03
Apr 15

When Viruses Run Rampant

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As I write to you, dear reader, on this third day of April in the year of our Lord 2015, a virus is loose in our house.

It has infected two of us, and there is no doubt that my wife and I won’t be spared.

It has shown itself in the form of vomiting. The kind that spews out unexpectedly and returns again and again until there is nothing left to come up. It’s the kind that forces the carrier to carry a bucket at all times, lest the bug hit unexpectedly. It’s the change-the-sheets-on-the-bed-twice-in-the-middle-of-the-night variety.

AKA the worst kind.

So what, as parents, can we do when this hits?

Nothing.

Doesn’t that suck?

I can’t imagine there is much worse than knowing you’re going to be up four or five times with your kid throughout the night.

Don’t worry about not waking up – your parental intuition will force your eyes open at the first sign of a heave from the adjoining room. At that point, you might as well climb in with your little one.

Thankfully, as the kids get older, they become a bit more self-sufficient. Sometimes they make it to the bathroom by themselves. The days of catching puke in your cupped hands (I’ve had to do this) to prevent it from hitting the floor are over. Now, it’s just a matter of making sure it doesn’t get in their hair.

There is so much to love about being a parent, but puking episodes are, in my humble opinion, the worst. I’ve thrown up before just from hearing the kids lose it.

This virus should be gone in 48 hours.

But until then, don’t come near us.


31
Mar 15

The Reason Why Periscope Is Here To Stay

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How do I know Periscope is here to stay?

Because people are using it in the bathroom.

If you work in the marketing/PR/social space like I do, the introduction of Meerkat and Periscope represents a significant opportunity to show off your brand.

It doesn’t take a genius to come up with the ways these apps can help you reach your audience that differs from what Twitter and Instagram offers.

But for everyone else, the onslaught of these apps has given human beings another way to let us in on the minutiae that makes up our daily lives.

And that includes going to the bathroom.

When I log into Periscope, I get to see every.single.stream that is live. This includes people sitting on the toilet, bros demanding likes to show their girlfriend in the shower, and live video of corgis running in circles.

These are hardly activities that a brand wants to partake in, but they need to understand the majority of users don’t want to use it professionally; they just want to show off the mundane shit that they encounter every day.

And that brings me to one of the drawbacks of the app: you’ll have to sift through a load of crap to find the gold since there is really no rhyme or reason to the streams that populate the top of your feed.

Sure, you can see your friends’ activity after it has already aired, but you almost have to be lucky to catch them in real time.

But that doesn’t mean we, as professionals, should stay away.

For every 50 people using it to show how they walk to Starbucks in the morning, you’ll find that one journalist using it to break news in real time, which is where the real value lies. (And you can’t discount the fact that it’s backed by Twitter.)

So jump in. Get your feet wet. Periscope is here to stay.

But be forewarned: You’re going to have to show your fridge.


24
Mar 15

Watching Your Kids Grow Up

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Last weekend I took my two daughters to the library.

Before we left the house, my youngest raced up the stairs to her bedroom to grab one of two dollars she owned so she could rent Big Hero Six.

The last time we were at the library, she tried to rent the same movie, but the librarian informed her it would cost one dollar. So this time she came prepared with fifty percent of her personal wealth.

Watching her stand in front of the librarian’s desk anticipating the request for that dollar made my heart swell. She looked so mature; so sure of herself. That dollar in her hand was just a dollar, but it represented something more than just the trading of goods.

It represented her taking the first step on the path toward a self-sustaining existence, one where she would be perfectly capable of doings things on her own.

At the tender age of five, she thinks she can do more by herself than she actually can, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop her from trying, even if it means that every little step toward independence she takes is another step away from the little girl I love so dearly.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure our kids are growing in mind and spirit along the way, as their physical selves tend to run a few steps ahead. They’re growing up right before our eyes, but I think we don’t understand how quickly unless we look at pictures from the past and are surprised by the change in their features.

The little girl standing next to her mom at the library will soon be away at school, fending for herself during those first uncomfortable weeks. My hope is that the first dollar spent by herself — her independent self — goes a long way in helping her learn to make decisions on her own when she’s out in the world alone.

It’s funny, but I think spending that money was more about the act than it was about what she got in return.

The movie is due today and she hasn’t bothered to pull it out of the library bag.

Kids.


10
Mar 15

5 Ways Automotive Brands Should Use Meerkat Right Now

meerkat

Have you climbed aboard the Meerkat app bandwagon yet?

I won’t fault you if you are not. After all, it came out less than three weeks ago.

But in mobile app time, that’s an eternity. And the smart brands are starting to use it because, well, it’s awesome.

What this baby does is stream live video. That’s it. You synch the app to your Twitter feed, turn on notifications, and are then notified when one of your Twitter followers (who also uses Meerkat) is streaming a video. From that point, you can watch the live stream, re-tweet it to your followers from the stream, “like” the stream, and interact with the host and the audience through the chat function.

(I streamed myself making my lunch this afternoon just to try it.)

It’s dead simple to use and, I believe, marks a turning point in how brands  can interact with their audience on a more intimate basis, as well as their target media.

The nice thing about the app is that it comes with a built-in audience, so a brand doesn’t have to spend time cultivating a new one. Once said brand (we’ll refer to it as “Brand X”) is signed up for Meerkat, the app automatically pulls in those followers who are also on Meerkat and adds them to the list of followers. Those users are now notified every time Brand X is streaming live and they can join instantaneously.

Obviously, this app, like most others, is going to be heavily investigated by brands as a way to reach their audience. Bu

Since I work in the automotive field, I thought it would be cool to look at some ways automotive brands can use Meerkat right now to enhance their reputation and give their company, and their employees, a more human feel.

1. Unveil a new vehicle. If you’re going to unveil a new product, why not stream it live? Meerkat has a scheduling feature that allows you to notify your fans that something is going to happen on a specific date. Brand X can either pile on to an already existing reveal at an auto show, or they can do the reveal from the safety of an undisclosed location. The audience can interact with the unveiling as the silk is pulled off the vehicle.

2. Interview executives. Us PR people always want to control the message. What better way to do that than by Meerkat-ing (?) an interview with the head honcho. Instead of a list of pre-ordained questions, the interviewer can pull from the questions being asked by the audience. Of course, the threat of a hostile takeover is always looming, but the questions don’t sit on the screen. If you’re a forward-thinking brand, you should at least consider it.

3. Speak with engineers & design. So Brand X just unveiled the latest model to roll off the assembly line. Wouldn’t it be cool to immediately speak with the engineers and designers who made the car a reality? Set them up in a room away from the crowd and stream the interview, once again fielding questions from reporters and consumers who couldn’t make it to the show to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into designing and building a car.

4. Surprise Streaming. If Meerkat takes off, there will be a period of time where users will feel a sense of excitement when they’re notified Brand X is streaming live. If they haven’t been notified in advance, than the anticipation will rise. What are they streaming? Is it a big announcement? They’ll have to tune in to find out.

5. Extreme Testing. All automotive companies put their vehicles through their paces to make sure they are built to last in extreme conditions. What if Brand X set up a live stream of a vehicle in the wind tunnel? Or, being tested out in the desert? I’d tune in for that. It’s something we don’t see every day, but automotive aficionados might find it extremely interest. And, who knows? You might secure a few new customers.

Just like with most new apps, it will take some time to get used to how it works, especially when you consider that it might be a challenge to justify the brand’s existence on the platform because it’s difficult to measure the metrics. But what’s business if not taking calculated risks?

Obviously, this goes waaaaaaay beyond automotive, but that’s what I know, so I thought I’d start with this industry.

Have you downloaded the app yet? Taken it for a spin? I’d love to get your take. I think they’re on to something.


20
Feb 15

That’s What He Read – “Pardon My Language” Edition

thatswhat

That’s What He Read is a look back at five of my favorite articles from the past week. It covers all topics, but you’ll usually find the focus on writing, social media, and storytelling. Enjoy!

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck (Mark Manson) – I need to stop giving a fuck. I love how Mark Manson puts it: “We all have a limited number of fucks to give; pay attention to where and who you give them to.”

The 10 Most Important Life Lessons To Master In Your 30s (Quartz) – If your 20s is when you start to put down your personal and professional foundation, than your 30s is when you start building on top of it. Saving money for retirement, paying more attention to your body, giving friends and family your full attention…all of this (and more) becomes a priority, as it should.

Maternity Leave Policies in America Hurting Working Moms (New Republic) – The image at the top of the article is NSFW-ish, but it’s necessary. (And eye-opening.) According to University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig, American woman’s earnings decrease by 4 percent for every child that she bears.

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justin Sacco’s Life (New York Times) – This is a fascinating look at not only how Ms. Sacco’s life has changed since her tweet, but how others have been affected by the horde of social media users who think it’s their life’s work to out others for stupidity.

There’s No Bullshit Like Brand Bullshit (The Ad Contrarian) – This is worth a read, even if you don’t agree with his statement. It is kind of ridiculous that we would ever think a brand actually wants to be our friend when, in actuality, we just want a good product. It’s accurate (I think) to say that if Pepsi went away, most “fans” would switch over to Coke without a second thought.

Read anything really, really good this week? Share with us!