Brands in Glass Houses

CoverHow to Embrace Transparency and Grow Your Business with Content Marketing

By Dechay Watts and Debbie Williams, with Said Baaghil

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About the Book

Today, successful companies do not talk “at” the customer; they talk “with” them, honestly and humanly. This expectation of honest communication and brand transparency has started a revolution. People are savvier and less apt to fall for a manufactured back-story, and they lose interest quickly in marketing jargon. For the first time in history, the truth sells.

Brands in Glass Houses shines light on businesses that are revealing themselves authentically, not just as a marketing tactic, but also as a way of doing business. The authors show you how to provide interesting content so customers can connect with your brand on an emotional level, making them more likely to buy from you, talk about you, share their experiences about doing business with you, and, ultimately, listen to what you have to say.

Brands in Glass Houses takes you through the complete marketing lifecycle, from uncovering your brand story to using content marketing services to give away knowledge and build trust, to being consistent through use of an editorial calendar. This book will help you lose the fear of being too transparent and teach you to recognize opportunities to educate and engage with your target audience through content marketing tactics such as blogs, social media, websites, and more. Discovering your brand stories, and telling them in the right places, at the right times, to the right people, will help you connect through actionable content that has a purpose.

Through step-by-step guides, checklists, and true stories from a content marketing agency, marketers will learn how to look at their own messaging and find ways to talk about products and services authentically and humanly. Marketers will be inspired by the many examples of companies who are telling their stories through purposeful content, living in “glass houses” for the entire world to see.

About the Authors

Dechay WattsDechay Watts, Chief Strategy Officer/Co-Founder of SPROUT Content

Dechay is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at SPROUT Content, where she applies her stellar listening and observational skills to filter through the noise and create concise and strategic plans for clients.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Dechay left the Sunshine State for the Empire State where she launched a career in PR, working in a division of Saatchi & Saatchi (and where she fatefully met co-author and business partner Debbie). She worked in New York for several years before her travel bug took over and led her on a journey across the country, then through most of Europe, before heading back to the white sands of the Florida Gulf Coast.

Dechay worked for the first local internet startup in the area, then helped email security company AppRiver become one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S. as their director of Marketing. Always following her inner compass, she was led down an entrepreneurial path to start her own web content development company, Watts Writing Studio, which planted the seeds for SPROUT Content.

Dechay is an active volunteer, supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters, Think Beyond and IMPACT 100. She now lives in Denver with her husband Rich, Sophie, the lab they purposefully brought home, and “Little Dog” Maggie who decided to live with them and never leave. Dechay earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of West Florida.

Learn more about SPROUT Content.

Follow Dechay on Twitter @Dechay.

Debbie Williams HeadshotDebbie Williams, Chief Content Officer/Co-Founder of SPROUT Content

Debbie is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer at SPROUT Content, where she brings her passion for revealing the most unique plot lines of a brand story and eloquently capturing the spirit and emotion of brands through words to all SPROUT Content clients.

After working for several years in the PR agency world in New York (where she met business partner and co-author Dechay) Debbie found her calling as a copywriter and launched a successful 10 year career working for top agencies and brands including, Grey Advertising, Good Housekeeping Magazine, LVMH Fragrance Brands and KAO Brands Co.

Born and raised in New Jersey, a stone’s throw from NYC, Debbie is a city girl at heart who never imagined herself anywhere else. But life, fate and love takes you to strange places, and she’s all the better for it. After meeting her husband at Dechay’s wedding in Florida, she traded city streets for white sands and now calls the Gulf Coast home. Debbie lives in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two daughters.

Debbie earned a B.A. in English from Seton Hall University. She is a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute blog and MarketingProfs blog, and has spoken at Content Marketing World.

Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwilliams23.

Said Baaghil, Brand Marketing Consultant

Said Baaghil Headshot

Raised in the North Africa, Europe, and the US, Said attended the University of Maine at Machias where he earned a B.S. in Marketing. After working in corporate America for 10 years, Said saw a great need for brand marketing expertise in the Middle East and Asia and launched his consultancy there in 2000. Since then, he has helped dozens of brands worldwide with his strategic and passionate approach to brand marketing. Through his practice, Said offers online and in person brand marketing consultation.

Said is a sought after speaker and is also co-author of the books The Power of Belonging, Eccentric Marketing, Brand Revolution and Glamour Globals. Said often lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, but he’s rarely “home” for long, and is a citizen of the world. Said’s “boss,” Rakun Said Baaghil, is his real inspiration.

Connect with Said online at or on Twitter @baaghil.

What People Are Saying About Brands in Glass Houses

“Brands truly live in glass houses. The smartest companies turn that into a competitive advantage while concurrently helping customers and the health of the planet. This is a breakthrough book that captures the keys to success for competing in the age of transparency. I applaud the authors for their incredible work.” —Jeff Rosenblum, Writer and Director of The Naked Brand Documentary and Founding Partner of Questus

“Packed with accessible examples, simple ideas, and smart marketing advice, Brands in Glass Houses gets behind the buzz surrounding authenticity, transparency, and storytelling in a way that few marketing books can. Want to build trust? Build a glass house.” —Andrew M. Davis, Author, Brandscaping

Brands in Glass Houses provides a clear and comprehensive look at how content marketing can help companies of all sizes inject more truth into their marketing efforts by offering solid examples and great, actionable takeaways. It’s practical and applicable information that can make an impact starting now.” —Amanda Maksymiw, Content Marketing Speaker, Educator, and Blogger and Content Marketing Manager at Lattice Engines

Brands in Glass Houses strikes the perfect balance between philosophy and practicality. The book speaks to the importance of embracing the emerging business paradigm of authenticity and transparency, while reaching beyond the normal platitudes to provide a clear and simple primer on how businesses can embody these principles through content marketing. The authors get it and so will you after reading this book!” —Mona A. Amodeo, PhD, Founder, idgroup/Branding from the Core®

“The authors have crafted an elegant book that is a great resource for business owners. Know your story and manage the messaging. That is pretty simple, and yet most businesses struggle mightily with it. Businesses today simply must embrace the opportunity to tell their stories through their brands. And the brands must be transparent. This is the new standard … story, brand, transparency, content … this is business in the twenty-first century.” —Brian Tsuchiya, Founder, Vim Journey

“Today’s brand architects need to think beyond the glass ceiling. The contemporary branded house is expected to be constructed entirely from glass — the foundations, floors, and walls — and be a place where everyone can look inside and outside your brand, 24/7. The authors provide the blueprint for designing a transparent, branded house that can survive the test of time.” —Rex Whisman, Founder and Chief Strategist, BrandED Consultants Group

About SPROUT Content

Sprout Content LogoSPROUT Content is a content marketing agency for busy entrepreneurs, marketers, and the teams they inspire. The SPROUT team strives to develop long-term relationships with clients, inspiring entrepreneurs and brand managers by asking, “What is the conversation you’re having with the world? Why are you having that conversation? How are you going to keep it going?”

SPROUT Content helps businesses define their content strategy, create a content marketing plan, and tell their story  through the most relevant content channels that will connect with their audience. Every business is a brand and has an interesting story to tell. SPROUT’s goal is to help you tell a consistent story that leaves an indelible mark on people while meeting goals and delivering results.

SPROUT Content
3 W. Garden St., Suite 517
Pensacola, FL  32502


Connect with SPROUT Content


Q&A with Authors Dechay Watts & Debbie Williams

Why should content marketers invest the time in this book?

Content marketers are continually challenged with creating enough of the right kind of content. This is a book that inspires content marketers to get to the root of who they are before launching into development, which makes ongoing content flow naturally in an authentic voice. It’s not just about “why” or “how” to do content marketing, but about using content to cultivate real relationships and transparent messaging, which is the only way to connect and grow a business today.

What will readers learn here that they won’t learn anywhere else?

From mom-and-pop shops to mega brands, we shine light on businesses that are revealing themselves authentically, not just as a marketing tactic, but also as a way of doing business. Readers will learn from dozens of examples of how companies large and small, B2B and B2C, are telling their story through purposeful content and living in glass houses for the world to see. These examples will inspire content marketers to look at their own messaging and find ways to talk about their products and services authentically and humanly.

Why did you decide to write this book?

We work with a lot of business owners who have a hard time communicating who they really are as a company. They are so entrenched in the day-to-day operations that they don’t look at their brand picture and their messaging becomes outdated and generic.

We started talking about this with our friend Said Baaghil over coffee in a hotel in Atlanta. We were three people from different sides of the globe and completely diverse backgrounds, with a shared passion for transparency in marketing and the belief that every type of company is a brand with an interesting story to share. So, the journey began and we decided to write a book to get business owners and marketers excited about the opportunities for using content to connect and show people the truth behind what makes them stand apart from their competition.

What did you address that was missing from other books?

There are amazing books available about content marketing, branding, and storytelling. There are also great books and movements about corporate responsibility and big brands dedicated to people, the planet, and profits. We wanted to tie these two revolutions together and show how content is being used as a tool for creating brand stories that people believe in and want to be a part of.

What are the key takeaways for content marketers?

That all companies, no matter what size or industry, have a story to tell and an audience that wants to hear it. The key is to be transparent and tell a true story so you can connect authentically.

What kinds of tools do you include in the book?

We provide Content Style Guide (CSG) checklists, step-by-step instructions for how to get started, information on editorial calendar tools, and dozens of examples of brands who have succeeded in transparent marketing, and those who have learned the hard way.

What was one of your favorite things you learned while writing this book?

That we aren’t crazy. There really is a revolution starting and the future of marketing is about being transparent. People expect it now and the youngest generation is growing up this way. Businesses that are being honest and putting it out there are the pioneers, because the importance of connecting authentically is only going to increase as social sharing continues to boom. It might take a while for some companies to catch on and catch up, but we look forward to being a part of the moment and helping marketers connect more authentically. Businesses have no choice but to become more authentic and human, or they will not succeed. It was a great collaborative process, too, with each of us really putting our best skills forward to complement one another. Just as you think you’ve finished a great chapter or example, you come up with another great idea that makes the last one seem null and void.

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