Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap

ICC 2015 Recap Graphic

I’m tired, but I just can’t stop smiling. Travel is exhausting, but I am still energized. The things I’ve learned in this past week make all the travel an’ tribulations worth the efforts. It lifts the spirits, and I feel great.

This past week, I attended Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. It’s an annual, can’t-miss professional event for content marketers, content strategists, and content engineers. It is one of the few conferences that I depend on, quite literally, to progress my career as a content strategist. From basic concepts to advanced techniques, the ICC has guided my personal learning journey for several years.

The speakers are world-class educators who bring real-world examples to the stage. Many conferences are only about big ideas. This conference is about the big ideas and how to make them work in your organization.

After years of being the the brainchild of Ann Rockley and Scott Abel, the Intelligent Content Conference changed hands to be run by Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing and the Content Marketing World Conference.

This year, I participated in two events:

Presentation #1: The Long and Short of Content: Strategies for Intelligent Content Planning
The first is with my friend Michelle Killebrew of IBM. We joined forces to tell a story about storytelling. We outlined a story from the dual POV of a patient going on a health journey and a content marketing team working to serve her informational needs. It got quite meta as Michelle and I roleplayed our respective characters.

The concept came to me while attended the Content Marketing Institute Master Class in New York City. Robert Rose was talking about the power of story and used fairy tales as an example. I realized how much power was in “Once Upon a Time” and decided to do something to incorporate that somehow into the presentation. (Note: The presentations and videos are available at the ICC website.)

The presentation was a bit of a performance risk, since neither of us had ever seen anything quite like this at a business event. We wanted to communicate story through these two distinct character voices, but didn’t want to go overboard. After all, we wanted to illustrate an idea, not tip into a parody.

Overall, we were pleased with the presentation and we have received positive feedback from the people who attended.

Presentation #2: Healthcare Roundtable
The second presentation was an innovative roundtable discussion hosted by Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group. Ahava Liebtag and I were the guests in this two-hour open conversation that included active audience participation and problem solving.

It was a less flashy (in terms of presentation), but deeper way to discuss the kinds of challenges we face in healthcare communications. In our line of work, we face many of the standard marketing demands, but special requirements due to external and internal regulations.

Of course, the explosion of digital channels has created as many challenges as it has created opportunities. Healthcare marketers who insist on sticking to old techniques and technologies may be adding extra effort and exposing themselves to risk. It’s difficult enough to manage content, but trying to do everything manually just adds a layer of unnecessary effort.

Looking forward, the panel and the audience seemed to agree that intelligent content processes are an inevitable and necessary solution for healthcare brands and health systems. Managing multiple instances of the same piece of content can create a level of risk that brands may not want or need. Creating and managing channel-agnostic content can ensure that messages are maintained and served with consistency.

In the actual conference room, we formed a large circle and Ann managed a dialogue. We discussed detailed solutions and case studies that could not have been possible with just a solo speaker standing on a stage. It was as stimulating and educational for the three speakers as it was for the entire audience. We all learned a lot in those two hours.

Despite the road weariness, I arrived home with notes, ideas, and an action plan. (Hey, this blog post is something that I can cross off my to-do list now.)

From New Jersey, San Francisco is a long trip. But it was worth it to see presentations by

I feel like I took an entire semester of classes by the world’s smartest professors. Am I tired? Sure, but I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Links I Like:

ICC 2015 Recap by Matt Osias of Demand Media 
Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide’s Buddy Scalera Tapped to Present at the Seventh Annual Intelligent Content Conference

Updated May 3, 2015: A Tale of Two Decks (Slideshare Experiment)