By Susan Otten

In a world where content is king, it is vital for brands to create engaging, exciting content for their target audiences.  This was the message from our well-attended professional development November lunch and learn CREATING ENGAGING CONTENT, that showed us how to build powerful content. Case studies were presented as examples from a panel of experts: Ryan Hahler, head of Brand & Marketing Services, brightpeak financial; Chris Dodd, digital marketing manager, Spyder Trap; and Erica Hanna, founder, Puke Rainbows.

Our experts agreed it was important to begin with the “Why” for any content creation project. Communication professionals are in a unique position to ask questions such as, “What is the business trying to accomplish?” or “How will you know the project is successful?” when starting to create content to ensure the project is in alignment with business objectives. Ryan advocated to set project objectives as far down the marketing funnel as your analytical tools will allow to ensure you are creating and measuring content with impact to your organization.

The experts stressed the blending of content channels – social, blogs, email campaigns, video and microcontent – that is both authentic and relevant for the target audience. Erica challenged us to have “content empathy” by knowing your audience well enough to understand their interests.

Content also needs to be rich with a variety of media. As an example, Chris suggested an engaging tweet that is made up of interesting copy, an intriguing visual and a call to action consistent with objectives. To engage an audience, nurture them by showing appreciation, such as retweeting, liking, following or replying to their tweets. And while engagement is not a goal unto itself, as we learned from our experts, it is much easier to achieve objectives WITH an engaged audience.

It was a privilege to moderate our panel. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest a podcast on the process of content creation at Also, if you have any questions, or suggestions for future professional development programs or speakers, please feel free to email me at

Our panel :

Ryan Hahler, head of Brand & Marketing Services, brightpeak financial

Ryan HahlerAs head of Brand and Marketing Services for brightpeak financial, Ryan is responsible for strategic partnerships, community and organizational development and operations management. He is leading his team to cut through the usual financial industry “BS” to create simple, straightforward and accessible content, products and services.



Chris Todd, digital marketing manager, Spyder Trap

Chris ToddAt Spyder Trap, a top Minneapolis digital marketing agency, Chris leads a team of content and search experts as the digital marketing manager. His experience has focused on paid and organic social media management. Along with serving clients across various industries, Chris also manages social media properties for the IFC TV network as a freelancer.



Erica Hanna, founder, Puke Rainbows

Erica HannaA six time Emmy-award winning Creative “Preditor” (Producer/ Shooter/ Director/ Writer/ Editor), Speaker, and Content Strategist, Erica leads her company, Puke Rainbows by leading workshops for businesses looking to “up” their video game, consulting with organizations needing guidance for content teams and handling high-end video production spanning from commercial work to social microcontent.



The event was sponsored by Celarity.