Stay ahead of content marketing trends with Sean Stanleigh, Head of Content Studio at The Globe And Mail

Stephanie Ricci contributed to this story.

Sean Stanleigh’s extensive journalism background has allowed him to develop a deep understanding of storytelling. Working in various senior editor roles at The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star provided him with a foundation he used to successfully chart the direction in which content marketing is moving today as head of Globe Content. Studio, the business content division of The Globe and Poster.

“The interesting thing about journalism these days is that your career might not be in media, it might be in content marketing,” said Sean Stanleigh, director of Globe Content Studio. “The difference is working for a company that is not a media company, but tells stories related to its products or services.”

Stanleigh leads a team of writers, content strategists, data analysts and social media strategists who join forces to combine data and journalistic intuition to deliver compelling storytelling marketing for partner brands. He shares that journalists are often sought after by companies for their storytelling skills and their ability to create content that captivates audiences.

“A journalist asks great questions that lead to great answers, which then lead to great content, and that makes them valuable,” he said.

The journalist is also the host of the Globe and Mail’s award-winning podcast, Industry Interrupted, which examines how technological innovations are reshaping key sectors of the Canadian economy.

“Industry interrupted is really about how big companies can learn from how small companies approach their strategies,” Stanleigh said. “Disruption affects companies of all sizes and in all sectors. It is how we deal with this disruption that is important.

The podcast, which has released 17 episodes to date, explores a variety of topics from predictive healthcare to the rise of e-commerce to examining how industries have developed and what that means for consumers. He shares that his top three takeaways relate to consumer behavior.

“Consumers change and they are impacted by the behaviors of other consumers,” he said. “It’s all about keeping up with market trends and trying to get ahead, not catching up by falling behind.

The following advice from Stanleigh is about embracing industry disruption and being able to rally people around an innovative vision.

“No matter how many organizations want to embrace change and embed it into their culture, you still need to have employees willing to embrace that change on your behalf,” he said. “It’s okay to be uncomfortable, but you really need it to at least involve most employees and be willing to try new things.”

Finally, businesses need to move quickly with technology to keep up with business trends, according to Stanleigh. He adds that Gen Z tends to be extremely tech-savvy, which makes it easier for them to understand how things are changing online.

Stanleigh shares that The Globe and Mail’s digital shift happened in 2012 with the introduction of the analytics platform called Sophi.

“We started thinking of The Globe and Mail, not as a newspaper, but as a media company and a technology company,” he said. “Sophi places value on every piece of content we publish.”

The platform uses AI and machine learning to enable predictive analytics and optimization to autonomously manage The Globe’s web content and digital properties, including the homepage and main landing pages.

“It’s a real mix of human decision-making and analytics, and it’s changed our whole business model as a result,” Stanleigh said.

Over 99% of the Globe’s digital pages are curated by Sophi’s AI engine, which also increased click-through rates by 17% from the homepage.

“Instead of relying a lot more on advertising like we did in the past when we were just a newspaper, we now have this great mix of subscription revenue that is generated by our technology as well as advertising revenue” , adds Stanleigh.

He explains that while the newsroom still determines which stories are of greatest interest to the public, the shift from journalism to online content has changed the way media organizations deliver their coverage.

“With a newspaper, you can publish headlines that can be puns or puns because you’re looking at a page where right away you see the whole story,” he said. “Online you can just see a title where you have to decide if you want to see that content. We’re more direct in telling people exactly what the story is about in the title so they can make decisions based on a single sentence.