Greetings from Greenpoint, where we’ve recently discovered that our new office space not only has fast wifi, but also meditation workshops and wine tastings. It's like a woke WeWork. A WeWoke, if you would. *ducks rotten tomato*
We're also pleased to report that ever since we installed our mini fridge, people seem to be working from home a lot less. And least importantly, we now have a Facebook page because that’s what all the cool teens are into.
As always, if you like what you’re reading, the powers that be would be thrilled if you’d pass this link along to your friends! Your enemies, too, really. Maybe you can start to resolve your differences by bonding over your shared love for this newsletter.
On to the #content:
The noise in blue
As veterans of the content game (srsly, we've been at this since before content marketing was even a thing), it's pretty hard to impress us with branded content. Sure, there's good stuff out there (some of it we've even helped create), but these days everyone’s in the business of content, and it's been a while since we’ve seen a non-media company create something that made our jaw drop. Imagine our surprise, then, when the series that had us spitting out our morning cappuccino came from none other than the New York City Police Department.
The New York Times has the story of Edward Conlon, an NYPD detective who left the force to become a novelist (you may know him from the best seller Blue Blood), then returned back after a brief flirtation with retirement as the department's director of executive communications--a newly created role that has Conlon writing magazine-style narrative pieces that live on the NYPD website.
This is not your everyday public sector PR pablum. Instead of publishing the usual rote press releases and departmental updates, Conlon writes thoughtful, engaging, thousand-some-odd word reported features. The stories range from deep dives in a single neighborhood precinct, to a deeper look into the hostage negotiation team to historical profiles of past officers. In short, Conlon’s the department’s extremely well-qualified content marketer.
“What Ed does is breathe life into our policies and what we’re up to,” Deputy Commissioner William W. Andrews, who created Conlon’s new position, told the Times. “I mean, he’s got a wonderful ear for dialogue; he’s great at putting people on the page, and he knows policing inside out.”
Is it propaganda? Kinda sorta. But it feels honest, and that's because it is honest. It's clear that while this isn't journalism, and that these stories probably have to be OK'd by NYPD higher-ups, they've done so with a light hand, and the result is that it humanizes the NYPD in a way that typical marketing struggles to do. In that sense it is a textbook example of why good content marketing can be so effective. Conlon's stories are a compelling look at a brand; they examine who the brand is and what it does; they inform and engage the brand's customers; and they crucially do so in a way that goes down easy. And that makes for a pretty good story.
Some (high-paying) jobs
Prudential is looking for a VP of Brand Development and Engagement. Insurance companies sound boring but they do pretty cool stuff on the branding side, and also they salary's probably sick.
Manifest, which is a cool agency in New York that's possibly named after a Gangstarr song, is looking for a VP of Creative to lead editorial design throughout the agency.
Vonage is hiring a VP of Brand, Content and Creative, basically a VP of All the Fun Stuff without Any of the Boring Stuff.
Vox Media is seeking a VP of Development, Non-Scripted. Come up with the next KUWTK or your fired (we kid, we think).
Things are happening
1) Shutterstock released a beautiful interactive guide to 2019 visual and creative trends based on the billions of searches and downloads their site sees. The 80s and animal print are in, overusing plastic is out, and 'zines are back!!
2) Via Digiday: Confessions of an In-house Content Marketer (not to be confused with the Cam'ron classic, Confessions of Fire).
3) Lacoste has swapped out its iconic crocodile logo for ten different endangered animal species. In partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, proceeds from each shirt will go to help the species’ survival, and we’d like to order twenty, please.
4) Someone wrote an entire book about Run DMC & Aerosmith's Walk This Way, which seems extreme but also which we'll probably read cover to cover.
5) Real estate agents should not be writing rock n' roll history.
6) Flying squirrels that glow pink in the dark.
7) Via Pitchfork, a 25-Year-Old Dinosaur Jr. song is a hit in Japan and nobody knows why. File under "Siri, show me the perfect headline."
8) And finally, if you put Nicholas Cage’s face on Ross from FRIENDS, he just looks more like Ross. We’re sorry in advance, but you need to see this.
What we're listening to
When we’re not listening to deep cuts from old Dinosaur Jr. albums, we’ve been really into Twin Peaks, who rule. You may have never realized that you needed a melding of ‘60s rock and current garage punk from a bunch of kids from Chicago, but now you do. They have a (new-ish) album out and its great.