BlueNotes – Music to a Communicator’s Ears

BlueNotes – Music to a Communicator’s Ears

Pat O’Beirne, National General Manager of Haystac arrived at the ANZ BlueNotes launch earlier last week with great anticipation.

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The speech delivered at the launch by ANZ CEO Mike Smith was music to the ears of Australia’s corporate communications community.

So what is BlueNotes? And why has it caught so much attention? In the simplest terms, BlueNotes is a well-packaged thought leadership platform with high production values, a cracking content team, a well-designed social media strategy and a big budget. It aims at communicating directly to the bank’s customers – big and small – and its stakeholders. It won’t overtake media engagement and I don’t believe it’s meant to. Rather it’s an opportunity to showcase the bank’s intelligence in financial matters and develop a position of influence as a result.

I’ve read references to it being an example of brand journalism but I don’t like the term. It’s limiting, somewhat narrow-minded and suggests content is subjective and, well, branded. Indeed BlueNotes’ success will depend on it being exactly the opposite. It needs to be honest, insightful, relevant and, most critically, objective.

Aussie Rules footy has developed owned news channels well through AFL Media and BigPond – its editorial content has remained free from AFL bias and afl.com.au has grown to become a great source of honest footy news for fans. Cricket soon followed suit but is still treading carefully with its long disclaimers. The recent LA Dodgers owned media musings are different again though – I see more room for subjectivity and media by-pass when your audience is patriotic (read one-eyed).

What the ANZ has done here is position itself as a leader in the social space, although some of my old colleagues at Telstra (like Phil Burgess) are probably saying they’ve seen this movie before – remember Telstra’s nowwearetalking.com? ANZ’s BlueNotes is different. It’s better. Better packaged. Better produced. Better promoted. And it comes from a better place – nowwearetalking was developed in frustration and from a frail foundation when no-one was listening and Telstra was trying to get people in its corner.

ANZ’s BlueNotes also gives evidence to the bank being genuinely socially-enabled in other parts. Its social media customer service, online marketing engagement and digitally-fit staff have been marching to this new beat in perpetual motion for a while now. Allegro, if you will, compared with their competitors.

As communicators, we can only expect more of this. The creative newsroom and corporate social media are hugely exciting opportunities for our industry. They are also big opportunities for great writers and producers because, as we all know, crucial to good social media strategy is great content.

Well done ANZ on BlueNotes. You’ll have plenty joining your chorus. And let me round out the music puns by concluding that the BlueNotes tune is not a requiem to traditional media, rather a symphony to contemporary corporate communications.

Pat O’Beirne, National General Manager of Haystac

Disclaimer: ANZ is a client of Haystac. The agency did not, however, work on the launch of BlueNotes.