What Twitter thought of ‘Marketing people and content people: It’s complicated’ at CS Forum

I love presenting at conferences. Love it. I love picking a topic and spending hours thinking about it. I love having a reason to read up on stuff that interests me. I love that when you say to someone, “I’m working on a talk and I’d like to hear your thoughts on [topic x]”, they almost always give up time for a chat. At events, being a speaker is a great way to meet people. At CS Forum (which was great, by the way), someone found me during a coffee break and opened with, “Hi, you made me really angry,” but with a smile on her face. I love seeing and hearing reactions to what I present. I love it all.

Except the post-conference wrap up blog post. I don’t love that bit. It’s hard, and it takes longer than I want it to, and especially after the best conferences, it drags back the post-event blues that you get for a couple of days afterwards.

Last week I was at CS Forum with a presentation called ‘Marketing people and content people: It’s complicated’. It was a brilliant conference. My talk was fun. It seemed like people got something out of it, which is the result you want as a speaker. The slides are embedded at the bottom of this post.

This time I’m not doing a full wrap up. I’m going to let Twitter do it for me.

The cool thing here is that I can’t pick out the bits that I thought were best. I can only use things that stood out to other people. How’s that for putting the audience first?

Let’s begin with the TL;DR versions.

Even though I carefully titled the talk with the non-confrontational words “it’s complicated”, it didn’t take long for @msabotkoski to see through the looking glass.

And even though the whole thing took me more than half an hour, these three tweets pretty much cover the entire thing. Seriously.

Ok, so now we’re done pretty much here. But if you’re one of those superhumans with an attention span that can handle more than four tweets, read on…

Before the meaty bit of the talk, during the obligatory introductory stuff, I took the opportunity to do this:

It fitted in with the talk, I promise. But it doesn’t really matter exactly why I wrote a big red NO on top of Donald Trump’s stupid orange face. The point is, I did. And I projected it onto the biggest screen I’ve ever had access to. And it felt great.

So I took a moment to enjoy that. Achievement unlocked.

Anyway, you’re probably here for the actual talk. Ever wondered how to tell marketing people and content people apart? All it takes is a quick terminology test.

(Those empty seats look kind of weird, huh? They’re left over from an earlier panel discussion.)

“So, what’s your job?”

“I’m in the content team.”

“What’s that like?”

(This is quite possibly I’ve earned a #truthbomb hashtag while clicking through a Powerpoint deck. Winning.)

“So, what’s your job?”

“I’m in the marketing team.”

“What’s that like?”


As the content people and marketing people that I’m quoting start talking about each other, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a bit of fight going on:

…which earned me MY FIRST EVER MID-PRESENTATION SASSY REACTION GIF! Self-fives all round.

Now, that particular burn was a marketing person’s thoughts about content people. But it’s okay – content people got their own back.

By now, it’s pretty clear that we’ve got some conflict going on. @chess65 wasn’t surprised:

But @writally was:

Good. Goooood.

Next, we turn to organisational structure, and managerial stuff. And I am so stoked that @snappysentences got one of my favourite lines out into the cybers while I was still onstage:


Can content and marketing teams at least use that family tree/food chain as a way to escalate their disagreements to a boss who overlooks them both?

Not often.

And while we’re talking about managers, here’s an interesting comparison. Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

…which leads me to wonder:

…and which shows up the emptiness of the slogans people have been kicking around about content for too long now:

From here I turned to strategy – the really hard stuff. Possibly by coincidence, the tweets kind of dried up. I’d like to think that’s because I had the audience entranced, leaning in with their phones down. Or maybe the mid-afternoon coffee slump hit. Or people noticed what they’d done to their batteries. Either way, the blow-by-blow account ends here, about 10 minutes from the end.

Time for one more one-liner, and then we’re done:

So, did I change any minds? Maybe.

And did I get at least one compliment? Yes. So I’m going to make you read it 🙂

Want to see a repeat performance?

This is one of the talks you can book over at Content Strategy, Simplified. Invite me in to present to your marketing and content people. The conversation I’ll spark will show you how well they’re collaborating now (spoiler alert: probably not well) and how they could start doing better.

The full slide deck

Funny quotes, sad quotes, Trump being told “NO”, and a room with really spiky walls. These slides have it all!

And we’re done. CS Forum 2016 was absolutely wonderful. Everyone who played a part in making it happen deserves a GIF of someone applauding, or a happy puppy. I hope it’s not another four years before I get to attend again.