Phil Stubbs

The journey that led me to start Media School

Every good business has a story. The essence of how they came to do what they’re doing. The reason why they’re doing it.

If you can articulate that for your business it’ll give you the seeds of some authentic content to engage with your audience on the internet and the motivation to keep at it.

This post is the story of how I started training people to use new media. And why I love to help them use social media to pursue their own goals and dreams.


My business and advertising foundations

I originally studied Business at Queensland University, graduated and realised pretty quickly I needed to do something creative. It led me to work in advertising.

I landed a job at one of the country’s leading ad agencies (The Campaign Palace in Sydney.) It was an innovative place and had won lots of awards for its creativity.

It also had a strong strategic focus and I worked closely with an experienced Strategy Planner. The budgets and campaigns were big and I learnt loads about approaching marketing and communication in smart, strategic, creative ways.

But there was something missing. Authenticity.


Work with small business, causes and in media education

I escaped corporate advertising and freelanced promoting small businesses and causes.

It was at that time I stumbled onto a job running an ad course at Charles Sturt University – which gave me the flexibility to work on interesting, worthwhile projects with students. Often the budgets were tiny but we worked out creative ways to get things happening in the media for all sorts of charities, small businesses and startups.


Enter Facebook (and social media)

After moving to teach at the University of Western Sydney, one day early in 2007 I got an email from a student asking: “Will you be my friend on Facebook?” 

Err, nope I thought, and anyway what is Facebook?

Turns out now it’s the most influential media platform on the planet. The penny began to drop that year and I set about learning as much as I could – by way of courses and diving in and using these new emerging media platforms myself.

By 2009 I was teaching social media in my advertising courses. And even set my students the task of promoting a new kind of client in my Campaigns class – themselves. I got them to promote their own personal brand with the tiniest budget possible – zero.


Carving out a niche online

It was a promotion campaign that worked straight up for a number of students who were offered a job before university had even finished – thanks to employers finding their blog and social media profiles online.

I’d known the power of the media from my days in advertising. But now, with social media, you could get into the media for free. Anyone could find an audience, carve out their own niche and build a reputation.


What works on the web

While I was at university I studied who was successful online and why. What I found, ironically after working in corporate advertising, was that authenticity was now the key.

To do something that’s true to you. Something where your passion shines through. Something that helps the world, even a small way, even to a very specific group people. That’s the stuff that works well on the web.


My low budget online success

I know this, not just from research at university and my work with students, but also from diving in online myself.

One of my other passions is sustainability. Another is radio. On the side in late 2007 I started reporting environmental stories for 2ser. On the back of it in early 2008 I had a go at launching my own blog and podcast. By April that podcast reached Number 4 in the News & Politics section of iTunes, just above the Channel 9 News.

Further confirmation for me that “the gatekeepers were no longer in control”. You no longer needed a truckload of money to make a mark in the media. It also taught me you’ve just got to get in and give things a go in this new media space. (If I’d worried about ROI in the beginning, I’d never have got that far.)


The trouble with university

The future was clearly digital. I developed a Digital Media subject for the university but was told it would take at least 3 years before it would hit the ground – thanks to uni bureaucracy.

I was also being pushed by the uni to publish papers and do a PhD that would take 7 years and produce a thesis I knew would end up on a dusty shelf in a library somewhere.

At the same time my uni subjects had become sausage factories – pumping through ever-increasing numbers of students. Some lectures had 400 people. And around me the academics being promoted were the ones that theorised the most and taught the least.


My startup

So instead of spending 7 years theorising, I ditched my secure, well paying job for the potential and risk of my own small business, and to plant my feet firmly back on the ground.

To teach small classes. To really help people. To help them do good things – like launch new ventures and new careers and make a difference in their own way.

To be in the here and now of the new media world that’s changing all the time. And to do my own practical, new media projects.

Back to authenticity. (Some things don’t go away.)


The joy of teaching

In the last few years since I’ve started Media School, I’ve had some wonderful people in classes: other small business owners, marketing and communication professionals (promoting big brands and worthwhile causes), and courageous folk starting new careers and launching interesting new creative ventures.

It’s been a joy to teach them and help them learn how to use new media to further their goals.

You can see where they’ve come from and see what they’ve said about us via these links.

And you can even see what a course looks like via our Instagram. (No longer 400 students in a class, but 6 to 12.)


And what about you?

How did you come to do what you’re doing now?

Whatever you’re promoting, there may well be the seeds of a great campaign in what’s behind it and how it came to be.

Why you started it.

(Simon Sinek reckons “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” It’s far more compelling. Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk. He explains how ‘finding your why’ works.)


Get in touch

I’d love to hear what you’re working on, why and how it started, and how I could help. You’re welcome to give me a call on 0403 517242.

If you want to see what we do in courses you’ll find lots of detail about our flagship social media course here. If you come you’ll learn more about creating compelling content and how to get new media to really work for you.


Best of luck, Phil

Content marketing for beginners: how and why it works

People have been getting pretty tired of marketing messages being ‘pushed’ on them for some time. Now with the internet they are really over it. No one wants to click on your banner ad. Fewer people are opening your emails. And pop-up ads drive us nuts.

There is another way though. And that’s to get your head around how this new media really works, and work with it. The video here provides a great intro to how you can make a mark on the internet.

Instead of interrupting people with your message, what you need to do is give them something so good they not only thank you for it, the reaction you get is: “wow that’s amazing, I have to share this.” So they go on Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin or Pinterest and pass it onto their friends.

Think about it: people are on the internet to discover things, communicate with their friends and represent to the world who they are. You can create ‘content’ that can help them with that.

Don’t think of the internet as another way of advertising. Instead put material on the internet that’s interesting, useful, insightful, inspiring, enlightening, unusual and maybe even educational.

This kind of marketing has been called many things, but the name you no doubt have heard (and will hear more of) is “content marketing”.

Simply put, content marketing is about creating material your audience enjoys paying attention to, that they want to share, and that demonstrates you’d be a good person to do business with.

This post is the first in our series of posts on content marketing. In the posts to come we’ll get stuck into how to do it.

Have another look at the video in this post. If you can really do what it suggests i.e. switch people’s thinking you’ll be onto something that’ll go gangbusters on the internet. In the posts to come we’ll also look more closely at the secret sauce that goes beyond ‘the how’ to supercharge engagement with your audience – understanding ‘the why’ of content marketing.

Useful links:
Our series of posts on content marketing
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing

What do you think? Leave us a comment and let us know …

By Phil Stubbs

How to win at content marketing: tell a compelling story

How do you breakthrough when everyone has cottoned on to the idea of content marketing?

Tell your audience a story. People love stories. One that’s unique and from the heart of the business.

The video here is about a business that’s in the business of telling stories. It explains how finding and telling your unique story can work …

How do you find your story? You need to dig and ask the right questions.

Ask yourself what’s the idea behind your business? What’s ‘the why’: why are you doing it? Dig deep: what brought you to the point of starting it?

Now put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What is it you do that rings true for them. How are you making their lives better? What brings value to their lives?

There’s truth and power in the answers to these questions.

If you tell a compelling story based on a fundamental truth you have a better chance of your audience engaging with you. If they see the value in your idea they’ll begin to participate.

If you really are doing something that’s making people’s lives better they’ll adopt it to be part of their own story. And they’ll share it so it’s part of their communities.

This is the art of good content marketing.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources – yours for free:
Our series of posts on content marketing
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing
Videos on storytelling

Have your own ideas about content marketing? Leave a comment below.

By Phil Stubbs

Content marketing elements table

The elements of content marketing

New to content marketing? We’ve broken it down to its component parts:
– the types of content
– the formats of content
– where you can distribute content
– the triggers that encourage folks to share your content
– a checklist of essentials before you publish
– your objectives and how you measure your content marketing

Thanks to Econsultancy for a living example of content marketing. They’ve visualised the parts in this ‘periodic table’.

Read on to find out what all this means in lay terms.

Types of content
These are all different approaches you can take to creating content. Different angles if you like:
– how to’s
– reviews
– interviews
– beginner’s guide
– ask the experts
– Q&A
– compilation
– best practice
– case study
– research findings
– trends
– opinion piece
– vision for niche
– biggest tip
– inspiration
– quote
– product demo
– mindmap
– template
– checklist
– timesaving tips

Formats of content
You can package your ideas in different forms:
– video
– article
– blog post
– image
– infographic
– visualisation
– slideshow
– ebook
– webinar
– elearning
– event
– game
– app
– tool

Distribution / sharing platforms
There’s many ways you can get your content out there:
– website
– email
– blog
– forums
– Facebook
– Linkedin
– Twitter
– YouTube
– Google+
– Pinterest
– Instagram
– Slideshare
– partner sites
– traditional media
– traditional advertising

Sharing triggers
As you’re creating your content it’ll help you to keep in mind the triggers that will spur people to share it. Reasons vary. It can be they find the content:
– funny
– moving
– controversial
– unbelievable
– illuminating
– uplifting
– charming
– cool
– cute
– sexy
– shocking
– disgusting

Often it’s tapping into very essential human qualities that are the source of people’s urge to share. More in this post on the humanity of social media sharing.

Before you put your content out there make sure the work is:
– search optimised
– headline optimised
– device optimised
– copy edited and crafted
– used plain English
– used appropriate tone of voice
– credited sources
– checked facts
– sorted formatting
– fits brand guidelines
– included a call to action
– invited feedback

You should of course track how your content has performed – against these kinds of objectives:
– traffic
– leads
– branding
– sales
– search position
– members
– shares
– engagement

OK it’s a bit dry all this component stuff. What it does though is lay the foundation for all the different ways you can do content marketing.

Our series of posts on content marketing will help you dive deeper – into the stuff that’ll set you apart, that’ll engage your audience and get your content marketing to touch some deeper nerves.

You can also find more via our collection of free learning resources:
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing

Have we forgotten anything? Let us know in the comments below …

by Phil Stubbs

How to succeed online: 50 classic cliches that actually work

Success online tips adviceI recently went to the Problogger conference and heard some of the world’s leading bloggers explain their success.

The concepts really weren’t rocket science. But the same things kept coming up over and over. Which got me thinking – on face value they may sound obvious, but something’s going on if the leaders are saying the same thing.

So I’ve collated the best of the oft-repeated tips – to remind myself for my own work and to help you with yours.

There’s some clear camps they seemed to fall into – which you can see in the headings below:

Find Your Purpose
1. what’s your why
2. be your authentic self
3. dare to dream
4. think big
5. have a vision (of where you want to be in 5 years)
6. do something meaningful
7. what’s your mission?
8. what do you need to give the world? (what’s your calling?)
9. what do you want to be known for?
10. do what you love, it won’t feel like work

Create Great Content
11. solve your audience’s problems
12. what are their burning fears?
13. what are their hopes and struggles?
14. inspire people
15. attract attention
16. tell a story
17. add value
18. be generous
19. reveal secrets
20. be useful

Connect With Your Audience
21. learn to listen
22. what is your audience interested in?
23. where are they hanging out?
24. how can you transform their lives?
25. help them
26. pay it forward
27. tell your story
28. respond and engage
29. get them to know, like and trust you
30. word of mouth works

Think Success
31. don’t fear failure
32. look at failure as feedback
33. make the most of opportunities
34. learn from others doing it well
35. don’t compare yourself
36. get creative with what you’ve got
37. try things
38. do more of the things that work and drop the things that don’t
39. do what you do well
40. think long term

Get Things Done
41. know your goals
42. break it down (into the steps that’ll get you there)
43. take imperfect action toward your goals
44. give yourself a deadline
45. plan your day (and week)
46. prioritise
47. learn to say no
48. outsource
49. focus
50. take time out (to look after yourself)

Bonus tip
51. It’s ok to be an introvert.
(This one came up many times at the conference. A good one for me. You too?)

All these tips are well and good, but at the end of the day you’ve got to get in there and do the work. This was the thing I kept thinking to myself throughout the conference. So one last cliche from me (one I’ve borrowed from my mum who used on me a lot): For goodness sake Philip, just get on with it!

If you have any other advice, I’d love to hear it. You’re welcome to share them in the comments.

Something else I got from the conference was thinking on how to present. I’ve distilled it into some simple tips on how to do a presentation well.