Saturday, October 24, 2009

Put it in reverse

The importance of looking backward

About 25 years ago, network television coverage of sports, football in particular, literally added a new twist: reverse angle coverage. A reduced cost of cameras and an increased appetite by viewers for a “better than being there” experience led first to a second view, and today as many as 10 different views of a play. Too bad that video coverage of business, educational, and philanthropic events doesn’t follow suit.
  • Engaging speaker with a great message at a podium?
  • Fixed microphone and camera on the podium?

  • Speaker who likes to move around?
  • Mike her with a wireless lav mike and put your best shooter on her.

  • Attentive, engaged audience that laughs, applauds and asks questions?
  • Camera and microphones to pick up the audience?
    Um, no.

The short lesson: when spending significant resources on a large event that includes speakers who deliver great messages, spend the few extra bucks. Make the audience feel like they are part of the presentation by including them in the video that’s projected to the audience and captured to tape for future use. With the addition of one “reverse angle” camera, you’ll now have the option to cut to video of two audience members who are laughing during the speaker’s funny story. When the presentation reaches a particularly poignant moment, the speaker’s words and gestures will tell the story, but the expressions on the audience’s faces help sell the story even more. And when an audience member asks a question, it will be captured for all to see and hear, both live at the event and in the post-production you might do.

So for your next event, think backwards. After all, if you don’t consider the audience as part of your total production, you’re not really being considerate of them as an audience, either.
A "way to go" shout out to the crew at Cleveland's Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) for their "spot on" use of video at the recent Small Business Conference, shown in the illustration above. Well done!

Monday, August 31, 2009

An SASE is "organic?"

We suppose we could provide 1000 examples of our idea of “organic communications” and never exhaust creative discussion. One of the concepts of “organic,” as we conceive it, is made clear when someone take advantage of both “old fashioned” ways of doing business and combines it with new ways of communication. Here’s an example.

During a recent video shoot, we left a small cloth case behind for our Flip Mino HD. We tried to buy a replacement from the Flip website, but no luck - none are available. So we sent a quick email to customer support that explained the situation – we wanted to purchase a replacement case but we needed to know how to do it.

About an hour later, we received a surprising reply (see the image) :

So the next day, we dropped an “SASE” (Stamped And Self- Addressed Envelope, for those of you under the age of 30) and our request was on its way. And four business days later, our case came back in our envelope. Back and forth from Cleveland to San Francisco, two days each way. We never had to set foot out of the office (we left our envelope for our letter carrier in the mail box), and our total investment was 88 cents (two Forever stamps).

So now we have our handy little Flip Mino HD, protected from scratches once again. And we have a new respect for the efficient marriage of email and the postal service. It’s “organic” because it’s simple, it’s sustainable . . . and it works.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Would you rather. . .

Formally or informally, you’ve probably played this game: Someone asks a “Would you rather. . . ” question with two choices offered. An example might be “Would you rather have a great dinner or a great dessert?” or “Front row seats at a basketball game or private loge seats to a football game?” Then, people jump in and answer the question and maybe in the process reveal a bit about themselves, especially if they give a reason that makes sense (even more so if they give a reason that does NOT make sense). Good game to play with a group of 8 year olds or a group of college students – different questions, of course.

Based on this concept, answer this question: “Would you rather maintain your eyesight or your hearing – would you rather be blind or deaf?” When I was younger, I would have opted for eyesight. Too much to see, and so much that can’t be done (e.g., driving a car) without vision.

As I get older, though, I’m not so sure. I remember the opinion of my father, expressed to me when he was in his 70s. He had at least two good friends who had lost either their vision or their hearing, and he had much contact with other deaf and blind people. Without a doubt, he said that the blind people were far more social and connected to a world that they couldn’t see than were those locked in a silent world. Recently, I have observed enough to agree (posthumously) with my father.

As this relates to marketing, content and communications, I’m a bit torn. The power of visuals is with me everyday – photos, imagery, stunning video. In just a few moments, a few visual elements can tell a story with deep emotion and nuance. But lately I’ve become caught up in some amazing podcasts and other “audio only” media that conveys deep meaning and learning that seems focused due to the fact that only one sense is at attention.

So, if you had to convey your content to your audience and you could only utilize sight or sound, “would you rather . . .?”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The perfect moment, the imperfect tool

One of the most frustrating moments for anyone who earns either a living or enjoyment from capturing images or audio is that moment when opportunity intersects with scarcity.

A fleeting image or quick soundbite presents itself, you recognize your chance, you only have a moment to capture the moment . . . but you don’t have the tool you wish you had.

A great image of a rainbow that literally ends on the road ( see how the colors of the rainbow change the trees which are a couple of hundred yards up the road – I thought all that ‘rainbow’s end’ story was the stuff of the Lucky Charm leprechaun). A great opportunity captured with . . . my camera phone.

An ancient dog that had just been placed in the vestibule of Cleveland West Side Market by his loving, equally ancient master. Vigilant, loyal, ignoring all who came past, he had attention only for that old guy with the cane who would take him on the 15 minute journey back to his home only a half block away.

Again, the crumby camera phone and the even crumbier snapshot I grabbed. Still, any media you can capture of a moment worth remembering is better than none at all.

And as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hillary on Free Speech - with a unique twist

When people communicate and they are uncomfortable with what they're saying, it's pretty easy to tell. It's not always a matter of dishonesty - sometimes it's more a matter of "I'm going to say this, I'm not really sure about it, and I don't know too much about it, but here goes."

In this one minute video, see if you can pick out the exact point at which Hillary starts to feel uncomfortable ("ums", eyes moving around, voice moving down in volume, etc).

And isn't it amazing that the Secretary of State of the U.S., third in succession to the highest office in the land, is talking about . . . well, you'll see.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ironic Marketing (on hold)

Like most of us, I agreed to accept those ads associated with this blog. A few months of activity, and hey, you can treat yourself to. . . a cup of coffee. As for the links, most of the time they're inane, and mostly inactive (who clicks on these things, anyhow?)

But I'm sure once in a while they are worthwhile - like when a funny ad turns up. Of course, maybe that's because it's so "targeted," based on the content of the blog. As we are able to create more and more media, however free it appears, it's typically will supported by some type of advertising, sponsorship, etc.

Of course, online is not the only place this happens. Just yesterday with 'music on hold,' I was waiting for the CSR (operator) to return while she was checking on what I'm being charged for natural gas. The song in the background?

"Give Me Money" (Now give me money. That's what I want - the Beatles).

And a few weeks earlier, while on hold with Walgreen's while waiting to order a prescription, the lyrics, "

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news, I got a -- bad case of loving you -by Moon Martin.

I'll throw out my HIPAA rights: I was ordering antibiotics for a sinus infection. So, it wasn't quite as funny as if I was ordering those "all weekend pills" that the couple in the matching bathtubs helps market.

"Atmospheric Music" isn't really "advertising," of course, but it can be effective and sort of funny, too. Any good real life examples you've encountered, I'd love to hear about them.

If not, just make one up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

If a leader speaks his mind, and no one really listens. . .

We all know the favorite pseudo-intellectual questions asked to provoke some type of response:
  • The tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it.
  • The chicken and the egg, jockeying for rights on ownership
  • to- MAE- to, to- MAH- to
and so on. How about a respected, intelligent, passionate leader who puts extraordinary effort into both the composition and delivery of a speech . . .and apparently, not too many people really listened.

Oh, the audience was attentive and polite. The occasion was the 2009 "25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers Awards" by Inside Business. My son Kevin was one of the honorees, so along with family and friends, I was happy to attend.

And I go to a few events like this - with clients and friends, sometimes because of a business interest, and sometimes just because of a personal interest. Most speeches are good - the presenters, after all, are leaders and they are very experienced at what they do.

But most of the speeches follow predictable patterns, especially when the topic is economic development, especially when the locale is Cleveland.
  • "We have to work together."
  • "We have so many great assets."
  • "Look at how much better we are than 10 years ago."
More often than not, the speech takes a safe, predictable trajectory and delivery, people applaud politely, and we're all on our way.

I've known Eaton's CEO Sandy Cutler (he's on the right in the photo, Eaton's VP of Strategic Communications Don McGrath is on the left) for over 10 years. He regularly arrived at our studio at 7am for a live broadcast to be beamed to Bloomburg, CNBC and other network for a global business broadcast.

I know Sandy to be a good communicator, I know he seems like a genuine guy, I know he prefers diet Pepsi to coffee in the morning -but I didn't know he had such a fire in his belly for this region.

So when he began his keynote address and it became quickly apparent that this was not to be a "typical" speech, I turned on my Flip Mino HD and began recording. A link to the audio file is included here:

Listen, then answer these questions for yourself:
  • why didn't any of the young leaders seem to take a stand on Cutler's speech? Didn't they know that this CEO of a Fortune 100, publicly traded company was making a huge commitment in making such a speech?
  • Do our young leaders (forget about the older ones, I'm afraid) realize they were being challenged?
  • If a leader tries to lead and the followers are too numb to listen, did that tree fall in the forest, anyhow?