Monday, May 18, 2015
Last night, I avoided the Mad Men Finale frenzy (saving last episode on iTunes for tonight!), and was pleased to discover a suitable piece of entertainment, "Mr. Holland's Opus," not entirely a departure from the Mad Men 60's-70's time warp. This 1995 "pre-Glee" film starring Richard Dreyfuss, follows the 30-year career of a music teacher at an Oregon high school, whose life-lessons, from tenacity to morals, while somewhat shmaltzy, resonate, and were refreshing for this viewer.
From Wikipedia: "In 1965, Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) is a professional musician and composer who has been relatively successful in the exhausting life of a musical performer. However, in an attempt to enjoy more free time with his young wife, Iris (Glenne Headly), and to enable him to compose a piece of orchestral music, the 30-year-old Holland accepts a teaching position. Unfortunately for Holland, he is soon forced to realize that his position as a music teacher makes him a marginalized figure in the faculty's hierarchy. He comes face to face with how seriously he is outranked by the high school's football coach, Bill (Jay Thomas), who ultimately becomes his best friend. Administrators, such as vice principal Gene Wolters (William H. Macy), dislike him, while others, including principal Helen Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis), remind him that he should not teach just because of financial reasons. It is Mrs. Jacobs' scolding that helps Holland turn a corner. He starts to use rock and roll as a way to help children understand classical music. Reluctantly, he begins seeing his students as individuals and finds ways to help them excel."
While I found myself becoming drawn into this movie, I was impressed with the number of marketing lessons that surfaced. The film, as good ones do, made me rethink audience, performances, allegiances, and yes...content marketing! So here are 5 important takeaway tips:
1. Be "Edutaining:" When Glenn realizes he is boring his "Music Appreciation" class students, and even himself, he realized that he can still teach effectively while being entertaining. Playing musical examples on the piano and parts of hit songs on records, he provides lively examples to illustrate his points, and his classes come to life, while he himself becomes invigorated.
Communicate in as interesting way as possible to get your message across. This is true content marketing.
2. Be a Great Storyteller: Glenn tells quite a few stories during the course of the movie, including one to his wife when she announces she is pregnant, about how he grew to love Coltrane and jazz despite not being used to it at first. They help us understand more about his character, the way he thinks about things, and ultimately the way he influences others.
Grab your audience's interest by hooking them with a great story.
3. Don't Give Up and Don't Let Others Give Up: Glenn encounters several challenges throughout his career, including trying to teach a frustrated Alicia Witt how to play the clarinet, and how to teach drums to a student with no rhythm, with whom he spends extra time doing everything from stomping his feet, to clapping the student's hands to the right rhythm, to dancing around to all kinds of music including the irresistible Louis Louis, (an entrancing song based on the same 3 chords repeated over and over again, we learn.) Inspiring Witt's character Gertrude not to give up on the clarinet, (she is just about to), he encourages her to close her eyes as she plays, think about "sunsets" (the color of her hair), and "feel" the music, so to speak. And she nails it.
Persistence pays...be passionate and tenacious, and it will pay off in business and other aspects of your life.
4. Be Personal When It Counts: Glenn's relationship with his son Cole is troubled through much of the first half of the film. But in a breakthrough scene where Glenn is determined to communicate with him, he tells the audience about his deaf son Cole, signs John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy," and brings the audience to a standing ovation and Cole to tears.
Don't be afraid to be transparent... a little goes a long way.
5. Take Calculated Risks and Leverage Your Assets: Halfway through the film, Glenn is tasked with revamping the poorly received high school marching band. He enlists the help of his friend and football coach to organize the band members, works on logistics and synchronized marching as something new in his bag of tricks, and then has a glorious moment several weeks later as the marching band takes over the hometown parade in all its glory.
Try something new, versatility rules.
So, what say you? Have any films you've seen recently inspired your marketing? Share your thoughts in the Comments!
Thursday, April 09, 2015
A few years ago, I was listening to a radio interview of a well-known fiction writer as she was asked about her creative process. She explained that, as one might expect, a book can take years, and that she managed to find the time while juggling work, family, etc. At one point, she said, "the truth is, nobody cares. You have to find the determination within yourself." That thought, coming from an award-winning nationally acclaimed writer, struck me as both reassuring and scary. If no one cares, then certainly there's less pressure to produce, assuming your publisher isn't knocking down your door on deadlines. You can try and fail and retry, with the main frustrations being your own timetable and goals. On the flip side, if no one cares, that means you have to explain to your family and loved ones that you have your project (writing or …..) and that you need a block of time alone to work on it. And you might need to do that again and again, at the risk of upsetting these loved ones or missing a fun activity out. Still, it's all on you to care.
Recently, there are a few projects I thought no one cared about, until a few surprises made me think twice, and renewed my faith in online "shtuff."
*Several blog posts I wrote last month attracted the attention of both Canva, (they appreciated the mention and wanted me to consider writing about their expanded graphics options), and a blog promotion company wanting me to highlight their services. It's true, a lot of organizations out there are looking for more visibility, but to have this happen in one week was an interesting twist. Then I remembered...
Blogs are promotional, and that's a good thing.
*I always post on Facebook for #ThrowbackThursday, but last week I posted a photo from my freshman year of college that attracted more Comments and Likes then usual. I hyperlinked to my college, of course, which led to many of my former classmates recognizing the scene, and my former roommate remembering that she took the photo, etc. Why all the fuss? Then I remembered…
*Twitter may be bored with what you ate for breakfast, but Instagram isn't. Recent food photos I've posted there have consistently garnered more Favorites then on any other platform, leading me to the surprisingly pleasant conclusion that Instagram loves food pics, so…
Don't worry about the funny looks you might get while photographing your meal, you know better…
*I had all but given up on Flickr when a few years ago, I got shmapped, and my favorite jellyfish photo became a little bit famous. Then I remembered,
Everyone needs a good photo for something, especially tourists…
*The Balloon Boy in Colorado was more of a passing thought, until this happened.
Your online life means something, even if you think no one cares. So take your unshared, uncommented on blog post or Facebook status update, and post it on your Wall -- your real Wall --to celebrate it. You still have to care about it, because that's what starting somewhere means.
Monday, March 23, 2015
photo: Jenny Cortez
Years ago, I was in a writing workshop where everyone pretended to be interested in constructive criticism, but in reality they--we--were so competitive, that the art of the critique was for the most part lost or dying. Everyone got into the habit of writing down the name of the commenter when it came time for their piece to be discussed, so they could attribute any negative impressions to that person's hangups or predispositions, thereby invalidating anything they didn't want to hear. Brian always talks about cliches....Amy always says the story begins at the end...John says the dialogue is stilted....that kind of thing.
One night when it was my work under discussion, I took notes on what everyone said, calmly nodding my head in understanding at the fairly harsh statements being exchanged, when deep down I was cringing. "They're wrong," I thought to myself. "They just don't get it." I came home and actually cried, drowning my sorrows in the cliche tub of chocolate ice cream, only to find out a week or so later that my story had been accepted in a national magazine. I told the teacher, but asked her not to say anything to the class. I wanted to enjoy my moment of literary glory.
At one point in my communications career, I had to write a performance review of my secretary. Her work was good, but she had a strange habit of disappearing every few days. She never called in, but would appear out of nowhere like nothing had happened. During the review, I had to point this out, and she started to cry. It turns out, there was a situation involving a family member. Once she told me, I calmed her down, and we set up a plan where she would communicate more regularly the next time the problem came up. Eventually, it was resolved.
When I was little, I went on a hike at camp in a poor fitting pair of shoes, and ended up with painful sores on my feet that took weeks to heel. I cried, not only out of pain, but for being critiqued afterwards for doing a stupid thing. Of course, I didn't realize at the time the shoes were bad, or I wouldn't have worn them. Actually, looking back on it, I'm rather proud of myself for sticking it out--who knows what would have happened if I'd walked in bare feet for hours?
On the receiving end:
-listen to everything being said, and take it all in before speaking or reacting
-don't feel pressured to agree, but do what's needed to fix the situation if it's dire
-keep everything in perspective--things really do seem better the next day
-it's alright to cry...even if you have to find a place to do it
-take it seriously, but shake it off so you can move on
On the giving end:
-be balanced in your critique
-offer specific examples of what works and what doesn't
-no one is perfect, so keep perfection out of it
-model the behavior or outcome you're wanting others to achieve
-don't major in minor things--focus in the most important issues
There's a great scene in the recent film Wild, where Reese Witherspoon picks up a new pair of hiking boots she'd ordered to replace her ill-fitting old ones, which have left her feet swollen and bleeding. You could say she was flawed for making the mistake in the first place. Or you could say she was a hero for getting right back on track in her new boots, almost like it was nothing at all.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.
Sunday, March 01, 2015
Bloggers who write and approach their blog posts the way they write anything else, are sure to be disappointed. Why? Because they aren't using their blog the way it's meant to be used-- as a platform for something greater. For thought leadership, great offererings, the delicate art of persuasion, or an exercise in innovative graphics. Gingerly approaching blogging as simply "writing online" may be fine if you just want to get your feet wet, or get a feel for writing and publishing regularly, or learn the toolkit for common blogging platforms like Wordpress. But the real bloggers out there who have a following and online authority--bloggers like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, James Altucher, and Copyblogger, for example, all have distinct qualities in their blogging that set them apart:
1. They know the value of a strong headline
2. They innovate interesting graphics
3. They tell a good story
4. They break up their copy with formatting and subheads so it's easily scannable online
5. They address a problem
6. They offer transparency about their lives
7. They make persuasive and interesting offers
8. They ask enough of the right questions to get us thinking and commenting
9. They are early responders in their fields
10. They have emotional intelligence
11. They understand and optimize their blog's connection to their business and their social marketing
12. They have additional publishing platforms, such as enewsletters, and realize their blog is one of the main ways to get subscribers to their all important e-list
13. They're not afraid to look forward in time, or back--with purpose
14. They tell their story well, and more than once
15. They embrace multimedia, either to express their own ideas or share those of others
16. They edit and/or rewrite often, without it being about ego
17. They appreciate the value of details and strategy
18. They understand deadlines are rather urgent about things. They aren't going to take 2 weeks to write a post that needs to be done today
19. They understand and care about their audience
20. They acknowledge their peers, colleagues, heroes, and the world around them
As someone who has blogged for years and plans to continue, I have challenged myself to embrace these blogging "truisms" going forward, and not fall into writing, but take full advantage of what this medium has to offer. I challenge you to do the same.
What say you? How do you think blogging differs from writing? Have you optimized your blog all you can for your strategy and purpose?
And One More Thing...Spock Remembered
I write this on a weekend when the world mourns the loss of Mr. Spock--Leonard Nimoy. Among all the thousands of tributes published between Friday and Sunday, The New Yorker "Postscript" by Joshua Rothman speaks to me the most, combining all the nuances of Nimoy's life acutely observed, with a personal touch that made it that much more resonant. Rothman cleverly captures the "silly seriousness" that Spock's character personified, as part of what made him so memorable. Rothman writes:
"Actors are sometimes imagined as shapeshifters, but, with a few exceptions, Nimoy didn’t really shift. He was given one way of seeming—measured, cerebral, serious, dignified, wry, and slightly naughty—and he showed, over a long career, how rewarding that combination could be. He proved the value of accepting, cultivating, and enjoying one’s own nature. May we all do the same with the selves that we have."
So that brings me to one more tip for my list--something I'm going to think about myself quite a bit going forward: blogging is about being yourself, but being larger then that, and taking the risk of "silly seriousness" almost every day.
Thank goodness for LLAP (Live Long and Prosper.) Let's also embrace BLAP-Blog Long and Prosper.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
1. Instagram Mini-Campaigns
While Instagram is a hugely popular platform to reach college students, on its own it's tough to get traction, and will probably not grow your Followers without some oomph. A mini-campaign using a designated hashtag relevant to your desired goal can be effective in boosting your online visibility. The case study we viewed highlighted a special recognition day on campus, encouraging students to post their photos of the event using that hashtag and related ones. The results showed over double the amount of engagement and followers.
Tip: limit your campaign to 1-2 weeks, so you can concentrate the buzz and excitement. Campaigns longer than that can lose momentum before they're over, and typically require a more developed and sophisticated content marketing strategy.
2. Snapchat for Storytelling and Relationship Building
Miami University in Ohio is an interesting case study in the effective use of Snapchat. Karine Jolly posted an informative interview with @KellyABennett, social media manager at MU, who experimented with event promotion and behind the scenes strategies in particular to raise student awareness. She not only posted, but studied what events were screenshot the most to determine what students were most interested in.
Tip: Aim for authenticity, and don't worry about being polished or edited--this platform aims for a realWorld glimpse into campus life. With 77% of college students using Snapchat daily, it's definitely a platform worth considering.
|The social media team at SCU during a conference break.|
3. Photo Friday (Social Media and Website)
A great way to boost student participation and visibility for your university website and social profiles is to designate Fridays to focus on graphics and visuals. Announce a new theme each week, with a deadline of Thursday afternoon, allowing your social team to organize, select, and edit the best photos if needed. Feature the winning photo on your website, and as your Facebook Cover photo, to help create buzz and encourage participation.
Tip: Make sure the theme and criteria for selection are clear and consistently communicated out, so you have the largest choice of graphics to select from.
4. Tumblr for Creative Expression
Try Tumblr as a microblogging platform that optimizes creativity and graphics, focusing on creative expression for the publisher without the traditional blog format that is more text heavy and reliant on Comments.
Tip: Go for the visuals. Tumblr audiences expect dynamic and strong graphics then those on other blogging platforms.
5. Recruit and Reward Dynamic Social Media Ambassadors
You know you're excited about your brand, but it's even better when others tell your story--the impact of third-party testimonials can be enormous. So, implementing a team of social media ambassadors is a great way to extend your brand and build buzz on your social channels. Decide the criteria you want for your team of ambassadors, (ideally students who are involved in and enthusiastic about campus activities.) Students who enjoy taking photos and clever with captions and a quick story are a big plus, as they can help supply you with a constant flow of great digital content.
Tip: Treat your ambassadors well! Reward them with cool swag to show your appreciation, and let them know you take their roles seriously.
6. Optimize Events With Hashtags
Branding your events with hashtags is an important way to organize online conversations before, during, and after events, and to grow your potential audiences. While the use of hashtags is becoming more common and more sophisticated, many organizations make the mistake of underpromoting them, or using them inconsistently or incorrectly. Conversely, there are instances when events become so popular or dynamic, that audiences start creating their own hashtags to suit their own preferences, and they take on a life of their own.
Tips: Choose hashtags no longer then 6-8 characters, so that they don't take up the entire tweet on twitter. Make sure your hashtag is unique and hasn't been used previously, so there is no brand confusion. Also, try to brand the hashtag so it clearly represents the event it's connected to, and is therefore easier for audiences to remember. Be sure to include your hashtag in all pre and post event promotions, as well as, of course, during any live tweeting at the event.
What social media trends are at the top of the list in your niche or industry, and what do you think future trends will be? Share in the comments.