Archive for October, 2014

Do You Agree With the Judges?

October 29, 2014

DVRs, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go have all made tuning into our favorite TV shows on our own time and without commercial interruptions much easier. Our favorite half-hour sitcoms are now 20 minutes and we can watch a half-hour show and an hour long show in just 60 minutes. Why sit through commercials when you can get 10-20 minutes of your life back?

Is there anything that can be done to draw viewers back to watching their favorite shows in real time? It looks like there is. A guilty pleasure TV show of mine recently introduced live polling and voting during their 12th season. Project Runway utilized second-screen interactivity to urge fans to watch the show in real time and vote for their favorite designers, ask audience members if they agree with the judges, and determine who fans thought had the strongest or the weakest design.

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Many shows, including Project Runway, have tapped into second-screen interactivity by encouraging viewers to use hashtags specifically for the show, vote for contests, and select activities or challenges that would be featured on the show. America’s Next Top Model has a (not very well defined) social media score from viewers that impacts a contest’s chance of winning the contest. Chopped has special episodes in which participants have to create dishes from basket ingredients selected by show viewers, and Bones has a fan of the week that is determined via social media.

What makes me wonder about the live polling is what impact it has on the show overall. Live polling allows the producers to see what people are thinking as they watch the show. Do they like a specific designer? What would happen to the viewership if the judgers sent a specific designer home? If you’re familiar with the show you know that host Tim Gunn has a “save” in which he can bring back an eliminated designer. Live polling is a great tool to use in attempting to make decisions based on audience reactions.

What do you think? Would you base scripting decisions off of audience feelings, or do you think you would move forward with the show as planned? What else would you do what that audience information?

I Wanted an Upgrade

October 29, 2014

When I found the IMC program, I knew I wanted to be part of it. What really got my attention was the chance to learn today then apply the knowledge to my job tomorrow. This, combined with the overall relaxed-yet-professional feel of the program, sold it. I looked at other online programs, but they seemed full of themselves, steeped in theory and they were way more expensive.

My Journey to IMC

The decision to pursue a Master’s Degree, from just entertaining the idea to enrolling in IMC classes, took about three years. So why did it take me three years to decide? Life. I found out I was having a second baby, make that second and third baby (surprise). So I put grad school on the back burner.

The Lamphere family 2013. Kate, Sean, Livia, me and Violet.

The Lamphere family 2013. Kate, Sean, Livia, me and Violet.

I graduated from the University of North Texas in 1997 with a Business Journalism degree. Back then I wanted to win a Pulitzer Prize. Instead I landed in sleepy little towns working as a community journalist for 10 years. I loved the chance to engage and inform people. I learned that everyone has a story to tell and that story will change someone else’s life. My career took me from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas to Kitsap County, Washington state back to Austin, Texas. In 2007 I made the leap from reporter/editor to public relations writer. I also went from the private sector to the public sector. The Texas Comptroller’s office needed an Information Specialist, and I got the job. At first I wrote economic articles for the external newsletters and edited tax documents. Two years in, I got the chance to write marketing copy for the Texas Tuition Promise Fund and the Texas Unclaimed Property Program. Pretty soon I was the go-to person for ad copy.

I love taglines, headlines, playing with words and connecting people with information. But I knew my dusty J-school degree would not be enough in this digital world where more and more people were getting advanced degrees. So around 2010 I began my research. Then the girls came along and we went from a family of 3 with two incomes to a family of 5 with one income – mine. Now I really had to do something to boost my marketability and potential earning power.

IMC Experience

I applied to the IMC program and got accepted just weeks before the Early Fall 2013 term started. It was scary at first. I wasn’t sure if I would be up for the task. But it was one of the best decisions I have made. I have enjoyed most of the classes and the few that just weren’t my cup of tea, I ended up learning the most from. My favorite so far has been 637 Internal Communications and Branding because it applies to my current job as Internal Communications Specialist for the Texas Department of Transportation. A close second would be Creative Strategy & Execution. It was fun and really challenged my creative thinking skills. I am currently taking 641 Social Media & Marketing because I feel I am weak in that area. I am not a digital native and social media still seems like a fad in my reporter’s mind.

I have completed 6 courses, so I am aiming for a December 2015 graduation. I look forward to the two core courses, one specialty and the capstone I have to take. More than that, I look forward to interacting with fellow IMCers and learning as much as I can from the IMC experience. P.S. I’ll be rooting for the Mountaineers as they play the UT Longhorns on Nov. 8. For those of you in the Austin area, come to the open house  on Nov. 11 to see how great the IMC program really is. I will definitely be there.

Hello from Knoxville, TN

October 23, 2014

I’ve introduced myself in 10 IMC courses so far, but it never comes easy. I’m excited to have signed on as a student blogger as I wrap up the program and practice my cap tossing for May 2015.

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Julie Link

I live in Knoxville, TN, where I work at Scripps Networks Interactive, more specifically HGTV and DIY Network, as the Director of Research and Consumer Insights. I’ve worked at SNI in various capacities for 13 years, but always in the Research Department. My group is responsible for daily reporting on network performance along with understanding and sharing audience, category and media insights. I’m also responsible for ongoing primary research studies that monitor the health of the networks.

SNI_V_STACK6_SMALL_BLUEAfter finishing my undergraduate degree at Indiana University in telecommunications and sociology, I moved to New York City and landed my first job — sales assistant at E! Network. With a couple of years of skyscrapers and subways out of my system, I retreated home to Knoxville.

While I’ve been in the workforce for nearly 15 years, my experience is limited to two companies so I decided to pursue IMC as a way of broadening my business perspective. At the end of the IMC program I hope that I look back to confirm that I know more than I thought, but I also hope I have a few of those light-bulb-over-the-head moments when something clicks and I’m able to put it seamlessly into action in my day job. My goal as a blogger is to let you in on some of those light bulb moments.

In real life I’m a mom to the two best kids in the world. My daughter Keaton, is a first grader and my son, Jay, is three years old. My husband, Rob, is the director of Community Relations for a national non-profit and he coaches youth hockey. Our Boston Terrier, Ruby Sue, is my IMC sidekick as she is my loyal foot-warmer and late-night companion. Any guesses as to the movie character who goes by the same name – Ruby Sue?

I like to sew and ride my bike (leisurely with the kids – not a serious cyclist) and I’m always on the lookout for really good BBQ. During our summer vacation I realized all four of us had our WVU gear packed so with ice cream and candy bribes in full effect, I convinced my family we needed a photo.

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The Link family attempts to take a photo wearing WVU gear on the last day of a beach vacation.

This was the best we got – Rob reminding me to take sunglasses off, Keaton’s hair blowing in the wind while she adjusts her flip flop and sand in Jay’s eyes. Picture perfect. We can be real here, right?

Let the Adventure Begin!

October 21, 2014

Hey Media and Marketing Mountaineers! My name is Sarah Shank and I’m really excited to be a new WVU IMC blogger because… I’m always up for a new adventure! And blogging is just like adventure racing or bobsledding or paragliding, right?

Me following the paddle leg of a run, mt. bike, paddle, swim adventure race.

Me following the paddle leg of a run, mt. bike, paddle, swim adventure race.

Myself, brother and boyfriend prior to plunging down the bobsled course at Lake Placid.

Myself, brother and boyfriend prior to plunging down the bobsled course at Lake Placid.

I joined the WVU IMC program in August 2013 and picked it because of the flexibility the program provides as well as the topic area. I really believe in the IMC approach and think it’s the future for our field as marketers and communicators. When we are able to effectively cross communications/marketing boundaries and take a more holistic approach to campaigns and business, we can more powerfully engage employees, consumers and stakeholders. Throughout my career, I’ve found that the more integrated that teams become, the more successful of an outcome a campaign or brand will be – by working together we can transform one-way messages and instead build robust dialogues. I’m currently a Senior Manager of Communications at a public health non-profit that is dedicated to tobacco prevention. My organization is best known for our work in building counter-marketing media and behavior-change campaigns, namely the truth® campaign – which just re-launched this summer. In my current work, I have been fortunate to empower young people at all levels to create social change.

I’m fascinated by cause-related marketing and social engagement and I pride myself on finding innovative ways to promote projects and initiatives via earned media, integrated tactics and collaborative partnerships. By doing so, I’ve been able to help elevate the topic of tobacco and health equity nationwide. By taking an IMC approach to educating and empowering audiences, we each have the ability to make an impact that will far outlast ourselves. I consider myself a passionate communicator and I’ve come to believe that trust, transparency and positivity are powerful tools that every IMC professional has at their fingertips and I’m honored to have a job which provides me with the unique opportunity to help shape the way that people see the world.

Communications girl by day, activity junkie by night. When I’m not at work or writing for school, you can find me in the CrossFit gym, playing adult floor hockey, seeking out a crazy escapade or enjoying as much time outside as possible – be it hiking through the trees, squishing my toes in the sand or taste-testing at a new restaurant patio. Photo proof:

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emerald isle

Now nearly 9 years ago, my mom had a life-saving liver transplant – it was an experience that completely changed my perspective on the world. I visit my family often in my hometown of Rochester, NY and I try hard to make every moment matter. Needless to say, I have much love for my fam… and our bulldog Bentley – they totally crack me up and keep me sane.

Rochester!

Rochester!

I’ve stayed in Washington, DC since attending undergrad at American University and finally I can call myself a true Washingtonian. My boyfriend and I bought our first place last August and have perfected the art of teamwork through home improvement the past 12 months. If you can live together while renovating a one bedroom/one bath and working full time and doing grad school, I’m pretty sure you can accomplish anything. I can now add floor tiling, toilet installation and paint nearly everything to my resume.

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For those students who I have not met in class, I look forward to it. IMC students who are ever visiting DC, please give me a shout – I love meeting people and sharing a list of favorite spots!

Sarah

Analogies.

October 16, 2014

So I write. A lot.

At work, it’s ad copy, press releases, website content, tweets, Facebook posts, marketing plans and other collateral. For school, any IMC student will tell you their weeknights and weekends are busy writing discussion board posts, responding to classmates, and typing many, many papers. In my free time- well, you’re reading this now so blogging shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I spend so much time with words, yet I can forget to appreciate the power of language.

This recent article about the historical relevance of analogies reminded me that language has played an important role in innovation. Henry Ford, Steve Jobs- these innovators made the unfamiliar familiar through either implicit or explicit analogies to the butchering assembly line and desk organization.

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Analogies can help consumers welcome the unfamiliar… like a virtual desktop. (Photo Credit: http://www.amandatotorodesign.com)

Today, whenever I hear the word “desktop,” the first thing that comes to mind is virtual, not physical. That’s how powerful language can be, that the analogized object can become the prime reference.

Initially, consumers were more likely to welcome the computer desktop interface because they understood how to approach it based on approaches to organize a real desk. Today, Apple continues to introduce the new by referencing the old.

What untapped analogies will innovators use next?

-R

WiFi Advertising

October 15, 2014

During a recent vacation we encountered an unwanted interruption in the McDonald’s drive-through. Our navigation was interrupted by a McDonald’s ad. Luckily we were at the drive-through and we were not at risk of getting lost, but this wasn’t the first time this has happened. My friend said that he often has troubles with his phone automatically connecting to business WiFi and prompting ads that interrupt the use of his phone even after he set his phone to not automatically connect to WiFi.  Simplying driving by business downtown has interrupted his navigation and displayed annoying ads for different products and services.

With the phones settings aside, is it acceptable to automatically disrupt what the user is doing in order to display ads from a business that supplies free WiFi?  The business is paying for the use of WiFi, so why not? When you check into a hotel, you have to visit a page on the hotel web site in order to agree to terms and conditions before logging onto the internet.  Is this different? I would argue yes, because driving by a location that offers free WiFi is enough to prompt an ad.  With cell phones, navigation, and other distractions, drivers need to focus on paying attention and not backing out of ads from local business while they’re worrying about where to turn.

So, how do you entice people to visit your business and take advantage of the WiFi (and other wonderful products and services)? Oddly enough, McDonald’s also had a very interesting way to solve this problem.

McDonld’s has also used WiFi to entice nearby wireless users to stop by and use their WiFi. Brilliant Ads shared the photo below on Twitter. The difference here being that the customer was seeking out the use of WiFi and were encouraged to visit as they tried to connect.

 

I think the second ad campaign is an interesting and unique way to advertise the fact that McDonald’s offers free WiFi and the campaign encourages customers to visit a McDonald’s.  I think it also matches the image McDonald’s is trying to create.  I remember walking into our local McDonald’s a few years ago and seeing a rage of newspapers offered, updating seating and colors, TV screens showing news stations, and a cozy fireplace instead of outdated booths and ketchup stains.  I’m not sure the new restaurant image fits with their food image, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The second tactic brings people into the store who are seeking out their services. If driving by and connecting to WiFi is all it takes to disrupt navigation or other cell phone function, shouldn’t businesses be more conscientiousness about this? In my opinion, it only makes the user more irritated and potentially less likely to use their services in the future.

What do you think? Have you found these ads to ever be useful? Are there differences between opt-in and auto-generated ads?

Would You Type Like Tom Hanks?

October 2, 2014

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Tom Hanks is bringing typewriters to the 21st century. Inspired by his love of typewriters, the actor developed an app called Hanx Writer, where modern technology meets classic typewriter sounds.

You might think app users would detest the feature that doesn’t allow for deleting lines at a time as it makes writing and editing a slower process. However, consumers seem charmed by the app’s nostalgia as Hanx Writer was recently named the top downloaded iTunes app.

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I’m constantly fascinated by retro revivals with a modern twist. Instagram filters that make high-quality photos look old. Redesigned Polaroid cameras that remind us how satisfying it can be to wait for a printed photo to come into focus. A typewriter app that embodies all of the technology’s features except for its physical form. The pull between new and old creates an entirely new experience in itself. Whether that experience is better or worse than is up to the user.

Do you think the writing process benefits from slower technology?

-R