What I do

I work with progressive causes and candidates to make the United States and the world a more united, just, equitable, sustainable and free society. (Tall order, I know. I don’t plan on accomplishing this by myself or anytime soon, but I’m doing what I can to help. I hope you are, too.)

MOST RECENTLY, I’m consulting with Tom Steyer on narrative strategy and working on a major foundation-funded effort to find powerful narratives to advance gender justice. I recently completed work with the Midwest Culture Lab, a project of the Alliance for Youth Organizing, to expand civic participation among young people, especially young people of color, in the Midwest and across the country.

MY EXPERTISE comes from roughly two decades of advertising work and another two decades in journalism. I’ve been a reporter, editor, publisher and CEO in the news business. In advertising, I’ve been a senior executive for global agencies, spreading content marketing across the world; and I’ve founded and run my own boutique storytelling agency. My experience has focused on journalism, narrative strategy, storytelling, innovative social/digital advertising, the invention of content marketing and how to organize content-creation at scale. (You can find the job-by-job version of my life on LinkedIn.)

These days, I help social justice and political organizations understand and create narrative strategy and use integrated processes to create and sustain effective multi-channel content marketing. I help find the core story — what I call the "story platform" — that will connect most powerfully with the audience we’re trying to reach. I formulate effective strategies based on that core narrative. I help create and produce the audience-facing content that drives campaigns — digital and physical media, including text, image and video for distribution in multiple formats and all channels, online and off. I even write speeches.

I've worked with multi-brand holding companies. Individual brands. Non-profits. Media companies. Political organizations. (You can see some examples in Ideas @ Work and a piece that describes some of my work with the Steyer organization — “How to Stop Mismeasuring the People.”)

Want to know more about me? (It's hard to imagine you do, but you'll find it here: Why Me?)

Connecting with people is not about tactics.
It's about transformation.


Say that as a complete sentence: "People do not like ads."
Especially people under 40.
Especially on mobile. (Which is almost everything now.)

Translated to the world of politics and justice, this means people do not like messages, talking points and policy memos.

The ad business and the practice of politics have been resisting this news, but the popular rebellion against advertising is not going away.

The growth of ad avoidance marks the end of the advertising age and the beginning of something entirely new: the post-ad age — a time when content valued by the audience is replacing ads not valued (and, increasingly, not even seen) by anyone. The anti-ad revolution has been in progress for more than a decade. Finally, with the rapid growth of ad blockers, it became impossible to ignore.

It's a moment when siloed approaches and interruptive TV-thinking must give way to a radically new media world that demands engaging, multi-channel storytelling. What's needed is organizational transformation to deliver the seamless integration of every discipline and department that touches products, services and ideas within any company, political campaign or non-profit.

It's a huge problem for anyone unwilling to change. It’s a huge opportunity for bravely ambitious folks willing to integrate and transform their marketing and communications for the digital 21st century.

As I've been saying since 2007, "Welcome to the post-advertising age."

I feel like I've been talking about the end of traditional advertising forever. This interview proves it. Recorded in fall 2011 by Larry Asher, creative director of Seattle's Worker Bees agency, the interview was done for the ebook "Do or Die," written by Larry in conjunction with Razorfish's then-chairman Clark Kokich. With one exception, what I said back then remains true. (See if you can find the exception.) Click for more about post advertising.

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