By Falynne Smith, public relations chair, Board of Directors, RAF
I don’t work in advertising. I’ve never created a commercial, I don’t share an office with those creative guys with the thick black-rimmed glasses and I definitely don’t know how to use InDesign. I’ve actually spent my entire career working in public relations. So why am I blogging on the RAF website and more importantly, why did I join the RAF Board of Directors?
Marketing and communications practices today are not what they were 10 or even five years ago. Back when people didn’t spend half of their lives online, everyone stuck to their own siloed tasks. If you worked in PR, you pitched reporters. If you were a graphic artist, you created cool visuals and if you worked in advertising, well, you made ads. Those days are gone. The lines are continuing to blur and integrated marketing practices are now the new norm. Marcom professionals unwilling to step outside of their roots and expand their skills sets are quite frankly, going to get lost in the shuffle.
Joining the RAF has offered me an inside look at the advertising world, through the eyes of some of Rochester’s best and brightest. From freelancers, to photographers, account managers and many more, the RAF Board and its members are passionate about their field and even more so about sharing that passion with others.
If you’re a curious marketing or communications professional who’s interested in learning a bit more about your advertising counterparts, consider joining us – just be prepared to be inspired.
#10 – As part of the “No Creative Left Behind” program, all submissions will be displayed online before the event.
#9 – It’s one more opportunity to be able to write off a whole evening of partying as a business expense.
#8 – Where else can you give a rival agency the “stink-eye” without the risk of a fist fight?
#7 – Drink orders via Tweet.
#6 – Your work will be seen by the entire Rochester Advertising Community, not just the 15 people in the “target audience.”
#5 – You may show up single, but you could leave with a new client.
#4 – Rumor has it that Joe Mayernik is planning an interpretive digital dance routine.
#3 – Side-effects may include a swelling of your network and increased visibility in the Ad community.
#2 – There’s no penalty for excessive celebration.
#1 – We need to show those sissies in Minneapolis (aka judges) just what the Rochester Ad community’s made of.
Submitted by Andrea Zuegel and Matt Smythe
Hey, thanks again to all you who made it out to Tap & Mallet last night. It’s cool that we’re seeing new faces at every event. Prez Joe just emailed me and asked me to do a quick recap, so here goes:
My talk was about creating websites with great user experience. While “user experience” doesn’t sound sexy (many people don’t even know what it means), it’s a critical part of any website development. At its most basic level, it’s about having good organization and solid content. More specifically, I focus on three things:
- Great content
- Easy Navigation
- A Little Mind Reading
What it all boils down to is asking yourself what your user’s main needs might be and going over the top to deliver on that. Whether it’s letting them embed your videos on their Facebook page, linking them to research that supports buying your product or making your navigation foolproof. The mind reading comes in when you anticipate something they haven’t even thought of yet that delivers even better customer service.
We had some great questions about the value of usability studies (I am an advocate) and about how to talk clients out of their bad navigation ideas . A good time was had by all. Hope to see you next time.
An idea has been slowly percolating in my head the past few weeks — partly from personal need as a non-profit board member, partly from need I witnessed at the last Speed Date event. It’s based on the following circumstances:
- There is a large community of non-profits in Rochester, most of which do not have staff or money to publicize their services.
- There is a large pool of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed arts/communications students in the area that are eager for real-world experience prior to graduation.
- Additionally, we have this great service in the Ad Council, that helps non-profits figure out what their messaging is, and some tactical ideas of how to execute. But I always have the sinking feeling that the execution won’t happen due to lack of resources.
So, the percolating idea is that we (the marketing/advertising community) find a way to coordinate student workers for non-profits. I know this is not a new idea, but I don’t know where it fell down in the past. I realize this is not only hooking up workers with work — there will need to be some oversight by a volunteer mentor, to keep the work on strategy. Perhaps this is a rotating responsibility, or one mentor is matched up to each agency.
I’ll be checking in with the Ad Council to see what role they may play, but would love to hear from all of you as to if and how you think this may work.
Every so often, I go on a tear about something that’s being overused in our industry, and I get fixated on it. My latest gripe: the profile piece. You know, nice big picture of someone followed by an up-close-and-personal about how the product/organization/company changed their lives. Higher ed is plagued with them. It’s not the concept itself that is bad, it’s that most of them end up following a prescribed outline that ends up sounding inauthentic and canned. They’re no longer differentiating.
But just as my grumbling was starting to bug even me, I came across a remedy that I think offers real value. The Simon School of Business recently (I think) redid their site, and their homepage caught my attention big time. What looked like another series of feature profiles is instead a series of hard facts that clearly define the Simon advantage. You still get the nice engaging people shot, but what’s behind it has a lot more tooth and relevance.
Today’s audience is more discerning than ever. Tell me what I need to know, and tell me why I should care. Once I’m engaged, the story telling can take me further, but I think we need to do a better job of making our case up front.
I love going to the Clothesline art festival each year. Partly to find my favorite jewelry artist, partly to see something new, and of course, there’s people watching. But this year I caught a different angle that had me distracted: that was the efforts of Rochester’s non-profits to market themselves at this event. Maybe you noticed them — the tables along the back road of the gallery. I happened to be manning one (volunteer) so I had a few hours to watch and reflect. My question to you all is, how does an organization make itself relevant at these gatherings?
I watched my neighbors across the way: Cobblestone School was trying to entice kids over by handing out little pipe-cleaner animals; a breast cancer survivor group was handing out calendars. I wouldn’t call any of this terribly engaging. How about the Finger Lakes Burn Unit (no disrespect, but really?). I put this question out there, because I believe that event marketing is really important. People at events usually have money, they’re in a location for a period of time, therefore somewhat captive, and it’s a great time for face-to-face communication, which is rare. Thoughts?
I first heard the term mega drop-down from usability expert, Jakob Nielsen. Not sure it’s a technical term, but it refers to hover-over, drop-down navigation extraordinaire that has categories, columns, links and more. It’s super helpful, and it’s a key component of Yahoo!’s new interface.
Mega drop-downs fly out from shortcuts sidebar
The new Yahoo! homepage sports a “favorites” bar along the left hand side. Icon/links for key areas of interest like sports, finance, facebook, eBay and a dozen or so other topics are included. Here’s the mega part: when you hover over any of the icons, a mega drop-down pops out, with a few key piece of info — stuff you’re most likely to want to see (or at least that’s what the designers are banking on). For example, a quick hover gives you the state of the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P. Place your mouse over eBay, and you’ll see the most-watched items, and a search box. Facebook gives you direct access to your login. True to its original intent, Yahoo! has once again made itself a reason to be your portal.
This is also a brilliant move for advertising, as each of the mega drop-downs has room for an ad… which of course, is targeted to the area of interest. Nice job of combining user benefits with money-making options for the site.
— Andrea Zuegel
I’ve been accused on occasion of being a next steps junkie. What can I say, I get wrapped up in something, and I want to know what’s next. So, it’s no surprise that I think the best webpages are those that have a next step. What do I mean?
I just finished reading the latest blog post from Wegmans Organic Farm. Courtney the intern had a fabulous trip to a local Virginia farm and had loads of great facts and pictures about their yummy produce. By the end of the post I could almost taste those tomatoes, and thankfully, she ended with a link to a recipe for tomato salad. Great next step.
Another example: a theater review article in City Newspaper gives ticket information at the close, along with a link to the theater website, so you can buy tickets.
And of course, the obvious, if you tell me about a product, also link me to where I can buy it. Cnet does an especially nice job of this even though they’re not the ones making the sale (phone example).
That said, next steps don’t always make sense. Latest example – epicurious and their new wine widget. Here’s the idea: they pair several wines with each recipe, and give you links to buy it (for shipping). Here’s where it falls down: if you’re like me, you look up a recipe the day you want to make it. By the time you order wine and it’s delivered, the meal is long gone. What would be really cool, is if they linked you to your local wine shop for the sale, instead. Nice business arrangement there, too.
My point is that no matter what message you’re trying to convey to your website visitor, you can always win points by anticipating their next move, and making it easy. It’s good usability, and good business.
I’ve been noticing something about today’s popular media: people want to consume their favorite music/tv shows/movies in as many ways as possible. They want to watch it, listen to it, share it with friends, learn more about every aspect of it. Smart marketers have created multiple touchpoints to encourage this interaction.
Maybe I’m late to the party as far as noticing this, but here are the two recent examples that struck me:
1. Glee. This new Fox tv show aired its pilot last month, and it was so popular that the producers have been pressed to come up with more content for fans. Apparently the feature song (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’) was so popular on iTunes, that they’ve had to add additional music choices. The website is chock full of character interviews, actor bios and a photo gallery. Extras include Glee chewing gum (seriously), iTunes downloads and of course, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter fan clubs. Fans can be interacting with the stuff and feel that they stay connected until the show is back on in the fall.
2. New Moon. The highly anticipated follow up to the Twilight movie doesn’t hit theaters until November, but producers know that the fans don’t have that kind of patience. Posters for the new movie (with buffed up versions of hearthrobs Edward and Jacob) released online several weeks ago, and the producers brilliantly timed the trailer release with the MTV movie awards, where it got tons of hype. These two gifts to the fans were very well received. I’m curious what else they’ll give us between now and November.
May 8th Ad Age carried an article about McDonald’s buying a prime time road block on hulu.com. The idea is to deliver viewers 8 hours of uninterrupted primetime viewing, with no commercials. Instead, McDonalds gets a screen surround that will carry a promotional message about their new McCafé drinks and links to their promotional, entertaining microsite.
Couple thoughts on this: first, I love it. Don’t know about you, but having the choice to click on something that I see in my peripheral vision for an extended period of time is much more effective than being interrupted all the time. And, being a dvr-user, guess what – those interruptions never even reach me. Second, once I’m done watching my show, I’m much more likely to be in a “what’s next” mode, and happily click for more entertainment on a microsite. You’ve now got my full attention.
Seems like a great opportunity, but McDonald’s totally blows it in the execution. The McCafé microsite sucks. I personally love the suggested transformation associated with the drinks (commute, becomes commuté), but the execution is painful. Slow-paced and poorly written, these spots don’t match up to their TV spots at all. The usability is even worse. The only immediate action I can take on the site is to view flavors and enter a sweepstakes. No coupon, the share function is buried at the bottom of the page and is not clear about what you’re sharing. And maybe the most aggravating, is that there are no controls to stop the video while you’re browsing the site.
Can’t imagine the investment here for purchasing 8 hours of primetime ad space – and then they direct people to this? Great opportunity, but this first pass is quickly passé!