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Purple Throwback Thursday: 5 Things Content Marketers Can Learn from Prince

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Kate

The beautiful Purple One is, sadly, gone. His most enduring legacy will be his virtuoso guitar playing followed by fabulous showmanship in a killer wardrobe. But there are other ways Prince left his mark, and content marketers could learn a thing or two from him in our own work.

Stories and visual prose are more memorable than facts (usually). From “Little Red Corvette” to “Purple Rain” and on through “Baltimore,” Prince used vivid, indelible images to tell stories of ambition, love, loss, betrayal, and injustice. Few were better at capturing the intense emotions that are part of the human condition. Lesson: Tell stories with real people on personal journeys to make your point.

Share credit to get content in to the market. Prince was famously generous with other musicians, whether relative newcomers like Sinead O’Connor (her biggest hit was Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 You”) or veterans like Chaka Khan. Sometimes he took less credit as a songwriter, arranger, or musician than he was due. Lesson: Sometimes it’s more important to get your stuff out there, than to grab credit.

Look for ways to grow and expand your reach. Prince worked across genres (jazz, rock, folk, pop, gospel, funk, soul) and pushed other musicians to their limits as well. When asked to compose two songs for a Batman movie, he did the whole soundtrack instead. Never has the Joker been so funky! Lesson: Don’t let anyone put you in a box—over deliver, and don’t fall into a rut doing the same thing.

Keep working and keep creatingYes, we all need some down time to think, but creatives need to . . ., well, create. It was reported that Prince’s vault contained “so much music his estate could put out an album a year for the next century,” and that he went through periods when he wrote a song a day. Not all of them will be the next “When Doves Cry,” but there are sure to be a few gems. Lesson: Creativity and discipline are complements, not opposites—get something down on paper or film, and don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.

Balance hard truths with uplift. He printed the word “SLAVE” on his face to shame Warner Bros. over ownership of his master recordings; he wasn’t afraid to be controversial and wallow in pathos. But he knew when to lighten up. And light up he did—for every “Sign o’ the Times” there were two or three songs of pure, sly fun. “Delirious.” “Let’s Go Crazy.” “Baby I’m a Star.” “1999.” And that’s just the first decade. Lesson: Balance tough messages with humor and an appreciation of life’s absurdities to connect with audiences.

Like many who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I spent a lot of time over the last weeks listening to Prince’s music and watching those outrageous videos. And wearing purple every day. It is super hard to know he is gone. But then, I found this video of Prince and Stevie Wonder in Paris ripping through “Superstition” which reminds me of all the joy he brought.

Thanks, Prince. Thanks for everything.

 

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6 Best Practices for Working With an Outside Content Provider

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 by Eric

I’ve been creating marketing content for clients small and large for more than 20 years. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been enjoyable and even fun. Occasionally, though, things have turned south, putting an unpleasant taste in the mouths of everyone involved—client and content provider alike. To optimize the return on your investment […]

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How to Write a Great…

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Distance Makes the Writer Grow Fonder of Editors—Or, Bringing It Home with the TZ Advantage

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 by Lucy A.

For millennia, members of families—blood and work—lived mostly in the same area and were impacted considerably when one of their own struck out for distant pastures. But now that we’ve become wedged in the ethereal arms of technology, distance is a snap to negotiate. Electronic devices make it almost too convenient to move all forms […]

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What Format Should We Use: Adobe InDesign or Microsoft PowerPoint?

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 by Allison and Todd

  “In the end, we want a PDF—but should we create it in InDesign or PowerPoint?” It’s a question frequently asked around here, and the answer is always the same: “It depends.” When deciding on an asset format, we ask our clients to consider the following: Design sophistication: Do you want a beautiful, slick, professional […]

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The Oxford Comma Argument Rages On

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 by Chris

“Nothing, but nothing—profanity, transgender pronouns, apostrophe abuse—excites the passion of grammar geeks more than the serial, or Oxford, comma,” according to The New Yorker. Much like asking creative types if they put one space or two after a period, demanding they pick a side in the serial-comma debate can spark fistfights, especially now that we’ve […]

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Vector or Raster = Huh?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 by Michelle

You’ve received a request for a vector logo file from the Content Bureau’s graphic designer. If you’re confused about what that means, and about the difference between image file types, you’re not alone. Let’s chat about these two image file types—vector and raster—and discuss how each is used for various marketing collateral. Vector Files Vector […]

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Be a Superstar Reviewer: Four Tips for Getting What You Want from Your Copywriter

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Ruth

All marketing managers want to get the most from their copywriting budgets. When you hire the Content Bureau, we’ll typically ask you to review up to three drafts of copy. Is there a right way to review B2B copy? Absolutely! For best results, make your feedback the following: Timely. Just like a box of cereal […]

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Give It 20! Or, How to Jump-Start Any Project.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 by Lucy A.

February is the month where winter goes to die. Sparkling, soft snow has dwindled into gray, crusty blobs, and weary people trudge through their days with little, personal clouds hovering overhead. Gone is that rush of energy delivered in New Year’s happy grasp. It takes all we have to finish that white paper, let alone […]

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How to Write an Award-Winning Tagline

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 by Laurel

Part three of a three-part series. One of the most fun categories to judge at the 2016 LIA Awards was taglines (endlines). This was because—as we say in the naming biz—we had seven words rather than seven letters to play with and consider! The taglines we reviewed were mostly from advertising campaigns, both print and […]

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The Best Valentine’s Day Blog Posts of All Time

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 by Stacy

As you might guess from looking at our website, or my stationery collection, or my closet—freakishly awash in red and pink, with a dash of metallic glitter—Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. This giant painting in my home office sets the tone for my entire life. If there is one word I would have tattooed […]

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