How to Create and Organize Visual Assets in a New Role

Nisreen Galloway is a digital marketer and foodie with a strong background in writing, graphic design, and social media. She began her marketing career as an intern at Yelp and then worked at several B2B and B2C companies in the food and luxury markets, focusing on content marketing, graphic design, and social media management. Nisreen lives in Boston with her loving boyfriend, fridge full of spaghetti squash, and temperamental, but adorable cat Lilly.

My first full-time content marketing job out of college, I was lucky enough to have thousands of visual assets at my exposure. There were high quality photos, HD videos, and dozens of opportunities to create original content. As I created content calendars and social campaigns, it was easy to find the images I needed without draining our budget or struggling to meet deadlines.

At my next position, I was not so lucky. There were a few images hiding in buried folders and forgotten websites, but for the most part. there was nothing up to current brand standards. Luckily, we had a deep marketing budget, but there was no action plan for creating more content. Did a new product launch mean we needed several new photoshoots or just a few product shots? Did we need video of every event or just a few? Each decision was crucial to the marketing campaigns and assets for the year, and the first couple months were definitely a learning process. If you’re starting a new role with limited content, there are a few ways you can ensure your success.

Step 1: Assess and Organize

Determining what visual assets are already available when you start in your role is important. Are there photos from an old photoshoot hiding on a server? Is there a forgotten Flickr account with event photos you can use? Headshots? Having a solid idea of what’s available means you can organize the imagery in a central location, archive content that’s no longer relevant to the brand, and create a plan to move forward. When assessing backlogged content, it’s helpful to determine if any imagery can be updated or reused. One of my favorite pieces of content marketing that food and fashion bloggers are infamous for is showing their growth through comparison articles. Try taking a similar angle with your company’s old content to showcase your brand story, logo transformations, or even celebrate a company anniversary.

Step 2: Create a plan

It’s important to align your visual assets with your content strategy and goals for the year. If you want to grow your social presence, it might make sense to focus on acquiring more videos. If your focus is on email marketing, then creating pertinent graphics and photos may be your focus. Whatever your goals are, having an outline of your needs and wish-list items will help you better plan photoshoots, events, and the must-have moments to capture. If you’re operating on a small budget, try to think of places where you can double-up on asset creation. For example, if you need to update team headshots, consider also grabbing video Q&As with the team to use on social down the line. Doubling your efforts at each photoshoot will save you time and money.  

Step 3: DIY Visual Assets

If you’re working with a really small marketing team, you may not have the resources to hire professional photographers or video teams. Consider looking into things like Adobe Stock Photos or other stock photography websites and come up with a plan. iStock even offers some video clips that can be easily edited to create outstanding visuals for website upkeep or make your blogs stand out. For your social needs, it’s widely accepted to use a DSLR or an iPhone to grab images, or stage a mini shoot in your office. Get creative and don’t be afraid to try something out of the box — the best visual assets often resonate when they’re followed by great content.

Starting with little to no visual assets can be hard, but by having a plan, staying organized, and using the most of the free and downloadable resources online, you’re sure to slowly create a library that can easily support your content marketing needs.

3 Tips for Hiring a Stellar Content Writer

Kaite Rosa is Senior Director of Marketing at Payfactors. Prior, Kaite held content-focused roles at Boston-area companies including Virgin Pulse, Lionbridge, and Brafton. She has also reported for Boston-based online publication VentureFizz, and New York City-based online publications Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Follow her on Twitter @kaiterosa.

Hiring a new content writer to your team is rarely an easy task. Today’s talent market is incredibly tight, and the big-time Boston-area companies offering unprecedented perks can make things that much more competitive. Not only that, but screening for strong writing skills isn’t exactly simple -- even for the seasoned content pro.

So how can you make hiring a little easier the next time you’re looking to expand your team? Here are some of the tried-and-true tactics I’ve used to find stellar content writers.


I work for a tech startup, and our marketing team is still in its infancy. I know firsthand how tough it can be to clearly define what your new hire will be doing -- particularly when you’re still figuring out the team’s needs (and especially when you’re creating a new role from scratch).

Will your new hire be writing data sheets for product marketing? Helping your business development team with sales enablement content? Owning content for inbound and demand gen? Writing for the blog? Supporting product with technical copy? Interviewing the C-Suite for thought leadership pieces? Penning press releases? Crafting content for social media?

If you’re thinking, “Yes! All of it!” then let me be the one to break it to you: You’ve already set yourself up for failure.

A job description containing all of the above is innately flawed for two reasons.

First, one person can’t possibly own all those responsibilities successfully. It’s just way too much work for a single writer.

Second, the writer who kills it with your product marketing content is going to have a vastly different skill set than the one who writes creative copy for your demand gen offers.


Instead of hopelessly searching for a content unicorn, narrow in on the near-term skills you absolutely need your new team member to have.

Maybe product can handle their own technical documentation for now, but you can’t wait another minute to find a writer who has a more creative slant to handle content for the blog. Outline your immediate must-haves, then adjust your job description (and job title!) to attract the kind of writer you need today.

Once you start reviewing resumes, reading writing samples and meeting candidates, be flexible. Maybe you’re looking for someone to own content for product marketing and sales enablement, but you end up finding an amazing candidate who’s also got a journalism background and would be great for interviewing execs and writing thought leadership content. Can you adjust that job description a bit further, to fit both your needs and the candidate’s strengths?

Be adaptable, and pivot when you need to.


While a writing portfolio is a great way to see what your candidate might be capable of, it’s impossible to know who edited that copy (and how many rounds of revisions it actually went through).

A take-home test may seem like a sure-fire way to weed out poor writers -- but it’s flawed, too. There are a billion variables that can skew an off-site writing test: a home environment very different from the workspace. An extended deadline. Outside help to edit.

Instead of sending your candidate home to work on a writing sample, prep a variety of quick assignments for your candidate to complete on-site.

For example, draft a bit of copy in advance for your candidate to edit. Sneak a few intentional errors in there -- some obvious, some not so obvious -- and see what they do with it.

The best writers not only catch the errors, but they’ll offer up suggestions to make your copy stronger, too.

Have your candidate use the piece they edit to craft some short content, like social media or ad copy. This’ll give you a sense of their ability to write clear, concise, compelling content.

At the same time, provide your candidate with a handful of statistics or some bullet points related to your product or industry. Ask them to use that information to storyline a quick blog, an infographic, or even a video script. This will show you how they approach a new project and help you understand how they think about visual content.

Finally, keep time to a minimum: I suggest giving no more than 30 minutes to complete the full test.

This tactic might seem unrealistic (cruel, even!), but it’s a solid way to figure out how your potential new hire works under stress and against a tight deadline.

When all is said and done, hold a quick debrief after the writing test. Ask the candidate to walk you through their work. What did they spend the most time on? What didn’t they get to? How did they decide what to work on first?

This helps shed light on how and why they prioritized all the projects. It also gives you a good look at how they approach the creative process.

Resurrect Your Deck Design: An ode to ugly presentations (and a mission to fix them)

Katie Burkhart is the founder of KBurkhart & Co. and serves as the lead brand strategist and designer. You can follow Katie on Twitter @KBurkhartCo and read her posts on the KBurkhart & Co blog.

Presentation decks are a special interest of mine. Why, you ask? Well, like many people, I spend a decent amount of time listening to presentations, which means I also spend a lot of time looking at decks that leave a lot to be desired.

I’d really like to help fix that.

Let’s be honest. How many of you have sat in the audience going, “Man, this is a great speaker! I’m tweeting quotes left and right. But…what happened to that slide deck? It just doesn’t measure up and I can barely read it…”

Hopefully a few hands went up.

One of the biggest flaws in presentation design, regardless of use case, is the compulsion to write out everything that might possibly come up on the slides themselves. This can often include reproducing the entire talk on the screen – in very small letters.

Taking this approach undermines your ability to deliver your message in an effective or engaging way. What you’ve put on your slides cannot be read or digested, but because you’ve put it there, your audience will likely attempt to read what you’ve written. They will then miss out on what you’re saying, as they can’t read and listen at the same time. Or worse yet, they will be frustrated at the onset and ignore your slides completely.

Additionally, the more you’ve used your deck as a safety net in case you forget something, the more likely you will be to read your slides to the audience (ouch!).  

Given this saga of woe, why is it that we keep creating presentations crammed with text and blurry images?

It’s because we believe that our presentation deck is supposed to be an exact duplicate of our verbal presentation and all of the related pieces of information.

Unfortunately, that’s incorrect.

Presentation decks are meant to support you, not be the presentation itself. You are the presentation.

What does that mean? Well, if your laptop dies five minutes before your keynote, if your file just won’t open on the venue’s technology, or even if the projector you’re supposed to use catches fire, you should still be able to deliver your presentation expertly.

This may sound really simple (and it is) but it requires a reframe in thinking. 

No more should you spend time copying your notes into your deck, or adding links that the audience can’t use anyway. You should spend your time making the content you’re presenting as valuable and as human as it can possibly be.

For some of us, that may mean ditching the deck entirely. Personally, I’d feel a little naked up there without something backing me up. 

So, if you’re going to have a deck — and you don’t want it to be your notes in PowerPoint format — what should you do?

Focus on one thing at a time.

“Every slide should try to do just one job. One,” says Avinash Kaushik in another great article on presentation design.

I could not agree more. It would be better to have more slides than to cram everything into ten.

Start by narrowing down what goes into your deck. Determine which points will be stronger because they’re underscored by a visual behind you, and which points could be communicated equally as well without the added support.

Then look at each slide as its own canvas. Take away everything you can until you only have left exactly what you need – and ensure that what remains has a specific reason for being there. Doing so will provide you the optimum balance of form and function, and will also allow your audience to fully understand the information on the slide without taking their eyes off of you for too long.

Focusing on one thing at a time will not only improve your deck design, but the caliber of your presentation as a whole. It will allow you to determine exactly what matters most, and to explore each point thoroughly – and thus deliver more value.

Limit the amount of statistics you include.

And while you’re working on revising your content, limit the amount of statistics you throw at your audience.

We’ve all watched that presentation that starts with a dozen numbers, and then they keep popping up throughout. You know a lot about the topic on which you’re presenting, but a constant barrage of data can be overwhelming to your audience because it makes no sense without context.

Concentrate on the story, then carefully select a handful of data points that support what you’re sharing. Narrowing it down to the statistics that make the most impact will better serve the story and the deck design.  

Design your presentation to support your brand.

Your deck should absolutely reflect your brand, preferably beyond sticking a tiny version of your logo in the corner.

Think about colors, fonts, and imagery, as well as the overall layout. Perhaps your graphics are linear, or perhaps they’re flat. Maybe your content always aligns to the bottom lefthand corner. Whatever you do, make sure it fits soundly within your brand identity and strategy.

More specifically, when selecting imagery, high-resolution photos are a must as they go a long way to show your level of polish and professionalism. Selecting images that support your brand and brand story go even further.

Consider whether your images should play up certain colors, if they should be black and white, or if perhaps you shouldn’t use images at all, but only graphics and icons instead. Once you know the style, take the time to source good, professional, high-resolution imagery both from an artistic as well as from a file quality perspective.

There are many places to obtain quality stock photos without cost. This likely means they carry a Creative Commons license and can generally be used attribution-free. Now, sometimes you just can’t find what you’re looking for on these sites or feel that you’ve seen the photo you’re planning to use in too many places. You may need to broaden your search to stock photography sites that charge a fee to license the photos, such as Shutterstock or iStock. If none of these options work for your brand, consider working with a photographer to take your own.

Your font selection should still be in line with your brand, but when it comes to presentations, use a standard font. What does that mean? It means that the custom font your brand uses needs to come out. There’s no guarantee that the font you’ve chosen will be installed on the computer from which you’ll be presenting and using a standard font will help you avoid any unexpected or undesired formatting changes.

Also remember to make your type large enough to read and with enough contrast to stand out. A good test is to print your slides out at home in black and white. If you can’t clearly read your text, there isn’t enough contrast.

Your overall layout should coordinate with the identity you’ve created through your other materials. That doesn’t mean it needs to look exactly the same, but it should feel like it belongs. If you’re not a designer, consider working with one to make a base template.

Your deck is an extension of your brand and like any other channel, it should support that brand accurately and consistently.

Embed any media you want to share.

In today’s digital age, it is no surprise that you would want to include video or other media in your deck. The most obvious way is by linking to that media. Avoid the temptation to do so. This method is very disruptive to your presentation, as it literally takes your audience out of your deck, forces them to refocus on something completely different, and then come back to your deck, all the while losing their focus on you. Inevitably, this technique also tends to lead to technical difficulties like error messages, eating up precious time and dinging your credibility because you can’t connect.

If you need to show a video or an infographic, figure out how to embed them into your deck. For example, versions of PowerPoint past 2013 will allow for this right in the program.

This is also a good time to mention that you should think about the file type and format to which you save your final version. This seems really silly to include, except for the fact that I’ve watched both experienced and novice presenters run into problems because they didn’t have their file in a format that worked the day of their presentation.

The best way to know if you’ve got the right type of file at the right aspect ratio is to consult with the venue at which you’ll be presenting. It’s also a great time to make sure they’re able to handle sound or video. Prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Be consistent.

Humans appreciate patterns. In fact, we’re the best when it comes to recognizing them in just about everything. Establishing and leveraging patterns in your deck design will help your audience to better understand your message and to remember you.

Consistency adds dramatically to your audience’s ability to digest the information you’re sharing. For example, use your fonts consistently throughout the deck. Your audience will start to look for the header in the same place, in the same color, if you establish it that way, which will help them grasp your slides with ease. Also consider limiting yourself to two or three fonts. It will make the design more consistent and cohesive.

The same goes for imagery. If you use black and white photos as part of your brand, make sure that they’re all black and white in your deck. More specifically, if you’re a photo-heavy brand, be cautious with the use of graphics, as it may be jarring.

When determining the layouts of your slides, select half a dozen options and stick to them. Seeing content in the same place on your slides will aid in their digestion, as well as the cohesiveness of your deck design.

As a bonus, think about key visual elements you can repeat. It will help your brand to stick in the minds of your audience.

Create a handout.

You do not have to have a handout for your presentation, but if this shift in thinking has made you really nervous that you won’t cover all of your points, think about making a handout (lawyers, I’m looking at you!).

You will undoubtedly know more about your topic than what shows up in the slides directly. Take all of that knowledge and make a nicely designed handout that your audience can take home. Brand it well so that you and your company get the recognition for your effort and thought leadership!

Keep it simple.

This tends to be my golden rule for most things, but it’s absolutely true when it comes to deck design. Putting this rule at the forefront will help you to make strategic design decisions, resulting in better focus and consistency.

It will also help you to make your presentation more human and bring the story to the forefront.

A deck can serve as excellent support to your presentation, engage your audience, and solidify your story. Just remember that you are the presentation, and the deck is a tool that you can make the most of, provided you keep it focused, keep it consistent, and keep it simple.

A Manifesto for Human-to-Human Marketing

Boston-based Chuck Leddy has been crafting engaging content since 1995, as a journalist and B2B brand storyteller. He's written for B2B brands such as General Electric, ADP, Office Depot, Cintas, the National Center for the Middle Market, and many more. He's also been published in print publications such as the Boston Globe, Forbes, the Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. His website and blog are at

As people who market, who make our livings seeking to engage people, we need to stop interrupting and start making connections through people’s hearts and minds. We need to “pull” and attract, not “push” and repel. We talk too much about ourselves and our offerings. But, what it comes down to is that nobody cares about us and what we need to sell.

As marketers, we don't like when people talk about themselves constantly and interrupt us, so why would we do that to other people who are not marketers?

Instead, we need to think of ourselves as people interacting with other people, following the norms of proper human behavior. Don't try to come between people and the things they want: When someone is listening to music or watching their favorite TV show, for instance, don't use that as an opportunity to jump in and talk about your software. Like so many today, I just fast-forward past the marketing.

Let’s openly declare what we stand for as humans first -- who happen to do marketing. Here are 6 principles and practices to keep in mind to humanize your marketing:

1. Lose the marketing mumbo-jumbo.

All that talk about funnels, conversion steps, prime demographics, segmentation strategies and click-thru rates can be downright confusing. Remember, we’re trying to engage other people, and speaking mumbo-jumbo doesn't help us or make us sound important or profound.  Would you put your best friend down a funnel? Let's talk like people talking to other people.

2. Forget B2B and B2C, and instead focus on H2H (human-to-human).

Business entities or brands cannot chat over coffee or cry at a wedding or pick a friend up from the airport, but people can. If a friend took you aside and told you, "You're starting to talk like an insurance company," would you think that's a compliment? People work for insurance companies, write for insurance companies and buy insurance from insurance companies, but nobody should be talking like one. Let's try talking like people. It can be done!

3. Remember, it's about them, not you.

This is by far the most important concept in all of marketing. Great marketing starts from the the outside-in, from the perspective of people who you want to buy your offerings. People buy from you, and like you, when you help them with their challenges. Period. Show you care about THEM and can offer them help. Find a need, solve a problem, or tell a story that connects with their lives -- if you do these things, you are marketing the right way. Listen for what people need (belonging, emotional connection, stories that move them, help in a pinch). Anyone who tells you they "just sell insurance" isn't doing it right.

What is the result of caring about people more than yourself and your offerings? You and your brand will build a loyal customer base that cares about you.

4. Stop the hard sell. 

Consider the effect of making our relationship contingent upon my ability to "act now!" I'm tired and want to take a nap or grab a cup of coffee. I don't want to "act now!" or perform the particular calls to action (CTAs) you are asking me to perform. Maybe try making me feel better about myself, and maybe then I'll feel better about you.

5. Be a friend first.

Let's build long-term relationships in the way that friends do, based upon mutual respect, trust, understanding, emotional connections, shared stories, truth-telling and reciprocal value creation. My friends listen, help, care, and make me feel better about myself. They share their stories, and listen to mine. In order to market effectively, marketers must do the same.

6. Connect through stories.

The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and the stories we share with others about the world we live in -- these are the things that make us human and connect us to others. We are, above all, living organisms that seek to make meaning out of our existence. Stories help us all do that.

Our stories have characters (you, me, the baker and candlestick maker); they have conflict (I wanted to take a nap, but there's a loud construction crew outside my window), and resolution (I put in earplugs and take my nap). Stories engage our emotions, pull us into different worlds and experiences, and make us more empathetic. I'm not sure we'd be human without stories, and I know we wouldn't be humans with any empathy or decency.

Stories are the best way for people who market to connect with other people. We choose the people and causes we care about because of the stories they tell and the way those stories make us feel. Data doesn't connect to emotion; information does not connect or make us feel, but stories do -- and they can make the data and information memorable.

In the end, people will reward people who are good to them, show they care about them and offer the most valuable gifts in life: their attention and their emotional connection. Let's stop thinking of ourselves as marketers, and more as humans talking to other people, trying to turn friendly interactions into sustainable, mutually-beneficial long-term relationships.