Pulizzi Offers Glimpse into Inaugural Content Marketing World coming to Cleveland


WESTLAKE, OHIO – Last night I had the chance to brush up on some long-neglected ping pong and pool skills. Arriving about fifteen unfashionable minutes early, a friend/former colleague and I showed our age and decided to play a bit in the lobby, after thoroughly exploring the first floor of Hyland Software (a tech company riddled with adult slides, open space and creative feng shui that’d make Deepak Chopra proud).

Once underway, Joe Pulizzi, one of the preeminent content marketing and social media evangelists in the industry passionate about the color orange, continued on the right note: asking who’d brought Goose Island‘s 312 urban wheat ale. Coyly, sheepishly raising our hands, we scored one of his latest books: Get Content. Get Customers. Sweetness.

SMCCLE social media club Cleveland Hyland Software Junta42 content

Photo courtesy of Jessica Donlon, PR 20/20

Among other things, telepathy must be among social media-ers arsenal: only seconds before I’d turned to my friend and mentioned it was pretty neat that Joe chose the brew we brought.

But good beer, orange t-shirts, veggie/fruit platters and Tweeps aside, Pulizzi had some great case studies and statistics to share with us, a group of about 40 from the Cleveland Social Media Club. Among them:

>> John Deere and a celebrated history of connecting with its customers through valuable, compelling and useful content  tailored to the audiences’ specific needs and desires

>> OpenView Venture partners: In the course of a year, OpenView has progressed to 24 posts a week (with a single journalist on staff), 34,000 hits a month (growth curve up 850%) and over 1000 published blogs, articles, videos and podcasts.

5 Companies that “Get It” 

Pulizzi regaled us with testimonials of small studios and chief editors, emphasizing that we are all storytellers and publishers in our own right, regardless of niche. The beauty of “sharing awesome stuff” is ubiquitous: transcending individual, B2B, B2C and beyond. Pulizzi emphasized how 73% of consumers prefer information from valuable, relevant content over advertisements. 

Another thought-provoking section was Thinking Like a Publisher through a centered content strategy:

  • It’s almost never about you
  • What is/are your buyer personas?
  • What does your audience really need or want to know?
  • What are their pain points? And what measures are you taking to meet or exceed them?
  • How are you providing the best content in the industry?
  • Websites are never complete

The concept of owning, not renting your space and channels online really got me thinking. Pulizzi challenged us to dig deep and ask some tough questions:

>>What would you do if Facebook, Twitter or other channels were obsolete tomorrow?

>>How would you reach loyal fans, followers, subscribers and readers, those who actively consume the value you have to offer?

It’s the notion of moving beyond a focus on the tools, platforms, which are only a means to an end, to storytelling.

As Paul Roetzer puts it in Content Marketing for PR Pros, “we all have a story to tell” [ Roetzer, Naslund Among Feat. Panelists at YouToo! SM Conference, Kent State ]

Again — not tools, but storytelling.

What’s your story?


How to Make It in PR and Marketing: Getting Lost to Find Answers


CLEVELAND – “Go where others are not.” These words resonated with me as I got off the phone with Paul Roetzer, founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing and public relations firm. The propensity to venture where others are either unwilling or unable to go is tantamount to Roetzer and other thought leaders in the industry, who are redefining the ways we do business online and in the workplace.

It is often easy for passion to obscure perspective, especially in your twenties. Since finishing my degree in public relations at Baldwin-Wallace College three years ago, I’ve gotten a lot better at failing and letting go.

Time and space take on new meaning as you get older: relationships change, jobs change (I’ve had three in the past year), income and geography change. These crossroads challenged me to stretch in new ways, and accept that part of growing – in life and especially this landscape, is embracing the unknown. Adversity and failure led to a deeper sense of gratitude, humility and resolve.

There is no substitute for hard work, a willing attitude and internal fire in what you do. After college, I learned three-paid internships, work through school, a padded resume and portfolio to boot is essentially standard, particularly in the field of PR and current economic climate. As the ways in which companies define and select talent evolve, candidates seeking to advance in their career must actively cultivate new ways to develop communication, technical and networking competencies – regardless of industry.

It’s about passion and aplomb – entitlement has no place here (Tamsen McMahon, Calling Bullsh*t on Social Media). If you reach the point where you feel you have done enough, you haven’t – be wary of complacency. There is always more to see, do and become.

Christina Capadona-Schmitz, Assistant VP and Consultant at PR 20/20, contends ”“If you’re not being chased, trying to catch up, or highly focused on getting ahead, motivation needs to be managed as its own pursuit (Why to Keep Running When No One is Chasing You).

Anthony Iannarino, president and CSO of a B2B firm in Westerville, adds “You are only limited by your own vision of yourself, and your willingness to take action to realize that vision. Period.”

The secret is not to dwell on the things that don’t work, but to get back up and do something differently with as much (or greater) enthusiasm and conviction as before. Toss the snooze button (The Case for Personal Development: You Are Your Only Asset).

A visit last week with PR 20/20 and 19 classmates from the Baldwin-Wallace PR Center was enlightening for Jamie Ryan, a junior PR major at BW. Ryan mentioned she was struck by Roetzer’s notion that if you are in a job “where you are no longer counting the hours, you’re in the right place.”

Firms like PR 20/20 thrive because there is no longer a distinction between work and play – they simply love what they do. Building and retaining meaningful relationships is one of the most rewarding aspects of PR, and why networking face-to-face and online is so vital. Industry leaders want to know whom you are listening to and what you are learning, where you are finding value online and the story your personal brand has to tell.

As Deepak Chopra puts it, your social network (human and virtual) reflects your level of awareness. Rather than demanding a job or reference at the onset of an informational interview or networking opportunity, ask questions – and wait for a response. Remembering to listen and contribute to the industry will reap long-term rewards, as you’ll begin to grow and become more viable on a personal and professional level.

Inbound marketing is alluring because it is frontier, integrating a content-driven market within the crosshairs of web development, brand marketing, search marketing, public relations and social media.

How many leaders today have an insatiable appetite for uncertainty and challenging convention? Moreover, how many like Roetzer have the freedom (and nerve) to revamp an entire service model on a plane to Dallas, adjusting to real-time changes in the market?

Save it for the Google or Silicon Valley VCs and kooks on Wall Street, cynics might mutter. But that resilience and initiative is exactly the sensibility it takes to own oneself and inspire others toward greater awareness and action: To see before others see. To see more than others see. To see farther than others see.

And go where others are not.


Paul Roetzer and his team at PR 20/20 recently celebrated their 5-year anniversary. In September 2010, Roetzer was also recognized by Smart Business as a Rising Star for Innovation in Business. You can reach them at www.PR2020.com