Q&A: GE Managing Editor Tomas Kellner

From this interesting interview at The Content Strategist:

GE is one of the brands out there that’s done content really well. Do you think that’s because the topics are inherently interesting, or is it an internal attitude that allows the content to shine? What do you think?

What GE does is interesting – that helps. But the culture inside the company is becoming hugely focused on storytelling. We have a CMO and CCO who have pushed us to focus on creating strong content and finding interesting ways to tell our story. Another colleague and I have been traveling around the company and holding writing workshops for our communicators. We teach storytelling – how do you put together an interesting narrative, like something you would read in a newspaper or a magazine. Now you have a chance to write the story yourself, so do it right.

What’s success look like?

The ultimate goal is to retire the press release. It’s a great holder for facts, but you’d never want to read one. We want to tell stories.

As I’ve mentioned in client presentations and conversations more than a  few times, GE’s been doing a great job with storytelling in recent years (GE Reports, GE on Tumblr, Txchnologist, and more).

Yep, Retailers Can Have Editors-in-Chief

The Independent profiles Jeremy Langmead, the former editor of Wallpaper* and Esquire.

For a little over two years, Langmead has been editor-in-chief of Mr Porter, the men’s fashion division of Net-a-Porter. It now produces a weekly online magazine, The Journal, in addition to a 40-page print edition called The Mr Porter Post (soon to grow to 80 pages), an electronic missive that goes out three times a week, an annual paperback and an iPad app called The Tux (featuring an interactive guide to knotting a bow tie).

As to whether this is “journalism,” a question this article (and this one) poses, I think it’s clearly not. It’s not independent. What it can be, though, is compelling and creative, thoughtfully structured and well-edited. It’s not “brand journalism,” as some people put it. It’s content with a strong editorial sensibility. 

Mandy Brown: "Deploy"

Really like this post:

Iteration in public is a principle of nearly all good product design; you release a version, then see how people use it, then revise and release again. With tangible products (hardware, furniture, appliances, etc.), that release cycle is long, just as with books. But when the product is weightless, the time between one release and the next can be reduced from months or years to days or even hours. The faster the release cycle, the more opportunities for revision—and, often, the better the product itself.

Writing has (so far) not generally benefited from this kind of process; but now that the text has been fully liberated from the tyranny of the printing press, we are presented with an opportunity: to deploy texts, instead of merely publishing them.

David Carr: "At BuzzFeed, the Significant and the Silly"

From this NYT look at the evolving Buzzfeed:

As the consumer Web has matured, readers have become minipublishers, using social media platforms to share information they think will entertain and enlighten their friends. No longer is it just about so-called sticky content that keeps readers around, or even clicky content that causes them to hit a link; it’s also about serving up content that is spreadable.

Hit the right note, and your readers become like bees, stopping by your site to grab links and heading back out on the Web to pollinate other platforms. That behavior has tapped into something visceral, a kind of game in which the person finding something delicious gains social capital for sharing it.

"What will our (future) interfaces feel like?"

From this Franicisco Inchauste post (prompted by what looks like an unusual new to-do app, Clear):

These days [web design is] about the content. Design starts with the content. Language is the navigation. The interface is words. We’re advised to choose them carefully. Copywriting is now where the interface lives or perishes. We can’t trust those devious icons or that friendly, yet somewhat unclear language from the Web 2.0 days — we need to be clear and say exactly what we mean. The three most important things here are: Clarity, clarity, clarity.

Tyler Green on the Walker's New Site

From his post, “Why the Walker’s new website is a big deal”: 

Traditionally, art museum websites have been where you go to get information about the museum: its collection, its exhibitions, its public programs and so on — and that’s it. Art museum websites typically pretend that the museum is an island unto itself. Sometimes parts of museum websites have gone beyond their institution’s walls — SFMOMA’s eclectic and fascinating Open Space blog occasionally does this, for example — but not often.

The new Walker website rejects that approach by presenting the Walker as both a physical and a virtual community hub — and it defines its community appropriately broadly, as both the art world and the Walker’s home state of Minnesota. With its audience thus defined, the new website promises to provide not just information about the Walker, but information about art and artists wherever they are, with an special and appropriate focus on its home region. That’s smart. Next up: We’ll see how the website delivers on that promise.

I've Joined TOKY

I’m very excited to share that I’ve joined TOKY Branding + Design as a Senior Strategist, focusing on content strategy and brand strategy for a range of local and national clients. I’ve long admired TOKY’s work and ethos, from the firm’s commitment to the arts, architecture, education, and healthcare to the staff’s upbeat engagement with St. Louis. Getting to know Eric and his team a bit more during some recent consulting work confirmed what I had sensed: great place, talented staff, meaningful work. Delighted they’ve invited me in to stay.

"Groupon Counts on Writers and Editors to Build Its Audience"

From tomorrow’s NYT:

Groupon borrowed some tools and terms from journalism, softened the traditional heavy hand of advertising, added some banter and attitude and married the result to a discounted deal. It has managed, at least for the moment, to make words pay.

And later:

With more than 400 writers and editors, Groupon’s domestic editorial staff is on the verge of eclipsing the big name across the Chicago River, The Chicago Tribune.

"E-commerce Luring Top Editorial Talent"

An interesting piece at WWD.com about editorial, content-focused approaches to e-commerce ventures, and the varying comfort levels of those involved (including Ruth Reichl, now editorial advisor to Gilt Taste).

I’m curious how much more Tyler Brûlé told the interviewer, because in the few sentences used here he comes off as dismissive of this content approach, calling it “the new C word.” Yet he’s well know outside of his journalistic life (Wallpaper, Monocle, Financial Times) for concurrently heading up Winkreative, the international branding firm he founded way back in 1998 that provides “content publishing” and "prides itself on creating value enhancement for its clients through creative solutions anchored by a quality journalistic approach.“ Taking a journalistic approach is actually what Gilt Taste and others are doing. Perhaps Brûlé’s just a bit defensive about the new crowds elbowing into this space (with new lingo to boot) and skeptical that their projects will be as well-crafted as his.