Art created by my 11 year old.

The focus on STEM cirriculum (science, technology, engineering and math) is big. Schools are targeting lessons around it. STEM summer camps sell out. Companies promote it. Amazon has a STEM dedicated toy shop.

I get it. We live in an “Internet of things” world, and it’s critical for students to get training in The Big Four. All are super important and the job-related outlook is definitely sunny.

But what about art?

My 11-year-old recently said “it’s not fair we have to do so much math. My favorite subject is art, and we hardly do any of it.” His fifth grade class is so busy learning math and science, there’s little room for creative subjects.

But STEM education and art can go hand in hand. Like this, as reported by NPR: Artists in Residence Give High-Tech Products a Human Touch.

Big companies like Facebook and Apple are employing artists to help them with their products. Technology has made it possible for just about anything to be made, but the roadblock is creative thinking and imagination. That’s where artists come in, because artists bring a different way of thinking.

I like this quote from John Seely Brown, who ran XEROX PARC: “The ability to imagine is the key challenge,” Brown says, “because we have infinitely powerful tools to build whatever we imagine. As a result we’re limited by our imagination. Working with artists really opens our imagination.”

The beauty of a product is just as important as what it does and how it works. STEM students can make the mobile app work, but who is going to make it look nice? STEM students can design an awesome web-based CRM platform, but it’s no good if the userface is clunky and ugly to look at. Who will design the next iPhone? And I’m not talking about how it works, I’m talking about how it looks.

Technology needs artists.

It shouldn’t be STEM curriculum OR art. It be STEM curriculum AND art.

banana bunker
This is social media done right. Groupon listed a “banana bunker” product on their website. It is a protective case for a banana. I’m not endorsing the product, because come on…really? Just by looking at it you can imagine the jokes that started…and Groupon replied to every one of them. They could have done nothing, or respond to a few. I don’t know how much time they spent responding to people, but their funny, casual and informative responses showed they were listening. That gets a gold star in the social media playbook.

I was at a conference this week where the speaker said Humans buy from Humans. This is an example of Humans responding to Humans. What’s more is Groupon is now sold out of this product.

To see how Groupon responded see this Adweek article or this Consumerist article. You’ll be glad you did.

Two weeks ago, a simple picture of a dress became an internet meme.

#TheDress. Blue and Black or White and Gold#TheDress went viral on all social networks…is the dress white and gold or blue and black? Click here to read about #TheDress phenomenon.

About a week later, the Salvation Army came out with this ad:
#TheDressThis is a prime example of news-jacking, sort of. News-jacking is when you take a national story and become “the second paragraph. What the Salvation Army did was leverage an internet meme to raise awareness of domestic violence. Pretty smart move.

They had to move fast too… three days in the internet world is like three years in real life. What’s impressive is that someone had to have seen #TheDress sensation, thought that it would make a great promotion, tell their team about it, find the dress, find a model, coordinate a photo shoot and get it “out there” in just a few days.

That’s how it’s done in 2015.

Whether this will increase their donations or not, I don’t know. But it did get people talking.

iStock-Unfinished-Business-12This. is. awesome.

Adweek reports that Vince Vaughn and his costars of #UnfinishedBusiness posed for goofy #StarStock photos to help promote their movie. As all marketers know, there’s nothing worse than a cheesy stock photo of group of coworkers smiling, fist-pumping or sitting around looking at a computer. And they are offering these photos for free!

It’s fun to see publicists trying new ways to promote movies. The traditional movie trailer has been around for more than 100 years…since 1913 to be exact. There’s nothing wrong with trailers…and when they are coupled with guerrilla marketing tactics like this, it can really beef up the awareness of a movie.

I saw the photos on Facebook, where I shared them and saw countless others sharing them too. Soon, Vince Vaughn became a trending topic. If I didn’t know that Vince Vaughn had a new movie out, I do now.

What makes it even better is that it pokes fun of something marketers use regularly…stock photos! We all use them, but hate to admit it. I even wrote about ways to get away from using stock photos.

This PR stunt reminds me of when Anchorman 2 came out last year. Will Ferrell plays news anchor Ron Burgundy in the sequel to the hilariously funny Anchorman. To promote the movie, Will Ferrell (as Ron Burgundy) does an entire 30 minute newscast at a local station in North Dakota.

He also stars in several commercials, again, as Ron Burgundy, to promote Dodge cars and trucks.

The lines have been blurred between what is actually content and what is advertising. Some don’t like the constant feel of being marketed too, but when its done in a lighthearted way, I think it works.

Brand Ambassadors

February 21, 2015

Brand AmbassadorWhen Facebook and Twitter first arrived, there was a lot of talk about creating two accounts: one for professional use and one for personal use. People didn’t want to mix up the two audiences.

I never thought having two accounts was a good idea, unless you were a public figure. Being just a “regular joe” it seemed like a lot of effort to maintain two accounts for each social media platform. If your account was supposed to be YOU, isn’t your work and personal life what makes up YOU?

When I follow people on social media, I like to know the whole person. It’s interesting to know what people do as well as their personal interests. By knowing a bit about someone professionally and personally, you never know when that person might be able to help you.

People who follow me know I post a lot about Legos and soccer (because I have two boys who are VERY into both of those things). I also post things about public relations (because that’s my job) and credit unions (because I work in the credit union industry).

In the past couple of weeks, I have had two instances where someone has reached out to me via Twitter and Facebook asking about credit unions. If I had kept separate accounts, those following my personal account would have no idea I could help them with a credit union question. I have become a resource for those folks.

As a communications professional for the credit union industry, my job is to promote the value of credit unions. I don’t know if either of these folks ultimately became a member of a credit union, but I gave them some insight into these not-for-profit financial cooperatives.

I’m not suggesting everyone put every little detail of their life “out there,” but you never know who might reach out to you for you knowledge and expertise.

Either I’m getting older and harder to impress, or the Super Bowl commercials just aren’t what they used to be. Maybe we all have such high expectations of being entertained that nothing less than spectacular will do.

At any rate, I do look forward to watching the Super Bowl, mainly for the commercials (and food). So here’s my two cents on Sunday’s #SB49 commercials:

The Nationwide commercial depicting the child who won’t ever grow up because he was killed in an accident was a total downer. A buzz kill. I get what they were trying to do…and it did get people talking. But Super Bowl Sunday is about food, friends and fun, not fatalities.

I loved the Katie Couric/Bryant Gumbul spoof on the “What is the Internet” from 1994 (“What is internet anyway? Like you write to it or something?”), partly because I remember when there was no “internet.” Katie and Bryant played it off nearly 20 years later…even calling this “Allison” (who told them what the internet was before) in hopes that she could explain the BMW i3 car.

The Budwesider Puppy commercial was sweet, and then heartbreaking, and then joyful. Or maybe that’s because I’m a dog owner now. It’s a #BestBuds #win.

Dove reached for the emotional heartstrings with their #RealStrength commercial. They were hoping for a few tears from all those Dads watching. At our party, there were Dads, but I think they were all playing it tough.

On the other side, Always was pushing Girl Power with their #RunLikeAGirl ad. This one isn’t new, and I’d seen it before, but it does make you think about the stereotypes we place on women.

Posts about 2103 Super Bowl

#Hashtags Done Right

January 13, 2015

Hashtags have become a Twitter staple. They are used in everyday language. My middle schooler’s school newspaper’s name includes a hashtag. Jimmy Fallon had a hashtag conversation with Justin Timberlake. They are used on television and in news stories….and as a baby name. They are so popular that tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement as those without hashtags. Today, Adweek posted this fun article about well-known brands using the #FiveWordsToRuinADate trend…and here are some of my favorites:

I even included my employer in on the fun:

These are examples of hashtags done right. Using a Twitter hashtag to your advantage can be a great way for brands to humanize their companies and add humor to their posts. For all those awesome, funny or snarky uses of hashtags, there are twice as many “hashtag gone wrong” stories. Make sure you know exactly what the hashtag means and don’t post something inappropriate or  offensive. For a few Hashtag #Fails read Caution: Watch for falling tweets. Although written more than two years ago, it still has valuable advice. Here are some more recent Hashtag #Fails, as reported by the Washington Post. And for those brands wanting to start a Twitter hashtag campaign, be aware that a hashtag can easily become a bashtag.


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