Showing posts with label AIGA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AIGA. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 26

You Have To Be In It To Win It.

As surprising at it will seem to many graphic designers, most communication professionals are unfamiliar with Sean Adams. They don't know he is a partner at AdamsMorioka in Beverly Hills.

They don't know he has been recognized by every major design competition and publication, ranging from Communication Arts to Graphis. They don't know he has had a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art or that he teaches at the Art Center College of Design. And they don't know that he is president ex officio and past national board member of AIGA, assuming they have ever heard of AIGA.

They do, however, know some of AdamsMorioka clients. They include the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Adobe, Gap, Frank Gehry Partners, Nickelodeon, Sundance, Target, USC, and The Walt Disney Company to name a few. And on any given day, his work influences people not only in his profession, but also in the products, services, and experiences they choose to purchase.

So why don't more people know him or follow him on Twitter? 

The reason is three-fold. First, the greater field of marketing and communication is so expansive and siloed that it is not uncommon for leaders inside different niches to never meet or even know of each other. Second, the number of people you 'know' isn't nearly as important as which ones. And third, this prevailing notion that social media is an indicator of influence is a lie.

There are much better ways leave a sustainable impact in a profession and blaze a trail that some people will undoubtedly recognize as a legacy that will inspire others. Adams has done that. And after hearing him speak a few weeks ago at a Mohawk Paper - AIGA Las Vegas sponsored event, it's exceptionally clear that he will continue to do so.

The wealth of information he shared about his career path, design philosophy, and business approach  was only matched by his ability to connect with the audience. It's also the mark of a good teacher.

It's also the mark of a professional who understood early on that in order to succeed in your career — particularly if it is anywhere close to marketing and communication (social media, public relations, design, etc.) — you have to be in it to win it. For Adams, that meant immersing himself in his profession as a leader in organizations like AIGA and at colleges like Art Center College of Design.

It was through those organizations that Adams was able to immerse himself in his profession to learn, lead, and influence design. It's very similar to what I encourage students to do every year too.

The three most important sectors in which to become involved.

Years ago, I used to suggest that students, interns, and employees become involved in at least one professional and one civic organization. But at minimum, I no longer believe two is really enough to remain competitive. Three is a better number because many answers can be found outside the field.

1. Profession. Becoming involved in the profession is the easiest way to remain immersed in the profession. And there is no shortage of professional organizations in the field of marketing and communication, ranging from the American Marketing Association and American Advertising Federation to the International Association of Business Communicators and Public Relations Society of America. AIGA, by the way, is one of the oldest. It's celebrating 100 years this year.

Joining any one or two of these organizations (or related niche organizations) provides an opportunity to develop a professional network, discuss trends, and sometimes forecast changes to come. Don't stop at becoming a member. Become immersed by serving as a volunteer.

2. Industry. Since communication doesn't happen in a vacuum, it's also important to join an organization that isn't related to your profession but is related to your field. While many students seemed surprised to learn that some of their future peers join communication-related organizations but not organizations within their own industry, people in the field sometimes forget.

If you are working in communication for a bank, it's important to become involved in finance-related associations. The same holds true for emergency medical, hospitality, technology, or whatever. And for those that work at an agency or firm? They ought to survey a cross section of their clients and become involved in whichever industries seem prevalent.

3. Community. Last but not least, professionals who excel tend to give back to the communities where they live, work, and play. This almost always includes becoming involved with at least one nonprofit organization or civic agency that benefits their community. It's especially worthwhile for communication professionals too. There is no shortage of nonprofits that could use the help.

To be clear, any commitment ought to be in addition to the corporate philanthropy encouraged by the company. It's one thing to volunteer your time and talent to your office place, but quite another to make a personal commitment to an organization regardless of where you work. Pick something important to you and make a difference.

Good companies support professional and community involvement.

Every now and again, I meet people who tell me that their employers won't support it. If you find that to be the case, then you might be working for the wrong company. Savvy organizations know that the best professionals tend to be those who are involved and not isolated. Flex time is not negotiable.

By becoming involved in at least one organization in each sector, you will find out very quickly that influence isn't built by online scoring systems as much as the relationships you make offline first. Or, as Sean Adams said during his speech a few weeks ago: You have to be in it to win it.

Wednesday, November 6

Do Do Do On The Internet Works Until It's Done.

Wait while I click this.
It's no secret that actions rule marketing. It was the marketing answer for online measurement, one underscored by any number of antecdotesclick it to win it and jab, jab, jab, right hook among them.

There is nothing wrong with actions, but sometimes it can short sell the impact of social media just like it used to short sell the impact of good advertising. In the wrong hands, it can undermine the customer by giving them less credit than a doorknob. They're not stupid or sales marks.

Did anybody read what Graham Hill noted in his column? A one percent response rate is now acceptable in some marketing channels. One percent? A few years ago, the only thing a one percent return in direct mail meant was that you were going to be fired. Industry standard was four percent.

Four percent was remarkably low too. Double-digit returns was one of the reasons direct mail became part of my portfolio. My response rates were higher because I didn't believe the customer was stupid.

In essence, the most brilliant move among modern marketers wasn't in developing great campaigns. It was making themselves superstars by lowering the bar to its most banal point in history, and then convincing their clients that the only way to make more revenue was more frequency and reach.

David Ogilvy said it: Consumers aren't morons. She is your wife. Or friend. Or neighbor. 

The idea was introduced to me by Borne Morris, who joined Ogilvy & Mather in 1960 as a writer. She worked there until eventually becoming head of Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles. Some agency accounts included Mattel, Columbia Pictures, General Foods, and Baskin-Robbins. 

Among all of the bits and pieces of knowledge I've collected, the Ogilvy quote remains one of my favorites. In fact, that is why I elected to paraphrase it in the subhead. The concept behind what he said has outgrown its original intent. It isn't about protecting consumers from being maligned as dunces. It's about something much bigger.

When you remember that the consumer is your wife or friend or neighbor, you are also advocating that they aren't looked at as "them" but rather someone close to you. It makes you one of them.

You can research, plan, and think but social will be what it wants to be.

Followers
The real benefit of being one with the consumer as opposed to the person trying to reel them in for a quick fix is that it addresses what ought to be the golden rule of social media. That rule is simple.

"Any social campaign is going to be what it wants to be. You have to be ready to go with it, follow it where it goes, and deal with whatever it becomes. If you do, brilliant. If not, you're a blowhard."

I was reminded of this over the weekend while managing the realtime social for the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I had some hard plans for what needed to be done on the day of the event. I spent several weeks considering how to best cover it live. All that was tossed out when I caught a cold.

There are more than 100 panels and lectures and presentations (many occurring simultaneously), live social coverage had been bandied about for a month, and now you're too sick to attend. What do you do? Since sending someone else to cover the event wasn't an option, I was straight up with them.

I told them that I was too sick to attend and needed an assist, making my base camp about a half-hour away at my home office. Without any hesitation, one of the young adult authors and a local reporter jumped in to help direct the stream of participant-generated content, using a designated hashtag.

By 10 a.m., the social stream across Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and other networks became too big to retweet and recapture with the hashtag. There was even one hour when the Vegas Valley Book Festival account was tossed in Twitter jail. It made attendees even more excited to share their experiences at the event. Insights suggest the event's online reach outpaced last year tenfold.

Every experience has three parts. Most marketers only worry about the first.

The event might be over, but the social work needs to continue. Many attendees already know that the event will be followed up with ongoing exhibits through November, permanent author lists on Twitter, event photo boards on Pinterest, and other post-event offerings. All of it is a great way to prolong the good feeling that so many of them experienced during the event.

Not many marketers consider channeling additional effort into post-event occurrences, especially when there is no "sale" incentive. But since my firm has been working on social as a community service and extension of my position with AIGA Las Vegas, no one had to approve anything. I think post-event communication it is a critical component of any outreach.

Ogilvy
This runs contrary to most marketing plans, which tend to put all the emphasis on pre-event activities in an attempt to build actions and concern themselves very little with the purchase experience or customer retention. In other words, marketing is overly concerned with pushing people to the cash register and not concerned enough with the experience or joy of ownership (tangible purchases or intangible memories) that eventually pays bigger dividends in brand equity.

If they did realize it, then these marketers would stop worrying about trying to make people do, do, do until it's done. Why? Real marketing realizes that we don't want people to complete a transaction. We want to leave the ticket open so our customers have a longer lifecycle than direct response action.

For the Vegas Valley Book Festival, this means prolonging the great experience people had at the event and having a better opportunity to outline next year's event as new authors are lined up. It doesn't mean trying to make them like, share, promote, or otherwise participate in empty engagement on a social network. Make sense? I hope so. Nobody needs to learn the hard way.

What do you think? Are there any companies out there proving themselves to be effective at creating a viable customer lifecycle? I know about a few, but would love to read some other thoughts too.

Wednesday, October 30

Where Would We Be Without Words? I Can Imagine.

Literacy
Years ago, when John Corcoran told me that almost half of his students were not able to read beyond a third grade level, I didn't want to believe him. And yet, I believed him.

I believed him because third grade was a pivotal year in my education too. It was the same year that my grandmother made the decision to have me repeat the third grade outside of the public school system. Had nothing changed, I would have landed on the wrong side of a statistical division.

According to the John Corcoran Foundation, two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Not all of them do. Corcoran was a teacher.

He learned to cheat, but only cheated himself. 

As Corcoran progressed through school, he became more and more resourceful in hiding his illiteracy behind his natural aptitude for math, athletic prowess and deep friendships. He hid it so well, in fact, that he taught bookkeeping, social studies, and physical education for several years.

Living this lie wasn't easy for him, he told me, but it was not nearly as painful as not being able to help students who faced a similar problem. They could not read and he could not teach them.

Corcoran eventually did learn to read, but not until long after he left teaching and entered real estate. He was 48 years old at the time and an exception to the rule. Most people never learn to read.

A brief look at the growing literacy problem in the United States.

Literacy
There is a growing literacy problem in the United States and our self-confidence, much like Corcoran's self-esteem, makes us blind to it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 14 percent of adults in the United States cannot read (the same number of people who do not use the Internet) and, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), this number swells to 40 percent when counting those who only possess level one reading skills (marginally functional).

High school graduation is not an indicator. As many as one in five students graduate without being able to read. About one in four graduate without being proficiently literate. One recent study, OECD Skills Outlook 2013, placed the United States 16th in literacy proficiency (among 23 countries).

The same organization warned that the U.S. was the only country among 20 OECD free-market countries where the current generation is less well educated than the previous one. It published this finding as part of the National Commission on Adult Literacy in 2008. It's not any better today.

Individual career paths aside, literacy is a family matter. 

Any time I step on stage or in front of a classroom, most people cannot imagine me as anything but a writer. Even with other occupational titles, writing has provided my career with a strong foundation. I write approximately 10,000 to 15,000 words a week (excluding email and social networks), which is the equivalent of a novel every other month (and the reason I don't write a novel every other month).

Ironically, I can imagine my career path without ever becoming a writer. From the onset, I wasn't very good at it because strong writing is indicative of being a strong reader. I wasn't a strong reader.

Reading came much later for me. I didn't learn to appreciate it until seventh grate. Writing came even later. My skill sets were only passable up until my freshman year. Both have stories for another time.

Teaching To Read
The point is that I can imagine it because I had to imagine it. But what I could not imagine would be the inability to help my daughter when she needed it most. She reads with confidence now.

While it has been an amazing journey transforming my daughter into a strong reader during the past six months, I can't help but wonder what might have happened without intervention. What if I didn't know how to read well, let alone teach? How long could she have hung on as a struggling reader?

Three days this week with literacy. Maybe you could connect to one.

All Hallow's ReadThursday is All Hallows Read. Most people pass out candy, but Neil Gaiman continues to make the case that people could pass out books instead. He calls the campaign All Hallows Read, a program that inspires more stories and less sweets for Halloween.

I wrote about the program last year, including five titles that have always conjured up an appropriate spirit for the season. Feel free to add The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, written by Gaiman. Coraline is another family favorite. The film is part of my family's Halloween lineup.

NCFLFriday is National Family Literacy Day.  The National Center For Family Literacy (NCFL)  is hosting a fundraising challenge for literacy. Proceeds from the campaign will help the center continue its work, which has helped more than one million families make educational and economical progress.

The reason family literacy is so important is that children's reading scores improve dramatically when their parents become involved and help them learn to read. This isn't possible without literate parents so the program goes a long way improving the household. The NCFL is my friend Geoff Livingston's account and he is raising funds along with hundreds of others. They have a "thunderclap" scheduled.

Cegas Valley Book Festival
Saturday is the Vegas Valley Book Festival. The Vegas Valley Book Festival is the largest literary event in Las Vegas, bringing together hundreds of writers, authors, artists, and illustrators to celebrate literacy and creativity. All programs and events are open to the public. Admission is free.

As social media director for AIGA Las Vegas, I have been overseeing elements of the social media campaign, including an event schedule on Facebook. If you are in Las Vegas this Saturday, there isn't a better way to promote family literacy and art appreciation. There is also an event kick off tonight with Catherine Coulter as this year's keynote.

One last thing for my own curiosity: What are you reading and why? I really would like to know. It's important because you never know who it might inspire next because words inspire lives. They inspired mine.

Monday, January 28

Failing Forward: Debbie Millman At AIGA Las Vegas

Debbie Millman knows something about failure. Most people would never guess it nowadays.

Today, she is a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant, and radio show host. Specifically, she worked in design for over 25 years and currently serves as president of the design division at Sterling Brands, a leading brand consultancy formed in 1992 with offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati. She's held the position for 17 years. You know her work.

The consultancy’s client roster includes many international brands such as Procter & Gamble, NestlĂ©, Disney, Bayer, Google, and Visa. She has been personally responsible for working on the redesign of over 200 global brands.

While her position alone would be enough to scream success, she is also a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com, chair of the Masters In Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and hosts the award-winning weekly radio talk show “Design Matters With Debbie Millman.”

And yet, with all sincerity and despite the twinkle in her eye, Millman is among the first to say that her career never really took off until her 30s. Before that, she chalked up one failure after the next.

What does Millman think made all the difference? 

While Millman shared a top ten list of things she wish she knew before she started her career (a list that will be published on a transitionary AIGA Las Vegas site later this week), it took a question from the audience to pin it all down. When asked what was the catalyst for change, she settled on a single word after a long and thoughtful 30-second pause.

"Therapy."

The single word answer almost fell flat on the 200 or so attendees at the Jan. 25 event hosted by AIGA Las Vegas, Las Vegas - Clark County Library District and Library Foundation. Enough so, that as a speaker and instructor, I wanted to jump in and provide a greater context for what she meant. I got it, even if not everyone did.

Millman didn't mean that everyone needed to find a psychologist or therapist to find success. But what most people need to do, especially students on the eve of graduating who can't see a clear vision into their future, is to change their thinking. The greatest road block for success begins with giving ourselves permission to succeed, something Millman had admitted that she never really did until later.

"I started to choose a path that was failure proof," Millman said. "If there is such a thing."

Over the next half-hour of her presentation, she outlined a career path that chronicled one failure after the next. The worst of it included becoming the object of ridicule on one of the first design blogs ever created. The blog, Speak Up, attracted dozens of comments from designers she admired in the field.

Her revision of the Burger King logo was met with considerable scorn. But it was the blog's comments that drove the discussion away from a single logo design and defining Millman as a talentless hack.

Millman might have been able to weather the criticism had she not just recently been more or less shackled by the leadership of AIGA as not being progressive enough as a designer to hold a position on their board. (This was also despite finally finding her dream position at Sterling Brands.) Basically, it meant to her that neither AIGA designers nor anti-AIGA designers would accept her or her work.

But that was a long time ago. What really changed it for Millman was her ability to stop avoiding failures and start embracing them. In fact, Millman says that if you don't make mistakes, you aren't taking enough risks. And taking risks — not avoiding failure — is a critical step toward finding success.

You can't be successful by trying to avoid failure.

Many of Millman's life lessons are much like that. While some people might chalk it up to common sense, the truth of it is that most people are afraid to take risks, find excuses not to make them, tend to quit too soon in order to prove success is elusive, and never give themselves permission to live the remarkable lives that they dream of, assuming they ever open themselves up to dream them. I couldn't agree more.

Therapy is the right answer, but it doesn't necessarily mean hiring a a therapist. It means accepting who you are and changing your outlook about what's possible, especially if you have built a lifetime of resistance. Most people need help to do it. And it just doesn't matter whether that help comes from a teacher, mentor, friend, colleague, ideology, faith, or whatever because it sounds simpler than it will be.

We have to be open to the possibilities, work hard in actively pursuing them, and never give up in the face of failure. As Millman eventually learned, it was her failures that often opened doors for success and not the other way around. Or, as she so eloquently put it, she failed her way to a successful life.

Tuesday, April 28

Speaking Engagement: AIGA Meets Twitter


If you were wondering (and some people are still wondering) whether Twitter is a permanent addition or passing fancy, AIGA Las Vegas recently invited me to speak along with Warren Whitlock, author of the Twitter Revolution. Everyone is serious about Twitter.

Whitlock is a bestselling author, speaker, publisher, blogger, and marketing strategist. You can find him and about 28,000 followers on Twitter. I'm one of them. He was one of the first people I followed on Twitter, given that he is also from Las Vegas. It's also nice to know I'm in such good company because the AIGA event is two hours.

AIGA LV '09: Java Jam: Twitter Whut?

AIGA LV '09: Java Jam will take place from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6 at Faciliteq in Downtown Las Vegas. Parking is easy; AIGA Las Vegas provided a map. The event is sponsored by MGM Mirage and Clio 50.

I haven't settled in on what to talk about next week. Here are three thoughts I might brush upon:

• Handling real-time communication as company spokespeople.
• The varied approaches for organizational engagement.
• Why giving up control doesn't mean lack of management.

Of course, I'm always open to new ideas. For example, I loved the impromptu session with Danny Brown today on Twitter. The discussion was integrating social media into crisis communication. It's a great topic; one worth fleshing out sometime soon.
 

Blog Archive

by Richard R Becker Copyright and Trademark, Copywrite, Ink. © 2021; Theme designed by Bie Blogger Template