How cats won the internet

February 10th, 2015   •   no comments   
How cats won the internet

And what they can teach us about content marketing.

When it comes to grabbing attention online, we are all competing with cats. That is a fact that you are entitled to find offensive – but it’s a reality of the world wide web. Cats are the consummate content marketers. They manage to steal attention away from topics far more worthy of our time. They can upstage even the most sophisticated marketing launch. So how do they do it?

Here are 5 things about content we can learn from cats.

  1. Cats are entertaining
    Those feisty felines offer a click that rarely disappoints. You will never be bored by a cat. Either you will get to see them taken down a peg or two, or you will be forced to admire their inspired camouflage techniques, hunting prowess or unbearable cuteness.
  2. Cats are clever
    They have something to teach us. Their content not only entertains but informs. That is true value.
  3. Cats are cool
    They don’t try too hard to be clever. Or jockey for attention (like dogs). They just are. That’s authentic. And that’s one of the secrets to creating great content.
  4. Cats are timely
    They know how to wait. And when the time is right – they pounce! That impeccable sense of timing serves them well on the web where timing the publication of content can be critical.
  5. Cats are a little….subversive
    There you have the secret ingredient of cat-driven content. Subversiveness is the certain je ne sais quoi that fascinates us about cats and helps differentiate their brand. You know they’re up to something no good and that is the part of the draw. Good content offers something a bit different, an experience that veers away from the mainstream.

 

Additional links you may find helpful:

Ten-and-a-half thoughts about content marketing from The Writer

 

Bonus: Here’s a real life example of what we are up against. Why I am showing you this? Guess I’m a cat at heart.

#JeSuisCharlie: What communicators can learn

January 14th, 2015   •   no comments   
#JeSuisCharlie: What communicators can learn

What can communicators learn from last week’s terror attacks in Paris?

No matter what your position on the issue – whether or not the satirists at Charlie Hebdo were right in publishing caricatures of the Muslim prophet – the outcome of their editorial choices cannot be ignored. Extremism and satire make strange bedfellows.

In my view there are 5 key thoughts for communicators to take away:

  1. Freedom of expression is a powerful shared value. Free speech as a value overrides nation, religion and politics in the western world. People are united by this value in ways that run deeper than previously imagined. This is both a freedom and a burden, as it puts the onus on communicators to respect that freedom, and its limits, in the context of their business.
  1. It takes courage to live that value, both as individuals and communication professionals. Religious extremists and zealots of all persuasions will go to unimaginable lengths to avenge their gods. Sometimes there is a cost associated with speaking our minds or sharing certain truths. We need to be aware – and sometimes beware – of the consequences of our communications.

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The Moral of the Story

December 4th, 2014   •   no comments   
The Moral of the Story

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the fact that storytelling is making headlines:

 

Harness the power of storytelling!

How to use story to improve customer buy-in!

Top storytelling techniques to build your business!

 

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered: why is it suddenly okay to tell stories?

As a child, storytelling was frowned upon – unless it happened in the library, where you sat in strict silence, listening to an adult read a book. Or when you wrote a story as an assignment for English class. Telling stories was quite another matter.

“Somebody’s been telling tales out of school!” I remember being told when I ratted out one of my siblings. Being a tell-tale was not cool. Also heard: “That’s a tall tale if I ever heard one.” “Somebody has an active imagination!” (Not necessarily a good thing, judging by the looks exchanged between adults). The message? It was a short step from telling stories to perjury, prison and life as a hardened criminal.

So when did storytelling become acceptable? As an advertising copywriter back in the 1980s, any attempt to bring story to copy was tough. Long copy had gone out with David Ogilvy. Splashy art direction with short headlines ruled the day. As far as the marketers were concerned, the product was the hero of any ad; in retail it was often the price point itself. The consumer was the target market, the audience, and if he got involved at all he was often portrayed as the chump.

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Corporate Speak: Are you guilty?

October 31st, 2014   •   no comments   
Corporate Speak: Are you guilty?

We all do it: say ‘leverage’ when we mean use, talk about ‘granularity’ instead of detail, refer to deliverables, low-hanging fruit, moving targets, key learnings. But what about the more serious culprits? Where we use euphemisms like ‘headcount’ for people, ‘change management’ to suggest restructuring – which is not to say downsizing, efficiencies, or heaven forbid, job cuts.

It can be tough to avoid using buzzwords and jargon in the world of corporate communication. Part of our job in PR is getting tough messages out on behalf of our bosses and clients. And after all, a good catch phrase or a cliché can get an idea across faster than trying to invent something new. Can’t it? read more

The story behind the story

October 27th, 2014   •   no comments   

The Amazingly Simple Anatomy of a Meaningful Marketing Story [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get content marketing training from Copyblogger Media that will give you an unfair business advantage.

And if you need help putting your story together, be sure to contact Cognito!

Can communication restore lost faith?

October 9th, 2014   •   no comments   
Can communication restore lost faith?

 After a two-week strike by pilots that left both passengers and crew on the tarmac, Air France KLM is fighting hard to regain lost ground. But in the long haul, it will take more than a letter of apology to win back customers

I’ve been flying between France and Canada for over twenty years. We usually travel back to Toronto at least once a year to visit family and friends. Several years ago we decided not to fly Air France anymore – it’s just too risky.

I’m not talking about safety – although the article in the October 2014 edition of Vanity Fair on the ill-fated flight from Rio to Paris isn’t exactly reassuring. The fact is Air France is just as safe as any of the world’s major airlines. And statistically, air travel is still the safest form of transportation.

It’s the risk of a strike that holds us back. Especially as we often travel around Christmas or during the summer holidays: prime strike season in France. And we are not alone in avoiding the national airline, especially since the latest round of cancellations.

It’s one thing to lose your luggage, even keep you waiting. Passengers are fairly understanding of delays caused by technical problems. It’s all in how it’s handled. And that almost always comes down to communication. read more

Losing her memory, not her mind

August 11th, 2014   •   no comments   

Once upon a time she was a brilliant toxicologist who commanded the title of ‘Doctor’ in court. Now she doesn’t recognize her own son.

I’m inspired to share one man’s poignant tale of losing a mother to Alzheimer’s, one memory at a time. This is storytelling at its best.

Reblogged from Medium.
Doctor.

My rule for creating content that delivers

June 18th, 2014   •   no comments   

One rule I try to live and work by is: ‘Always deliver on your promises.’ The bottom line is if you can’t deliver, don’t promise. This policy may not always win friends and influence people but it will definitely not make enemies or leave disappointed clients grumbling behind your back.

The same thing goes for effective communication. ‘Tis better to under promise and over deliver. Sound obvious? This can be a tough sell when it comes to marketing messages. I find people often all too willing to believe their own B.S. But if your product isn’t really going to change society, transform lives, or even amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, as Bogey said to Bacall in Casablanca, there’s little point in promising it will.

That’s even truer when it comes to creating content that delivers. My current bugbear is the post with the killer headline, designed to draw you in according to tried-and-true copywriting techniques:

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The Crossroads of Should and Must

April 15th, 2014   •   no comments   

Which path has your career taken?
An inspiring story about the choices we make and how they impact our lives.
Reblogged from Medium.

The Crossroads of Should and Must

Harness the power of ‘no’

March 28th, 2014   •   no comments   
Harness the power of ‘no’

Reports from early childhood indicate that ‘no’ was my first word.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never hesitated to say no in my professional life. Not because I’m a negative person. Rather the opposite: I’m quite positive about what I want.

It’s been my experience that really positive things can come out of a negative. They are two sides of the same coin. But here’s the tricky part: you have to say yes to harness the power of no.

Let me give you an example.

I said no to a new job opportunity not long ago because I really believed I could do great things as a consultant. I needed to close one door to open the other.

That was my ‘yes’ – starting a new business. Saying no allowed me to focus on what I really wanted to achieve in my career.

And recently, I turned down a potentially exciting project that would have brought me a lot of exposure. Not because I don’t need it, but because it would have prevented me from saying yes to a lot of other work for clients I value.

In a culture that reveres the yes, here are 3 reasons to just say no: read more