Are people remembering then searching for your story?


Image credit: DailyGalaxy.com

I was looking around for the perfect billboard image and I thought this fit so well. I just read and article from SearchEngineLand.com surrounding the idea of attribution in the world of marketing.

What is attribution?
Attribution is the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events.Marketing attribution provides a level of understanding of what combination of events influence individuals to engage in a desired behavior, typically referred to as a conversion. (from wikipedia.com)

As I was thinking through this article, I began pondering some of my larger clients. I was thinking about how they spread their marketing mix (spend) across the spectrum and how it relates to the related online search.

One of the take aways: “The biggest conversion rate (90%) is the person that uses a single click or with the same keyword typed.”

So, how do I apply this to a large organization’s marketing/pr efforts…especially as it involves our social/digital efforts. Heck, let’s narrow the field to a large hospital system.

First…it is all about the search! On all media mixes, it is more important to make our searchable keywords (that drive traffic to our conversion rates) extremely apparent. From billboards, television, to digital ads; we have to consider visually displaying the keywords we want people to use to search Google/Yahoo/etc.

Basically, this is a typography/visual design exercise. When designing any media, the words that we want people to use to search for our final digital destinations must be most visible, most readable, and most apparent.

So this is a shift in thinking a bit, especially for me.

What is our digital keyword brand?
Think about a billboard on the interstate. As we drive by, which keywords do we remember from that billboard. Which keywords catch our attention? Are the keywords people remember the ones that match our branded message? Does our audience type those branded keywords correctly into the search engine to find our services.

Think about that television ad. Which keywords are used in the ad? Are the displayed words in the ad the same keywords we want people to use to search for that service? What will they remember?

Social Media/digital ads are different…we should be already giving links with updates as we point people to final destinations.

I would love to hear your thoughts as you read through this article. Maybe you are implementing this strategy, and I am wasting your time. But, I found this research interesting as it relates to large organizations (especially hospitals) that use a multi-channel media mix.

Facebook is loosing steam with the Millennials and Generation Z


Image Credit: Mashable.com

I just read an OPED on Mashable.com today, it’s title: “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook”. Yep…things are changing. Let’s look at a few statements in the article that peaked my interest. This article is from the viewpoint of a 13 year old. Her name is Ruby Karp.

“Facebook is losing teens lately, and I think I know why.

Part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now. When I was 10, I wasn’t old enough to have a Facebook. But a magical thing called Instagram had just come out … and our parents had no idea there was an age limit. Rapidly, all my friends got Instagrams.

Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram.”

Yes…and there are so many other reasons why teenagers are migrating away. None of their friends are using Facebook. Why? There is no community for this generation.

Ruby continues:  “This leads me into my next point: Although I do have a Facebook, none of my other friends do. My friends just thought it was a waste of time. I decided to get a Facebook just to see what it was all about. I soon discovered that Facebook is useless without friends. My only friend is, like, my grandma.”

Her next point peaks my interest. She beings to examine the idea of  surveillance. She explains parents spend so much time on Facebook, some of which to monitor what their children are doing. As a communication consultant, I remember having a Facebook training session for a group of hospital marketing/pr staff members. The main reason they attended, to figure out how to watch what their children were doing, with who, and where.

“Let’s say I get invited to a party, and there’s underage drinking. I’m not drinking, but someone pulls out a camera. Even if I’m not carrying a red Solo cup, I could be photographed behind a girl doing shots. Later that week, the dumb-dumb decides to post photos from that “amazing” party. If my mom saw I was at a party with drinking, even if I wasn’t participating, I’d be dead. This isn’t Facebook’s fault, but it happens there.”

So who is the average user on Facebook? Buffer’s blog shares some demographics“According to the research, it’s a young, 25 year-old woman, living in a big city, with a college degree and a household income of more than $75k a year.”

Above are some interesting statistics from Pew Research Center surrounding the Landscape of Social Media Users. Once again, look at the breakdown of social users and their choice of social media outlets.

With all this said, I think there is a unique separation between the Generation Z (born after 2000) and the Millennials (Generation Y). The Millennials look like they might be last generation of Facebook diehards. But…these diehards, the supporters of this social network that brought them together are slowly departing. They are tired of the “drama” and being overly exposed to the world.

Here is an interesting commentary on YouTube between a group of young professionals. They fall into the Millennial generation.

At :37 seconds into the video, the young man says, “There is always going to be something new.” And this is point of this blog post. We as communicators have to understand that Facebook taught us to adapt from our “traditional” mode of marketing/pr communication. And once again, it is going to teach us that we have to continue to evolve and stay true our goals as practitioners. We are communication practitioners and not technicians.

The moment we put all our eggs into one communication basket, we will be taught once again that this communication paradigm is going to shift once again.

Asking the right questions…storytelling

It was just yesterday I was working on a project for a group in Portland, Maine. An upstate portrait artist has been commissioned for a project and it was important to capture his story during the process. The artist’s name is Jerry and he grew up in Spartanburg.

The client for this project is actually an old friend of mine, Mike Redding. He is not old, we just worked together close to ten years ago.

He sent me a note with some of the questions for the interview and I could immediately recognize his thought process. One of the questions was buried in the midst of all the questions…and I wondered. It was a personal question that seemed to need a little extra attention.

I know Mike…there is a reason for this question. It was just not a throw away…it was important. Later, he sent me a note warning me Jerry might get annoyed with answering these personal questions and he actually might get mad. That immediately told me this topic was not only important to the story, but also a series of questions that needed to be asked.

People want to talk. People want to share their story. We just have to ask the right questions. When people like Jerry agree to an interview, they subconsciously agree to share the deepest part of their lives. We just have to be willing to ask the right questions at the right time. Most importantly…we have to remember the interview process is about trust.

I have learned not to dive right into the most controversial question at the beginning, unless I am working on a documentary or investigative story that requires me to capture that question immediately. We have to slowly work our way into the important questions. We have to learn to build trust.

I am asked so many times, “What do you do?” I tell people I am a storyteller. I find, capture, tell, and share stories for people to enjoy. But what I really do is ask the right questions.

Passion can be found in someone’s story!

Meet Dot…she is amazing and has a powerful story to tell. Many people camp out all night for iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets. She camped out all night to be the first in-line to receive free medical care. Why? She needed it and was willing to just about anything for the opportunity. To me…that is about as entrepreneurial as it gets!

From TheState.com
There were more than 1,300 patient interactions at the SC Mission 2013 this past Friday and Saturday in Columbia, SC at the State Fairgrounds.

Patients received healthcare, eye care, prescriptions and women’s care, including pap smears and mammograms.

The SC Mission aims to meet the needs of residents who are underserved an uninsured. There were about 1,000 clinical and non-clinical volunteers including about 500 healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and optometrists.

These individuals, those 1300 people that came through the doors have passion. Their story surrounds us here in South Carolina with over 250,000 people who are uninsured.

Many times we have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Or we are not motivated to get the day started. Sometimes it is hard to make that first step on a project or we have been procrastinating with that todo list.

I took note this past Friday. People like Dot and the 1300 individuals that waited inline to receive medical care. Many of them made sure they were first in line, waiting all night.

Passion…very entrepreneurial to me!

Bye Bye 20% Rule

It seems as though little by little content managers of Facebook Fan Pages are getting a bit more room to push their message visually on a pretty serious piece of fan page real estate – the cover photo. Previously we’ve shared with you the top Three Practices That Will Shut Down Your Facebook Page and in just a short amount of time practice #1 was turned on its head.

Contact Information in the Cover Photo
Unfortunately, cover photos are not the place to advertise. It’s a great idea, great location but according the the Facebook TOS, they must not include more than 20% of text, price or purchase information, contact information, calls to action or references to Facebook features such as like or share.

Take pride in the fact that the user is already on your page and woo them with your intriguing content.

Earlier in the year, the rules changed to a bit to reflect more lenient standards of including any desired copy in your cover photo, as long as it did not exceed 20% of the total image. More recently (July 1) the 20% max copy rule was lifted as well.

What does this mean for your page?
Just because it’s OK by Facebook, doesn’t necessarily mean you should indulge. As always, make sure the cover photo plays well with the profile picture but don’t feel like you have to include every character from your main message on the first image your fans see (and the image that pops up in a user’s newsfeed when their friends fan a page). Play around with different layout styles and choose an image to copy ratio that works for you, and more importantly, works for your fans.

iStock.com asks… “What is craft?”

I love this video…I love the email they just sent. I agree with the video above…and I agree with their thought process.

Here is the quote from the email:

Your seeds of creativity
Craft is the root of our artistic passion and surgical attention to detail. It’s the beat of our creative drum. Watch and rediscover how our love of craft got us all into this creative racket to begin with.

Well…once again, I agree!

And one last time…I agree with this image in the email:

I am getting back to my roots. More to come!

Thanks iStock.com for confirming my direction and intuition!

Taking Ownership of the Message & Crisis Communication – The Thank You Video from the Cleveland Kidnappings

It just came across this morning. I first noticed it on CNN’s Facebook page, then a local television stations Facebook page (WYFF-TV)….then people started sharing.

thank you cnnCNN recorded the YouTube video from the computer screen, then wrote and produced their own story to fit their news commentary. Many other news outlets just shared links to the YouTube video. But what really happened here…the three girls and their families took control of their message and how they delivered it to the world.

News outlets, journalists, bloggers, and many others have been trying to capture an interview with these three girls after being found in a home, victims of a kidnapping. From the very beginning…the families have contended that they wanted their privacy and have stuck with that strategy.

If you look at the description below the YouTube video released, you will gain more context:

Published on Jul 8, 2013
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight would like to say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world who have offered support to them. They are extremely grateful for the tremendous outpouring of kindness they have received and wished to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages with this video.

The women still maintain a strong desire for privacy and ask that everyone continue to respect their wishes in that regard going forward. Thank you.

NOTES ABOUT THE VIDEO THANK-YOU
The video was filmed on July 2, 2013 at the law offices of Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio. Visible in the background of the video is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The male off-camera voice heard in the video is that of Howard Fencl (pronounced FEHN-sill), vice president of Hennes Paynter Communications. The attorneys, public relations firm, social media strategist and videographer involved in the production of this video are all working pro bono on behalf of the three women.

This was not a price gauging event to leverage this story for the immediate monetary benefit of a law practice, pr firm, and video production company. This was done all pro bono. Now I am sure people will be contacting these businesses and even hire them since they effectively executed a strategy to share this story. But…I want to quickly look at the heart of this matter.

These three girls and their families chose not to be subjected to a press conference, which would lead to a feeding frenzy of who would get the next on-camera interview. They chose not to hold a press conference so they would be subjected to some of the most ridiculous questioning from both seasoned journalists and bloggers. They chose to control the message and share it in a way that made since for their lives and fulfill their desire to maintain their privacy.

Now I am sure the feeding frenzy has escalated since this release. But…the video was shot on July 2, 2013…7 days ago.

  • They were able to share the statement they wanted to share.
  • They were able to edit the video to meet the expectations of not only the legal team, pr firm, but ultimately the family.

We have the ability to control our message. Admittedly, there is a need to involve the main stream media for many awareness campaigns; but sometimes it is just best to bypass this process.

As a former journalist…I know first hand how the process happens, especially when we interview people that have experience this type of event. We have time constraints. Whether it is an immediate deadline or the length of the story…time creates a lens by which journalists create and distribute content. Sometimes that lens can minimize the context of a story. Sometimes, the competitive nature of being “the first” to report do alter the message even more.

I have worked with SO MANY large organizations that are consistently challenged by many mainstream media outlets…tired of their story/comments taken out of context. They/We know it best…news outlets chopping interviews into soundbites that meet the needs of their business model and/or deadline constraints. Yes…if you just chop two more words out of that interview…we won’t make the executive producer mad for going 2 seconds over the time limit of their newscast. A 2 second cut can mean the world to these three ladies.

Kudos to Hennes Paynter Communications, law offices of Jones Day, and the video production staff…they put the best interests of these three girls and their families first.

Say Hello To Facebook Graph Search

According to Mashable, Facebook is scheduled to launch it’s highly anticipated new structure, Facebook Graph Search, today. Before your mind shifts into overdrive thinking about where you will find your profile pic and favorite timeline posts, understand that this overhaul is not exactly an update like the others.

Facebook Graph Search is all about the ability to search anything and everything on Facebook. Protip: Check your privacy settings today and again once you see changes (and they will be obvious).

Let’s say you want to know who of your friends have been in Paris and what their favorite restaurants are. Simply type in:

Friends who have been to Paris.

The next screen will populate all of your friends who have been to Paris according to their Facebook check-ins, which is nice if you’re planning a trip. Below those results, you will notice a few prompts of “Related Searches”: My friends of friends, Places my friends have been, etc.

Want to get more specific? There’s room for that. How about:

Places in Paris, France visited by my friends

Facebook Graph search

Of course, although the ability to search friends of friends exists, you ultimately control your privacy settings and need to take a look at them after this new search tool goes live.

What will you search for? Beat Facebook to the punch and go live with Graph Search here.

The Clemson Ring, The Bataan Death March, & Col. Ben Skardon

Col. Ben Skardon - Class of 1938

There are days when you are not sure what is going to cross your path…but then there are days when think you are prepared for a good story. Today was a combination of both…one of anticipation yet one of amazement.

I just finished a project telling the story of one Clemson’s most precious graduates, one who has experienced so much, and one that has so much to share. Col. Ben Skardon is that man, class of 1938 and served in World War II. Not only did he serve, but he was a prisoner of war where he did something that seemed so insignificant but has left a tremendous legacy.

As a prisoner of war, he took part in the Bataan Death March:

“Which began on April 9, 1942, was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II. All told, approximately 2,500–10,000 Filipino and 100-650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O’Donnell.”

“The 80 mi march was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon prisoners and civilians alike by the Japanese Army, and was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.”

But what makes this story so fascinating  is that his Clemson Ring was the one thing that helped saved his life. He used that ring while a prisoner of war to “buy” food in order to survive. He traded it for rice, the nourishment necessary to stay alive.

The only thing he has left from that experience was the spoon he used to scrape food together, his dog tags, what was called a “chop” that was used as currency, and the identification card that was made after he was released.

I am have embarked on a project to tell his story and finally I can share…one that I will remember for a lifetime. A few years ago, I sat down with him to capture the first part of his story, here is the completed project…in his own words.

*Reference information from Wikipedia.

we need storytellers…photojournalists…

I just received the latest edition of News Photographer Magazine in the mail. It is the May 2013 edition. I have subscribed to this publication probably since 1998, my early days as a news photographer at WSPA-TV.

I opened…flipped the pages…and I was overtaken by the powerful images captured in the month of May. The Boston Bombing, The George W. Bush Library Dedication, and even some images from the last year including a funeral from the Aurora movie shooting…powerful stuff.

I have no words to describe the images, the feelings, the emotion behind these images as they take us back…remind us. That is my point…these images reveal the unspoken language from these memories that we all sat back and watched.

These images were taken by experienced storytellers, photojournalists who risked so much to capture these images.

We see groups like the Chicago Sun Times fire their whole photography staff. I am not sure the motives behind this business move…but the numbers do not add up. This is a common trend in the industry. One of the main reasons why I am self-employeed…we photojournalists have a unique skill set that does not fit inside any job decription. We pay the bills with our passion to capture a story…the story as we view it…through our lens.

Michael Borland, President of NPPA, wrote in this edition his message titled “NPPA By The Numbers.” A few of these numbers stood out.

There membership is down roughly 3500 people resulting in a revenue short fall of about $374K. Is this because more and more news organizations are reducing photo staffs and those loosing jobs are not re-engaging in the organization in a post-news profession. I wonder what the percentage of these numbers are independent/self-employeed individuals like myself?

Am I a news photojournalist…no. But the organization I have been associated since 1998 is one of the few that provide the guiding principles for the way I run the creative side of my business.

Photojournalists bring life to our magazines, television, iPads, iPhones, video screens, and movie screens. We capture the slice of life that many forget to capture…those moments in time that help us remember. These images create change, provide a voice, give context, help us make decisions, and create a platform for public servants to advocate.

So let me ask you…the next time you are funding a project, do you want just a picture, just a video, just an image? Or do you want a story. Do you want an moment in time captured so when it is time to sell/adovocate with your next pr/marketing campaign…your audience connects, engages, and sees the story through “your” eyes.

Storytelling is about advocacy – stretching the emotions…

If you have not laughed, cried, cussed, or just gotten plain mad…then you need to check yourself at the door. Storytelling is about believing in something…standing up and allowing the emotions, the passion of the story to dominate your ability to articulate.

To bear the burden of an emotion…the emotion of crafting a story…you must take a position. You must advocate and see the life of the prose through the eyes of the story.

It must stretch you, make you shift in your seat, keep you up at night, and help you question why you chose to explain this reality.

When we craft…we share…we share something inside that is dying to escape.

We advocate…because we believe the words we write, the images we capture, the sounds we produce…they will help those feel the inner advocate we strive to share.

When we find, craft, and tell stories…we are advocates for a theme that needs an audience.

It needs to make those who receive *this* message share the same reaction when you were struggling to bring voice to that very story. We want our audience to get mad, happy, cuss…shift in their seats, stay up at night…so they can continue the mission we set out to achieve…to advocate.

Good stories creates powerful advocacy…stories of sharing. That is powerful word-of-mouth. That is powerful storytelling.

stories make us cry…

For some reason…I shed some tears this morning. I saw this picture posted on Facebook and I could not help myself…my eyes filled.

I was about to run out the door, but had to stop, click and read more. I remembered this picture below.

I remembered the emotion surrounding this tragedy and how that moment in Boston opens old wounds from 911. I just returned home from New York. Sarah and I visited the 911 Memorial. We remembered that day when we were both in grad school. As we walked around the memorial, we did not say a thing.

We even noticed we could not even hear the city of New York, the sounds of cars, trucks, horns, etc.  The hustle and bustle of this large metropolitan city was drowned out by the southing sounds of the waterfalls fill the holes where the towers once stood.

We remembered. And so I clicked around…more. I even Google’d “Jeff Bauman First Pitch Boston Red Sox”. When I saw this picture…I remembered the picture above when Carlos Arredondo helped push Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair to safety.

Now Carlos was pushing him out to the pitching mound to share the first pitch, both now smiling as “we” looked upon them as white doves bringing peace to this day of baseball.

Stories…sometimes make us cry…for no reason other than we have no other reason…but to cry.

I hope you enjoy this video.

Image Credits: WCVB.combleedingyankeeblue.blogspot.com, and USAToday.com.

Remember…we have to reach our audience.

Distribution…Distribution…Distribution…it is just as important as the content we create.

Harvard Business Review Blog just posted a “The Rise of the Mobile-Only User” and says:
“The rise of smartphones means that more and more people are going online from a mobile device. According to Pew Internet, 55 percent of Americans said they’d used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012. A surprisingly large number — 31 percent — of these mobile internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web. This is a large and growing audience whose needs aren’t being met by traditional desktop experiences.”

I was just sitting with a client talking about all the content we had created over the last three years, and we were thinking through new ways to leverage this content for a few upcoming campaigns. All this video content is great but has no impact if it does not reach the intended audience(s). A part of that strategy is more than just a content creation strategy…you have to distribute the content.

Especially with video…there so many ways to meet the needs of the campaign/initiative which should include distribution. If you look at the numbers above, it is stating the obvious…more and more people are dumping traditional computers (laptops and desktops) to consume and share content. We have to think past these paradigms.

HBR blog goes on to state:
“Google reports that 77 percent of searches from mobile devices take place at home or work, only 17 percent on the move. Meeting the needs of the mobile-only user also doesn’t mean sending them to the desktop website on their smartphone.”

Yes…we must think message and audience…but we have to think about distribution. You can have great content but if no one is engaging with the message, the content is worthless.

Lean Forward: Listening for those non-verbal cues

Interviewing individuals in the world of documentary video production is a journey…it is a journey that many times cannot be scripted or predicted. Starting a new project with a new client is often times sharing a philosophy. The interview process will shape the overall production.

Interviewing someone is probably one of the most rewarding parts of the production, but can be the most challenging. Sometimes these interviews leave the producer exhausted and mentally drained.

I am in the middle of a project for the Family Effect and I just finished a series of interviews with teenagers who are going through a drug rehabilitation program. The goal, to find and tell their story…their path, so those who donate will find value in their potential donation.

I typically work with the organization to pre-screen the interview subjects. I like to review their background information, understand their path which ultimately leads to the context by which they are tied to the story.

When I sit down with the individuals…I first have to build trust. Trust is a huge barrier…especially when you have the camera, lights, microphone and all the other production equipment that builds a wall around the interview subject.

Building trust is more than capturing the story, it is allowing the person to fully trust you as the gatekeeper. You have the power to capture and share that story! Yes…we carry that ethical burden. So we have to build a relationship with our interview subjects so they not only trust you to listen…but to capture, edit, and craft their story in a way that brings a larger meaning to their life for others to view. If not…you might as well not even try to ask the first question.

We carry this burden, find this tension between seeing and feeling the story…but keeping a critical distance so we can share it from our exterior perspective.

Reading those non-verbal cues many times is a critical path to gaining that trust. As I was interviewing one of the individuals for the Family Effect project, they started with their arms crossed as they leaned back. This barrier took a while to break down in the interview. The more we chatted, the more we shared, the more the camera and lights were forgotten.

The conversation moved from simple pleasantries and canned questions to open-ended conversation sharing rich details of life choices, courage, and failures, and goals, and hopes. The story emerged as trust was building…and before I knew it…we were both leaning forward talking face-to-face.

When we listen…we have to move away from just using our ears. We have to read those non-verbal cues as a path to build trust. Trust is critical to breaking down walls to find the inner core of the story.

Content is KING: Leveraging 100% of your content for the 1%

Content is King

Telling stories requires planning and focus!

Many times I get the call to consider working on a project that needs to be completed in less than a month…and the only focus for project is for an event. I always spend time meeting with the folks to listen to the project. We spend time thinking through the goals…but I have lots of questions and thoughts for everyone involved to consider.

Preamble:
Typically I like to work on projects that are more than just “emergent care”. What do I mean, the project has to have more than just the immediate “focus”. Many times I find the project only solves a small portion of what really needs to be communicated. I like to work on projects that have long-term thinking and provide long-term, residual value to the audience. More  than just one production that solves a short-term problem.

I am a business person and I am not-only try be a good steward of the resources provided to complete the project at-hand, but also be mindful of the content that is created beyond the production. I like to put together a comprehensive plan that leverage’s the stories that are captured.

Let’s Think Beyond:
I am a strategic communicator and the first thing I like to do is consider the overall communications plan from two perspectives: the campaign and the organization. I like to understand how this production fits into these plans. Why…because we are telling stories and we are capturing lots of content that *can be* used beyond the project. We probably use 15% of the content captured in the final production, that is 85% left over that is quality content…stories that can be used in other initiatives.

I like to think about the audience. There are many audiences within this particular project and across the organizations communication initiatives. I like to think…what audiences would connect with the different content we capture. What is the most compelling content from an interview we conduct and how can each response to a question fit into a bigger part of a communications plan.

I like to think delivery. We live in a digital communications era where sharing and consuming content has become a vital part of our daily lives. Let me share a few statistics:

From Edelman Digital:
“In 2012: 56% of consumer web traffic was video, YouTube users watched more than 36-billion hours of video and online video was the fastest growing ad format (up 55%).”

We are watching content  and consuming content through out the day. This content is helping us make decisions from the car we buy, to the physician we choose. But, also….this content cannot be consumed unless it is shared with a community. How about that 1%?

The 1% Concept:
This One Percenter concept is based on research from Jackie Huba’s book, Citizen Marketers. She discovered “that the most highly engaged particpants in a community make up a tiny percentage of the overall customer base but are vocal passionate evangelists who bring new customers into the fold through word of mouth.”

If you have wonderful content, wonderful stories to tell…why not leverage all 100% of that content to engage the most loyal fans…your 1%. This is why I believe that Content is KING. Yes…the stories we capture have more than a shelf life span…they are valuable stories to be told and used beyond on little event, one little campaign, one little production.

These stories are connections…emotions…words of advocacy. They do not deserve to be put on the shelf and used down the road when you think it might be appropriate. We should leverage all 100% of the content captured in a production to engage that 1%.

I want to work with people who want to do more than just one production…I want to work with people that want to treat their all their content as prized possessions, stories to be told beyond the one event, the one project, the one production. I want to help people capture and tell stories to create more than a movement…I want to work with people to create a series of movements over time…advocating using all the stories we capture.

Content is KING!

Own your media…from Television to YouTube

Own Your Own Media

It is time…time to take ownership of our media. What do I mean…well, we have to take ownership of all our media properties and not allow outside forces to have control of our message.

A few weeks ago, Greenville Hospital System rebranded and became Greenville Health System. They put together a great strategic plan to “flip the switch” on March 18th. Literally the evening of March 17th, all websites owned and operated under their umbrella lost their individual identities and took on the new web look as Greenville Health System. All social media properties took on the same look across the whole system.

This took lots of preplanning, pre-creative design, and lots of code work…so over a six hour span…all became one. GHS went from a house of brands to a branded house in a one night switch.

This is taking ownership of media…except one little detail did not come together as “planned.” In all honesty, it was hard to foresee this small situation. On that Monday, the day of the switch, television stations across the region began playing their beautiful, new television spots sharing the new branded message.

Lots of time, effort, and resources were invested in the creation of these beautifully produced televisions spots. But…GHS was not the first to share these spots on the social space. A few days later, the video production company released these spots on their company YouTube and Facebook outlets.

As I watched the newsfeed…my heart sank. I asked myself, why were we (GHS) not the first to share these spots from our social outlets. How does this happen? Is it really a big deal? Is there someone to blame? I have no idea if we should get upset or even bothered over something like this? Or…do you get excited that the production group is proud to share your message. And guess what…they did a wonderful job on the production…here is a link to one of the spots and they are beautiful (btw they were shot with a Red Camera).

What Can We Learn?
In a perfect world, this is how I see this “should” have happened (this is based on my limited knowledge of planning behind the production of the television spots):

1. When the production company is contracted to help create and craft television spots, the contract should reflect ownership of media assets. Specifically, who owns the rights to the content and how this content can be shared publicly.

2. Companies/Organizations should require all production companies to provide final media assets to them for all electronic distribution. What do I mean, all television spots should be provided and ready for distribution on all media outlets from television to online at the same time.

3. Coordinated release schedule should be created and implemented. This plan stipulates the days and times when each outlet will release these elements from television to online. These should be a coordinated effort between the production company, agency, and organization. So if the television spot is scheduled to be released on YouTube the same day it is released on television, the “traffic” plan should detail this plan along with who needs to be involved in this distribution. Usually the organization is the only one who has access to their social outlets.

4. YouTube and social share is just as important as the television release. This was proven with the Audi commercials from the 2012 SuperBowl. Audi released the 30 second spots on television and YouTube at the same time during the 2011 Super Bowl. This created the opportunity for social share…the television spot had a hashtag #solongvampires … so when people watched on television, they went to YouTube to find the video then tweeted it out using the hashtag. Within the first week after release, this created over a million views on YouTube and many million impressions on Twitter.

5. Production company’s social outlets (like YouTube) should not be the place where an organization’s television spot calls “home” and are first released. Why…because the production companies are not the owners of the branded message. The branded company/organization has the right to capitalize on the digital impact of the television spots, especially since it represents their branded message. The television spots should live on the organization’s branded video social outlet (like YouTube & Vimeo).

6. Production companies should make it standard practice in their agreements stipulating who owns the rights to this content, which includes (but not limited to) social media/digital media outlets.

7. Companies/Organizations should make sure their production agreement stipulates the branded organization reserves the first right of online distribution. The organization should be the first to share, then invite production company vendors to share (only after the organization has publicly released).

8. THIS IS IMPORTANT – the production company must share the video from the organization’s YouTube/Vimeo video outlet. SEO is important in this game of digital brand equity.

What can we learn from this? Owning our media is important. Now a little disclosure…I work with GHS. I do not look at this as a critique of GHS but more of a learning experience that should help us plan for the future. Who would have thought that the production company would be the first to share these spots online *and* would it be a big deal? We learned…this can happen and will happen again if we (as digital strategiest) do not plan accordingly.

I learned something from this experience. I must be more diligent when putting together social/digital distribution plans. I will also make sure I write better contracts/agreements with my production clients.

For GHS…they do not want others to leverage their brand, their message, their digital equity. It is important to applaud production companies for sharing the work they create. We want them to share…but it should not be at the expense of the organization’s digital message.

* Image from webaholic.com <- THANKS! 

SXSW Interactive: The Future of Foursquare

Dennis Crowley - NYU Startup WeekSXSW Interactive included five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in the digital industry. As Dennis Crowley, CEO & Co-founder of Foursquare stated, “SXSW is where you go to experience the future for a couple days and then go home to live in the present.”

Dennis spoke about the future of Foursquare and their shift from a gamification perception to mapping and location-based services. “The most exciting thing we’re doing is everything around data and maps. We can do stuff no one else can with 3 billion check-in points.” With that much data and location power, the future of Foursquare is very bright.

Every map we look at today, regardless of the device or application has a similar view and functionality. From the earlier days of MapQuest, things may have become more “slick” but not more personal. Dennis Crowley see’s past the current maps and into a new dimension, one that brings even more social and customization than we can imagine.

As marketers or business owners, Foursquare may not be a key element in your digital marketing plan now, but it may be something to watch for in the next couple of years. Be prepared and start thinking – How would customized maps change the way you market?

Ethos of Blogging – Building Credibility for Revenue


Why do we blog?
So what do I mean when I say the “ethos” of blogging? So ask yourself, why do you blog? Is it a platform to tell your story? Is it a place to journal? Is it a place to build awareness for your organization? Do you make money from your blog?

Ok…so let’s tackle the last question. More and more people I talk to…more and more people want to know how to make money from your blog. Many people place ads on their blog. Many people track clicks as they help direct traffic to products and services. I like to talk about how to build credibility.

Why is credibility important?
Credibility is one the biggest issues I think we should always bear in mind when it comes to representing our interests not only in the off-line business space but the online in the digital space.

A few years ago, I was working with an investment firm that had just created a new company with a new board a directors. Once of the biggest issues they faced…credibility. Great leadership running this group but lots of bad press online after the economic collapse, especially given the fact some of the individuals came from banking.

We needed to build some online credibility. Specifically, when people performed Google searches of these individuals, we needed to have links to articles that provided content beyond the bad press. We needed to take ownership of their online identity.

A simple plan to build credibility
The new website for this company was the typical postcard web presence. We added two things: a blog and a news section. We started writing blog posts from the leadership, content they created in their voice, and posted on a regular basis. We also started posting news releases consistently on the site detailing monthly items we wanted the public to know, positive content about the company that included the board’s names inside the copy.

The next thing we did was create a Twitter account for the company and a monthly email newsletter. With Twitter, we followed all the news outlets in the region along with local businesses, agencies, and organizations where the board had relationships. We were hoping they would follow us back. Then we started sharing our news and blogs, along with items from the life of the organization.

The email newsletter was a monthly email blast to investors and influential people in region where the board had relationships. This was just a simple newsletter repurposing content from the blog and news sections of the website. We only included the first part of the news item or blog with links back to the website to read more.

Over time with consistent writing, sharing, and directing people back to the website…we began building traction. We watched the hits increase each month and we also began to notice the blogs and news items rose in the Google Rankings, especially when people performed searches of the board of directors names.

Sharing our story
*We* were sharing *our* story, sharing the story from *our* perspective, and building online credibility. So, what does this have to do with making money? *We* did not have ads on the blog or news sections. *We* did not have a product or service we were directing our clicks for revenue. *We* were building credibility for the *sales* cycle. *We* were not talking about sales or investments in the blogs or newsletters…*we* were talking about leadership, entrepreneurship, and what it was like to build this type of company model during this financial climate. We were telling our story.

The Pay-Off
This past year, a potential investor met with one of the individuals on the executive team. He had attended few group meetings and wanted to have a one-on-one meeting with a person on the executive team. When the meeting began, this potential investor shared that he had learned a lot about this executive team member. He had been reading the blog, reading the newsletter, and had enjoyed getting to know him virtually. At the end of the meeting, the individual wrote a check for a large six figure amount. Let’s just say that this investment paid for blog and the digital media consulting services was paid back more than 20 times over.

In this model…building digital credibility was a huge part of their success. Ethos is everything in the world of blogging and it is more than just thinking about direct revenue from each blog post, click, or hit. Sometimes we have to think bigger for the big return.

McNair’s on Top!

McNair is a leading developer of custom homes in San Antonio. Their homes offer exceptional standard features and extraordinary aesthetics. Unfortunately, their old website did not give them due credit, and it was a challenge for visitors to find home information quickly.

As part of a larger re-branding campaign, we revamped their website to showcase the quality that McNair stands for, and streamlined the process of finding a floor plan or community for website visitors and potential buyers. The website is built in the Sitefinity CMS and features many custom modules so our client can maintain it as their business grows.

McNair Custom Homes

Now that very site is in the Top Five List for December 2012 – that’s the best Sitefinity websites launched at the end of last year. Congrats, team!

McDonald’s: Rise of the QR Code

McDonald’s just might supply you with the best reason yet to pull out your phone and scan that barcode. The largest fast food chain in the world recently launched new packaging that will allow diners to only be a scan away from the latest nutritional information.

QR Codes at McDonalds

But wait, you probably deleted that QR code app since you last used it at XYZ conference and then it started taking up some precious memory space.

QR codes were created as a quick and easy way to access a URL by scanning an image. However, with questionable response time on various smart phone operating systems, it was probably just easier to take a picture of the information to look it up later or type in the URL manually.

Now that McDonald’s has you sitting, you’re the perfect candidate for a QR connection.

However, the devil’s advocate in me starts to wonder:

  • Wouldn’t you want to know the nutrition information before you order?
  • Once you’ve accessed it once for your token meal, what will keep you coming back for more?

So, is McDonald’s bringing the QR code back or what?