Q&A with David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions

David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions is a veteran tech journalist and founder of Spark Media Solutions. He’s been the creative director, producer, voice, and face of many content marketing campaigns for a number of Fortune 1000 B2B tech companies.

MEDIA 7: What part of your background, personality, experience, or skill set makes you a particularly effective content marketing professional?
DAVID SPARK:

• Veteran technology journalist (worked across all media)
• Former advertising exec
• Former standup comedian and comedy writer

M7: What inspires you to come up with new ideas for blog posts, campaigns, tech, and media podcasts?
DS:
Inspiration is dependent on the project, the output, and the medium. But in general, I’m inspired by finding a topic/question that the audience will eagerly want to answer. Two of our most popular examples:

CISO Series – This is a media channel we started in October 2018 that we tout as couples counseling for security practitioners and vendors. We have such a passionate audience that they’re submitting a steady flow of questions, commentary, and games for our two podcasts. The CISO Series has provided the forum for our audience to be inspired.

“Man on the street” videos – It’s our most popular video format. We’ve produced close to 200 of these and my goal with these videos is to come up with a question where the first reaction is to laugh and then an eagerness about responding. It could be a challenge question (e.g., “What would happen if you left your mobile phone at home for an entire day?”, or something completely inappropriate for the environment (e.g., asking “What’s Your Password?” at a security conference).


"This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate."

M7: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the content marketing space since you first started in Chicago as a comedy writer for The Second City? 
DS:
 Not related to comedy, but the biggest change I’ve seen in content marketing was that the work moved in house. We started business in 2007 and most of my sales pitches were trying to explain the value of content marketing which at the time I referred to as brand journalism. By 2012 all of our current and past clients finally got it and stopped outsourcing the majority of their content marketing efforts. That forced us in 2013 to change our business model to specialize in certain industry sectors and be more product-focused. People now hire us because they want our style of production and access to our industry connections specifically in B2B tech and cybersecurity.

M7: As a Content Marketer & Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions, how much content are you personally creating versus managing?
DS:
 I’m doing the majority of it, but I bring in audio editors, designers, video editors, and now I have a sponsored segment producer for the CISO Series. I’m constantly pitched, but no one ever actually pitches in our style. I reject all offers for guest posts. I’m extremely protective of my brand.


"The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first."

M7: What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about content creation/management over the last few years?
DS: 
The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first. Nobody is amazing out of the gate. This is especially true about video production. For those getting into video, I highly recommend producing home movies first. The reason is those first videos will be awful, but your audience (your family) will love the videos no matter how bad they are.

M7: Could you tell us more about your book, “Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows”?
DS:
A huge majority of the work we do is at trade shows where we see a lot of behavior that is far from optimal.
At big trade shows, companies are dropping six to seven figures to have a presence at the conference. The cost per hour to be on the floor is extraordinary. So much is spent on booth production, travel, and staffing, but it appears nothing is spent on training people on how to actually behave at a trade show. It pains me when I see booth staffers staring at their phones, turning their back to the floor, or getting in huddles and talking with fellow coworkers. All these behaviors scream, “We don’t want to talk with you, potential customer who is walking past us just three feet away.”
The book offers techniques on how to engage with random people as they walk by your booth and quickly qualify or disqualify them.
The engagement techniques from the book became very popular, so we built upon them and made them usable by anyone in a training program we created called “Business Networking Pickup Lines”.


"In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything."

M7: How has Spark Media Solutions been experimenting with new approaches/content formats/platforms? Are there any campaigns/programs you can give as examples?
DS:
Our survival is based on coming up with different media products and one of our core philosophies is “single effort/many units of content.” So if we’re hired to produce one video we’ll pitch more assets such as let’s turn it into highlights clips, transcripts, memes, photos, and more.
Here’s a good case study we did on a product we created called “Crowd-tooned”.
And here’s one of our most popular articles that speaks to our most popular production model: “21 Tips for Producing Funny ‘Man on the Street’ Videos”.

M7: What are the biggest mistakes you see new content marketers making consistently?
DS:
 Thinking you can be successful with one of anything. This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate. In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything. Why does a company that has no media experience whatsoever think they’re actually going to pull off what’s never happened in the history of media ever?


ABOUT SPARK MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Spark Media Solutions is a B2B content marketing agency for the tech industry. Content marketers that have perfected the model of building influencer relations through content. When dedicated to building an editorial voice, our clients have become the leading corporate media brand for their industry. We've worked with companies such as HP, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Symantec, Indycar, LinkedIn, Citrix, IDG, Dice, and many more. Our most popular service is live event reporting and production.

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Performance Validation Joins ValGenesis Partner Program as Service Partner for the U.S. Market

PR Newswire | January 24, 2024

ValGenesis Inc., the market leader in enterprise validation lifecycle management systems (VLMS), and Performance Validation, Inc. a 100% employee-owned company serving the life sciences industry since 1988, have partnered to deliver unique compliance-focused digital validation solutions for life sciences companies in the US. Performance Validation is an industry leader with over 30 years of experience in analyzing, identifying, and testing the most critical elements of the manufacturing process for FDA-regulated industries. The company provides environmental mapping, commissioning, qualification, computer system validation, and quality system consulting services. ValGenesis is the industry innovator of digitized validation. The company's platform, which includes its flagship VLMS offering, is used in over 100,000 GMP systems worldwide, helping life sciences companies advance their digital transformation strategy, enforce compliance, and enable standardization with 100% digital, risk-based validation software. In this partnership, Performance Validation will implement and manage next-generation digital validation tools developed by ValGenesis, including ValGenesis VLMS and VLMS Express, a simplified cloud-based digital validation solution for startups and midsized companies. ValGenesis and Performance Validation are providing an integrated governance approach to further strengthen risk and compliance across their customers' manufacturing processes. "We are excited to partner with Performance Validation. Their extensive experience and our industry benchmarked digital validation platform can help life sciences companies implement their digitization plans efficiently according to Industry 4.0 standards," says Bo Olsen, ValGenesis' SVP of Partners. "By establishing a clear strategy that addresses their risk and compliance implications upfront, we can assure them of true business transformation." "Performance Validation is thrilled to embark on this collaborative journey with ValGenesis, leveraging our extensive experience and knowledge of digital validation solutions. It's a powerful combination – our hands-on validation experience and their innovative digital tools. For our clients in the life sciences, this means more efficient, streamlined, and compliant solutions. We're not just adapting to Pharma 4.0; we're helping our clients lead the way in digital transformation," says Brad Henry, Vice President of Service Lines at Performance Validation. ABOUT PERFORMANCE VALIDATION Performance Validation (PV) is a global validation partner for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, we specialize in turning compressed timelines into compliant ones using innovative, adaptive approaches that balance production realities with strict regulatory requirements. Our best-in-class, cGMP-compliant services cover diverse needs from fully managed CQV to on-demand temperature mapping, smoke studies, software assurance, and more. With a dedicated team consisting of more than 95% engineers, we work closely with regulators and equipment suppliers to keep validation ahead of production curves and keep quality moving forward. ABOUT VALGENESIS ValGenesis, Inc. is the creator of an innovative software platform that serves as a foundation for managing compliance-based validation activities in life sciences companies. ValGenesis, Inc. is the provider of the first enterprise application that manages the corporate validation lifecycle process. This solution is fully compliant with U.S. FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and Annex 11 requirements. As the first fully paperless solution for electronic management of validation execution and approval, ValGenesis was selected by an industry peer review committee to receive the Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) New Innovative Technology Award in 2005.

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Flagship Pioneering and Samsung Announce Collaboration to Advance Groundbreaking Technologies in Translational Science and Medicine

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

Flagship Pioneering, the bioplatform innovation company, and Samsung today announced a collaboration aimed at fostering cutting-edge biopharmaceutical innovation poised to transform the world of healthcare through groundbreaking advancements in translational science and medicine. Through this collaboration, Samsung will work alongside Flagship-founded companies, leveraging Samsung's leading technologies and capabilities to accelerate first and best-in-class therapies. The newly formed strategic partnership is an expansion of the ongoing cooperation between Samsung and Flagship. The collaboration between Samsung and Flagship leverages the expertise of both organizations in the areas of life science technology, artificial intelligence, and CDMO services, and extends across Flagship's ecosystem of companies. Key Highlights of the Collaboration: Revolutionary Technology: The collaboration will leverage state-of-the-art technology including artificial intelligence, translational medicine, access to high quality clinical samples and Samsung's clinical trials infrastructure, and investment by Samsung in Flagship-founded companies. Shared Vision: Flagship Pioneering and Samsung share a common vision of transforming conventional drug discovery and development approaches to help bring new targeted therapeutic solutions to patients. The collaboration is driven by a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. "This collaboration represents a significant milestone in the pursuit of innovation and scientific excellence," said Stephen Berenson, Managing Partner, Flagship Pioneering. "As partners, we will bring together Flagship Pioneering's unparalleled expertise in inventing and developing revolutionary bioplatform companies with Samsung's strategic capabilities to reshape and empower the bio-pharmaceutical landscape, ultimately resulting in bigger leaps for patient care." "This newly formed collaboration is an important evolution of the ongoing relationship between two companies," said Jaywoo Kim, executive vice president, Samsung C&T. "We look forward to seeing the accelerating effect of Samsung's various technical expertise and extensive commercial capabilities on the future innovations Flagship and its ecosystem of companies will bring to market." About Flagship Pioneering: Flagship Pioneering is a biotechnology company that invents and builds platform companies, each with the potential for multiple products that transform human health or sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, Flagship has originated and fostered more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in more than $70 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $3.6 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $27 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. About Samsung C&T: Samsung C&T Corporation, a dynamic player in industries ranging from construction, trading, fashion and resorts, is actively expanding its portfolio with strategic investments in the biopharmaceutical industry. Since its investing in Samsung Biologics and Bioepis, Samsung Biologics' CDMO production capacity has grown to over 600 kilo liters and contribute greatly to the stabilization of the biopharmaceutical supply chain. In addition, Samsung Bioepis has improved the accessibility of many patients around the world by successfully launching seven biosimilar products. Samsung C&T will continue investment in innovative technologies and businesses that contribute to 'improving quality of life' in various areas of bio & healthcare.

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