Award-Winning Custom Publisher on Winning Content Tips for Brands and Freelancers


Publishing content has become as easy as clicking a mouse, and technology make rich analytics and data analysis easy for even the most technophobic marketers. But creating great content—content that solves for long-term goals—remains a big challenge for brands and marketers alike.

Founded in 1994, Chicago-based custom publisher Imagination Publishing has done work running the gamut for major brands and associations. Two of the company’s stars, Chief Content Officer Karen Budell and Chief Talent Officer Andrea Scott, spoke at ASJA’s Content Connections conference on November 7th on what it takes to create winning custom content and the editorial skills brands are looking for.

Content fuels modern brands

Instead of focusing specifically on transactions, winning content marketing is inspired by a sense of purpose. The content can include community participation, rather than top-down messaging, and the brand is an experience, not merely an object. Ideally, consumers become brand ambassadors, not just users of a product.


Tailor content appropriately

At Imagination, each piece of content is carefully crafted based on the client’s business objective and target audience. Even when a brand demands a specific type of content, said the two women, Imagination tries to make the determination as to which channels and media make the most sense for delivering that message.


Content is not just a campaign

Imagination adamantly believes that there has to be something to sustain a long-term relationship with a customer. Campaigns can help generate brand awareness, but content has to constantly be created—not just during the campaign.


Be aware of business objectives

It’s crucial for content creators to know the end users of a product, and to use the appropriate tone and voice to reach them. This knowledge starts as early as the planning and ideation stages.


Mix it up

According to Imagination, delivering a nice mix of content and types of media helps thought leaders speak to the unique needs of their specific audience. Depending on the type of material being presented and the goals involved, videos may be more relevant than articles, and infographics may speak to an audience more than simple graphics.

J-School revisited

As freelance writer transition from journalism to content marketing, or supplement their income with content work, the basics taught in journalism school are still very relevant. Good interviewing and reporting chops, solid writing and knowledge of AP Style are still crucial skills, they said.

Like many content marketing firms, Imagination stresses the need for writers to be able to research clients, learn about their specific target audiences, and break down complex subject matter into accessible material. This, tied to quality work, quick turnaround times and the ability to meet deadlines, helps freelance writers thrive in a client-centered environment.

Free Ebyline Guide

Don't Let a Bad Content Writer Damage Your Brand

The new content marketing basics anyone can use

Subscribe to the latest content strategies...

About Yael Grauer

Yael Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yael Writes.