Content Marketing World is a big deal. When I first found out I was going on behalf of WriterAccess as one of their writers, I was beyond excited. It’s a mega industry event in its sixth year, with an amazing agenda — over 150 sessions with 200 speakers. Conference organizers Content Marketing Institute kicked it all off with this year’s theme, “Let The Content Force Be With You.”
This included keynote speaker, and iconic Hollywood legend, Mark Hamill. Let me say this again, Mark Hamill. He’s otherwise known to billions of fans as “Luke Skywalker” from the Star Wars movie franchise! In my mind, it doesn’t get any bigger than Mark Hamill. Not Harrison Ford (Han Solo), or Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) but Luke was always my big crush. That alone was enough to make me want to attend the conference.
The other benefits included networking, attending workshops led by major companies (Lego!), and finally the best part for me was meeting the WriterAccess team. It was a pleasure to chat with the folks at our sponsorship booth, which included Georgina, Lexi, Dan, and our fearless CEO Byron White. Being with WriterAccess now for over two years has been a thrill. I was also part of Byron’s LifeTips team, working for the company he founded before WriterAccess, which published my book, LifeTips 101 Makeup Tips in 2007. I’ve known and loved being a part of Byron’s world for some time now. Meeting the team in person made me even prouder of the company I work for.
So back to the conference itself. WriterAccess Director of Marketing Ginna Hall outlined the sessions she wanted me to cover, but that left plenty of time for me to explore sessions that I wanted to attend on my own just for the learning opportunity. Many companies were set up in the convention hall, giving away tons of cool swag such as t-shirts, bags, hoodies, selfie sticks (thanks Laura from ReachForce) and even a remote control car that I “spun and won” from Conductor. My TrackMaven t-shirt is probably my favorite because of their cute Corgi dog logo. And the hoodie from Brightcove is unbelievably soft too. I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet, considering that the week of the conference had temperatures in Cleveland reaching 90 degrees with high humidity! Sorry attendees, welcome to our sauna. Enjoy the Rock Hall!
But even with all the fun swag, that wasn’t the point of the conference. Talking to various companies, like Curata, Bka Content, Percolate, Wright’s Media and meeting people from all over the world was the greatest part. Networking on the first night with a couple of cocktails sure helped to break the ice between some cool guys I met from Sweden, who actually had a ton of nice things to say about Cleveland being the host city. I live here and more often than not, “the mistake by the lake” is all I hear about our fair city.
Care and Feeding
Being a writer at the conference makes you feel a little bit like the low man (or gal) on the totem pole when everyone else seems to own their own content platform. It was still pretty fantastic to rub elbows with all those highly successful people. Granted, everyone was exceptionally nice, the accommodations of the conference were excellent, including beverage stations set up practically every five feet, and the boxed lunches for each day’s “Lunch and Learn” sessions were nothing short of excellent. Turkey on a multigrain baguette one day and a tasty Greek chicken salad the other, for those of you foodie obsessed people reading this. It also made me realize that I need someone to make me a gourmet boxed lunch every day when I’m working from my home office.
This was probably one of the most well run conferences I have ever attended. The organizers put a ton of thought into making it a success and comfortable for everyone involved. Even when you couldn’t make it into one of the sessions, they quickly had an overflow room ready so that you could still watch the presentation by video screen. That luckily only happened to me once, and I made it into even the most well-attended ones like Ann Handley’s advanced class on How To Make Your Writing Ludicrously Spectacular.
Another favorite presenter was Allen Gannett, CEO of TrackMaven, whose talk on Creativity For Marketers was a winner with his hilarious manner of speaking. And he looks just like the actor Justin Long, who is incidentally very cute. Plus, Jay Acunzo VP of marketing and support at NextView, who presented Unthinkable: How The World’s Most Creative Content Marketers Do what Others Wouldn’t Dare, was highly entertaining and informative.
Don’t Miss Out
If you are involved in any aspect of content marketing, this conference is a must-see event. Make your plans for next year. I don’t see how they could top keynote speaker, Luke Sky-I mean actor Mark Hamill. His talk to a crowd of nearly 4,000 eager attendees had people hanging on his every word. It felt a bit like an episode of The Actor’s Studio with Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi instead of James Lipton. My favorite part had to be when he asked whether Hamill liked his Star Wars character or his Batman’s Joker better? He basically answered, “Can’t I love them both?”
I could say the same if asked about my favorite part of the conference. It’s hard to choose just one thing. I basically loved all of it. You won’t regret signing up for next year as soon as registration begins for Content Marketing World 2017. Thank you WriterAccess for allowing me to attend as part of our team.
Kelly R is a Beauty Editor and Copywriter. She has written for many different online and print publications including Allure, Mode Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, Seminole and The New Yorker.