Perkett’s “Persuasive Women” Series Continues with Ann Handley

PerkettPR is very excited to enter 2012 with a great new interview in our “Persuasive Women” series. This new interview is with someone we truly admire, Ann Handley. Ann is a 12-year veteran of creating and managing digital content.

Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides marketing know-how for business people through a full range of online media, and the co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts,Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, 2011) (www.contentrulesbook.com).

Previously, she co-founded ClickZ.com and was a journalist for the Boston Globe as well as a writer and editor for a host of other publications, including those magazines in the back pockets of airline seats.

Currently, she writes for MarketingProfs as well as its blog, the MarketingProfs Daily Fix , a blog in the top 20 of the Advertising Age Power150. She can also be found at the Huffington Post , American Express OPEN Forum, and her personal blog, Annarchy.  She also writes a monthly column for Entrepreneur magazine. On Twitter, she has more than 100,000 followers @marketingprofs.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?

Actually, Instagram motivates me BEFORE I get out of bed. I typically check the photo-sharing social network while I’m still lying prostrate — I love the network’s visual storytelling capabilities, which only reminds me how awesome content is, which only reminds me how awesome relationships with content creators are, which only reminds me how amazing the rest of my job is, which only reminds me that I need coffee….

What keeps you up at night?

Pretty much anything. I don’t sleep well.

But here goes….

What keeps me up at night professionally: My sincere regret that more companies don’t see the full, robust, incredible, awesome potential of content! That more companies don’t see their content and online publishing efforts as the cornerstone of their marketing, but instead bolt it onto existing efforts in a freakish, unattractive way.

Also professionally: When I have a big speech coming up — like I do now next month in Kansas City  — I’m fretting about that in the middle of the night. In a healthy way, probably (the nerves motivate me to do my best). But it’s fretting, nonetheless. (Oh and by the way, you should come.)

What keeps me up at night personally: I admit I’m a worrier. I worry about my college-aged kid, who lives in an iffy neighborhood near his school. I worry about my daughter, just because I’m a mother. I worry about global warming and the polar bears. I occasionally regret having the second burrito at dinner. How much room do we have….?

I’m kidding.

Sort of.

What’s one sentence or phrase you find yourself using all the time?

“Solve or share, don’t shill.” It’s the mantra I repeat ALL. THE. TIME. to companies looking for a bottom-line guide to their content strategy. And I like it because it sums up — in five simple, alliterative words — what should guide the content you produce. Another way of saying that, is: “Put the needs and wants and perspective of your customers first.” But that’s not nearly as memorable.

Secondly, I find myself quoting Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” liberally these days, just because I’ve had the song stuck in my head for weeks now. (This is what happens when you carpool teens around.) But that can get awkward in certain circles. So I don’t think I’ll mention that here.

How has your life changed from five years ago to today? Where do you hope to be five years from now?

I’m five years older. So there’s that. Also, as Content moved center stage with marketers, I found I actually had something to say! So I wrote a book, “Content Rules” with C.C. Chapman. That has been a rewarding, rich experience in so many ways: It has opened up new and interesting doors, and in it I found a great friend (and “wubby” [work hubby]) in C.C.

More generally, I also like the perspective I have now, which I didn’t have a few years ago. Despite what I said above about worrying — I don’t take things as seriously as I once did. I have more fun in my life and work, and I’m grateful for my awesome kids, my wonderful man, my rewarding social relationships, and my work at MarketingProfs for creating the path to that.

Where do I hope to be? Sheesh. I always have trouble with prognostications. But if I’m as happy as I am now… I’m good. If content is front and center for Marketing, then I’m really good. If everyone here reading this is still caring about what I have to say in five years — if I feel more connected to people and not less, so — well, that would be something, wouldn’t it? (I told you I’m terrible at crystal-ball gazing.)

When was the last time someone inspired you?

I’m inspired every day by the people around me creating and curating content via Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like. I’m inspired by my colleagues at MarketingProfs to do more things, to push harder, to be more. I’m inspired by people who take chances, who try new things, who leap into the unknown — like friends who start companies and make changes and do other things than I can’t list here.

But generally, I’m inspired by honesty: People who do things that they are driven to do, that rings true for them, that they are compelled into. Relationships that are real. Companies that create stuff which is truly a mirror of the soul of who they are, or who they want to be. I love that. And I find it incredibly rewarding and inspirational. I want to steep in it. I want to fill some social hot tub with it and sit in it for a good, long time.

When was the last time you got pissed off?

(LOL — this is only time I’ve ever been asked this question — and I love it!)

I got really ticked a few hours ago at my (teenage) kids, who appear allergic to any sense of order in the family room. Seriously? That laundry basket of clothes has needed folding for a week. The bowl of grape stems on the entertainment center?!

Am I your housemaid? THAT. PISSES. ME. OFF.

I probably should come up with something more broadly appealing or more profound — certain candidates surging in the polls do not thrill me — but you asked “last time,” so parents out there: Can you relate?!?!?

What was the last thing that made you laugh so hard you cried?

Tina Fey’s Bossypants. If you haven’t read it, I can’t imagine why not. You will pee your pants. (If you’ve had kids. If you haven’t, you’ll just laugh.)

How does your personal brand influence your job? Or are they one and the same?

I can’t say I fully understand what the term “personal brand” means. Possibly I’m not sophisticated enough. Here’s how I see it: I am who I am online, and sometimes I represent the brand I work for (MarketingProfs). I don’t change who I am because of that, although I probably modify my behavior a bit (as in: I don’t swear, or I don’t get too personal). So I guess the short answer is that they are pretty closely aligned.

How do you manage your role at MarketingProfs, your personal brand and the rest of your life so smoothly? What’s your secret?

I don’t think there is a secret, really. I love my job. I love the rest of my life, too. I guess my secret is that I don’t fake it. But is that a secret? I can’t imagine so — it just is.

I think — as in most things in life — relationships are key to everything. I do well on social networks because I truly value the relationships I build there. I treasure my personal relationships. I value my friends. This isn’t groundbreaking, I’m sure. But it makes my life worth living.

Can you share your favorite work tools for collaboration, productivity, or organization?

MarketingProfs is a virtual organization. So Skype is a connectivity and productivity and collaboration tool. As is Basecamp. As is Dropbox.

I also like our Team ‘Profs private Facebook group, along with a handful of other private groups I belong to that allow me to check my sanity and deepen relationships. See above.

What’s next for you in 2012?

The paperback edition of Content Rules comes out in the spring. MarketingProfs continues to grow and morph. I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary as a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine (http://www.entrepreneur.com/author/1726). Otherwise? I think I said I was terrible at looking ahead….

Persuasive Picks for the week of 09/12/11

IBM - MidMarket4 Social Media Lessons SMBs Can Learn From IBM
This SmallBizTrends.com post from Lisa Barone shares four great takeaways for SMBs that came out of a recent interview she conducted with Ed Abrams, IBM’s Vice President of Marketing for Midmarket Business.

Social Media and Content Marketing: A One-Night Stand?
Lee Odden from the TopRank Online Marketing blog guest posts on Clickz.com with this look into why B2B marketers should consider mapping out a social content plan instead of creating and publishing individual, non-cohesive content-based campaigns.

Putting Content in Context
MarketingProf‘s Ann Handley expands on the power of content after an inspiring trip to the recent (and first-ever) Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland. She also includes a great video that opened the event and really puts “content into context.

Re-evaluate b2b social strategy to reach tech buyers
BtoBOnline.com‘s 

Andy’s Answers: How Mattel used social media to build excitement around Hot Wheels’ record-breaking stunt
Toy giant Mattel has been putting a loy of money into social this year and their recent “Fearless at the 500” campaign drew quite a bit of attention both online and off. Andy Sernovitz from Smartblogs.com highlights some of the big ideas behind the campaign. Mattel’s Betsy Burkett and Gretchen de Castellane can be seen recapping the case study here as well:

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/11/11

circle_c.jpgThe 5 Es of Content Marketing
ConversationAgent‘s Valeria Maltoni shares five inspirational tips to help writers take advantage of the “lazy days” of summer by pushing forward and gaining traction with their content creation and marketing efforts.

4 [Social Media] Failures and a Success
Sometimes the best way to learn is through your mistakes. This time around, IT blogger Peter Thomas share four of his own failures and the lessons he learned along the way. He caps off his SocialMediaToday.com post by sharing one of his personal successes as well.

How the U.S. Army is Using Social Media
ReadWriteWeb‘s Founder & Editor-in-Chief  shares this very interesting look into how the U.S. Army uses the web and various social platforms to share stories, interact with its online community and enhance recruiting efforts.

5 Reasons Google+ Is Not A Facebook Killer
Google+ has certainly been the focus this past week as millions of users rush through the flood gates to kick the tires on the new shiny social platform. However, not everyone is convinced that Google has come up with something that can be in it for the long haul. Dave Davies provides five reasons why in this post on SearchEngineWatch.com.

The Four Fundamentals of Social Media
Digital Media Consultant Dan Taylor shares a ton of great information and advice to businesses that might be trying to do everything all at once when it comes to their social media presence.

Image Credit: Leo Reynolds

Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/21/11

nofacebook2 Four Reasons Your Brand Should Avoid Facebook
Here we find some great considerations from Small Business Trends for small businesses on the marketing value of Facebook. Make sure you do your homework first and have a purpose for being there. Lisa Barone shares insight on the top questions to ask yourself before leaping into building a presence on Facebook (or any social media marketing channel for that matter).

The Less-Tangible ROI of Social Media
We all want to ensure our social marketing efforts are matching up to the boss’s expectations for the investment, so it can help to set goals and be tracking the less obvious benefits to your brand. Danny Wong shares his thoughts with the Huffington Post about the hidden ways we are making an impact that will demonstrate campaign value to the C-Suite and build a better understanding of its potential.

Brands That Have Mastered Content Marketing
Are you infusing your marketing strategy with content? What kind of content are you producing, and how does this tie into your marketing strategy? In one of this week’s iMediaConnection posts, Rob Rose shares his insight and explores best practices from content marketers including Kodak and Hubspot. He stresses the importance of thinking of content not as a tactic, but as a new way of shaping your entire strategy.

Does Social Media Transparency Matter in the Real World?
Before you decide on your social media transparency strategy, take a look at the questions Debra Ellis proposes on Social Media Today the real value of transparency. Are you guilty of over-sharing? Will sharing too much information take away from your competitive advantage? Does it help to leave some things to the imagination?

Seven Common PR Sins to Avoid At All Costs
Seems like simple PR 101, but some PR reps still break the rules of engagement with the journalists they try to pitch. For those starting out in their careers, Ragan.com offers a good checklist from Amanda Marsh to keep by your desk — and a good refresher for the rest of us.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 09/13/10

6 Ways to Lose Customers, Credibility And Friends On Social Media
Outspoken Media’s Lisa Barone reviews some unsavory online behaviors in social platforms that should be avoided when marketing yourself and your business.

B2Bs Tap Social to Boost Search
This eMarketer post highlights a recent study showing that B2B marketers are finding positive results from their online social efforts, but not all are following through with proactive monitoring – and as a result, might be leaving additional opportunities on the table.

Google’s Schmidt taking small steps into social
People’s anticipation that Google has been secretly working on a monster social platform to challenge the likes of Facebook was brought down a few notches after Google CEO, Eric Schmidt‘s,  Zeitgeist 2010 conference presentation.

Debunking 5 Myths About Content Marketing
You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” on more than one occasion, but regardless of how many times it’s said, companies still feel overwhelmed with the idea of creating new content (consistently) for publishing on social platforms. This post by ConversationAgent, Valeria Maltoni, clears up five misconceptions that often come with the territory in content marketing.

What people are saying about upcoming Twitter redesign
Paul McNamara from NetworkWorld‘s Buzzblog shares various perspectives from notable industry voices on this week’s interface redesign announcement from Twitter. Here’s Twitter’s official promotional video for the redesign – including a glimpse of the interface towards the end (if you missed it earlier).

 

Image: respres (via Flickr)