Trainer Profile: Paul Schuchhard
Paul Schuchhard is a digital media consultant with an eye for development. Originally a lobbyist, Paul fell into a career with media after being bored by the monotony of a traditional public affairs job. He seized an opportunity with APCO in the late 90s to develop the company’s online presence and from there made the rush headfirst into digital media. Paul has worked with companies such as Philip Morris International, Interel, the European Internet Foundation, and Burson-Marsteller. An enthusiast of Netflix ad ebooks, Paul has watched the Internet and digital technology grow from its inception. Today Paul is the owner of EUIQ, which specializes in public affairs and communication strategies for digital campaigns. Paul is also a trained psychologist and teaches his clients how to avoid a career burnout.
Q: Why is it important to have a digital media strategy?
A: It is important to have a digital media strategy because this is the place where you tell your story. If you don’t tell your story, people will tell another story about you. There will be people out there that are talking about your brand and it may not be positively. If you’re not active on the different channels, that’s going to backfire. I remember going to work in Switzerland for Nestlé. They had just built a new website for their baby milk powder, a substitute for mother’s milk. The organisation spent a lot of time and money on this project, but when we went to Google and typed in baby milk powder what we found infuriated my boss. The first result was a website for an action group against this product. How was it possible that this was the case? It’s very important to use the various platforms to tell your stories, because otherwise people would only believe that Nestle is evil from that one search result.
“If you don’t tell your story, people will tell another story about you. “
Q: In your opinion, what elements make for a bad website?
A: These days everything is about mobile reading. We look everything up on an iPad, phone, or a small screen. A lot of sites have not yet been developed for that. This is maybe a technological thing, but it is very important. A bad website for me is very text heavy and doesn’t take the actual visitor into account. I see too many websites that have a classic “about us” and “news” section but they don’t talk with people. They just beam stuff out at them. So a bad website is just, take the documents we have, put them on a website and let people read a lot.
The opposite of this, a good website, would have a lot of audiovisual material specific for stakeholders. It would not try to beam out the standard communication materials, but try to create some form of dialogue and be interactive. Make sure the social media part of your organization is also integrated into the website. Additionally, a good website for me has to have an editorial calendar that is really well maintained. There needs to be good quality content, not just five pages of who the organization is.
Q: What is a digital trend that excites or worries you?
A: One thing that worries me with digital trends is the adoption of social media. The scary thing is that companies start to jump on the bandwagon of social without really understanding what it is. They just push out stuff on all channels for the sake of “we have to be social.” You see so much material out there in the cyber world that is just meant to fulfill this obligation. I get the feeling that quality journalism and material becomes more and more scarce because of this. Some people have nothing to say and they say it often. I find that a scary trend and I see that it goes both ways, for organizations and individuals. For individuals, this can be witnessed in the comments section of newspaper websites. There is very little value being added to the conversations we need to have.
Paul teaches the course on Building a Digital Strategy for Clear Europe.