The Right Content

Humans of New YorkOne of my favorite websites is Humans of New York. It features photos of people in public spaces accompanied by a short story or quote that brings you into their world. The sites creator, Brandon Stanton, spoke today at SXSW about his vision.

Humans of New York is regularly followed by four million people and is a great example of a multi-platform content strategy. Originally a Tumblr page, the site has morphed into a dedicated site, including a subscription option.

The site is supported by Facebook and Twitter, and most recently, select photos were compiled in a New York Times best selling book.

Brandon believes the success of Humans of New York has little to do with the photos, rather everything to do with the frequency of his updates and the dual storytelling power of words and pictures. The unpredictability of each post keeps viewers coming back, as he says, “The cool thing about social media is it allows people to find things they’re not looking for.”

Humans of New York featured 2,000 photos before the first story appeared about the site. Brandon believes this allowed him to hone his storytelling style and build an audience organically.

Brandon’s talk concluded with a quote I feel like my Dad has said to me, “Ideas are cheap, hard work makes money.” It’s that commitment to his vision and his audience which has made Humans of New York a property on the rise.

Michael O’Brien is Chief Strategy Office at Ketchum, focusing on the firm’s immediate and long-term global business strategies. He leads client experience globally and also coaches client directors across the global network helping solve client challenges, training to promote best practices, managing agency effectiveness — all with the goal of maximizing every Ketchum client engagement. 

This is Michael’s second stint with Ketchum.  Previously he headed Brand Marketing at Ketchum New York.  Some of the accounts under his direct leadership included the Eastman Kodak Company and Visa USA.  During his tenure, Michael’s teams won every major public relations industry award including PR Week Awards, PRSA Silver Anvils and Holmes Report Sabres. Prior to returning to Ketchum, Michael spent four years at Cohn & Wolfe, as the director of the Global Consumer and B2B Practice and the general manager of the agency’s New York office. He served as a senior counselor to many clients including Nike, Ford and Panasonic.  

Michael also served as the director of Global Communications at Mastercard International.  In this position Michael managed global communications strategy and implementation for consumer credit, business payments and e-commerce products.  He also spent five years in various account roles at Ogilvy Public Relations. 

He received a B.A. in Communications from Marist College.  Michael is currently serving as Chairman of Marist College’s Lowell Thomas School of Communications Advisory Board.