Infographics and Visual Storytelling with Author Ross Crooks

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Ross Crooks of Column Five Media

Better, more powerful devices have made it possible to tell better, more powerful visual stories. These days, content marketers are discovering that infographics can help express essential information and complex concepts.

Infographics (aka information graphics) are becoming an essential tool for visualizing concepts that may otherwise be locked in databases and spreadsheets. In the hands of skilled designers, infographics strap a jetpack to your data and help it reach a wider audience across multiple devices.

Data visualization is nothing new, but we’re seeing an emergence of innovative techniques for showcasing and sharing ideas. Some infographics are a single static image, while others are complete interactive stories.

For content marketers, infographics represent another way to provide value and engage with their target audience or existing customers. Brands must consider new and creative ways of creating utility, and infographics are becoming a cornerstone of strategic and tactical plans.

I caught up with Ross Crooks Co-Founder And COO of Column Five Media, an agency with offices in Newport Beach, CA and New York that creates visual stories for brands. With his partners Josh Ritchie and Jason Lankow, Crooks co-authored the book INFOGRAPHICS: The Power of Visual Storytelling, an essential guide for anyone interested in visual content strategy. The book is packed with examples and explanations that will help you get started building your own infographics. Continue reading

Epic Interview with Content Marketer Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi at window

Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing

He’s been called the “godfather of content marketing” and with good reason. Long before we were attending content-themed conferences, Joe Pulizzi was trying to convince his clients that content was the next big thing in marketing. It took a few years, but he’s convinced large and small companies to hire Chief Content Officers (CCO) to manage their content marketing efforts.

In a world where the loudest, brashest voices seem to get the most attention, Joe Pulizzi has be spreading the word in his own polite, friendly Midwestern way. He’s a power player in marketing, who hasn’t moved to one of the coasts to work at a power agency. He embraces the town of Cleveland, and if you’ve been to one of the conferences he hosts, you’ll see that Cleveland embraces him right back.

From his early days in custom publishing all the way to being a publisher, Joe Pulizzi is living his craft. He heads the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which was named one of the fastest growing companies by Inc. magazine. CMI is an emerging media powerhouse with a voice in every channel. And consistently, that voice sounds a lot like Joe Pulizzi.

His collaborators and partners, including celebrated speaker Robert Rose, are a who’s-who of marketing gurus. His Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland is one of the must-attend shows for anyone in marketing, not just in the vertical of content marketing. It’s a fun, smart event that reflects the collective charm of the entire CMI staff.

As an author, Joe Pulizzi has published three smart, actionable books on the topic of content marketing. Each is fresh and vital, but Epic Content Marketing is the work of a mature, intelligent ambassador for the entire industry. If you haven’t read it yet, order it from Amazon and put it on the top of the stack on your nightstand.

If Johnny Cash was The Man in Black, then Joe Pulizzi will surely be known as The Man in Orange, due to his citrus-inspired wardrobe. If nothing else, he is consistent in his visual branding.

The book is as unique, colorful, and quietly awesome as Joe Pulizzi himself. It further cements his position as one of the most influential thought leaders in marketing. And if you know this business, that’s saying a lot.

Joe shared some thoughts in an email interview about content marketing, publishing, and the future of content marketing. Continue reading

Cross Channel Book Marketing

Creating Comics book by Buddy Scalera

My new book Creating Comics from Start to Finish is just beginning to hit stores now. And despite the fact that I do this marketing thing every day for my clients, I’ve found it to be challenging to apply the same principals at home for my own projects. Crazy, right?

There’s an old saying, “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” That pretty much means the stuff you do at work is not the stuff you want to do when you get home. But a book being published is a timely event, and that time will soon pass, so I need to take the opportunity to market my book while I still can.

Initially, I was spending most of my efforts on my Facebook Fan Page, which had around 700+ followers and is now over 800. This group has been supporting my photo reference books, so they were most receptive of the new book. A good start.

Then I did a little bit of content seeding. I created a video flip through of my book, which I placed on the Facebook Fan Page, YouTube, Flickr, and even Amazon. I’m monitoring all of the channels through Google Analytics to see which drives the most qualified traffic.
Continue reading

Book Expo 2009 – A quick recap

Book Expo 2009Last weekend I went to the Book Expo of America 2009 in New York City. It’s a show that comes around every three years, so it’s not one that I want to miss. As the author of several books (and hopefully more in the future!), I attend the shows to network and connect with publishers.

Since last show, however, we’ve seen the launch of ebook readers, including the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. Many publishers offered ebook versions of new releases, which seemed to draw little attention from media reporting on the event. And yet, neither Sony nor Amazon nor Google (which is now selling ebooks!) had any significant presence at the Expo, which is more or less a professional trade show.

As an author, I would have liked to have seen at least Sony and Amazon at the convention with big informational booths. Y’know, preaching the digital gospel and stuff. I even brought my Kindle with me, just in case Amazon was giving away free sample books or whatever. Sadly, there was nothing there but a little standing kiosk. Nothin’ fun for us early adopters.

Side note: One of the convention organizers said that the word “BEA” was one of the most Twittered words in the country that weekend. That’s kind of cool. And there were several digital-focused panels, including a couple on blogging and Twittering, which was interesting to see.

Despite the ups and downs of the recession, the show still seemed vibrant and alive. It felt a little less crowded than in previous years, but there were still a lot of publishers and interesting exhibitors. It’s a brightly lit Candyland of fun for people who love books. You can’t actually buy anything at Book Expo, but you can certainly plan some of things you’d like to see under the Christmas tree this year.

And, yes, a little reassurance that (despite the digital revolution) there are still people out there who plan to buy books. At least for a little while.

LINKS – NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

BEA Attendance Update…..

Thank God It’s Thursday: Book Expo ’09

Book Expo America 2009 – A Summary

Men & Boys Book Promotion

Just did an interview with the Pulse to promote my new book Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys. This is my third pose file book for comic book artists, illustrators, animators, and everyone else who wants to improve their artistic craft.

Hope you like the article: The Boys of Scalera’s Comic Artist’s Photo Ref

Men & Boys

Comic Artist's Photo Reference: Men & Boys

Men & Boys Book Promotion

Just did an interview with the Pulse to promote my new book Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys. This is my third pose file book for comic book artists, illustrators, animators, and everyone else who wants to improve their artistic craft.

Hope you like the article: The Boys of Scalera’s Comic Artist’s Photo Ref

Men & Boys

Comic Artist's Photo Reference: Men & Boys

Hulu & Pandora Got Me Through Book 3

Well, I finally got the “all clear” signal from my editor Amy. She told me today that all of my deliverables have been accepted and my book is moving to final production. Whoo hooo!

She gave the editorial thumbs up to the final pages and the CD-ROM on my third photo reference book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys.” I did this book at the same time as I was doing the last book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls.”Men & Boys

It was, I now admit, a lot harder to complete two books at the same time than I’d originally thought. My day job is busy, but I managed to juggle both and keep everything going. However, I did NOT account for was how much work kids are as they get older. Sports, parties, and staying up later means less time for freelance. I do my work on the weekends and that’s when the kids need me most.

BUT…! It all got done. I am exhausted, but satisfied. I’m looking forward to a short mental break, but I am also excited about getting started again.

These things kept me sane during the last two books:

Pandora.com – The best personalized-music station ever. Wow. Make a playlist and Pandora makes it better. I discovered a bunch of new music through Pandora.

Amazon.com – There’s a good alternative for buying music. I love iTunes, but I hate the DRM restrictions. Amazon sells complete albums for under $9.00 and there are no DRM roadblocks. I can listen at home or at work. Music I discovered on Pandora I bought on Amazon….if it was available. Amazon doesn’t have nearly as many songs as iTunes, but I that’s already starting to change.

Hulu.com – While I work, I keep Hulu.com playing in the corner. They have tons of shows from NBC and their affiliates. I caught up great shows, including 30 Rock, The Office, SNL, Family Guy, and Cops. I even discovered a genuinely scary webisode show called Devil’s Trade. It’s one freaky, creepy show.

iTunes – I still love my iTunes. I can’t live without my podcasts. They keep me going as I grind through 1000+ Photoshop files. My favorites include: KCRW: The Business, CBC: Search Engine, KCRW: Martini Shot, On the Page: Screenwriting, PC Mag Radio, NYT Science Times, Secret Identity, The Grim Reader’s Screenwriting Advice, the 60 Minutes Podcast, and the awesome Vodcast Tiki Bar TV.

So, I’m excited to be done, but I’m already looking forward to taking more pictures.

Now…sleep.

Hulu & Pandora Got Me Through Book 3

Well, I finally got the “all clear” signal from my editor Amy. She told me today that all of my deliverables have been accepted and my book is moving to final production. Whoo hooo!

She gave the editorial thumbs up to the final pages and the CD-ROM on my third photo reference book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys.” I did this book at the same time as I was doing the last book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls.”Men & Boys

It was, I now admit, a lot harder to complete two books at the same time than I’d originally thought. My day job is busy, but I managed to juggle both and keep everything going. However, I did NOT account for was how much work kids are as they get older. Sports, parties, and staying up later means less time for freelance. I do my work on the weekends and that’s when the kids need me most.

BUT…! It all got done. I am exhausted, but satisfied. I’m looking forward to a short mental break, but I am also excited about getting started again.

These things kept me sane during the last two books:

Pandora.com – The best personalized-music station ever. Wow. Make a playlist and Pandora makes it better. I discovered a bunch of new music through Pandora.

Amazon.com – There’s a good alternative for buying music. I love iTunes, but I hate the DRM restrictions. Amazon sells complete albums for under $9.00 and there are no DRM roadblocks. I can listen at home or at work. Music I discovered on Pandora I bought on Amazon….if it was available. Amazon doesn’t have nearly as many songs as iTunes, but I that’s already starting to change.

Hulu.com – While I work, I keep Hulu.com playing in the corner. They have tons of shows from NBC and their affiliates. I caught up great shows, including 30 Rock, The Office, SNL, Family Guy, and Cops. I even discovered a genuinely scary webisode show called Devil’s Trade. It’s one freaky, creepy show.

iTunes – I still love my iTunes. I can’t live without my podcasts. They keep me going as I grind through 1000+ Photoshop files. My favorites include: KCRW: The Business, CBC: Search Engine, KCRW: Martini Shot, On the Page: Screenwriting, PC Mag Radio, NYT Science Times, Secret Identity, The Grim Reader’s Screenwriting Advice, the 60 Minutes Podcast, and the awesome Vodcast Tiki Bar TV.

So, I’m excited to be done, but I’m already looking forward to taking more pictures.

Now…sleep.