Why You Need Technology to Find the Right Creative Talent

technology-creative-1000x500Marketers often adopt buzzwords to justify their strategies. “Let’s publish more snackable content, Larry.” “I want to be sure not to newsjack, Sandra.” “Penelope, let’s talk bottom-funnel next meeting.” The specialization of marketing terms, we’ve found, is an epidemic.

But there’s one buzzword that probably doesn’t get enough burn: talent. Marketers are realizing that you can’t just ask anyone to run a blog and expect her to suddenly turn into Kara Swisher or Jane Pratt. While some brands hire in-house editorial talent, others are turning to freelance content creators as a nimble way to scale their marketing efforts with experts who have the right voice and experience.

But finding talent is much easier than finding the right talent. The sheer number of freelance creatives on the market today can make finding contributors a lot like spotting Justin Bieber in a sea of tatted blondes. Contently’s freelance network alone has grown to roughly 60,000 self-employed creatives.

With so many options out there, how can brands build the perfect freelance team?

Data to the rescue

At Contently, we realized the only scalable and sustainable way to pair brands and freelancers was to build an algorithm that could act as matchmaker. It doesn’t help us or our clients for people to waste time and resources manually sifting through thousands of freelancers.

Each of the 60,000 freelancers on our platform create a portfolio to showcase their clips and add in a brief bio that teases their expertise. From these portfolios, we have access to over 1.2 million clips that have been published in just about every media outlet you can think of, as well as data that shows the social shares for every piece of content

For example, Russ Banham is a writer who regularly contributes to freelance projects for financial brands through the Contently platform. His profile includes the article “Why CIOs Should Be Happy About Shadow IT,” which was published on Forbes and generated 901 social shares. All of this information, along with data from Banham’s other 155 articles, goes toward the algorithm.

For people like Banham who work with our clients, we also have internal data that tracks factors like on-time percentage, engagement, and how often the freelancer communicated with the client. Outside of the Contently platform, third-party tools like Klout help us track social media influence.

With this information, we can measure each freelancer in specific ways that are important to brands, just as Pandora categorizes music on a very granular level through its Music Genome Project. We then use the insights to accurately pair brand publishers with the freelancer best suited to join their operation, whether for a single project or as a regular contributor.

When you break it down, algorithms recognize that people desire things—whether it’s music, restaurants, clothing, or freelancers. The thing about data sourcing is that once you get passed the term “algorithm,” the process is actually quite intuitive.

Finding the golden nugget faster

As a data scientist at Contently, I continually have to ask: Why does this feature exist? What do these algorithms help us achieve?

The answer, in this case, is simple. Brands are able to quickly and accurately acquire talent to meet their content creation goals.

If you’re a marketer from a national doughnut chain looking for a writer to cover a story about an event hosted at our franchise in Austin, all you have to do is tell the algorithm that your need someone located in the Austin area who is familiar with the food and culture beat. That quick input will save you from needing to fly out a marketing or PR representative from your headquarters in Boston, who may not have time to churn out a story.

Once the algorithm makes recommendations, our internal talent managers can then work with the clients to sort through the short list of candidates and make final choices.

The application of this feature is broad. Brands can use the freelancer network to find creatives for a specific assignment—like the hypothetical Austin doughnut event—or to staff an editorial team for the long haul. The same process can even be used to source pitches from potential contributors.

The point of this project is to refine the way brands approach staffing so they can focus on the big picture. And just think, with technology guiding these talent decisions, you won’t need to call upon Larry from HR to write your snackable content ever again.

This article was originally published by Business2Community.com.

Protecting Business Interests, Security, and Mitigating Risk with Shadow IT


Dropbox. Evernote. WeTransfer. Asana. DocuSign. And so many more. Your team relies on a multitude of cloud-based applications to help them do their jobs more efficiently. The stronger your team is, the more productive they are and the more competitive your business can be. But are they putting your business at risk?

Your IT department is responsible for everything transmitted from the computers in your office, meaning it’s up to them to keep your business data secure at all times. Russ Banham said in his Forbes article, “Why CIOs Should Be Happy About Shadow IT,” “IDC Senior Research Analyst Mark Yates describes today’s business environment as the Wild West, with employees doing whatever they want, technologically speaking, in the lawless land of shadow IT… Shadow IT reaps a corporate bounty in lower IT costs, increased flexibility, speedier task completion and a lot less hassle from IT. But…companies end up paying dearly for these perceived benefits: No centralized IT oversight fortifies organizational silos, impeding cross-functional collaboration and increasing security risks.”

As of August last year, Cisco determined, “IT departments estimate their companies are using an average of 51 cloud services, when the reality is that 730 cloud services are being used. And this challenge is only going to grow. One year ago, the multiple was seven times, six months ago it was 10 times, today it is 15 times and given the exponential growth of cloud we predict that by the end of this calendar year it will be 20 times or more than 1,000 external cloud services per company.”

This is where allocating a portion of your technology budget to monitoring Shadow IT (the technology your employees use without official approval) can be a useful and wise financial investment for your company’s future. In “Brokering Change, One Cloud App at a Time,” Mark Zimmerman, CIO of MarS Discovery District shares, “These unsanctioned–or “shadow IT” apps–are great for…employees, but they’re a nightmare for someone…who works in IT and is tasked with making sure our network and sensitive business data remain secure.”

A Shadow IT solution enables you to peer into every computer, see which cloud applications are being used, explore their effectiveness, and then accurately assess whether the information your team is sharing using these applications is putting your company at risk, legally or otherwise. It can also help you determine which applications are the most popular and streamline a solution to use only the most effective, efficient, and secure ones company-wide.

If it’s your business, you need to have a handle on your security. You want to make smart and safe technology decisions that won’t make you vulnerable. Tracking your Shadow IT is smart protection – ultimately it can save you time and money…and make you more money.

This article was originally published by Huffpost Business.

Higher: 100 Years of Boeing – Book Review

Boeing, like Aviation Week & Space Technology, celebrates its centenary in 2016. To mark the milestone, Russ Banham, an author specializing in company histories, has written ‘Higher: 100 Years of Boeing’ – a lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched overview of the aerospace giant’s first century.

The Wall Street Journal‘s review of the book was equally favorable, stating, “`Higher’ ably commemorates Boeing’s enduring achievement, gliding nimbly through its triumphs of design, engineering and manufacture and, not least, its memorable contributions to wars won.”

Read the full review at WallStreetJournal.com.

Containing several never-before-seen photos from the combined archives of Boeing and the famous legacy companies it acquired in the 1990s, the book masterfully captures the broad history and spirit of the company as it has evolved over the decades. Divided into 10 main chapters, the book traces the complicated, intertwined story from Bill Boeing’s early days as a Seattle timberman to Boeing’s present status as the world’s largest aerospace company.

Banham tackles the difficult task of chronicling the parallel development of Boeing, Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Aircraft, elements of North American Aviation and Hughes Aircraft, by dividing the story into key themes and placing the story of each  within a larger context. The massive growth sparked by World War Two is covered in a broad-based chapter called ‘the Arsenal of Democracy’, while other key periods cover the Cold War to the Space Race, the 707 and the Jet Age, and To the Moon and Beyond.

The heydays of Boeing’s growth into the commercial giant of today are covered in a chapter devoted largely to the birth of the 747, while the final chapters reviewing the tumultuous civil, military and space developments of the past two decades bring us up-to-date with overviews of everything from the 777X to the scramjet-powered X-51 Waverider.

The 256-page deluxe version, which has an additional 64 pages of photos, is listed at $49.00 and is available through the Boeing Stores online www.boeingstore.com as well as its physical store locations. The book is also for sale through a limited number of authorized resellers, including the Museum of Flight in Seattle. A 192-page version, priced at $35, will be available from August 4th at bookstores as well as on www.amazon.com. International versions are in development.

This article was originally published at aviationweek.com.

Higher power: 100 years of Boeing


In 1916, lumberman Bill Boeing set to work building an aeroplane in a boathouse in Seattle, crafting his single pontoon plane from canvas and wood. Today, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company.
A new book out next month, Higher: 100 Years of Boeing, tells the story of the brand and of the socioeconomic backdrop against which its fortunes have played out since Bill first rolled up his sleeves. Written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Russ Banham and packed with archival photography, Higher is no puff piece, and as much a study of ambition and ingenuity as it is of planes and spacecraft.

This article was originally posted by British Airways.