Breaking good: A ten minute chat with Professor Jeff Cornwall

Jeff Cornwall, Belmont University entrepreneurship professor and longtime blogger (The Entrepreneurial Mind), recently invited me to appear on the video version of his blog — a show that is produced by the Nashville-based web video network, Talkapolis (think Leo Laport’s TWit network with a southern accent). The episode was posted today. It was to visit with Dr. Cornwall and I appreciated the chance to explain the customer media and content focus of Hammock Inc. — and our role in the context of today’s marketing landscape. Here’s is an embed of the 10 minute interview.

The Hammock 20th Anniversary Guides to Content that Works

cover of Hammock 2012 Content Marketing Budget GuideAs I’ve mentioned before on this blog, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Hammock Inc., the company that provides me the keyboard on which I type these blog posts. Since I don’t blog a lot about what we do at Hammock, I often get the question, “What exactly do you do?”

My short answer: “We’re a marketing services company that helps clients communicate directly with customers using different forms of media ranging from print magazines to online wikis.” If they still have a quizzical look after that answer, I’ll say, “We publish magazines.”

The one thread that runs through all our relationships with clients, and all of our projects and properties, is this: The services we provide are focused specifically on helping our clients create, deepen and lengthen their relationships with customers (or members, supporters, donors, etc.). Because building such relationships (vs., say, promoting a one-time clearance sale) involve long journeys, we don’t work with clients whose needs are one-time clearance sales.

As part of our 20th anniversary, Hammock is publishing a year-long series of eBooks called, The Hammock 20th Anniversary Guides to Content that Works. I wish I could say they are filled with wisdom we’ve learned from 20 years of successes. Unfortunately, some of the best lessons have come from failures.

The first guide in the series is being released today:

The 2012 Content Marketing Budget Guide: We’re all media companies now. How should our marketing budgets change?

Originally, we intended to wait until next summer to explore this topic — more close to the time of year when marketing budgets are first being planned. However, we decided to release it now so that marketers could have several months during the first part of the year considering content marketing within a new context or framework. (And where they might look for money to fund it.)

It’s not a how-to guide, it’s more a thought-framework guide, a term I just made up, so don’t look for it on Wikipedia. Whatever it is, I think that if you’re in marketing and you’ve read this far down into a RexBlog post, you’ll probably like it.

You can download the eBook at this URL: Hammock.com/20

Chief Executive magazine spurs a RexBlog Sally Fields moment

So, excuse this interruption for some shameless self-promotion, but I’m honored (baffled a bit, yet honored) that this 11-year-old blog is included in the current issue of Chief Executive magazine, on a list their editors have selected as the Top Ten CEO Blogs. The list is a sidebar of a story titled, “Should CEOs Have Personal Blogs?” that, in turn, is part of six-issue series on CEO “personal effectiveness.”

[So, come to think of it, as this list first appeared in a print magazine, I will claim that it isn’t actually a “top ten list that appeared on the internet.”]

But seriously, I’m happy to appear on any list that may encourage the people who run companies, large and small, to understand how a personal blog can help them in many ways — most of which will come as a surprise, the more they view it as a part of who they are — not a task they can outsource to the PR department.*

Best part of the list: I’ve found some new blogs to follow:

Allonhill
Sue Allon, CEO; Blog: Allonhill

FirstRain
Penny Herscher, CEO; Blog: The Grassy Road: A CEO at Work and Play in Silicon Valley and Beyond

Forrester Research
George Colony, CEOCEO; Blog: The Counterintuitive CEO

Hammock, Inc.
Rex Hammock, CEO; Blog: Rex Hammock’s RexBlog

Makovsky + Company
Kenneth Makovsky, president; Blog: My Three Cents

Merisant Company
Paul Block, CEO; Blog: PaulRBlock.com

Royal Caribbean International
Adam Goldstein, President and CEO; Blog: Why Not?

Saatchi & Saatchi
Kevin Roberts, CEO; Blog: KR Connect

Thomson Reuters
Tom Glocer, CEO; Blog:Tom Glocer’s Blog

Zappos
Tony Hsieh, CEO; Blog: CEO and COO Blog


*This is a list of blogs that are written in the first person and are labeled personal blogs. Most of them are not even on the corporate URL nor, apparently, the company Content Management System (CMS), but are hosted by Blogger.com or WordPress.com. (RexBlog is running on the open-source WordPress software hosted on “virtual servers” from Amazon web services.)

The blogs on the list are labeled personal, and are not marketing or company blogs (well, in some ways they all are that, but let’s not get existential). Company blogs can be written by the legal department, for all I care. Just not blogs that purport to be personal.

I’m not opposed to having professional editors review and help out on CEO blog posts. I think, however, such posts should originate from the CEO and not the PR department. For a blog that claims to be “personal,” I believe the post should be written by the CEO him- or herself and if edited by someone else, it should be edited only for clarity and grammar/spelling.

That said (and this should be obvious), no one edits these posts appearing on my blog. Frankly, the quality of my posts would be greatly improved if I ran them by some of the editors who work at Hammock — who, no doubt, grimace at my spelling and dangling whatevers. (And they would also tell me if that should be whom instead of who.

In my case (and not necessarily what I’d advise to others), I’ve chosen to let these posts be as real-time and real-me as possible. (And this blog was started years before I was made aware that some people would label it a CEO Blog.) I want to blog fast and if necessary, blog in the midst of events. Writing it as closely as possible to my first-draft style and in my own voice, gives me the freedom to sound the same, no matter what the context.

Hammock editors make me sound too perfect. Therefore, they edit things that I write that appear in our publications or in reports to clients. But on this blog, it’s pretty-much WYSIWYG.