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 February 1, 2018

How to Set Your Content Free for a Mobile, Voice, Ready-for-Anything Future

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Do you tune out when people talk about structured content? The conversations can get stunningly abstract. Stodgy even. And the way some people talk about structured content, it can come off as a miracle cure: Lower costs! Happier audiences! Efficiency! Accuracy! Consistency! Set your content free!

Hard to picture? Sound too good to be true?

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By marcia-johnston published January 25, 2018

How to Audit Your Content: 5 Essential Steps

how-audit-content

Look up “audit” in any dictionary. The first definition should be: “Ugh.” Who on earth would choose to spend time auditing content, let alone teaching others how to do it?

A content strategist like Laura Creekmore, that’s who. Someone who knows that without a deep understanding of your existing content, you’re working in the dark.

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By marcia-johnston published January 18, 2018

How to Stop Acting Like a Marketer and Start Acting Like a Publisher

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“Wow! Check out what technology is making possible!”

If Intel’s digital magazine iQ could speak, that’s what it would say. One article, for example, describes an emergency button that outdoor adventurers can attach to their clothing. Another describes a tiny drone that may someday help pollinate plants.

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By marcia-johnston published January 11, 2018

6 Mistakes Ruining Your Charts and Infographics

mistakes-charts-infographics

Want some tips guaranteed to result in bad charts?

Of course you don’t. Yet sometimes we learn best from things gone wrong. That’s why, in this article, I offer some of Content Marketing World speaker Scott Berinato’s advice flipped on its head.

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By marcia-johnston published January 5, 2018

10 Ways to Make Videos Your Customers Can’t Resist

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Maybe you know someone who has lost whole afternoons to YouTube. What is it about those videos that’s so hard to resist?

Matthew Pierce has some ideas. He’s a learning and video ambassador for TechSmith Corp., a company that makes visual-communication software. In his Content Marketing World talk, How to Make Your Videos as Engaging as Possible, Matthew covers ways to make irresistible videos. I touch on 10 of them here.

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By marcia-johnston published January 3, 2018

The New Marketing: How to Manage a Media Arm Within Your Company

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2017 was the year brands buy media companies, according to Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose who made the declaration in a This Old Marketing podcast last May. Did it happen? Has your organization bought any media companies or even maybe built its own media arm?

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By marcia-johnston published December 28, 2017

The Zen of Content Marketing: Higher Consciousness, Better Performance

zen-content-marketingWeek after week since January 2015, CMI has sent a Content Strategy for Marketers e-newsletter written by CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose. In this newsletter, Robert delivers marketing insights through a zen sensibility, leaving many of us inspired as businesspeople and as people. (Since December, the Content Strategy Newsletter merged with the weekly newsletter, bringing Robert’s thoughts to even more subscribers.)

Every year I highlight some of my favorite messages from this newsletter to give subscribers a second chance to savor some of Robert’s insights while giving everyone else a taste of what they’ve missed.

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By marcia-johnston published December 20, 2017

Is Your Marketing Ready for 2018?

marketing-ready-2018After you put away the champagne flutes and flip the calendar to 2018, what will you set your sights on to take your marketing to the next level in the new year? What has 2017 taught you?

One place to look for lessons is CMI’s two conferences – Content Marketing World and Intelligent Content Conference. As I review the blog posts I’ve written this year about the talks at those conferences, I’m struck by one big takeaway: Marketers need to expand their view of their role and their sense of how they can contribute to the business.

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By marcia-johnston published December 7, 2017

Less Brand, More Identity: The Zombie Business Cure

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No company wants to be a zombie – an uncaring, brainless, ruthless, inhuman thing that does whatever it takes to keep going. Yet examples abound of companies that behave in zombie-like ways, often paying the price in lost sales and damaged reputations.

How does a business cure itself of a case of the zombies? That’s the question that content strategist and UX specialist Melissa Eggleston answers in her Content Marketing World talk, Zombies All Look the Same: Using Identity-based Content Strategy to Stand Out.

The author of the book The Zombie Business Cure: How to Refocus Your Company’s Identity for More Authentic Communication, Melissa urges businesses to concern themselves less with their brands (how they want to be seen) and more with their identities (who they are).
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By marcia-johnston published November 30, 2017

How to Adopt a Customer-Centric Strategy for Your Content

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Does your company look at content through customers’ eyes? Here’s one way to tell: Look at your marketing content. For starters, riffle through some titles. Do the words typically convey customers’ concerns? Or do they mostly call attention to the things you sell?

If products hog the spotlight, you’re missing opportunities to build customer relationships and, ultimately, revenue. You’re also missing opportunities to streamline your content efforts throughout the organization, including distribution, management, and reuse.
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