SAP's Tim Clark advises brand journalists to create stories in their own voice

Media 7 | November 12, 2021

Tim Clark, Vice President, Head of Native Advertising at SAP, explores the importance of native advertising and brand journalism for driving enterprise growth in this interview with Media 7. Read on to find out how he did it at SAP.

Readers from all walks of life are demanding and for good reason. 

MEDIA 7: As an expert in this field, could you please tell us how important native advertising is for driving enterprise growth?
TIM CLARK:
It’s a key enabler for SAP Global Marketing and Advertising to generate awareness, brand lift and position SAP and its customers as innovative. Native Advertising bolsters ‘top of funnel’ awareness activities across SAP’s different lines of business and solution areas via creative storytelling and contextual advertising that compliments stories.


M7: During your career at SAP, you’ve launched SAP Business Trends on the SAP Community Network and SAPVoice on Forbes.com. Could you please tell us a little about them, and how they have helped drive the business forward?
TC:
SAP Business Trends was designed to bring non-technical stories to a very large and established technical community within SAP. By creating and publishing more content about business outcomes instead of IT implementations, we organically and authentically bridged these two audiences. Business Trends ultimately grew into a community within the community, hosting hundreds of internal and external contributors and influencers while driving tons of engagement and awareness. We also used Business Trends as a primary feeder channel to help get SAPVoice on Forbes.com off the ground.


By creating and publishing more content about business outcomes instead of IT implementations, we organically and authentically bridged audiences.

SAP was the very first advertiser to partner with Forbes on BrandVoice and we co-developed the platform with them; publishing content, testing different methods and providing feedback. This, very important gestation period, allowed me to bring a much-needed editorial mindset into the mix. As our storytelling improved, readers became much more engaged and the rest, as they say, is history. We’ve settled into a nice groove of publishing around 30-40 stories per month around topics near and dear to SAP: Sustainability, Future of Work, Customer Experience, Intelligent Enterprise and Purpose.

Monthly, quarterly and year-end performance reports consistently prove our content is doing its job, performing high above Forbes and industry benchmarks. Perhaps more importantly, our contributors continue to reply on the SAPVoice platform for their individual and team needs to help launch campaigns and create a consistent drumbeat of awareness to help drive registrations and start conversations with customers. We’re not done growing. We recently launched a Regional News section that more accurately reflects topics that are top-of-mind in the UK, India, Australia and New Zealand. At different times, we also partnered with The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Inc. to help round out our native advertising efforts.

Read More: Arkose Labs’ CEO Kevin Gosschalk, aims to, ‘Bankrupt the business of online fraud’



Readers want to be enlightened, inspired and entertained.

M7: You have advised your team to, “Tell the story you want to tell, not the story you think you should tell.” How do you align this line of thought with the content demands of your readers?
TC:
Readers from all walks of life are demanding and for good reason. They want to be enlightened, inspired and entertained. They do not tolerate stories that are promotional or laced with confusing marketing jargon and buzzwords. That’s why it’s so important for SAP's employee brand journalists to create stories in their own voice that add a unique perspective and not just add to the noise. Light mentions of SAP and meaningful connections back to the business are always encouraged, but it can’t be heavy-handed.


M7: According to you, what are the best writing practices that generate results across blog channels?
TC:
I recently wrote about this very same topic for our Forbes SAPVoice channel to commemorate our 10-year anniversary.

The five steps I highlight are:

  • Cultivate talent in-house
  • Know your audience
  • Make headlines
  • Take care of business
  • Push boundaries

Media 7 readers can check out the full story here: “5 Tips For Starting A Brand Journalism Revolution.

ABOUT SAP

With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP innovations help thousands of customers worldwide work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively.

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