22
Feb 13

That’s What He Read – February 22, 2013

heread

My wife is a nurse. But outside of the hospital, we call her the vein whisperer because she is great at starting IVs. She’s, like, part of this IV S.W.A.T. team that rushes into the patient’s room, finds the vein, pokes it, and runs out.

In short, she’s really good at that part of her job.

And I think if we can learn one thing from my wife, it’s that you should find one thing in your profession that you are really good at, and stay better at it than everybody else. That way, there will always be a need for your services.

Now that I’ve blown your mind, check out these articles.

Creativity Tips From 5 Very Funny People (Inc.com) – “Cleese concludes, standing on the shoulders of scientists like Donald MacKinnon, that creative people are those who play at work. Play releases the creative spirit because play has no real purpose or end goal. Without a goal, there is no stress, and creativity can run riot.”

The Culture of Long Agency Hours (Digiday) – “Too often at agencies, it’s those staffers who work the longest hours that are deemed the most committed to the cause. The culture is one of bragging rights, in which she who logs the most time in the office is often deemed most important to the organization, despite the fact she might simply be inefficient. The system often rewards quantity over quality. And it trickles down.”

Subject Matter Experts Will Play A Big Part In The Future of Brand Journalism (Holtz Communication) – “It’s important to understand that SMEs-as-brand-journalists is part of the future. Great writers will always have value and companies will always be able to use them. But the idea of hiring writers to write about areas of expertise that are alien to them makes a lot less sense than teaching people who are already experts how to write well.”

18 Ways Your Office Job Is Destroying Your Body (Business Insider) – “Photocopiers are a source of potentially deadly ozone if the filter isn’t periodically changed, and even small amounts can cause chest pain and irritation. Laser printers do too, along with toner particles that can get in your lungs and blood stream, which could lead to lung disease and other ailments.”

Why Checking Facebook Makes Us Feel Bad About Ourselves (Fast Co.Design) – “Furthermore, of all envy a person experiences in their entire lives, users report that Facebook is causing about 20% of it, serving as what researchers call a ‘breeding ground’ for these feelings.”

***
That’s all for this week.
What did you read?

11
Jan 13

That’s What He Read – January 11, 2013

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A word of advice to regular gym-goers: Do not go to the gym within the first two weeks of the New Year. You will only get angry at the people who are newly committed to shedding some extra pounds.

When I went to the gym on Tuesday night I knew I was in for a fight for a treadmill when I saw cars parked on top of the snow that had been pushed to the back of the parking lot, presumably where it wouldn’t affect the parking.

Silly gym.

I think there should be a wing in the gym reserved for those who think they are going to keep up their New Year’s fitness resolution. That way they can fight over the equipment while the rest of us diligent worker-outers can continue on our merry way.

p.s. I hate running.

Here’s what I read this week.

How Obama Won The Internet (Buzzfeed) – “This was a day of political-campaign and Internet firsts, the sitting president subjecting himself to a free- for-all question-and-answer session with a hardcore community of pot-smoking freedom junkies who hated drones and loved porn and had a keen interest in politics and the future. It was chaotically democratic, and something of a gamble.”

Innovating the Email Inbox – Without Deleting All (ReadWrite.com) – “Cue reports that average email response time lengthened from 2.2 days to 2.5 days. That’s not surprising given that Cue users wrote a staggering 41,368 email words on average in 2012, the equivalent of the 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies.”

Essential Creative Advice From Joss Whedon, Carrie Brownstein And Others (Fast Co.Create) – “The notion that you’ve arrived, I think, is–first of all, it’s probably false–but it’s also a bad place to make any kind of art. To have a sense of yourself as an impostor or an outsider kind of pushes you to not settle for something.”

2013, the year of storytelling (PandoDaily.com) – “This is why I think some of the most exciting startups in social media are the ones that help us make these small, fragmented pieces of content into richer stories. Every social media action we take contributes to what could be an incredible narrative. We’re creating a ton of content, but no one is really taking advantage of it.”

The 12 Rules of Instagram (BobbyHundreds.Tumblr) – “You know that babe you scooped off the Popular Page, the one with the strategic tattoos, great taste in music, and awesome third-person photos of herself alone in hipster hotel rooms or on-location for a modeling gig?  Who do you think is taking all those pix? Her boyfriend.”

That is literally all I have for this week.

What did you read?


04
Jan 13

That’s What He Read – January 4, 2013

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My oldest daughter fell off of a kitchen chair over the holiday break and split her head open.

You haven’t experienced horror as a parent until you feel warm blood on your hand when you expected to find only a bump. As I pulled my hand away from the back of my daughter’s head and confirmed my worst fears, I felt, for the first time as a parent, true terror.

I like to think I’m a pretty steadfast dad, but this left me reeling.

Three staples in the head later, she’s as good as new, but I’m left with the certainty that I can’t be around her all the time for protection. She’s going to have some bumps and bruises along the way. I can only hope they’re minor and that she can bounce back, and that a gash in the back of her head is as bad as it ever gets.

On that note, here’s what I read when I wasn’t applying antibiotic cream to my daughter’s stitches.

“The Tinkerers”: How corporations kill creativity (Salon.com) – “The United States, with its highly disciplined approach to capitalism, invented the modern corporation and the marvelous, sleek objects it produces. Indeed, our processes have become so rationalized and efficient that we can produce new things that are cheaper than the old ones they replace. But as those wondrous corporations become bigger and more efficient, they conspire to take control of many of the outlets of our tinkering, threatening to snuff out the very creativity and brilliance that fueled the growth of those corporations.”

CES 2013: For Storytellers (Huffington Post) – “The age of the nerd is coming to an end. The nerds gave us all the tech. We are now in the age of the storyteller. The people/ companies that best use the tech, to tell stories, will be the most successful.”

8 Renegade Methods of Using Content Marketing to Dominate Your Industry in 2013 (The Sales Lion) – “Make it accessible to the masses. Invite the world in to see how you do what you do. And if you need the ultimate example, just see what McDonalds is doing to take transparency and trust to the next level, which is just another reason why every fast food company will always be second place in that industry.”

Journalism Is Not Narcissism (Gawker.com) – “Most people who decide to base their writing careers on stories about themselves end up like bands that used their entire lifetime’s worth of good material in their first album, and then sputtered uselessly when it came time for the follow-up. Sure, you can extract some thoughtful stories of humiliation from a college class. And sure, you can get some of them published. But that is not a career plan. Writing about yourself can be part of a balanced journalism diet, but it sure ain’t a whole fucking meal.”

Silencing the Smartphone (New York Times) – “So Mr. Chapman adopted what he called a BlackBerry blackout policy. He and his staff of about 20 turn off their BlackBerrys from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and completely on weekends for all work-related use, with rare exceptions. ‘When I’m well rested, I show up to work ready to go,’ he said.”

That’s what I read this week. What did you read? Did you scroll through all of the articles? If you did, leave a comment and tell me.

:)


18
Jan 12

Flesh-Munching Zombies Can Fuel Your PR Campaign

It can be incredibly hard for PR pros to be creative.

We all have these grand ideas for the next viral video or unique ways to use new technology to tell our client’s story. But when we sit down to put those ideas in motion, we get bogged down by the minutiae that can plague our industry — time entry, six rounds of approvals, etc. — and our creative juices stop flowing.

It’s frustrating.

For a profession that prides ourselves on being creative, we sure are an extremely process-driven bunch, aren’t we?  So aggravating.

Sometimes it seems like a small miracle that we get to actually implement an idea here and there.

But fear not, fair readers. (All 17 of you.) There is a shining beacon of creativity that should give all of us hope for a better, more creative future.

And it’s the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

*record scratch*

Yep. The CDC.

Last May, they revealed “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” It was an emergency preparedness guide taken to the next level.

With their tongue firmly planted in their cheek, the guide explained why it’s crucial to be prepared in the event of a zombie apocalyptic scenario, even going so far as to cite the Bible of surviving a zombie attack.

Oh, yeah: They also shared tips on how to prepare for real emergencies, too.

It was a brilliant PR strategy.

Emergency preparedness guides are boring.

Emergency preparedness guides with a pop culture twist are much more entertaining (and readable.)

(I’m not going to lie to you: I wish I’d thought of this.)

What really blew me away was the fact that a government agency would allow this idea to see the light of day. We think of large corporations and government entities as being dry and “by the book.” This was neither, which is probably why it got picked up by mainstream outlets.

To take it to the next level, they even released a graphic novel in October, just in time for NY Comic Con. A neat (and logical) next step in their continuing campaign to prepare people for emergencies.

***

This initiative proves that you don’t have to be a small, nimble agency to pull off a surprising PR campaign.

If it’s a good idea and fits the overall goals of the initiative, it can be done.

So the next time you find yourself doubting your idea before it has been presented, because you think it will be shot down, take heart.

And think about zombies.


28
Aug 09

The Joy of Guest Blogging

Writing a guest blog, as I have come to find out, is a lot like writing a term paper.

  • There's a specific topic.
  • There's a due date that can be extended with some negotiation.
  • The first time you do it is a daunting experience.
  • You expect to only get better.

Kirsten Wright of Wright Creativity approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I could contribute a post to her blog on the topic of creativity.  I was happy to oblige.  How hard could it be?

As the days turned into weeks, and I begged and pleaded for an extension, I found out exactly how hard it could be.

This is the worst blog post I've ever written.

She has actual followers, which means people are going to read it.

Is it to late to delete my blog and erase any digital sign of myself? 

But I pressed on.  And maybe in what is a true sign of creativity, the blog post practically wrote itself.

It started out as a treatise on why public relations and creativity don't mix, and turned into a slightly different take on creativity.

Anyway, here it is.