Author: Marcia Riefer Johnston

Marcia Riefer Johnston is the author of Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them) and You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice About. As a member of the CMI team, she serves as Managing Editor of Content Strategy. She has run a technical-writing business for … a long time. She taught technical writing in the Engineering School at Cornell University and studied literature and creative writing in the Syracuse University Masters program under Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaRJohnston. For more, see Writing.Rocks.

By marcia-johnston published October 13, 2016

How to Get More (and Better) Content From Your Subject Matter Experts


E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Flip the words around, and you’ve got E unum pluribus. Or maybe E unibus plurum. At any rate, you’ve got the savvy marketer’s motto: Out of one, many.

Out of one piece of content, many pieces.

Or how about this twist: Out of one subject-matter-expert interview, many pieces of content.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published July 28, 2016

How to Get Your Fast Content Out of the Slow Lane


Two weeks. That’s how long it takes a certain financial-services company to post a tweet.

“If it takes you two weeks to get a tweet out, you’re doing it wrong.” So says Robert Rose, CMI’s chief content adviser, who told this story at the Intelligent Content Conference in his talk, Structured Experiences: Content at the Speed of Culture.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published July 7, 2016

5 SEO Strategies for Social Media You Need to Know Before You Hit Publish


Do you use social media with SEO strategies in mind? If not, says Josepf Haslam, senior director of social SEO at Education Dynamics, you might as well be pouring water into the moat of a sandcastle — the evidence of your effort disappears in the blink of an eye.

Solid SEO practices are like a “concrete foundation” for your social media moat. “The water you pour (social activity) can accumulate and create an enduring benefit,” he says.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published June 30, 2016

Learn From Struggling Brands: Insights From the Marketing Trenches


“I like the energy.” That’s how a friend recently described the e-newsletter written by CMI Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose. Content Strategy for Marketers started in January 2015. Week after week, Robert gives us peeks into his consultations with clients who are slogging it out every day in the trenches of marketing.

One thing I like about Robert’s tales is their immediacy. We read his just-the-other-day conversations that touch on struggles shared by many marketers. At the same time, he connects his stories to universal truths. He waxes philosophical, posing questions and suggesting possibilities that may help his readers look at their struggles from a new perspective or may help them prepare to face struggles they’ve yet to encounter. Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published June 23, 2016

Is Your Content Ready for the Mobile Takeover?


Small screens, big screens. Screens. Screens. Screens. Oh, how many screens you’ve seen!

Few people know about Dr. Seuss’ The Screen Book, sequel to The Foot Book. OK, he never wrote The Screen Book, but had he lived a few more decades, he might have. Electronic devices today are as numerous, diverse, and move-around-able as the world’s feet.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published May 19, 2016

How to Build Buyer Personas That Build Sales


Michelangelo famously claimed that when he sculpted, he simply removed the extraneous. He didn’t so much create human forms as liberate them. He wasn’t imposing his vision on slabs of stone; he was revealing the figures within.

What if we adopted this mindset with personas? What if, instead of creating personas from our imaginations, we found out everything we could about the flesh-and-blood people we want to sell to and keep happy – and then used personas as a means of revealing those people to the teams that need to communicate with them?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published May 12, 2016

Buyer Personas You Want to Use: The 9 Essential Parts


Ever been part of a team that skipped over creating personas to get to the “real work”? Or maybe you had personas, but everyone ignored them.

Personas are easy to dismiss.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published May 5, 2016

From 2 Hours to 2 Minutes: How This CMI Duo Blew Away a Tedious, Unscalable Content Task


If you’re looking for smarter ways to use content technology in your marketing, I hope that this story inspires you as it has me. It’s about two of my colleagues at the Content Marketing Institute – IT Director Dave Anthony and E-media Manager Laura Kozak – who put heads together to automate a tedious, unscalable website task, saving Laura time and improving the experience for the CMI audience.Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published March 10, 2016

What Should Marketers Look for in a Content Strategist?


The day has come: Your boss signed off on your proposal to get the help your marketing team needs from a content strategist. Great!


What skills should you look for in a content strategist? What are some good questions to ask? Where and how can you find the right help?Continue Reading

By marcia-johnston published February 18, 2016

Take Your Content From Albatross to Asset: 18 Experts Tell How


We’ve all felt the dead weight of it: ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial content) hanging around our necks. We’ve been bogged down by far-from-perfect processes, unsystematic systems, and not-quite-right technology. Content – planning it, producing it, and managing it – can feel like more of a burden than a business asset.

Here to lighten your load are 18 experts who are presenting at the Intelligent Content Conference. They answered this question: Marketers need to handle increasingly complex and abundant content. What are your top tips for managing all that content as a business asset?Continue Reading