In-House Content vs. Out-House Content

Whenever you start reading analysis by an expert consultant who thinks a company like Pepsi is smart to create an in-house content (or other creative execution) agency for whatever reason, get ready for a trainwreck.

Pepsi’s in-house content people blew it. However, an agency could have, as easily, blown it. But here’s how it should work. In-house, there should be an expertise in the goals and missions of the company; the reasons a product exist.

The “out-source resource” should be the expert in how to develop a content strategy that will reach those goals and missions. They should be experts in the nunace of various types of media, like publishing or digital media.

From the first day of Hammock’s existence, we have told clients and potential ones: “You are the expert in your product, we are the experts in the message and media strategy that will help you sell more products and develop a deeper relationship with customers.”

The real problem is not whether content is better or cheaper if it comes from within an organization. The problem is that content that is developed to make the senior management of a company feel good about themselves (the Pepsi problem), will likely fail.

For more about why companies that focus on messages that please themselves are almost always wrong, read this post from 2014: RIP: Osmo Wiio

How to Know its Time to Update Your Slide Deck

You can take out some slides in 30 seconds if you need to.

Earlier this week, I heard a presentation by a well-known analyst and author who is an expert on topics related to customer service and the technology used in that field.

One of her examples of customer service related to an experience in which a friend of her’s was amazed by a service provider’s customer service phone support. He was blown away by the simple integration of two data points that enabled him to not have to repeat his issue multiple times. “Oh, I see you were just on our website,” the customer support person said.

I would be impressed by that technological breakthrough, myself.

Unfortunately for the presenter, the company was United Airlines and the audience reacted to the example with laughter.

They were not impressed.

You’ve got to admit it: using an example about customer service in the context of massive coverage about how a customer of their’s had been beaten up and dragged off a plane because they were oversold is being far too loyal to one’s presentation deck than necessary.

No Famous Person Ever Said What You Quoted Them Saying

It’s like Einstein said, “Check your sources.”

On Mondays, we almost always post a quotation on SmallBusiness.com using the hashtag #MondayMotivation. It’s difficult for me to come up with a quotation because I insist that the quotation have a primary source, not a second-party attribution. In other words, the quote must be in the writings or public statements of a person or be from someone who was recounting the quotation they heard directly from the source, not from a friend-of-a-friend of the source.

One of the places I look to verify quotes is the Quote Investigator, a website of someone whose pen name is Garson O’Toole.

NPR’s All Things Considered recently ran an interview with O’Toole, who has a new book out called, Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations.

Here’s a quote by O’Toole that can be verified by listening to the interview below:”It’s a lot of fun to uncover these hidden histories, and I’m also very glad when I get to give credit to the person who actually said it.”

 

Another place I look is Wikiquote, a project of the organization that runs Wikipedia. It is maintained by hundreds of people who are like O’Tolle. If you go there to look for a specific quote reference to a quote by Einstein or Hemingway, you’ll often be disappointed not to see it. Click on the “Discussion” tab at the top, left side of the box that contains the quote. There you will see a list of quotes that are often attributed to the person, under the heading, “Unsourced.” You’ll also see any debates over the source.

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of lame sourcing, but it’s still a pet-peeve.

Folio: Followup

I’ve now done something I never thought I’d have the chance to do: Follow up on a 20-year-old magazine cover story. And since I’ve only been on one magazine cover, this was my only shot.

A shout-out thanks to Tony Silber who conceived the original story “way back when” (about custom publishers going digital in 1996) and who thought it would be fun to compare the Q&A then, to what they might be today.

One thing I didn’t do 20 years ago was Tweet, but Hammock already managed a couple of web forums and a very active Compuserve group (I was the sysop). We were creating CD Rom projects and publishing branded magazines and books. It was those foundations that enabled me to “get” everything that has been built on such foundations.

There is so much that great content can do for marketers. Unfotunately, when marketers think that content is limited to SEO and lead generation, it’s hard to explain all the other benefits of great customer media and marketing with content.

Oh well, no doubt I’ll still be trying to explain that 20 years from now.

Blast from the past: Revisiting Rex Hammock’s 1996 Folio: cover story https://t.co/ybIFATw782 pic.twitter.com/xqJQVbbnEt

— FOLIO: (@foliomag) April 5, 2017

@R eview | STown

More masterful work from the folks at This American Life.

If you visit the website of the podcast STown, you’ll notice that the seven-part series is divided into “chapters.” After binge-listening seven hours during the past weekend (kept doing yard work so I could listen guilt-free), I agree that “chapters” is more appropriate than “episodes” as STown flows like a well-crafted story, masterfully told.

First a word of caution. If cussing (and I mean cussing, not cursing) offends you, please stop here and forget the podcast. Okay. You’ve been warned. STown stands for Shit Town, the name given to his hometown by John B. McLemore. The town he’s grown to hate is in Bibb County, Ala., about midway between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. John (or John B) is one of those people who has grown angry with the world, an iconoclast who can’t believe what idiots human beings have become. Unfortunately, he’s smart enough to know it’s true. He’s brilliant on a wide range of topics and is one of the world’s most talented restorers of antique mechanical clocks. But he’s also crazy as a loon and a world class cusser. Read more “@R eview | STown”