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Agile Computing: Article

Content Marketing Event: New Media 2012

Learn about content marketing and social media in New Media 2012 event

Social and geopolitical changes, combined with economic and environmental factors, are rapidly altering, twisting and shaping the online landscape. While it's daunting to keep track of how far we've come in the past few years, it's absolutely staggering to imagine what New Media will look like in the next 3 years. This is the topic that thought-provoking professionals will tackle at New Media 2012 event.

We have invited Russell Sparkman, co-founder of Fusionspark Media and event co-producer of New Media 2012 to share his thoughts on New Media and Content Marketing.  Russell co-founded Fusionspark Media in 1999 in Japan, and moved the business to Whidbey Island in 2000. Russell has played key roles in all Fusionspark Media projects including executive producer, chief photographer, information architect and project manager. Russell lives with his family on Whidbey Island, in Langley, WA, where he is a member of City Council and Chair of the Mayor's Council for Economic Health. Russell, an avid SCUBA diver since his teens, moved his family to the Puget Sound region to pursue a boyhood dream of diving with the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Russell Sparkman

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Ambal Balakrishnan: Russell, it is a great pleasure to discuss the New Media 2012 event you are organizing. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. Tell us about New Media 2012 event and Fusionspark Media.
Russell Sparkman: Fusionspark Media is a New Media communications company that has been in business since 1999. From our inception, we have been focused on bringing quality original content and inspiring multimedia storytelling to the online audience in support of marketing communications, public education and public awareness initiatives.

Back when we began, there weren’t terms in the common lexicon that described the content strategies on the web that we were evangelizing. However, today, the work that we do can best be described in the following terms: Content Marketing, Custom Publishing, Branded Content, Inbound Marketing and Social Media.

All of the above, and more, fall under the umbrella of New Media. We believe that’s the best term to use because “media” is always changing – new -- and in flux. There’s always an aspect of media that is “new” today, and an aspect that will be “new” tomorrow.

The New Media 2012 event is based on the premise that just 3 years ago Facebook barely existed for many, and just 3 months ago, Twitter was new to most people. The point of New Media 2012 is to look backwards – from the year 2012 – and predict how various forces will influence New Media in just three years.

There are 10 presenters, with background and experience in everything from multimedia journalism and multiplatform storytelling, to cloud computing and content marketing.

Please look at the speaker’s line up, here.

Each presentation will be short, dynamic and to the point. Presentations will be 5 minutes long, with a maximum of 20 slides as visual support. There will be two moderated panel discussions – one midway through the presentations, one at the end. After the presentations, there will be a post-event social and business networking party featuring local foods and wines.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What prompted you to embark on putting together New Media 2012 event?
Russell Sparkman: I’m co-producing this event with Brent Friedman, of Electric Farm Entertainment. He’s in production on multiplatform storytelling projects for MTV and Sony. One day, over coffee, we were discussing how rapidly things were changing in media. Brent said that, inevitably, at the end of meetings he was in, even at the highest levels of the media business, the question asked always seemed to be “so, where the hell is all this headed, anyway?”

Thus was borne the concept for the New Media 2012 event.

Producing this event is part of a larger vision for creating a “Langley Multimedia Arts and Technology Center.”

Langley, and the greater South Whidbey region, has a critical mass of marketing communications consultants, technology entrepreneurs, graphic designers, writers, programmers, etc., all connected virtually with some of the best DSL broadband connectivity offered anywhere in the country.

By hosting and producing this event on Whidbey Island, in Langley, we aim to demonstrate that you don’t have to be in Seattle, Bellevue or Redmond to experience quality presentations about multimedia arts and technology

Ambal Balakrishnan: Give us the background of how you gained an interest in New Media and Content Marketing?
Russell Sparkman: I was introduced to digital media in 1991, when I first saw Photoshop on an Apple Computer. By 1992, I was deeply involved in workshops learning about digital imaging, and went on to become an author, consultant and artist based on this experience. Early on, from the first release of the Mozilla browser in 1994, I was involved with the Internet.

When products (i.e. Flash) and services (i.e. early broadband) reached a point, in 1998, where online audio-visual storytelling was becoming a real possibility, I became interested in the possibilities of working in the area of content creation for the Internet.

Long before the term Content Marketing entered into the common lexicon, we were advising clients that they needed to think like publishers, or broadcasters. We had discovered that if a client built the best web presence, with the best content – essentially, become the “definitive resource” on the subject matter that their product, service or cause was about – they would be rewarded with top search engine rankings, inbound links and traffic, etc.

When we began to see the writing of others, such as Joe Pulizzi, Newt Barrett and David Meerman Scott, it wasn’t so much that we were learning something new (which we were, of course), but that we received validation that a lot of our ideas and thoughts about the role of content in contemporary marketing were on target.

Today, we are unabashed evangelists for concepts such as Content Marketing.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is New Media 2012 event addressed towards?
Russell Sparkman: There is a story arc that we will tell, from the first presenter to the last, that will be of interest to a wide range of professionals, from small business owners to corporate marketers, from creative talents to developers.

Ambal Balakrishnan: How is the marketing landscape different than what it was a decade back?
Russell Sparkman: When we started, we recognized that a deep-seated cynicism toward traditional corporate marketing was going to create a landscape in which authenticity in storytelling, combined with the ever-increasing ease in which consumers would be able to communicate together, would be key drivers of how marketers would communicate. Books like the Cluetrain Manifesto were important influences in our thinking.

Today, we see that both these elements are now key components of contemporary marketing. Storytelling is a highly regarded form of communicating about an entity’s products, services or cause, and the key audiences for that storytelling are empowered to share through conversations on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

There will always be a role for  “traditional” marketing, such as the the clever :30 sec TV spot, but it will lose it’s once predominant role, and become just a part of an overall marketing communications multiplatform mix, the objective of which will be to drive audiences back to a web communications “hub.”

Ambal Balakrishnan: What are the benefits and risks of New Media Marketing?
Russell Sparkman: To truly engage in New Media Marketing takes an internal shift of priorities, a shift that even we at Fusionspark Media have had to make recently.

That shift includes recognizing that New Media marketing takes a dedication to new content creation. It means dedicating a person, or a department, to the creation of content. This can be both time-consuming and costly. That’s the risk.

The reward, however, is an investment in an asset – your own content – which can pay dividends over the long term.

While the mantra is that you must continually strive to keep the content on your site fresh, the truth of the matter is that content that is extraordinarily entertaining, inspiring, informative or utilitarian has a very long shelf life.  It’s evergreen.

Therefore, good content upfront means great downstream, long-term return on investment.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What is one change you recommend for businesses to do better in their New Media Marketing initiatives?
Russell Sparkman: Take to heart, seriously, what it means to think and act like a publisher or broadcast, when it comes to producing content for a web presence.

Ambal Balakrishnan: How do you think New Media will look in 2012?
Russell Sparkman: I’d love to answer this, but I’m looking forward to the collective wisdom of the NM 2012 speakers to help shed a light on this!

Ambal Balakrishnan: What are you 3 predictions on how New Media will change businesses by 2012?
Russell Sparkman: An interesting distinction that we make with the New Media event is that we’re looking at the forces that will affect New Media, versus how New Media may affect businesses. The latter is much more easy to define. I’m looking forward to hearing what the speakers have to say about this.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Please recommend 3-5 resources (books, blogs) on New Media.
Russell Sparkman: If you’re a media communications firm, books I’d recommend for your clients to read are Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin and Get Content, Get Customers, by Joe Pulizzi.

In order to really understand, as a marketer, why investing in quality, useful content for your customers is so important I’d recommend Love is the Killer App, by Tim Sanders.

I’d recommend Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, by Avinash Kaushik, to anyone who needs to understand and act upon the metrics they can gain from their web presence.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What kind of projects are you involved in when you are not writing or blogging? (both professional and personal)
Russell Sparkman: Great question. I’m active in my local community. I’m a member of the Langley City Council, and chair of the Mayors Council for Economic Health. I’m a board member of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, our local arts and performance center.

Recently, I joined the Board of Directors of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

I have young teens – a son and a daughter - and try to be active with them as much as possible. Our family activities together include SCUBA diving, backpacking, fishing, boating, snowboarding. Living in Puget Sound makes all these activities possible.

I play bass guitar in an acoustic guitar/fretless bass duo called Wabi Sabi. We’re not very good, but make up lack of skill with passion for the music.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Russell, thanks for taking the time to discuss your event and sharing your insights with us.
Russell Sparkman: Thanks Ambal.

You can register for New Media 2012 here.

New Media 2012 Speakers

New Media 2012 Schedule 

More Stories By Ambal Balakrishnan

Ambal has robust 17+ years experience working at and partnering with high-profile technology companies in both B2B and B2C marketplaces building scalable, reliable, high performance products (both hardware and software) for business with multi-billion dollar in annual revenue. She has done various roles that includes engineering, program management, business development, strategy and marketing for premium and fast growing product divisions at Cisco, Telecordia (prior name Bell Labs) and strategic marketing consulting firm ClickDocuments. At Cisco, she focused on world wide marketing and positioning of Cisco's Cloud & Data Center switching business. She brings both strong engineering & marketing skills with verticals experience from many different industries. Ambal received her Masters in Computer Science from Purdue University and an MBA in Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Ambal is an avid reader and hiker. Her hiking pursuits have taken her to several mountains including Mt. Whitney at 14,500 feet (which she managed to climb in 1 day). Ambal lives in Austin, TX with her family of 3 boys (that includes her husband!) and a border-collie+lab mix dog named Rainbow.

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