Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

h1

Designing the future.

March 1, 2011

Last week I had the privilege to sit down and talk creative strategy, critical thinking, and innovative ideas with two junior visual communications classes at the Herron School of Art.

A close friend of mine from high school, Professor Jeff Tzucker (wow, does that sound funny) invited me in to “critique” the work his and Marcia Stone’s students were presenting this week to their clients. They had all been separated into groups, “small agencies”, and were paired with real clients looking to re-brand, in some cases launch a brand, and get their message out.

I got a little of what I expected and a whole lot of the unexpected. I expected to see creativity in visual form. And I did. There was some serious eye candy. I expected to see some students fighting the internal struggles of what to do and how to do it. Check. And I expected to feel the fun and excitement of being back in a college setting. Check there too. I witnessed a Cheez-It run, a tub’o’animal crackers, and lots of amazingly cool style. I was thankful, unlike my college and fraternity experience I was not overcome by the smell of cheap whiskey and waffles. (That will be a blog for another time.)

What I didn’t expect to encounter was the unbelievable amount of strategic thinking and prepping before the designs were created. These students knew their intended audience, they understood their client and clients’ personalities, and they knew their creative vision would only be worth it’s salt…if it worked hard to achieve a measurable result.

This is an obvious reflection of Jeff and Marcia’s guidance but also that young, fresh, and curious mind working hard to discover, process, and digest information. It always seems that no matter how many times I step back in the classroom, I always leave feeling refreshed myself. And thankful that I have pursued a career in an industry that changes daily and critical and strategic thinking is a must.

The future is bright for our industry.  With young people like the ones at Herron, there will certainly be no shortage of ideas, innovation, and intelligence joining the creative landscape in the next couple of years.

“You see things; and say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw

h1

Content is king.

February 9, 2011

Being in the advertising and communications world, I often get asked by my family and friends what advertising I like the most and why. To me, it is much more than clever post work, a new technology, or a catchy jingle. And whether I am reading a blog, watching a TV spot (right who does that anymore), tweeting, or even looking at brand packaging on my favorite beverage, content is king.

This past Super Bowl is no exception. Sure I liked the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot and the Doritos finger licker, but for the most part, they all fell short. They weren’t clever, they didn’t make me think, laugh, or remotely want to buy what they are selling. And in the economic market we are still cruising through and the fact the world is moving more towards mobile and 140 characters or less thinking, I wanted short, sweet, and smart content.

With QR Codes, interactive video, and social media continuing to take its place in the communication du jour space, I am excited and a little concerned.

I don’t want to see effort ruined by poor writing, bad creative, and content best left in a trash can all because of the rush to try something new. Don’t excite me by putting a QR Code on your business card only to send me to your contact information…AGAIN. Don’t tease me with a great tweet and then drive me to a page that looks like I should be on a VIC-20 (young readers click the link, your flash drive has more memory.)

All in all the things we remember, enjoy, engage with, and ultimately own are because we made a connection with the content. There was something that stirred a response in us that made us take action.

What are some great or not-so-great examples you have seen recently?

 

h1

When one door closes, it’s good to have the master key to the rest of the house.

January 24, 2011

I had something happen to me for the first time in my life. I was given my walking papers due to re-structuring and re-focusing at work on November 30th. For more than twelve years in the ad agency business, I was always on the other side and learned early about survivor’s guilt, making myself marketable, and staying grounded, driven, and positive.

And yet this time it got me. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally. I am not embarrassed or ashamed I was let go. I’d like to think my ego hasn’t grown so much that I can’t admit the truth. I simply didn’t have a specific PR foundation and background to warrant keeping a tenured advertising guy on staff. Kudos to my former boss for recognizing he and his agency needed to change and get back to their roots. I also appreciate the way in which I was let go. They did some things for me they didn’t have to and that took the stress out of these past seven weeks, especially over the holidays.

And in there lies the one thing they didn’t intend to give me, that was the greatest gift.

I spent more than six weeks at home with my two kids, my wife when she wasn’t at work, and friends and family, all over the holiday season.

I danced with my daughter in her room to songs we didn’t know, I was there to ride through the sleepless nights as my son got his first two teeth, I was able to help be Santa with my wife, and I grew an even deeper appreciation for the countless friends and family who reached out to me with support.

And now I am happily part of the team at The Momentum Group, a small, very cool shop in Broad Ripple doing some amazing things in the branding, digital, social, and traditional advertising space. I have certainly found a home.

So as I look back on my career already, one thing always rides true. No matter what, under any circumstances, sell yourself short by changing who you are, how you conduct yourself, and not treating others with respect. Because as I have just found out, sometimes the unexpected can turn into the greatest gift.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson


h1

How about a little customer service?

November 30, 2010

Working in the communications field for more than a decade, there are a couple of questions we always get asked. Can you make the logo bigger? What is my ROI? I don’t have a budget, how much will it cost? Is this going to work? And the list goes on and on.

All of those questions are legitimate (ok the logo one is a bit tiresome) but no matter what the answer is, it all comes back to what kind of experience your customers are having that makes them want to buy more.

You could make the best tacos on the planet but when you treat your customers like an irritation, you might as well be spitting in their guacamole.

All the time, effort, money, and strategies put into market research, development, and product launches means nothing when your customers feel slighted. I am a big fan of Nordstrom. I like their store offerings but more importantly I like the way I am treated when I am there. People actually look and then act like they want to help. I’ll even take it a step farther and say that they want to work with people. Wow, what a concept.

It always makes me laugh (after I have cursed like an Irish Hurling Captain – great sport by the way) when people working registers, serving tables, or in an actual “customer service department” roll their eyes in disgust when a paying customer, with a lot of choices, comes into their sacred territory. Here is an idea, work the stockroom, wash dishes, or stay at home typing online ads for money. You are not only saying a lot about yourself, but also ruining the culture of those around you and the integrity of your company’s brand.

So as we shop, eat, and drink our way through another holiday season, take a look around and start to really see who gets it. I already have a couple of places that I won’t be visiting again.

What good or bad customer experiences have you already had this holiday season?

h1

Facebook is not your therapist

November 11, 2010

I think like a lot of us who use social media professionally or personally are growing tired of the mass of people who aren’t putting a unique thought out there. Their thought is the last thought they just read. But what really amazes me are the people using Facebook for therapy sessions. Therapy sessions for one.

I don’t mean to be insensitive here. Some people use these channels as a way to easily and efficiently reach out to friends, family, and colleagues when a true issue arises. This honestly is the power behind social media. And one I see great value in. I am talking more about the one-off, random, sad, depressed, and “woe is me” people who really don’t need your prayers, thoughts, or “sending you a hug” icon. Really? Here, I am sending you a “forearm shiver” right back.

This is what I am talking about, “Today is the day I do it. Be with me.” Ok, for what? Are you putting down the dog? Is the dog not even sick? Is it not your dog? Ok, that’s newsworthy and worth sharing. Or how about, “I wish I could turn back time.” I think Cher sang a song about that. Is that what you are referencing? Or maybe you didn’t see my post about the mayonnaise recall? And last but not least the motivational saying person. “If you focus on what you want, you can have it. If you focus on what you have, you can want it.” What the…did you READ your post? And sure enough someone clicks “like.”

Is anyone else tired of this? If so, please let me know. I have this terrible pain…

h1

A simple thank you can go a long way.

November 3, 2010

I was left a voicemail message the other day from a close friend and fraternity brother, Brett Benson, thanking me for something that I did.  And what I did was not groundbreaking, world changing, or even difficult, but you would never know it by the thank you I received.

Brett is someone I personally and professionally admire. He is every bit as passionate about life as he is quick to crack a joke. He lives to serve and his life’s goals are fixed on giving and sharing to others rather than receiving or focusing inward on selfish wants.

I have seen him get so worked up discussing his desire to help and those outcomes of when he has, that he verges on that laugh/cry mix that is nothing but pure emotion. It is raw, it is real, it is Benson.

That is one big reason why his message left such an impression with me I decided to write about it. And the other reason was what and how he said it. In an age and a generation where it is easy to text, email, or adjust our writing to 140 characters or less, he took time out of his day to reach out. To let me know he didn’t just appreciate what I did, but that he appreciated me as a person. He didn’t thank me for one event, but for things that cumulated over time. And he reminded on how sometime taking the time to say a heartfelt thank you, has become a rarity. And not only from a personal side, but in business as well.

Brett, you are the one we should all thank for your dedication, generosity, thoughtfulness, and daily impact you have on the people around you.

I sometimes end these with a quote and here is one I learned from you: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough,” Meister Eckhart.

Thank you.

 

 

 

h1

One person can make a difference.

October 22, 2010

I try not to be skeptical, however I am quick to break everything down to a realistic and rationale perspective. So when I hear people talk about how one person can change the world, I tend to struggle with that comment.

I was asked recently by a fellow BSU Delt, Steve Roseman, to sit on the board of The Paul Fangman Jr Foundation that he started over the summer. Steve’s grandfather is the inspiration and Mr. Fangman lived his life stressing the importance of giving your time and talents to others and how precious family and children are to the world.

Mr. Fangman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 37 yet still raised seven children, managed a successful family business, and loved his time with his 43 grand and great grandchildren. He lived his life with dignity, grace, and a helping hand.

Steve is quick to point out that he only remembers seeing his grandfather walk 10 times and the daily fight he had battling MS. Steve was so inspired by his grandfather’s courage and love of life that he has used it as a springboard to help others.

The foundation was founded on teaching young people to live and maintain healthy lifestyles and to help families manage the cost and the stress of finding adequate health care for loved ones suffering with MS and cancer.

In five short months he has already raised a considerable amount of money, is in three schools working with children, and is lining up more donors, more schools, and more ways to impact people’s lives.

I realized on the way home from our meeting, that when people say one person can change the world, what I was lacking was definition around the word “world.” Steve is living proof. Watching him speak about his work, the children, his grandfather, and the conviction he has to serve others is inspiring. The world in which Steve is creating for himself and others he is helping is making a difference.

In a time when people tend to hold their hands out for help, Steve is holding his out to help. So yes, I do believe one person can make a difference; he has already made a difference in mine.