Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Even conversations with one-word “sentences” can lead to miscommunication 


November 13, 2016

Customer service, Words

In case anyone forgot how easy miscommunication actually is, here’s an example.  I bought something at a store. “Receipt?” the cashier asked.  “Yup.” “Okay, bye. Have a great day.” “Can I get my receipt?” Yup. I guess my yup sounded like a nope? Maybe I do pronounce my yeses in a no kind of way. […]

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Changing language: How do you push “any button” on the Apple Watch during phone calls?

The language we use can evolve because: People accept and use what used to be wrong. (Singular “their” anyone? Journalists can now use “over” instead of “more than” as another example). Technology evolves and what we just said doesn’t work anymore. I’ll focus on technology here today, though, I realize point No. 1 would likely […]

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Don’t fake it until you make it but grow into it 

During a 2016 speech at a marketing conference I shared the story of a football coach who told me to appear confident even if I wasn’t. If other players didn’t think I was confident of my call as a center, they may lose trust. A valid concern. After I shared that story somebody said: “it […]

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How many characters do you have in an Instagram caption before the MORE button shows?

Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, is a network organizations and people should pay attention to. Its user-base has been growing and personally I love how it encourages people to share photos – authentic ones, I hope. And you can’t even include links in photo posts so it’s less about clicking and more about […]

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[HEALTHCARE] What do we call people before they become patients? 


June 14, 2016

Health, Words

As I’m continuing to think about the future of storytelling, content marketing and other digital marketing strategies as they relate to population health and healthcare marketing I wondered if we’re missing a word to describe patients before they become patients.  Recommended reading: Population health and storytelling What value-based care means to me  Currently, physicians have […]

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When people jump to conclusions … 

It’s oh so easy to jump to conclusions and to assume we know how other people will react and what they are thinking. Of course, the problem with jumping is we might not land in the right place. Our conclusions are based on guesses, gut feelings, our attitude toward our relationship with the other people […]

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If customers don’t agree with your “improvement” it’s not actually an improvement 

I was on the phone with a service I really enjoyed after they had increased rates by over 200 percent.  That’s crazy in itself, right?  So I tried to find out what would have prompted that kind of rate increase. It certainly wasn’t inflation. They were really nice on the phone and answered my questions. […]

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[CONTENT CREATION] How long should blog posts be?

Many content producers are looking for the answer to this question: How many words should a good blog post have? The answers and studies vary. People have documented all kind of trends when it comes to organic search, frequency of posts being shared, emailed, the number of visits… and the list goes on. And what have the experts […]

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Let’s not give buzzwords a bad name here


February 26, 2016

Strategies, Words

Sometimes when I start blabbing about authentic storytelling, I get interrupted (when it’s offline) or people start commenting and responding (when it’s online): “Oh yea, storytelling. It’s the latest buzzword.” Sometimes people will start a debate on “what’s wrong with the way people used to share their message?” And even: “Why do we now have […]

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[CONTEXT] Oh no, kids are being told “no” more than “yes”


February 21, 2016


I’ve seen a number of studies and comments now on children hearing way more “no” from their parents (and others) than they hear “yes.” This has often been shared as a sign that the parents are oh so not empowering their children. Bad, bad parents! Oh, please, but no. Ha. Maybe there’s truth to the numbers, […]

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“I’m excited to present this post to you.” [It’s OK when it’s meant]


January 30, 2016

Social media, Words

You’ve heard me share my displeasure with people using phrases like this in their news releases, product announcements and – yes – social media posts: We are excited to …. We are pleased to … We are thrilled to announce… And then the announcement of some new development, hire, change or something else follows. I […]

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#wordsmatter: Storyteller over content creator and other marketing words that should be changed 

When I grew up with the hopes of becoming a journalist the term content creator never even crossed anyone’s mind. Neither did storyteller. Journalists practiced journalism and marketers marketed. Even though, content marketing was already being practiced by several organizations the term was not yet widely used for around another 20 years. When I practiced […]

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Who said that? People want to know…

I’ve heard the following about you recently. What follows is never positive. Sometimes it’s not even constructive. So we ask: Who said it? And the response is that the other person either doesn’t know or says that the name can’t be released. But we often want to, need to know who said it. If we don’t, […]

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Having a ghostwriter doesn’t necessarily make stories inauthentic 

Some of us can can write and some of us can write in a way that people actually want to read. Most everyone is an expert at something. And some of us are the thought-after experts in topics of wide interest.  Sometimes we call those topic areas with viable audiences, which is an audience that […]

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What? They found me on Page 4 of Google Search Results? Seriously!

So far this year, just over 21 percent of traffic to my storytelling and content marketing blog here has come from people searching for a topic that I’ve written about. Some of those searchers went to page 2, 3 or 4 of results to find my blog. I wasn’t even on Page 1. You’ve probably heard the […]

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Content marketers find a way to publish stories

I use the WP Word Count WordPress on this content marketing blog to see how many words I’ve published. There’s really not much of a practical use for this plugin: I don’t publish more or less after looking at it  – for the most part. Arguably, this blog post came about because I looked at it. […]

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When is it OK to swear in blog posts and on social media?

You know that an answer filled with just foul language could have been my response here, right? But foul language doesn’t belong on this blog. I can make my point without it. (And it’s not like I haven’t been around my share of cursing. I did grow up as a football player, you know.) WTH […]

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Possible? The “complete” guide/site/whatever to anything


July 30, 2015


I see websites – or offline endeavors – proclaim they are the complete guide to whatever their topic or niche is. I like the enthusiasm but is that even possible? I’ve published almost 200,000 words on this blog on authentic storytelling. Could I say it’s the complete stop for everything related to authentic storytelling? I […]

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The so-called “organizational opinion”

You’ve probably heard it: What’s the organization’s stand on this? What does the organization say about this? So and so is or isn’t representing the organization’s opinion. And I wonder: Can an organization have an opinion? Of course not. The people part of an organization – collectively or individually – can, though. The opinion is […]

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Is the smiley passive aggressive?

The other day somebody on social media somewhere said something about the smiley – this guy 🙂 – being passive aggressive. 🙂 You can be rest assured that one was not passive aggressive there 🙂 I’ve been struggling with that comment a bit. I use the smiley all the time. Mostly because the people I’m writing […]

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Session titles matter until they don’t


June 4, 2015

Training, Words

The other day I was working on arrangements to speak about authentic storytelling to a group (surprise, I know) when I was batting around ideas for the name of the session with the organizer. I even shared my top three ideas with some other people and got their input on which session they would attend based […]

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Why are his emails always written in such a nasty tone?

You’ve probably been there. One person or another’s emails are always written in a snarky, negative or maybe even “I know better than you” kind of tone. Always.  Why can’t that person stop it and start writing in a nicer tone? And then when you ask the writer of those allegedly nasty tone emails, he […]

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Why would we judge other people’s stories?

Really, we judge other people’s stories all the time. We judge whether or not we think they are believable. We judge their relevance to us. Do we even care about them? And we judge whether or not we agree or disagree with them. But yet, authentic storytelling in its truest community-building sense is only sustainable […]

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New technology stories are better with people in them

We see the stories. Here’s a new piece of technology that’s going to be doing x, y or z. In healthcare it might help save somebody’s life or make their life a lot more livable. Unfortunately many stories continue to tell and not show. And as we’ve said many times here at The Authentic Storytelling […]

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The speed at which we respond on social media is important

It might even be nearly as important as what we actually say, said Scott Stratton during his keynote at Content Marketing World in Cleveland in September 2014. I believe that’s true… If I post something to social media – a question to a brand, for example – I expect to get an answer now. Right […]

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It’s probably not as complicated as we think it is. Simplify!


January 8, 2015

Stories, Words

This can’t be explained in 10 seconds. No elevator ride is long enough to give this justice. You’ve probably heard these or variations of them before. Another favorite of mine is “Words can’t describe it.” If words can’t, what can? Sometimes we get seduced by believing that complexity is good. We mastered and understood a […]

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PODCAST: Words Can Have Different Meaning to Different People

This podcast discusses the importance of the words that we choose. The same words can have different meaning to different people. Sometimes this can lead to miscommunication and interesting decisions. This podcast discusses the importance of words and their meanings to different people. Audio not playing or can’t listen right now? Try the transcript below. […]

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PODCAST: What if your positive authentic stories turn negative?

Sharing our authentic stories publicly can be rewarding to the person sharing them and the audience consuming them. But, what if our positive stories turn negative? This podcast uses the story surrounding the birth of our second daughter in July 2014 as an example.    

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It’s time to retire the word “blog” – Let’s have a retirement party!


July 17, 2014


I’ve been trying to retire the word “blog” for years now. Mostly because I think it’s used as a catch-all term for many things digital that involve distributing content and stories  regularly. When I launched an 13-site community network at The Gazette Company in 2010, I called the sites “topical websites.” They covered very specific […]

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Content marketing: Cutting facts without losing control

Content marketers, storytellers and even executives can fall in love with the facts to a story they are sharing with a wider audience. “If we love them, our audiences will too,” might be the attitude. That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes cutting facts is a necessity. Our audiences will thank us. Not all facts […]

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#Contentchat on Twitter Discusses SEO and Content Marketing

At 2 p.m. on July 7, 2014, we will discuss how content marketers should keep SEO in mind when creating content that educates, enlightens and informs audiences. The hashtag chat will be on Twitter. Hope to see you there. For more go here.

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Approval Process: Why does this authentic story need to be approved in the first place?

Do authentic stories need to go through an approval process? In organizational storytelling it will probably be many more years before the majority of stories can be published without any additional approval process. If ever. But seriously: What’s getting approved? The story’s accuracy? Maybe, but that should be called fact checking. What is really getting […]

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Optimize for relevance: How to optimize your content without manipulation

We won’t be talking about black hat tips or strategies that annoy consumers here. We want to be found through authentic storytelling and relevant content marketing. As content marketers and business people, yes, we want to be found and we want people to buy from us. Even if we are “just” blogging and have no […]

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