Recently, I’ve found myself hooked on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, the reality television show that features fishing crews working the Bering Sea to find Alaska King crab. While enjoying my new-found vice, I’m struck by the parallels between crab fishing and the business of creating online content.
Crab boat captains are responsible for catching their legal quota of crab within a small window of time. Through the use of sophisticated GPS technology, experience, superstition and a little luck, captains decide where to drop their crab pots–800 pound steel and mesh baited crab-traps. Sometimes, they’ll “set a string” of over one hundred pots, which will lie on the ocean floor awaiting crabs to crawl into them. After several hours “soaking,” the pots are retrieved and the crabs are harvested.
The first pot in a string is an indicator of what the rest will contain. That’s when the producers of the show capture the most dramatic moments, because the first pot sets the morale of the entire crew. Sometimes it’s full of crab. Other times it isn’t. Low crab-counts mean longer times out at sea, and longer times at sea means both increased danger and lower prices at the dock.
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Many similarities exist between crab fishing and creating compelling content for our companies. As corporate storytellers, our goal is to create content that attracts audiences in the form of prospects and customers. Sometimes prospects and customers flock to our content. At other times, we pull-up our own empty pots. When audiences don’t resonate with the content that we’ve spent so much time creating, our morale may wane. We question our actions, defend them to upper management, and question whether or not we’re doing the right thing.
It’s at times like these that we need to learn from the fishing crews of the Cornelia Marie, Northwestern, Time Bandit, Seabrooke, Ramblin’ Rose, Wizard, and Kodiak. Just because one particular blog post, podcast episode, or video piece doesn’t gather the audience that we expected, we can’t stop fishing. Just as crab boat crews re-bait and return empty pots to the ocean floor, we must continue to punch those keyboards, speak into those microphones, and look into those video cameras. Just as the crab boat captains learn from each set-and-retrieve cycle, so must we. With each piece of content, whether it is popular or not, our job is to learn something that we can apply to the next story.
The creation of serial content is hard work. Sometimes it draws prospects and customers to us, and sometimes it doesn’t. The trick is to keep on fishin’. Without doing so, we’ll never meet our quotas.
Photo Credit: Slightlynorth