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Best of CCO Digital: A Year Transformed With Sound and Sight

2019 was a year of big changes for the Chief Content Officer publication team – as, I’m sure, it has been for all content marketers. The biggest of these changes has been the transformation to an all-digital publication.

CCO’s fans and followers also may have noticed that our content has gotten richer – more audio and video content features reflect the industry’s evolution toward more portable, more accessible, and more immersive storytelling.

CCO has gotten richer – more #audio and #video for more portable, immersive storytelling, says @joderama via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

We have more surprises in store for you in 2020 (see below). In the meantime, here are some of our best articles shared this year that feature audio-visual content. Whether you missed them the first time around or just want to revisit your favorites, these are worth a fresh look – and listen.

How to find a fresh perspective to elevate your content

Want to see how powerful your content can be when you find a unique way to approach creative challenges? Check out Robert Rose’s interview with acclaimed National Geographic photojournalist and motivational speaker Dewitt Jones. At Content Marketing World 2018, Dewitt brought down the house with a demonstration on how he elevated his visual content to an art form by looking for the extraordinary in what others might see as mundane.

For those who are starting to explore their abilities as aspiring storytellers, Dewitt offers this sage bit of wisdom in Creativity: From Imagination to Imagine-Action:

Remember that play is an incredible way to be creative. Just the act of creating without a goal or expected outcome can put you on an experimental path that can lead to surprising – and delightful – destinations.

Play is an incredible way to be creative, says @DewittJones via @cmicontent. #storytelling #creativity #CMWorld Click To Tweet

This brief clip from Dewitt’s presentation, through his personal experiences – at work and at play – is well worth hearing.

Why content creators should build a ‘tortoise enclosure’

Of course, no discussion on creativity in content would be complete (IMO) without a few words from a master of the craft, John Cleese. For our October issue, we unearthed a long-lost treasure in the form of an interview Clare McDermott conducted with the actor after his closing keynote presentation at Content Marketing World 2015.

With more than five decades of experience in the entertainment business, John has spent long hours examining the roots of creativity and what it takes to coax it from our minds and onto the pages of our content. Like Dewitt, John urges aspiring creators to make room for play, though he admits it’s become harder because of our constant state of hyper-wired vigilance.

In this video clip from his presentation, John explains how to create a space of quiet contemplation where pure creativity can arise, then bring in your analytical mind to shape those ideas.

You don’t want to miss out on the additional creativity lessons he shares in the full interview.

This is (literally) your brain on storytelling

Creativity is a wonderful quality to foster in your content. But it holds little marketing value if it doesn’t drive a desired response from your audience.

#Creativity holds little #marketing value if it doesn’t drive the desired audience response, says @joderama via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

One facet of our industry I’ve always been fascinated with is the neuroscientific principles at work in persuasion – how our brains are hard-wired to engage with and act on certain types of content while overlooking others as irrelevant to our personal experience.

According to Contently’s head of content, Joe Lazauskas, the science-based secret to successful marketing lies in the art of storytelling. In The Neuroscience of Storytelling, Joe explains that the neural activity in our brains increases fivefold when we hear a good story, triggering us to remember more of the information and driving us to want to act on it. In this video clip, he also elaborates on how marketers can use this chemical reaction to their best advantage.

#Contentmarketing works because our brains are programmed for stories, says @JoeLazauskas via @cmicontent. #CMWorld #storytelling Click To Tweet

Can managers add light to social media’s dark side?

For the uninitiated, a job in social media can seem like never-ending fun and frivolity. But the truth is the experience can be darker for those tasked with moderating their brand’s open forums.

When you are the first responder for all the negative comments, complaints, and extreme imagery posted on your brand’s social media profiles, it can add significant stress and anxiety to your day, making it hard to feel fulfilled by your work. It can also lead to emotional issues – ones that your organization’s managers aren’t necessarily trained to address.

What’s the responsibility of an organization to provide a healthy working environment for those exposed to the web’s negativity on a daily basis? And how can those of us who work in this space avoid suffering from “empathy exhaustion” and other post-moderation stress disorders? In The Hidden Consequences of Moderating Social Media’s Dark Side, former TED Conferences’ social media editor Ella Dawson offers tips to help managers mitigate the emotional damage these professionals can suffer and improve their overall job satisfaction.

A content creator’s code of ethics and innovation

Speaking of marketing team responsibilities, one of my all-time favorite keynote speakers has to be Henry Rollins. And it seems that both our content team and event attendees agree: His presentation at ContentTECH 2019 met with such rave reviews that we invited him to speak at Content Marketing World 2019.

In both appearances, the punk rocker, author, actor, and acerbic public speaker shared his thoughts on speaking with authenticity, maintaining the highest possible standards of quality, and delivering an element of moral goodness in our brands’ content efforts.

Whatever I'm going to write, I can't cheat the message. The only thing that matters is the truth, says @henryrollins via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Is it time to break our engagement obsession?

Marketers often cite “engagement” as the purpose for creating content; but few agree on precisely how to define it, let alone definitively quantify its impact. With so many questions swirling around this elusive concept, should engagement really play a central role in our content strategies?

In our most recent Talking Points panel discussion, Finding the Road to Better Engagement, we asked marketing thought leaders to take up this great debate. They delivered a fascinating conversation on why engagement may be evolving into a meaningless metric, why some brands still stubbornly refuse to abandon it as a goal, and why the math of measuring it across platforms might never add up.

If marketers do just one thing to measure engagement effectively, it should be to use UTMs, says @SFerika. #contentmarketing #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Will brand and product marketers ever share the sandbox?

Another classic conflict in content marketing is over which team should take the lead in determining the company’s messaging strategy. Brand marketing commonly favors messaging that appeals to the heart, while product marketing prefers messaging that appeals to the head.

Given that audiences consider both elements in their B2B technology decision-making, these conflicting factions need to learn to work together to strike the right balance between big picture and small nuance in their content strategies.

Noah Brier, co-founder of content marketing platform Percolate, suggests that marketers look to the intent of their messaging rather than the outcomes they try to drive as a way to bridge the strategic divide between the two teams. In his article, Brand and Product Marketing, How to Solve the Split-Personality Problem, Noah outlines his vision of a task-based model that shifts the focus from the way your company prefers to sell to the way your audience decides what to buy.

If brand & product marketers don’t collaborate, the #content library will have a split personality, says @heyitsnoah via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

When all else fails …

Fear of failure – both personal and professional – is ingrained in our brains from an early age. It’s an end result that few comfortably embrace but that we almost all experience in our content careers, especially those of us who recognize the need to innovate and experiment to keep our content as fresh, exciting, and impactful as possible.

But what if we approach failure not as a sign of defeat but as a tool for achieving greater success in the future? In her article on The Ultimate Content F-Word, content expert and The Content Experience Show podcast co-host, Anna Hrach, explains that to reframe the conversation around failure, we first must set up ourselves and our teams to fail in the right ways. Check out the conversation from her interview for her suggestions on how to accomplish this:

To reframe the conversation around failure, we first must set up ourselves & our teams to fail in the right ways, says @annabananahrach via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Bringing more sights, sounds, and surprises to you in 2020

One more big change CCO experienced this year was that I assumed the role of editor-in-chief from the amazingly talented Jonathan Crossfield. Though I have little expectation of filling his shoes (he is quite a bit taller than I am, after all), I’ll be filling CCO with new topics and perspectives, new ways to engage with our content, and even a new way for us to deliver fresh content more frequently. I hope I’ll do Jonathan – and you all – proud in each of these respects.

Make sure you’re among the first to see the 2020 CCO. Subscribe today to the digital magazine to receive future issues in your inbox.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute