“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Tag: agencies

11 essential content marketing links from Q4 18

  1. ‘You have to have support from the C-suite’: Brands struggle with moving marketing in-house

The first of three links from those clever people at Digiday, this piece touches on a challenge for big brands. Even as an agency, we’re not against it. But don’t underestimate what it takes to move different kinds of marketing in-house.

 

  1. Inside Sony Music’s in-house creative agency

And here’s just an example, in this case, taking over the work of a creative agency, at a particular creative company.

 

  1. ‘Home run for us’: Inside Chase’s in-house agency

And don’t think this is all about brands and agencies. Publishers – for some time now experts at creating content for other companies as well as their own media channels – are a genuine option too.

 

  1. 9 things I’ve learned about podcasting for B2B

We’re betting big (well, bigger) on audio and voice search in 2019. We liked the practical advice in this piece, and its B2B focus.

 

  1. Ooh, shiny! Stop letting random acts of content derail your content strategy

We wrote a while ago about random acts of capitalisation, but this post is more important, if truth be told. With limited time/budgets, staying focused on your content strategy – and having a content strategy in the first place – is so important.

 

  1. What’s trending: The role of emotion in B2B content marketing

Including this because it’s so often easier to associate emotional content with B2C. But everyone in B2B is an emotional animal too. So here’s some science, and some tactics.

 

  1. The inspiring inbox: Email best practices that encourage opens and clicks [Infographic]

Email marketing is still a must-have for most brands. Here’s how to do it better. (Bonus points for this infographic format too. Agree?)

 

  1. How to use LinkedIn as a brand publishing platform

We’ve taught classes about effective use of content on LinkedIn, having partnered with the company for our largest brand publishing deal a few years back. This piece takes things even further. Don’t underestimate LinkedIn.

 

  1. 5 content marketing strategies for niche B2B industries

Above average, practical advice.

 

  1. No one reads anymore. What does it mean for B2B content marketing?

We would challenge the opening premise here. Many people do still read – and even long-form content does well. But we’ve all met people who say they don’t read. That they’re “visual people”. Where does that leave us?

 

  1. 5 ways fiction writing can help you produce more effective copy

Lastly, with several published authors on the team, this piece caught our collective eye. Find your inspiration where you can. Stay creative. Experiment.

 

BONUS TRACK!

  1. Great storytelling: Why your brand should be the supporting character, not the hero

And we had to include this one. This is so hard to do but at the heart of some of the best brand content. Content shouldn’t be about you but about your customers. Make them the hero of the piece.

 

Why 12 links for once? It’s more Twelve Days of Christmas than Dirty Dozen. Have a good break and see you in 2019.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

 

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6 tips for writers pitching editors and agencies

Cash for words. That’s the brutal equation of much professional writing. But if you’re a freelancer or moonlighting (hey, it happens) pro writer, how do you start a relationship with someone new who will pay you?

As an agency, Collective Content relies not just on our in-house team of writers and editors but on experts who work with us on specific client accounts, projects or even just one-off articles. So every week we see a lot of good and bad approaches.

The following is advice for those who are just starting to talk to people like us (‘pitching’ maybe isn’t the best word). But this also applies to writers seeking work from publications and the editors who make those decisions. (We were once those kinds of editors, so know the similarities.)

  1. Be super responsive – So many conversations just dry up at some point for no obvious reason. Remember the “80 per cent of success is just showing up” line? (Actually, it was originally “80 per cent of life…” – good writers also check their facts 🙂.) Sure, sometimes this is a busy editor’s fault. Take the initiative if you think the interaction is dying.
  2. Be authentic – Be yourself. If you’re working through an agency – or even agencies – but meeting clients or on calls with them, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Check with your agency on how you’ll introduce yourself. “I’m your writer on this project. I regularly work with Collective Content.” That’ll work. Remember, it’s easy for anyone to Google you and find out about you. And we’re big believers in being open about everyone involved (what we’ve termed ‘farm-fresh content’).
  3. Show, don’t tell (mostly) – When you’re trying to persuade an editor that you’re right for an assignment, examples of work are better than qualifications or employment history or nice endorsements on LinkedIn. But there’s a big ‘but’ with that. All good editors know that content is a team sport. A great article in your portfolio might have been down to three, four – even more – people being involved. Share the process, and your role within it. Be generous about others who helped. Show you know that this is How It Works.
  4. Be available – We work with people across multiple time zones. Be generous about making meeting times with clients. Most, in our experience, will be flexible if at all possible. But the occasional late or early call will earn credibility. Most companies are now also used to working with people all around the world. Compromise on both sides is key.
  5. Don’t be “free in three months” – We know a few really amazing writers who have done what they do for a quarter of a century. They are ex-media or from the highest rung of an agency’s creative team. They get to take four holidays a year and set their own terms. Most of us aren’t in this group. When we hear someone say, “I’d like to work with you too, but I’m next free in three months”, we hear you passing on the gig. We’re not saying over-commit and end up unable to fulfil. But sometimes fitting in an important job will cement your reputation, much like making that 5:30AM conference call.
  6. Know and tout your niche – Most agencies and publications have very specific beats or industry sectors that they cover. Know what you do well. Position yourself as an expert. Counterintuitively, the more niche, the better – as long as it’s in an area with demand. Be the go-to contributor for subject X. You will be remembered and called upon more than the generalists.

Perhaps more than anything, relationships are everything. You are your network. And doing this well takes time. Good luck out there.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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One question to ask your would-be content agency

 

Due diligence when choosing any kind of agency – any kind of supplier – probably says: Ask more than one question. (In fact, I know it does.)

But what’s the most important thing to ask?

The answer is usually a variation on: Can you show us some work you’ve done?

When you ask this, you probably want to see something good, something inspiring. It’s also useful if it’s for a company like yours.

This is the main way agencies vouch for their credentials. (Some might even have shown you ‘creds’ decks.) But is it valid?

It’s not. Here’s why. A couple of years ago I blogged about How do you know if someone is a good writer? And the issue here is similar. It is very hard to prove that what you are being shown is by that agency. Maybe it’s by the agency but the key creatives have moved on. Maybe they subcontracted much of the work and you’d be better off hiring the key person or team elsewhere.

Or maybe the work isn’t really sharable at all. There are plenty of content audits we would never dream of sharing, as they’re not externally-facing. Think of all the projects covered by NDAs.

The short answer is that you don’t know if that agency can replicate the same quality of work for you.

Interrogate your agency

What’s the answer? One exists: that’s the good news. It involves not looking at finished work but asking the right questions of your would-be agency – interrogating them (spotlight in the face and sleep deprivation not compulsory).

Now there are plenty of questions you could ask… but here’s the one you should:

Q: How do you work?

Want a bit more flesh on those bones? You want your contact to tell you about their processes –  the at-the-coalface, creative processes. Oh, they’re in commercial and don’t do the work themselves? Tough luck. Either they have to know this or they put someone else in front of you who does.

Here’s what you should expect: an explanation of processes and personnel, including the processes and people unique to that agency. Because who doesn’t want some special sauce?

If an agency can’t explain the processes or won’t tell you about their people, these are big flashing warning signs. If they use third parties, you have every right to know who they are, where they are and what kind of access you can expect.

I don’t care if they put any number of flashy creds decks or videos or ‘past work’ in front of you. You don’t know for sure that these are authentic or relevant to you.

Before I leave, know that other routes are important too. Ask to speak to past clients. Ask what can be done for your level of budget. Ask about effects on your actual bottom line rather than marketing KPIs. Those are good lines of interrogation too.

But the one question to ask above all is about the how and who of an agency, not the what.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Download our exclusive research and report ‘Will PR and content marketing play together nicely?

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826