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First placeTis the season.

No, not that season.

Awards season.

This year, I’ve entered more projects than ever before. Not because I’ve done some super awesome things, but because it’s a validation of what you are doing is good, especially when it’s judged by your industry peers.

You work hard all year. You constantly research the latest in innovative marketing and communications. You stretch budget dollars to get the biggest bang. Some days, your workday doesn’t end at 5 o’clock. You want to help your organization grow, and be an important part of your community and make a difference in your industry.

Your hard work deserves to be recognized. But, I know what you are thinking:

I’m a one-person marketing/communications department…I don’t have the time.
Yes, it does take time to fill out the form, gather materials and write up your entry. But this exercise isn’t just useful for winning awards. It forces you to think about your program or project in relation to budget, challenges and results. Once you do it, you can use this information for other marketing objectives. If it’s a recurring project, it helps to see where you can improve.

Everyone else is doing way cooler things.
There may be some awesome programs created by others. But did they submit an entry? Maybe, maybe not. This is your chance to show yourself – and your company – that what you do matters. And even if you don’t win, many programs give you back the judging sheets, so you can learn from the constructive suggestions.

It’s not in the budget.
National awards can be pricey. Enter a couple of your local award programs. And make sure to include it in next year’s budget.

It doesn’t really do anything for me.
Once you win an award, don’t just clap and forget about it. Leverage the honor on your LinkedIn profile, include it on your resume and mention it on during your next review.

Originally published on CUinsight.com

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.14.45 PMSteve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When creative people are asked how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”

Marketing and communications departments are shrinking. Resources are limited. Budgets are cut. But marketers and communicators are expected to come up with creative, innovative and groundbreaking ideas to move your organization forward.

You don’t have to re-create the wheel to come up with something “new.” As Steve Jobs said above, ideas come from your experiences. Did you see something cool from another organization? Don’t copy it. Take the pieces you like, add a bit of something else, change it around a bit and make it your own.

That’s what we did for two fun projects at the Kansas Credit Union Association.

Last month, we wrapped up our consumer financial literacy campaign, Money Possible: Destroy Debt. We know other credit unions have done campaigns similar to this, tracking families as they work to pay down their debt. We took the basic idea, partnered with the Kansas Consumer Credit Counseling Service and selected three Kansas credit union members to participate.

The members told their stories through weekly television segments and on the Money Possible blog. We encouraged viewers and readers to visit a Wichita area credit union for resources or to get help.

All of our area credit unions were on board with the campaign, and had information at their branches, and on their websites. It’s not a new concept, but we took a cool idea and adjusted it to work for us.

Our Make a Difference events have become a favorite with our Kansas credit unions. The idea came from another state credit union league, and started out as a gas giveaway. At our next event we picked up the tab at local eating establishments. We were certainly not the first organization to do a gas giveaway or pay for someone’s purchase. But what we did do was make it a statewide event, involving multiple credit unions in multiple locations, and giving each location the flexibility to do fun and creative things at their event. We also ensure these events are a surprise to consumers, so there is no advance promotion.

Where do we find these ideas? Read. Write. Travel. Sit and watch, listen and experience. Use social media. Visit a new restaurant. Walk in the park. Attend a local festival. Research what other industries are doing. Ideas are everywhere…you never know where you’ll find that “wheel,” or how you’ll re-invent it. – See more at: #sthash.iGkjqvT0.dpuf

I’ve come across two brand Instagram accounts worth noting. IKEA (the furniture store) is using it in a new way, and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) posts photos of what they have confiscated from airline traveler’s bags.

IKEA
Using Instagram as a website? Who knew? IKEA leveraged the tagging ability in Instagram to its benefit with the new ikea_ps_2014 account. For example, IKEA posts a picture of a table chair and lamp from their store. The table, chair and lamp also have their own Instagram accounts, so they will “tag” the table, chair and lamp. If you click on the “tag”, it will take you to that product’s Instagram account.

(Note: it doesn’t work on a laptop/desktop)

IKEA Instagram account
TSA
Everyone loves to hate the TSA. They get a bad rap sometimes, but their Instagram account is interesting.  They post what they find in traveler’s bags, and which airport the confiscated item was found. They will also include the rule for certain items including knives, martial art weapons, guns, lighters, fireworks, etc.

Like this…eeek!

photo1-2 copy

They use the hashtag #TSACatch (which I see also has some “bashtag” tendencies). Their Instagram account has other photos too, like pictures of their staff (including their explosive detection canines!) in training and in the community.

Umm…no. These ads…I can’t believe these are real.
(see more ads at 22 Vintage Ads to Keep Women in Their Place).

Women in vintage ads
There are two adults who are perfectly capable of operating of a vacuum cleaner. In fact, in our house, there are two boys who also know how to vacuum a floor.

Women in advertising
You want breakfast? Make it yourself.

Women in advertising
Back then, I guess women were good for cooking and cleaning. And while you’re at it, be sure and keep your girlish figure.

Women in advertisingbrainwreck.com_42976_1398993320

How about you clean the house and I go to the gym?

Women in advertising

I guess “no” doesn’t really mean “no.”

brainwreck.com_42978_1398993320
Now we’re battling the stereotype that strong women are bossy. Or fighting for flexible schedules so we can take care of kids or aging parents. We want equal pay for equal jobs. One thing is for sure though…we are doing all these things while trying to keep a slim figure.

At least we’re accepted in the workplace now. I wrote a while back about “The Trouble With Women in the Workplace.

That was an eye opener. Gen X women were the first generation to have heard “you can be anything you want!” and have the opportunities to fulfill those aspirations.

But those opportunities were only given to us by the women who lived through times of discrimination, servitude and overall dismissal of females. Those women were smart, driven and beautiful, just like us. Now imagine being a smart, beautiful woman who wanted to change the world…but the only thing anyone gave you chance to do was change the coffee filter?

Don't Reinvent the WheelI was recently included in this Financial Brand post: What Financial Marketers Should Stop Doing Now. Here is my advice:

Stop reinventing the wheel.
See a cool idea? Take the basics, eliminate what you don’t like or what won’t work for your organization, change it up a bit, and make it your own. Innovative ideas come from inspiration, or connecting several experiences or thoughts together into something different.

All of the “stop doing this” advice in the post is spot on, and I have three more things to add:

Stop writing so formal.
Take a look at your brochures, website copy, press releases, annual report and any other marketing materials. Is the writing conversational? Do people really talk like that? No, of course not. So stop writing like a corporate robot! Use words people actually understand.

Stop relying on stock photography.
I’m not bagging on stock photography. I use it. It’s easy and convenient and you get quality graphics. But what I try and stay away from is using it all. the. time. For every photo or graphic need. It is especially annoying with “corporate-y” type groups of people smiling, shaking hands, standing randomly down a hallway. You know what I’m talking about.

If you need to use people, coordinate a photo shoot and use your members, customers, your neighbors…whatever makes sense for your organization.

If you need other types of photos, grab your phone or camera, head out and just take photos. Your unique photos. There’s a good post on Spin Sucks about taking photos for your content (and yes, the photo used here I took in my kitchen).

Stop linking your Facebook page to your Twitter account (or vice versa).
This is a pet peeve of mine. I thought we’d be done with this by now. I don’t see it much anymore, but I still see it.

If you link your Facebook page to your Twitter account, most likely the Facebook post will be longer than 140 characters, therefore cutting off part of it when it’s posted on Twitter. Yeah, I get it. It’s convenient. One click and done. But what you are really doing is hurting your marketing efforts…not only is a “half post” annoying, many times your audience is on Twitter is different from Facebook. Here’s a good post of why you shouldn’t do that.

Marketers are tasked with producing great content and generating creative ideas on tight deadlines, dwindling budgets and limited resources. Sometimes we continue to do things just because that’s the way we’ve always done it or it’s the easiest way to get the job done.

Strive to change one or two things on your marketing list, and you’ll be on your way to eliminating the old and making way for the new!

#Bashtag

May 18, 2014

bashtagOf course. A brand creates a hashtag, and instead of creating a fun, inspiring, nice way to promote itself, the Twittersphere overtakes it and the sentiment turns negative. Welcome to the bashtag.

Both McDonald’s and the New York Police Department have been on the receiving end of these hashtags-turned-bashtags.

#McDstories started out as way to promote its’ Happy Meals. It was supposed to be a warm, fuzzy, all-American promotion about McDonalds and families. Um, not so much. McDonald’s pulled the promotion six months ago, but #McDstories is still going strong…the wrong way.

The New York Police Department wanted to show how police officers supported their community, so they announced the #myNYPD hashtag. You can imagine how that got twisted around:

“Free Massages from the #NYPD. What does YOUR Police Department offer?” (with an image of officers holding a man, seemingly screaming, with his arms behind his back, on top of a car.)

People are still using it too.

And even before “bashtag” become a word, JP Morgan got a taste of it when they announced their #AskJPM Twitter chat. The people of Twitter had a heyday!

JP Morgan canceled the chat.

I’m not sure how to combat a hashtag or chat gone bad. A brand can have good intentions with creating a hashtag, but once it’s our on the Internet, the brand has no control over it. And there’s no way to shut it down once it starts going in an undesirable direction.

A long time ago, on my other blog, I wrote about magic skinny mirrors.

I just found out that skinny mirrors actually exist. This website claims that mirrors might be costing retailers. If your customers don’t like the way they look in your mirrors, you could be losing thousands of dollars in sales!

So if a mirror exists to make you look fabulous, do mirrors exist to make you look hideous? Yes, they most certainly do.

I was in a sports retailer trying on workout clothes. I look in the mirror. Man oh man…based on THIS reflection, I need to be on the treadmill every day for the next 90 days. I looked like a lumpy, bumpy, pale “mug shot looking” woman.

I didn’t look like this earlier. In fact, I’ve been working out more regularly, so WTH?

The mirror. It adds at least 10 pounds, just like a camera. You see a pudgy version of yourself so you will buy the workout clothes because obviously you need to be hitting the 5 am boot camp class. And you can’t hit the morning gym rat crowd in your old misshapen and mismatched threads. Which is why you are dropping a pretty penny so you can drop a few pounds. It’s the mirror.

Magic mirrors are great, as long as the reflection is what *I* want it to be.

 

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