new media

Advertising an Issue, Then & Now

While we can laugh at the 70’s style , the ‘crying Indian’ ad is still legendary in environmental circles. It rallied a nation to care about their environment, and to support creation of clean air and water regulations.

What strikes me today is how light the pollution and litter look.

The Issue has Changed & So Has Marketing

Compared to what washes up along the Potomac River today, the video’s litter looks cute. At this year’s annual river cleanup, volunteers removed over 300,000 pounds of plastic bags and bottles, foam cups (all light weight materials) in three hours. Walk the shore a week after and it’s covered again; the tide of trash is relentless.

The Ferguson Foundation has been working on river cleanup for 28 years. When I first took part in 2003 they called their effort “Trash-Free Potomac 2013.” They’ve since dropped the date. But the work goes on, and it really engages people to care about the river.

But there’s worse things fouling the waters. Excess ‘nutrients’ from farms, sewage, run-off and lawn fertilizers are choking our streams, rivers and bays with aquatic plant overgrowth and algal blooms. This disturbs and eventually ruins habitats, and can even create dangerously toxic conditions. 

Few people take time to consider how lawn chemicals, street run-off or farm waste are affecting their natural environment. There are campaigns to educate the public, but they aren’t as widely seen as the public service campaigns of the 70’s.

This video by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is probably only viewed by people on their mailing lists or or those who seek them out. Too long for TV, it’s not likely to reach as broad an audience as our Indian, above.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years. Habitat destruction, poaching and pollution have eliminated half of the living creatures on the planet.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is a consequence of the way we choose to live. Nature, which provides food and clean water and air, is essential for human wellbeing.”

That we need marketing to convince us the the natural world is essential strikes me as absurd, but in our busy-busy world it’s somehow become the norm to take the natural world for granted.

One of the biggest challenges today is the multitude of media channels, unimaginable in the 70s. Network TV no longer reaches families – people from multiple generations -watching the evening news together at the dinner table.

Messages must be targeted not only in content but especially by delivery. I recently marketed a musical event relying heavily on Twitter and Facebook, and missed a swath of an older audience. Not a mistake I will make again!

If you had to mount a campaign to protect your favorite cause, where would you start?

How would you prioritize the audience? What channels would you choose to reach them, and why?

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Twitter Demystified

Twitter can look like a stream of chaos or frivolous chatter to the untrained eye. But there’s gold in that chaos. Strategic use of Twitter can harness the power of Social Media like nothing else.

Hashtag2The secret is the #Hashtag, a special keyword that allows you to follow a thread conversation within all the noise.

A hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, right now if you type #CivilWar you will gather thousands of tweets about the latest Marvel movie, Captain America – Civil War, rather than the 19th century American war between the states.

Other examples

#aCreativeDC is a hashtag to promote arts, events and artists in Washington, DC. #Preakness2016 is for the upcoming Triple Crown horserace. Don’t confuse it with the ‘@‘ sign— that designates a Tweeter. Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has his own Twitter account: @TheNyquistHorse and my Twitter handle is @ClearlyCreate

Some are just fun: go try #RemoveALetterSpoilABook for some laughs.

Twitter has some good tutorials on the basics, and here’s a bit more on marketing with Twitter.

Go experiment with hashtags and see what kind of conversations you can follow, like a favorite TV show or movie. Discover how businesses are using hashtags to promote their products by following a few B2B and B2C companies.

And feel free to ask questions and share your stories!

5 Ways to Reap Social Media Value

Here are five useful ways of thinking about social media and it’s potential to empower your business.

IBM’s ambitiously-titled Center for Applied Insights ran a study and produced this video that brings focus to five key areas where Social Media creates value for business.

Most of us marketers are pretty familiar with #3, but the other four concepts have loads of potential.

Many of us who are virtual workers miss the spontaneous collaborations in the hallway, elevator, water cooler. The creative power of quick collaboration opens up new ways for those sparks to travel. How can you use your social network to:

  • Collaborate with colleagues you don’t just ‘run into’ anymore?
  • Reach out to encourage and support less experienced team members?
  • Inspire customers to get more value from your products?
  • Source expertise from all your communities – users, colleagues, prospects and maybe even competitors?
  • Create new avenues of feedback and improvement?

Share an example in the comments of how your business benefits from Social Media.

Home, Home On the Line

(source unknown)

You can make a home on the Internet and be seen there, but you cannot arrive there. Home on the Internet can only be a point of departure.

I found this quote in a meandering essay on yearning at ribbonfarm.com, a blog by Venkat dedicated to ‘refactored perception.’ (Read more than you ever wanted to know about that here.) Venkat is a voracious reader, thinker and polymath, cross-pollinating the worlds of business, information science, literature and history.

What I found fascinating was his validation of the online world. He doesn’t dismiss it as a flickering, twittering distraction but sees it as a genuine realm of existence:

When you first explore the online world, with your feet firmly planted offline, it can seem ephemeral and insubstantial. But once you tentatively and gingerly plant your feet online, it is the offline world that starts to seem ephemeral and insubstantial. The world of offline-first people (or worse, offline-only) seems like a world of people living lives without real views.

Where there was once was a simpler form of media-blindness – folks who didn’t read the news, or visit the library, for instance, now there is a vast ocean of evolving media conversations to parse. AND participate in.

Because home is not the locus where you live your life, but the locus from which you make sense of it. Home is a place that supplies a stable perspective on the world and your place within itHome is a place from which you can properly experience a life with a view, without censorship, without having to make up narratives about the superiority of your little local world.

So amid this pulsing, flickering universe of conversations, we can behold the universe and find our threads within it. The universe of the imagination has become more of a shared realm. What we once accomplished through books, we can now pursue in tweets, posts, images, articles, ebooks, videos, comments, message boards, and the many clever means of sharing the internet offers us.

This may all sound a bit over the top, but fly with me for a moment here. We have the Library of Alexandria at our fingertips. A Facebook image I saw the other day put it this way:

If someone from the 1950s appeared today, what would be the hardest thing to explain?

“I possess, in my pocket, a device capable of accessing the entirety of man’s knowledge. I use it to take pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers.”

If we value the life of the mind that we have built from our education, from our reading life, from the culture of readers, writers and thinkers who have come before us, why wouldn’t we want to explore, share, and contribute in these fields of knowledge?

We can all do some amazing work with the tools we have in hand, while we create the next wave of even more miraculous ones.

Too Much Communication

manymediaAll of us wrangle ‘information overload’ but that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I was struck by a story I read this week over at Linked In’s Best Advice column, written by Jon Whitmore, CEO of ACT:

In this tale of a young dean in the mid 90’s, Jon relates this good advice he got from a seasoned mentor.

You Can Never Have Too Much Good Communication. 

This simple advice led him from his sense of overwhelm,  to graph paper, and hopefully quickly to a spreadsheet, in order to map the relationships he needed to maintain, and the channels he had available to reach them.

Constant, clear, transparent communication: it’s never easy, but it will always be critical to your success as a leader.

The secret is to take ‘Too Much’ and turn it into ‘Good’: timely, intriguing, meaningful and in the right place.

TIMELY: Catch your audience when they are receptive, and when they can make the most use of the information.
INTRIGUING: Noticeable amid all the competition, well written and well designed.
MEANINGFUL: Inspires, solves a problem, creates good will, connects ideas or people in a new way, calls the reader to action.
OPTIMUM CHANNEL: Delivered via the right platform, vehicle, media, or network, and combination there of.

I’m reaching for my mental graph paper! You can see why a coordinated strategy is necessary; in order to consistently hit the right notes, there has to be a good plan.

I’ll have more to say about how to reach our audience in the weeks to come, and I’d love to hear your ideas about how you develop and refine your communications strategy. Please, chime in!