Creative Blog

Issues important to discern and creatively explore!

we are humans…stupid! #storytelling


Love this quote from Gary V:

“I am only interested in one thing…the thing that binds us all together…always and forever our job is to tell our story…”

“The way you make real money…the way you make real impact…the way things get changed is by great storytelling…it has always been that way and it will always be that way…because i do not know if you guys heard and we are f&cking human beings and that is what we like.”

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What is the DNA of a good storyteller?

Anyone have any thoughts? Hmm…so I have been thinking about this for a bit! What is the DNA of a “good” storyteller?

Hmm…well my first thought: they create great content. Yeah…so what is great content and how can we equate great content with a great storyteller?

In the world of digital communications…how do we create content that is sticky and feels connected.

I read a great little blog post by Holly Potter and it has me thinking just a bit…here is an excerpt:

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What is “good” content? #storytelling

Have you thought through this before? When I asked a group of healthcare communication professionals to define content and “good” content…we recorded some interesting feedback.

So here are my thoughts:

Good Content – From 30K Feet
1) Creates the connected theater – How can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling (movie theater analogy)?
2) Creates a connected voice – We can identify we each other…we speak the same language.

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Social Content –> Shaping Content Creation?

People want to find media that they can identify…content that makes sense in their lives. As I think through this lens…I have been reshaping my opinions when it comes to the value of video production.

I love big cameras, pretty pictures, the HD experience…etc. But, is all this necessary in our world of social content? Is multi-purposing content from that video shoot with the Red Camera necessary?

Have you watched American Idol this season? It is a new face with the addition of Harry Connick, Jr…a new tone and lots more stories. Did you also notice the production value of the video content being used. Lots more user-based content captured using mobile devices. The opening of American Idol has leveraged contestant video content from their mobile devices as a major part of the opening sequences.

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Are we trapped in social content? #texture

Content curation is a big buzz word/phrase right now. Lots of neat technologies, innovations, and social channels to find, share, capture, explore, leverage…then re-share.

But are we getting a bit trapped? Just found this cool post on Social Media Examiner how to use Feedly, IFTTT, and Excel to find, share, and potentially categorize/curate content. Great little workflow for those of us trying to create streamlined workflows to aggregate great content, read, re-purpose, and re-share accordingly.

But…are we looking too much through the technological lens of “social.” Specifically…are we depending on a few things here:

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2014 SuperBowl Ads – Budweiser’s Narrative Helps Us Forget A Soldier #sb48

As we ooh’d and ahh’d over this touching little puppy ad by Budweiser in the 4th quarter of the SuperBowl…we have forgotten.

Budweiser…as always, knows how to create a tremendous ad narrative throughout big events like the SuperBowl. Sprinkling little story-lines in short little commercials that have nothing to do with beer. These little micro-narratives have everything to do with being “American.”

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What makes stories sticky? #contentmarketing

This is a question that I think resonates all content marketers. From my days in broadcast television news, we spent hours and hours discussion whether a story would generate enough interest to drive viewership. Now in the digital/social communication world, it is even more of a legitimate discussion.

In-order for organizations to take ownership of their brand message, they have to become their own content marketers. They have to create home bases for audiences to navigate and social strategies to generate conversation portals ultimately for content discovery.

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Sowing her passion for science at Furman University

I had the pleasure to meet the first female professor at Furman University. What a great story! She has accomplished so much here in Greenville and at Furman University.

“Laura Thompson doesn’t walk from her office to the classroom, she dashes. In conversations, her train of thought jumps the tracks, careening from one topic of interest to another. When she says she wakes at 6 eager for another day of work, you believe her.

“They probably think I’m the crazy old plant woman,” she says. “But my goal is for students to leave Furman with a good idea of how important plants are to people.”

Thompson has taught biology at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., since 1987. When she was hired, she was her department’s first female tenure-track professor.

“She was such an infusion of infectious energy and enthusiasm, it was like a huge breath of fresh air for me,” says former student Kimberly Chappell. “She was the first real tangible example I had of what a successful woman trained in the sciences looked like.”

To read the whole story, CLICK HERE.

Storytelling and Data…or the need to measure the story?

It is possible…it is possible to measure success. I have been surrounded by groups that want to bring a visual context to their story. They enlist me to help find and tell those rich elements creating a meaningful story.

The idea of storytelling has become such a passé term. Each day I receive an email, see a pr strategy, get a insert in the my home mailbox advertising how to tell better stories. From rich pr strategies to complex marketing initiatives…we all want to tell better stories.

Groups invest tons of money into these initiatives yet sometimes measuring success is not part of the initial thinking. The hardest question…what is success. Or…is the term “success” an inappropriate representation for the need to see how the audiences interacted with the media.

Let’s think through the term “success” and consider a different lens. When I think of measurement and storytelling, I think in terms of impact and how the audience experienced the media.

From the very beginning, before the creative stage is implemented…we have to set goals. What do we want the media, (the story) to do and how can we measure the impact based on those goals.

Then, we have to identify the story that needs to be told. What is the message and how do we want it to influence the audience. Is this an awareness initiative or is it a marketing initiative?

Here are the fun questions:
1) Can we actually associate measurement to these goals? Well this mathematics graduate knows you can associate numbers/measurement to anything.
2) But, do we really care about all the data we want to collect?
3) Can we experience data overload? So much measurement we are not even sure what to do with the information…often times leaving us overwhelmed and less interested?

Maybe we should just focus our expectations…thus focus our data collection. OR…maybe we should focus on telling better stories?

Facebook Auto-Play – Game Changer in Content Delivery for Video???

Facebook just released the newest app in both iOS and Android which bows allow you to see video content in auto-play mode. What does this mean?

As you scroll down your news feed (via your iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, and other mobile devices), video that was uploaded directly to Facebook will now auto play in the news feed. This means, when you scroll down the news feed to check out all the stories…you will notice a video might start playing. But, you will notice it does this in silently.

Many people have voiced both positive and negative reviews surrounding videos auto-playing when clicking onto a website. Lots of the feedback, mainly negative, specifically addressing the sound during the auto-play.

Other groups are experimenting with auto-play of video like Vimeo with their mobile apps. The Vimeo app on the iPad would auto-play your feed videos when scrolling, catching your attention with the motion of the video. This is the idea I think Facebook is trying to capture.

The Benefit:
Here is what makes this awesome…allowing people to explore rich media that they normally would not if the video was paused. By auto-playing the video, consumers see the motion as they scroll through the feed…potentially stopping to watch the whole video. This will be huge for communicators/marketers/digital strategist.

This only works when you upload video directly to Facebook…hence another reason they are trying to encourage individuals to use Facebook as a video distribution channel. This will not work with any video links posted from outlets like YouTube, Vimeo, Vine…etc.

With the competition between Instagram, Vine, and YouTube trying to leverage people with their video distribution capabilities…Facebook recognizes they are the ones how hold the key to the mass audience. So…why not jump into the game.

TechCrunch writes:

“If Facebook can make auto-play video feel like a natural part of the feed, it could unlock a new level of proficiency in consuming the world.

Auto-play could give us quick windows into our friends lives that are almost as easy to skim as photos but much more evocative. News outlets could serve up footage from major events happening around the world or recent sports highlights. Imagine watching an epic interception returned for a touchdown silently filling you feed with a remarkable athletic achievement that you might not have clicked and waited to load, but you’re happy to see. And if you want to hear the hits and announcer’s commentary, one click and it’s like you’re watching television.

And that might be the goal of Facebook video. To combine the vividness of TV with the efficiency of reading.”

The Challenge:
Here is the one area Facebook really needs to get their act together…offering analytics for video inside their branded pages. If you can combine the opportunity for exploration of rich video via auto play along with an analytics package for communicators/marketers/digital strategist, their will be big play with big brands.

The Final Challenge:
As content marketers…are we pushing too much stuff from our branded pages onto Facebook? We are seeing a shift in demographics, shift in privacy, shift in closeness of this community, and a shift in the Facebook algorithms. Are people wanting less or more rich content? Or do they want rich content from people and brands they trust?

#SE2103 – Wrapping Up Inaugural Successful Entrepreneurship Series

It is time to celebrate! Yes…the first Successful Entrepreneurship series has come to a close and there are lots to get excited about. Sixteen weeks…eighteen speakers including the Governor! Yes, Governor Haley joined us to talk entrepreneurship and business in South Carolina.

A core group of entrepreneurs, led by Leighton Cubbage, formed a series of entrepreneurs teaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Each week a new topic all hosted at Greenville Technical College.

So here is a quick recap:
– 200 people applied
– 75 accepted into the 16 week program
– 16 Week Program
– 18 Speakers
– Averaged 68 attendees each week
– Collected roughly 674 food items for donation
– 69 Members elected to participate in the Secret Facebook Group
– 1129 Unique Visitors to Successful-Entrepreneurship.com
– Uploaded videos have been watch 210 times.

Here is the list of all the speakers:
Leighton Cubbage, Joe Erwin, Dan Waldschmidt, Bob Hughes, Rick Davis, Cy Burgess, Katherine Smoak Davis, Bobby Rettew, Dave Wyman, Ruben Montalvo, Curtis Harper, Kevin Hendricks, Ray Lattimore, Art Seaver, Matt Dunbar, Steve Mudge, Randy Dobbs, and Governor Nikki Haley

We sent a final survey to all the attendees, so I thought I would share a few of the responses!

1) Who was your favorite speaker? (Tell us why!)

I am not able to pick a favorite. I felt that every speaker was unique and gave an inspirational approach to entrepreneurship. I was very thankful to be a part of this group.

2) Did you connect with someone special? (Share the experience!)

The connections that I have made with those in the class have been most special to me. More than just networking but real connection. Getting to know them without any real expectations has been a true blessing.

3) Share one thing you took away from these events?

Almost all of the speaker talked about the importance of SERVICE and giving instead of getting! This truly blessed me.

4) Did you meet a new business opportunity? (Tell us more!)

I have contacted a classmate and plan to help him buy investment properties.

5) What was your favorite quote from all the events?

“Shut up, go to work, and put it in the pipeline!” & “Timid people have skinny children.”

6) What made you attend week after week?

The content really kept my anticipation HIGH each week! Different topics, differnet experiences, dynamic speakers. the FRIGGING GOVERNOR!!!!!!! need i say more.

7) How can we make Successful Entrepreneurship better?

I think it is spectacular you support share the knowledge… not everyone gets it. Your all role models and it was a pleasure to experience it. I would do it again.


The Purple Gift – Peeling Back the Layers of Daniel Rodriguez’s Story #storytelling

I wish I was there…I so wish I was able to make it. My father, a Vietnam Veteran who served on the USS Kittyhawk in the Gulf of Tonkin, flew in from Utah and was able to witness this event.

It was a purple kind of day. Yep…since Clemson’s traditional colors are orange and purple…it was a purple kind of day. “Purple Out” was the call to fans, asking everyone to wear all purple in honor of Military Heritage Day. Clemson has a long traditional of military dating back to it’s origins.

Here is the context of the story:
In 1893, Clemson opened as an all-male military school, rivaling the South Carolina Military Academy (now know as the Citadel). Clemson graduated 446 cadets in 1896 and the Citadel was able to award it’s first bachelor of science degree to it’s graduates in 1900. There is a rich traditional of competition among these two military based schools.

CBS Sports writes about Saturday:
Purple has a rich tradition at Clemson and has become even more present with the addition of Daniel Rodriguez to the roster.

“Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez recorded his first career touchdown in the Tigers’ 52-6 win against Citadel on Saturday. The 25-year-old Purple Heart recipient has mostly played special teams this season, but got an opporutnity to score on a fly sweep from Cole Stoudt.

Rodriguez was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal after he was wounded in 2009 during the Battle of Kamdesh. After tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rodriguez joined the team in 2012 thanks to an NCAA waiver. He recorded three receptions last season and entered Saturday’s game with five catches on the year.”

Saluting Daniel Rodriguez:
This purple day was an intersection of many story-lines. As these layers, these story-lines became one…the emotion was overwhelming. What makes a stadium cheer like they won the national championship in the fourth quarter when a reserve wide receiver scores a touchdown…especially when Clemson is up 40+ points.

What brings tears to the eyes of those who served when this reserve wide receiver spikes the ball and is lifted in the air by his team mates?

What is it that gives us chills when this wide receiver is more that a reserve…but a leader among leaders.

What gives you such pride to know that Daniel Rodriguez scored, walked into the end zone, that sacred carpet of freedom that so few have experienced in college football. Maybe this sacred carpet he enjoyed on this 4th down play was the very carpet of freedom his service, and the service of many others in the stadium that day, has provided for us to enjoy and entertain.

This moment of glory was more than just a touchdown. It is proof that someone can overcome all the odds, all the hurdles, and not only lead a country into a time of peace, but lead a team, a fan base, a state, and a college football nation into a moment of pure joy. What sits behind that joy? Hmm…maybe it is the knowledge we all can overcome the odds to find our moment of glory.

Thank you Daniel Rodriguez for reminding us what it means to serve our great country. Thank you for reminding Clemson and College Football that life is more than what transpires on Saturday’s…that it is this kindred time when we can all come together and feel a little more whole when you walked across that goal line.

I feel honored to know that you wore that purple uniform, leading us with your purple heart of service.

Here is the video from his touchdown.

* The picture above was taken by Marjorie Maxon of Marjorie Maxon Photography.

Military Appreciation Day at Clemson – Col. Ben Skardon

This past weekend’s Clemson football game was Military Appreciation Day at Clemson. Clemson played the Citadel and how appropriate to honor those who have served with two schools playing on the gridiron representing such military heritage.

In the game program, Col. Ben Skardon was the featured story. Earlier this year, I produced a short documentary surrounding his story and how his Clemson ring saved his life. I thought it was awesome to see him honored, and to also see the pictures that I took of him during that interview appear in the program. It has been a pleasure getting to know Col. Skardon and his lasting legacy here at Clemson.

Here is his story, just incase you missed it earlier this year!