It was a rainy, windy walk to Babcock & Jenkins in Downtown Portland, but well worth it. Colleen Jones, author of Clout, gave a presentation tonight on her process for creating attention-grabbing content over at the agency. She encouraged that whether you work with content for an agency, an employer, or as a freelancer, we should all follow a set of best practices to create influential content.

Jones began by diving into why digital is so darn complicated as of late. It used to be just a site and people who use it. Maybe some videos and audio embedded here and there.

Turns out that content drives this recent complexity, with technological advances riding shotgun. Jones implies in her book, and in her presentation, that as communications professionals of all types, it’s our duty to take action and tame this complexity. We could leave it to run amok, but it would leave the web in confusing, irresponsible ruin, wouldn’t it?

Imagine the most spammy, content farm-y site. Now multiply that by some huge number. That might be what the web could look like if there weren’t responsible, hard-working web communications smarties out there doing the right thing, applying strategy, planning, swift execution, and governance to content.


After a brief encounter with zombies, where Jones used the Center for Disease Control’s zombie blog campaign as an example, we began to discuss what makes influential content tick.

Turns out that influential content has CLOUT. Here’s a quick look:

C for Credible: people trust and believe in credible stuff and the businesses that make it. L for Likeable: we love doing business with people we like. O for Outstanding: we love experiencing unique and differentiating content. U for Useful: the best content is the useful stuff, isn’t it? T for Triggers attitude or action: our clients love it when content accomplishes an objective.

"The only way to thrive in the digital landscape today is to have influential content." -Colleen Jones, and then a zombie eating some brains appeared.

After that, we discussed methods of measuring the effectiveness of content. Jones recommended that we evaluate content by measuring qualitative data, quantitative data, and by connecting these results to overall campaign goals.

My takeaway.

Regardless of the size of a business, non-profit, or project, there’s some influencing to be done. The web gives organizations of all sizes a new avenue of doing so. With so many ways to access information nowadays, it seems silly to not to want to create influential content.

It would be in the best interest of anyone involved with communications and informing or influencing large amounts of people to avoid pitfalls like creating content for the sake of SEO, blanket advertising, or shallow social media strategies. Instead, invest in creating influential, market-moving content. Also, invest in your people who are making it happen.

While the scope of a project may seem large when creating a lofty goal like “increase awareness of our widgets to the market,” it’s doable when using content strategy principles like Jones’ CLOUT method.

Like tying your shoes, mentoring, writing a creative brief, or making a sandwich, being influential is a life skill, in my opinion. Tastefully and purposefully creating influence for benefit and for good sounds like a great investment in the self.