Author: Marcia Riefer Johnston

Marcia Riefer Johnston is the author of Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them) and You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice About. As a former member of the CMI team, she served as Managing Editor of Content Strategy. She has run a technical-writing business for … a long time. She taught technical writing in the Engineering School at Cornell University and studied literature and creative writing in the Syracuse University Masters program under Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaRJohnston. For more, see Writing.Rocks.

By marcia-johnston published July 26, 2018

‘Stay Scrappy’ and More Wisdom on Creativity From a Pixar Animator

stay-scrappy-creativity-wisdom-pixarWant to spark innovation, influence perceptions, and inspire people to believe in your organization’s values and brand? Take some tips from 20-year Pixar Animation Studios animator – and recent winner of the Brand Personality Award in Animation from The Asia Pacific Brands Foundation – Andrew Gordon.

What does the co-creator of such movies as Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, and Toy Story 3 have to say to marketers? Plenty. As an expert on character and story – and as a consultant to companies around the world, including Salesforce, Pinterest, Deloitte, and Softbank – Andrew knows that stories matter, not just in movies but also in business.

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By marcia-johnston published May 3, 2018

Content Tech Overload? 3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy


“Ever want to throw your computer across the room?”

When Cathy McKnight asks hundreds of tech-savvy marketers this question at the Intelligent Content Conference, many heads nod. And there’s a good reason.

“We’re expected to be content superstars,” Cathy explains. “We’re caught between automation and the human touch. How do we use AI? Where do we draw the line in automation? How do we keep our hands in the mix and not let technology take us over?”

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By marcia-johnston published April 12, 2018

Falling Behind Your Competitors? Build a Content Brand


“It’s 2018. We can’t hoard knowledge any longer.” Andy Crestodina, speaker, blogger, etc., shared that nugget of wisdom at the recent Intelligent Content Conference in Las Vegas.

If you need proof of how true his observation is, look no further than the Capital Group, a conservative, trusted financial services company that – until recently ­– lagged far behind its competitors in thought leadership and digital marketing.

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By marcia-johnston published April 5, 2018

How to Create Unified Content That Works in Diverse Global Markets [Examples]

create-unified-content-diverse-global-marketsIf you work as a marketer in a global company, this conundrum is all too familiar. On the one hand, your content must be unified: Everywhere in the world, the messaging must be consistent, and people must recognize the brand. On the other hand, rigid consistency across cultures can backfire or undercut your business goals.

When it comes to global content, one size does not fit all.

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By marcia-johnston published March 29, 2018

Chatbots, AI, and Context: Top Takeaways From Intelligent Content Conference


“Technology is outpacing our ability to comprehend what we can do with it.”

These words from this year’s Intelligent Content Conference emcee Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy advisor, no doubt resonate if you’ve been in marketing for more than a week.

With so much happening so fast in the realm of tools and strategy, what’s a marketer to do?

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By marcia-johnston published March 26, 2018

News Powerhouse Gives Pointers for Great Content

news-powerhouse-pointers-better-contentWhat can marketers learn about content quality from a news outlet? Plenty, if that news outlet is Quartz. If you read my post How to Grow Your Audience From Zero to Millions in Less Than Five Years, you know that Quartz (“a new kind of global business news outlet”) creates content that people “freaking love.”

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By marcia-johnston published March 19, 2018

Words That Convert: Test, Learn, Repeat

words-that-convertIf you had a magic lamp for your content marketing, what would you wish for? More e-book downloads? More subscribers? More customers?

Whatever you wish for, chances are, it amounts to boosting the conversion rate at some stage of the marketing funnel, ultimately resulting in more profitable customer action. If only it were easy to boost conversion rates. Conversion has been called “one of the most frustrating challenges content marketers face” and “the last hurdle on your route to content marketing success.”

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By marcia-johnston published March 13, 2018

How the Best Newsletters Get – and Keep – Readers’ Attention

best-newsletters-keep-readers-attentionNobody wants more email. Yet, as a marketer you want your prospects to want more email – to want your newsletters, at least.

How do you create a newsletter so compelling that people not only subscribe to it but also continually look forward to receiving and reading it?

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By marcia-johnston published February 28, 2018

How a Winery Crushed Its Content Marketing With Video


Do you wish your videos made more of a difference for your business? Do you find yourself running out of ideas for videos your audience will love? Ever wonder what it takes to make a video so good that news outlets can’t wait to get their hands on it?

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By marcia-johnston published February 22, 2018

How to Grow Your Audience From Zero to Millions in Less Than 5 Years


You’ve just been hired. Your boss comes to you and says, “We want millions of people regularly viewing our content within the next five years. Go.”

You make it happen.


Well, Jay Lauf, co-president and publisher of Quartz, made this happen with his team. He told the story of how they did it in his Content Marketing World talk, Deconstructing Quartz ( How One of the Most Popular Mobile Destinations Grows Audience, Extends Reach in Digital, and Creates a Superior Content Experience.

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