How does a leading content agency experiment with design, meet tight deadlines, and still amaze their clients?
We asked this question of Pete Newsome, Tech Lead and Digital Producer, and Majella Edwards, Experience Design Lead, at BCM Group.
The BCM Group is a fully integrated agency, with digital, media, PR and creative specialists. They are partnering with Shorthand to create immersive visual stories to delight their clients and grow their agency business.
Pete explains that the juggle of deadlines, budgets, and client expectations is never easy. Before using Shorthand, they faced the same challenge as many agencies — that of building and maintaining bespoke content experiences.
“Not every client has the budget for us to build those sorts of experiences from scratch,” Pete says. “But they still want to deliver an exceptional experience that looks really, really impressive.”
Using Shorthand, the BCM Group have delivered world-beating reading experiences to their clients, without writing the custom code that would need to be maintained into the future.
A platform for experimentation
For Majella, one of the most impressive aspects of Shorthand was its ease of use. As she explains, this simplicity allowed the team at BCM Group to deliver client projects more quickly. But it also — crucially — allowed for greater experimentation during the creative process.
“I like the ‘drag-and-drop’ nature of Shorthand. You can do a lot of experimentation within the platform, without needing to write code or start from scratch each time. Our projects typically have plenty of photos and a lot of copy to present. Most of the time, we decide on the best layout through trial and error.
“This is the great thing about Shorthand, which allows us to really play with our assets and get the best from what they have to offer.”
Pete agrees, saying that this level of experimentation and testing is a core tenet of BCM’s approach to visual storytelling.
“The digital team at BCM approach projects with a somewhat experimental outlook. While the business has been around for over 40 years, our team bring a startup mindset, where we don’t mind trying a few different approaches to see what works. And Shorthand really allows us to do that.”
Pete explains that part of the benefit of Shorthand is that it offers a shortcut for the design and development process.
“The features that Shorthand has built make it really easy to create great work. A lot of the functionality Shorthand provides out-of-the-box would otherwise require custom coding, which would make experimentation almost impossible.”
A true partnership
According to Pete, the partnership with Shorthand was never just about Shorthand’s technology. He tells the story of their work with Inland Rail, a 1700km freight rail network that will connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
“We had to figure out how to tell an amazing story in a very short timeframe, with a limited budget — as quickly as possible.”
As expected, Shorthand helped the BCM Group team deliver to their client quickly, and on budget. But his team was looking for more than just a platform — they were looking for a real partnership.
“That was the challenge. We knew we could build something completely from scratch. But that would take time, and that would be expensive. So we needed a platform that could be flexible enough to work with us and alongside us to help us through that journey.
“Shorthand ticked every one of our boxes. The Shorthand team made the whole process completely seamless and really, really easy. We actually felt like we were a part of something — and not just purchasing software. I felt like we were actually exploring how we could collectively work on this together.”
“Wow, that’s really cool”
What have the results been so far? According to Majella, their client stories have exceeded expectations. “The Shorthand stories we’ve published so far have excellent dwell time and great engagement,” Majella says.
“Beyond the public engagement, we’re also seeing Shorthand help streamline our internal processing. It’s a platform that helps us deliver projects very, very quickly.”
Pete adds that, above and beyond the quantitative metrics, he has been struck by the anecdotal responses he’s seen to their Shorthand stories. These qualitative insights have spoken to the depth of engagement the team at BCM are seeing with their client stories.
“When people see Shorthand stories that we’ve built, they typically respond by saying, ‘wow, that's really, really cool.’ That speaks to the impact that Shorthand has had for us. It's just that excitement from our audience.”
An exciting opportunity
The BCM Group has been focusing so far on what Majella calls “people stories” — multimedia client stories told through video, photography, and quotes from an individual person.
The BCM team is particularly proud of the Indiginous Recruitment Campaign, a story they produced for QUT.
Majella explains that the story came together “really, really beautifully. We were able to use a lot of different sections within the platform itself to showcase different visual assets. I think it came together really nicely. Traditionally, long stories can display like a wall of text — but using Shorthand, we were able to make something visually exciting with some interactive elements.”
From this use case, the team are looking at other uses for Shorthand, including brand work and supplementary content for their pitch-decks.
Pete is excited to continue to grow their partnership with Shorthand. “It’s been great to work with a team that's flexible and willing to work with us around some of our requirements. It’s really refreshing and it's been a great journey engaging with you guys. It does feel really collaborative for us, and not a typical software vendor relationship.”
Majella is looking forward to using Shorthand to delight even more clients, saying they anticipate becoming a ‘super user.’ Creatively she is looking forward to pushing the envelope a little further and seeing where they can take visual storytelling in the future.
Pete agrees. “It’s a really great partnership we’ve built. I’ve really loved the collaborative approach and your support team has been fantastic. We want to continue to evolve and grow with Shorthand. It’s a really, really exciting opportunity.”