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May 28, 2017

Profile in Courage: A Guy Bought a Ticket to Alamo Drafthouse’s All-Female Screening of ‘Wonder Woman’

The Alamo Drafthouse recently set up women-only screenings of “Wonder Woman,” and you can probably guess what happened next: Dudes were unhappy. Among them is one Stephen Miller, who decided to protest this great injustice by purchasing a ticket to said screening and letting Twitter know about it. Not all heroes wear capes, friends.

READ MORE: ‘Wonder Woman’ Is The Best DC Universe Film Yet, According to First Reactions

“Apologies, gentlemen,” reads the Drafthouse’s initial announcement, “but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for several special shows at the Alamo Downtown Brooklyn. And when we say ‘Women (and People Who Identify as Women) Only,’ we mean it.”

Miller took swift action on Twitter. “I have some personal news I’d like to share,” he tweeted along with an image of his receipt for said screening. A back-and-forth quickly followed in his mentions; this being Twitter, it was a highly productive conversation.

READ MORE: ‘Wonder Woman’ Director Patty Jenkins Wants to Help a Woman Battling Stage IV Cancer See the Movie Early

These all-female screenings have inspired much debate throughout the week, and this latest development suggests it isn’t going away just yet. “Wonder Woman” opens this Friday, June 2.

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Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017 Jury Press Conference: Will Smith Loved ‘Jupiter’s Moon’ and ‘BPM’ Made Pedro Almodóvar Tear Up

Now that the awards have been handed out and Cannes has officially come to a close, the Competition jury has made it official with a press conference. Led by Pedro Almodóvar, the rest of the jurors — Maren Ade, Fan Bingbing, Park Chan-wook, Jessica Chastain, Agnès Jaoui, Will Smith, Paolo Sorrentino and Gabriel Yared — assembled in front of journalists the world over to discuss their choices and their process.

READ MORE: 2017 Cannes Winners: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme D’or, Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix Also Honored

“Did supreme harmony reign?” they were asked at the beginning. “Was it a love fest, or was blood splattered on the walls and carpets?” Smith responded first, joking in a way that should surprise few: “It was pretty smooth and easy. I was trying to get Pedro to stop offering me sexual favors for my vote, but it was easy.”

“There was no blood,” said Almodóvar. “We all respected each other very much. That doesn’t mean we were thinking the same thing about all the films…we always respected the other members of the jury.” Asked about “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” which won the Grand Prix and tells of French AIDS activists’ efforts in the 1990s, the filmmaker became teary-eyed as he praised the film.

Smith pointed to “Jupiter’s Moon” as a personal favorite, joking that “sometimes democracy sucks” because his favorite left the ceremony empty-handed.

Following Sofia Coppola’s win for Best Director — only the second time a woman had won the prize — the female jurors were asked about the award’s significance and the state of female filmmakers in general. “I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you also have more authentic female characters,” said Chastain. “The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women.”

READ MORE: Watch the 2017 Cannes Awards: Live Stream Who Won the Palme d’Or

She called this “disturbing” and expressed her desire to see more women onscreen that resemble the ones she knows in real life — women with their own agency and viewpoints. Jaoui chimed in next, citing Almodóvar as one of the few directors whose movies pass the Bechdel test and pointing to the overall lack of films that pass it as a problem. Ade made one thing clear: “We didn’t give these awards to women because they are women.

Bingbing expressed her happiness to award Best Director to Coppola, adding that she wants to “encourage female filmmakers” as they continue their efforts.

“A couple black folks won’t hurt next year either,” Smith added. “We’ll talk about that another time.”

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Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017 Awards Analysis: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme d’Or, But the Real Winners Are Hollywood Alternatives

After 10 days in which a jury watched 19 competition films, the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival came down to seven prizes for six of them. It didn’t take long for the jury to make it clear that they couldn’t settle on just one of many options. Announcing a tie for the screenplay award, jury president Pedro Almodovar said, “We have our first surprise.”

But the truth was that, in a wildly unpredictable year, everything felt like a surprise. Over the course of the 2017 festival, no single feature emerged as a definite frontrunner for the Palme d’Or, and the outcome of this year’s ceremony reflects the sheer range of options — all of which stand out as explicit challenges to safe commercial bets.

It started with that screenplay award. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos awkwardly split the stage with “You Were Never Really Here” writer-director Lynne Ramsay. Both movies are innovative genre experiments from singular directors working with American actors eager to get outside their safety zones. One of those, “You Were Never Really Here” star Joaquin Phoenix, later took the stage to accept the best actor prize. The actor thanked Ted Hope and Amazon for supporting the project, providing another reminder of the way that the festival continues to reflect the changing landscape of the film industry.

Much about this year’s Cannes spoke to that change, from the contemptuous presence of Netflix with two competition titles (both of which won nothing) to the radical choice by this year’s programmers to showcase two television shows in the lineup (“Top of the Lake” and “Twin Peaks”) in addition to a virtual reality piece (“Carne y Arena”). But at the end of the day, it was the winners that spoke to the sheer range of cinema on display at this year’s festival, and the extent to which they provided a contrast to the limited arena of Hollywood.

That much was visible when Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of Jury Prize winner “Loveless,” looked over at the jury and singled out Will Smith: “He really does exist!” At times, it can seem as though the Cannes image of a prestigious arena for cinematic achievements exists in a fantasyland of its own creation, but it was moments like this one that fed the perception that these movies could, in fact, break out of their bubbles.

And perhaps they will. Almost every single Cannes winner has already secured U.S. distribution, including the surprise Palme d’Or winner “The Square,” from Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund. (Magnolia Pictures picked it up months before the festival.) The two-and-a-half hour art-world satire was filled with brilliant scenes in its cringe-comedy portrayal of a neurotic curator — but even if many critics felt that the full picture never came together, nobody could deny that it reflected an uncompromising vision. The same could be said for “Sacred Deer,” in which Lanthimos gets A-listers Nicole Kidman and Colin Ferrell to go to insane extremes in this unnerving tale of a family that falls apart for devious purposes.

"The Beguiled"

“The Beguiled”

Focus Features

Meanwhile, Sofia Coppola’s elegant feminist thriller “The Beguiled” — which refashions the ideas of the Civil War-set story through her own expressionistic filter — may turn out to be her most accessible, outwardly entertaining feature to date, even as it shows not an ounce of compromise. That’s a good enough reason for her to make history as only the second woman filmmaker to win best director at the festival.

The jury also gave a second-place prize to Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” a sprawling ensemble drama about the AIDS group ACT UP in Paris during the early ’90s. It was a reasonable choice for the movie, a fairly straightforward but well-acted period piece that should help catapult Campillo into an even greater arena of recognition as he joins the Cannes auteur club.

“BPM” (The Orchard) was one of two winners that struck a topical note in the outcome of this year’s competition. The other was Diane Kruger, who plays the wife of a man killed in a suicide bombing in Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade.” The movie marked her first German production and is a safe bet to further awards acclaim when the film is released.

“We don’t make films for awards, but this cost me a lot personally, so being here means more people will appreciate your work,” she said on the red carpet before the ceremony. In her acceptance speech, she added, “I can’t accept this award without thinking about anyone who has been affected by terrorism… please know that you have not been forgotten.”

Awards pundits had their money on Nicole Kidman, who had four roles in Cannes projects this year, to walk away with something. She didn’t land the actress prize, but the jury still found room for her in a special 70th anniversary award. It was almost as though nobody on this year’s jury wanted to snub the favorites of the festival, a stark contrast to last year, when few predicted that festival favorite “Toni Erdmann” would go home empty handed or that Ken Loach’s fairly routine socially conscious drama “I, Daniel Blake” would win big. This time around, virtually every well-received movie in competition got some form of acknowledgement.

“Well, it was tough,” Almodovar told one red-carpet reporter, lurking behind his ubiquitous shades. “We defended our positions very strongly. But it should be like that — completely democratic.” The prizes support that assertion: They represent a range of sensibilities, provocations, and themes, all of which will likely propel them to further recognition.

But this year’s festival may have been most impactful for a jury that included actors and directors who must now return to the industry aided by renewed perspectives on international cinema. “I’m so inspired,” juror Jessica Chastain said on her way to the ceremony. “I can’t wait to get back on the set.” But Will Smith may have said it best as he zipped into the Palais des Festival: “It was spectacular!”

Leave it to a movie star to sum up one of the most memorable Cannes editions in years, one in which old and new worlds collided as the future of the art world sat at the center of an unending debate. But at the end of the day, it was the movies that dominated every conversation, and conversations about their quality that prevailed. So it always goes at Cannes.

Source: IndieWire film

May 28, 2017

Cannes 2017: Sofia Coppola Makes History as the Second Female Filmmaker to Win Best Director

The 2017 Cannes Film Festival has come to an end in history-making fashion. When Jury President Pedro Almodóvar announced the Best Director prize to “The Beguiled” helmer Sofia Coppola, she became the second female director in the festival’s 70-year history to claim the prize. The last woman to win Best Director was Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva in 1961 for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.”

READ MORE: 2017 Cannes Winners: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme D’or, Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix Also Honored

Coppola earned strong reviews for “The Beguiled,” a feminist adaptation of the Clint Eastwood-starring 1971 film of the same name. Nicole Kidman, who won the 70th Anniversary Prize earlier today, plays the headmistress of a secluded school for girls in 1864 Virginia. Their lifestyle is disrupted by the discovery of a wounded Union Army solider. Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst also star.

In his A- review, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich hailed the movie as “the mustiest and most conventionally entertaining film of Coppola’s brilliant career.” It was later named one of IndieWire’s 10 best movies of Cannes 2017.

The last time Coppola competed for the Palme was in 2006 with “Marie Antoinette.” She was famously booed for the period drama, which makes her history-making victory today all the more celebratory. In her pre-written speech (she was not on hand to accept the award), the director thanked Jane Campion for “being a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion remains the only female director to win the Palme.

Focus Features will release “The Beguiled” in select theaters June 23.

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Source: IndieWire film

May 26, 2017

Here Is How Americans Feel About Climate Change

Climate change has been a hot topic for the past decade not only in the U.S. but across the globe as well. It affects every person, animal, and ecosystem regardless if they believe in it or not and will continue to do so unless steps are taken to reduce global warming. But lately, there have been a lot of debates about whether or not climate change is a man-made event or if it is even a real concern. For many lawmakers, public opinion about climate change is a significant element to consider when forming policies about global warming. To determine where people in the U.S. stand on climate change, Yale created the Climate Opinion Maps based on data collected through the year 2016.

Climate Change: Counties

In general, opinions on climate change shift in relation to where people lived. With that in mind and the fact that local polling is expensive and demanding, the researchers established a model that narrowed down the national public opinion results to more practical levels: state, congressional district, and county. Doing so allowed them to approximate what national public opinion is about climate change while also revealing Americans’ different beliefs, attitudes, and what policies they support.

Climate Change: Regulate CO2

According to the site, this is how they obtained their measurements:

“The estimates are derived from a statistical model using multilevel regression with post-stratification (MRP) on a large national survey dataset (n>18,000), along with demographic and geographic population characteristics. The estimate were validated using three different methods. First, cross-validation analyses were conducted within the dataset.[…]Second, the model estimates derived from the full dataset were compared to the results of independent, representative state- and city-level surveys conducted in California, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, San Francisco, and Columbus, Ohio in 2013.[…]Third, some model estimates were compared with third-party survey data collected by other researchers in previous years.”

From the data they collected, we can see that, overall, 70% of Americans believe climate change is currently happening but that number varies when looking at individual counties. Only 49% of the people in Emery County, Utah, for instance, believe in global warming, while 72% in Grand County, Utah, a neighboring country, think climate change is happening.

Climate Change: Metro Areas

The questions included on the survey covered beliefs, risk perceptions, policy support, and behaviors. It comprised of questions like “Do you think global warming is happening?” to “When do you think global warming will start to harm people in the United States?” and inquiries on how much do respondents support or oppose listed policies? The response categories for a majority of the questions were then condensed into a single variable for evaluation.

Climate Change: Congressional Districts California

Climate Change: Public Opinion Survey

Explore the map and see if how much your county deviates from the national average here.

Source: Visual News

May 25, 2017


This article originally appeared on Column Five.

Developing and promoting great content is no easy game. It takes a lot to run a good operation—and the most important aspect is the people in that operation. Beyond their skill sets and knowledge base, good content professionals exhibit particular qualities that contribute to their success.

Whether you’re a one-person operation or a CMO in charge of a large department, work to cultivate these seven qualities in yourself and the people around you to improve your content marketing efforts.


Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon without a finish line. Being comfortable with this reality is hugely important. While it’s frustrating to see tactics that used to work become less effective, or experiment with new things that fail, it’s imperative to understand that patience really is a virtue when it comes to doing content right for the long-haul.

Cultivating this mindset will help you avoid burnout when things don’t go the way you’d like. In working with large brands and tiny startups, I know there’s a learning curve for everyone. If you want to master content marketing (or anything), you need to be willing to spend time required to get good.

As we know, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Truthfully, I’ve been active in marketing for over 10,000 hours myself, and I still feel like there’s so much to learn—in large part because things are always changing.

Remember that no one who’s doing this work well and making a name for themselves as a leader started yesterday. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Good things take time.


Good content marketing isn’t about doing what you want. It’s about serving your customers first. This is where empathy comes into play.

To create excellent content marketing, you need to get inside your customers’ minds, understand what they struggle with, and look for ways to help fix their troubles. To do that, you need to listen more than you talk. This means both listening to the challenges they face in their day to day—and listening to their feedback on your product or service, no matter how harsh it may be. This outsider perspective is the key to moving in the right direction.

And customers are not the only ones you should be listening to. Pay attention to anyone and everyone who’s doing great work. Soak up their knowledge like a sponge. As Brandon Mull says, “Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

While opportunities to listen might not always easily and organically present themselves to you, regardless of your role, clients, or business model, make it your responsibility to create these opportunities. I find that emailing people to ask for feedback not only works well but is relatively pain-free—and it scales.


If you’re bored with what you’re doing, it shows in your content. The antidote? Get inspired and mix it up. Curiosity will serve you well here. (Interestingly, creativity guru and author Elizabeth Gilbert encourages people not to look for their passion in life but to follow their curiosity.)

You should always be interested in learning new things, expanding your skill set, or trying a different approach. In content marketing, an always-changing field, resting on your laurels is death.

Always assume that there are better, more interesting, and more effective things you could—and should—be doing, then go out and find them. Make curiosity an intrinsic part of your nature. I promise you will tap into some seriously awesome stuff.


There is little room for ego in content marketing. In fact, the more willing you are to be humbled, the more successful you’ll be. The more you experiment and fail, the more you improve—even if it feels humiliating.

Humility makes you a better team player and allows you to put your customers and brand before yourself. You become more open-minded and willing to engage with others (aka listen!), which helps both personally and professionally.

I’m a big proponent of the “strong opinions, weakly held” approach to doing things. Adopting this mentality also allows you to encourage and accept constructive feedback—and sometimes even help from others when needed. In the long run, this only helps.


While you should be humble, it’s also important to build your confidence in your content marketing skills.

Confidence is the key to not letting an epic failure eat you alive—and to getting back up and trying again. Rewards don’t come to people who give up before they even try; they come to those who are not willing to let their failures define who they are. As Randy Nelson of Pixar says, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” The ability to recover, he says, not some innate ability, is the mark of a creative genius.

Building confidence in yourself and your team requires boldness and courage. The good news is the quicker you bounce back from obstacles, the more your confidence grows. And the more confident you are, the more likely you are to pitch that crazy-but-brilliant idea that just might bring your team to the next level.


Maintaining quality and consistency are vital to a successful content marketing operation, but it takes a lot of diligence to maintain. This is why discipline is the key to keeping the engine running.

Creating and promoting content can sometimes be like going to the gym: four out of five of the times I don’t want to be there, but I power through my workout and 100 percent of the time I’m glad I did.

Even when it gets hard, frustrating, or confusing, know that the content still needs to be created.

Now this doesn’t mean you should focus on quantity over quality simply to maintain discipline. It means you should work to strategize and follow through.

Remember: The only way to track your content’s success (and learn what to do better next time) is to have something to measure it against.


You’ve heard about the importance of authenticity a couple million times by now. That said, there are some common traps that brands fall into in this quest. I’d advise you against the following:

  • Unnecessary trend-jacking: Do you really care what your medical provider thinks about Kanye West on Twitter? No. If it’s a natural fit, you can consider it. But far too often this just ends up backfiring.
  • Copying other brands: So Apple came out with a great new campaign? Let them have it and come up with something of your own. Copying other brand’s voices or tactics looks hacky at best and sleazy at worst.

If you approach content marketing with an honest and sincere desire to do good and provide value to your readers first and foremost, you won’t go wrong. Don’t try to be authentic; just be.


When working with customers or fellow content marketers, you will find many opportunities to demonstrate these qualities or practice cultivating them. If you find some more difficult than others, that’s OK. That means you’re aware—and that’s a great first step.

For more tips, find out how to build the right content marketing team, how to write a useful creative brief, and how to tap into your team’s ideas

Source: Visual News

May 24, 2017

Filmmaker In Focus Series: This is Your Death and Walking Out

Our next Filmmaker In Focus Series features two films that couldn’t be more different from each other yet share a common thread of humanity in unsteady ways. In This Is Our Death, Giancarlo Esposito tells a story about host Adam Rogers’s new game show, where contestants end their lives for a chance to win money and will stop at nothing to attain the number one spot in the ratings. Esposito is a celebrated film, television and stage actor, director and producer with a career spanning five decades. He is well known for his iconic portrayal of drug kingpin “Gus” Fring in AMC’s critically acclaimed award-winning series Breaking Bad, for which he won the 2012 Critics Choice Award and earned a 2012 Emmy nomination.

In Walking Out, directed by Alex and Andrew Smith, David travels to rural Montana for his annual hunting trip with his lonely, estranged “off-the-grid” father. An encounter with a bear cub results in serious injuries to both David and Cal. David must figure out what to do next while simultaneously healing his broken spirit. The brothers wrote and directed, The Slaughter Rule, starring David Morse and Academy Award Nominees Ryan Gosling and Amy Adams, which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Learn more about these filmmakers below:

This Is Your Death

Q: Tell us a little about your film?

A: This is Your Death is a unflinching look at reality television. Where a disturbing hit game show has its contestants ending their lives for the publics’ enjoyment. The story captures the sad truths about the American public’s desire to be both famous and witness to intense spectacle. Its a dark drama that’s character driven, relevant, and unrelenting. But when the boundaries seem like they can’t be pushed any further game show host, Adam Rogers steps in to break down the wall. He will only be satisfied if this reality show is number one in the ratings and he will stop at nothing to make sure he gets there. Even if it means letting go of his humanity.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

A: I made this film at a time when people are looking to be connected to each other, yet seem to be more connected to their iPhones, computers, and TV sets. When texting has replaced talking and reality shows have taken over the airways, what has become most gratifying is sensationalist, horrific, and voyeuristic . People have lost their focus and attention and have no patience for anything other than reality television or capitalized war live on their local network. It seems evident that we have outsourced our compassion and outsourced our empathy. We find ourselves riveted to our television sets viewing the reality of our existence through a scripted version of who we really are. Or live tragedy playing itself out violently on our news.

Q: Tell us a random fact?

A: Im a spiritualist and a yogi.

Walking Out

Q: Tell us a little about your film?

A: Our film is an ‘intimate epic’ about a city mouse boy and his country mouse father doing their damn best to connect with each other while facing tremendous obstacles.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

A: The short story it is based on had haunted us for 30+ years. And we believe in hunting down the thing that haunts you– that’s where the deepest, most emotional stories reside. It was, basically, a film we needed desperately to see, so we made it!

Q: Tell us a random fact?

A: I’m from Montana but have deep ATX roots, having gone to grad school here in the 90’s and taught at UT for almost a decade. I’m ambidextrous. I’m a twin. I’m kind of stuck in the 70’s, cinematically.

Explore More Content From SXSW 2017

Get inspired by a multitude of diverse visionaries at SXSW – browse more 2017 Keynotes, Featured Sessions, Red Carpets, and Q&A’s on our YouTube Channel.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SXSW News for the latest SXSW coverage, recaps, late-breaking announcements, and updates.

Answers for Walking Out provided by Alex Smith

The post Filmmaker In Focus Series: This is Your Death and Walking Out appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

May 24, 2017

Here Are All The Goods The U.S. Actually Imports From Mexico A Year

One of the promises that Donald Trump made while on the campaign trail and after his election was to bring about discussions about the North American Free Trade Agreement. In his mind, NAFTA has been a “catastrophe” for American workers and needs to be renegotiated in favor of the U.S. He has even expressed his desire to implement a 20% import tax on all products coming in from Mexico to finance his promised border wall.

Currently, roughly $304.6 billion in goods that pass over the border from Mexico are untaxed under NAFTA. The idea of a blanket tax on all goods may not, however, be the most appropriate way to go about taxing these goods.

Quartz collected data from the U.S. Census Bureau—product categories, the amount imported, and the tax collected—to give a snapshot view of exactly how much money the U.S. spends on goods coming from Mexico and how much of the U.S.’s international purchases come from Mexico. Typically, these are the two components that policy makers consider when deciding what merchandise or product categories to tariff.

Mexican Imports: Categories

Categories include vehicles, other than railway or tramway rolling stock; articles of iron or steel; fish, tools, implements, cutlery, and flatware of base metal; trees, plants, bulbs, roots, cut flowers and ornamental foliage; and photographic and cinematographic goods to name a few.

Mexican Imports: Inorganic Chemicals

Inorganic chemicals, compounds of precious metals, rare earth metals, radioactive elements or isotopes

Mexican Imports: Furniture

Furniture, bedding, lamps, illuminated signs, and prefabricated buildings

Mexican Imports: Electrical Machinery

Electrical machinery and equipment

According to the data they collected, almost two-thirds of the trade categories had no taxes collected on products coming in from Mexico and essentially no tariff was collected on 92% of the categories.

So, would a blanket tax be the best course of action? Considering the U.S. depends solely on Mexico for many products, the taxes would basically just be imparted on to American consumers. Also, there are products that the U.S. can obtain from other suppliers and products that the U.S. gets very little of from Mexico. This means that a tax may not be as effective as the Trump administration would hope.

Mexican Imports: US Dependence

Avocados: “Mexico is the world’s largest grower of avocados and the U.S. is the largest buyer. No duty is collected on them at the border.” Glass-bottled beer: “63.4% of U.S. imported beer is brewed in Mexico. Most of it—$2.8 billion—comes in glass bottles and enters the U.S. tax-free.” Plastic Ladders: “America buys 97.2% of the plastic ladders it imports from Mexico, $191.5 million in trade.”

Mexican Imports: US Dependence

Class 2 vans and trucks: “The second-most valuable import product category, $12.3 billion, is smaller vans and full-size pickup trucks. 99.6% of these U.S. imports come from Mexico.” Certain aircraft turbine parts: “Mexico supplies the U.S. with $570 million of these unfinished parts but that’s only 4.7% of what the U.S. imports.” Lithium-ion batteries: “The U.S. imports just 3.1% of its lithium-ion batteries from Mexico but that still amounts to $17.4 million in trade.”

Check out the full set of data visuals here.

Source: Visual News

May 23, 2017


This article originally appeared on Column Five.

In 2015, branded content output climbed 35% per channel, but content engagement decreased by 17%. What does that say? More content doesn’t mean more engagement.

As a founder of a content marketing agency with a decade of experience, I know this firsthand. You can make all the content you want, but if your audience isn’t connecting, it won’t help your cause.

Successful content marketing is about attracting people to your brand through content—be it educational, inspirational, or entertaining—with the goal of turning them into customers over time. Ultimately, it’s about engaging your audience, not selling to them.

Too often content marketers ask, “What kind of content will help me sell more?” when they should ask, “What kind of content will provide high value to readers so it will attract customers?” The answer to that is simple: Focus on solving their problems—not yours.

A friend recently said to me, “When you’re thinking about content, consider the hell that your clients are trying to escape from and the heaven that you want to deliver them to.” While this might be a dramatic statement, it certainly works for content marketing, especially if your goal is lead generation or increasing sales.

If you can clearly communicate that you understand your audience’s struggle and have the expertise to help solve their problem, your audience sees that you really care, which makes them more eager to form a relationship with you.

The key to creating that type of content? Empathy.


According to Merriam-Webster, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As Dr. Brene Brown notes, empathy is “feeling with people.” In the context of marketing, feeling with people is about putting your audience’s needs before your own, putting yourself in their shoes to understand the challenges they face. In short: Empathetic marketing considers your audience before your messaging.

“Yeah, but isn’t content marketing about educating others?” Sure—about the things they need and want to know. When you follow the empathy paradigm, you ultimately make your job easier. Create content that helps reduce your audience’s pain and frustration, and your brand automatically becomes the hero.

Empathy is not talking about yourself, your services, your pricing, and how great you are. It is not trend-jacking in a desperate attempt to create relevance. (Does a SaaS company that operates in the financial service industry need to be commenting on what Kanye West and Taylor Swift are up to? Probably not.)

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever promote or sell your company, but there is a time and place for this type of content (usually in the form of sales collateral). Empathy means meeting your audience where they’re at.


To inject more empathy into your marketing, there are three simple steps you can take. Consider how you might adopt these practices into your current process.


To understand your audience and what will appeal to them, you need to know who they are. Creating customer personas, also known as “psychographic mapping,” involves asking and answering a series of questions about who your customers are and what makes them tick.

Direct conversations with existing customers can help fill in these blanks. The more information you gather about your audience, the better you can identify opportunities to create:

  • Content of value: This will enable them to learn more and do a better job in their work.
  • Content that creates an escape: Not everyone loves every aspect of their routine. Creating a welcome distraction can be a great way to establish goodwill.

Try this exercise to create your own personas in under an hour. (For the record, we made three different personas, which include everything from our customers’ favorite podcasts to what they worry about at night.)


Many marketers make a crucial mistake when creating a content strategy. They address these items first:

  • How much content to create
  • Objectives
  • Distribution strategy
  • The content mix
  • The content team
  • The budget
  • Workflow management and process
  • Tools to manage the content supply chain

And they think about the customer last. Reverse the process; use your customer personas to influence your strategy. Always, always, always remember: customer first, ideas second.


Once you generate your rough ideas based on those personas, you can refine those ideas using tools and resources available. This ensures you are always creating meaningful and relevant content for your customers. Ways to refine your ideas:

  • Find out what questions people are asking search engines. This is a great jumping-off point for creating content that answers the questions your customers are asking. (We often research the keywords we’re targeting to find out what types of phrases people are using, such as “What is an infographic?”)
  • Research other industry publications. Look around to see what other people in your industry are saying, then do a better job. But avoid what they’re saying. (At times, we’ve taken a contradictory stance on a specific subject in our industry.)
  • Check events calendars. You may be able to provide useful content around an event your audience is interested in. (For example, we’ve designed camping guides for Coachella and walking maps of San Francisco for conferences.)


The last thing you want to do is create content that no one cares about; that is a waste of your time and resources. To pursue empathetic content marketing, make this your mantra: Decrease the amount of selling in your content and increase the amount of time listening to and thinking about your customers.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ever ask your audience to sign up for a newsletter or download an e-book. It means prioritizing compelling content that attracts them to you so that you can offer those goods and move them along the buying process.

For more tips on marketing, learn about the strategy we used to increase our leads 78% in 6 months, find out what 7 traits will make you a better marketer, and learn how to create content that provides true value to your audience.

Source: Visual News

May 23, 2017

SXSW Joins Mercedes-Benz to Host Future-Focused Convention in Frankfurt

SXSW® is about pushing boundaries. For over thirty years, our goal has been to create a platform providing creatives the knowledge, access, and tools to make vision become reality. From musicians to startups, from film distribution to bioscience, SXSW is a place where innovation and ideas find a new audience – a place of unparalleled discovery.

But SXSW provides more than just a place, it has become a vibrant community. Today, SXSW announces a new effort to support you – our community – by expanding our boundaries into Europe.

Frankfurt, Germany is a geographic and cultural center of Europe, with over 450,000 people traveling through the central train station each day. Its history as a destination for cultural exchange and international commerce meets today’s technology and creative energy to make it one of Europe’s most dynamic cities. People of approximately 180 nationalities live within five blocks of central station, making Frankfurt a perfect fit for discovery and inspiration.

Against this backdrop, SXSW is proud to collaborate with Mercedes-Benz to host me Convention, a critical dialogue on the future. This September 15-17, me Convention will offer an exciting platform for open conversation in the historic Festhalle Frankfurt, which features award-winning architecture and a festival-like setup. Taking place alongside the world’s largest International Motor Show (IAA), me Convention hosts three days of workshops, expert talks, keynotes, co-working space, interactive labs, and evening events throughout the city.

2017 Topics include:

New Creation – Manufacturing and distribution are no longer barriers to creation, but time and attention have become scarce resources. People are increasingly asked to make snap judgements and process huge amounts of information – what are the effects, opportunities, responsibilities, and consequences of the “always on” generation? How can businesses at all scales benefit from collaborating with consumers during the R&D and creation process?

New Leadership – Traditional leadership and business models are rapidly evolving. What are the most effective strategies, technologies, and possibilities within this new relationship to work and leadership?

New Realities – Analogue and digital technologies now blend seamlessly to create new realities. How will artificial intelligence, bioscience, genetic engineering, and mixed reality shape our lives? What will we gain by blurring the borders between real and artificial, human and machine, natural and man-made, and how can we adapt to these new realities?

New Urbanism – The evolution of our living environments from housing as a service to smart, connected homes and the expansion of urban centers around the world is now underway. How do we intentionally shape our cities and surrounding areas to create engaging, equitable, and healthy communities?

New Velocity – Changes that once required long and complex processes are now immediate – societies transform quickly, technological innovations spring up daily, cities change their faces overnight. How does this rapid acceleration affect our well-being and environment, and how can humans not only cope, but thrive, living with exponential change?

The full lineup of speakers and sessions will be announced over the next few months.

Share your vision for tomorrow by registering today! A limited number of badges are now on sale for the early-bird rate of €300 EUR ($337 USD). Follow @meconvention on Instagram and Twitter, and sign up for the me Convention newsletter.

Register Now

Image Courtesy of Liganova

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Source: SxSW Film