One of my new resolutions is to buy The New York Times Sunday paper. I now spend the 5 bucks and allow my hands to get marked up with ink and sort through the countless sections even if it takes me a week. I love it. It gives me the time to take a moment and pause, set my own pace, things that I would otherwise not do if I was reading the news online. I’m most certainly less distracted. It also offers me the time I need to be alone to relax, and find the thoughts and questions I want to share and think about who I want to share them with. Yes, we all know reading is fundamental but it offers me a bit of solitude too. So it’s a bit ironic about how I found a related article about this topic: the importance of solitude in the digital age.

Recently, I came across an article about Sherry Turkle‘s recent TED talk called The Flight from Conversation that was in the Sunday Review (one of my favorite sections) which led me to watch her TED talk. Turkle made a lot of interesting points and discussed the importance of finding solitude and the difference between connecting online and true conversation which is HUGE. She reiterates at the end that she doesn’t want us to abandon technology but allow it to enhance our lives rather than take over. We’ve heard this before but she offers some new insight about how technology is changing who we are.

With new technology and social media sites, Turkle talks about how this offers us three fantasies:

1) We’ll have attention everywhere.

2) We’ll always be heard.

3) We’ll never have to be alone.

Turkle believes we need to cultivate a capacity for solitude. ”If we’re not able to be alone, we’re going to be more lonely.” She also mentions: “We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

She talks about how in-person conversations are messy and this is a good and important thing. It gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves and how to connect. This is something that youth may have a harder time figuring out since they do not understand how things were before the internet. I’m so glad I was born early enough to remember those days.

Turkle does offer some simple remedies but I’ll let you watch and discover what they are. Turkle’s TED talk was a great reminder about the importance of solitude and the power of true conversation and how this impacts society. Bravo.

Has technology and social networking changed who you are? How do you find solitude?

 

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Recently, I had a discussion about email marketing with a local business and I thought I would share some of that discussion with you.

First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of your goals.  What are you trying to do with the newsletter?  Are you trying to spread awareness? Do you want the readers to buy a product or service? Are you trying to build your credibility? Once a goal is set into place, here are some helpful tips to execute an engaging email campaign and reach your objectives and goals.

Make sure it’s well designed and easy to read

  • Use subtitles, paragraphs, bullets, and enough white space between content
  • Place logo on top left corner so it can be seen in preview plane
  • Have a good balance of text to images

Send it to the right people

  • Simple segmentation and personalization is important to consider when your creating your content.  Are these the right words for the right people?

3 P’s to keep in mind

  • Present information in a punchy, poignant and potent way that makes your audience think, understand, react, and come back for more
  • Develop a relationship rather than “attack” for an immediate sale
  • Sell the idea of the product rather than the product itself
  • When creating content, consider:  Is this relevant to my audience?  Focus on your readers needs.

Content

 Some thoughts about length:

  • Remember, this is not a medium for lengthy and multiple information, invite and provide links for your readers to visit your website to learn more.

Some thoughts about information:

  • Is this actual news your sharing?
  • Make sure your subject is relevant, wanted, needed, and interesting
  • Be sure to “slam home a valid point”
  • Does your content stand out from the rest?
  • Don’t put all the info online!  The reader should get the idea from the newsletter but refer to your website for more details
  • Provide some quality content
  • Provide links and content information – how will they know who you are and what you do?
  • Consider helpful tips and real advice:  “How to…,” “10 Sign’s it’s time to…,” “Advice/tips for…,” “Mistakes to avoid when…”
  • Is there a way to make it interactive?
  • Lastly, make it fun (links to websites, quotes, something else amusing)

Some thoughts about your writing voice

  • Make sure it’s conversational (talk directly to them)
  • Don’t be afraid to share personal stories
  • Develop your voice that accurately represents your brand and business.  This may take some trial and error to discover, but experiment and ask for feedback from comrades, colleagues, and friends.

Subject Line

  • Hook the reader with the first line of your ad/subject line
  • The subject line will tell us what’s inside
  • Be consistent so users can recognize your emails
  • Don’t include organization name or date (that info is already provided)

There are also many technical aspects to consider and how to effectively measure your efforts which I will be sharing in a separate post.

Do you have a newsletter? How do you hook your readers?

Or

Is there a company or business that you like getting an emails from? Why?

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There’s no better way to garner attention then to latch onto the coat tails of someone who is already getting it. Parody has that power.  The use of parody as a storytelling tool requires a good understanding of your subject and a keen perspective.  Recently, I came across a series of videos performed by Drew Droege and directed by Jim Hansen. To me, they capture parody at its best.

I’ve watched these over and over and I still crack up.  I can’t even say that Chloe Sevigny talks or acts anything remotely like this but after watching some YouTube videos of her, I think Drew Droege does an incredible job of taking some subtle physical habits and running wild with them. The result: uproarious laughter and giggles galore (my type of humor anyway).

I also think that it’s a stroke of genius that he creates videos depending on holidays and seasons (great for search purposes).  His videos have garnered considerable attention – some over 248,000 views.

So, would you get upset if you were Ms. Sevigny? I truly believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Think about that when you experiment with using parody in your storytelling and marketing efforts. You might even grab the attention of your subject!

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For the past two months, I have had the pleasure of working with the the New York Neo-Futurists on their play Locker #4173b.  This show is one of the most unique productions I’ve ever worked on.  The performers and writers, Christopher Borg and Joey Rizzolo, bought two storage lockers at auction, cataloged the contents, and then examined the items or “artifacts.” Joey and Borg found receipts, bills, clothing, legal documents, music, photographs, dirty underwear, everything and anything you can imagine.  Each item was carefully documented including toothpicks, used tissues, and unopened mail. When they bought the storage lockers, they knew they wanted to write a play but had no idea what it would be about.  After cataloging the items, Joey and Borg developed an understanding of the world of the original owners of the lockers.  But was their hypothesis correct? How much can you learn about someone by examining their stuff?

During the show, the story of who these people are unfolds as Borg and Joey reveal each artifact.  They discuss who it might have belonged to and what it communicates.  The show asks the question:  Are you the sum of all your stuff?  And if you were to die today, what would all of your stuff say about you?  It’s an interesting and powerful question to ask as a storyteller.

The New York Neo-Futurists perform in an illusory style which  means they do not pretend to play characters, they don’t say anything that they don’t believe is true, and there is no fourth wall.  With the help of our artistic team including Justin Tolley (Director), Amy Jensen (Dramaturg & Script Development), and the helpful feedback from the designers, ensemble and alumni, the Neos have created a full length piece that is relevant and resonates with our community both local and at large.

Today, we were mentioned in The New York Times and the show was described as “comic yet poignant” and that the production is “dense with witty dialogue and comedic banter and the two actors play their dashing adventurer roles to the hilt. They deliver witty songs and at times drift into the characters of these mysterious people whose items they are examining.“  Good stuff.

I was fortunate to assist the director on the production, design how the artifacts were displayed and help them execute their marketing strategy.

Displayed Artifacts

I hope that you have an opportunity to witness this incredibly unique, thought-provoking, engaging piece of theater.  Tickets are available by visiting www.nynf.org.

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Interview with Tasting Table Editor-In-Chief Nick Fauchald

March 9, 2011

  I’m excited to share with you an interview with Nick Fauchald that I did for The Daily Brink! Nick is the Editor in Chief for Tasting Table, a free daily email for foodies and food lovers highlighting the best restaurants, events, and products. If you are doing any email marketing for you business there’s […]

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What Makes a Video Go Viral?

February 14, 2011

“I want to make a viral video!” If you work in marketing, odds are you’ve heard a client mention this at some point. You’ve probably also scratched your head after hearing this too. What does that mean anyway? “You want me to make a video that has the ability to reach over 7.5 million view […]

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What We Can All Learn From The Black Swan

January 24, 2011

Wowch!  Did you get a chance to see Black Swan?  Quite an intense movie with an obvious and clear message:  The pursuit of perfection can often lead to self destruction. Today, I received my New York Magazine in the mail and there was an article about director Darren Aronofsky.   The article talks about how two […]

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A Researcher Storyteller Talks About The Power of Vulnerability

January 16, 2011

A good friend of mine shared this video of Brene Brown at the TED conference with me.  Brown talks about the power of vulnerability and how it can be useful in our every day lives. I’ve watched this a couple of times and every time I walk away having a new idea to ponder and […]

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Don’t drop the ball after watching the ball drop

December 31, 2010

The end of the year can often bring mixed feelings for everyone.  The New Year might have sneaked up on you and you might be feeling nostalgic or sentimental.  Maybe you accomplished great things or you might be feeling guilty cause you didn’t have the time to finish everything on your resolution list. Whatever your […]

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Drop it Like its Hot with Dropbox

December 19, 2010

Last week, I wrote about Basecamp, a web-based project management and collaboration tool.  One of the features that I highlighted about Basecamp was its ability to store data (photos, documents, etc.) on the web so that other members of your team could easily access it. This week, I wanted to share with you the features […]

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