Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Alex McNab-Lundbäck, chief communications officer at Handiscover, on how to repurpose content:

Shaheen Samavati 0:00
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix and I’m excited to be here with Alex McNab-Lundbäck, chief communications officer at Handiscover, a holiday booking site specialized in accessible accommodation. Thanks so much for joining us, Alex.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 0:25
It’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Shaheen Samavati 0:27
Could you start out by telling us a little bit more about yourself? I know you’ve had a varied career. So if you could put it all into context a little bit and tell us about what you do now at Handiscover?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 0:37
I’ll certainly try. So I’m currently the chief communications officer at Handiscover, as you said, I have done a little of everything. I’m currently in Denmark, living in Denmark, but working in Sweden. I’ve been in Denmark for the last three years and I’ve had a few roles since I’ve been in Denmark. Before that I was from the UK, you can probably tell from my accent that I’m British. I worked in a range of roles there from marketing and communications, PR, agency side and before that, in China, as a journalist. So as you said, a very varied career. I’ve now found myself as a chief communications officer at Handiscover.

Shaheen Samavati 1:20
Okay, and you just joined recently, right? So what made you decide at this stage in your career to join a startup? Handiscover is a startup company, tell us more about what brought you there?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 1:33
Yeah, so I’ve been there six months. Partly the situation of COVID, so I was made redundant from my last role at Phase One due to COVID like so many other people in marketing communications who were made redundant at the beginning of this year, the first half of this year. So that forced me to look for my next opportunity. This really interesting opportunity came up in Handiscover. Handiscover caught my eye just because of what it was doing, something different. It was approaching and is approaching a different audience, targeting people with disabilities. So it was a charitable angle but without working for charity, which was really interesting to me. It was also an interesting challenge that here I was, being made redundant because of COVID. COVID has hit the travel sector massively and here I was being offered a senior role in essentially a travel organization in the hospitality industry. So I found that a really interesting and ironic challenge for me to take on. It’s been a really interesting and varied six months in trying to get things up from scratch in terms of the marketing and communications department and doing things differently in a year that has seen us all do things very different.

Shaheen Samavati 2:49
Yeah, definitely. I imagine the company is quite impacted by the situation. I mean, people are traveling less, but being a startup, they’re investing in future growth?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 3:02
Yeah, absolutely. I think that like so many other companies, what we had to do very quickly in April or May was pivot, work out what the future of the company was going to be. It wasn’t going to be as an online travel agency or OTA for short, so then what’s our next step? How are we going to continue to grow this and how are we going to find new audiences and new sectors? How can we draw on our experience and our expertise to do something different and really make a name for ourselves. So we’re still working in the travel and hospitality sector, but we’re now broadening out more B2B and broadening out beyond just hotels, B&Bs and properties. More into how can our knowledge of accessibility for a disabled audience, how can that benefit every public space that you have a need to be in, in day to day life? So how is that going to affect aeroplanes, airports, shopping malls, public transportation, just getting about the city? How can our knowledge of accessibility data help those people that need to get about, not just when they’re in hotels and B&Bs, but when they’re just living their day to day. So that’s why we’re now coming up with a series of products and services that will hopefully help our target audience cope better in day to day life.

Shaheen Samavati 4:31
Can you tell us a bit about the backstory on why Handiscover started? I mean, of course, all the booking platforms have filters to search for accessible accommodation. Why did the founders think it was necessary to have a dedicated platform for this?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 4:45
It was founded by our CEO and founder, Sebastien Archambeaud, and his son is disabled. He found that it was yes, you can have the filters, you can find the properties that are disabled, but what you don’t have is a real, concrete level of data that says, okay, so it’s an accessible room, but apart from it meeting the legal standards as to what is required to make that room accessible, what does it actually have? What is the turning circle in that room? Can I guarantee that I’m going to get a particular room that has those particular features? They were finding that some hotels, some properties, were all marked as accessible, but they all had different sizes of bathrooms, they all had different positions of handrails, they all had different heights of pegs and access cards on doors as you come into the rooms. So there wasn’t necessarily one standard and what Handiscover tried to do, and aims to do, was to be able to make it really simple for you not to be able to just find an accessable accommodation, but have a guaranteed set of criteria that you can apply to that particular hotel. So all of the hotels or properties were graded sort of a 1, 2, or 3 as to, can you manage a few steps or can you not manage at all? That’s how they’re all categorized and then you knew exactly what was in that room, what the facilities were in that room, and then guaranteed to get a particular level. So that was the USP of the site, it was dedicated to making sure that someone who requires an accessible room is getting exactly what they want.

Yeah and I guess this is a pretty big, addressable market and it’s offering an extra level of service for that audience, right?

Shaheen Samavati 6:24
Yeah, exactly.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 6:34
I wanted to ask you, your roles have spanned from marketing and communications, you’ve worked in government, you’ve worked in private businesses. I wanted to ask, well actually I have thought of more things I could ask. Originally I was gonna ask if you think there’s a clear line between communication and marketing and how those functions have evolved over your career?

I think that now in 2020/2021, I think that there is such a blurred line between all of these disciplines. Marketing, communications, PR, journalism, video production, audio production, social media, it all just blurs into this content sphere. I think that it’s all tied together. My role as a CCO has communications in the title. Previously, that might be a head of comms or director of communications or something else and you’d just be responsible for media relations and some internal communications. But now that role does span marketing, if it spans marketing, it spans social media, if it spans social media, it’s video content, if it’s spanning communications, it’s direct, it’s email which still exists or traditional PR, if it’s events. So those lines have just become so blurred that to be a communications manager or a communications executive, is to be a marketer and to be a marketer is to be in comms and to be in PR is to do communications. There’s just this big crossover, I should be doing one of those fancy charts where all the circles crossover but it is so blurred. I think that in my role now and I think most importantly that in 2020, or 2021, having this varied career, having experience of doing all of these sectors, all of these industries, all of these disciplines, has allowed me to be able to see things from 101 different points of view, which every marketer, every comms person and every PR person has to do in order to be successful in their roles or with their brands in this current day in age. So it’s all so interlinked now, more than it ever used to be.

Shaheen Samavati 9:05
Yeah, and actually, maybe content creation is the common thread of everything you’ve done. If I remember from your LinkedIn, you started out in video production, is that right?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 9:17
Correct. So I did video production when I was at university, I did audio production at university, I then went into radio to do audio production before going back to communications and journalism, then PR, agency side, and now back into communications with more of a marketing focus. So you’re right, content is the running thread through it all. Every single role that I’ve done, there has been a need for producing some sort of content, whatever that may be. It’s the one solid standard. We might be pushing that content out in different ways than we used to be able to because of all the channels available to us. But content is still the baseline need for marketing, communications and PR.

Shaheen Samavati 10:16
Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to get your opinion, at Handiscover and in general, what kind of content works best in your industry? What kinds of content? How do you connect with your audience?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 10:33
I think a bit of everything. I think that when you start thinking about your audience, as you would think, because we’re all human beings, we all consume media, pretty much the same. One thing that we are, as humans, I think it’s human nature, is that we get bored very easily and we like to, specifically now, we are being exposed to so many different types of media, from audio to video, to written form. So you have to mix that up, you have to have a whole mix of content in order for it to be successful. So I don’t think there’s actually one format. Yes, there are trends, a while ago, two years ago, I’d be saying make sure you do more videos. Now I’m saying do some live video, do 20 second videos and put them into stories, be it LinkedIn stories or Instagram stories. I’m sure it’ll be something again next year that maybe hasn’t even been thought about yet. Now audio is coming back, podcasters are coming back. So now I’m saying forget about video, do podcasts and film just like you’re doing now. Do a podcast, film it and then you’ve got two pieces of content. Great, you’ve got content for the next week. Slice that up and dice it and however you do it. So I think it’s finding ways to be creative, and finding ways to be able to produce as much content as you can in different ways because every single person in your audience will consume content differently. You need to try and cater to everyone and you’re not gonna be able to do that with one particular format, for whatever reason. It’s about doing a little bit of everything.

Shaheen Samavati 12:20
Now working at a startup, where I imagine you probably don’t have multi-million budgets yet, how do you decide where to make your bets in terms of content and marketing channels? How do you make the most out of your budget?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 12:38
I think it’s about thinking creatively, it’s about making one piece of content and turning that into 10. I think so many people think, great I’m gonna go out and do a video. They go out, they do a great video and that’s lovely. Then that’s it, they put that video up on on LinkedIn that has long form content or another channel that has mobile content, Facebook, or whatever, then that’s it. They write some nice copy and they have the video attached to it and however they do it. What they don’t think about is the bigger picture. They sort of say, great, I’ve got a half an hour video, I can turn that into 300 pieces of sound bites of five seconds long. I can make sure that I do a landscape and a vertical format so that I can put the vertical format onto stories that are 20 seconds. I can do a written transcript and turn that into a blog post. I mean that’s harsh because that’s very generalised and I’m sure people are doing that as well. But I think that that’s really the key. I’m not saying that people aren’t doing that, but I think that it’s very easy for people to think right, I need to do a video, I need to do a blog posts, I need to do a podcast, I need to do X, Y and Z. Without thinking about well, why can’t one thing, one moment, one piece of content become 10, 20 or 30 pieces of content, it’s super easy, without a huge amount of effort. I think that’s what we’re certainly trying to do. We’re still in the early stages of creating lots and lots of content, as to where we are or have discovered. But I think that’s a crucial piece of advice for anybody who’s either starting out or trying to create more content, use what you’ve got and maximize. If you put effort in doing a Facebook Live that’s 35 minutes long, maximize on that. Turn that into a podcast, turn that into a blog story, turn that into five social media posts and you’ll make your life a lot easier. Suddenly you realise that you’ve got 30-40 pieces of content from those few hours of work that you did creating the Facebook Live in the first place. So don’t duplicate, because people will get the information in different ways and will still be communicating towards it.

Shaheen Samavati 14:50
Yeah, that’s a great point. In your experience, not exactly starting from scratch but starting in a lot of new processes and initiatives at Handiscover, it’s easy to say repurpose things a million ways, but there’s actually like a lot of work behind that, right? So what’s it like creating the processes for all that?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 15:16
I think that is absolutely key, you’ve got to think about what that process is. A lot of it comes down to doing the work beforehand. So it’s not thinking of it as an afterthought, it’s thinking about it before you go out and create it. So if you’re putting together a Facebook Live, write a script beforehand because then it’ll be a hell of a lot easier for you to edit that into a blog post. When you do the Facebook Live, don’t come back to it two days later and start thinking about editing it into lots of different pieces. Unless you’re doing Facebook live yourself, if you’re not doing the Facebook Live, or have somebody else do it, watch the Facebook Live and make a note of the timecode and the sound bites, they’re great. If you do that as you go then it’s super easy to throw that video in iMovie and five minutes later, you’ve got a sound bite that you can top and tail with a brand image and hey, presto. So although it sounds like a lot of work, actually if you know beforehand what you’re going to do with the footage, or what you’re going to do with the content, then actually it becomes pretty straightforward I think. Maybe I’m sort of downplaying how much work is actually involved but planning is the key.

Shaheen Samavati 16:37
Yeah, that makes total sense. With good planning, you can make it a lot less work overall and get more out of it. Like you were saying, the initial work of creating the content is actually what takes the most time. So I wanted to ask you, can you give us any sneak peek of what you have in store for content at Handiscover? I know you said that you’re still in the planning phase of a lot of it.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 17:04
Yeah, absolutely. I think we are very much in the early stages of things. One of the things that we’re doing is Facebook Lives and we’ve been doing those every two weeks for the last four or five weeks, I imagine. So we’ve got about four or five now under our belt, with multi-purposing, we started off just being a Facebook Live, we’re now looking to use that content in more channels and put that on YouTube, on Instagram and use those as in other channels as well. We have our first webinar coming up, I talked a little bit about going to a different audience, a B2B audience. We have a B2B webinar that is planned for next week. So again, we’ll be taking the content that is used for that webinar, slicing and dicing and creating potentially 50 to 100 pieces of content from that one hour webinar. So I think the next few months are going to be super exciting for me as a content marketer, to see about all the different things that we can do and how we can utilize these new tools and channels that are out there, to be able to market themselves. I think that with these Facebook Lives, YouTube Lives, Instagram Lives and webinars, what it also gives you a chance to do is to have an event to test out other marketing channels. So what we’re starting to do is be like, well if we want to promote this on LinkedIn, why don’t we try LinkedIn stories? You might think that they’re a bit naff at the moment because LinkedIn is trying to be Instagram and why would that work? But try it and see if it works, you just never know, you might tap into an audience or a format even, that really works for you. So I think that’s what’s quite interesting about having moments to be able to market because it gives you a chance to say, hey, let’s try this, let’s try that. So very much watch this space but the aim is to make Handiscover a lot more known across everybody, whether you’re going to use the site or use their services in the future. Make Handiscover a lot more known about what we’re doing and as a result, a lot more content on a range of different channels.

Shaheen Samavati 19:16
What’s your focus or your niche on the subjects that you’re touching on in your content?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 19:22
Well we’re an accessibility data provider and accessibility data expert. So we’ll be talking about the need for greater accessibility in day to day life, across industries. So we’ll be drawing upon our expertise in that sense with our webinars and our content. At the same time, for our Facebook audience we’ll still focus on our thought leadership for destinations and where people can be going and how people can find accessible destinations when they can travel again, whenever that may be. So we’ll still be keeping that brand awareness out that travel won’t be suspended forever, we hope. So there’s still a need for that B2C angle within Handiscover. So we’ll definitely have the two angles, we’ll be having our B2B channels and angles more about thought leadership and positioning ourselves as global experts in accessibility data. Then there’ll be our B2C stuff, which will be about destinations and driving people to the online travel agency side of Handiscover.

Shaheen Samavati 20:32
Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, you’re putting more of a focus on B2B going forward. So we just need to see what you come up with there. So I wanted to ask you, well we talked a little bit about your background and career, do you have any advice for anyone just starting out now, how to get their foot in the door in the industry?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 20:55
Talk to people. It sounds so simple, but talk and network with as many people as you can. I have to admit, I think that marketing, communications and PR try and cram that into marketers maybe, there must be a term that comes under all the units. But as an industry, I think you’ll agree, we’re pretty friendly. So actually, I get lots of people on LinkedIn, just connecting with me, and sending me messages saying, Hey, I’m an intern, hey, I’m a graduate, hey, I’m looking for my next position. Some are junior, some senior, some people just want to chat and discuss something that they’ve had, or maybe we’ve crossed paths in the past. I think one piece of advice is just talk to so many people. I think nearly every single one of my roles has come from some kind of network. It hasn’t come from filling in application forms. It hasn’t come from LinkedIn quick apply. It hasn’t come from traditional job applications and seeing it on Glassdoor and then applying. It’s come from talking to people to network. Even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to a job opportunity, it will lead to knowledge and it will lead to sharing and inspiration and people that can help you. I think marketers are a friendly bunch so don’t be scared to reach out.

Shaheen Samavati 22:27
Yeah, definitely agree. Even more relevant right now, any advice for people who are looking to reinvent themselves? Or who were made redundant and are looking for their next opportunity?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 22:41
Yeah, I think all the usual tips about career advice. Make yourself known, be active on social media in the right way, I should say. Say the right things, update your LinkedIn, be active on LinkedIn, comment, engage with people, write your own post, share your thoughts and feelings. I think that’s also really important, how you get yourself noticed. People will check out people’s LinkedIn profile as probably a number one, it is your online brand so do everything you can to try and improve on that. Reach out for help if you don’t know how to do that, there’ll be plenty of people who will give you advice or help or a nudge in the right direction. I think that this year, COVID has shown that, particularly in our industry, so much warmth and there’s been so many posts of outreach from people saying, hey, my contact is really struggling to find a job, if you’ve got anybody that you can introduce them to it would be really appreciated, putting themselves out there. In this day in age and in this time going forward, people shouldn’t be scared of doing that. They shouldn’t be scared of redundancy, they shouldn’t be scared of being jobless, because so many of us have been or could be in the future, so we’ll always be in the same boat. I think that most people will be willing to help out.

Shaheen Samavati 24:15
Yeah, I totally agree. Great point. On that line, do you have any tips for keeping skills up to date, in terms of marketing?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 24:27
I sound like I work for LinkedIn, but I’m such an advocate of the platform because actually, there is so much on LinkedIn that you can get for free in regards to training or very low cost if you have to get a premium subscription or whatever, but look for the free or very cheap training that’s offered digitally, whether it’s on LinkedIn or Udemy. Any of those platforms where you have pretty good training for fairly low costs, seek those out. Again, just talk to people and reach out for knowledge or for advice. Even if it’s what to read, reach out to someone. I have had a few message recently, maybe it’s the new lockdown in the UK and my UK contacts are reaching out, they’re saying what have you been reading? What blogs are you reading? Who’s saying some cool stuff? What articles should I be delving into? Sometimes I can say, you know what, I’ve not read anything this week. I’ve just been switching off at the end of the workday and watching Netflix. Other times, I’ve said, you know what, I read this super article in The Guardian, here’s the link, check it out.

Shaheen Samavati 25:48
Speaking of, what have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 25:58
What have I been reading? I’ve actually been reading a really interesting biography of Thomas Jefferson, I almost said Edison but that was someone completely different. Thomas Jefferson, who people may know was a founding father and president of United States of America a very long time ago. I have just been fascinated, I think about leadership. Maybe my interest with the US election has peaked recently, in regards to how do you lead a nation and how do you do it well. It’s been expanding my knowledge of US presidents, which I have to admit I didn’t have a great knowledge of beforehand. But also just a little bit about leadership, which is helping me a lot in terms of giving me some inspiration as to how I want to lead, how I would like to lead my team. I’m not leading a nation but I think you can borrow lots of things from reading about leaders as to how they lead. It might be right or wrong, you might read about a leader and be like, i’m not doing it like that. But you might also take some inspiration and go, that’s a really good idea or that’s a really good tactic, that’s something that I can bring into my role. So it’s not really marketing related or content related, but it is giving me inspiration at the moment in terms of how I end up professionally.

Shaheen Samavati 27:34
Yeah, that’s a good point. Do you have any other professional role models?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 27:42
I don’t know whether I would have role models as such. I have people that at different points in my career, I’ve looked to as figures of inspiration. Maybe that is a role model, that is the definition of a role model. I’ve had a few people over the course of my career that have done that. Josh Earnest, when I started working in government, Josh Earnest was someone that I looked up to along with Alastair Campbell, there were things I liked, and things I disliked about those people. But all of them helped me guide how I wanted to be as a communicator, particularly in government. So how did Josh Earnest communicate as the White House press secretary, I still think to this day he’s probably one of the best White House press secretaries in modern times. A really fascinating way of communicating and the same with Alastair Campbell. I still don’t agree with a lot of Alastair Campbell’s politics or the way he conducts himself but he was and is a very good communicator. What he did for Tony Blair was actually quite remarkable in regards to their communication and marketing strategy. So some really interesting insights have come from Alastair Campbell. Role models as such, their just bits of inspiration, rather than role models.

Shaheen Samavati 29:11
It’s a really good point that in politics you have some of the most advanced communication and that’s definitely a good place to look to for inspiration. Also, we didn’t really touch on that part of your career, but you were like, a press consultant for the Cabinet Office. I’m not that familiar with how UK government works, so maybe you could just explain a little what you did then.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 29:32
Yeah, so the Cabinet Office has a government communications service. The government has a government communications service that works from the Cabinet Office. So I worked there, then there’s about 40 ministers for the Prime Minister at the time, it is a civil service position, so you’re not tied to any particular political party as such. You’re simply working for the government and her Majesty’s Government, whoever that might be leading that. Yeah a super interesting time learning about how the government communicates. I’m still a firm believer that the government communication service, in terms of communications, is probably one of the best. I use that a lot, I should stop doing that.

Shaheen Samavati 29:32
You can’t see it if you’re listening to the audio version, but the air quotes.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 30:25
Sorry I’ve been doing air quotes a lot. I think they’re probably one of the best agencies to give them another terminology. Again, in terms of resources, I should say, that the resources that are provided are often for free because it’s government service from the government communication service, or GCS. They can be really good, whether it’s media relations, or whether it’s just communications or writing advice in general. So give that a Google and check those resources out. The government communication service runs out of the Cabinet Office and basically spans all government departments in the UK, I was working from Whitehall in the Cabinet Office, supporting ministers and prime ministers in their communications. That included social media, press releases or events, statements, all of those things that go into making sure that the ministers and prime ministers of the day have what they need to be able to communicate efficiently. So a very different role to what I’m doing now, a very different role to what I’ve done in the past. But at the same time, there’s a lot of crossover as well, a lot of blurred lines between communicating the brand, in that case it was the government. But a brand can be the government or it can be an online travel agency, or it can be a high end camera manufacturer, it doesn’t really make a great difference. The communications, the underpinning communications, rules or strategy still need to be in place in order for you to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively. So yeah, a really interesting time. As you can probably tell by some of the role models that I mentioned, I still have an active interest in politics and it still influences me and inspires me sometimes for what to do or what not to do everyday.

Shaheen Samavati 32:31
Yeah. Sounds like it, very cool. So we’re reaching the end of the interview so I just wanted to give you the chance to share any parting advice, or final takeaways with other marketers and communicators across Europe?

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 32:47
I think that it has been a challenging 2020, it’s been a challenging year for marketers and communicators. I saw that firsthand, being let go from one role at Phase One earlier in the year, and I know that I’m certainly not the only one. It’s been a really challenging year but I think it’s about now looking towards the future, look towards 2021, things will get better, things already are getting better. Use those tips that I’ve already said, reach out to as many people as possible and start making some content, whatever that may be. I think that I can’t stress that enough. When I see brands that I’m working with and discover or just brands that I have come across and I see that they haven’t posted for three months on their social media channels but have got 5000 followers. I just have a head in hands moment. What are you doing? You’ve got 5000 followers, and you’ve not had a single piece of content for three months. It worries me, I’m sure that there’s plenty of us not doing that and churning out lots and lots of content. But start producing content, however simple, and start reaching out and talking to more people. Hope that 2021 is certainly going to be, well it can’t be any worse can it? A better year than 2020 has been.

Shaheen Samavati 34:16
Here’s to hoping. Well, that’s a great note to end on, an inspiring look to the future. So thank you, Alex, so much for sharing your insights with us today.

Alex McNab-Lundbäck 34:26
You’re welcome. Pleasure.

Shaheen Samavati 34:29
Thanks everybody for listening in. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out and keep tuning into the podcast for daily interviews. See you next time. Bye.

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