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A Layperson’s Guide to GDPR

June 13, 2018




If you are a marketer, publisher or digital business, GDPR probably makes you shutter. For the rest of you, it probably makes you shrug. Let’s quickly break it down, in plain English.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation governing data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU). It went into effect Friday, May 25, 2018. Its goal is to give citizens more control over how their data is used. In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle, that’s a mission most people can get behind. But for marketers, publishers and vendors, it entails radical and expensive changes.

Even companies that are based outside of the EU have to abide by the new laws if they are offering good or services to EU citizens. That basically means every business in the world scrambled to become GDPR compliant.

What did GDPR change?

GDPR mandates that businesses be upfront about how they are using consumer data. If they are selling it to third-parties or using it for digital ad targeting, they need to tell you. Then, they have to obtain your consent. If a consumer doesn’t want their personal data used in a certain way, they can opt-out. GDPR also requires organizations that handle sensitive data on a large scale to appoint a data protection officer. Failure to comply results in massive fines, possibly as much as four percent of a company’s annual revenue.

There is a lot more to it then that. I have ghostwritten at least five articles about GDPR, but I still can’t pretend to know all the details. If you are really interested (or a masochist), read all about GDPR here.

To prepare for GDPR, companies leaned on their in-house legal counsel or hired outside experts. They often had to make massive changes to their privacy policies, compliance processes and in some cases, overhaul the way they use and store data, which can have massive implications for a business.

As a consumer, you probably noticed you received a lot of emails about updated privacy policies on or around 5/25, and that a lot of websites are serving popups with messages about how they use data.

What happens post-GDPR?

Execs around the world did a happy dance post 5/25. I don’t blame them, but at the risk of being a buzzkill, experts predict GDPR-related fallout as the industry adjusts to the legislation. Complaints have already been filed, and the finger-pointing has already begun. Some fear that GDPR will only strengthen the digital advertising duopoly, Google and Facebook, since smaller companies may not be able to afford the necessary changes, or to weather hefty fines.

Oh, and more changes are imminent. The ePrivacy regulation is in the works in Europe and US legislators are discussing the merits of the CONSENT Act, short for the Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions act  (Now doesn’t that roll off the tongue?)

So, there you have it–an abbreviated overview of every marketer’s least favorite four-letter word, GDPR.

By Jacqueline Lisk

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Why Your Business Needs Video

March 14, 2018


Businesses of all sizes are investing in video. Here’s why:

  • People prefer them. Research shows that 60% of site visitors will watch a video, if available, before reading text. (Source)
  • They are shareable. Content that includes a multimedia element is more likely to be shared than text-only content.
  • They are effective. After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online. (Source)
  • They are memorable. 80% of users recall a video they viewed in the last 30 days. (Source)
  • They bring your brand story to life.

Studios will charge 6-figure price tags for videos. We have an affordable approach to creating high-quality company videos that will make you jump for joy.

Here’s one we recently created for our client, Recruit Group.

Want to learn more? Contact today, or fill out the form below.





New Website Coming Soon

January 30, 2018


I am excited to share that we are in the process of updating and will be rolling out a new site design later this year.

Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!


-Jacqueline Lisk


The Content Marketing “Sweet Spot”

September 11, 2017


Sweet Spot

When working with clients to document a content marketing strategy, I always end up talking about the “sweet spot” – that magical moment when an audience’s needs and interests intersect with the company’s products, services or expertise.

Here are a few “sweet spot” examples:

  1. One of my clients is a managed IT services company. We write blog articles that provide readers with useful tips for staying safe online and protecting their small businesses from cybercrime. Our articles aren’t about how wonderful this company is. They do showcase its expertise and tie back logically to its services. The articles are also part of an SEO strategy that has helped the site rank on the first page for a series of strategic keywords.
  2. I write a lot of branded content for Inc. magazine. I just completed a project for The UPS Store. It wanted to demonstrate that it supports and understands small businesses, so we created a series of articles, infographics and videos around relevant topics, including marketing and logistics. The content featured input from business experts and small business clients of The UPS Store, rather than just quoting brand execs.
  3. I’m a content creator and strategist. My own blog covers content marketing news, trends and best practices. It’s not just about my merits and knack for memorable phrases like “sweet spot.”

This “sweet spot” identification is crucial, not just to ensure you engage your customers and prospects, but also to make sure your efforts are worth it. You are not publishing content out of the goodness of your heart. It has to have a purpose and relate to your business value.

Less than half of marketers have a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset, according to CMI’s 2017 Content Management & Strategy Survey [PDF]. That’s a shame, because marketers who document their strategy are more likely to report that their content marketing campaigns generate results. Need help creating a simple, yet effective content plan for your business? Contact me today.

By Jacqueline Lisk

The Surprisingly Tricky Task Of Writing Company Summaries

August 18, 2017


What Do We Do_

Helping a new company boil down what it does into a few sentences is a surprisingly challenging task. The last four years, I have been helping businesses, big and small, do just that.

Writing a company description is especially hard for a nascent organization that is still working out exactly how its products or services will be used, let alone described. But doing so is critical. This description serves as the backbone of external and internal communication.

Let’s take a closer look at why every business needs a documented company summary.

Laying the groundwork for consistent marketing communication

A company summary is a brief description of your business that can be used for your website, social media profiles, marketing material, investor decks, press releases, and in conversations with well-meaning family members who are trying to understand what it is you do, exactly.

Many businesses have a short, one to three sentence version, and a more in-depth iteration. The summary should make sense to your target customers, partners, investors  and ideally, the aforementioned well-meaning family members.

Some company summaries are easier to write than others. Do you run a women’s boutique? That’s easier to describe than an emerging advertising technology solution. Regardless of your vertical, try to keep it simple and use recognizable terms and phrases rather than coining new descriptors.

One of the most overlooked use cases of a summary like this is internal communication. You want to make sure every member of your team is describing your business in the same way.  I often work with business owners on company summaries as part of a larger company narrative project, in which we define their target audience, brand voice, mission statement and unique value proposition. The process can be quite enlightening for the entrepreneur. Often we involve their whole teams in a workshop. I love running these things. It is interesting to hear each person’s elevator pitch, and it almost always sparks some well-meaning debate about the company’s purpose. It is challenging to synthesize that input into verbiage that is both meaningful and persuasive, but it is also deeply satisfying to land on a new turn of phrase that excites the whole team.

While I strive to write summaries that will stay forever relevant, nothing is etched in stone. If you are a start-up, you should revisit your company description regularly and make tweaks as needed. It is good to be fluid, just don’t sacrifice organization. Document your sanctioned company description in a central location for your team, and keep them in the loop about changes.

For those of us in more complicated industries, like ad tech, writing simple summaries is weirdly hard, but it is worth the effort. You are taking control over how your company is described, internally and externally. When done right, this brief description is both deceptively simple and highly strategic.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Why I Love Ad Tech Ghostwriting

July 13, 2017


My OdeTo Ghostwriting

I spent the morning analyzing my content creation and strategy business. I noticed that a growing percentage of clients are coming to me for ghostwriting. The bulk of them are in ad tech. They tell me it is challenging to find writers with the domain knowledge needed to pen a piece that is going to be bylined to a company CEO. I get that.

While I like to think I can write about anything, I find I can write better when I have a deep understanding of the subject matter. I have been writing about ad tech for the past five years. I think I offer a unique perspective because before I was writing about it, I was living it.

In 2012, I helped Mediaplanet, a global content marketing company, launch its digital strategy. Mediaplanet created supplements for major newspapers all over the world about niche topics, like diabetes or cloud computing. I had worked my way up from writer to global head of production. My boss and I were pumped when we were selected to lead the digital charge. We founded a new company called Conversionplanet, and I got to experience both the panic and the promise that accompanies launching a start-up. It was a crash course in business that covered everything from developing the product and pricing, to recruiting talent, to owning a P&L. (Today, that experience helps inform my writing about small business and entrepreneurship.)

Conversionplanet created niche content hubs and branded microsites. It was my first taste of the “continuous content conundrum,” i.e. how hard it is to create consistent content on a budget. We also had to figure out the best way to drive traffic, create an SEO strategy, package our advertising options and measure content performance.

I sat through a dozen or so pitches from ad tech vendors, all promising to help solve one of our many digital challenges. I was stuck by how complicated people made things. I’d reflect on the meeting and summarize it for my peers. It all sounded a lot simpler when I said it. On more than one occasion, colleagues commented that I was good at making complicated things easy to understand.

Conversionplanet was eventually rolled under the Mediaplanet umbrella, and Mediaplanet Digital was, and is, a success. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial journey so much, I wanted to do it again — but this time entirely on my own. I knew I wanted to help companies with content creation and strategy, but I didn’t anticipate that ghostwriting for ad tech clients would be such a big part of my business.

Today, I help ad tech execs write thought leadership pieces for publications like Ad Age, AdWeek, TechCrunch, AdExchanger, The Drum, Forbes and Entrepreneur. I feel privledged to speak with such brilliant and successful entrepreneurs about industry issues, from transparency, to ad blocking, to header bidding, to ad fraud, to blockchain, to IoT, and so on. I am tasked with presenting their perspective on complicated technology in plain English. (The writer in me also can’t help but try to make it sound pretty.) While you won’t find my name on any of these pieces, I take great pride in seeing them publish, and in helping industry experts present their ideas in a way that sounds like them, but better.

I love ad tech ghostwriting because I get to continually learn. It is a nice application of my content marketing background because I can help business leaders identify topics that interest their target audiences and editors, while reflecting their “corporate agenda,” sometimes less subtly than others. (For the record, I usually don’t pitch to publications. I leave that to the experts, like the folks at Blast PR, a partner of mine.)

But enough about me. What about you? Need some help translating the thoughts in your head into readable prose? Or maybe you simply don’t have time to put pen to paper. Contact JR Lisk today.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Why aren’t you blogging?

June 14, 2017


Do as I say, not as I do

When I get busy, I tend to neglect my own blog so I can focus on creating content for my clients. I am not proud of this, but it is a deliberate decision. Blogging doesn’t fall through the cracks. It is not something I forget about. The truth is, there is only so much content I can produce in a given period of time, and if I take on too many projects at once, I worry quality will suffer. I’d rather take blogging off my plate so I can concentrate on my clients’ needs.

If I were blogging as a part of a lead generation or SEO strategy, this lapse would not be okay. Creating consistent quality content is a crucial component of an effective blogging strategy. I’d have to either find the time to blog myself, or outsource writing the way my (very smart) clients do. I am blogging to build credibility, demonstrate thought leadership and show my brand voice, which is really just my voice. I do a lot of ghostwriting and marketing communication work in which I have to adapt the tone of the business I am writing for. I love this challenge, but sometimes, I just want to have a little fun and sound like “me.” That is why I blog.

I get most of my project work and retainer clients from referrals. I have a close group of designers and developers that I tap as needed, primarily for eBooks and website design projects. I handle most of the writing and strategy work myself, although I do outsource to copy editors as needed. (Everyone needs an edituh. My favorite “edituh” will understand this reference.)  I do have a network of talented journalists and marketers that I outsource to on occasion.  In theory, that is how I will scale my business, as soon as I can work through my control issues. Just kidding. Mostly.

Right now, I am in a very fortunate position. I have more business than I can handle. That’s why I am okay with neglecting my blog. My clients are bigger than me. They are blogging to demonstrate thought leadership and build relationships, but also to drive traffic to their website, generate leads, improve SEO and create content for their social media sites. That is why it is not okay for them to neglect their blogs. I put my blog on hold so I can help them.

I feel very lucky that I make a living doing what I love. But in addition to being a grateful person, I am a nervous person. I assume I won’t always have a steady stream of clients and prospects. Business ebbs and flows. If and when things slow down, I will get better about blogging. Until then, I want to preserve my time and my brainpower so I can help companies like yours.

This concludes my confession. I feel better now.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Infographic: The 2017 State of Content Marketing in the UK

May 16, 2017


Zazzle, a UK-based digital content marketing agency, surveyed thousands of businesses about their content marketing.

While 79 percent of those surveyed felt the use of content marketing is effective, only 6 percent were “definitely sure how to implement content marketing” strategies on their own. I’d wager a poll of American marketers and business owners would turn up similar findings.  (They usually do!) While most marketers are sold on content marketing’s merits, many still stumble when it comes to defining a strategy, creating quality content at scale, and measuring the results of their efforts.

Check out the Zazzle Media infographic below for more details.

By Jacqueline Lisk

What Makes Content Engaging?

April 27, 2017


playbuzz promo post 1.png

Part of the reason why content marketing is so popular is because it is more engaging than traditional advertising tactics like, say, a stagnant banner ad. Your audience spends time reading or watching your content and may even be compelled to share it on their own social media networks. This helps you build trust and establish your position as a thought leader in the market.

But creating engaging content isn’t simple. It requires upfront strategy work to determine what will resonate with your target group, as well as creative talent to produce high-quality pieces. Many brands are taking this to the next level by creating interactive content, such as clickable infographics, games, and virtual tours.

For some examples of engaging interactive content marketing, check out this post from HubSpot, the inbound marketing masters. Its examples from The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and Orbitz will inspire you to think beyond a blog post, and you can also download a free eBook with more examples.

Photo: Interactive content example featured on HubSpot

Those Pesky Millennials Are At It Again

March 23, 2017



If you work in marketing, you can’t go a day without reading something about millennials. And with good reason! These guys are now the largest generation in the U.S. and have tremendous buying power. Their digital-first preferences have changed the way brands approach customer service, branding, and sales. (For more on the “Millennial Effect,” check you this article I wrote for Mediaplanet.)

Well folks, they have done it again. A recent survey from Deloitte revealed that 80 percent of young viewers skip online video and TV ads. But aren’t millennials supposed to like video?

As a millennial, and a human, I may be able to shed light on this manner: People don’t like interruptive advertising! It’s why they download ad blockers. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for well-done video ads, but most consumers prefer to learn more about products and services by reading and watching quality content, on their own time.

If you’d like to discuss what makes content marketing so special, drop me a line!

Jacqueline Lisk

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