Does your communications strategy have one rail or two?

Have you ever considered why railroad tracks have two rails? Probably not because the answer is obvious. Unfortunately too many organizations only lay one rail of a communications strategy yet expect it to offer a smooth ride and a destination arrival ahead of the competition.


I was talking with a prospective client and exploring what it is his company needs as it repositions itself following a couple of years of rapid growth. We talked messaging, and vision statements, and speaking points, and visual branding, and elevator pitches, and content marketing strategies; you know, the bling people see and hear. But then I asked him about the other rail. Continue Reading

Brand Journalism: Why you should invest the effort

Imagine standing on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It is minutes before the opening bell on what is predicted to be the busiest trading day of the year. When that bell sounds, you better be ready to beat dozens of other brokers to the punch and buy thousands of shares of the hottest company going.

Brand Journalism

Here we go…5…4…3…2…1…GO!


The seller can’t hear you over the noise and the distraction of everyone’s arm waving is preventing you from catching his attention. It’s a free for all! Mayhem, I tell ya! Continue Reading

Brand Journalism: Three misconceptions

You may think that brand journalism is like a new and improved version of marketing and advertising. It’s kind of an old barn with a fresh coat of paint. If so, you’re wrong.

Brand Journalism as strategy

Here are three misconceptions people have and the truth about brand journalism:.

  1. Brand journalism is the new advertising. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brand journalism doesn’t pitch anything. Brand journalism isn’t a clever commercial with a perky spokesperson. Brand journalism doesn’t even have a jingle (gasp!). Done well, brand journalism is comparable to solid news and feature writing. There is no deception. Brand journalism is done with full disclosure and has substantive information at its core. Its goal is to inform readers, not sell them something. Continue Reading

Brand Journalism: A thousand words are worth a picture

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Yeah, I get that, but do you know what writers call pictures that have no words? Art.

Brand Journalism

Think of some of the great photographs you’ve seen, maybe in National Geographic or Outside magazine. You may connect emotionally with the beauty of a compelling image, but it is most often the words that put the picture into context, providing meaning that supports your emotional response. Words tell you details like who is in the photo, what they are doing, where it was taken, and other interesting tidbits. Continue Reading

Brand Journalism: The who, what and why

“Are you entitled to insurance compensation? Are you tired of hassling with insurance companies over your accident settlement? Are you being told your coverage doesn’t include your accident? Then get a tough attorney who gets tough with your claim and gets results.”

Brand Journalism: The Who, What and Why

I’ll bet you’ve seen that commercial, or one similar. Every city has them, attorneys who promise big insurance payouts, and of course for them, it is all about you. Some of these guys score a 10 on the “Cheese Factor” scale and the commercials prove it!

But there is a better way to generate leads and convert prospects into loyal customers without the cheesy commercials. It’s called brand journalism. (Read Part 1 of this series on brand journalism, titled: Brand Journalism: A proper definition) Continue Reading

Brand journalism: A proper definition

With one button, everything changed. Before it was a noisy world – and getting noisier. So many advertisers with so many messages, and they just kept coming…growing louder so you could hear their messages from the other room. They knew you’d gotten up during commercial breaks to run to the refrigerator, or use the bathroom, or let the dog out, so they increased the volume to make sure you could hear them from afar.

Brand Journalism

But that all changed when Eugene Polley of the Zenith Radio Corporation did humanity a great service and created the first wireless TV remote that could turn off the sound. In other words, he gave us the mute button. Continue Reading

Writing: If you can’t do it find someone who can

Years ago I led a workshop for adult learners all wanting to more clearly communicate their work. I flippantly made possibly the most profound statement of my 20-plus years as a professional communicator: If you can’t write, don’t; find somebody who can.


Photo courtesy of

I am more convinced of the profundity of that statement 13 years later. Weak writing is the Achilles Heel of most communications efforts. In this age of brand journalism and content marketing, good writing is the backbone that should give organizations a lift over their competition, but poor writing torpedoes good strategy. Plainly stated, how well you write could mean the difference between success or failure. Continue Reading

Content marketing strategy: shifting from urgent to strategic

The first step to solving a content marketing problem is admitting you have one. Unfortunately, what organizational leaders often think is the cause may actually be an effect.

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Content marketing and brand journalism are increasingly recognized as important elements of an organization’s branding and marketing effort. However, some organizations crank out copy like it is being fired from a Gatling Gun thinking quantity is the key to success. Leaders become frustrated with a lack of return on the effort and miss the point that quantity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. They fail to accurately identify the tyranny of the urgent as the root problem. Continue Reading

Writing words that matter; 5 tips to improve your communications

Words are the molecules that create the science of language. Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, estimate there are approximately a million English words, but rightly explains – as does Slate – there is no way to know for sure an exact number. We do know, however, there are several that downright annoying people.

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Ragan Communications recently published its list of 25 Least Favorite Words, compiled through an informal survey on its Facebook page. Among those making the list were: Essentially, basically, methodology, vetted, align, aforementioned, functionality and irregardless. To this list I’d like to add: Bandwidth, group-think, synergy and its cousin, synergistic. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of these offending words are often organizational communicators. Stop it! Continue Reading

Content marketing done the “right” way

I found it humorous the other day when my brother-in-law was reminiscing about the early days of the Internet. He was just 12 years old when, “Welcome, you’ve got mail,” introduced itself to American culture. His point, however, was how everything has changed because of the Internet, most notably the way we do business.


Fast forward to 2006 when blogging was all the rage and Twitter was a newborn in diapers. A few people like Brian Solis were rightly prognosticating the future of social media and its impact on business, but it has really only been in the past three years that businesses are catching up. Unbelievably, some businesses haven’t yet left the social media marketing station while others simply don’t know there is a train to board. Continue Reading