How to Lead an Organizational Culture of Content Marketing

Dude, I want to write about you. Those were the words coming out of my mouth as I spoke on the phone with a Twitter friend for the first time this weekend.  He’s on the brink of launching an organizational culture of content marketing and his story is worth highlighting here.

I love people who lead without a title. Sharing their stories is part of my goal to inspire more leaders.

In the past few years, this particular Twitter friend went from being fired, to temp worker, to “marketing renegade” trying to change the culture of an organization, to… wait for it…  dude who just got a huge promotion. BOOM. Drop the mic.

Just kidding. Well, I’m kidding about the mic drop. But the huge promotion story is for real.

And thus begins his journey. Now it’s game time. It’s take the bull by the horns and deliver super big time. Hence the reason he called me for a little help.

I’m not allowed to reveal his name yet but he inspired this post so here’s my advice, not only for him, but also for YOU if you’ve just landed your dream promotion while also having a bit of a “Oh crud, what do I do now?” moment.


Recipe for Successful Social Business Transformation

Of course you have to know WHY you and your business are launching this organizational culture of content marketing. Then, you need to ALIGN these three with your WHY:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategy
  3. Culture

Leadership – All the leaders in the company need to buy-in to the vision and they need to own it. They need to able to articulate it in their own words.  They also support it, implement it and inject their enthusiasm into it.  Most importantly, they lead by example and demonstrate for others what LIVING and ACTING OUT the vision looks like.

Strategy – The strategy is to go all in and involve everyone in the company in content creation and going social. The strategy is to have an army of dangerously effective people making a bigger impact. The strategy is to scale awesome.

Culture – Does your organizational culture support your strategy and vision of success? Do your people clearly understand WHY this is the strategy? Do your employees know HOW to live the strategy and WHAT is expected of them? Is your culture of content inspired or mandated?

You align these three by having a clearly defined vision. 

Creating a Clear Vision

Here’s how you create a clear vision. You answer these 6 questions to develop a playbook:

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important right now?
  6. Who must do what?

Patrick Lencioni, best selling author and leadership consultant, uses these 6 questions to help leaders layout a vision that they can communicate with clarity to their teams. Exercises and examples designed around these questions are detailed out in Patrick’s latest book, The Advantage (Leaders and CEOs, this is a must read). Your own answers to these 6 questions become your playbook and help shape your compelling vision.

Communicating With Clarity

Once you have a clear vision, you must communicate it clearly and embed it in all parts of your culture. Lencioni makes the point that great leaders over communicate the vision. At least that’s what good leaders do if they want to empower lots of capable leaders within their organization all pursuing the same goal.

For ideas about launching an ALL IN content marketing culture read this.

But besides an epic launch, the toughest part is embedding the vision into your everyday organizational culture. Here are a few ways to accomplish that.

15 Ways to Embed the Vision of Content Marketing Into Your Organizational Culture

  1. Include everyone in the vision
  2. Distribute the playbook (your answers to the 6 questions above) to all employees
  3. Reference the playbook in every single team meeting
  4. Recognize and award team members successfully living out the vision
  5. Always share the stories of team members making an impact by their participation
  6. Write the expectation of content contributor into every person’s job description
  7. Add the expectation into annual reviews and future hiring criteria
  8. Add it to the training and on boarding process for every new employee
  9. Invest in rallying people around the vision with ongoing education
  10. Continue equipping people to be more effective with less ongoing support
  11. Set ambitious goals
  12. Celebrate successes as a team
  13. Continually look for new creative ways to involve everyone
  14. This should go without saying but just in case, don’t continuously change the vision and strategy
  15. And of course, be a warrior of enthusiasm… INSPIRE

Hope that helps! Don’t worry, not-to-be-named-Twitter-friend, I’ll also email you my list of tools for success shortly.

Your Turn

What else would you add to this list of ways to lead a culture of content? What portions mentioned above would you like me to go into more detail about? And feel free to leave a note of encouragement to my Twitter friend. I’m sure he (and anyone else in a similar position reading this post) can use all the support and ideas he can get right now. 



  1. I’m officially going to share this with everyone I can. A TREMENDOUS piece and story KK, and your layout here is something every CMO and CCO in the world needs to read. No kidding. Wow. LOVE this.


  2. Hey Krista,
    As Marcus said this is an excellent article!
    I think the culture should encourage people to share all your knowledge and don’t hold back. Marcus is a great example of this!
    I think companies are reluctant to share all their knowledge and the more they share the better it will be for them.!

    • kristakotrla says:

      Sharing is caring, right?! ;-) Marcus is definitely the best example of this and the very person who originally inspired me. Thank you so much for your comment, Ian. Appreciate it!

  3. Boom. Drop the mic. HAHA totally stealing that phrase.

    • Oops hit enter before I finished my comment.

      Big thanks to your twitter friend for inspiring this post. I just made a comment on Marcus’s blog about how the company I work for (an SEO agency) is stuck in old methods that are not going to work. I wish we could transform But I don’t think the buy-in is coming from the people at the top.

      One thing I would add, as someone who works on the outside as a “gun for hire” is that content created by employees is so much better and easier to create then anything done by an agency.

      I know nothing about dentistry but I have written dozens of articles and some website content on the subject. Of course I do the best that I can, but I will never be able to produce the quality of content that anyone working in a dental office could produce in half the time and for a much reduced cost.

      I write all of these things because that is what I am paid to do. But it’s incredibly frustrating when you see a better way to do things and you are powerless to do it.

      Tell your friend I’m jealous. At least he is in a position to change something. It will be hard I’m sure, but definitely worth it.

      Great post. You’re awesome. :-)

      • kristakotrla says:


        I don’t know whether you need a big hug or a someone to shake you by the shoulders and yell in your face, “You are not powerless!” —OR— I know! You need a pep talk from kid president!! Geoff Reiner sent this to me today. MUST WATCH >>

        You’re awesome and you’re going to have an #awesomeyear

        Inspire LIKE A BOSS.

        • BAHAHA :-) Thanks for the pep talk. I needed that. I probably need both the hug and someone to yell in my face too. It’s just frustrating sometimes. I’m sure you know.

          Thanks for being my friend.

  4. Krista,
    Every post you publish is adds fuel to my desire to marry awesome content marketing with our equally awesome organization.
    I love the playbook idea. As I continue to encourage and share a vision of CM with my organization’s leadership, I believe this could be an important tool to sell the vision to them.
    To your Twitter friend… Congratulations! I’d love to know your strategy and pick your brain about what pitfalls to avoid and what sealed the deal. Good luck.

    • kristakotrla says:

      You’re on the right track, Chad! I can tell by your enthusiasm for your awesome organization. Without belief in your team of people it just can’t happen. Keep sharing the stories of people and companies making a bigger difference because of their content marketing efforts. We should definitely talk!


  5. Another HIT of a blog post Krista. You are such an inspiration. Actually I was talking to my CEO about you not to long ago, and told him “if you want to have a content marketing company read this blog” (referring to yours of course). I love this playbook idea. Recently a co-worker and I created a Leadership Development Guide for all employees, this was our first step in building an organization of leaders. The premise of the book is anyone can be a leader, no matter your role, everything we do as a company is in the best interest of the customer (while equally balancing the companys goals) and everyone provides great input. Next on my list, the content marketing playbook so everyone can help provide great content too!
    Thanks again my fellow Warrior of Enthusiasm.

    • kristakotrla says:

      That is so awesome, Kristine! You developed your own Leadership Development Guide?! I LOVE IT. (and I definitely want a copy!)

      If you looking for more ideas about creating a leader-leader model in your organization, there are some excellent examples in David Marquet’s “Turn the Ship Around”. Check it out >> He gives great examples about not only inspiring leaders at every level but also the mechanisms put in place to support that vision. Very insightful.

      Hope your content playbook project is going great! BTW – will your company be the next content marketing culture success story I tell? :)


  6. Jason Crawford says:

    I love the fact that you LIVE this, you don’t just write about it. No one should miss the fact that you must consistently reinforce this vision and clarity in all of your interactions with others within an organization (and you do!). You ask content-focused questions that bring other members of the team in line with your vision for amplifying AWESOME.

    • kristakotrla says:

      Thanks, Jason! The cool thing is that we have numerous people in the organization that help reinforce the vision (especially you!). And as much as we talk about content marketing here, the real goal is making a bigger difference… it just so happens that an effective way to do that is with content marketing.



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