Better ways to level the playing field?

Featuring an interview with a friend and inspiration, Sunny Singh (follow her on Twitter), this TES piece on the pressure ethnic minority women are put under is well worth a read – because this isn’t just an issue in academia. And it’s all too easy for those of us from majority / privileged backgrounds to miss the signs of imbalance and unfairness that we can contribute to even when trying to do the right...

Newer isn’t always better – or necessary

This is a decent short piece in Inc. about Oprah Winfrey’s podcast strategy – basically mining her archive of TV shows for audio highlights – with some simple yet sensible advice for this age of ephemeral experiences: “Good content is good content. No matter how old it is… Get creative and find ways to adapt that content to be relevant for… new audiences, and put it in front of them.” That “get creative” part is key, though. Older content  is likely to only have nuggets of still-relevant gold that will need careful mining and potentially refining for different formats, audiences, and purposes. Remember: Not everything has to be explicitly about today’s perceived front-of-mind issues to be relevant and interesting. There’s a reason Dale Carnegie continues to be a bestselling author in the business books category 75 years after his death. Good insights are good insights. Approached with the right mindset, old white papers, transcripts of conference speeches, case studies, surveys – even LinkedIn posts – could become a treasure trove of inspiration for creating something similar but different to engage new people on new platforms and in new formats. Content marketing is, after all, about effective presentation of the content as well as the brand. And content ultimately succeeds based on *its* content –  ideas and their presentation. And there is *always* more than one way to present an...

The endless battle against “garbage language”

Complaining about nonsense business-speak may be futile, but this piece – a review of a memoir about life in startup land – does a good job of summing up why spewing out business bullshit is not just intellectually offensive, but actively harmful: “I like Anna Wiener’s term for this kind of talk: garbage language. It’s more descriptive than corporate speak or buzzwords or jargon. Corporatespeak is dated; buzzword is autological, since it is arguably an example of what it describes; and jargon conflates stupid usages with specialist languages that are actually purposeful, like those of law or science or medicine. Wiener’s garbage language works because garbage is what we produce mindlessly in the course of our days and because it smells horrible and looks ugly… “But unlike garbage, which we contain in wastebaskets and landfills, the hideous nature of these words — their facility to warp and impede communication — is also their purpose. Garbage language permeates the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many of us are trying to hide.” In short, if your ideas are good, don’t bury them in garbage. If they’re not, the presence of garbage is a good...

Taking digital to print can make sense

Great to see a copy of the Culture Trip magazine in the flesh on Eurostar. A slick, matt finish cover and perfect-bound spine screams quality, while the prominence of adverts for other Culture Trip formats (and lack of much other advertising) reveals this to be a piece of brand awareness marketing more than just a shift to a new, retro format for an established digital publisher. Getting a travel magazine on Eurostar is quite the distribution coup as well – finely targeted to a (likely) receptive audience. I’d not be surprised to see more digital ventures going physical for ad hoc print editions like this in the coming years. The shift towards longform and digital editions, the revival of vinyl, plus the growth in sales of physical books and independent publications suggests a rising demand for tactile, physical content formats alongside the convenience of digital. With good design and production values, a print magazine or book can be something to both treasure and show off – a powerful, prestigious tool for driving brand loyalty. Don’t get me wrong – digital is great. But every format is worth considering in the marketing mix – if it’s got potential to drive results rather than being mere...

New post on LinkedIn: Big data and marketing

Inspired by a piece comparing the creative side of marketing with the more business-focused obsession with data and ROI. The short version? “Rather than worry about big ideas vs targeting, what the marketing industry really needs to learn how to do is revive the art of the soft sell and the long tail. That’s the more human way of building relationships that last – but to work it needs a significantly more nuanced understanding of how people will be interacting with you than I’ve seen from pretty much any modern brand marketing campaign.” Read the full thing on...

What I’ve been working on for the past year

Here it is. The new, multiplatform MSN. Engadget has a solid overview piece. The content proposition is fairly straightforward – a customisable mix of useful tools and the best content from many of the world’s biggest publishing brands across a bunch of key topic areas or verticals, curated by teams of in-market editors. The aim on a technical level is actually the most interesting part of it – we’ve been developing a cloud-hosted CMS that enables single-publish across all devices and platforms, for both web and apps, running across 55 markets in 27 languages, with a coherent look and feel no matter your screen size or operating system. That’s properly ambitious. Most of my input has been procedural (improving multimarket and multiplatform publishing processes) and hidden in the back end (I was part of the CMS superuser group that’s been working on back-end UX and workflow). I’ve not had as much involvement in the front-end design, architecture, or overall content strategy as I’d like, but still – a most definite improvement on one of the web’s longest-running major publishers (20 years old this year, and still doing a good 22 billion pageviews every...