May the hope of Christmas fill this season with joy and peace for each of you—our clients, readers and friends.
We are grateful for each one of you—our clients, friends and colleagues—and wish you a beautiful holiday season and a New Year filled with big ideas and fresh possibilities.
A company milestone—whether it's an anniversary or a major achievement—is a not-to-be missed opportunity to:
- Inspire more loyalty in your customers.
- Help employees become more purposeful and focused.
- Reinforce culture. Encouragement and increased sense of purpose is a great motivator.
- Improve employee engagement. Want to improve service or quality? Celebrate employee successes to reinforce the behaviors you prize.
- Make work more meaningful. Employees who are inspired by the grander purposes of their work will do better work and be more loyal.
- Reinforce brand messages. Been around 100 years? Talk about the ideas that made this milestone possible, and your vision for the future.
- Encourage high-level goals. Employees focus on the ideas leaders and organizations talk about.
- Make other necessary communications serve a dual purpose—like pairing the celebration message with a community benefit report or holiday greeting card, for example.
- Thank your customers, volunteers and the people who made you successful.
Need some inspiration? >>
This short video uses an anniversary to showcase how the organization benefits the community—while acknowledging the role of the community in the success. The message becomes “look what we did together” rather than “look what we did.”
A hospital’s deeply held values are brought to life and tied to the celebration message in this video.
This video recognizes employees, physicians and volunteers by showcasing White Memorial Medical Center’s employees sharing what it means to work there.
Combining a holiday message with a centennial message is a good way to stretch your marketing dollars—and stand out from those dull pre-printed greeting cards.
We chose to locate our business in the beautiful Walla Walla valley because we love it here. So when we had the chance to help our local Port of Walla Walla introduce this community to other prospective businesses, we were all in. We recommended developing a video for their social media channels and their Web page that would bring all the most compelling photos and messages about Walla Walla together—and would make prospective businesses take a second look at this little gem in southeastern Washington. While we worked with the Port to develop a strategic message, you can see how important the role of the photographs are in delivering that message—and how words alone wouldn’t do.
You tell us—did it work?
Living life with a grateful heart helps us soften the challenges life sends our way—and produces joy that isn’t tied to the moment’s circumstance. Today, we are thankful for our clients and our readers who continue to renew their trust in us. We wish you each a blessed Thanksgiving.
Looking to deliver more of your message electronically? Consider the following ways to extend the reach of your message:
- Mobile apps
- Digital outdoor boards
- Banner ads
Need some inspiration? >>
This mobile app for a national association was designed to reach policy makers and was paired with a video to deliver facts that refute common misconceptions about private colleges and universities. A mobile app is a good way to keep important information in the hands of your customers, as it can be deployed and updated quickly.
Sent via an email link, an e-card is a popular and affordable way to connect with your customers in a fresh way.
The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities put a fresh spin on their annual meetings invitation by commissioning this motion graphic—which was posted on their website and distributed via an email link.
Point-of-Purchase Electronic Boards
This revolutionary new business used a point-of-purchase electronic display to deliver brand messages.
Web Banner Ads
This hospital banner ad targeted specific customers and paired a holiday message with a subtle message of health—and linked viewers to their website.
Digital Outdoor Boards
This electronic outdoor board placed on well-travelled Los Angeles corridors increased awareness for this regional law firm.
In these beautiful images created by Taiwan design house JL Design and KORB, human motion is translated into digitally sculpted objects that look like steel and wood. Tuning in to this originality helps us see the beauty of life in new ways.
How would a time-lapse photo of your work today look?
Image Source: www.thisiscolossal.com
Testimonial videos—stories from real people—are a tried-and-true way to tell an organization’s story. But a poor video can actually hurt your image.
Here are nine things to watch for to ensure that your testimonial videos represent your company well:
- Camera bounce. Yes, in some reality-type videos this can work, but it’s like a sentence fragment. It should only be used intentionally.
- Inadequate lighting. Check for good skin tones and heavy shadows on faces.
- Uneven sound levels. Make sure the sound is at a consistent level, and clear and free of muffled background noises.
- Poor speaker appeal. Careless grooming and sloppy apparel detract from credibility, so be sure to tell your subjects what you expect before they show up for the filming.
- Poor framing. Tight crops help the viewer focus—while busy backgrounds can distract. A simple rule of thumb: Use only as much background as needed to help convey the story.
- Unprofessional editing. Avoid things like sloppy transitions, for example, that scream amateur.
- Lack of variety. Mix up the talking heads with graphics, still images and other techniques that break it up visually.
- Lagging momentum. Often, this is a result of not editing rigorously enough, so ask yourself if the content can be trimmed.
- Needless graphical treatments. Flying titles and flashy effects aren’t always an improvement, so use them with discretion, making sure that they support rather than distract from your testimonial.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor—such is my idea of happiness.”
―Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness
YouTube? Photo sharing? Social bookmarking? Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Let’s face it. Very few organizations have the resources to be all-in even the top five social media sites.
So what’s a business to do?
There’s one strategy that trumps all other social media strategies, and that’s this: the creation of relevant, fresh, quality content. Pure and simple. Social media is about sharing ideas that people find interesting, useful or entertaining. It doesn’t matter how many videos you post or how often you post on Facebook if you have nothing of importance to say.
So take a moment and set aside the angst about which social media options are right for you and ask yourself this one question: What content can we offer our readers that would make them want to come back for more?
Once that’s decided, you can more easily evaluate the various platforms to see which work best for your customers and your content.
Image Source: www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
We love words, but we also fear them. They have so much power, and so often are used carelessly.
In their best light, words can set off a new direction in a person’s life—can shape a company or lead a cause. At its worst, they can destroy. That’s why we are sharing this insightful Harvard Business Review article by Douglas Conant—Leaders, Choose Your Words Wisely.
In this powerful piece, Conant references seven memorable touchpoints that were life-altering for him—32 words total, 20 seconds of conversation total.
One might argue that those of us whose business it is to use words with care should hold ourselves to an even higher standard. But whether you’re a leader, a professional communicator, a friend or a parent, you have the chance to shape the life of another for the better with your words.
What life-changing words from leaders have you been shaped by?
We’re not going to say that print doesn’t still have an effective place in a business’s communication strategy, because it does. But we do believe that the tremendous increase in online content signals a continued shift to video as the consumers’ preferred method of receiving information.
So when should you choose print vs. video? Videos deliver messages better when:
- Web and social media is the distribution method of choice.
- You have a limited media buying budget.
- The product/service excels when showcased visually.
- You want to show how something works—rather than describe it.
- A personal connection will attract sales (customer testimonials, for example, or a health care provider who wants to build a practice).
- Adding music, voice and motion is needed to make the message more arresting.
- Your target audience is prone to online searches.
- A great video of your product or service will outshine your competitor.
- You want to reinforce key points quickly, and need the power of both audio and visual to deliver them.
- Your message can be entertaining.
In what areas of your life do you prefer to watch a video over reading the same material in print?
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
―Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Here’s a 20-minute exercise that can help you decide.
First, find the most successful competitor in your product category—and one outside of it.
Secondly, compare your visual brand elements to theirs:
- Your website.
- Your logo.
- Your communications—advertising, direct mail, videos, social media tools.
- Your signage.
- Your packaging.
Ask your team—and people outside of your company—how yours compares to the visual image of successful brands. Then think about whether the design of your communications is living up to your hopes for your brand.
It’s tempting to think that if what you do or make has engineering prowess, magnetic consumer allure, or is backed by the finest service—then consumers will buy and love your products. That they’ll pick your brand just because it’s better.
But regrettable as we may find this, in our aesthetically sophisticated world, consumers will have the last say. Good design that permeates every aspect of your brand from your communications to your product is a competitive advantage.
Absolutely. And with the tremendous growth in photo sharing, businesses should be looking for ways to make photos a competitive advantage.
Here’s what the data shows:
Not ready for Pinterest or Snapchat? Then check out your website, as a starting place, to see if your photos are reason to visit.
Image Source: www.kpcb.com Published May 2013
Rudeness in the workplace is up dramatically in the last 14 years, according to this Harvard Business Review podcast (click below to listen) by Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. And there’s reason to believe there’s a cost associated with it.
As professional communicators, we can help set a tone of civility in our corporate communications and by our own behavior. After all, good manners, at their best, aren’t about being stuffy or pretentious, but about being respectful of our fellow human beings. Living together in a home, community or nation means that our ideas and behaviors will inevitably impact those around us. Civility and common courtesy can act as a lubricant for social behavior—making life more pleasant for everyone.
I say it’s time we buck this trend, and decide that civility isn’t just good for corporations, it’s good for neighborhoods, communities and cities.
David Ogilvy, the iconic advertising maven and founder of Ogilvy & Mather, understood the power of good writing and knew how to inspire it. His classic book, Ogilvy on Advertising, is one of my favorites in the industry, and it has stood the test of time. For those aspiring writers—or those who hire writers to tell their organization’s story—this little easy-to-read book is a must read.
Today I’ll share excerpts from an internal memo on writing for business.
The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
- Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
- Write the way you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
- If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
- If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
The demand for good writing is only growing, and businesses represented by people who know how to write well will have a competitive advantage.
Image Source: www.amazon.com
Ever feel like your inbox is a Florida sinkhole? Most of us struggle to manage the torrent of information aimed at our inbox every day. What’s a person to do? Here are a few tips on being efficient and thoughtful with your emails.
Be sparing in your replies. Of course, often an email warrants a reply, but many times it doesn’t. Save your replies for sending useful information or confirmation of receiving important content. It’s not necessary to acknowledge receipt of every email, and the busier the recipient, the more it has the potential to be annoying. Always ask yourself whether what you’re sending is worth taking up the time of the reader—and be sparing with the chatty replies.
Keep the thread going. Replying to a thread helps keep the conversation together, avoiding a search-and-rescue operation for the recipient.
Use good descriptors in the subject line. Careful wording of this makes it easier for your recipients to find the email later. If the recipient has thousands of emails to search, this will make him or her very happy.
Use “reply all” selectively. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? A person sends out a meeting request, and one recipient replies to everyone with the details of why they can’t meet that day—when only the originator needs to know. Don’t burden people with details that don’t apply to them.
Avoid ALL CAPS. ALL CAPS is the equivalent of shouting online, which does nothing to inspire affection or respect in the eyes of the recipient. Using all caps should be the exception, not the rule.
Envision a face. Words on a screen are impersonal, and so we tend to behave differently online than we would in person. But if you’re sending an email, envision a face. Kindness and respect are the lubricant of human interactions, so don’t be sparing with them.
Plan for it to be shared. Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t mind being shared with a broader audience. Enough said.
Wait until you have all the information to reply. Find a balance between letting people know that you’ll get back to them, and just getting back to them. Ask yourself if one email can do the job as well as two.
Keep it short. People seem to have less and less patience with reading long emails, so after you’ve written it, see if you can cut it in half.