NutsPR Spotlight: Ann Handley

Happy Spring everyone!

Spring is here! Yay! At least in Spain it is 🙂

Welcome to another edition of NutsPR Spotlight!

I’m very excited to introduce to you this month’s guest: Ann Handley.

If you’re in marketing or PR and haven’t heard of Ann, you must have been living under a rock. 😉

When I first “met” Ann several years ago (thank you social media!), I was hooked by her passion and relentlessness.

I read everything she would write, follow her on Twitter, and pretty much everywhere else.

And then something happened: Her book “Everybody Writes” came out.

That’s Ann’s second book, but for me it was what I needed at the time to get rid of my fear of writing.

I ordered the book and then I waited, and waited for it to arrive. I did not want to buy the eBook version first, as I usually do, because I wanted to experience the feel of the “real” book.

Those were probably the longest two weeks I had to deal with, but when I received the book, I was hooked from the first page.

If you haven’t read it, you need to! It will change the way you think about writing.

Ladies and gents, I am honored to introduce to you: Ann Handley!

When did you know marketing was what you wanted to do?

When I was 8 years old, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a “writter.” Eventually, I learned to spell the word (!) and I became a writer, journalist, business editor, and (when the internet happened) a content publisher.

I became the first Chief Content Officer at ClickZ, a company I co-founded in 1997. I now hold the title at MarketingProfs.

I got into Marketing through Content. Which is the opposite of most marketers I know, since most of them approach Content through Marketing.

I’ve always relentlessly focused on audience—in my mind that’s the essence of great content marketing: Producing things your audience will value.

How does teaching your team helps you learn? How do you like to learn?

That well-worn slam of “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” couldn’t be further from the truth.

The ability to teach something well requires you to know it at a deeper, almost a cellular level.

So teaching it—whether to colleagues or an audience—means you have to truly know it.

As for the second part of your question—the How do I like to learn? I can answer only Yes. Through reading. Through experience. Through discussion. All of it.

What piece of advice do you have for anyone heading into the reality of marketing?

First—congrats! There has never been a more interesting time to be in Marketing!

Second—Learn how to write well and to communicate clearly. Hone your jargon-free writing and speaking skills.

Those who will kill it in 2017 and beyond have the ability to articulate key concepts across the organization.

That means they can articulate how a marketing program supports broader goals from a business point of view, not just a marketing point of view.

The value is not just about delivering a zillion sales-qualified leads, for example.

The value is about the real business impact those leads deliver when they convert at an average rate of 75 percent. (I know! We wish!)

Being able to connect the dots in compelling, jargon-free communication (both written and spoken) is a valuable skill for any marketer.

This isn’t just about speaking or writing well. It’s about conveying ideas in a way to lead, inspire, and instruct others—even if you are managing up. (Maybe especially then.)

Bottom line: Think as an educator, not a salesperson. You are educating others, not straight-up selling others on your ideas.

What would you like to change in the PR and marketing industry and think it can be accomplished this year?

I’d like everyone to have a little more fun with our marketing. Because Marketing is a fun place to be!

What’s next for Ann Handley?

Right now I’m thinking about lunch.

Less immediately, I’m working on a new… something.

I’m not sure whether it’s a marketing book or a business book or maybe simply a new talk. But it’s around the concept of slowing down.

Want to know more about Ann?

Connect with her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, InstagramGoogle+, and more.