I was going to do a fancy write-up for Chris and then I read his bio on the Shift Communications website. I think it really does way better than I ever could (plus I think it’s all worth noting).

I will say this, when I see something from Chris, anywhere, I pay attention.

I’ve known Chris for a while and seen him speak at a tech conference here in Frederick, MD. This guy knows his stuff. But, there I go doing what I said I wasn’t going to do.

This is Chris according to Shift Communications…

Christopher Penn is SHIFT’s vice president of marketing technologies. Penn has been featured for his leadership in new media and marketing in many books and in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report, and on television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and ABC News. In 2012, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Social Media and Digital Marketing.

Prior to joining the agency, Penn was the director of inbound marketing at WhatCounts, an email marketing company, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference. In addition to his duties at SHIFT, Penn is co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is also an adjunct professor of Internet marketing and the lead subject matter expert and professor of Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco.

Penn is the author of Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer.

And of course, Chris, being Chris, sent me a video response to the questions I emailed him. Well played sir! Transcript with links is below. Enjoy!

Video Transcript – 5 Questions for Chris Penn plus one

So, this is for Jon-Mikel Bailey new blog series on Marketing Questions for Professionals.

Question One – Marketing White Belt

Your book Marketing White Belt was not only an easy read but incredibly useful. What one concept from this book was the hardest for you to learn personally?

Question 1, on what concept in Marketing White Belt was hardest for me to get was probably, believe it or not the 4 P’s. The whole marketing mix. Only because it was difficult to keep my brain from wanting to wander away and explore all these other things.

Like what about this or what about this or how does this fit in and keeping your brain confined to this is what we’re trying to learn, was really difficult.

So, I think that was probably by far was the hardest but overall it was more “here’s the framework, learn the framework and then worry about all variations later.”

Learn the basics first.

Question Two – Email Marketing Predictions

I first met you via Greg and Amy at Blue Sky Factory (now WhatCounts), so I know email marketing is in your blood. Plus, your Almost Timely (link) newsletter is fantastic. If you had to make one prediction about email marketing for 2014, what would it be?

Question 2, predictions for email marketing for 2014? Probably the biggest thing is the continued of merging of the industry.

All of this, these companies sort of merging together. And seeing the, the E.S.P., the email service provider, really is becoming almost an endangered species and there is good reason for that. And the email service provider is the single function company, right. It’s a single function tool.

You send email, which is great, but at the same time, it has to be in this bigger picture of marketing automation of analytics, of being part of the bigger picture processes.

We saw this when Pardot got bought out by ExactTarget and ExactTarget got bought out by SalesForce and Oracle bought out Eloqua. So all this, all this consolidation in the industry is a reflection of the way marketing is changing, that these things have to be bigger systems.

I think, you’ll see the established players get vacuumed up.

It would not surprise me at all to see something like a MailChimp get bought out and then you will inevitably see the spaces get consolidated, there are fewer of these big companies now and there’s a lot of open fields and we’ll have a whole new round of start-ups.

People who are making very agile marketing automation systems – low budget ones because not everyone can afford the $1200 or $1500 or $3000 dollars a month, particularly on the small business side.

So, that’ll be an interesting space to watch as well.

Question Three – Podcasting for Small Business

You’ve been podcasting for years with Marketing Over Coffee. What advice would you give a small business about how to Podcast successfully?

Question 3, on podcasting for small businesses. Probably the biggest thing to realize is that, and this is true of any form of content, people think, “I’m gonna build content and people will find and they’ll love it.”

With podcasting – especially because it’s so poorly indexed, it’s audio or it’s audio/video, you know, very rarely are there subtitles provided – you need to spend a lot of time on the audience.

I’m not saying don’t create great content. You have to create great content. That’s table stakes now. What you need to do then is invest a lot of time in building out that audience.

Get influencers, get word-of-mouth, get some press, get some mentions, get placements, get noticed, get re-shared, all to build that audience because the audience is very, very fickle and because it’s a podcast.

There’s, you know, just because they are subscribed doesn’t mean they’re actually listening to it or watching it. So you need to engage as much as possible.

There’s a mind map over on my blog and we’ll send a link over, on sort of the marketing methods for podcasts. I would strongly recommend that you pull that up and just ask yourself “am I doing these things with my pod-casts and, if so, are they working as well as they could be?”

Question Four – The Future of PR

Your move to Shift Communications brought you full force into the PR world. For our readers, what are you most excited about when it comes to the future of PR?

Question 4, of the future of PR. PR is kinda going away too; traditionally, what we used to think of as PR, which is send a bunch of press releases and, and you know, talk to, talk to reporters and call it a day, right.

Get some martinis at the local club, the Mad Men kind of era. That’s going away too because the idea of Public Relations in the old days was “here’s the media, here’s the audience, you work with the media companies to talk to the audience.”

Well, social media and the internet democratized the media process, it democratized the audience and everyone is a publisher, everyone is the media.

I’m doing a video recording here. It’s not going to go on T.V., maybe, I don’t know. But it’s still gonna go to more people than probably watch the local cable access channel.

So, PR has had to and continues to adapt to this new landscape where an influencer, someone who can talk about share and spread the word, may not just be the news anchor, it may be the news anchor and the camera guy who you run into at Starbucks.

A really good example of this, NBC Nightly News has Jim Long, @newmediaJim on Twitter.

I would argue that in a lot of circles, Jim is more influential as the guy behind the camera than some of the people who are in front of the camera, “the talent.” But, when you’re talking about what’s going on and you know, where exciting things are happening, Jim the camera guy is, is more informative than the media, the media personality.

So, it’s an interesting twist and for PR we have to continue to adapt/continue to reach further down into the marketing funnel as well.

Because the value of PR is that it brings new audiences to your door. If the door is locked then all the PR in the world isn’t going to help your company. You’re gonna go out of business and fire your PR firm.

So for a lot of PR firms,Shift Communications in specific, we’re looking at ways to help companies further down in the marketing funnel so that when we bring in all this great press, they have a place to go. They have things to buy and the company makes some money and, and they keep us.

It’s an enlightened self-interest, if you will.

Question Five – Finding and Sharing Content, Content Curation

You provide so much great content through your email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, etc. I’m sure you get this all the time, but how do you find the time to gather AND write such great content?

How do I find the time to gather and create so much content? A lot of it’s systematized, a lot of it is processes and a lot of it is a lot of time.

My day is spent, anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours a day, reading and researching and, and digging into things and learning, and testing things out, experimenting. Because if I don’t do that, then when something new pops up I’m taken by surprise and I don’t like being taken by surprise.

For example, Twitter had magic recommendations, I think to follow this, this handle they’ve gotten, recommend people that you should follow. I got to test it out. I got to see how does it work? Can advertisers buy into it? Things like that.

So it’s testing, it’s seeing what’s new, what’s interesting. Google’s new keyword search thing, which is about 48 hours old at this point.

Writing blog posts about it, creating content on it, understanding how it fits into the big picture. That’s the probably the biggest secret of all is if you know what the big picture more or less looks like, even if you’re not talented or proficient and you’re just attacked with limitations, then when something new comes along you know how it fits in.

You know, hey this is gonna be a game changer or nah, that’s a wanna be or even worse just completely irrelevant.

So, lots of reading, lots of research. You’re going to spend a couple hours a day, invest that time in yourself, invest that time for your company. Be willing to set that time aside and apart.

Bonus Question – Chris vs. Chris

Bonus… who is a better gamer, you or Chris Brogan?

Who’s a better gamer, me or Chris Brogan? I would probably say me. Chris is very, very good at partitioning his time and I don’t think he invests a lot of time in gaming entertainment.

I don’t know though because I also don’t watch any television so, my entertainment time is gaming. So, you’d have to ask him. Thanks for watching.

Connect with Chris – Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn