I’ve been a bad blogger…but I’ve also been published in Time Out.

logo_time_out

Yes, I admit it…I’ve been a bad blogger.  I’ve sincerely and sinfully broken the cardinal rule of content creation – the very thing I stress to my clients – KEEP CREATING CONTENT.  I am so, so busted.  By myself.

However, while the blog here at Chad Giron Consulting has been laying (or is it ‘lying’? I don’t have the AP style book in front of me) fallow, I’ve been busy working as a Vice President of Client Relations for DDC Public Affairs and contributing to their blog.  See?  Right here I wrote about how sometimes the simplest infographics tell the best stories.  And, sure, I could reproduce that entire post here.  But, naaaah.  It’s nothing that you guys don’t already know.  But, here’s something else I’m a little proud of…I got published in Time Out.

Why is that cool (to me)?  I don’t know.  I suppose because anytime I’d go to New York or to London and I wanted to figure out something cool, fun, interesting or exciting to do, I’d pick up Time Out.  Time Out was where you went to discover which bar or event would really kick ass on a Saturday night versus whatever dusty old stuff Arthur Frommer was recommending.  So, I’m happy to be in it.  And, without further ado (link to original post here) 29 Things That You Will Realize After Moving to DC.

1. You haven’t visited a museum since you moved here. And they’re free.

2. The minimum price for a beer is $6. Weirdly, if it’s a local beer, it’s $9.

3. The best live theater you will see is Ben Affleck testifying in front of Congress.

4. Nobody wants your company’s free Wizards tickets.

5. You will not find street parking near E Street Cinema. You think you will. You did that one time. You won’t. Just park in the garage. You don’t want to be late for your movie.

6. It’s worth it to fly out of National airport. It’s. Worth. It.

7. If you have friends in Bethesda, they will not go to Arlington. If you have friends in Arlington, they will not go to Bethesda.

8. You shouldn’t have sold your car.

9. DC Prom IS the White House Correspondents Dinner.

10. You will take everybody who visits on the same tour around the monuments. It will last about three hours. Then you will have no idea where else to take them for the rest of the day.

11. You don’t even know who your home town Congressman is, even though you might’ve just had a beer with him at Cap Lounge.

12. You are probably not the smartest person in the room. But you are definitely not the dorkiest person in the room.

13. Every new restaurant on 14th Street actually looks and tastes the same.

14. Calling the people who hang out on H Street “hipsters” is like calling the Washington Redskins a “football team.” Brooklyn and Portland have hipsters. A hipster in DC is just a person who bought Warby Parker glasses and wore sneakers to work.

15. DC does have the best cupcake in the world. And it’s in Georgetown. But it’s not Georgetown Cupcake. That’s for tourists and rubes. Mmm…Baked & Wired is the best.

16. Hey, did everybody buy their clothes at Banana Republic/J Crew/Ann Taylor, too?

17. DC public transportation is a joke. City buses are basically Thunderdome, and the Metro is a Disney ride that’s only really useful for people who live in Virginia.

18. That friend of a friend who works for “the State Department” and who travels a lot doesn’t really work for the State Department. They work for that agency that starts with a “C” and ends in “IA.”

19. The best way to enjoy a Nats game is to just pay for the cheapest general admission tickets and hang out at the Red Porch bar. Nobody’s watching the game, anyway.

20. You have no idea what is half smoked in a “half smoke.” Actually, nobody does.

21. You dominated trivia night back in Kansas. Dorothy, when it comes to trivia, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

22. Lowest volume of work for highest pay? Trade associations. Highest volume of work for lowest pay? PR firms.

23. You are incredibly fit and stylish—compared to the chubby tourists in American flag T-shirts and jorts who clog the Mall.

24. You can buy many buttons and ribbons at Eastern Market. It’s the same stuff every weekend. Why isn’t it cooler?

25. DC has one proper dive bar. Dan’s Cafe. Glass of liquor. Can of mixer. Bucket of ice. Slice of perfection.

26. The Native American Museum is totally worth visiting…for the cafe.

27. The rents = Manhattan. The restaurants < Manhattan.

28. You’ve heard of Anacostia. You’ve never been to Anacostia. You will almost certainly never go to Anacostia.

29. Stand right, walk left.

I Will Learn To _____________ in 2014

This article originally appeared on the Business2Community website

Resolutions

New Years resolutions.  Like opinions (and something else less family-friendly I’ve heard used in this adage), everybody has ‘em.

This year, mine is to dive deeper into digital analytics and become a ninja rock star (can we please retire both of these superlatives?) in Google Analytics and all things digital marketing measurement in general.  What’s yours?

Come on…I know you have one.  Maybe it’s learning how to code or sharpening your copywriting.

Good news, Resolution Maker, these days the web is awash in low-cost or no cost online instruction in tons of digital marketing skills.  Below are just a few that you might want to check out in case your resolution survived your hangover and you’re serious about learning something new in 2014.

(In no particular order…)

General Assembly

www.generalassemb.ly

General Assembly

 

What?

This online digital marketing and business strategy collective touts itself as ‘turning thinkers into creators’.  Which is great for those among us, myself included, who have no shortage of fantastic ideas about integrated digital marketing campaigns, but wouldn’t know the first thing about how to, oh, develop a mobile app if our lives depended on it.

General Assembly offers both in-person (in select cities) and online video training in the following areas:

General Assembly offers an array of content consumption options.  Users can take either 8-16 week courses on topics, attend in-person classes and seminars, take a class online, stream live video instruction sessions or watch videos on-demand.

Courses are taught by active industry experts and practitioners.  Y’know, folks who actually do this stuff for a living and who can teach you how to do it, too.

How much?

Full, intensive courses, such as the 10-week Front-End Web Development course where I live in Washington, DC, can cost as much as $3,500.

Individual video on-demand courses, such as Code on Your Own, are available for as little as $10.

For $25 per month, General Assembly offers “Front Row”, which is pretty much unlimited access to live stream events and courses and their video on-demand library.

Google Analytics Training & Certification

Google Analytics Header

 

Let’s face it, knowing at least a little bit about Google Analytics is pretty much a necessity these days.  Your company may not use it for all digital properties and/or campaigns (but, then again, you may…), but its features and functions are key to understanding digital marketing measurement in general and are broadly applicable across platforms.

What?

Google provides free Google Analytics Training & Certification (all the better to get the world to use their product, of course).

In addition to plenty of online videos and, of course, help forums, Google also offers Analytics Academy, “…a free online learning platform that offers comprehensive training in Google Analytics and data analysis.”

Take the courses in Google Analytics Academy, take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification test and BOOM! – you’re certified in Google Analytics.

How much?

Free!

Lynda

www.lynda.com

Lynda

 

What?

According to Lynda it/herself, “lynda.com is an online learning company that helps anyone learn software, design, and business skills to achieve their personal and professional goals. With a lynda.com subscription, members receive unlimited access to a vast library of high quality, current, and engaging video tutorials. New courses and topics are added every week at no extra cost. We carefully select the world’s top experts who are the best in their field, passionate about their subject matter, and know how to teach. Members tell us that a lynda.com subscription instills self-confidence and unlocks a sense of accomplishment that they have not found anywhere else.”

While you can certainly take general digital marketing strategy and tactical courses, such as Data Analysis and Social Media Marketing, Lynda shines with deeper dives into programming with modules for developers in a variety of common languages including C++, Java, jQuery, etc.

How much?

Lynda operates on a subscription model and features a range of different subscription levels, from $25 per month to $375 per year.

MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses

What’s a MOOC (moo-k)?  Massive Open Online Courses are, well, exactly what they sound like.  They’re basically free courses on a variety of different topics that you can find online and consume as you wish.  Even better, some of them are affiliated with leading institutions of higher learning such as Harvard, MIT and the University of Chicago.

Three major MOOC providers: Coursera, EdX and Udacity.

The courses tend to be a little more academic than professionally focused, but take a look at Udacity’s Mobile Web Development and EdX’s Building Mobile Experiences and decide for yourself if they’re a fit for you.

EdX Course

 

How much?

Most are free.  Free!!  Thank you, world wide web of knowledge.

Codeacademy

www.codeacademy.com

Codeacademy

 

What?

Yeah, it’s pretty much what it says it is – Codeacademy is where you come to learn how to code online.  Codeacademy features online courses in many of the most commonly used computer languages including HTML/CSS, JavaScript, PHP and more.

Courses are broken down into individual lessons and modules that you complete as you learn the subject matter.  They’re also geared toward moving students to apply their new skills.  The HTML/CSS course, for example, encourages students to create their own website upon completion of the material.

How much?

Let’s put it like this…in Codeacademy’s own forcefully stated words, “Codecademy is free and always will be.”

With so many free and low-cost options for learning new and increasingly valuable digital marketing skills, the question certainly isn’t whether you can afford to do it, but rather how to find the time and which course to choose.

What’s your New Skills Resolution for 2014?  And how are you planning to fulfill it?

The Most Dangerous Games: Sochi 2014

This article was featured on the Adotas digital marketing newsletter

Sochi Logo

Here we are. 2013 is in the rearview mirror. The end of the year is so predictable it’s almost depressing. You hear Wham!’s “Last Christmas” way more than you want to. “Love, Actually” plays on a loop all over cable. And you’re pelted with year-end lists and year-in-review pieces. How sick are you of those? Right! Me, too!

So, let’s look ahead to 2014, a year that brings us something that only comes around once every 1,460 days or so: the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics are not just a massive spectacle of sport, but of marketing as well.

While the Winter Olympics can be dangerous for the athletes, it’s usually a happy place for sponsors and advertisers. An event full of feel-good stories, celebrations of amazing accomplishments, teeming with young, beautiful athletes wrapped up in wholesome American pride.

Not so much with Sochi 2014, which, because of the controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, is shaping up to be the most dangerous Olympics for marketers.

Let’s take a look at some trends which will shape one of the planet’s biggest annual – or, I should say quadrennial – sports and marketing events:

Big Bets: Russia, NBC & Sponsors

For every entity involved with the Olympics – from the host country, to sponsors, to athletes – the monetary investments and the stakes are enormous. Let’s take a look at Sochi 2014 by the numbers:

  • $50 billion: What it’s costing Russia to host the Olympics, making them the most expensive ever and more than five times original estimates (according to the Financial Times).
  • $33 billion: The amount invested by sponsors such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Electric, Visa, Samsung and more.
  • 2,500: Approximate number of Galaxy Note 3 phones Samsung is giving out to every Olympic athlete in a clever promotion that will undoubtedly feature the popular smartphone lighting up the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • $900: Cost of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
  • $800 million: Amount of ad sales sold by NBC Universal – the most ever.
  • 1,539Hours of coverage NBC Universal will present from Russia across NBC, NBCSN, MSNBC, CNBC and USA Network.
  • 1,000: Hours of coverage NBCOlympics.com will offer of live streaming coverage, along with event rewinds and video highlights.
  • 20 billion: The number of media impressions P&G claims the company had for its advertising during the 2012 London Olympics.
  • $500 millionThe estimated amount of sales lift P&G enjoyed to its brands as a result of this advertising (according to P&G).
  • 404,685: The number of people who have signed Sumofus.org’s petition for Olympics sponsor Coca-Cola to publicly condemn Russia’s controversial anti-gay legislation.
  • 500,000: Sumofus.org’s goal number for the petition.
  • 0: The number of advertisers or sponsors who have dropped out of the Sochi Olympics in protest of Russia’s anti-gay stance.
  • 100%: The number who are really, really worried about potential backlash in the face of negative publicity or in the event of a violent crackdown by Russian authorities on protesters during the games.

The ‘Danger Games’

And those last few numbers sum up why the Chicago Tribune quoted one marketer as calling the Sochi Olympics “the danger Games”.

Forbes presents a strong breakdown of the kinds of pressure gay rights organizations are putting on major Olympics sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Samsung.

In the piece, Forbes quotes the International Olympic Committee’s marketing commission chairman, Gerhard Heiberg, as saying, “I have heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, of what they are afraid might happen. I think this could ruin a lot for all of us.”

Many sponsors are already saying the right things to inoculate their brands from negative association of any possible anti-gay crackdowns. The Forbes pieces cites a quite artful statement from Coca-Cola:

“We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world,” Coke said. “As a sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports.”

But, in the face of continued truculence from Vladimir Putin and the Russian government on the anti-gay issue, grassroots online protests and social media advocacy pages continue to pop up looking to exert pressure on the true fuel of the Olympic flame – advertisers.

Boycott Sochi 1

 

Boycott Sochi 2

 

Crisis = Opportunity

The Motley Fool takes an excellent look at both the crisis and opportunity facing Olympics sponsors in the event of potential ugly confrontations with gay rights protesters broadcast to a global TV audience, which Kenneth Roth, president of Human Rights Watch, thinks is likely.

“It’s easy to imagine a confrontation taking place on global television. It’s almost certain that athletes will flaunt their homosexuality or support for gay rights,” he told BuzzFeed.

In this Oreos-Super Bowl-tweet era of rapid social marketing response, The Motley Fool lays out an interesting scenario to ponder for advertisers who may – or may not – have already contemplated the potential opportunity to arise from a gay rights protesting crisis:

If something very public and very newsworthy were to happen, how should the sponsors respond?

Obviously, the companies would issue all the usual appropriate statements: that’s a given. But would they go further and actually walk the walk instead of talking the talk?

Would they, for example, release ads showing their support for gay rights? Picture it: an Olympian wins the gold medal, kisses his boyfriend, then they each crack open a Coke. Or a soccer mom drives the kids home, dumps their uniforms into the washer with some Tide Pods, and goes upstairs for dinner with the kids…and their other mom (and maybe other mom brought home some McDonald’s).

And that, to me, is the most interesting thing to ponder about these “danger Games”: Are the big bucks, big brand advertisers ready to take a stand in favor of gay rights on a global stage? Have they calculated that it’s in their financial interest? Are they staffing rapid-reaction advertising ‘war rooms’ full of creatives and copywriters ready to craft real-time, contextual ads across digital platforms at a moment’s notice?

Also, is reacting to what may or may not transpire regarding protests in Russia an opportunity for non-Olympics sponsors as well? After all, Oreo’s parent company, Nabisco, certainly wasn’t a Super Bowl sponsor. But the little chocolate cookie with the vanilla filling stole the spotlight when the lights went off in New Orleans last February.

Are the 2014 “danger Games” providing your brand with an opportunity to counter-market based on potentially politically and culturally sensitive events as they transpire? For all marketers, is this a crisis? Or an opportunity?

Twitter & TV: 5 Predictions

Twitter in TV

 

(Originally published on the ShopIgniter.com blog)

In the run up to its pending IPO, Twitter’s moving into TV in a big way.

Last week, on October 9th, the company announced a partnership with Comcast wherein users tweeting about Comcast-associated TV shows (like NBC’s ‘The Voice’) would be served up a ‘See It’ button that would facilitate quick click-through to content consumption.  The hope, for Twitter, is that this sort of  “Twitter as content discovery vehicle” idea will eventually be adopted by other content distributors as well.

Additionally, Twitter, in partnership with longtime TV ratings tracking company Nielsen, recently released its first ‘Twitter TV Ratings’ metrics as well.  Numero uno?  The most tweeted about show?  ‘The Walking Dead’ for its Season 4 premiere episode.

Read more about the ratings, their value and their impact on WIRED here, though I will frequently allude to the WIRED piece below.

What’s it all about?  Well, advertising revenue (duh).

Twitter makes money drawing eyeballs to Twitter.  Twitter knows that nothing does that more consistently or intensely than TV.  TV is one of the last remaining places of cross-cultural, cross-political, cross-socioeconomic common ground and consciousness in American society.  Everybody watches TV, everybody talks about what they’ve seen on TV and, more and more, everybody tweets about it as well.

As I recently wrote about, just for the recent finale of ‘Breaking Bad’, Nielsen SocialGuide showed that 600,000 Twitter users posted 1.2 million messages.

So, here’s what we know:

  • Twitter (and advertisers) want you to Tweet more and more about what you see on TV
  • Twitter (and content partners) want you to click-through to consume content via Twitter
  • Twitter can gain more and better advertising with more and better data on how users are tweeting about TV
  • Twitter (and advertisers…and content partners) don’t care whether your tweets are good or bad…they just want your attention (the old ‘any news is good news’ principle)

Given that, here are five predictions for the future of Twitter & TV…in fun TV show title form!

#1. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ of Exclusive Content

Offering ‘never before seen’ EXCLUSIVE!!! content is nothing new.  Extras like on-set interviews, deleted scenes and actor commentary have been trotted out by studios to incentivize customers to buy Blu-rays of movies they may already own on DVD for years now.  And, y’know what – it works.  I predict that studios will be picking up scraps off their cutting room floors in an effort to produce more and more exclusive content to stimulate click-throughs via Twitter.

For instance, imagine, you tweet about ‘The Voice’ as you’re watching it.  And ad pops up directing you to ‘See It’ now.  You’re already seeing it!  So what?  Why click?  Add some exclusive content to that offer…an Adam Levine interview or a preview of a new Christina Aguilera song…now that’s something worth taking an extra two minutes out of your life for.  Not my life, but, hey, to each their own.

#2.  The Expansion of Fake Grass-‘Roots’ Tweeting

Everybody involved in TV tweeting – Twitter, content companies and advertisers – will have a stake in the performance of TV-focused Twitter advertising.  Twitter to trumpet the success of their ad platform.  The content companies to prove how smart they were to advertise on Twitter.  Advertisers to justify their buys.  One way to goose those numbers is through fake grassroots tweeting (a.k.a. “astroturfing”).

According to PR Week, as many as 20 million fake Twitter accounts maintain a brisk and booming business in ersatz Twitter traffic.  What?  Mainstream brands are above that sort of thing, you say?  Not according to Forbes, who named among brands accused of purchasing fake Twitter followers Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz and Louis Vuitton…as well as (wait for it….) 50 Cent, P. Diddy and a real old-school G (O.P.), Newt Gingrich.

#3.  Brands ‘Get Smart’ on Twitter TV Data

Twitter provides a fairly large, yet fairly simplistic data set for marketers.  Sure, there are millions of tweets, but what do they mean?  And who is tweeting them?

One of the key pieces of information that, currently, it is hard to separate from all of those tweets is sentiment (are the tweets about a TV show positive or negative?).  Also difficult to parse in a meaningful way are demographic metrics like age and gender.

As WIRED points out:

In other words, we may know that a lot of people are tweeting about a show, but are they watching it? And, if so, are they enjoying it? Who these tweeters are and how they feel about, say, an episode of Scandal isn’t something you can determine from knowing that there are nearly 713,000 tweets about it.

Metrics like age, gender and sentiment are still only the beginning. There’s still a lot of other data — and combination of data — embedded in the world of Twitter for networks and advertisers to mine, even if analyzing it may prove the bigger challenge. “It’s complicated,” said Clark Fredricksen, vice president of research firm eMarketer told WIRED. “On the one hand, you have the internet, which is the most accountable, measurable media channel in history, compared to TV, which is arguably the most difficult channel to measure.” In other words, social media provides an embarrassment of riches that viewership numbers don’t. We just need to figure out how to read it.

Brands will increasingly invest in more sophisticated analytics to extract more valuable insights from all of that Twitter data.  It’s a great time to be a data scientist.

#4. ‘Arrested (Mobile App) Development’

It’s also a great time to be a mobile app developer.

Twitter is, by and large, a mobile experience.  According to Twitter’s own blog, sixty percent of the company’s 200 million active users log in via a mobile device at least once every month.  So, the majority of folks who elect to ‘See It’ via Twitter will largely be clicking-through to, or bounced into, a content provider’s mobile app.

Assuming that TV-focused Twitter advertising is modestly successful, those apps are going to have to beef up in terms of sophistication and feature set to handle the traffic and usability demands.  Mobile video apps will have to increasingly make content easier to stream, simpler to find and more elegant to navigate than ever before.

#5. Twitter Users Will Be ‘Mad Men’ (& Women)

Yes, in my title for this section I’m alluding to a show that celebrates the Golden Age of advertising…to illustrate how much people are going to hate TV-focused Twitter advertising.  Because they will!

According to a 2012 study by Insight Strategy Group, published here in MediaPost, “nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they ‘hate’ when a company targets them through their social networking profile, and 58% agree that social media marketing is invasive”.

I have another statistic for you.  Here’s how much Twitter and content providers and advertisers care about that: 0.0%.

They don’t care.  Because, by and large, especially when it comes to the ever-morphing runaway train nature of Twitter conversations, any conversation – positive or negative – is valuable conversation.  It’s all good, just as long as the tweets, positive or negative, keep flowing.  So, even if users hate TV-focused Twitter advertising, as long as they’re generating thousands of (measurable) tweets about it, everybody (measuring) those tweets is going to be happy.

As WIRED points out in their article, essentially all Twitter traffic, positive or negative, falls under “the more the better”.  Especially while sentiment scoring is still in its inaccurate infancy:

Some say “any press is good press,” and perhaps all tweets are good tweets. Even if everyone’s talking about how terrible or WTF a show is, if the volume is high enough it might cause people to tune in just to see what all the fuss is about. It’ll be especially interesting to see how this plays out in the new arrangement between Twitter and Comcast. Based on the screenshot examples released by the cable provider, it appears the Twitter cards will at least initially be attached to tweets from the official show Twitter feeds, but if/when the cards are attached to random users tweets, you might see an update that reads “Tonight’s #GreysAnatomy was the worst ever!” followed by a card asking if you’d like to watch it now.

In a blog post announcing the gambit, Comcast Cable’s head of business development Sam Schwartz used the example of seeing friends tweeting about Sharknado, which got a lot of tweets even if many of them were mocking (or at least ironic). “If I had only seen an ad about a sharks-meet-a-natural-disaster movie, frankly, there would be little chance that I would tune in,” Schwartz said. “However, all these tweets pique my curiosity, I click on the See It button in one of the tweets, and then use it to set a reminder to watch the movie later that night.” So maybe love it or hate it or love-hate it — it really doesn’t matter just so long as there are eyeballs.

So, what do you think about TV-focused Twitter advertising?  Will it drive huge ‘Numb3rs’ of video views?  Will it make the ‘Suits’ at Twitter and Comcast look brilliant?  Is this a ‘Revolution’ in social marketing?  Could it help vault Twitter to be ‘King of the Hill’ for social advertising?  Or, will Twitter and Comcast end up looking like ‘The Crazy Ones’ in the end?

News You Can Use: October 11th Edition

(Originally published on the ShopIgniter.com blog)

Facebook Debuts Improved Measuring Tools

Mashable breaks down Facebook’s improved tools for measuring brand pages.

10 Word (or less) Summary: New Page Insights dashboard better breaks down engagement & traffic metrics.

Everything Else You Need to Know

  • You can check out Facebook’s own video on the updates here.
  • The updates aim at simplified breakdowns of traffic and engagement.
  • Engagement metrics get their own separate tabs – People Talking About This metrics are now separate elements: Page Likes, People Engaged, Page tags and mentions, Page checkins, etc.
  • Facebook aims at improved sentiment scoring: the update aggregates all metrics for positive interactions (likes, comments, shares and clicks) and negative interactions (hide post, hide all posts, report as spam, unlike page) into a post-specific score card so admins can do a positive vs. negative side by side evaluation for each post.

Take a Look:

facbook-insights-700x434

 

Google Debuts Hummingbird, Every SEO Consultant Goes “Uh oh…”

Mashable (again) breaks down Google’s updated Hummingbird search algorithm and what that means for businesses.

10 Word (or less) Summary: Bye, bye keywords.  Hello natural language content in context.

Everything Else You Need to Know

  • From the Mashable article, Hummingbird, the search giant’s largest search algorithm update since 2001. The search engine’s recent overhaul — which affects 90% of searches — aims to filter “fluff” content that is created solely for nabbing search engine optimization and instead deliver better, higher quality search results.”
  • Two key ways the Hummingbird update works:

A.) Keyword searches have been supplanted by conversational searches to theoretically deliver more relevant results.  Think, “Where can I buy blue jeans near me?” vs. “blue jeans”.

B.) Now Google search results also display content on the right of the search pages themselves (instead of just links) which, again, theoretically, deliver more relevant information directly to searchers.

  • Basically, Hummingbird is set up to more effectively respond to natural language searches rather than just keywords.  Which means marketers are going to have to get more contextual in their copy, anticipating and mimicking real-life conversations and natural language for how people might ask about or discover their brands.
  • But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s what Bill Sebald, owner of Greenlane Search Marketing, an SEO firm, had to say about Hummingbird’s impact: “Content for the sake of ‘words on a page’ doesn’t have the base value it once had,” Sebald said. “Now, your content really has to answer something. This should move content strategy higher on the list of business marketing objectives; it’s now even more important for desktop and mobile SEO.”

Twitter Tunes Into TV

twitter

 

Did you know that half of Americans visit social networks while watching TV?  Half, you say??  Yes, HALF!  (Thanks, Marketing Land)  And one in six Americans posts about what they’re watching.

That’s a lot of eyeballs.  Most of those eyeballs are glued to Twitter (while they’re simultaneously glued to their TVs, apparently).

Just for the recent finale of ‘Breaking Bad’, Nielsen SocialGuide showed that 600,000 Twitter users posted 1.2 million messages.

So, the folks at Twitter, who are no dummies and, since they’re going IPO, also need to find new revenue streams, have announced a new scheme for piggybacking on all of that TV tweeting.

10 Word (or less) Summary: When you tweet about TV, watching is a click away.

Everything Else You Need to Know

  • Twitter announced a partnership with Comcast to capitalize on all of that TV tweeting
  • Come November, people who mention certain TV shows or movies on Twitter will be served a “See It” button.  Clicking on “See It” will give people options to watch shows or, if it’s a current movie, buy a ticket via Comcast-owned Fandango.
  • This all works only if you’re a Comcast Xfinity TV customer.  So don’t get too revved up about America’s new TV tweeting craze.  But, it will be a national service.
  • Be on the lookout for increased Twitter advertising, sponsorships and integrations involving NBCUniversal sports properties (such as English Premier League soccer), too.
  • According to Sean Casey, senior vice president for product at Nielsen’s SocialGuide, who was recently interviewed by the New York Times, “Sports events comprise somewhere between 2 and 3 percent of TV programming in any given month, but generate close to 50 percent of the Twitter activity [around TV]”.
  • Just my take, but this innovation clearly signals that, currently, Twitter is THE go-to social platform for real-time content marketing and digital advertising.
  • As what we watch collectively as a nation on the tube continues to drive real-time digital conversations, and the majority of those conversations continue to take place on Twitter, keep an eye on Twitter for more innovations in ‘in-the-moment’ content discovery, advertising, sponsorships and monetization.

So, there you have it! A round-up of news you can use for the week. What other digital marketing news would you add to the mix? Please share in the comments below.

 

PR Pros: 10 Signs Your Boss Is Out Of Touch

#10. “Did you fax out the press release?”

(Cue Grumpy Old Man voice) BACK IN MY DAY, people actually used to fax out press releases.  No, seriously.  In the year 2000!  Didn’t you ever wonder why Cision still includes fax numbers?

 

Fax Machine

#9. He or she still has a Blackberry.  And, correspondingly, also perhaps a belt clip.

“I couldn’t live without a physical keyboard!”

Bases.  Covered.

Bases. Covered.

#8. “Does this media list have the top 25 dailies?”

Uhm, are there even 25 total daily newspapers LEFT in this country?  There are.  But when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has a higher average circulation than the Boston Globe, I wouldn’t sweat it too much.

#7. “Are we on MySpace?  We should do something on The Facebook.”

The only person on MySpace is Justin Timberlake.  Shh.  Shh.  Hush, now, social media illiterate.  There will be plenty of time for you to discover Facebook when your children go off to college and you humiliate them by commenting on their photos and status updates.

#6. “Make sure you run the ad equivalency numbers for the client.”

Ad equivalency values are B.S.  Have always been B.S. and will always be B.S.

#5. “Let’s do a press conference!”

NO!  NO!!!  Here’s when you hold a press conference: when you hire a new head coach or you sign a bill into law.  That’s about it.  You hold a press conference, and your client expects this:

Expectation...

Expectation…

…but is much more likely to get this…

...vs. Reality

…vs. Reality

#4. “Where are the folders for the press kit??”

No reporter, especially at a trade show or conference, wants 20 folders worth of press kits to lug around.  Put that stuff on a microsite or, if you must, a thumb drive.  Hard copies, like cassette tapes and landlines, are so 20th century.  Speaking of which…

#3.  “Did you do all of your call-downs?”

Gather ’round, all ye young PR pups born in the 1980s, and let me tell you of a time long past…when pitching required the strange, bygone tactic of picking up a telephone, dialing “9” to get an out-of-office line, and actually calling a reporter with the goal of selling your story to them, via your voice…and your words…via telephonic communication!  WHAT???  Yes!

#2. “I don’t tweet.”

Well…you probably should.  According to MediaBistro, almost 60% of journalists worldwide are.  Here’s a nice little article from Social Media Today to help you get started.

#1. “Did the client get their daily clips?”

Hey, PR kiddies, did you ever wonder why news articles that mention your client are called “clips”?  Because back in the day, part of a PR person’s job (OK, usually the interns) was to actually read dozens of newspapers each morning – real, physical newspapers that get ink all over your fingers and everything – and cut out (or “clip”) articles that mentioned their client, paste these clips onto a sheet of paper, photocopy all of these articles and fax them to the client.  It was called “doing clips”.  It SUCKED.  Google Alerts have made clips go the way of the Dodo.

** Editorial Note: clip books are so old-school, I can’t even find a picture of one online…

That’s my take.  I ask you, my PR pro friends, what are some of your signs that your boss or a fellow PR person is out of touch?

The WORST Part of Obamacare…Is Its PR Campaign

“Obamacare” goes into effect across the nation today, ushering in a fundamental and sweeping change to our universally acknowledged struggling healthcare industry…and the public hates it.  Despite not even knowing what the heck it is.

I would say that this recent clip from ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ (below) says it all, but after you watch it, I’ll say more.

The essence of the clip: according to this CNBC poll, 46% of American oppose “Obamacare”, while only 37% oppose the “Affordable Care Act”…even though they’re THE EXACT SAME THING.

The Affordable Care Act IS “Obamacare” people!  Did you know that?  If not, you’re not alone.  Behold what your fellow dummies had to say on Kimmel.  But wait, before you do, I have something good to tell you.  Your ignorance, it’s not (totally) your fault.  It’s the Obama administration’s fault.  They’ve run an abysmal public education campaign to support (or, rather, more accurately, undermine) their own landmark piece of legislation.  But more on all of this after Kimmel…

For those of you who didn’t peep the video, some highlights:

Interviewer: “What do you agree with?  Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?”

Yokel in Baltimore Orioles cap: “I’m more sort of toward the Affordable Care Act…”

Interviewer: “So the Affordable Care Act is more affordable than Obamacare…”

Male ‘Jersey Shore’ reject in Lakers jersey exuding class with two – TWO – gold hoop ear-rings: “Just the name says it all.”

And, my personal favorite example of informed democratic debate…

Interviewer: “Do you think Obamacare is socialist?”

Graying Goatee Guy (**with pierced ear! but sans earring): “Yes I do.”

Interviewer: “Do you think the Affordable Care Act is socialist?”

Graying Goatee Guy (**with pierced ear! but sans earring): “No.”

SIGH

Facing all of us are some inescapable truths (unless you’re a House Republican).  The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.  The Affordable Care Act is probably not going away.  According to CNBC, 30% of the general public don’t know enough about the Affordable Care Act to have an opinion.

This ignorance is the result of a massive, epic fail on the part of the Obama administration to educate the public about what the Affordable Care Act is and how it will effect their lives.  This is not the Obama administration’s first epic communications fail.  His inability to utilize succinct, colorful, cohesive communications to inform and influence both the American people and Congress is arguably the Achilles heel of his entire Presidency (see most recently: Syria).  But that’s a blog for another day.  For now, let’s examine what the Obama administration did – or failed to do – when it came to informing the American people about the Affordable Care Act.

BIGGEST FAIL: IT’S CALLED “OBAMACARE”

Practically since the inception of the debate surrounding healthcare reform under President Obama, any iteration of a solution proposed by the President has been labeled by its opponents as “Obamacare”.  The prefix, in their minds, is intended to suggest “big government”, “socialism”, “hand outs” and “inefficient bureaucracy”.  It’s the kind of partisan messaging that, of course, both parties use but which the GOP specializes in (see: Luntz, Frank and “death tax”).  What’s been surprising, and slightly disappointing, is to see the media so enthusiastically adopt the moniker which has an intrinsically negative and partisan meaning.  Worse yet, President Obama has been using the term Obamacare, which is sort of the PR equivalent of committing harakiri.

The Obama administration is apparently “all in” on reclaiming the term from its negative connotation, which is why they’re using it.  They’re betting that, yeah, in October 2013 Obamacare is a nasty nickname, but in October 2023 it will sound a lot more like “the Monroe Doctrine”.  Which wouldn’t be an awful strategy, if polling didn’t clearly suggest – as the Kimmel clip above reinforces – that the American public hates it!  And has much more positive associations with the well named Affordable Care Act (Hey, who doesn’t love affordability?).  So, to support the successful implementation of the law and heartburn-free education of the public, why not just go with ‘Affordable Care Act’?

From its inception, the Obama administration should’ve categorically rejected the phrase “Obamacare” and instead consistently referred to the law as the Affordable Care Act.  This would’ve counteracted negative connotations associated with it and better de-positioned its opponents.  “What?  You oppose the Affordable Care Act?  You’re against millions of needy Americans receiving the affordable healthcare they so badly need??”  See what I mean?

PRETTY MUCH JUST AS BIG A FAIL: PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S IN IT

Polls have shown that when Americans find out what’s in the Affordable Care Act, they like it, even if they purport to not be crazy about the law as a whole.  This poll, ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s Supreme Court ruling in 2012, showed that 56% of Americans opposed the law as a whole.  BUT

  • 61 percent of respondents favored allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26
  • 72 percent of respondents wish to maintain the requirement that companies with more than 50 workers provide health insurance for their employees
  • 82 percent of respondents favored banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions

So, who’s fault is it that Americans don’t know what’s in the Affordable Care Act?  The Obama administration’s.  There should be nothing so easy to sell as good news.  And, frankly, as these poll results show, Americans think that the meat of the Affordable Care Act is good news.  Why isn’t everybody happy and excited to see it go into effect?  Because nobody’s been out there spreading the word.  Or nobody you care to hear in any place you’re interested in seeing or hearing about it.

Though the President is doing some press today  on the law, he should have been out in front of this for the past several YEARS banging the figurative drum on this key piece of his legacy.  There should’ve been an old-school whistle-stop tour of America, taking the good news straight to the people.  There should have been celebrity spokespeople educating not just the general public, but key segments of the population that are crucial to the success of the law. Namely young people who must participate to make the insurance pools work.  Beliebers for Obamacare, anyone?  Dr. Oz flacking for the Affordable Care Act.  The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast doing a radio or satellite media tour.  Joe Biden going on “Saturday Night Live”.  An honest to goodness public education campaign!

Sure, they worked with Funny or Die to get out this Obamacare-themed ‘Scandal’ parodylast week.  But where was this stuff last year?

I’m sure that the administration could point to any number of spokespeople doing any number of interviews on a variety of media outlets, all supported by reams of FAQs and Myth-Fact sheets on a myriad of websites.  But the bottom-line is – and the polls show – people haven’t seen this material.  They’re not talking about this material.  They’re sure as heck not educated about this material.  It’s not enough to create content, you also have to find a way to creatively, artfully and, most importantly, impactfully distribute, content and information.  If an Affordable Care Act falls in the woods…

FINAL FAIL – NOT APPEALING TO OUR BETTER ANGELS

In all likelihood, you don’t need “Obamacare”, but somebody less fortunate than you that you know does.

In an excellent breakdown of the Affordable Care Act by The Washington Post, they note that, “If you get health insurance through your employer or the government — as 80 percent of Americans do — it’s very unlikely that you’ll interact with Obamacare’s coverage expansion at all.”

You know who does need it, and who it’s designed to help?  (Again from The Washington Post):

Obamacare mostly matters most for the 20 percent of Americans who are either uninsured or get insurance on the individual (or “non-group”) market. Anyone in those groups can get insurance through Obamacare. Those who make more than the federal poverty line, but less than four times the poverty line ($94,200 for a family of four), can buy subsidized insurance on the marketplaces. Those making less than 133 percent of the poverty line, and living in a state that has accepted the Medicaid expansion, can get Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office expects that the Affordable Care Act will cover about 14 million of the uninsured in 2014 and 25 million by the end of the decade. That still leaves about 30 million people uninsured. More on them here.

That’s right, the uninsured, the poor, and folks who would’ve been denied by insurance companies before for pre-existing conditions.  About 30 million or so people – roughly 1 in 10 Americans – who were excluded or under-served by the pre-Obamacare health system.  Folks whose lack of adequate coverage could lead to massive medical bills resulting in personal bankruptcies and ruined lives.  Folks who chose to suffer from debilitating illnesses instead of seeking care which they knew they couldn’t afford.  Folks who would show up at emergency rooms seeking care for which they wouldn’t be denied, but that every American ultimately footed the bill for – which is a terribly inefficient and unfair way to run a healthcare system.

The Obama administration has allowed themselves to be backed into a corner when it comes to the purpose and effects of the Affordable Care Act.  Conservative talking points about the possible negative impacts to small businesses and the lack of “freedom” as a result of the law’s “individual mandate” requiring people to purchase insurance have dominated media coverage and public perception.

What’s been lost in all of the rhetoric is that, by and large, this law is about helping Americans who need help.  It’s about empowering the disadvantaged and, in the process, making the healthcare system more fair, equitable and efficient for all.  Call me old fashioned or sentimental, but I still believe that, when appropriately called to action, Americans rally around the idea of helping fellow Americans and making our society a bit better for the less fortunate.  Virtually nowhere in the rhetoric surrounding the healthcare debate have their been appeals to the American people to support healthcare reform most simply because it helps people who need help.

Obama is an incredibly cerebral president.  He’s been accused of being professorial, aloof and above partisan rhetoric, viewing it as demeaning, while simultaneously expecting ‘the American people’ to have the sophistication to see through B.S. and make wise decisions for their common good.

Well, as H.L. Menken is often (slightly mis-)quoted as saying, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”  (The real quote is: “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”)

Obama, however, has spent a painfully dear sum of his political capital in the process of that fatally consistent underestimation.  And, in the end, it’s the American people who are paying for it.  The Affordable Care Act is designed to help the American people.  By most projections, the Affordable Care Act will help the American people, or the people in America who need the most help.  It’s just a shame that the American people don’t know enough about it to help themselves.  If the president had spoken more plainly or clearly about it from the very beginning, perhaps we would.

To help YOU, understand the Affordable Care Act, here is a video from the Kaiser Family Foundation:

 

Flying High: Why Airlines Get Social Marketing Right

Originally published on the ShopIgniter.com blog

American Airlines

Airlines aren’t great at lots of stuff.  Airline food?  Not great.  Getting you to Newark on time?  Not great.  Mergers?  Ask American Airlines and US Airways.  Social marketing?  Pretty great, actually.

In May, social brand agency Headstream completed a Social Brands 100 report ranking, you guessed it, the top 100 brands in social marketing.  In the report, American Airlines took the second overall spot as the most engaged online brand in terms of leveraging Facebook and Twitter as platforms for interacting with fans and customers and for handling customer satisfaction issues.  Take that, guys who rank mergers!

As airline trade publication AviationPros.com reported, “Of the 700 brands studied for their social media presence, the top five performing companies in a wide-ranging report belonged to the travel industry, with American Airlines, Lufthansa, Thomson Holidays, and Thomas Cook UK taking the top spots after videogame franchise Battlefield.”

AviationPros.com also noted that overall travel brands represented 15 percent of the Social Brands 100 list.

Meanwhile, social media analytics outfit Social Bakers maintains nifty industry specific-reports, including one demonstrating how airlines stack up against each other on Facebook.  Though taken from a fairly small sample size of engagement – just the month of May 2013 – some interesting stats therein.  Congrats, Southwest Airlines, for having the most Facebook fans with nearly 3,800,000!

Another report reveals some of the airline industry trade secrets about how they successfully approach social marketing.  This one is called The State of Airline Marketing and was issued in April 2013 from airlinetrends.com and airline consultancy SimpliFlying.

As Samatha Shankman with travel intelligence company Skift noted of the report, and airline social marketing in general, “Social media has blurred the barriers between the corporate inner workings of these companies and the harried frustrated business travelers that they serve. This has brought about a renewed focus on real people, both passengers and staff, and content is created to being shared that relates to real flyers. Airlines are also showing the behind-the-scenes workings of their operations and the people that make the airline run.”

Which brings us to the first of three important reasons why airlines are so good at social media and social marketing:

Reason #1: They’re Sensitive to Customer Service

Airlines get high marks for social media engagement because, well, they’re engaged.  Airlines like Delta are leading the way in real-time customer satisfaction on social.  Why?  Because they have to.

Think of the typical flying experience.  If your flight is delayed, if your seat is dirty, if the flight attendant is snippy, nearly every passenger is capable – dare I say primed and ready – to share his or her dissatisfaction via Twitter or Facebook from their ever-present smartphone.

As you’re waiting to board, as you’re waiting to takeoff and as you’re waiting to de-plane (and, as we all know, air travel is really mostly waiting), the typical traveler’s eyes are glued to their phone and their ability to broadcast exactly what they’re not crazy about regarding their airline experience is simply a few keystrokes away.

Which is why in April 2010 Delta rolled out their Delta Assist program.  According to the The State of Airline Marketing report, “Delta Assist promises to offer 24/7 support and claims to reply to every query within 9 minutes on average, a benchmark that the rest of the industry is racing to catch up with. It has amassed a Twitter following of over 80,000 people and an average day sees it send out over 110 tweets.”

Delta Assist

Reason #2: They Know A Lot About Us

Window or aisle?  Vegetarian meal or carnivore?  First class or coach?

Just imagine how much airlines know about us.  Thanks to our frequent flier accounts, rewards credit cards and travel histories, they know more about us than just about any other brand we interact with.

They know where we live and where we travel.  They know when we travel.  They may even know where we like to stay when we arrive at our destination.  They know how old we are, where we shop, whether we can afford to fly coach or first class, what we like to eat, how often we travel and even which seats we like to sit in.

While every brand, not just those in the airline industry, is experimenting more and more with personalized, real-time marketing, airlines have a treasure trove of data that they very effective use to create segments of customers that they can then target with more relevant content.

Earlier this year, Virgin famously launched a service whereby passengers could flirt with and send drinks to other passengers via their seat-back entertainment systems.  It doesn’t get more personal, more real-time and more social than that.

Virgin Seatback

Reason #3: They’re Not Afraid to Experiment

Actually, the Virgin example from above could fit this category as well.  But whether it’s Virgin, American Airlines or AirAsia, airline brands aren’t afraid to experiment with social marketing, which often pays off with impressive results.

Top performing social brand, American Airlines, uses social marketing to humanize their brand and give customers a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.  Ever wonder how they de-ice a plane?  Or what happens to your bags after they you check them and they disappear down the conveyor belt/rabbit hole into Luggage Land?  American Airlines created their ‘Behind the Scenes’ video initiative to be more transparent and engaging.

As noted in the The State of Airline Marketing report: “Airline officials say that in an age when a traveler’s gripe can echo loudly across the Internet, American Airlines are launching video programs aimed at giving customers a realistic look at the inner workings of their operations.  Says Jonathan Pierce, AA’s director of social communications: ‘We’re really just trying to be more transparent and more open, and social (media) is about giving the customer an opportunity to connect with American and have a conversation with the brand, and we’re embracing that. We feel as though this is a great way of saying to our customers, ‘Tell us what you want to hear from American. Tell us what you what to know.’’ American’s campaign has been well-received, peaking at nearly 11,000 views for the checked bag video, with numerous blogs and sites taking note of AA’s more open style of communication.”

AirAsia, meantime, won a Silver award in the second annual Facebook Studio Award competition with a new spin on an old tactic – the giveaway.  According to Business Insider, “To market its new service to Sydney, AirAsia launched a contest that would award one user with a free flight on an A330 to Kuala Lumpur for the winner and 302 friends. Its Facebook fanbase grew 30%, more than 2 million people saw the competition, and 12,500 applied.”

AirAsia

And, last but not least, our friends at Virgin (America, this time) are back again with the fun “Summer of Selfies” promotion.

Between July 4 through July 7, fliers were encouraged to snap pics of themselves on board Virgin America flights and with the help of photo editing software and Gogo in-flight internet, share their shots onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine with #VXSelfie.

Each day, Virgin America chose their favorite selfie and retweeted them to their entire @VirginAmerica audience and gifted the flier with 10,000 frequent flier points good for blackout-free reward flights.

Virgin Selfies

Virgin America took something that entered the pop culture zeitgeist in a big way in summer 2013 – selfies – and which people claim to hate – and deftly turned it into a cute, fun promotion.  Not only that, but one aimed at Virgin America’s demographic – young, tech savvy, cool, affluent travelers.  Take a look at those selfies…not a lot of gray hair in there, is there?

Just goes to show you how easy and effective social marketing can be when you know your customers, engage with them and, y’know, experiment and have a little fun sometimes along the way as well.

The [Un]official Content Marketing Calendar

Originally published on the ShopIgniter.com blog

Today is July 17.  Did you know that, according to Brafton, ‘Back to School’ marketing starts…now?

Back to School

 

If you’re anything like me, you hate it when retailers start blasting Christmas music while Halloween candy is still on the shelves (unless it’s Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ – I love that song).  Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?  Poor Thanksgiving.  So overlooked, so under-marketed.  And why?

Because unless you’re selling turkeys, cranberry sauce or pilgrim outfits, Thanksgiving doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities for a diverse set of retailers to market into.  And, with the granddaddy of shopping holidays right around the corner, marketers save their dough for Christmas marketing.

‘Back to School’ in July.  Christmas in October.  Everybody knows that marketers and advertisers pump out content ahead of holidays and events to generate demand.  But what does the [un]official content marketing calendar look like?  In my opinion, something like this…. (Let’s see if you agree…)

JANUARY

If you thought New Year’s, you thought wrong.  That’s in December.  Everybody already has their champagne and party hats by January 1st.  Marketers are looking ahead to the next month and its secular holidays and the next year in terms of trends stories.

  • ‘The Year Ahead’ stories and predictions
  • Early Valentine’s Day
  • Early Super Bowl…which, of course, is a trademarked term, so is more often referred to as “The Big Game”

FEBRUARY

Ah, yes, St. Valentine’s month.  The month of love, romance, roses…and jewelry commercials.  Not to mention the month of the actual Super Bowl itself.  The cost of a 30-second ad during the game this year?  $4 million dollars, by the way.

MARCH

The old saying goes that March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.  Really, though, March just roars all month long.  March is a time when everybody itches to shake off the cabin fever of the long winter and taste a piece of spring.  Too often, though, that taste of spring is in the form of green beer.  March is, in fact, a party month.

  • St. Patty’s Day.  The time of aforementioned green beer and partying.  Every brand seems to find a way to wear the green and claim, at least for a day, to be a little Irish.
  • March Madness…which, you should know, like “Super Bowl” is actually a trademarked term.  And which is why most advertisers don’t actually use it.  According to USA Today, it can cost upwards of $35 million to become an official licensed partner of the NCAA (which runs the annual men’s basketball championship tournament from which “March Madness” derives its name and which owns the phrase and regulates its usage).
  • Spring Break
  • Tax Season

APRIL

April is a slow month for marketers.  Aside from major religious holidays (Easter, Passover), it lacks marketing-driven, saint-sanctioned, yet secular, sales-fests like St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

MAY

In May you’ve got Mom, Memorial Day and Mexico.  Or, rather, Cinco de Mayo, which you might not have known, isn’t actually Mexico’s independence day, but rather it’s “most patriotic holiday” (according to Wikipedia…and who am I to argue with Wikipedia?).

JUNE

Yes, June actually is when summer kicks in, so the month features a lot of travel and vacation marketing.  It’s also the time of “Dads & Grads” for Father’s Day and high school and college graduations.

  • Father’s Day
  • “Dads & Grads”
  • June is also national Gay/LGBT Pride Month, which is becoming a more mainstream, trendy topic that more and more brands are taking advantage of in clever ways.  Like, believe it or not, fancy mustard-maker Grey Poupon.  Grey Poupon did a gay pride ad?  Yup.  And it’s cool.  The Facebook ad received nearly 20,000 “likes,” more than 3,500 shares.

Grey Poupon

JULY

As we’ve already discussed, believe it or not, July is a time to look ahead to ‘Back to School’ marketing.  As well as, obviously, the 4th of July.

  • ‘Back to School’
  • 4th of July
  • Bastille Day.  OK, it’s not the 4th of July.  Or even Cinco de Mayo.  Or even Canada Day, which is celebrated on July 1.

AUGUST

Ever wonder why there’s not much marketing in August?  It’s because we’re all on vacation.  Of course, ‘Back to School’ marketing kicks into high gear, but other than that, it’s a thin time for marketers – and anybody else doing business.

Watermelon

SEPTEMBER

September is the best month of the year for a large majority of the male population in this country.  Yes, Labor Day is nice.  Sure, the kids are back in school, which can be a relief to many.  But, to most, September kicks-off, literally, the best time of the year…football season!

OCTOBER

Boo!  October is, obviously, dominated by Halloween marketing.  However, Halloween marketing has widely diversified to include the usual stuff (costumes and candy) and to include other things.  Halloween is the time when Hollywood rolls out its scariest movies.  With a lot of kids on the streets ‘trick or treating’ and parties, it’s also become a significant ‘awareness campaign’ month for everything from child safety to drunk driving.

  • Halloween
  • The beginning of, yes, Holiday Season (cue the Mariah Carey…)
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which has become a marketing juggernaut (no cheeky pun intended), with its trademark pink splashed on everything from NFL uniforms to Major League Baseball bats and more.

Tatas

NOVEMBER

Poor Thanksgiving.  It’s hardly worth mentioning as a marketing opportunity.  As retailers head into Black Friday and the heart of the holiday shopping season, Christmas and holiday shopping dominates November marketing.

Thanksgiving

DECEMBER

December is, duh, dominated by holiday shopping.  However, in terms of content marketing, it’s also the time of the ‘year in review’ byline/infographic/blog post and the ‘predictions for next year’ piece as well.

  • Holidays (Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa)
  • New Year’s Eve – a.k.a. the only time the folks at Korbel work all year (I kid, I kid…)
  • ‘Year in Review’ pieces
  • ‘Year Ahead’ pieces
  • And let us not forget, of course, FESTIVUS!

That’s it, your [un]official content marketing calendar year in review.  What did I miss?  Which of your favorite marketing opportunities – holidays, awareness days, consumer trends, societal obligations – didn’t make the list?  Let us know.  We love to find clever, engaging marketing opportunities wherever they exist.

Edward Snowden Isn’t A Traitor…Or A Patriot…He’s A Millenial

"I've been a spy pretty much my entire adult life..." Puh-leeze

“I’ve been a spy pretty much my entire adult life…” Puh-leeze

I’ll admit it – I’ve been a bit at odds with myself over what to think about the (not so ‘alleged’) NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The “Patriot” argument (which I’ve been leaning “against”) goes something like this: Conscientious and moralistic young fella takes it upon himself to share extensive details of classified information about the NSA’s massive surveillance programs because, damn it, this should be a public debate and he doesn’t, “…want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

The “Traitor” argument – excellently annunciated by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker (obviously I lean this way) goes something like this: Possibly narcissistic egomaniac takes it upon himself to unilaterally burn the national security infrastructure because, damn it, it violates his own personal sense of propriety…nevermind the fact that the NSA’s surveillance was all legally sanctioned.

Look – I’m clearly in the “Traitor” argument camp.  Though, “traitor” has never struck me as the right word to use here.  Traitors are typically driven by greed or revenge or political persuasion or, well, other words that start with the letter “p”.  (Yeah, I said it.)  This guy…his motives are just so confusing.

It’s hard to believe that he was shocked, appalled or, frankly, even surprised by the scope and detail of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities and operations.  It really is.  Anybody who’s seen, oh, ANY spy thriller in the past twenty years has seen this type of thing play out in highly educational detail in numerous movies and TV shows.  (Hello! ‘Enemy of the State’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Spy Games’, ’24’, ‘Zero friggin’ Dark Thirty’…the list goes on…)

Hell, Sean Hannity’s even taken the amazing(ly craven) tack of being for it (under Bush) before he was against it (now).  Either way, the NSA’s activities weren’t a huge secret.

Basically, Snowden hasn’t really leaked anything new, unknown or outrageously out of bounds versus what he – and any literate person in this country – has known for years.  Yet, he felt the need to purposely dump classified material into the hands of The Guardian and The Washington Post about it.  Not because his nation or the NSA was doing anything nefariously illegal or even particularly carefully hidden.  But because, y’know, he didn’t dig it.  He had a personal problem with it.  And rather than solve that problem through established institutions – like say, the ACLU or his congressman or, heck, even the Electronic Frontier Foundation – he went all bush league Jason Bourne.

Hmm…sounds like he felt entitled for national policy to be different than whatever morality met his own personal standards.  Sounds like “the rules” didn’t apply to him and he felt that he deserved to act in whatever way suited him.  Sounds like he felt that what was best for Edward Snowden was more important than what was best for everyone else.  Sounds like he felt like he knew better than the NSA and the CIA…and that was good enough for him to cause millions (billions?) of dollars worth of damage to the national security apparatus of this country and deal a nasty, embarrassing blow to American prestige.

Sounds narcissistic.  Sounds entitled.  Sounds a little naive.  Sounds like a millenial.  As Joel Stein noted in his Time piece on millenials, this is a generation where, “The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.”

That’s what Edward Snowden is.  He isn’t necessarily a patriot…or a traitor…he’s a twenty-something millenial who thinks the world should be shaped to fit his standards, rather than he should work within the constructs of established institutions and authorities.  He probably expects to get a participation medal from the NSA just for showing up for this debacle.

Yaaay, Edward!!!

Yaaay, Edward!!!

Frankly, I don’t think this guy thought all that deeply about the consequences of his actions.  He’s smart enough to know that he didn’t leak any real national treasures and that, frankly, this sort of NSA surveillance has been going on for a long, long time and in plain, legally sanctioned sight.  I don’t think Edward Snowden was thinking about saving all of us.  I think Edward Snowden was thinking about how awesome this would be for Edward Snowden.  This is just one, giant, self-indulgent selfy from the generation that invented them and has taken self-aggrandizement to lofty new heights.

This is a dude who, despite not graduating high school and only attending community college (sorry if that offends any of you who “only” went to community college…but I expect my national security cyber-spies to be a little smarter than the cast of ‘Community’) and starting at the NSA as…wait for it…a security guard, said, “I’ve been a spy almost all of my adult life,”.  Uh…no!  No you haven’t!  I play in a pick-up basketball game every Monday and Thursday night and played some high school ball.  That’s like me saying, “I’ve been a pro basketball player almost all of my adult life…”

Additionally, this guy has BS’d his choice of Hong Kong as a safe haven.  According to Snowden, he chose Hong Kong because of the city’s, “…spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”  Hey – James Bond – Hong Kong is run by Beijing.  Y’know, the same government that actually does restrict personal internet freedoms and read everything everybody does online.  And, they have an extradition agreement with the U.S.  Most people who have been spies almost all of their adult lives would know that, you’d think.  But, more tellingly, it just seems like this dude has an Asian fixation.

Slate unearthed a goldmine of Snowden’s prior online comments and posts on message boards.  From Slate:

On countries he wouldn’t mind moving to, from a 2006 post (a topic that’s still relevant):

My list, in order (just like in the poll!) would be:

Japan
Thailand
Korea
China
Australia

China, Korea, and australia might be swapped, though. They’re sort of nebulous.

What happened to all of that ‘commitment to free speech’ stuff, huh?  They don’t have things like that in more widely acknowledged political safe havens like, oh, Iceland?  Sure they do.  They just don’t have any Asian chicks there.  (Well, probably not many…certainly not as many as Hong Kong…)

Whether one sees Snowden as a patriot or a traitor really depends much more upon where one falls in the digital privacy debate.  What seems beyond debate, to me, is that Snowden seems hugely self-aggrandizing, naive rather than moralistic and impatient (or entitled) rather than idealistic.  This guy is more Amanda Bynes than Daniel Ellsberg.

What’s perhaps most worrisome, and other writers have noted, is that this sort of guy had access to the sort of information that he did.  And what we should all be concerned about is what other members of the ‘Me, Me, Me’ generation are going to continue to do when existing societal instituions just don’t meet the standards of their carefully cultivated and wildly over-valued senses of selves.  Will the future of activism be more Occupy Wall Street (don’t hear much about them anymore…maybe it’s because the Dow is at all-time highs) or Mr. “I’ve been a spy almost all of my adult life..” Edward Snowden?

Time will tell.  But how much more national treasure will be sacrificed on the Facebook-built altars of delusional young narcissists with gargantuan senses of entitlement built on decades of trophies they’ve never earned and demands for empowerment that they don’t deserve?