Tag Archives: Joe Pulizzi

13 Easy Tips for Better Storytelling, Content Marketing

Ann Handley, Content Rising, content marketing, Skyword, Tom Gerace, Robert McKee, storytelling, brand journalism, everything the light touches is content, The Lion King

As I like to say, “Stories are everything, and everything is content.” Thanks to Ann Handley for this clever way of putting it, which she shared at Content Rising in Boston.

What’s the difference between a story and a narrative?

Between a story and information?

And what does it mean to run #LikeAGirl?

Such were the questions about 300 content marketers, storytellers and other media pros discussed last week at a conference I attended in Boston. Content Rising, put on by the Boston-based Skyword agency, focused on how to engage audiences with useful, compelling content — articles, video, photos, social media and more. It was one of those energizing experiences you hope for from a professional gathering, with lots of smart people, goodwill and creative energy bouncing around.

I love how events like this get covered now via Twitter. It’s like having a roomful of reporters sharing best quotes and reactions. Here are 13 tweets from the experience that give a pretty good overview of what’s being discussed about content marketing and storytelling these days.

Marketing Stats amid the Media Evolution

Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Skyword, opened with stats that show brands need to stop interrupting what consumers want and instead become what they want. Take a look at these photos. Marketers believe their work has changed more in the last two years than since the dawn of television. On Facebook, 15 billion pieces of content are posted each month.

Storytelling Tips from a Master

Robert McKee, a screenwriting coach and author on storytelling, shared some thoughts on what  a story is and is not — and pointed out that young adults and teen-agers are too smart for traditional, B.S. marketing that’s little more than bragging.

I love a wise curmudgeon who calls people on their B.S.

Finding Your Voice

Author Ann Handley is always thoughtful, engaging and entertaining. Handley says finding the right tone and voice is the “secret sauce” of effective content marketing.

Look for little opportunities to enliven such traditionally dull, perfunctory spots as the “About Us” page with copy that can be fun and deliver your brand voice.

Finally, A Few Words on Innovation

Dan Pallotta, inventor of multi-day AIDS and breast cancer walks, closed with some inspiring thoughts on innovation.


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6 Content Marketing Conferences to Learn from the Best

I went to Cleveland for a few days last September, and let me tell you, it was one of the best things I did all year.

(Go ahead. Insert Cleveland joke here.)

I decided to attend a conference, Content Marketing World, in a flash of inspiration. I had mulled going earlier, and when a new online friend and industry leader suggested I go, I snagged a cheap flight and a room at the venue hotel, and, before I could say “Get off of my blue suede shoes,” I was in the land of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a former journalist working in traditional corporate communications, I was jazzed to see so many examples of how to creatively, purposefully blend the two disciplines and others. With top authors, brands and social media represented, the conference has grown in attendance annually.

Business communicators of all kinds have been turning more and more to storytelling techniques, brand journalism and content marketing, and conferences like this are a great chance to learn from the best and mingle with peers. I stole ideas and made connections in Cleveland — with good, smart people in a supportive environment.

Similar events cover some of the same ground, and maybe this year I’ll plan ahead with one or more of these:

  1. Social Media Marketing World. March 25-27, San Diego. “Discover the best social media marketing techniques from the world’s top experts. Join 2,500 fellow marketers at the mega-conference designed to inspire and empower you with social media marketing ideas—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.”
  2. Create an award-winning newsroom: Boost influence, SEO and media coverage. This PR Daily Webinar is set for April 2. From the link: “The press, public and search engines will give your news massive reach — if your online newsroom features frequent updates and multimedia. Is yours up to speed?”

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Supremes, Diana Ross

    No trip to Cleveland is complete without a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and seeing what the original Dreamgirls (Diana, Mary and Flo of the Supremes) wore back in the day.

  3. Marketing United. April 29-May 1, Nashville. “The must-attend conference for modern marketers” features authors Ann Handley and Jay Baer, along with many more in Music City, home to the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Take that, Cleveland!)
  4. Creativity, Technology and the Future of Storytelling. “How do you tell amazing stories that are not just good, but inspire your audience, make life more interesting, and turn passive consumers into brand advocates?” May 14 in New York.
  5. Digital Summit Atlanta. May 19-20. “Join Digital Summit Atlanta for two days of leading-edge digital media and marketing content, mixed alongside top-flight networking with Internet execs, online marketers, entrepreneurs and digital strategists.”
  6. Content Marketing World 2015. Sept. 8-11. Cleveland. Yes, I might go back to see Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose and the rest from the Content Marketing Institute. And not just because I had to race through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to make my flight back home…

RELATED: ‘Everybody Writes’ in the Content Age

RELATED: Read ‘Epic Content Marketing’ book

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Telling Stories to Connect and Find Your Way

EARLIER: Actor’s Express presents an enduring ‘Liaisons’

storiespicMy parents required my three sisters and me to attend Sunday school and church every week until we turned 12. They weren’t particularly religious, but they told us later that they primarily wanted us to “know the stories” — of the Bible and Moses and Jesus — that are so woven into our culture and collective consciousness.

Later, I decided to become a writer because I found that telling stories connected me to other people — those I wrote about and those who read what I wrote. I didn’t realize then how starved I was for that connection and how important storytelling would become to my identity and my place in the world.

I’m thinking about this right now as Shane Snow of Contently is presenting on the power of storytelling at the Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland.

Those thoughts lined up for me listening to Shane share observations like, “Stories help us build relationships and feel connected.”

It’s all lined up for me before. But amid talk about case studies and ROI and Instagram campaigns, I’m again grateful for the lifelong connections and identity I’ve received through stories.

Shane Snow, Contently, Content Marketing World, Content Marketing, Cleveland, conference, Joe Pulizzi, brand journalism, storytelling, Jay Croft, Atlanta, storycroft

Shane showed this slide, a photo from his office. (I Instagrammed it at the top.)


RELATED: Why you should read ‘Epic Content Marketing’

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Read This Book: 9 Ways ‘Epic Content Marketing’ Delivers

Joe Pulizzi, Epic Content Marketing, storytelling, brand journalism, expert, Jay Croft, Atlanta, storycroft, public relations, corporate communications

Joe Pulizzi’s “Epic Content Marketing” is available in all formats. I liked the audiobook version so much I downloaded the Kindle version.

I read a lot about content marketing — books, blogs, Twitter feeds, white papers. There’s so much content about content that it’s great to find an outstanding piece to recommend — something that speaks with authority but isn’t didactic. Something well-reported and smoothly written. Something with an expert’s knowledge and a mentor’s heart.

Joe Pulizzi’s most recent book, “Epic Content Marketing,” hits all those marks and more. Pulizzi has legions of followers and the book came out last year. But everyone interested in brand journalism/storytelling/content marketing should find something of interest and value here, from beginners to experts, from writers to CEOs.  Even the know-it-alls on theory will appreciate the countless examples of best practices Pulizzi presents. He’s like Malcolm Gladwell (“Outliers,” “The Tipping Point”) in his thorough presentation of case studies that prove his points about communicating to drive business goals.

(“Tweet Naked” and two more worth reading)

Here are nine highlights of “Epic Content Marketing.” Some will be familiar, some fresh, and others might just crystallize your thoughts. That’s part of the value of a book like this – it’s a little bit of everything, in a broad and useful context. Flip through it, skip around. Lots of good stuff. You know: good content worth sharing and discussing.

  1. Joe Pulizzi, storytelling, storycroft, Atlanta, Jay Croft, Epic Content Marketing, Jell-0

    Jell-O’s early example

    “Customers don’t care about you, your products or services,” he says. “They care about themselves.”

  2. Pulizzi cites the many “content marketing” definitions and settles on this one: “Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent or perhaps entertaining them to build an emotional connection.”
  3. U.S. consumers are hit with 5,000 marketing messages a day, up from 500 in the 1970s.  “Telling a quality story to the right person at the right time always cuts through the clutter.”
  4. Storytelling goes back to the cave, and content marketing goes back at least as far as John Deere and its magazine, The Furrow, 120 years ago. Then came Jell-O recipe books … and radio soap operas…
  5. Joe Pulizzi, Content marketing, brand journalism, storytelling, storycroft, Jay Croft, Atlanta, Red Bull

    Red Bull is a leader of content marketing, Pulizzi says.

    Corporations engaged in content marketing find residual benefits like improved morale, recruiting and internal collaboration.

  6. Smart brands and companies are hiring journalists to tell stories — to plan and create content.
  7. That dovetails with Pulizzi’s “less is more” approach: Don’t sell so hard. Content shouldn’t be advertorial. It has to bring value on its own to create new customers or strengthen bonds with existing buyers.
  8. Pieces of content (articles, graphics, photos, videos, etc.) are business assets. Think of them – speak of them – as such.
  9. Pulizzi’s Six Principles of Epic Content Marketing: 
  • Fill a need
  • Be consistent
  • Be human
  • Have a point of view
  • Avoid sales-speak
  • Be best of breed

Along with endless examples of brands, bloggers and resources to help writers, marketers and executives, Pulizzi employs helpful formatting that keeps his reasoning on track and the book highly readable.

But the book’s most endearing strength is his good-hearted enthusiasm. He’s sharing what he’s learned because he’s excited about it and wants you to be, too.

Worked on me, Joe.

BUY IT: “Epic Content Marketing”