Joy Parks

Posts Tagged ‘copywriters’

What do you know, Joe?

In content, content communities, content strategy, great writing, What works on January 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

If the Joe in question is Joe Pulizzi , and the topic is content marketing, then the answer is PLENTY!!! The founder and driving force behind Junta 42 , the knowledge/service provider referral portal that has encouraged and enabled countless companies to add the content marketing to their communications mix, Joe (who seems like a really, genuinely nice guy from the few emails I’ve exchanged with him) is taking content marketing to another level with the establishment of The Content Marketing Institute. Bursting with case studies, research, stats and the chance to sign up for a FREE (!) subscription to the forthcoming CCO: Chief Content Officer quarterly magazine, the CMI not only tells would-be content marketers what they should be doing; by being such a valuable source of content about content marketing, CMI shows them how it’s done…and done right. The Content Marketing Institute is both example and inspiration to marketers and communicators who agree that all companies must become media companies—and that the future of marketing is content marketing. If you’re not already one of the true believers in content marketing, download CMI’s ebook, Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2011.

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The “A” List

In content, content communities, content strategy, Uncategorized, What works on January 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

Being a long-term believer in the power of list-making (if they ever stop making index cards, I’ll be lost!) and a recent fan of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), their current post on the value of checklists not only makes content developers aware of the need to ensure quality, but also offers tools to make it happen. Take a look–and while you’re there, check out their list (in the list of lists!) on how to hire a content marketing writer, it contains some real gems of advice if you’re looking to work in the industry.

Evil Corporate Communications

In content, great writing, retail, What works on May 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm

In his article for Inc. magazine, “Why Is Business Writing So Awful,” Jason Fried has stirred the hearts of hardworking, passionate and professional copywriters, content providers, corporate scribes, et al, everywhere. He’s figured out why most business writing is terrible. For anyone who has ever tried to write clearly, effectively and creatively for a corporation, the source of the problem hardly comes as a surprise.

“Unfortunately, years of language dilution by lawyers, marketers, executives, and HR departments have turned the powerful, descriptive sentence into an empty vessel optimized for buzzwords, jargon, and vapid expressions. Words are treated as filler — “stuff” that takes up space on a page. Words expand to occupy blank space in a business much as spray foam insulation fills up cracks in your house. Harsh? Maybe. True? Read around a bit, and I think you’ll agree.”

You can almost hear the sound of a thousand writers sighing. Validation is a wonderful thing.

Fortunately, he also notes there are some companies that are communicating brilliantly and originally, but you’ll have to read the article to find out which ones.

One of my personal favorites? Trader Joe’s — informative, witty retail writing that treats customers like smart grown-ups. No wonder the small gourmet food chain has a cult-like following.

Branded Content: The New Old Thing

In content, What works on May 1, 2010 at 9:06 am

In 1921, the Washburn Crosby Company, which would later become part of General Mills, offered women a chance to win a flour bag-shaped pincushion for correctly completing a word puzzle available in their bags of flour. Along with the contest responses came a tidal wave of questions about food, cooking and entertaining. The time was right—the American middle class no longer had servants to depend on and the lady of the house needed to strap on an apron and get busy. From these questions, the marketing persona of Betty Crocker was born. Created by home economist and business woman Marjorie Child Husted, with a surname in honor of a recently retired Washburn Crosby director and a first name chosen for its happy, all-American sound, Betty Crocker became the American homemaker’s new best friend, dispensing advice through newspaper columns, a long running radio show and eventually television. The persona was brought to life in 1949, by Adelaide Hawley Cummings, an actress who hosted the General Foods branded entertainment ventures and did walk-on commercials on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. At one point, she was believed to be the most recognizable woman in America, bested only by Eleanor Roosevelt. The campaign branched out into cookbooks and other products, many of which are still available today. The visual of Betty Crocker changed eight times between 1936 and 1986, reflecting changes in how American women viewed themselves and the most recent version continues to peer at us from ads, product packaging and an aesthetically pleasing and information-packed http://www.bettycrocker.com/.

The creation of Betty Crocker also inspired other early companies to recognize the value of what we now call branded content; what they viewed as a means of reaching and connecting with customers, and providing information of value to develop loyalty. In the 1920s, women’s editorial departments sprung up in early ad agencies to give credible voices to personas like Libby’s Mary Hale Martin and Odorono’s Ruth Miller. The Lux Soap Company had two spokes-characters; Marjorie Mills for soap flakes and the chatty Dorothy Dix for toilet soap. The advice, humor and information provided by these characters and others laid a strong foundation for the value of branded content that we are only now rediscovering.

General Foods build an empire on branded content nearly 90 years ago. Just imagine what you can do with it now.

Conversation Agent demonstrates why strategic content and good writing demand respect

In business development, content, content communities, content strategy on April 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

This morning, Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent, the number one blog on the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs (as listed by branded content expert Joe Pulizzi) carried the headline “Top Company Blogs Require Content Strategy, Expertise, Good Writing.”

Granted, my first response was “you think?” But considering the number of semi- or soon-to-be-abandoned (you can always tell) corporate blogs I’ve seen—and the fact that content for far too many websites and other online communications is done as an afterthought, not part of the strategic plan, it dawned on me that for someone not involved in the marketing of writing and content strategy services, this idea might be quite revolutionary. So kudos to Conversation Agent for bringing the value of good content forward—and for so dramatically showing the direct relationship between professionally written, strategically-developed content and corporate success.

Timing is everything: Why (and when) you need a content strategist

In business development, content communities, content strategy on April 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

While plenty of people are writing about content creation and why it has to be done (Junta42’s Joe Pulizzi just issued his list of Top 42 Content Marketing blogs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), there hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion about who exactly is supposed to plan, create, manage, organize and preserve all this content.

More and more, I’m seeing the term “content strategist,” but the work description hasn’t been all that clear—and there’s not a lot of mention of the value they bring to a company’s overall communications efforts. So I was thrilled to see Magnify.net CEO Steve Rosenbaum’s blog entry on fastcompany.com, “Filter or Be Flooded: Do You Need a Content Strategist?” It’s the most clear-cut explanation of what a content strategist can do that I’ve seen so far. One of the most important points he makes is when the content must be dealt with in the planning/strategic process.

“… content isn’t the thing the copywriter does at the end of the design and development phase of Web site development, it is the output of your site, fresh and evolving every day in a conversation with your visitors and your customers and your partners.”

Sure, a content strategist, particularly one with a background in writing, can write your site, ghost your blog, script your video; in short provide the actual content—much like a copywriter. But the greater value lies in their role in understanding your company, your customers and your expectations, and charting an ongoing, all-encompassing content development and delivery strategy from the start.

Says Rosenbaum, “As you dig into the Content Strategist world, you see that there’s a theme that develops. Once you get outside of conventional content makers (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) the role of content is pushed down in organizations to copywriters who often have little say, little time, and little respect. But in the new world of content absorbing PR, Marketing, CRM functions, media relations, support, corporate and investor relations, Content comes out of the back room and moves to the front page–content is the “face” of the always-on corporation. So, Content Strategy takes on a mission critical role for all public functions.”

Which means that if you’re expecting your staff (including in-house copywriters, if you have them) to develop content, you can still benefit from including a content strategist in your overall online communications development team. While your staff may be able to write well enough to communicate your corporate message, can they deliver the right content in a compelling brand voice that will develop the right kind of relationship with customers? Do your in-house copywriters feel secure enough to potentially defy their colleagues when it comes to determining what customers want and need to know versus what marketing wants to tell them? And do you really think, considering current workloads, that you can count on even the keenest employee to blog or tweet regularly? Even if you are confident that you have the means of developing your own content, think of the content strategist as part coach, part editorial director, part long-term planner and sometimes, part referee. But definitely think of him or her before you get too far along in the content development process.

If not, you simply may not reap the full value of your investment. Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web (and interviewed by Rosenbaum for his blog) admonishes businesses to “Treat Content like a critical business asset…if you treat Content as an 11th-hour issue, you’ll have bad content, unhappy employees, disappointed users, and budget overages.”