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What a Jersey Girl Thinks About Sandy

Photo: Nick Harris

Simply Talk Media is a New Jersey company, so of course we were affected by Hurricane Sandy. We were rather lucky that we lost power for just a few days. Actually, it was a good excuse to clean our refrigerators, though I’m convinced that my wine fridge is now not working properly.

Thus, I’ve been able to focus on the coverage of the storm and its lasting impact. I grew up on the Jersey shore, so the devastation is very personal. I’ve been impressed with what people are doing to help out those who’ve lost their homes. There have been numerous food and clothing drives, and many have volunteered time to help clean up. In fact, I’m proud to say that my own son is giving up his Thanksgiving break from college to help with Hurricane relief.

Here are a few of my observations of the storm coverage and conversation:

The role of the public library. I wrote a guest post for the New Jersey State Library (also a client) about how social media was critical for staying informed during the storm and how public libraries became refuges.

Best digital and social practices. Over at Biznology, where I’m a regular contributor, I looked at how digital media marketing was used during the storm by governments and the utilities.

Regional dialect differences, even within the state: One internet meme included a photo with this statement overlaid: “We don’t ‘go to the beach,’ we ‘go down the shore.’ Like if you understand what we mean.” For a shore girl, this is the difference between feeding the seagulls and shooing them away. I lived at the beach, so I never went ‘down the shore.’ As a native, though, this meme spoke volumes about how much the Jersey shore means to anyone who has spent time there: Tourists love the shore and are willing to support and restore it. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your help.

Misplaced blame. Now that immediate danger is past, as well as the presidential election, it has been fascinating to watch the rhetoric. The New Jersey governor is being vilified by his own party for excessively praising the president. While the hurricane was bad luck for Romney, effectively neutering his campaign just days before the election, the Christie-Obama lovefest didn’t cause a loss at the polls. It’s pretty simple: Romney’s campaign strategy was off throughout the entire campaign. He failed to attract large demographic groups that turned out to be pivotal to a win. That’s a messaging problem, not a NJ governor problem.

I’ve been lukewarm about Christie since he campaigned for governor. While I’ve always appreciated his passion for defending our oft-maligned state, I disagree with many of his positions, and initially I resented his attitude. I’m not sure if he’s learning how to direct that attitude more appropriately, or if I’ve simply become used to him. Either way, he doesn’t have that “bull in a china shop” appearance anymore, although where Obama is concerned, I’m sure the GOP would disagree.

What our nation needs now is bipartisanship. I get the feeling that Christie has recognized that earlier than the rest of the party.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Christie’s drive-by at SNL, it’s well worth the watch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Evolving Brand

One of the pleasures of owning my own business is that I can infuse some of my own personality into my company’s brand. That’s what I tried to do initially when I created the Simply Talk Media name and design. Here is part of what I was thinking:

  • I like to talk, and just don’t get it when others stay silent. Most of the time, staying quiet is a poor communications strategy. So many misunderstandings could be avoided if companies reached out to the media and their stakeholders and just started talking.
  • I’ve got a water personality: Creative, adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Curious. Imaginative. Buoyant, yet tough. Sand in my shoes kind of girl. Plus, I just like water images – or anything to do with beaches, boats or oceans.
  • I love technology, and I’ve been in it for a lot longer than today’s Gen X or Y’ers. I’m eager to test out the latest gadget or app. Digital is in my blood.
  • I’m a people person and I genuinely like to meet new people and to help others make connections. This makes me very good at networking and influencing outcomes.

The first two attributes found their way into my brand initially. And while the name works, I came to realize that the water images just confused people. And, you see, clear communication is more important to me than an abstruse idea. What’s more, I lost a couple of tech companies as potential clients because they didn’t view me as having a technology background.

When I sat down with the Web design team at HG Media, I challenged them to create a look for my brand that articulated these personality attributes a bit more clearly. As always in this process, we went through several iterations, which I’ll share next week. Check back and I’ll tell you more.

 

 

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Anatomy of a Redesign

Believe it or not, Simply Talk Media has passed the first year mark of being in business. This Web site followed on the heels of the LLC. For many reasons (some of which are listed below), we’re due for a rebranding.

Simple Talk this week: Rebranding

Within the next few days, this will all look different. In the meantime, we’re going to speed you through our journey of the last couple of months, a time where you may (or may not) have noticed that we’ve been on hiatus. Lots of work, though, has been going on behind the scenes.

Simply Talk Media is emerging as a different kind of business than what I’d originally envisioned. First of all, let me say that my vision was sort of murky. Like any new entrepreneur, this last year has been all about:

  • Finding out who I am
  • Deciding who I want to be
  • Making a lot (A LOT) of mistakes
  • Understanding who my customer is
  • Getting to know my customer
  • Defining how I can help

Initially, here’s what I thought the market for Simply Talk Media might be:

  • A social media consultancy
  • For small business
  • And perhaps nonprofits
  • Oh, and startups too
  • And yeah, corporates. I’ve done a lot of corporate work.

And what could we do for this market?

  • We’d focus on developing, but not executing, social media strategy (because everyone loves to use Facebook, right?)
  • Oh, but, if you need us to write copy – blogs for example – we can do that too.
  • And media relations. Yeah, we can do that.
  • A full blown marketing and communications strategy? No problem.
  • Sure, we can edit news (those are our roots).

So the last year has been spent in experimentation. But now, we’re ready to say what Simply Talk Media can do and for whom. Check back tomorrow soon to find out what we decided.

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Augmented Reality Brings Marketing to Life

Augmented reality is the next stop on the high-speed tech train. AR embeds information into images from the world around you. Focus your phone camera on a book cover, and Amazon’s Flow app will show you a description and allow you to buy it direct from Amazon.com.

Yes, I know, the book’s in front of you, so it seems silly, but imagine how you might use this for larger objects or photos of items for sale in the newspaper. Or perhaps that cute pair of shoes your friend is wearing.

Stella Artois’s Le Bar app allows you to point your phone down a city street and find all the bars serving its beer.

In this TED Talks video, Matt Mills of Aurasma demonstrates how his AR app can bring inanimate objects to life. He points out some compelling uses in education and customer service – for example, setting up your router, and for reading the newspaper. Point your camera at a sports photo and it instantly animates into the latest video coverage.

It’s easy to imagine AR’s utility in marketing and PR. A wealth of information can be attached to buildings, people, places, objects, images and more. That information can include one-click purchasing, product information, client testimonials, reviews and so much more.

It’s worth noting that much of this can be accomplished with QR codes, but AR will likely streamline the process (no need to create a QR code) and make the information more easily accessible. After all, your friend’s cute pair of shoes wouldn’t be as cute if they were stamped with a QR code.

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Big, Fast Info Means Clever, Fast PR & Marketing

How much information is created every day? Zettabytes. At least. I’m not sure when we’ll reach yottabytes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened in my lifetime.

If it hasn’t happened already.

Every minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. So in some ways, it’s not surprising that YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news. A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that citizens are responsible for posting original videos of news events – more than one-third of the most-watched videos. Remember that YouTube is the #2 search engine. Talk about an opportunity for real-time PR.

But being fast isn’t enough. You need to be clever as well. Otherwise, how will you stand out among all this data?

If you just can’t visualize what that amount of data might look like, this infographic can help. Paris, here I come.

A Day in the Internet
Created by: MBAOnline.com

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The Science of Viral Videos

It’s Friday, so what better topic to discuss than viral videos. For digital media marketers, understanding the science behind this type of content is vital. Forty-eight hours worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. How do you get noticed?

In this TED Talk, YouTube’s Trends Manager, Kevin Allocca reveals the reasons that a video goes viral: Tastemakers, Communities of Participation, and Unexpectedness.

What’s surprising about all of his examples is that none of them went viral overnight. In many cases, the videos were uploaded months before they became popular.

So, digital media marketers, you must be patient.

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Content Marketing Is Not New

This is an entirely fun infographic about content marketing, compliments of the Content Marketing Institute. Think content marketing is new? Not really…


 History of Content Marketing Infographic

Like this infographic? Get more
content marketing
information from the
Content Marketing Institute.

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How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Blog More Often

It’s New Year’s, and you’ve resolved to blog more often. Here are some tips to make it happen.

  • Resolve to keep it short (300 words or less).
  • Use bullets. They make it easy for people to read your posts anyway.
  • Develop an editorial calendar. Brainstorming ahead of time makes the writing easier.
  • Write all your posts for the week on Sunday afternoon, and then set them up in your blogging software. Then it’s a simple matter of hitting the publish button.
  • Do you always seem to get an idea for a great post whenever you don’t have the laptop nearby? Use your phone to record your thought, either by leaving yourself a voicemail or using a recording app.

How do you handle writer’s block? Here are some good fallbacks:

  • Review a book.
  • Provide how-to tips (like this one).
  • Use a video recorder and interview a customer or employee.
  • Or take that same video recorder, and offer three tips or observations on your area of expertise from fun and unique locations (three tips on social media from inside a taxi).
  • Riff off a recent news item.
  • Write a case study.
  • Create a top 10 list (like Letterman; it can be serious or funny).

Let me know if blogging is one of your New Year’s resolutions and how you plan to meet the challenge.

Diane Thieke is working on her 2012 editorial calendar. Tell her what you’d like to read about in this space. You can find her on Twitter at @thiekeds.

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Digital Media Marketing and Privacy Protection in the Age of Big Data

There it was again: the expression of fear that we’re in danger of losing our online privacy. I hear gasps popping like bubbles around the room, which is filled with students learning the secrets of digital media marketing. Actually, I think to myself, we lost our online privacy a very long time ago.

Yesterday, Nick Bilton of the New York Times came to the same realization (he must not have kids or have attended the New Jersey State Police’s talk about children and internet security). His Bits Column, Disruptions: Privacy Fades in Facebook Era, demonstrates how easy – and fast – it is to uncover someone’s identity online.

I’m a bit of an early adopter, and loss of online privacy has me less freaked out than some of my peers. It doesn’t mean that I like it. It’s just that I realized long ago that the train had left the station in the middle of the night, when we were all sleeping.

I saw the future of privacy a little more than 15 years ago, when a public records vendor came to pitch its product to our business development team. The rep plugged my name into the database. Just my name, nothing else.

Up popped all of the places I’d previously lived, the names of all my current neighbors, their telephone numbers, and what they paid for their homes. But  the connections it made unnerved me: it linked me not just to all the members in my family, but also to a relative’s ex-husband and all of his family. And they’d divorced 10 years earlier.

Those details were unwittingly served up by all of us when we applied for mortgages and purchased homes. They’re a matter of public record, under law.

Today, our details become public for a variety of reasons. The new culture of sharing is one. More sophisticated technology is another. Every time you scan a bar code at the grocery store, visit a web site, read an article, or listen to a song, it’s possible for it to become part of your personal profile. The era of big data is here.

In some ways, I think this is great. Obviously it’s wonderful for marketers, who have a better chance of finding precisely the right audience for their product. But big data used responsibly can be great for consumers too. Personally, I want a filter. Show me ads that are relevant to my interests: the latest Apple toys and deals at Target, not Budweiser beer or hunting rifles.

As a digital media marketer, however, I need to walk that ever-thinning line between effective marketing and privacy breach. I want enough data to target my buyers with high-value content, but I also don’t want to violate their trust.

There are organizations, like EPIC (which is behind the FTC’s settlement with Facebook), that fight for safeguards. But marketers and technologists also must take a lead in developing policies and technologies that protect privacy. After all, we all suffer and benefit from these vast stores of “personal” intelligence.

Diane Thieke is now posting furiously on Facebook about her three kittens, in the hopes that Purina will send her some good bargains on ProPlan. Follow her at @thiekeds.

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