With the freelance work I have been doing in digital marketing strategy, research, and implementation, it was time for a new personal business card. Designed by Andrew Osborn.

We decided on using a “hale”stone as the image because hail forms up in the clouds, with a view of the big picture – As water drops freeze, they fall down through the clouds, but updrafts push the frozen drops back up, picking up additional condensation and freezing in the higher altitudes. This happens over and over again, forming layer over layer of ice and a rock solid center. When the stone is refined and dense, it becomes too heavy for the updraft and unleashes on the ground below.

Strategy and research both require layers of flexible ideas and decisions, but they’re nothing without that rock solid base.

Facebook Can Have My Data

In case you haven’t heard, Facebook is now the glue of the internet. That’s pretty vague, so read all about what that means in this post from Andrew Swenson/Wordpost (or in the first article I linked… they’re both good).

The big news is Facebook’s announcement that their “like” button will be available all over the internet. When you’re frolicking around IMDB and checking out your favorite quotes from Clueless, you’ll be able to check out which of your Facebook friends has a similar love for the best movie from 1995. Beyond that nice little friendship builder, it’s no big deal – just that every site that has a “like” button is allowed to aggregate, save, and react to YOUR information.

A lot of people are kind of freaking out about the changes to what Facebook and publishers can hold onto.

But I think it’s GREAT.

Obviously it’s great for Facebook and publishers to gather mounds of consumer data, but it’s perfect for me too. There’s only two points that matter to me from a Facebook-user & consumer standpoint:

  1. Every piece of information that Facebook knows about me is a piece of information that I willingly gave to Facebook. If I don’t want it passed around the internet from company to company as I like things that I use, want, or enjoy, I’ll remove it from my page. Facebook can’t share my information unless I give it to them.
  2. The point of publishers saving information is to customize content for each visitor to their site. If that means that ESPN will display a Tigers story on the front page because they recognize I’m a Tigers fan, that’s a win for me. If IMDB shows me an advertisement for an upcoming Tim Burton movie because I like a bunch of his previous shows instead of an ad for Sex and the City 2, I might even go as far as sending a thank-you email.

If you’re using the internet (and something tells me you are…), privacy is an illusion. Google knows what you search and what your emails are about. Facebook knows who your friends are and what you like. That’s the way this world works and it’s going to make your life better.

Are you concerned about the information Facebook knows about you? Do you think it is wrong to allow publishers to save that information as well? …will any of your concerns lead you to delete your Facebook profile?

Here’s what I told Facebook – use it wisely🙂

No Bad Days Allowed

Here it comes. The inevitable BAD DAY. You can feel it rolling in. We’ve all had them. Things just aren’t going your way. Maybe you woke up late or your boss got on your case about something. Maybe you haven’t had your coffee yet or you aren’t feeling the creative juices flowing. It’s just not a good day.

I’ve got some more bad news for you.

Time to put the smiley face on because your brand doesn’t get a bad day. Your community doesn’t deserve to feel the pain of whatever stress you’re trying to handle. If you need to, go blow some steam on MySpace with a cryptic update, because your community isn’t there to pity you – they’re involved because of the value you bring. As marketers, we preach all day to add value, but consumers aren’t looking to add value in social media, they’re looking to take whatever value you’ll give them.

The current buzz around social media is that your brand should be human and it’s fine to make mistakes – screw that. It’s not fine to make mistakes*. Your brand should have personality, but your goal should always be a perfect user experience. It’s tough to achieve, but you sure as hell better be trying whether you’ve got a black cloud over your head or not. Nobody wins if you’re not always acting as a pleasant touchpoint for your brand.

Online communities exist 24/7 and you need to have your game face on during all interactions.

What do you do to avoid the impact of bad days? How do you turn that frown upside down when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed (extra points if you can use more cliches in one sentence)?

* Mistakes happen and you should always learn from them (acknowledge and make it right if possible)…but don’t brush them off as if there’s no problem.

The Problem with RSS

Golden Guy RSS by LuMaxArt

I’m a huge fan of creating a great RSS feed where you can find useful information at all times and read posts from a bunch of the super blogrockers out there. I use Google Reader for my RSS feed and I share articles pretty frequently for anybody that wants to check out my favorite posts.

I’ve noticed one huge problem with my RSS feed though.

There is no way to comment via my reader. I haven’t been commenting as much as I should, or want to, since I filled up my RSS feed with such excellent thinkers. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts about the posts, I’ve just got another list of posts staring me in the face that I can’t wait to read.

Not only are comments viewed as currency in the blogosphere at times, but comments drive conversation. The best bloggers are not looking merely to tell you what they think – they’re looking to build on ideas and participate in thought-provoking conversations.

Blogging is a two-way street. Make it a busy one.

Show your favorite bloggers that you appreciate their work by striking up conversation. Go beyond a simple agreement and a thank you. Use your comment to build on the blogger’s ideas, ask questions, and challenge points in a constructive or inquisitive format. You can form a valuable relationship simply through commenting and carrying your comments and conversations over to other platforms.

So here’s my social media resolution for 2010 – I’m going to make a point to do more commenting on blogs by Danny Brown, Jim Connolly, Arik Hanson, David Spinks, Rich DeMatteo, Lauren Fernandez, Valeria Maltoni, Stuart Foster, Leigh Durst, Scott Hepburn, Jackie Adkins, Matt Cheuvront, Amber Naslund, Ryan Stephens, B.L. Ochman, Samantha Ogborn, David Mullen, Mack Collier, Amy Mengel, Jason Falls, etc. (Seriously, the list goes on and on)

What are some of your favorite blogs and how can you improve your relationship through commenting?

Stop Drawing Stick People

Stick People

By Beck Tench (10ch)

At what age did you start drawing stick people? Drawing your first stick person is kind of like the opposite of the first time you stood up to walk. Rather than progress from rolling to sliding to crawling to walking, you regress from drawing (or attempting to draw) the way you see things to drawing stereotyped figures to drawing stick people.

Most psychologists agree that we draw stick figures because we lose confidence in our artistic ability at some age. Ok, no big deal. We’re not all artists. But notice – we don’t choose to draw stick people because we can’t draw…we do it because we aren’t confident. Go ahead and try it (skip the excuses) – draw a somewhat realistic person.

The same thing happens with sharing ideas. We become less confident in our answers, ideas, and writing – so we slow down. Blogs go unwritten, comments go unspoken, and excuses fill the void. We replace thought-provoking and creative blog posts with hot topic keywords to see if you can grab some search love for your mind-numbing posts that take an angle you were positive nobody had written. Here’s a free tip: “news” didn’t become a top trending topic on the internet until people started poking and prodding from every angle.

Rather than pushing the same idea you’ve tried with every campaign, dare to drop a new idea during brainstorming. If you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, the idea is less likely to be shot down than it is to be transformed into a campaign worth talking about.

Stick figures don’t get any attention. Anybody can draw a stick figure. Your individual style is more intriguing. I’m not asking you to study realism and draw an anatomically correct human each time you try, I’m just asking you to expose your creativity. I’m not asking you to blow the world away with your innovative blog, I’m just asking you to write about different topics. I’m not asking you to have the best idea each time you brainstorm, I’m just asking you give everybody around you a chance to build something great.

Your Brand Should Be More Like the Vikings

In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know I’m writing this post because I lost a bet with Kyle Jameson aka @memyworld. He’s a Vikings fan and I’m a Bengals fan. Nevertheless, I stand behind everything I’ve got to say in this post. Kyle has a nice music blog called “Me. My World.”

Before you get the wrong idea – I don’t think your brand should set out in longboats conquering land masses while sipping mead from the skulls of your enemies. On the other hand, I’m not totally against you hiring a guy named Björn Ironside to manage your brand identity.

We’re talking about the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. You know, the team of burly guys wearing purple and being led by your grandpa at Quaterback. All kidding aside, the Vikings have built one of the most intelligent and passionate fan bases in all of sports. You might argue that it’s easy to build a fan base for the 2nd most successful NFL franchise of all-time, but every year since the merger in 1970 has ended in disappointment.

So, how do you keep a fan base happy, involved, and satisfied when your team fails to meet high expectations?

They may not always be the greatest football team, but the Minnesota Vikings are made up of excellent personas and intriguing stories.

Like me, you might not remember much about the 1998 season. But bring it up to a Vikings fan and they’ll cringe. Gary Anderson, who was about 40 at the time, didn’t miss a field goal all regular season. It was probably the player story of the year. The Vikings were favored to go to the Superbowl…until Anderson missed his first and only field goal of the year in the NFC championship game on the last play of regulation. The Vikings lost in overtime. The fans took on the mantra that they would have won if not for that one field goal. Next year would be their year…but it wasn’t.

If you are a sports fan at all, you know and fear The Mullet and you can’t help but stare in awe at The Williams Wall. The Vikings are characters and the fans love it. Over the past few years, the Vikings have built the persona of A.P. as the hardest hitting back in the league and this year saw the arrival of the missing piece of the puzzle – Old Man Gunslinger Favre.

There is no doubt that Vikings fans will be disappointed with anything less than a Superbowl victory, but nobody will walk away from this season saying the management didn’t try. The Vikings’ management finds a way to give the fans what they want. From the outside, fans can see that they manage like they want to win.

So, why should your brand be more like the Vikings? Because they build characters with fascinating stories and they give their consumers what they need to maintain a positive relationship. The team doesn’t need to win for fans to keep coming back for more.

Is PR About to Start Looking More Like Advertising?


Image Via Flickr's "Woody1778a"

As most of you know, new FTC guidelines concerning bloggers and disclosure went into effect yesterday. Will the new FTC guidelines cause blogger relations and online PR to look more like advertising than traditional PR? I don’t think so.

Before the new guidelines dropped, there was a big push for blogger transparency. If Chris Brogan wrote about a client, he let the readers know. If David Spinks wrote about an online tool that had an associated cost waived, he mentioned it so readers were aware.

Why hasn’t anybody accused the larger blogs of advertising in the past? Because whether they were given free products/services or not, the writing feels true and the readers trust them.

Blogging has received a lot of spotlight recently and readers are choosing to read the blogs they trust. With the blogs I read, it doesn’t matter whether the writer was given an item for free or not – I trust that they will give an honest opinion.

I understand that a blogger is less likely to complain about something they have been given for free, but you had better believe the blogger will either choose not to write about it, or they will write a half-hearted review filled with simple facts and a claim that the product or service might be great for some other kind of person.

My final take: The new FTC guidelines won’t impact things too heavily. Good writers will continue to be believable and trustworthy. Readers will be more aware of the perks of being a trusted public figure, but that doesn’t mean they will stop listening and acting on trusted recommendations.

Does a Sheet of Paper Work as a Doorstop?

This post comes as a response to a recent article called “Why Resumes Are Lame” by Ryan Stephens. Ryan makes the argument that resumes are a waste of time, especially in certain fields including PR, marketing, social media, and advertising. David Spinks also wrote a post on “3 Reasons Why Resumes SHOULD Be Irrelevant” awhile back.

Here’s an important first note: Don’t throw away your resume. In fact, make your resume awesome with tangible results, relevant job experience, and a few personal interests. While you’re at it, see if you can present that information in a creatively designed manner. The chance you will get any job without a resume is pretty close to 0.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, forget what you’ve been told about a resume. There are only so many ways black ink on a white piece of paper can really speak to the validity of your skill and stick in a hiring manager’s mind.

All I’m trying to add to the discussion is that young people should be using all of the tools at their disposal to get creative and stand in the face of a bad economy to get that dream job they’ve been preparing for. Even the simple things help you stand out. Write a blog. It shows your ability to write coherently and present important ideas in your industry.

Will a blog replace your resume? Absolutely not. But it will create a conversation and build your personal brand.

Consider how designers apply for a job: They often drop off a well-designed promo/teaser piece for their artwork. Then, they follow up with examples of their previous artwork (portfoli0) and support their abilities in text by presenting a creatively designed resume. Why wouldn’t you do something similar for a job in your field? No, it’s not the norm. But unexpected creativity focuses eyeballs. If nobody sees you, nobody can hire you.

For example: You’ve built your personal brand in social media, so run a campaign for your brand to get hired. Call on your community and use the tools and theories you’ve learned, practiced, and discovered to promote yourself.

It all comes back to the age old Journalism saying – Show. Don’t tell.

Allow your creativity and the available tools to open doors. So what are you going to use as your doorstop? A flimsy piece or paper with twisted words, or your confident skills filled with substance and experience?

*for further examples, Ryan Stephens added these two examples to his blog. They are great uses of available tools to build a campaign for an individual to get hired. There’s also one example I added that shows how people are marketing themselves in other industries as well🙂

5 Tips for Social Media and Climate Change

Photo Credit: Peter Halasz

Photo Credit: Peter Halasz

A friend (Jason Sadleriwearyourshirt.com) just informed me that today, October 15, is Blog Action Day – read more about that at http://www.blogactionday.org/. The part you need to know is that this year’s topic is climate change. I’ll be honest, I’m no expert on climate change. But I have found a few things you can do as somebody interested in social media.

1. Unplug your computer when you are not using it.

  • It is no secret that those of us riding the social media wave (no Google pun intended) spend a serious amount of time on computers. But, did you know that many electronics (including most computers) continue to draw electricity while turned off if they remain plugged in? Pretty simple right?

2. Work from home.

  • On the heels of a post about the elimination of the 9-5 work day from David Spinks, this tip is especially relevant. The way we are communicating today, there shouldn’t be any problem setting up a virtual workplace. I understand it is not always possible, but think of the energy your office could save if everybody worked from home for only one day a week. Don’t forget that nobody would be driving to and from work either. If you don’t believe in the virtual agency, take a look at the success Marketing Profs has had without a brick and mortar office.

3. Participate in events like Blog Action Day 2009.

  • Like I said, this post is part of Blog Action Day 2009, but today is not the only time you can rally the troops to make some changes in Climate Change policy. You might have noticed an emphasis on change as of late, and social media is no stranger to helping out a cause. Every month, 12for12k chooses a charity to support. For more information on that, get over to Twitter and ask @DannyBrown all about it. Social media is great about creating power with numbers and you could easily increase those numbers by seeking out events in which you can participate.

4. Use Skype instead of Southwest.

  • There is definitely power in face-to-face meetings, but don’t be so quick to jump into the friendly skies for a meeting you could easily have over Skype, or ooVoo. Both offer free conference calling up to a certain amount of users, and ooVoo even offers free video conferencing. Not only will it save you money and time, but it will also create less carbon emissions (airplanes produce about 12% of transportation emissions).

5. Grab some local food for lunch.

  • Having lunch in the office (or in the virtual office)? Grab something from the local farmers market to find something healthy that didn’t require a worldwide flight. The food will be fresh and healthy and the climate will stay fresh and healthy as well. Plus, how great would it be to feed an office full of people fresh and healthy food to energize them for the second half of the day?

Bonus Tip: Join SocialVibe.

  • SocialVibe is linking social media with brand power on the charity scene. This tip moves away from climate change a little bit, but it really is an awesome utility. I haven’t looked through every cause that is signed up through SocialVibe, but I bet if you look hard enough, you can find a climate change charity for which to lend a hand.

There you have it: Five Six tips for those interested in social media to support climate change efforts. Each tip is very simple and could make a huge difference using the potential of social media. I’m only one person, but I will pass this article on through my network, and I hope you do the same.


Muse-ic - When MUSIC inspires ART

Muse-ic : When MUSIC inspires ART

Above is a poster designed by a friend of mine – Andrew Osborn (@ajosborn). Just out of school, Andrew scored an internship at Fresh Produce (a little advertising agency on the prairie) in Sioux Falls, SD. As the story goes, Fresh Produce put together a team of qualified interns to work as a fully-functioning ad team within the walls of Fresh Produce. The team was called Famous For Meats. They were tasked with “creating buzz by taking fresh ideas and letting them marinate, ensuring that the product is as juicy and hearty as possible”. Throughout the summer, Andrew and the rest of the “Meatheads” pitched design work and gained extensive experience as interns out on their own (you can see and read about some of the work at the FFM link above).

As their final project at Fresh Produce for the summer, the Meatheads concepted, planned, organized, and promoted an art show at the IPSO Gallery. They titled the show Muse-ic: When MUSIC inspires ART. The Meatheads charged local painters, sculptors, drawers, illustrators and installation artists with picking a piece of music from a determined list from which they could draw inspiration for a piece of art. Essentially, “Muse-ic is rooted in the constant dialogue between visual arts and music” – Andrew Osborn. You can listen to more about the show and hear a little bit from the artists involved on this RockGarden Tour Podcast in which Fresh Produce turned the wheel over to the Famous For Meats interns.

The technical information (time, date, location) is on the poster above, and you should really check it out and talk to the artists and interns about the entire process if you are in the area.

What do you think about this kind of internship? Obviously Fresh Produce trusted their interns to maintain their reputation and produce solid work. Furthermore, the interns got great real-world experience including pitching and dealing with client needs. On the other hand, there was not a whole lot of mentoring going on as internships are often known for. Famous For Meats was implementing full projects at lower wages. At times, they were even finding their own work.

I think it is a fine idea. As far as I know, the interns loved it and Fresh Produce didn’t seem to take any issues with the interns.