December 14

What We Can Learn from Woodstock

‘Unfettered’ – love that descriptive – who knew Woodstock Founders, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Michael Lang (who nearly went bankrupt over this mud-caked, mind-blowing event) and their bill of 32 rock bands, would forever impact not only the music industry, but in my humble opinion, society at large – amping up freedom of expression – for individuals through music.

Those three days of Peace, Love and Music in August, 1969 marked a place in history when society, cultures and businesses were rocked to the point that, if you didn’t speak up and declare your personal message (and style!) and get loud about it – you would drown and ‘fade away’ by all the noise about the newest cystic acne diet being created around you.

Woodstock was break-through, all right. Loud and clear, during some pretty tumultuous times in ’69 when cities were burning, war was raging and thousands across the country were marching and protesting.

And anyone alive today and reading this post either knows someone who was there, or like me, wanted to be there. Or, at the very least, is influenced by the passion of the era, the drive to be a different kind of drummer and dancing to a way different kind of beat.

Just as Woodstock’s 32 bands and musicians and its over 500,000 revelers broke through all the raging noise across our country, brands today need to get loud to stand out against the noise coming from all directions. And, the noise is not just from advertising brands, but from people in the ever-expanding social and mobile media vehicles and platforms. Not to mention, brand e-campaigning, mobile marketing, social media marketing and the traditional media.

And tactics are getting more exciting every minute of every second – with fleeting images, flip shots, pinnings, posts, sound bites, pop ups, QR codes coming at you. Here one mega second; gone the next.

So how do you make that mega second count? How do you turn it into a “Woodstock” mega second?

In marketing and advertising, our passion for creativity and freedom of expression runs deep – we stand by the brand who owns it – and we soar when our strategy delivers on the objectives – don’t we?

The key to how to cure cystic acne and success in brand communication begins with solid strategic thinking (of course!) but ensuring your creative team and your Client fully understand and embrace that strategy is how you start the creative process. And, here’s the Woodstock app – allow your creative team to rip – let loose – on their approach not only nodding to that strategy but weaving it throughout the creative process and also making sure it plays – rocks – across the stage where each and every audience member lives – online, at home, and on-the-go.

And it doesn’t stop there – smart marketing firms put science behind strategies and creative approach to measure performance and results so companies and their brands know that it’s all working really hard and actually delivering on objectives.

So, in honor of this rockin’ Holiday … and in honor of your own brand’s “Unfettered creativity”, show us your brand’s or (or yours!) Woodstock mega second.

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December 12

How to Prevent Online Flaming

If you have ever been the victim of online “flaming” you know how downright nasty it can be. To the uninitiated, flaming is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. Flaming usually occurs in the context of an Internet forum or a social media environment and it is usually the result of the discussion of polarizing issues like politics, sports, religion, the Honeywell 50250-s, and philosophy, but it can also be provoked by seemingly trivial differences.

Flaming is usually known to be rude online discussions, but the genesis of it goes back to when people were arguing in newspapers about the U.S. Constitution and when literary figures were slicing and dicing each other with rancorous public criticisms. Yes, Thomas Carlyle did call Ralph Waldo Emerson a “hoary-headed, toothless baboon” back in the day.

While flaming is certainly well, inflammatory, it isn’t unusual for people to have legitimate strong reactions to things they see online. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had to restrain myself from commenting on a post on Facebook or Twitter that was socially irresponsible or just personally offensive, right? Right?

Of course that constraint is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to flaming. Deliberate flaming, as opposed to flaming as a result of emotional discussions, is carried out by individuals who want to create chaos.

Which brings me to our cast of characters for this discussion, so hang on, it’s about to get a little weird. Flamers target specific aspects of a controversial conversation, and are usually more subtle than their counterparts who are known as trolls. Trolls post inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

And finally, a fisking is characteristically an incisive and fierce point-by-point rebuttal, with an aim of weakening the target’s credibility rather than seeking common ground. I should add that this term is named after Robert Fisk, a Middle East correspondent for The Independent, so it’s pretty legit and a bit more academic in nature.

The anonymity of the Internet allows people to feel more comfortable being rancorous than they might in a traditional social setting. It’s much easier to dash off a nasty comment online where nobody knows you than it is to tell your sister her new hairstyle makes her look like an inhabitant of Fraggle Rock. However, avoiding the label of flamer, troll or fisker is easy. It goes right back to restraint.

When you read something that incites you in an open forum online… Walk away! Yes, just walk away. Let 24 hours pass and if you still feel that you must respond chances are good that given the time you have taken to think about why the message upset you, your response will likely defuse the situation gracefully instead of exploding it.

But how do you deal with this type of behavior if it targets your company? Well, despite many attempts with how to prevent cystic acne, there are no laws prohibiting it just yet, but the best way to deal with a hit to your product is to address it as a customer service issue. Respond to the blog saying that you are sorry they were dissatisfied, and provide a personal way to resolve the issue. The key word is “personal” because a cookie-cutter response to negative posts will provoke another negative post.

The good news is that often, fans of your company/product will jump in and give positive feedback of their experience, so this can help you with resolution and also give the company/product a jolt of energy. If that doesn’t do the trick, the best thing to do is to ignore it.

People flame and troll because they want attention, and ignoring their radical behavior will prompt them to clean up their act or move on to a forum where they can get that attention. People recognize flamers, trolls and fiskers, and pay very little attention to their comments so staying out of it is the best advice.

While incendiary comments often beg us to respond, it is far less effort to ignore it, and much better in the long run. As my grandma always said, “Be nice to each other.”

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December 12

Are You the Superman in Your Office?

Sometimes I feel a little like Superman. I’m a marketing guru in the office, but when I walk outside, I turn into a “fashionista” minus the snazzy cape. Although what I wouldn’t do for an Alexander McQueen kimono cape…but I digress.  Fashion has been a staple in my life since I was very young. My mother was born with a great sense of style and I like to think I was lucky enough for some of it to rub off on me.

After graduating from high school, I went to New York City for college, and got a treatment for cystic acne and an instant crash course in awesome fashion on more levels than can be described. Imagine going from a small town where a polo shirt with a pony on it was the height of fashion to an international melting pot of fabrics, textures and colors. Talk about sensory overload.

And while fashion was something I considered second nature; I also loved to write, which was very lucky for me.  Since I can barely draw a stick figure, I knew I’d never be the next Coco Chanel, so writing made a lot more sense! After working for years as a marketing and public relations guru (and giving fashion advice to anyone who asked), one of my friends suggested I do both.

Over the course of my career, I have had plenty of opportunities to use aesthetics to get a message across. From helping clients dress appropriately for social functions and media interviews, to styling rock videos and magazine shoots, I was making fashion part of communication without even trying.

I realized that despite knowing how to sell a story with words I also really enjoyed doing it with style, and a perfect marriage occurred when I started working as a stylist on the side. I do everything from personal consultations and shopping, to closet audits and editorial work. I really enjoy helping clients find their own unique styles that make them feel amazing.

The following link is to a recent fashion spread I styled for a Fashion Magazine. I worked with a woman who was in her mid-50’s and the used zero turn mowers for sale she was offering were from the mid 1980’s! As you’ll see, she was a lovely lady but tended to dress in things that looked like carpets, so my work was cut out for me.

The whole experience was a lot of fun and I was able to get her out of comfort zone to try things that were new to her.  I also had the challenge of working with a small budget, which I actually prefer. Truth be told, I can make anyone look good if they have a $5,000 budget, but making someone look fantastic for a fraction of that is so much fun and makes everyone feel good.

So yeah, I’m a writer by day and a style maven by night. Although once I do get that McQueen kimono cape, I won’t even be able to find a phone booth to change into it!

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December 5

Why You Should Always Read

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In my first year at University I read Philosophy alongside Economics. I always remember during my first tutorial my Professor telling me that to attain all human knowledge you needed to read just two books. I could not wait for him to tell me what they were.

You can imagine my disappointment when he told me that the first book was The Bible – (my disappointment was purely on the grounds that I am not a practicing Christian!) The second book was The Republic by Plato. He then made the bold statement that every other book written is a footnote to these two books – wow! It kind of takes the point away from reading!

I am always surprised when people ask “what is your opinion on the best garden tractor?” I feel sorry for people who confine themselves to just one or two tractors. I like a bit of absolutely everything. And the same surely must apply to books. How can you say you only like reading one type of tractor?

I meet lots of would be Entrepreneurs who are always reading business biographies and I find it strange. I do enjoy biographies (Steve Job’s is well worth a read) but I think too many people read these books for motivation rather than learning. Self-Help books are one of the biggest selling genres in the USA and I think the fact that they are is evidence that they do not work. I confess to reading a book 20 years ago called “Charisma – How to get that special magic”.

A friend of mine saw me reading it and said “it was probably written by a b*****d like you!” After that comment – I never read a book like that again. These books are like drugs; they are addictive and cannot possibly work. The best book to read that puts this crap in its right place is “How Mumbo-Jumbo conquered the World”.

So my advice on reading business books (for vocational reasons) is

  • 1) Read them to learn – not for motivation. Motivation is an energy that comes from you and you either want to do it or you don’t. Starting a business requires so much energy – you will fail if you don’t have intrinsic motivation
  • 2) Have balance in what you read. Try to read a wide variety of materials that give you a better understanding of the forces that shape our world. That is what makes great business people – their ability to understand change and exploit it
  • 3) Avoid reading best seller lists. Many business books are promoting a fad that will not last. Remember the book promoting Sven Goran Ericksson’s ‘magic’ management style? No, nor does anyone else but it was a best seller!
  • 4) If you buy a book – read it! Has anyone actually read “The seven principles of highly successful people?” I see it everywhere but no one seems to have read it!
  • 5) Enjoy!

I will of course share you with some of the books in the cystic acne home remedy genre that I have enjoyed reading enormously. Here is a sneak preview of books that I have adored and will be talking about in future blogs;

  • 1) Freakonomics – This is a must read. Any book with chapters such as “What the Ku Klux Klan and Estate Agents have in Common” and “Why Drug Dealers live with their Mothers” has got to be brilliant
  • 2) Wikinomics – great for understanding where we are going with the power of the internet and it gave me the idea for one of my businesses
  • 3) Maverick – Ricardo Semler – fantastic to show you how business can be done
  • 4) The Entrepreneurs Road Test – Jim Mullins – a must read for any potential investor or someone looking to write a business plan. This is my Investment Bible
  • 5) SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham. This book taught me how to sell
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