Friday, August 31, 2007

Today is BlogDay

What IS blogday?
  • BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.
The site suggests that we mention 5 blogs that deviate from our own blog subject theme and in a thought-provoking manner:
  1. Kanardo
  2. HispanicTrending
  3. EggLog
  4. Mashable
  5. AllDayBuffet
There ya go. Happy Blog Day. Blog oN!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

art of dialogue

Not too long ago, I watched the movie Interview with Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi. I'd rate it about a 3 of 5, interesting to watch but so-so in terms of entertainment value. It make me think about asking questions and engaging someone in a dialogue; How, if you ask bad questions, the respondent will most likely give a bad answer.

I like reading interviews. I like seeing how the question is presented and watching the ellipses in thought or that emotion in language unfold in reaction to a stimulating question. (check out Interview Magazine if you're into this too) There is a certain art to engagement. Maybe this is nothing new for you smarty-pants interviewers out there, but for some people (you don't know who you are) there is a reason that a question needs to be asked in a certain way if you want a good answer. NPR did a story called "The Art of the Interview" that detailed ESPN's awareness of low-profile, sucky interviews. "We weren't capturing moments," says the SVP.

Capturing moments is what art seeks to do. I like that. I like the awareness it calls to the situation. Photography captures moments. It's neat to think of interviews trying to do the same thing, but really it's all about information being available in the present moment in such a way that you have an "ah ha" moment of enlightenment and growth.

I'd like to create advertising that does the same sort of thing; advertising that makes the audience go "oh...I never thought of that before" or "hmm...that makes me think blah blah blah." The art of engagement. We know it's there. Seek to attain the status, and I think we'll be handsomely rewarded with "moments" that are unique.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

add stuff to your portfolio time...

Wandering around the internet this weekend, I found two ways to get your mind thinking AND possibly add work to your planning portfolio:
  1. Planning for Good, a relatively new Facebook group has posted a brief for an Idea Village in New Orleans. Take a stab at it here, brief provided.
  2. Account Planning School of the Web, originally created by planning celeb Russell Davies, is now being handled by Gareth at Brand New. The current assignment is for Mr. Clean, brief provided with project due date here.
It's Idea Time: Go! Have fun!

PSFK Conference in Los Angeles

You should never underestimate the power of one person who seeks to effect positive change in the world but...you should really never ever underestimate a group of people gathered around a theme of innovation and inspiration who want to spark change.

Just think if Massive Change (Bruce Mau) and Cool Hunting had a kid > Presto, you've got PSFK. With these two metaphorical parents, PSFK seeks to inspire innovation with trend reports and creative captures.

And the kid's having a party! Well...a conference for adult kids in the City of Angels (thanks Roseanna) in September, who's going to be there?
It promises to pull your brain in different directions. Interested?
Check out it out at psfk.com. And here's an event widget I made at Going.com: Click on it to show your support!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

enough already, Write!

I've been in a writing funk since relocating to New York. I really thought my blogging was going to take off in full force once I was here. I was sadly un-aware that my environment had so much to do with my ability to focus on content quality. I thought all I needed was the thoughts.

It's not that I don't want to write or that I don't have anything to write about; it's more that "finding the time" hasn't moved itself to the priority list with get a job, find friends, settle into a living situation, etc. My life is chaotic and it's ironic that I can't find time to do the one thing that settles my mind. It's time to take control of my mind and harness it's power to focus on a path. So with a little help from Scott Berkun and his tips for writing, my goal is to get back into the swing of things.

start with a word: PR, Public Relations

write about writing: PR is something I want to figure out. It's in the realm of communications, I can't be too far off from comprehending HOW, WHAT or WHY in relation to the topic.

have a conversation: working on a blog-PR project right now, I shared my anxious reaction with a friend who was in total agreement with my take on the duty: It's like you're bugging people to pay attention to your topic; really intrusive, etc. But isn't this how some people view advertising? (yes) Thinking along these lines, I should be able to get the hang of PR. It's messaging and every message needs an audience, blah blah blah.

read/talk about/find something you hate: I thought about all of the Spam I get in my inboxes-these solicitations are very irritating. How is PR different? Hmmm...

warm up with something motivating: "All we can hope is that more people in the [PR] profession realize that it's about relationships and not pitches or target audiences." Ok, I've got my feet somewhat wet in the relationship/online department with blogs and whatnot, so using these relationships to network a message should be doable. (quote via Hyku) And actually now that I think about it, the way I currently think about PR is just an attitude which is changeable. :)

Ok, I'm ready to write. For other writing tips check out Berkun's blog (he goes on to recommend running and drinking whiskey). Cheers!

Friday, August 24, 2007

quote at Anomaly

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists

quote from Anomaly's wall. see you Monday ~

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

consumer generated content



We give them advertising and they give us:
#1 - "Whores"
#2 - Child: "Help" Father: "This is turning me on."
#3 - notice the line drawn on the tennis player, or maybe Chase bank wanted to emphasize the buttocks...?

Then there's this link to Blograffiti. The images drawn are repulsive & disgusting. Who draws these and why doesn't Blograffiti say anything about it?

I don't have much to say about this point, merely to note it and draw attention to the other side of cgc - the one where they add their thoughts to a message v. creating their own. I guess in a world of messages everyone's looking to make their mark (literally). In an industry that emphasizes "engagement" these days, I don't think this is quite what we're going for. :p

Saturday, August 18, 2007

my world: overhead in New York

(preface: this is my version as opposed to the actual online community if you didn't know about it already.)

"What's wi-fi?" - employee in Carroll Gardens cafe

"He asked me to be his Myspace friend..." - 25+ something girl on cellphone in Brooklyn

"This is like a pop-culture museum." - 20-something guy about Simpson's 7-11 in Midtown

"I'm a super-freak, super-freak, I'm super-freaky" - three street-men , dancing at 8a in the West Village, it was awesome and should be picked up for a music video asap!

"Art doesn't kill." - 75+ teacher at the School for Visiaul Arts, having a conversation about art & politics at a bar in SoHo

"Shoes, that was the 80s. Today, it's iPods." - NYPD talking to me about safety and theft

a dialogue takes many forms

In museums, there is a language that goes on between each piece of art. It's something I hadn't really thought of before until I read an article about Carmen Gimenez, a curator for modernist sculpture.

Designing a show or museum exhibit requires a vision for how the artwork will communicate from piece to piece. There is a language here: "Sculpture is a very spatial idea. When you build a museum you need to think about sculpture. It needs space. All in their own space, they aren't mixed at all, but they are in dialogue."

It made me think of a museum curator as a planner: setting up the creative brief as a tool to stimulate possibilities. A brief should not mandate and focus on only one path. It should open up the room for creative dialogue and let the reader/viewer/user take their own journey.

Gimenez works in the Guggenheim Museum, a beautiful building by Frank Lloyd Wright. "The whole museum becomes a situation," she says, "there are many possibilities for dialogue." Her exhibit Shapes of Space is on exhibit through September 5.

Friday, August 17, 2007

sacrifice for a job

I went to the NY likemind meeting this am > if you haven't been to one yet, please mark it for next month. John (met this morning) put it best: it's a place where you meet people you want to hang out with; planners are people you like to meet. :)

At likemind, the conversations are never forced; they're organic and real and creative. You leave feeling a world of possibility is at your fingertips. Thanks Piers & Noah.

I also met the girl behind the blog TheEightFold. She has had to make an important career/life decision that involves her incredibly thoughtful blog: Keep a blog or accept a job that the blog played a key role in obtaining. Makes me think about this blog and others. There a ton of planners with blogs who have both: a job and a blog. I see a blog as an opportunity to share and develop ideas. A blog is a new way of interacting with the cultural landscape. This is a landscape that a company may want to have a window onto instead of a playground within. I'm not sure which one works better in the long run, but I would be sad not to blog. Blog on!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What are Windorphins?

I don't know what the campaign's presence is outside of New York, but for those of you in the city, I'm sure you've seen the colorful characters on the subways by now. These characters are called Windorphins.

They're like endorphins only they don't come from exercise, they come from eBay-ercise. Weird, right? The campaign itself (all print for what I've seen) makes no mention of eBay. Subway passengers can sit in front of the campaign for 30+ minutes but unless they're active consumers (enter % of active v passive consumers here) they won't follow up at home to actually see where windorphins.com takes them. And further more, in a city of distractions everywhere, New York is not really the place to try and firmly cement curiosity and hope that it peaks hours later when you're in front of your computer.

Random guy Frank is an avid eBay user in NY. He brings his laptop to a wifi area and peruses it consistently while he does other things: drinking beer, having a conversation, talking on the phone. He is familiar with the campaign: "oh yeah, I've seen those in the subway, they're cute." I asked Frank if he knew they were associated with eBay: "No. Really? Weird." There you go client/advertiser/whoever you are. Yay creatives but where's the communications planning?

I did a little web research and this is what I found:
Objective: increase brand fun factor
Tactics: make your own windorphin chracter at ebay.com
Results: increased awareness for Windorphins, connection to eBay is up for discussion
Consumer Behavior: windorph mania here Windorph
Make your own Windorph

Monday, August 13, 2007

Think.Innovate.Do.


For my 100th post (and the crowd goes wild!), I'd like to share one of my planning mantras > maybe it will spark something new OR just pave the path for the next 100; whatever it's role, this is it:
  • Think ~ do the research, consider everything, gather all of the information, don't act hastily, take the time to process it all, plan.
  • Innovate ~ ask the right questions, push yourself and others to think outside the box, find the opportunities.
  • Do ~ be relevant with your strategy and approachable with your tactics, make your ideas actionable.
After reading reviews of the 4As Planning Conference (Piers, John, Gareth), the cloudy aftermath seems to be about these three words but in one word: activism. Give it a digital spin, and you've got social networking activism with an objective to do some green (by green, I mean for the betterment of society) thinking for mankind. Bruce Mau no doubt had something to do with this twist. Maybe his heroic optimism for the future of planning and design made the ad people with dollar signs in their eyes feel a pang of guilt. Maybe we're at the tipping point and the Earth has finally reached us with a call for help that's audible to our Gmail eyes and our iPod ears.

I don't want to get wrapped up in preachy paper, just wanted to put some words down here at post #100 to make note of when this came onto planning's radar and who's part of the conversation. I'm eager to see where we take this insight. Think. Innovate. Do.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

creative possibilties and ideas

are endless at a Museum! Go to one NOW! This post comes after going to Target FREE Friday at the MoMA with my friend Kent (copywriter in training).

First of all, if you're not into crowds do not, repeat DO NOT go on Free Fridays. The place is swarming with people. There is no sidewalk to follow, no path you should take. It's chaos! It's like Pamplona and the running of the bulls only they have cameras and children. There's no set pace; everyone's moving in their own directions at their own speed. I wondered if there's ever been any studies done on crowd movement within museums. What I found:
  • something called adaptive movement behaviors
  • the Crowd Farm by two MIT students hoping to harness energy from human movement
and not much else. Hmmm...seems that "movement science" as defined for human physical and mechanical movements should/could be applied to crowd flow. It could help us determine factors that contribute to movement, blah blah blah. Architects and structural engineers probably have to consider this sort of thing: where should we put the stairs? how do we position the escalators? I think there's a difference between walking on a sidewalk and moving around a museum. I see an opportunity here for research or maybe I just haven't found it.

Weird fact: You can take pictures (no flash) of the permanent art collections in the MoMA but not the temporary exhibits. Yeah, you can take pictures but you can't point at the art (bringing your finger inches from the canvas). Miss Pointy here got reprimanded several times with "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" Nothing. I'm pointing. Those people are taking pictures in a museum.

Next thing that occurred to me was the potential for copywriters to exercise their skills with "Untitled" works of art. When I moved from Ringaround Arosie to Sleeping Gypsy to Untitled I became irked by the lack of name. Like, come on, if there are blank boards titled The Twin and The Tree, surely you can name a sculpture of three pillars and some mysteriously hanging balls (Magic, Storm, and Horizon come to mind). Anyway, I see this as a campaign opportunity for copywriters. Maybe they could pair up with artists who don't want to spend the time titling their work. But then we have to ask: What's in a name? Google returns 261 million websites for the question: ranging from "What's your Viking Name?" to "What's your Spammer name?" Sounds like quiz time to me.

Lastly, when Kent and I came to the Sleeping Gypsy (above), he interpreted it as pre-feast for the lion: "That lion's ready to tear her apart." I interpreted it as lion curiosity: "The lion is just checking things out, saying hello to another being in the desert way of life." He was shocked that I would have such a contrast in perception. But I think our interpretations say more about who we are rather than what we're looking at.

These ideas & observations are open to YOUR interpretation. Feel free to comment. Have a great Sunday.

Where did you take your insight?

This is a question I've been asked many times in interviews. It takes a bit of thinking (that in an interview might be an awkward pause) so take some time now to map it out:
  • what is your insight?
What was the gold nugget that set your creative work (supposing your showing a portfolio) in motion? Don't get stressed out about it, this is where planning should be simple in nature. An insight is an "ah ha" or "that's it" moment. Just know where and why your conversation happened: what the problem was and how your insight addressed it.
  • where did it come from?
  • research you did
  • questions you asked

What did you do to support and develop your insight? Was it a conversation with your creatives or fellow planners? Was it research-based? Jen M (a fellow planner) told me there are two kinds of planners: Madness and Meticulous. Madness planners are all over the place, gathering culture here, talking about it there. Meticulous planners are all about the #s and research: based on this study, we know that blah blah blah. I want to point out that neither of these answers is right v. wrong. Don't think that because you didn't do any research that you're insight isn't insightful. Just be conscientious of how you grounded your gold nugget.
  • where you did you take your insight? > Strategy
  • how did you make it actionable? > tactics
Easier said than done, I know. Christopher Owens, from The Richards Group, broke it down for us. An example:

Insight - I feel unhealthy
Objective - lower stress levels
Strategy - go on vacation
Tactics - visit South Beach, fly JetBlue, leave Sunday

Just do some thinking before you throw some bomb creative work on the table and say "look what I did." We all need to know how we got there and why our specific solution makes the most sense.

dar! drat! er! ugh! Argh!

























WHAT am I doing?! I'm SO busy that I can't post more than one day a week?! I'm f'n lazy. No, I'm just scatterbrained since I moved here. I need to get into a blog rhythm. I'm sorry blog buddies & readers, had to get that out... here are some pictures to make up for my absence:
  1. The Apartment is a design agency located in SoHo. I really liked their entrance.
  2. I'm a big fan of signs. I think a lot of planners are.
  3. I was very lucky to happen upon one of the renovated 7-11s for the Simpson's Movie on 42nd in Midtown. I saw the movie afterward: Hilarious! Check it out.
  4. Monday 8.6, PSFK sent me to the Sony Bravia shoot for "Clay."
Now, it's Sunday again: a day of rest for some, for others a day to get ready for the week to come, for me a day to dump all my brain feathers into a space that might make them more useful. I don't know what brain feathers are, but I'm thinking in terms of bubbles, tidbits, ideas and random musings: they're light, airy, fun to look at and touch. Blog on!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

different media habits for different generations

Looks like we ALL don't use media the same! What a surprise, right? It shouldn't be.
  • Millenials - embrace new tech like instant messaging, texting and uploading their own videos to the internet. They are at the forefront of the social networking and user-generated content trends.
  • Xers - embrace digital video recorders and are the most likely group to watch TV-shows online.
  • Boomers - browse the web the most, still read newspaper and care about local news and weather content.
  • Matures - use the web for personal use and make frequent online purchases. They care about national and world news content in addition to financial information.

how to have a conversation


In this age of conversation, it might be nice to evaluate the pieces that contribute to this art form. I just finished Plato's Symposium, and for anyone who hasn't read it, it is the ultimate conversation book. The topic is Love, but on a larger scale, the topic is discourse. Read it and learn. I will now take this post as an opportunity to expand on what Richard said a couple weeks ago: "great dialogues start with a passionate monologue."

When I came to New York, my roommate gave me some interview advice: Make statements rather than ask questions. Say what? It's important to have a point of view. Someone else told me, "It's easier to react to a statement than answer a question." Interesting.

So when a brand (new or old) comes into the market and starts spouting brand speak, this and that, shouting deals or mantras, or whatever, think about it. If the brand wasn't opinionated or didn't have a point of view, it would be neutral in a sense. And of all things, neutral is certainly not engaging by nature.

To conclude, I'll give you a rough idea of how to have a proper discussion via Plato and his buddies:
  1. fill everyone's cup with wine and refill as necessary
  2. set a topic for the evening and lay the ground with some established definitions
  3. start on the left, do not speak out of turn, and only speak your pov when the person is finished entirely with their own pov
  4. borrow snippets from each speaker to show respect for each and to also help make your point more relevant
  5. sound as wise as possible (i.e. have a point of view and speak with conviction).

stage-setting for your message


Call it a messaging environment. Call it a context. The message you (as a planner) have decided is the most important to communicate, needs a world to belong to.

This is where a manifesto can play a huge role, or a tonal board, brand film or brand book. These tools have been created (most likely by planners) to give a big picture personality and tone to their message.

Found this about context & meaning from the book Beyond Buzz, some examples of context:
  • "fast-food companies talking about their products and values in the context of healthy eating
  • car makers talking about hybrid vehicles in the context of being less dependent on gas and being better stewards of the environment
  • insurance providers talking about long-term care in the context of aging and health care policy.
  • Today, public policy is framed in the context of security and the war against global terrorism.
  • As you can see, marketing anything requires explaining ideas within people’s existing frames of reference–that is, in a context they already understand.”
A term you'll hear a lot these days is Brand Relevance: making brands seamlessly fit within a consumer's lifestyle so that all elements of the marketing mix make sense to both the brand and to the consumer. It is largely the planner's responsibility to make this relationship seem effortless and simple.

Here in New York, there's a lot of developing going on in the departments for experiential marketing and digital strategy. Both of these are so distinguished because they're disciplines built around the importance of the user's experience, the messaging environment and brand relevance. Planners, get your fingers in this dirt!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Consumer Reviews

Research done by Spendallyourmoneyhere-Mart says:
  • 80% of shoppers have more trust in brands that feature reviews and that 75% of shoppers say it's extremely or very important to read customer reviews before making a purchase. Peer reviews are preferred over expert reviews by a margin of 6 to 1. (adagemobile)
Stick this in the back of your mind and take a trot around the internet. More companies these days are welcoming customer feedback (not Sprint) and are creating online platforms for user reviews. Yelp.com is fast-emerging as user-friendly and fun.
  • Yelp is part social network, part localized review site - think Facebook meets Zagat - and it's fast becoming the web's gift to small business.
  • When we discover something wonderful (or horrible), we love to tell our friends about it. We also turn to people we trust when we need a good recommendation. Yelp is enabling those conversations to happen on a massive scale. (money.cnn.com)
Yelp is quickly blending the boarders between a consumer review site (amazon, consumerreports, or epinions) and a social networking function (myspace & facebook). Web browsers (I'm referring to the people) are of course looking for convenience online as well as off. If a site can provide information as well as community, then it's good to go > or at least live on someone's toolbar for a while.

The question on companies' lips is: Will social networking sites make people buy more products? Answer: No, via Jupiter Research. But maybe the question should be: Will social networking sites make my products better, in turn creating greater customer love and loyalty? Answer: Yes.
  • “Your customers are out there saying things about you, whether it’s on Yelp or on some blog. The faster you can fix problems, the better you’re going to do. Customer service is the new marketing.” (itbusinessedge)