Review of Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

As a web content writer, I can’t pass up a book that promises to help produce killer content for the Web. Thanks to my Kindle, I was able to buy the book and start reading it within seconds. Even though it took me a while to finish it (moving oblige), I’m really glad I did.

I loved one of the foundational premises of the book: “marketing can learn a lot from the art and style of storytelling (literature) and the fundamentals and science of good reporting (journalism)” (loc 314). This is a book after my own heart–introducing literature in the marketing mix.

The book is geared towards businesses and brands, not personal bloggers, but I did get a lot out of it anyway. As I’m trying to get up to date on web marketing and content management, I found the 11 rules the authors lay out simple and comprehensive:

  • Embrace being a publisher
  • Insight inspires originality
  • Build momentum
  • Speak human
  • Reimagine, don’t recycle
  • Share or solve, don’t shill
  • Show, don’t just tell
  • Do something unexpected
  • Stoke the campfire
  • Create wings and roots
  • Play to your strengths

The rest of the book is devoted to explaining and demonstrating these 11 rules, first through theory and practical advice and then through several case studies.

I appreciated the tutorial style of the book. Instead of focusing on why marketing has changed (a role fulfilled by The New Rules of Marketing & PR), the authors decided to discuss the how: the basic rules to create great content that supports your brand and brings you traffic.

Something I found especially useful was the bare bones of an editorial calendar–what to post every day, every week, every month, every quarter and a few times a year. This will come in handy as I work on Molives‘ content strategy. In fact, most of the book is useful: it lays out in simple terms the different ways to produce good content without being prescriptive or preachy. The authors believe that there’s no one-stop solution and that every content strategy must fit the business’s goals.

This is not a marketing theory book but rather a how-to. If you’re interested in the theory behind the practice, look at The New Rules and other books about the same topic. There’s plenty of them out there. But if you’re looking for hands-on, practical tips that you can implement right away, Content Rules is a great choice to get started.

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman.
Wiley, 2010.

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6 Comments

Filed under Books, Reviews

6 responses to “Review of Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

  1. I have to start reading more! Thanks for the good review. It should inspire me.

    I can’t pass up an opportunity to publicize these two content resources, although a bit tangential:

    Rahel Bailie’s content strategy site: http://www.intentionaldesign.ca

    The Vancouver Content Strategy meetup:

    Content Strategy Vancouver

    Vancouver, BC
    156 Members

    We talk about content under the hood: strategy, copy, taxonomy, organic search, systems, requirements, the intersection of CS and UX, and more, depending on who is in the hous…

    Check out this Meetup Group →

  2. Pingback: The TV Diet–Day 1 « Anabelle's Blog

  3. I’m coming back from Portland that afternoon, so most likely I’ll be arriving back too late to go to the meetup.

  4. Thanks for reading, Anabelle! I’m glad you liked the book. C.C. and I really wanted to produce a “how” book… something that could help readers DO something when they put it down (instead of producing a “now what?” moment).

    Really glad you liked it.

    • Anabelle

      Yes, and that’s what I got from it :) I’m more of a theoretical person, mind you, but theory doesn’t necessarily get the job done. What I got the most out of it was the editorial calendar model and the roots and branches image. Will come in handy for my first content strategy client!

      Thanks for stopping by :)

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