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The Content Hack Day - 6 Months of Work in 8 hours

Traditionally – a business will hire writers and create an article for a blog and perhaps make a video, periodically.  They will normally plan and budget over, say, a six month period to fulfil the needs for this content.

So when a London based TV production company, called Bombora, requested me and a colleague, as writers, through my employer at Varn Media, for what they termed a ‘content hack day’, I was both intrigued and edgy at the prospect. The idea was that instead of churning out a blog and a video twice a month as a regular commission, the company would attempt to create six months’ useable and quality content in a single working day – that’s right, a single day!

When the concept was first proposed to me I must admit – there was a moment of stunned silence – I asked the obvious questions of ‘is that really possible and will it produce good results?’ It was something I had never heard of before and the challenge felt akin to a challenge on The Apprentice.

Thankfully, it wasn’t just me in a room with a computer, as a creative crack-squad had been assembled for the ‘high speed’ work day. We arrived together and met with coffees and introductions and there was a distinct buzz in the air – not unlike I would imagine people about to attempt Guinness World Records feel as they limber up to attempt their near-impossible task. 

The Speed of Creation

The challenge was divided between three teams – each team resourced with a writer, a presenter and a product expert. Every team had a brief of what to write about and some pre-prepared research notes. After a presentation or two on how to approach the writing and how to make it SEO friendly – the challenge was set – each team had to write five scripts for five videos, each video aiming to be about one to two minutes long. Each script needed to be created in an allocated time of around 20 minutes at around 200-300 words. The presenter made sure it was suitable for speech. The product expert made sure that all information was correct and relevant and collaboration became key to success.

From the off - the pressure did work. It drove everyone forward in breathless momentum and it sharpened focus on the results, which flowed with the energy of minds riding the equivalent of a creative rollercoaster. There was something akin to sport about it too, as you could see the other teams working nearby and there was an atmosphere of friendly competitiveness. By lunch time we had between us produced 13 scripts – two short of target, as they were too similar. Unlike The Apprentice – there wasn’t time to argue – only time to be productive.

Text, Lines and Videos

When the scripts were approved, the presenters sprang into action – moving to a near-by ‘green room’ for filming, at the Bombora studios. They talked to camera, with the script loaded into an autocue. We watched in awe from a screen set up in the break-out room, as the scripts unfurled into useable video content and explainer videos. During the second half of the day, the scripts were converted by the writers into blogs, whilst the presenters continued to work the scripts - to create the video content. The sheer volume of material we produced was almost unthinkable the day before but it goes to show what is feasible for those wanting to fast track their content timetable in this way. 

Beyond the work carried out on the day - the content produced can become the basis for further marketing if converted to suitable formats for social media and presentations for SlideShare, for instance.

For Start-Ups or indeed any business wanting immediate results for their ‘buck’ – simply for getting your content ahead of time this is an idea worth exploring. Whilst it certainly hinges on a degree of preparation for the day and the character of the people involved – when the day finishes, there is something satisfying and startling about this kind of achievement. Time will tell if ‘the content hack day’ will become a term laced into the terminology of marketing but I was glad to be a part of this interesting creative experiment.