Content Marketing

The Story of Content

Had you asked the average Minnesotan in early 1991 to handicap that year’s U.S. Senate race, the vast majority would’ve no doubt told you that the chances of an obscure political science professor defeating a millionaire incumbent businessman were approximately the same as the proverbial snowball’s in hell. The problem, as is often the case, was money, or lack thereof. For every dollar that the challenger, Paul Wellstone, had in his campaign war chest, the incumbent, Rudy Boschwitz had 7. As it turns out, Wellstone had him right where he wanted him.  He would manage to squeeze by Boschwitz in one of the biggest upsets in American electoral history. Wellstone’s secret weapon? Storytelling. Coming two years after the breakout [...]

When ‘Just the Facts’ Just isn’t Enough

As a friend tells the story,  he was watching a television reporter interview the pilot of a commercial jet that had had a close call nearly 2 years ago. It was pretty standard morning television: the stoic pilot with a crew cut and a military mien, dispassionately describing his maneuvers in the cockpit as though he were auditioning for the role of Joe Friday in a Dragnet sequel. And then the reporter asked the pilot what he was thinking at the critical moment when his survival, and that of his passengers, was very much in doubt. The pilot paused for what must’ve been three or four seconds, and his eyes began to nervously scan the middle distance. Finally, he [...]

Branding Bible

Good brand marketing is a little bit like a good church. The pastor’s sermon represents the content, the parishioners in the pews are the audience, and the church is your online platform. But, do you have a Bible? The Bible for marketers is a documented content strategy which, like scripture, can be referenced for inspiration, guidance, continuity, and, ensures that your content team is all working from the same page. A documented content strategy, like the Bible, leaves nothing to chance and reduces the chances of misinterpretation. Studies show that marketers who have a documented strategy are more effective and more productive in almost every phase of the process when compared with their peers who have only a verbal [...]

I See You

South Africans typically greet each other with the Zulu word Sawubona--Sawa for short--which translates literally to "I see you." But the greeting has a deeper, transcendent meaning as well which can best be understood thusly: “I recognize not only your physical form but your humanity. On its most molecular level, Sawa is an articulation of solidarity with other human beings, and it helps strengthen a sense of community and belonging. Iconic South African figures such as former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu credit the double entendre with helping sustain freedom fighters during the country’s dark days of apartheid. Building community is also the key to creating the quality content that is central to effective brand marketing strategies. [...]

By the Inch, Life’s a Cinch

One of the more common misperceptions in brand marketing is that you can expand your company’s audience with that single snappy blogpost, Tweet, or video. That, in fact, almost never happens. The most effective brand strategies, typically, build critical mass gradually, over time, courting followers and subscribers by consistently producing quality content. The objective should be to inculcate an almost “Pavlovian” response among visitors to your website, social media site, or video channel, meaning that when they see your brand, it triggers a reflexive mouth-watering appetite for quality content. A big part of this incremental strategy is understanding how most people consume content. Almost anyone can be tempted by “click-bait” offering a glimpse of Rihanna sunbathing poolside, but most [...]

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Stumping for Republican Congressional candidates in the 1970 midterm elections, Vice-President Spiro Agnew attacked the GOP’s liberal critics in one of the most memorable speeches in the history of American politics. “In the United States today, we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H club—the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.” Around the same time, Nikki Giovanni published her poem, “kidnap.” if i were a poet i’d kidnap you put you in my phrases and meter you to jones beach or maybe coney island or maybe just to my house lyric you in lilacs dash you in the rain alliterate the beach to complement my see Agnew’s remarks were written by [...]

Listen.

As legend has it, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were struggling, young writers who spent their days pumping out poems and novels that they couldn’t get published, and their nights commiserating in Greenwich Village, listening to jazz. Finally, one night, after a particularly rousing set by Charlie “Bird” Parker, someone in the group–some say it was Kerouac, and others Cassady–had an epiphany, and posed the question to his chums: "What if we try to write the way that Bird sounds?” The young writers found their voice that night, and of course went on to become the Beat Poets, who were as iconic as any literary figures in 20th century American literature. Content [...]

Sorry my story is so long

The story used to be a staple in newsrooms across the country. “Sorry my story is so long,” the young reporter says to his editor, “but I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” Indeed, it is time-consuming to pare writing, or content, to the bone, but the return-on-investment is huge in terms of the audience who not only reads your posts but remembers it for all the right reasons. One of the keys to writing content that stands out from the crowd is emphasizing the active tenses and strong verbs, rather than the passive voice and adjectives that are too-clever-by-half. Some content creators reflexively favor passive verbiage under the misguided notion that it lends their message a certain [...]

First, the Eyes

If you ever read Alice Steinbach’s profile of a 10-year-old blind boy that appeared in the Baltimore Sun in May of 1984, what you are most likely to remember is that she had you at “Hello.” The first words of Steinbach’s article, entitled A Boy of Unusual Vision, did not invite you to read more so much as they dared you to turn away. First, the eyes: They are large and blue, a light, opaque blue, the color of a robin’s egg. And if, on a sunny spring day, you look straight into these eyes—eyes that cannot look back at you—the sharp, April light turns them pale, like the thin blue of a high, cloudless sky. Steinbach’s narrative masterpiece, [...]

All That Jazz

Of Dizzy Gillespie’s many jazz compositions, none is more infectiously catchy than Manteca. First performed in 1947, the song–named for the Spanish word for lard– memorably opens with the stand-up base playing a Cuban-influenced riff, and builds to a rousing climax by the horn section. The music critic Gary Giddins hails Manteca as ‘one of most important records ever made in the United States.” It is also a tribute to the power of diversity. Gillespie’s hard-living Cuban drummer, Chano Pozo, wrote the unusual opening baseline, and the layered melodies that were staples of Latin jazz at that time. Known for his bent trumpet, puffy-jowled showmanship, and association with Charlie “Bird” Parker, Gillespie, who was African-American, wrote the bridge, and [...]