By Sarah Mitchell published August 6, 2013

The 2013 Content Marketer Awards: 7 Inspiring Industry Leaders

content marketer awardsEach year, CMI honors the individual content marketers who inspire us to achieve more. These notable content experts caught our eye in 2013. Join us at Content Marketing World from September 9–12, where one of these award winners will be named Content Marketer of the Year for 2013.

Todd Wheatland, VP of Marketing and Thought Leadership, Kelly Services

Wheatland has been on our radar screen for a few years, in large part because he’s turned the consulting and outsourcing division of Kelly Services (called KellyOCG) into a content marketing powerhouse. But what’s caught our eye of late is Wheatland’s ability to identify trends early, experiment with new tactics, and share the story of his evolution with the rest of us.

Case in point: Wheatland’s book, The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare, schooled marketers about this critical channel long before it was considered a B2B content workhorse. While the rest of us were busy building networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Wheatland recognized that SlideShare offered more juice for brands to gain influence on Google — and achieve it a lot more quickly. Last we heard, Wheatland is exploring how Vine might change the social media landscape for business… and we’re betting he’ll be teaching us about that soon, too.

What caught our eye: Wheatland is willing to experiment with new channels and ideas, even while pushing ahead with a large, complex content marketing program for Kelly Services’ consulting and outsourcing division.

Julie Strawson, Director, Market Development, Monotype

Monotype has roots that date back to the 19th century, but under Julie Strawson’s leadership the brand has embraced a decidedly modern approach to content. Two years ago, Strawson identified a critical misalignment among marketers, developers, and designers. In particular, she noted that as brands focus on mobile content and apps, design and development projects often break down due to a lack of cross-disciplinary training.

brand perfect

To bridge the gap, Strawson founded a new social media community called Brand Perfect in 2012. The site fosters communication and education among teams of marketers, technologists, and designers, and hosts events to bring the constituents together. Says Strawson, “What worries me most is marketers aren’t getting on board with the shift in technologies. They are not embracing it holistically because the field is still so siloed. This is what drove the launch of Brand Perfect.

What caught our eye: Strawson saw a clear deficit in her field — a lack of alignment among marketers, developers, and designers — and kicked off a new social media community to address it. Says Strawson, “It plays to our heritage at Monotype as educators.”

Julie Fleischer, Director of Media and Consumer Engagement, Kraft Foods Group

Kraft’s content marketing program is massive, even by big-brand standards (e.g., the brand’s print magazine circulation is larger than Food & Wine), and Julie Fleischer displays the planning, discipline, and risk-taking required to pull it off. Fleischer’s Content Quadrant presentation at Content Marketing World Sydney lifted the veil on how to implement a sophisticated content strategy — and she did it with just one slide! The slide showed the balance Kraft strikes between perishable and evergreen content, as well as between pre-planned and real-time content.

Taking a disciplined approach to producing content by mapping each tactic to a comprehensive content strategy might not sound like a glamorous gig to some, but the results Fleischer has achieved would make any marketing rock star proud. Best of all, Fleischer offers marketers a road map to explain to the C-suite why not every piece of content will go viral, and what kind of investment is needed to achieve a desired result.

What caught our eye: Fleischer proves that a well-conceived strategy, combined with painstaking discipline in execution, leads to incredible results. The brand has magazine renewal rates at twice the industry average, and Kraft’s content-driven website is in the Top 20 of food sites on the web.

Christa Carone, Chief Marketing Officer, XEROX

To convince her team that social content could change the public’s perceptions about XEROX, Christa Carone decided to dip her feet in, too. Her contributions to AdAge and Harvard Business Review are notable in their humility and willingness to speak frankly about the challenge of moving a historic brand like XEROX past its image as the venerable copier brand.

chief optimist, xerox

To leverage its reach, XEROX partners with traditional brands like Forbes and The Week by sponsoring custom content and native advertising. The brand’s Get Optimistic campaign — which includes a co-branded print and iPad magazine with Forbes — brought in 20,000 new contacts and resulted in $1.3 billion in new pipeline revenue.

What caught our eye: While many content marketers are advised to “think like publishers,” Carone takes it a step further by partnering with high-powered publishers. The brand’s work with Forbes, in particular, offers an interesting model at a time when most marketers are still struggling to understand the potential and limits of native advertising.

George Stenitzer, Chief Marketing Officer, Tellabs

Original research. It’s a content type that brands have produced for decades; but we’ve found few that do it well. Too often, brands pay for self-serving surveys that are short on rigorous methodology and scale. George Stenitzer has restored our faith in brand-sponsored original research.

Tellabs publishes reports based on analyst-driven research — reports intended to challenge readers to think differently about key issues. Says Stenitzer, “A lot of thought leadership is like your term paper in school. You’re proving you know your stuff… We shoot for thought-provoking content that challenges customers’ notion of the status quo and shows change is needed.” And rather than put up a subscription wall between readers and the full report, Tellabs offers to share the full research report in one-on-one sales meetings — a tactic that only works if the content is truly valuable.

What caught our eye: Stenitzer uses analyst insights and a niche content agency to deliver top-notch research-driven content. Then, rather than spread the results far and wide, he saves the best for one-on-one meetings with customers and prospects.

Linda Boff, Executive Director, Global Brand Marketing, General Electric

Want to know what true innovation looks like? Check out GE Garages, where aspiring “makers” (e.g., engineers and technologists) tinker with 3D printers, laser cutters, and injection molders. Boff’s brainchild launched at SXSW in 2012, and helped give customers an inside look at how the brand is revolutionizing modern manufacturing technologies. (For a full profile of Linda Boff, as well as more information about GE Garages, read the August issue of Chief Content Officer Magazine.)

datalandia

Boff continues to expand GE’s content mastery with a just-released series of short films about the “industrial internet” — a term coined by GE to describe the intersection of intelligent machines, Big Data, and the “internet of things.” In these films, GE portrays a miniature town in Germany (Datalandia) and how the combination of machinery, data, and communications can offer solutions we may still be unable to imagine. The shorts are fast, funny, and inventive — just what we’ve come to expect from Boff.

What caught our eye: What we love most about GE Garages is how essentially and utterly tied the project is to GE’s corporate culture. Boff managed to create an experience rooted in passion and excitement — even while promoting innovation at GE. In our opinion, Garages is, to date, the highest achievement in live branded events.

Chris Frame, Marketing and Brand Manager, Bethanie

Bethanie, an Australian aged care provider, may be the last place you would expect wily content marketing strategies; but Chris Frame got it into his head that aged care was as good an industry as any to experiment with new media. Ignoring the reservations of an admittedly conservative sector, he took a leadership role to show new ideas in marketing can lead to more positive media coverage and increased public awareness.

Frame uses print, digital, and social to share research and education about key issues facing his clients. His underdog content strategies have been so successful, Bethanie landed a spot on Australia’s top-rated morning television program.

What caught our eye: Even if you live in the most remote capital city in the world, work in an industry that’s digital phobic, operate with almost no budget, and have to convince your organization it’s okay to share your research, a content marketing strategy can still result in about $1 million in free publicity.

About the judges

This year’s Content Marketing Awards were selected and judged by Sarah Mitchell, Michele Linn, and Clare McDermott — all members of the editorial team at the Content Marketing Institute.

For more insight and examples from the people and brands that are leading the content marketing charge, sign up now to receive your free subscription to Chief Content Officer.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell is Director of Content Strategy at Lush Digital Media, co-host of the Brand Newsroom podcast and founder of Global Copywriting. She develops content marketing and community engagement strategies for clients in a variety of industries. Sarah works in Perth, Western Australia and frequently speaks on topics related to Content Marketing and Social Media. She's also the Australian editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @SarahMitchellOz.

Other posts by Sarah Mitchell

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  • Cision NA

    Congrats to all the winners! You inspire all of us :) Look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

    Best,
    Lisa Larranaga Denten
    Cision US
    Social Media Manager