Beyond PR

Sep 06, 2016

The Force of Content Distribution Awakens: 3 Lessons for Marketers from Mark Hamill’s Career

content-distribution-lessons-from-mark-hamill-careerA long time ago (1977), in a galaxy (not so) far far away, a 25-year-old Mark Hamill donned the robes of Luke Skywalker and became a pop culture legend.

Later this week, that legend will take the stage as Content Marketing World’s closing keynote speaker, a fitting choice for this year’s theme Content Strikes Back.

“People know Mark as an actor, but many don’t realize he’s also a producer, director, writer and content creator,” said Content Marketing Institute’s founder Joe Pulizzi when announcing Hamill’s appearance.

As a huge fan of Hamill, I can’t wait for the content inspiration he’ll unleash during his keynote. Even a quick glance at his career trajectory can teach content marketers a thing or two — especially when it comes to content distribution.

Look beyond your content universe.

Although most of us were introduced to Hamill as the young Jedi Master, his career reaches far beyond the Star Wars universe to television, Broadway, video games, comic books, audio books and more.

Hamill’s post-Star Wars work has helped him accrue a massive following. Players of the Wing Commander video game series know him as the series protagonist. His Trickster on the 1990s television series The Flash turned him into a fan favorite that he recently reprised in the CW’s hit adaptation.

Then there’s The Joker. Hamill first voiced The Joker in 1992 for Batman: The Animated Series, and has gone on to play the character more than any other actor, voicing him in other spin-off series, films and video games. His portrayal won him audience adoration and awards including a BAFTA for Best Performer.

But what does this have to do with content distribution?

Think about your current audience. Are you happy with its size? I’d hazard a guess that even if your audience is huge, your answer is no.

And that’s smart.

“Why settle for stagnant reach?” questions our white paper The Distribution Effect: Bring Your Content Marketing to the Next Level. “Consider your top fans, or core group of customers. At one point, they were all part of a brand new audience for your organization. Marketers must continually reach new audiences.”

It goes on to explain how content marketers can’t rely solely on existing, owned audiences and channels. We must follow Hamill’s lead and take a multichannel approach to promoting our brand.

By adding new distribution channels to your strategy, you’ll not just find and convert new fanbases, but also strengthen relationships with those fans you previously converted.


Don’t be afraid to play against type.

Hamill may have made his name as Star Wars protagonist Luke Skywalker; however, that didn’t stop him from taking on villain roles like The Joker.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hamill spoke about his 24-year career as the infamous Batman baddie and how it helped prevent him from being typecast into hero roles.

“Back before I did Joker, they thought of me just as that earnest, young, callow farm boy.”

Similarly, content marketers should not be afraid to take risks with their storytelling and distribution strategies.

Just because you’re a B2B company doesn’t mean you need to avoid traditionally B2C channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Or, if your brand storytelling tends to be conservative in style, consider adding some creativity and levity.

The trick: Having a valid reason and flawless follow-through.

In Hamill’s case, his reason was to expand audiences’ and casting directors’ perception of his talents. Then, once the opportunity came around, he seized it wholeheartedly.

As writes: “Hamill brought the true comic book nature of the Clown Prince of Crime’s to life using only his voice, which he manipulated perfectly to convey a silly clown and a psychotic killer. Out of all the Jokers of the past, current, and quite possibly the future, Hamill’s animated character has the most range.”

Look at what’s missing in your content marketing program. Is there an audience you’re not reaching as well as you should? Is a once-successful content tactic or theme not working like it used to? Don’t immediately shy away from doing something unexpected to resolve the situation.

Listen to the conversations happening in your industry and see what new opportunities exist. Weigh the pros and cons, and if you decide to try something new, gather the tools, people and knowledge needed to make it happen right.

Throughout your content experiment, measure the outcomes. Even if it doesn’t perform to expectations, you’ve at least learned something new about what your audience wants or doesn’t want.

Remember what got you here.

Recently, Hamill’s career trajectory has taken him back to his roots. Last year’s The Force Awakens included a brief appearance by Luke Skywalker, with the promise of more to come in the new trilogy.

When Hamill entered the scene in those final moments, theatres around the world came alive with moviegoers’ anticipation and excitement.

Hamill recognizes this love for the character who launched his career. A frequent guest on the entertainment convention circuit and avid Twitterer, he’s always ready to embrace his Luke Skywalker past and engage with fans.

With the rise of so many new content distribution channels, it can be easy to overlook those long-standing promotion methods that still hold value.

For instance, earned media tactics like pitching and press release distribution are not only useful for major company announcements.

Thanks to the rise of content marketing, the scope of what’s considered newsworthy has grown. Because of this, the skills and tools the PR industry honed over the years can be a major boon to today’s marketers.

Ultimately, your content distribution strategy shouldn’t be about one channel versus another. You need to strike a balance between familiar and new.

Integrating your content promotion across paid, earned, social and owned will build brand awareness and your bottomline.

Download The Distribution Effect: Bring Your Content Marketing to the Next Level to learn more about why marketers and PR professionals should care about distribution. This free guide also comes with a content distribution driver checklist to help you map your content marketing strategy.

Author Amanda Hicken is a senior marketing manager at Cision, where she directs the demand generation content strategy for PR Newswire’s and Cision’s blogs. She believes the key to successful content is balancing creativity, analytics and commonsense. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @ADHicken.

2 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Prathik Rammohan 06:52 EDT on Sep 7, 2016

Amazing article Amanda! The force is strong with this one. I couldn’t help but mention one tool which has really helped with my content marketing strategy – DrumUp ( It’s a content marketing and social media management app which also features content curation and scheduling. Give it a look and if you like it, please mention it in any future lists 🙂

­ Harini 03:11 EDT on Sep 12, 2016

Expected and valid points are included in you blog.. I really liked and I got some clear ideas for improve my thoughts from well defined content… keep updating more for us… thanks for shared useful blog..

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