The 90-day report: pitches, awards, training and taking the CMA forward

August 4th, 2017

Three months after starting at the Content Marketing Association, managing director Catherine Maskell reflects on what she’s learned and talks about some of her first initiatives.

It feels as though my first 90 days at the CMA have gone by in a blur: so many people met, so many events attended, so much to learn and understand about the burgeoning world of content marketing.

For me, it’s been an essential way to get a clear sense of where the industry could be headed, and to plan some initiatives for later this year.

Two impressions in particular stand out. One is the welcome I’ve had from everyone I’ve met, both members and other organisations. This makes my transition from client-side marketer much easier, but also tells me how much interest there is in the wider marketing world about what our members do. And two, how much both we, as the CMA, and our members, have to say.

The diversity of the CMA membership – content specialists, media agencies, digital agencies, social specialists and so on – means the work they do under the banner of content marketing has a huge span. Last month, for example, TI Productions, part of CMA member Time Inc, won a contract for BBC3.

That diversity is a great source of strength in today’s complicated world because no two clients start their content marketing journey from the same place. That tells me CMA members can serve any need.

CMA ‘matchmaker’ service

Last month saw CMA member Cedar emerge victorious in a pitch for the Eurostar business, following a spot of ‘matchmaking’ by the CMA’s Advance service. You can read the news here. Eurostar received 15 responses from CMA members, including a couple where CMA members paired up to pitch jointly.

As I write we have several other briefs going through Advance. One of the clients tells me that they are using Advance because simply going out and fishing themselves in the market is too hard and time consuming. Another has a complex brief that may need more than one agency and, where appropriate, they’d like them to pitch together.

As a former client, I get this. The day job is demanding enough, without trawling through dozens of RFI responses. Anything that saves the client time is a bonus.

And as content becomes more multi-faceted and complex, so the client search becomes harder, not least because so many agencies say they do content but don’t always ‘walk the walk’, or claim that they can do everything when they can’t.

This is where Advance is a big help. First, any client knows that CMA members by definition do content brilliantly. No wasted time there, then. And second, under our auspices they can put together combinations of agencies to handle their varied needs with just one pitch.

I’m convinced that the CMA’s ability to bring together different members with different skills will be a major factor going forward.

Awards training…and more

I know, from the emails and queries we get, that many agencies and clients are limbering up to enter the CMA Awards.

As someone who’s judged awards, I get frustrated by entries that, well, aren’t quite as good as they can be. “What a shame,” I think, “all that effort and they’re on the back foot from the start.”

With this in mind, the CMA ran two sessions last month with CMA consultant editor Dominic Mills on how to write better awards entries. He’s done even more juries than I have, and knows how judges think and what they’re looking for.

Like me, he’s on a mission to improve the quality of entries. The better the level of entries, the more kudos the awards have and, thus, the winners.

The sessions – a bargain at £50.00, if I may say so – were sold out and received a fantastic response.  “It’s a unique peek behind the curtain into what an award judges’ motivations are,” said one delegate, “and a big advantage when writing an entry.”

Another said: “I’ve never written an award entry before. I feel more confident and excited.”

And a third commented: “It was a fantastic masterclass, unique insights and invaluable context for any entry writer.”

Dominic says: “There are so many places an entry go wrong, but if there’s one thing that really annoys me is when there is no clear statement of the brief and the targets. If, as with the CMA, the award is based on effectiveness, how do you then judge the results if you don’t know what the aims were? It sounds simple, but it’s absolutely essential to get this right.”

Given our commitment to the awards, we’ve invited Dominic back again to run another session – on August 15.

And, by the way, that’s three weeks before the entry deadline on September 8. That’s still time to write (or rewrite) your entries.

Finally, talking about the awards, we still have a sponsorship slot open.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for any organisation that wants to link its name to effective, creative, trend-setting content marketing, and to get their name in front of leading agencies and clients.

More training

Training is one area where you tell us we can make a difference both to members and clients. With that in mind, we’ve been taking the temperature of other areas you’d like training in.

Some of the areas you’ve suggested are: pitching for new business; communicating the value of marketing to internal stakeholders; dealing with expectations from top management; mentoring, coaching and influencing; and building a better understanding of distribution platforms.

We already do a lot of training, such as this course on video next month, but we can always do more. So we’ll be investigating the viability of new specialisms in the coming months. In the meantime, if there are any other areas you’d like us to consider, just get in touch with me at

Breakfast in Manchester…and other events

Finally, I’m delighted to announce that we are taking our established and much-loved Digital Breakfast sessions on tour. They will be a great way to spread the word and introduce our members and their skills to a more diverse audience.

We start in Manchester on October 10th, hosted by CMA member Havas Media, and then plan to visit Bristol, Birmingham and East Anglia.

In the meantime, and in line with the fact that the CMA Awards are the only ones focused on effectiveness, we’re putting on an ROI special for our October Digital Breakfast in London on October 4th. Topic areas include how to measure success, and how to choose the right KPI’s. You can book tickets for all our Breakfasts here.

To keep things fresh, we’re also looking to add new types of events. One is for Future Content Leaders, where next-generation content leaders can enjoy some ‘free-range thinking’ about the future, as well as network. It’s an evening event, scheduled for October 19th.  Appropriately, it’s in the Shoreditch gallery space of CMA member TCOLondon

The second is a client-focused event, where marketers, together with CMA members, can explore some of the key issues that they confront. These include: measurement, organisational structures, the pros and cons of editorial boards and working – or not – with influencers, and plenty of other chewy stuff besides.

We’re still working out the details of that, but as soon as we have them we’ll let you know.

I hope my 90-day report gives you a flavour of some of the exciting things we’ve been up to. I look forward to seeing you one of the aforementioned events.

Catherine Maskell, Managing Director, The CMA

  Share: Posted in CMA Industry News