HIGHLIGHTED: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Photo of Ann Handley

Author Ann Handley

Writing is easy. Writing well is hard. (But with some practice, you can do it.)

If you’re a content marketer, you probably spend a lot of time at the keyboard. You may not think of your emails, tweets, and creative briefs as “writing with a capital W,” but it is writing nonetheless. You may as well be good at it.

Ann Handley is very good at writing. So good, in fact, that she can help you become a better writer. Ann’s bestselling book “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” is an excellent tutorial for novice and experienced writers.

I read “Everybody Writes” a few years ago when I interviewed Ann at Content Marketing World. I decided that my own writing needed a bit of improvement, so I descended on Ann’s book with my trusty highlighter. Ann’s book on writing is the book that professional writers read for inspiration and instruction. Continue reading

How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

Marketing Tesla & What It Says about Us

2016-tesla-modelsAs if enough praise hasn’t already been heaped upon Tesla Motors, here’s a bit more. This time, it’s not about the car. It’s about the marketing of the car and what it says about us.

The Tesla is just another car. When you get down to it, it’s a manufactured to serve a utilitarian purpose. It gets you from Point A to Point B. All cars are designed to do this, and so is a Tesla. Continue reading

Binge Watching for Storytellers

I’m a media binge watcher. From recent stats, it is apparent that you may be too. We are, as a culture in love with stories, but we’re not in love with waiting around.

Actually, let’s clarify that…we’re binging on good stories. And, of course, we are putting some level of trust and faith in the audacity of the storyteller. We’re crossing our fingers (and our legs on the couch) in the hopes that the story we’re watching, reading, hearing is going to end as well as it started. We’re hoping that the story creators have thought this story line through and know how to make this all worth our while.

Short-form videos require less commitment, so we are faster to forgive weak storytelling. A 6-second Vine video requires less time away from our family, friends, and career, so we don’t care if it’s not a great story. In that case, good enough is good enough. Continue reading

JAWing With JK: Part 2 of a Blog Series on Visual Storytelling

Joe Kalinowski JAWS headerPart 2 of 2: Check out Part 1 “Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons” on the Content Marketing Institute website

Movie Poster Creates JAWS-Dropping Visual Storytelling Lessons

CMI’s Jos Kalinowski on the History of the Jaws Movie Poster
Questions by Buddy Scalera. Answers by Joe Kalinowski,Creative Director at Content Marketing Institute

BUDDY:  The iconic JAWS movie poster was not the first version, right? What were some of the other versions?

JOE K: The original hard cover was black and white painted by artist Paul Bacon for Bantam Books. It was a more simplistic version of the iconic image featuring a white translucent shark veering up towards a swimmer painted in the same style. The shark had no eyes or teeth, just the recognizable shape of the shark’s head and mouth. When Bantam released the book in paperback, they revisited Bacon’s image. They hired artist Roger Kastel to use Bacon’s hardcover image as a starting point, but they were suggesting Kastel to make the image a bit more realistic and of course menacing. Kastel did such an impressive job that Universal Studios chose to use that image for the iconic movie poster. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Decks (Slideshare Experiment)

Tale of Two Decks Image

 

This is an experiment on Slideshare. This is…A Tale of Two Decks.

Let’s start at the beginning. Recently, I shared the stage with Michelle Killebrew at the Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. If you didn’t attend the event, you missed our somewhat unorthodox presentation where we told “a story about storytelling.”

Note: All videos from the ICC conference are available online. Watch the video of our Long and Short presentation. This is my Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap blog post.

Usually the best way to understand a presentation is, well, to see it presented. Realistically, there are only so many conferences any one person can attend, so a lot of us check out Slideshare for interesting and useful presentations.

We planned to simply upload the deck, but that would lose some meaning, since we can’t be there to offer the voice overs and other descriptions. I’ve uploaded other decks in the past, most of them about healthcare marketing and visual storytelling. The decks are clear during the presentation, but would be a bit vague if you didn’t see it presented in person.

This time we decided to try something different. We maintained one master deck, which we called the Original Version. Other than a few minor edits, the deck was a record of how we presented at ICC. The second was a version with comments and call outs, which we called the Annotated Version. This version included slides that we’d removed for time and added several additional slides to enhance the download experience. More on this later. Continue reading

Conflict Is Story: What It Means for Marketing Storytellers

Conflict by Joe Kalinowski

Conflict is story. Graphic by Joe Kalinowski based on a photo by Gianluca Ramalho Misiti.

Without conflict, there is no story. It is conflict that defines the story.

Whenever a writer is sharing a story idea with me, I’m listening for the conflict. Specifically, what is preventing the main character from reaching a specific, desired goal. And whenever a marketer references the brand “storytelling,” I’m listening for the same things. Let’s explore…

Without conflict, the story is just a setup. It may be an anecdote or even a nice scenario, but ultimately, great (heck, even good) stories require some sort of conflict. And lest we think this applies only to fiction, this is also relative to brand stories told in marketing. Read on…

Let’s start with a story example. Everyone loves zombies, so let’s make this a story set in the zombie apocalypse. Now, consider your main character Bob. What does Bob want? Does he want to win the zombie-slaying trophy? If so, why? What will winning the trophy be?

It doesn’t matter if Bob is from present day or from the future (a guy from the future fighting zombies is a nice setup!). All that really matter is that Bob wants something and why he wants it can be clearly defined.

There are lots of different theories on story conflicts, but many educators agree there are generally four types of conflict. (Meta irony: Someone will disagree with this.) These are conflicts that work both in fiction, non fiction, and marketing stories.

The four types of conflict: Continue reading

600,000 Years of Health Storytelling (Video)

Check out my presentation on content strategy for the web. This one includes Grok the Caveman, who was the world’s first healthcare educator.

In this presentation, I discuss how our ancestors used visual storytelling to communicate health messages. Our DNA is encoded to respond to visual stories, which we should be leveraging to share health information.

This particular presentation was delivered to our internal staff at Ogilvy CommonHealth in the Parsippany, NJ office. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my blog post “Epic Tales of Marketing Storytelling.” Continue reading

Comics for Content Marketers

comics-for-content-marketers1-smOver the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”

At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.

Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.

Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.

Continue reading

Google Search Stories – 53 Seconds to Message

As a marketer, I am always trying to provide the best possible message in the shortest possible time. People are busy, so you need to give them the information they need to decide if they want to learn more about your product. Give them the right message in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got their attention.

Loosely translated: You get to tell your story.

Check out the video below from Google Search Stories. In 53 seconds, Google and YouTube reinforce the motivational power of storytelling.

And just for fun, check out the Batman Search Story.