me and my passions. I joined at the time when the first issue was being published, and it was very much a question of seeing where I could help. If you look at flow, it’s quite unique in its field. It focuses on the “so what?” factor, so that a client picking up a copy of the magazine can expect to see something in there for them, or at least have content answering very early on why they should be interested in reading, or offering a new perspective to make them want to look at the issues or the people behind the content, and so try to make that subtle connection. I think our strategy has paid off, as it has gone from strength to strength: to date we have more than 7,000 subscribers for the magazine’s insights, which are also available online.
You’ve been in the role for five years, what has changed in content marketing in that time, and how has it adapted to the needs of the FinTech business and its audience?
JDC: A lot has changed, especially when you see how audiences consume content and access their content from the wide range of available channels. So, let’s say five years ago, there was content within financial and technology companies that claimed to be multi-channel; you had printed content backed up by an online presence and with some social media on the side supporting that when it gets published.
Now, because of the access to all these digital options, the audience would expect to use all these different touch points. The way they consume content has changed, and they have an idea of exactly how much time they will spend finding something and what they want. Now that our lives are just so incredibly busy, the audience is very much focused on what they want, how to go about finding it and how long to spend finding it.
Content marketers in financial and technology companies have adapted well to these needs. They offer multiple touch points, with the aim of delivering quicker, short-form content to match those needs. It could be something like a podcast, where in two minutes the audience would be able to get what they need. If they want more they can read further, perhaps a white paper or a long-form article if they have the time to do so.
It’s all about adapting to the demand and using all of those channels in unison to really deliver that content, and they have to work as one.
Many people in the industry have been forced to work from home over the past five months because of the pandemic. How has your day-to-day role been affected?
JDC: Things have completely changed. Since going into lockdown here in the UK in March, the majority of staff have been working from home. I remember there were lots of questions and thought about how to deliver this role, and what we could do to really engage audiences, given that it wasn’t really possible for a salesperson to visit a client because of the lockdown. This was quite a drastic change, as companies thrive on seeing clients, whether in meetings or conferences.
So how to overcome the disconnect and the uncertainty? I think it is crucial that we should inform and engage with content that builds trust with an audience. We significantly ramped up the content delivery in the past five months, with a series of articles going out every week. I’ve written more articles, compared to this time last year, and there is also a Covid-19 dossier section on the website where we create articles driven by the Deutsche Bank research team containing facts and figures, and engaging numbers, bridging macro trends with some useful and informative analysis for readers to take away and say “I’ve read this, and thank you for this piece of content that is keeping us informed during this time”. I think you build trust through content that is well-researched and engaging, and has a good quality research team behind it.
In summary, the really significant change in the last five months has been that delivery and output have increased, to the benefit also of the sales team. We very much work together in terms of deciding what we are messaging, what types of articles we need, what is going to help the sales team to engage with the clients in a virtual or digital way.