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CCN16 Sessions
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9:00 a.m.


How to Stare Down the Content Train and Tell a Compelling Story in Record Time

Pamela Wilson, Rainmaker Digital

Whether you’re part of a team or creating content on your own, every one of us knows that feeling of our publishing schedule coming down the tracks, heading right toward us. Most of us feel like we’re running hard and barely able to keep ahead of that train.

In this presentation, Pamela Wilson of Rainmaker Digital and the Copyblogger blog will show you an easy-to-use system for getting your content ideas out of your head and into the world.

10:00 a.m.

Design Room 1:

Choose Your Own Legal Adventure

Rachel Schaffer Lawson


Tracks: Creative Entrepreneurship

Similar to the book series popular in the late 70s, Choose Your Own Legal Adventure is a session dedicated to safely navigating the treacherous landscape of law for the entrepreneur. The session is broken into 4 parts.

Part I: so you have an idea for a product/service, how do you protect it? This will discuss intellectual property issues entrepreneurs needs to be aware of (i.e. copyright, trademark and patent).

Part II: how do you protect your good/service? This will discuss corporate entities and formation as well as insurance needs for entrepreneurs.

Part III: contracts between partners, clients and vendors.

Finally, Part IV will discuss employees and various issues that can arise.

Each part will incorporate real and hypothetical scenarios (i.e. storytelling to illustrate all points) with plenty of time for questions.

Design Room 2:

Becoming a Mindful Leader

Matt Thieleman


Tracks: Creative Entrepreneurship

Technology is eating the world. (And that's OK, but...) In order to be a successful leader tomorrow and beyond, you're going to need to be equipped to handle everything that comes with exponential technology and limited time.

What do we need? Mindful leaders: Fully present, aware of themselves and their impact on others, and focused on achieving the goals of their team.

In this session I'll discuss the characteristics of a mindful leader, tools for becoming more mindful (meditation!) and how you can lead your team to success.

Drawing Room 2:

The Power of Digital Storytelling

Wade Kwon


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling

Marketing has evolved rapidly with the rise of digital outlets. But what can cut through the din of commercials and crass come-ons? Stories. We are natural storytellers, but we must strive to improve our skills for our online audiences.

Wade Kwon, conference director for Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, will guide you through the options and strategies behind compelling storytelling. His work as a writer, journalist and storyteller has helped companies reach audiences quickly and effectively. Learn the three questions that will transform your brand’s story into a saga worth sharing.

Studio B:

Forms Are Your Friend: Templates for Content Creation and Approval

Laura Creekmore


Tracks: Content Strategy

A lot of us got into a creative field so we could, well, be creative. But I'm here to break the bad news: The more you can constrain yourself, the more effective your content will be. Join me for the hard truth about the rules you need to create great content.

Studio D:

It's Time to Get Anti-Social

Kimble Bosworth


Tracks: Social Media

Social media marketing doesn't work for everyone. Heck, it doesn't work for most small to medium sized businesses (and even some larger ones). But people keep doing it (mostly wrong) and clogging up our social feeds with pushy sales nonsense. Don't be those people. Be the people who embrace these 13 steps to growing your business by being "AntiSocial." Be the people who spend less than 2 hours per week growing your business using a more efficient and targeted social media engagement approach to get your ideal customers to come to YOU - instead of annoying them with your obnoxious social selling. Be the people who have a plan to generate real social media engagement ROI and have more fun doing it.

10:45 a.m.

Design Room 1:

Slacking Off at Work

Lacy Paschal


Tracks: Marketing & Business, Technology

SLACKING. It's no longer a bad word at work. Slack is the communication platform that will change how your team works. In this session we'll explore how Vanderbilt University implemented Slack in their Web Communications office, integrated it with their help desk, project management system, code repositories, and how it completely changed the culture of the office. If you're wondering how to streamline communications, improve team collaborations, and centralize discussions about your work -- you won't want to miss this session.

Design Room 2:

Sales Process and Strategies for Creatives

Jim McCarthy


Tracks: Creative Entrepreneurship

Selling your craft isn't always easy. After several years in the car business as well as more than 18 years in the radio industry as a creative professional, I've learned that maybe car salespeople have some things that we creatives could learn. This session will help you with strategies and techniques adapted from an automotive-style sales process so you get the rate you're worth. It's a great method for anyone in a creative profession.

Topics include:

Drawing Room 2:

How I Turned My Podcast Into a Published Book

Jeff Sanders


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Podcasting

Have you ever wanted to be an author? In this session I will break down how I was able to leverage my podcast into a published book. We will briefly touch on the publishing process and then dive into how you can use your existing and future high-quality content to craft a well-written book. These methods work with either traditional or self-publishing and they apply to all content creators who want to call themselves authors!

Studio B:

Redefining Branding - Telling Stories that Matter

Laura Click


Tracks: Branding

The competition for attention is fierce and getting your message heard in today's noisy online world is tough. Perhaps tougher than it's ever been. But, shouting louder isn't the solution. Success hinges on telling a more compelling story. In this session, you'll learn the secret to telling a brand story that matters and gets the attention of your audience. And, you'll walk away with actionable ideas that can be a game-changer for how you communicate about your business.

Studio D:

Panel: New Media Kids on the Block

Kyra Walton, Daniel Ingram, Alisha Rochus, Lane Fernandez


Tracks: Social Media, Content Strategy

This Funky Bunch are the New Edition from the New Media Communication Capstone program at MTSU. [Pause boy band references.] This panel of students will present five minute case studies of the portfolio projects that (they hope) will give them their start. [Resume boy band references.] Not Brothers, not Boyz, not Men, fresh from the Backstreet, they are All-4-One. These New Media Kids are headed in One Direction; to become your future boss. They're not the 80s, they're not the 90s, they're Millennials and they're kickin it up to 98 Degrees.

For real.

[This message was approved by Assistant Professor Todd O'Neill.]

11:30 a.m.

Design Room 1:

Internet of Things -- Content for Beacons

Bayard Saunders


Tracks: Technology, Development, Content Strategy


The latest tech elephant in the room is the "IoT" - the internet of things. But so many current IoT articles are like that old story about listening to the group of blind men describe an elephant. So we will look at the part of the elephant that involves content - development and applications for location-based beacon communications.

Google’s Internet of Things approach involves placing "beacons" in the world that broadcast Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signals with Eddystone™, the open beacon format from Google. Chrome for Android (v.49) is able to display these beacons. Download the current version of Chrome from Google Play before the session to see the demonstration on your smartphone or device. If you have a beacon, please feel free to bring it and be part of the demo!

Learn how to use Eddystone’s URL frame type (Eddystone-URL) to broadcast your website to users browsing the "Physical Web." Associate your beacon with any URL, and deploy it to a location ...

Design Room 2:

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Jon Wolfe


Tracks: Creative Entrepreneurship

Laughter is a great way to relieve stress, promote positive social interaction and healthy well-being. A medical researcher uncovered scientifically-proven benefits of laughter in productivity, health and happiness and then created laughter-inducing techniques now practiced in 60 countries around the world.

Jon Wolfe is a professional facilitator, writer and Laughter Yoga Leader. He’ll share the energizing, moving ways you can promote joy and laughter on your way to the bank, your work, and a happier outlook on life. Movement based. No special clothing or equipment needed.

Drawing Room 2:

It's All in the Ask: Getting Customers and Clients to Talk

Pamela Coyle


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling

Stories about real-world people who use your products or services (and, of course, are happy) are content marketing gold. Yet content creators and marketers struggle to get such folks to open up. Why? Because in asking they use the wrong language. Two decades as a hard news/investigative newspaper journalist taught me a bit about getting people to talk. This session will cover strategies to get you customer/client interviews that are the foundation of storytelling. And we'll talk about what not to do. A small change in language makes a world of difference.

Studio B:

Clarity – The Foundation for Your Brand (and Referrals!)

Steve Woodruff


Tracks: Branding

Session description to come.

Studio D:

Panel: Accelerating Your Brand Through Stories

Brandon Gibbs


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Branding, Creative Entrepreneurship

Many content creators struggle trying to harvest ideas into posts, blogs and videos, when often a simple story can do the trick.

This session is bringing together young creators and leaders who’ve accomplished growth in their creative brands through connection of story. Invited to the panel are designer Riley Jones, Nossi alum currently practicing in St. Louis, entertainer MK Musician, well known Indie Bangladeshi performer and up and coming architect Sam Ball, former president of NOMA at Mississippi State University. We may have one or two surprise panelists to add to the discussion.

The best entrepreneurs learn quickly and from a diversity of sources, with leadership and creative fields bringing the greatest insight. This panel hopes to empower the Craft Content audience to accelerate their brand in new and innovative ways via story.

12:45 p.m.

Design Room 1:

Create a Plan to Take over Your World

Kathryn Lang


Tracks: Content Strategy

Bloggers, entrepreneurs, video streamers all have the power to take over their world! Gather all the elements you need and then put them to work so that you can reach your defined success. It is possible and we are going to make it simple.

Define the BIG DREAM goal that will fuel your journey. Determine the individual puzzle pieces of the DREAM that will make up the full picture. Create a schedule that will give life to the dream by bringing all the pieces together. Find the support and accountability that will keep you moving forward.

Your world domination is just a few steps away.

Design Room 2:

Membership Site Mastery

Zach Schimenz


Tracks: Content Marketing, Marketing & Business

Recurring revenue and passive income. The holy grail of an internet business. And the fastest way to achieve this is with a membership site full of valuable content.

In this session I'll walk you through the step-by-step content and business templates I used to grow a membership site from $0 to over $3,500 a month in under a year. It'll cover things like:

Drawing Room 2:

Story is Content: How to Become a Story Architect

Karen Chronister


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling

What if you frame as many aspects of your message as a narrative? The most compelling speakers, writers, artists, and businesses are storytellers. We are wired to receive information best through this format. In fact, studies show that our brains formulate the information we receive into story form as much as possible. It’s satisfying. When we communicate this way, the veil drops and trust begins to develop. Trust helps the intended audience engage with you.

Whether I am writing a story or advising as a marketer, I look for the compelling human (story) elements first to communicate—things like character, setting, and conflict (overcoming an obstacle, filling a gap in the marketplace)—and weave them into the broad message.

How can you become a Story Architect? We’ll explore how to create “Un-Content” today for our platforms with story elements, word choice, format, and sensory elements to build better bridges.

Studio B:

The Art of the Podcast

Dave Delaney


Tracks: Podcasting

Ira Glass from This American Life said, "Great stories happen to those who can tell them." I'm going to show you how. You will also discover the five types of podcasts and the key that binds them together. You will walk away inspired to improve your podcast, or informed and ready to start your own.

Studio D:

Instant Connection, Instant Stories

Allison Mayer


Tracks: Social Media, Photo & Video

Instagram is a powerful player in the social media world, and still largely underestimated. I tell stories for a living. As a photojournalist, the visual pieces of my story are vital. Instagram seemed like the perfect medium for me, but I wasn't gaining any traction. In 2015 - with 84 Instagram followers - I set out to learn everything I could about Instagram. After 6 months of research, trial and error, long hours, and consistent strategy, I crossed the 10,000 follower mark. My Instagram established my expertise, my images captivated my audience, and my stories gained loyal supporters.

This session will:

  1. Walk you through my step by step process to build a loyal audience on Instagram.
  2. Discuss what makes a perfect Instagram story.
  3. Teach you the different techniques to start monetizing your Instagram, today. The same techniques I use to earn roughly $3000 a month directly from my Instagram account.

1:30 p.m.

Design Room 1:

Create Your Own Netflix: Latest Trends in Online Video Distribution

Allie Sultan


Tracks: Photo & Video

Do you make videos, or work with clients who do? We know video is a fantastic way to market and promote your business, cause, brand or organization. You probably also know that YouTube has a revenue sharing program. Did you know you can easily rent your videos on Vimeo? What about selling or renting your videos on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime – how does that work, and what’s the revenue split for each? There’s also a new platform that makes it super easy to create your own subscription video-on-demand service…”your own Netflix” – and create your own branded video app for Apple TV and Roku.

This presentation will discuss the latest trends in online video distribution and monetization. If you work with video in any way, shape or form, understanding the current distribution landscape will empower you to take your work to the next level.

Design Room 2:

Once Upon a Tweet: Telling Stories Through Live Tweeting

Nicholas Norfolk


Tracks: Social Media

One does not simply attend an event and live tweet verbatim what is happening. Discover how to put social back in social media at an event with only 140 characters. Allow me to challenge you to tell a captivating story by using some of the tips and tricks I've mastered during my time in the Twitterverse. Learn how to leverage lists, images, videos, and apps to convey an enthralling story and tweet happily ever after.

Drawing Room 2:

Create an Authentic Brand: How to Write Your Story and Tell It

Kirsty Hughan


Tracks: Branding, Marketing & Business

Marketing is hard. It’s nice to admit isn’t it? Creating a “brand” that identifies who you are and what you do is incredibly challenging, especially if your business is close to your heart, a manifestation of you. In this seminar, we’ll discuss the basics of creating an authentic brand: establishing (or refining) your authentic voice, mastering the art of the gut check and creating a brand strategy.

Studio B:

Panel: The Secret to Great Podcast Interviews

David Hooper & special guests


Tracks: Podcasting

An interactive presentation on how to get better interviews for your podcasts with experienced radio and podcast hosts.

Studio D:

Level Up Your Marketing: Utilizing Gamification

Mitch Canter


Tracks: Social Media, Content Strategy, Marketing & Business

Ask anyone who's played World of Warcraft or a similar game for a while, and you'll usually hear the same thing: "I'm hooked!" WoW has been around for nearly 12 years, and other games online garner similar sized - and just as fanatical - fanbases. How is it that a game - with "imaginary" achievements and bragging rights - can grab someone's attention, keep it, and even bolster it for long periods of time?

Mitch is a gamer and digital strategist from Nashville, TN. In this session, he'll go over a few of the top "massively multiplayer" games on the marketing today - World of WarCraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and Destiny - and will look under the hood to see what marketing and psychological methods they use to attract customers. We'll look at real case studies and observations that we can distill down into actionable points that you can do now to turn your marketing campaigns around. Finally, we'll look at how those companies interact with their customers - even when they're not logged on - to keep themselves in mind and in focus.

2:15 p.m.

Design Room 1:

Content Publishing Across the Curriculum

Todd O’Neill


Tracks: Content Strategy

The web created the first universal publishing platform but schools, of all levels, are still having students submit paper or "electronic documents" for grading and review. Academic work lives in private, closed systems, never exposing students to the opportunity of external feedback.

This session will propose a different approach. We require incoming college freshmen to become publishers during their first few weeks in school. They create websites and use that publishing platform to post personal reflections, current event updates ... and all of their assignments. The website becomes a repository for what will be a portfolio of assignments by the time a student graduates.

It's time to change the culture of education by creating college graduates that are media literate, proficient web publishers, and good digital citizens.

Design Room 2:

Journaling -- Blogging -- Podcasting

John MaGuirk


Tracks: Podcasting

Journaling — Blogging — Podcasting. They are all about telling a story — the trick is to tell it well!

Journaling is entirely private - Blogging is entirely public, Which is best? It all depends on your goals. I used to write a newsletter, until I found out no one was reading it!

I exchanged my readers (non) for listeners, who can listen on their schedule not my schedule.

We’ll talk about everything your need to know before your hit record! The five elements of a successful podcast, writing “show notes”, maintaining an editorial schedule. A lot of black stuff has to hit white stuff before the mike is hot. If there’s time we talk a little about interview techniques or sometimes you’re not the star of your own show! Creating quick and dirty avatars (some folks call them logos), but they are avatars. Podcasting is the essence of niche marketing!

Drawing Room 2:

Content Marketing Secrets Learned from Literary Giants

Erik Deckers


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Content Marketing

Content marketers can learn a lot from fiction writers, and not just how to tell interesting stories. Today's content marketing writing is so jargon-filled and boring, it's both painful and sleep-inducing. Good content marketing stands on the shoulders of giants of literature, and uses those techniques to make their work more interesting.

This presentation shares lessons learned in the world of literature, including lessons from Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, P.D. James, and Agatha Christie, and other literary giants. Attendees will learn:

1) how to humanize marketing copy that actually moves people,

2) how fiction writers focus on "moments," and how marketers can do too, and

3) how to build suspense and create a payoff in marketing copy.

Studio B:

Five Steps to Producing a Successful B2B Podcast

Clark Buckner


Tracks: Podcasting

Is podcasting right for your business? In this session you'll learn the five steps for an effective business-to-business podcast strategy. Mid to large sized businesses have a story to tell and podcasting can be an effective vehicle to align both sales and marketing efforts to grow your company. We'll discuss best-in-class podcast workflows for these five steps: content design, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, production and publishing.

Studio D:

Proximity Marketing and the Physical Web

Edwin Acevedo


Tracks: Content Strategy, Technology

The Physical Web ( is an open source approach to unleash the core superpower of the web: interaction on demand. People should be able to walk up to any smart device - a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car - and not have to download an app first. In this session, you'll learn how the Physical Web lowers barrier to entry for proximity marketing. We'll show you some practical applications. You'll learn why context matters as much as content. And you'll learn why marketers, content administrators and creators, project managers and consumers will want to explore this new dimension of the Web.

3:00 p.m.

Design Room 1:

Tightrope | Engagement Without A Net

Shawn Matthews


Tracks: Social Media, Marketing & Business

Over the past two decades I have created lo-fi, high-reward streetwise social, video, and stunt marketing campaigns for startups to billion dollar brands (eHarmony, Upwork, Wikipedia, O'reilly Auto Parts.) I utilize personal engagement, media stunts, grassroots marketing, and analog tactics amplified by engaging social content. I will provide strategies, tips, and ideas that can be employed by your brand, agency or organization, no matter what size marketing budget you have.

This session is for anyone wanting to build streetwise campaigns that driven by story and amplified by social to attract, delight & convert customers. Whether you are a small business, creative agency or VP of Marketing for a big brand, this session is for you.

Design Room 2:

Storyselling: How to Write the Perfect Nurturing Email

Steve Jolly


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Content Marketing

How to use interesting stories to simplify the prospect nurturing process, increase interest in your business, electrify engagement with your audience and help you sell more with email.

The perfect nurturing email has six basic parts: The Headline, Opening, Story, Segue, Call to Action and Close. Let's break down the structure of the email, explain the purpose of each part and what you need to do to build relationships.

In addition, we will cover the best practices for native storyselling on the email platform like:

Drawing Room 2:

Talk About Your Story: The Dos and Don'ts of Interviews

David Fox


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Podcasting

Interviewing a subject or expert for content can be a daunting task, whether it’s for a podcast or for the written word. The interview is basis for great storytelling, whether we’re having a conversation with one subject for a long-form podcast or trying to construct a narrative from multiple sources.

The key to the successful interview is in preparation. What are the best strategies for conducting a kick-ass interview that will keep your audience engaged and your subject talking? How do we avoid the traps that result in canned responses? How do we recover from bad questions or bad interviews? How do we use an interview with one subject that builds the bigger, more profound story?

Let’s break down the basics of how to research in preparation for an interview, how to craft questions and how to adjust on the fly for unpredictable subjects.

Studio B:

Fear of Success: Creating Courageous Content

Angus Nelson


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Content Marketing, Content Strategy

It’s that first blog post. First podcast. First request to interview someone … Walking out, onto the world’s stage with a tremble in your voice. Starting anything always seems scary at first.

“What if I fail?”; “What will others think?”; and “How can I do it right the first time?” While some would say this is the “fear of failure”, what if the opposite was true … what if we simply sabotage ourselves into thinking we don’t have what it takes?

In this session, you’ll discover:

Studio D:

How to Get Your First 1000 Email Subscribers

Matt Ragland and Darrell Vesterfelt


Tracks: Content Marketing, Business & Marketing

Whenever we start a new thing, we need to tell people about it and get them on board! There is still no better way than email to build influence and connect with people. It converts better, sells better, and communicates better.

But email addresses can also be a lot harder to get, especially when you're starting out.

We'll show you how to go from 0 to 1000 subscribers in 4 steps, and we really believe you can do this in 30 days!

3:45 p.m.

Design Room 1:

Business Building 101: Step Out of Fear and Into Your Story

Dana Croy


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Branding, Creative Entrepreneurship

"What do you do?" You know the question-and you know it is coming. You may even dread it. You hear it a friend's party or a local networking meeting. You are firm in your belief of what you do but you are not sure how to answer the inevitable questions. This class will walk you through creating a clear and concise story that tells others about your work. Known as the "elevator speech", this is one of the most basic, yet powerful tools you can add to your business toolbox and it is IMPERATIVE that all entrepreneurs are able to tell their story to the world in a clear and concise manner. Bring clarity to your work while sharing your story through this powerful tool. At the end of this session you'll be able to not only tell your story in person but write a convincing "About" page for your website that can be condensed for various audiences.

Design Room 2:

Presentation Hacks

Mike Costa


Tracks: Creative Entrepreneurship, Business & Marketing

Simplifying and decluttering your presentation not only prevents PowerPoint poisoning, it also comes with a bonus—smooth and calm delivery. Improve your ability to share your story, communicate your brand, explain your project or deliver your message.

In this session we'll share helpful hints and easy techniques to:

We will also touch (lightly) on the science behind popular practices.  We’ll acknowledge reality and discuss methods for dealing with less than ideal conditions.  After this session you will be able to put these concepts to work and create a system that can be replicated according to your presentation needs.

Drawing Room 2:

To Be Announced

Studio B:

The Struggle is Real: Getting Your Story Right

Carla Swank


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling, Content Strategy

The concept of narrative in marketing is one that’s been around for a long time, but it seems that all we’re hearing about these days is “telling our stories.” Yes, narrative and storytelling is a key piece of an effective marketing strategy. But there can be a major disconnect if your story doesn’t match up with your company values.

Are you telling a story … or actually living it?

This session will explore some of the biggest pitfalls in creating a narrative through a variety of case study examples, and provide helpful tips for how to tell an authentic story that reaches across internal and external audiences.

Studio D:

Secret Life of Me: Capturing Your Life Experiences Truthfully--and Anonymously

 Ayumi Fukuda Bennett


Tracks: Blogging & Storytelling

Many of us go through life experiences that makes us want to chronicle it, but then we get afraid. And rightfully so. It's easy to think that stories have to be polished or checked for SEO. But at its core, stories are valuable because of what it says, not because of who wrote it.

Ayumi will recount how she first got into blogging while undergoing treatments for a mental illness, and why it was important for her to keep anonymity while choosing to chronicle her thoughts during that time period. She will share the lessons she learned in writing through the darkness, and how you can also get started 'in secret' as we all take another step in life.