I'm blogging about fashionable events, strategies and campaigns worldwide. PR Pret-a-Porter is about public relations, branding, marketing, e-stuff and what I recommend as a fine observer of the market.

Posts tagged ‘creativity’

Creativity via ThinkwithGoogle

I discovered Think with Google a month ago and I’m extremely happy reading all the infos they are providing for us. The Creativity issue is brilliant and inspiring. Take a look at some Quantify: Creativity.

(more…)

Advertisements

Emoticons History

Today I found the wonderful story of emoticons from Mashable.

Did you know the emoticon is almost 30 years old? Twenty-nine years ago, Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, first proposed a colon, hyphen and bracket as a way of conveying emotional meaning via plain text.

Fast-forward and the simple smiley has evolved — some might say mutated — into various, and very varied, multi-colored, animated characters leering at you from your computer or phone screen.

To mark this anniversary, we’ve taken an abridged look at some interesting moments in the history of the emoticon. Have a look through the gallery and let us know in the comments your thoughts on this form of communication.

1. The Olden Days

Using symbols to convey emotional meaning was not a 1980s concept. A hundred years previous, the “letter-press department” of satirical magazine Puck jokingly created typographical “studies in passion and emotions” so as not to be out-done by cartoonists.

It has since been suggested that one very early use of an emoticon can be credited to none other than Abraham Lincoln. In the original New York Times transcript of an 1862 speech by Lincoln, the symbol 😉 appears. There have been interesting arguments put forth as to whether or not this was a winking face, or (as we suspect) simply a typo.

Various reports (that we’ve been unable to verify) suggest that in 1979, an ARPANET user called Kevin MacKenzie, inspired by an unidentified Reader’s Digest article, suggested using punctuation to hint that something was “tongue-in-cheek,” as opposed to out-and-out humorous.

Apparently, MacKenzie throught a hypen and a bracket — -) — would be a suitable symbol: “If I wish to indicate that a particular sentence is meant with tongue-in-cheek, I would write it so: ‘Of course you know I agree with all the current administration’s policies -).’

However, as we now know, it wasn’t the tongue-in-cheek concept that took off, but the smiley-based emoticon. Although the classic yellow “smiley” design existed before Fahlman got creative with his computer keyboard…

2. The Smiley

The yellow smiley face symbol pre-dates and was developed independent of the emoticon, although now it could be argued the two symbols have merged in the general public’s conciousness.

Back in 1963, a freelance artist called Harvey Ball designed a yellow smiley face to be used on a button to try and boost morale at a recently merged insurance company. Ball netted $45 for his design and by all accounts it was a success for the insurance company, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when it became more widely known.

Bernard and Murray Spain, two brother from Philadelphia, saw the symbol’s commercial potential, adopted it, added the phrase “have a happy day” and churned out millions of buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs. Thanks to the Spain brothers, the smiley as a symbol of ’70s hippie culture was born. Later in the ’90s, the symbol was used to depict another counter-culture — the acid rave scene.

Today, Ball’s smiley is celebrated on “World Smile Day,” the first Friday in October, when folk are encouraged to “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.”

3. A Proposal

Credited as containing the first modern emoticon, Scott Fahlman’s original suggestion proposing punctation-as-symbols was posted on a Computer Science community message board at Carnegie Mellon in 1982.

Fahlman has since explained why he felt such symbols were required. “The problem was that if someone made a sarcastic remark, a few readers would fail to get the joke, and each of them would post a lengthy diatribe in response. That would stir up more people with more responses, and soon the original thread of the discussion was buried. In at least one case, a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning.”

“This problem caused some of us to suggest (only half seriously) that maybe it would be a good idea to explicitly mark posts that were not to be taken seriously.”

“After all, when using text-based online communication, we lack the body language or tone-of-voice cues that convey this information when we talk in person or on the phone. Various ‘joke markers’ were suggested, and in the midst of that discussion it occurred to me that the character sequence 🙂 would be an elegant solution – one that could be handled by the ASCII-based computer terminals of the day. So I suggested that.”

Interestly, Fahlman explains that the unhappy face symbol evolved further than he meant it to: “In the same post, I also suggested the use of 😦 to indicate that a message was meant to be taken seriously, though that symbol quickly evolved into a marker for displeasure, frustration, or anger.”

So what does Fahlman think about how the emoticon has developed? “It’s interesting to note that Microsoft and AOL now intercept these character strings and turn them into little pictures,” Fahlman says. “Personally, I think this destroys the whimsical element of the original.”

If you agree, then we’ve a tip for you. Take a leaf out of Mashable European Editor Stan Schroeder’s book and type your smilies backwards: (:

“When you type it backwards, scripts don’t recognize them and they don’t get turned into yellow ugly ones,” says Schroeder. “They stay old school. (;”

4. Evolution & Easter Eggs

Text-based emoticons fast developed from the simple happy/unhappy face. Other characters were introduced to suggest further emotions, and even crude depictions of famous people/personas. Fahlman says this happened within months of his original post.

“Within a few months, we started seeing the lists with dozens of ‘smilies’: open-mouthed surprise, person wearing glasses, Abraham Lincoln, Santa Claus, the pope, and so on. Producing such clever compilations has become a serious hobby for some people.”

When chatting on the internet became a serious hobby for the general public, emoticons evolved even further to be shown on screen as tiny images. Services like ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger and later MySpace started offering a wide range of emoticons that could be generated at the click of a mouse, rather than memorizing the charcaters needed to create them. These then evolved into animated versions.

There were also many “hidden,” or “Easter egg” emoticons not shown on main menus that could be generated if you knew the correct character sequence. The emoticons shown here are the hidden emoticons available for Yahoo! Messenger. While Skype and MSN have their own versions, Facebook’s “Chris Putnam” emoticon, depicting the designer, is a famous, although ultimately useless, hidden option.

In 2007, Yahoo! Messenger carried out a survey about emoticons. With 40,000 respondants, we think it’s safe to say the results were a decent snapshot of how the average Messenger user felt about the medium.

82% of those who use Yahoo! Messenger said they used emoticons on a daily basis and 61% felt that they “best expressed themselves” in IM using emoticons.

5. The Future

Today, the iPhone’s text messaging function does not automatically support emoticon graphics.

Gmail Chat’s default emoticon setting is text-based with simple animation.

Have we gone past the elaborate emoticon phase in our ever-evolving history of digital communication?

Should recent calls to stop using emoticons be heeded?

Has the smiley become a tired cliche, soon to become obsolete, or is it still useful in the emotionless medium of SMS, IM and email?

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Alternatives to press releases

What’s to do when press releases aren’t fashionable anymore ? Some tips here from Claire Celsi via PR Daily.

1. Pitch email. More than 90 percent of reporters claim they want to receive pitches via email. Given that you’re already emailing, just put your pitch in the form of a story, with bullet points emphasizing the most important details you want the reporter to know. Here is the key to a successful pitch email:

 Google the reporter’s name. After ensuring that she still writes for the news outlet, click on one of her recent articles. Make sure it is within the same genre as your pitch. In other words, if you are pitching a health-care story, make sure she covers health care.
• Write a one-paragraph personalized intro for every email you send. “I read your series on health-care abuses in the nursing home industry…” Show some interest in the reporter’s work.
• The remaining portion of the email can be the same for every reporter. This is your brief opportunity to capture the reporter’s interest with your pitch. Make it short, and make it interesting.
• Write a subject line that gets attention and describes your pitch. “For your information” is not a good subject line.


2. Make a website posting (preferably a blog post). 
If your client has a newsroom or a blog, post your pitch material in the form of a Web article or blog post. Use story-telling language, not a standard press release format. Tag the post with keywords, and link to the company’s website or to other information, if possible. You can start a new blog on Posterous in less than 15 minutes.

3. Send a Tweet. Turn your key idea into a tweet. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro at getting your message across in one or two tweets. Ideally, it would be great to send these messages to a reporter as a direct message, but if all else fails, go ahead and say: @JeffZeleny, did you know that the most outstanding pork tenderloin sandwich in Des Moines is at Smitty’s?” (Of course, you’ll want to come up with your own tweet material.) If the reporter does not respond, follow up with an email pitch.

4. Send a Facebook message. I’m friendly with a lot of local reporters on Facebook, but not so many national reporters. Even if you’re not friends with a reporter on Facebook, you can still send them a message. Attach a link or photo if you have one.

5. Pick up the phone. Sometimes a quick conversation to gauge a reporter’s interest can save you a lot of time, especially when it seems as though a reporter is no longer covering that beat. If you keep your call brief and courteous, the reporter will be happy to point you in the right direction. If they don’t answer or are on deadline, follow up with a pitch email.

6. Offer to meet a reporter for coffee if you’re both in the same city. Sometimes reporters are looking for any excuse they can to get out of the newsroom for a while.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Infographics via SlideShare

I’m a great fan of Infographics and today’s top presentation on SlideShare is this:

Great lecture. Hope you enjoyed it!

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Branding style – Moschino Palazzo

When it comes to mode, everything is heute couture and stylish. But Moschino branded more than its clothes and accessories: a palazzo, as it is said in Italian.

Maison Moschino is situated in the beautiful city of Milan, Italy, one of the mode’s capitals. Each room has a story – “Alice’s Room”, “Life is a rose-bed” or “Sleeping wood” and every interior is designed specifically as the room name. Also, the furniture has particularities such as collars for chairs, sleeves or a dress-bed, as you can see in the images.

The restaurant has two Michelin stars, which means that eating is also a heute couture experience. You receive your breakfast in a shoe box with four, six or eight different dishes.

Delicious, tasty and wonderful. A place for your list of must-visit destinations indeed!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: Hotel Philosophy

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Case studies for social media crisis management

Some of the crisis that companies are dealing with nowadays are coming from social media, believe it or not. We give the power to our consumers and they are responding via different social media channels, positive or negative. Today I found some interesting cases of social media crisis management via scoop.it. Again, Slideshare is a great help.

British Petroleum, Ford Motor and Nestle

Better tomorrow,
PR-Pret-a-Porter.

Tips and tricks for using WordPress as a journalist

I just received the newsletter from IJNet, International Journalists’ Network. This video is made by the trainer Patricio Espinoza and also he is the journalist who won Emmy award for this video.

Take a look, make notes, be productive. I’m gonna use some tips from here.

P.S.: take a look at the IJNet Youtube channel, it’s kind of interesting.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Bitdefender Awake Making Of

Everyone who uses a computer needs an anti-virus protection. Recently, I received this Making of Video which I find it fantastic.

But who is Bitdefender ?

Bitdefender is

 a sublime alloy of intelligence, strength and willpower. We have the sharp mind of the wolf and the sleekness of the dragon, the vigilance of the alpha-male and the indestructibility of the snake’s body. We are a unique combination of symbols that fight on Good’s side.

Half wolf. Half dragon. The Dacian Wolf was carried into battle by soldiers defending their territories in ancient times. It created fear in the opposition, and built confidence in those who carried it.

We are now the bearers of this symbol that transcends time. While the battlefield has changed, its spirit lives on. We are the defenders of the new digital world. We are AWAKE, always on guard—protecting more than 400 million users across the globe with our award-winning technologies.

Judging by its looks, the Bitdefender brand avatar borrows the spirit of our fearless ancestors. It also adds a modern layer to our historical heritage, by bringing the Bitdefender quintessence into the equation.

Bitdefender is perfectly adapted to today’s combat requirements. It possesses the necessary skills to win the digital warfare that is going on inside computer networks all over the world.

Great brand story, indeed. 

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Customize Twitter Profile Picture

I’m sure everyone landing on my blog is a Twitter user also. You probably noticed that Twitter improved with a service that have an image gallery feature that displays recent photos that you’ve shared or retweeted from other users.

Some of the social media users put up a video where it is presented how creative can you be using this new feature. Thank you, Jeremiah Warren.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Personal branding – job hunting (part 3)

We have to agree that it is not easy to get a job, especially when you are a recent graduate student with little or no experience in the domain you want.

Check this email:

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I’m a recent college graduate and have been actively job hunting for about 6 months. As the number of resumes I’ve sent out approaches 300, I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong and how I can stand out among the hundreds of other applicants I’m competing with. After Googling “creative ways to get hired”, I came across the idea of wearing a t-shirt with my resume on it. My dream job is to do PR in the racing industry. I’m attending two races in the coming months and I am contemplating doing this in order to get the attention of some race teams and potential hiring managers. Would you recommend wearing a resume t-shirt or does it come across as too desperate?

What do you think ? Would you hire her ?

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Social media: limit or limitless ?

As company, do you need one Facebook account connected with one Twitter account or you need more? Maybe two, three, four ? How much is too much asks David Rogers in Bnet.

What’s his answer?

By now, most businesses know they should have a presence on Facebook or Twitter. But the more digitally-savvy businesses often ask, How many? Should you have only one Facebook page? Or multiple ones?

While some brands, like JetBlue, are represented by a single corporate Facebook page and a single Twitter account, other brands, like Dell, seem to sprout new Twitter accounts and Facebook pages every day, one for every department or division. Does this make them more efficient? When is it too much–or too little?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all answer. The best approach depends on your business, customers, brands and overall media strategy.

When One Voice Is Best

The benefits of a single, unified presence on a given social media platform are clear. A single account makes it easier to build a sizable audience. It may help focus your social media efforts (especially if you are a small or medium-sized business). It will provide a clear presence for your brand, and will avoid confusion among your customers about where to go to find you online.

When You May Want to Manage Multiple Accounts

However, there are many cases why multiple voices may be more effective for achieving a business’ social media goals.

Following are 7 reasons why a business may do better with multiple accounts:

1. Different Business Units. Many larger companies are structured around distinct business units that serve customers with different needs. In these cases, it can be much more valuable to the customer to follow or connect with a social media presence that is specific to their own needs. Dell, for example, has separate Twitter or Facebook accounts for its enterprise (@dellenterprise), education (@dellEDU), and small business (@dellSMBnews) operating units. That way each account can provide content and interaction that is more relevant to the right customers. SimilarlyGE has separate accounts for GE capital, water, aviation, appliances, and lighting. And at Columbia University, where I teach, there are separate accounts for the Schools of Journalism, Law, and Business.

2. Different Geography & Languages. Businesses operating in different countries may find a need for distinct social media accounts, especially to suit different languages of customers there. Dell has separate Facebook pages for India, Thailand, and Malaysia, among others. The Johnnie Walker spirits brand has a single master Facebook page that links to 32 international Facebook pages, allowing for content that is customized and in the local language: Mexico (Spanish), Brasil (Portuguese), Israel (Hebrew), and others.

3. Different Content Topics. Media companies and other idea-focused businesses that are producing a great deal of content for their customers may want to set up different social media accounts around different topics, so that customers can select those which are most relevant to them. The New York Timesruns numerous Twitter and Facebook accounts that spotlight the content of its various sections: Politics, Science, Travel, Food, Music, or even the Crossword Puzzle. Similarly, a university may set up separate accounts focused on atheletics, arts events, career placement, or even specific events or conferences.

4. Different Local Branches. Some businesses that have a brick-and-mortar retail presence may benefit from separate social media accounts for local branches. Whole Foods combines an overall corporate presence in social media with numerous accounts for individual branches (from Detroit and Chicago, to my hometown market in Montclair, NJ). This allows customers to get localized information about events, store news, and special deals happening at their own branch.

5. Different Social Media Strategies. Separate accounts can also be valuable when a business is trying to use the same social media platform for different strategic aims. Comcast uses one Twitter account as a customer service channel, and another one to share information on its community investment program. GE’s @GEreports provides news on technical innovations to its investor community, whereas accounts like @GEresearchjobs focus on hiring. Dell has run a very successful standalone Twitter account focused on sales of discounted inventory, @delloutlet.

6. Unique Voices within the Company. For companies with social media-savvy employees, and a great many customers seeking to interact online, it is sometimes beneficial to add personal corporate accounts in social media. These are accounts that are named by the company, but identified by a particular employee (from Zappos’s CEO Tony Hsieh, to customer service specialist @ComcastBill).

7. Unique Sub-Brands with Strong Personalities. If a company’s product brands, or sub-brands, have a strong enough personality of their own, customers may be more interested in connecting with them in social media, than with the corporate master brand. (Would you sooner “like” the Dove brand, or its parent Unilever corp?) Chevrolet has its own accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but also maintains accounts for Chevy Trucks, Chevy Camaro, Corvette, and the new all-electric Chevy Volt. The typical customer for Chevy Trucks and the Volt are likely quite different.

Making Sense to Your Customer

In essence, the decision of one or many voices within social media comes down to an understanding of your brand architecture (are you seen as one company? Or a collection of exciting brands?), and of your customer base (is it relatively homogeneous? Or do you have distinct networks of customers, which don’t overlap very much?).

If you do have good reason to establish separate social media accounts, and the resources to support them, make sure you keep them clear for your customer. The goal should be to avoid confusion, while allowing for more relevant and meaningful interactions with customers that build long term relationships and add value to your business.

 

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Tips and tricks: social media for companies

I know for sure that many companies would like to understand better how does social media work for them and their products. Many of them are using the basics, meaning the website, the blog company, some Facebook and Twitter. Mashable presents us some case studies which can help a company to improve its social media impact by showing different media channels. 

  • Narrow your focus to responding to customer complaints, as Comcast does on Twitter.
  • Build brand loyalty, as Bisnow does with e-newsletters, as Skittles does on Facebook, and as the Wine Library does with its podcasts.
  • Issue blog posts and tweets instead of news releases, as Google does with its blog, and as its now-former CEO did with Twitter.
  • Re-purpose your existing content, and thus enlarge your audience, as The New York Times does with Twitter, as the FBI does with Scribd, and as Dell does with SlideShare.
  • Manage your reputation, as countless companies do — or try to do — with Wikipedia.
  • Conduct crisis communications, as Johnson & Johnson does with its blog.
  • Hold contests to improve your algorithms, as Netflix did with the Netflix Prize.
  • Crowdsource your challenges, as the U.S. Army did with its field manuals.
  • Demonstrate thought leadership, as recruiter Lindsay Olson does with her blog.
  • Research free advertising opportunities, as Allstate does on YouTube.
  • Showcase your wares, as Zappos does with its blog, and boost your sales, as Dell does on Twitter.
  • Recruit employees, as Booz Allen does on LinkedIn.
 
Better tomorrow,
PR Pret-a-Porter.

Buzz: Domino’s Pizza on Moon

According to AdAge, Domino’s Pizza in Japan plans to build the first fast-food outlet on the moon, revealed the pizza maker’s president in Japan, Scott K. Oelkers. The affable Mr. Oelkers appears in a full spacesuit, customized with a Domino’s patch, and displays a big picture of the Moon Branch Project he describes in an intro video on a dedicated site for the project.

The site outlines the stages of the ambitious program at great length, including an engineer’s full- length presentation of the construction plan, an extensive Q&A session and a menu of the required funding, which will amount to about 1.6 trillion yen, or $21 billion, reports Ad Age’s Creativity. Mr. Oelkers speaks in English, with Japanese subtitles and a few words of Japanese at the end, but other parts of the site are in Japanese.

Domino’s is known for its wacky marketing efforts in Japan, and the news spreads fast. The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph ran an oddly straightforward story today that starts “Domino’s Pizza has announced plans to conquer the final frontier by opening the first pizza restaurant on the moon.” The story is the most-read in the newspaper’s science section and garnered lots of comments, ranging from people playing along and wondering about whether Domino’s “free if not delivered within 30 minutes” rule will apply to orders placed on the moon to complaints about the publicity stunt.

Domino’s stepped up the stunts last year to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Japan. The company offered an entertaining online “Pizza Tracking Show” that invited online pizza order placers to register to see the progress of their pizza in real time through the final step of delivery on a scooter, with some added bells and whistles.

That effort, by Japanese agency Asatsu-DK and local digital shop Bascule, won a bronze award at last year’s One Show in New York.

In December, Domino’s took applications with great fanfare for a part-time job for one lucky hire at the rate of 2.5 million yen, or $31,030, to deliver pizza. The job was only for a single hour, but applicants poured in. In another promotion, all babies born last year on Sept. 30 — the exact date the first Domino’s opened in Japan 25 years earlier — are entitled to a free pizza on their birthday until they turn, of course, 25.

 

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

How to sell social media

An image that makes more than 1000 words. Excellent via Johnatan Rick.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Crisis management: Toyota case

Today I found an interesting case study about crisis management: Toyota. Mashable is presenting the facts and the story of Toyota via social media:

In January 2010, Toyota faced a nightmare situation for any brand, but particularly for one that staked its reputation on safety and quality: The company had to recall 2.3 million vehicles because of faulty accelerator pedals.

Suddenly, Toyota was trending on Google and Twitter on a daily basis, but for all the wrong reasons. Auto brands had faced similar crises before — Audi in particular grappled with a gas accelerator recall in the 1980s — but none had done so under the 24/7 scrutiny of social media.

But Kimberley Gardiner, Toyota’s national digital marketing and social media manager, saw an opportunity as well.

“Right away, we were seeing a lot of conversation and getting a lot of people who were using social media to reach out to us,” she says. “We didn’t have a lot of answers at the beginning.”

Toyota’s social media team, which was only a few months old at the time, decided to address the situation head on, but in a novel way: via Digg.

Before Digg’s disastrous Version 4 hit in August 2010, the site had a lot more social media influence. Recall that in 2009, Digg’s traffic ranged from 37 million to 44 million unique visitors each month. Plus, the site had outsize influence on Google News searches. At the time, it seemed like the best place for Toyota to get its message across.

On February 8, Toyota served up Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s North American sales operation, to the masses in the form of a Digg Dialogg. In many ways, the appearance was a stroke of genius. For one thing, Lentz didn’t actually appear on Digg, but on a dedicated video site. The questions, which were voted on by fans (the ones with the most votes rose to the top) also wound up being pretty softball. “They were mostly general questions, like ‘What kind of car does Mr. Lentz drive?’” says Florence Drakton, social media manager. (“That’s a great question,” a clearly relieved Lentz answers.) Lentz’s interview, which ran 28 minutes, is still available on YouTube:

It was hard to beat the reach Toyota got from the appearance. Within a week, the Dialogg had received 1.2 million views. “Probably the biggest indicator of interest was there were 3,200 questions,” says Drakton. “Only celebrities have gotten that much.” In addition to reaching a fairly big audience, the Dialogg gave Toyota theappearance of achieving social media branding nirvana: Transparency. Though there were other factors at play, like news fatigue, researcher YouGov’s BrandIndex, which polls 5,000 Internet users daily, saw a bottoming out around the time of the Dialogg. Note: YouGov’s scores are based on consumers’ perception of the brand. A positive is +100 and negative is -100.

The best news for Toyota, though, is the company’s brand perception among those in the market for a car within the next six months is high. In YouGov’s most recent survey, Toyota was second only to Honda among that audience; the brand had leapfrogged Ford sometime in August.

Looking back, Gardiner says although the Digg Dialoggs (there were two more in July and August of 2010) were successful, if the same thing happened today, she’d probably use a TweetChat on Twitter instead. In fact, the medium is a favorite of Toyota’s, which has held several such chats in the last few months. Facebook, Gardiner says, is a great way to reach out to Toyota owners, but Twitter addresses those consumers who might be skeptical about the brand.

The choice of the exact form of social media may be beside the point, though. Like Dell, which became a social media poster child after its Dell Hell debacle, Toyota’s recall situation forced the company to embrace social media. “Toyota is an organization that is not used to being on camera and in the spotlight,” Gardiner says. “It was new to many people in the organization. It’s not something you plan for. We’re learning as we go.”

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: