Monday, April 13

Making Connections: James Hoke, What Goes Up

Three years ago, James Hoke, president of Las Vegas-based Destination Marketing Group, had a single conversation that became a defining moment in his life. While he didn't know it at the time, that single conversation set the stage for another conversation almost a year later.

“Do you want to start a production company and make a movie?”

Today, James Hoke is an executive producer behind the film What Goes Up (formerly Safety Glass), which is scheduled for release to select theaters in early May. It stars Steve Coogan, Hilary Duff, Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby, and Molly Shannon.

"You don't really appreciate how much communication is required as an executive producer until you have the job," says Hoke. "You work 12-hour days seven days a week on slow days, with a team that is literally brought together over night. It might sound like long hours, but my love for the job and a balanced life makes it feel a lot less like work. Of course, that's not to say I wouldn't have loved to know everything I know now back then."

Like all films, producing What Goes Up wasn't without challenges. The production took longer to complete than originally anticipated, there was some initial confusion in the United States over the title, and Hoke wishes they would have built in marketing, public relations, and social media efforts when the production began.

"The film took a little longer to complete, but for good reason. We really wanted to record and incorporate a new Hilary Duff single into the soundtrack," says Hoke. "We couldn't complete the original song until November last year. We think it was worth the wait, and we're hoping Hilary Duff fans agree."

The soundtrack for the movie, which Hoke will be sharing more information tomorrow on the What Goes Up Insider blog, was overseen by Anthony Miranda, one of three partners in Three Kings Productions, which was the driving force behind What Goes Up. Miranda has worked on several dozen movie soundtracks.

"Well, I'm obviously biased, but Miranda is such an amazing talent," Hoke said. "I think he is going to surprise a lot of people with the soundtrack he has put together."

As for the change in titles, Hoke says there wasn't much to it. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which is responsible for North American distribution, came up with the new name.

"There really isn't much of story there," says Hoke. "I actually love the name. I hope everyone does too. It lends a lot of meaning to the film given the message. We all need heroes, and we need them so bad that sometimes we forget our heroes are human."

Hoke is hoping the human connection plays out in other ways as well. Currently, he is the driving force behind marketing and public relations efforts, which includes employing social media to help make a connection with fans. According to Hoke, he wants to develop a model where fans can connect with cast and crew on a different level than traditional marketing efforts alone.

"After seeing thousands of fans visit the production blog despite being in development, I can only imagine what might have happened if we started a year ago while we were still in production," says Hoke. "I think back on this amazing journey and now realize that fans could have been part of it all in real time. My advice to any producer, especially independent film producers, is start your efforts early and RIGHT NOW. Movies are magical experiences. You don't have to share every detail, but it's important to recognize that people want to be involved, and it would be very beneficial to have a base well before distribution."

Hoke adds that he and his partners are fortunate and grateful that fans have taken an interest in the film. With five solid stars rounding out the cast, many have expressed that they feel as if they have as much of a stake in the movie as the producers. In some ways, they might be right.

What Goes Up is only a few weeks away from its first appearance in theaters. As a limited theatrical release, it will require a very different marketing approach than the proverbial blockbuster. Hoke says they will roll the film out in select major markets, connecting with fans internationally and focusing most marketing efforts in those select markets.

"We've paid close attention to what other films have done right and wrong, and we think that will give us a significant advantage," says Hoke. "If I have any concerns it will be that some fans won't see some of the efforts we are putting forth on the local level so they will assume we're not doing everything possible. We will be. And with their support, the early success will determine how far the movie will go."

Hoke says that might sound like a long shot, but many aspects of the film seemed like a long shot at different stages of development. Producing an exclusive single with Hilary Duff seemed like a long shot. Reaching an agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which has helped develop several key aspects of the film, including a movie poster that resonates with fans, was a long shot. Teaming up with Kirk Shaw at Insight Film Studios, LTD., which Hoke defines as an amazing company, seemed like a long shot. Working the people at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Worldwide seemed like a long shot. And looking all the way back to the first conversation between Hoke and Joe Nahas seemed like a long shot too.

"Looking back at the first story written in 2007, I have to ask myself, what part of this production wasn't a long shot?" says Hoke. "What part of anything great in our lives isn't a long shot? In many ways, that is what this real film is about. It's about what makes a hero, and I think that's what people will be asking well after they leave the theaters. We're all human."

In an effort to keep it real, Hoke concludes that he will be undertaking what he calls another "long shot" tomorrow — writing his very first blog post. He says it will be the first of several to round out a mixed editorial concept, which includes alternating between weekly news announcements, guest posts, interviews, and review highlights.

Why is writing a post a long shot? He laughs, saying that when it comes to movies, writing is sometimes best left to people like Jonathan Glatzer and Robert Lawson, the two writers responsible for the script.

The weekly ROC post, which focuses on communication measurement and usually appears on Mondays, will be follow tomorrow. Additional disclosure: Copywrite, Ink. is involved with the release efforts; this story is independent of those efforts.

Friday, April 10

Switching Hitters: Left Brain Or Right?

Understanding psychology is great fun for advertisers and marketers. So much fun that there has always been ample discussion whether purchasing decisions are made with the left brain (rational) or right brain (emotional).

It's even more fun to discover that there is so much discussion in this topical area that, depending on the day, the same sources are really arguing among themselves. And, each time they do, they benefit from the coverage. Case in point.

The Case For The Left Brain.

Last year, Branding Strategy published a post by Jack Trout, which makes the case for rational advertising over emotional advertising. In it, they cite Mark Penn's book, Microtrends, that stresses "the rational side of people is far more powerful in many areas of life than the purely emotional side."

The post then goes on to cite TiVo, the current leader in digital video recorders (DVRs), which had just examined the commercial viewing habits of some 20,000 TiVo-equipped households, including which ad campaigns are fast-forwarded past by the lowest percentage of viewers. The results, they concluded, weigh heavily in favor of rational arguments.

Of course, Branding Strategy revised this thinking later in the year, suggesting the opposite was true in 12 Causes of Bad Brand Advertising. Brad VanAuken cited Harding’s 1996 study of buyers in ten corporations that "demonstrated that corporate buyers overwhelmingly rely on personal and emotional reasons over rational ones in their purchase choice."

That's okay. TiVo changed its position too.

The Case For The Right Brain.

TiVo, working with Innerscope Research, a biometric research firm, released a new study that suggests the opposite.

In a live study of 55 national ads, TiVo and Innerscope found that TV viewers are 25 percent more likely to fast-forward through ads with low emotional engagement than those with high emotional engagement. The data suggests that ads that are more emotionally engaging are more likely to be viewed in their entirety even in a time-shifted environment.

“We’re measuring emotions because emotions matter,” says Carl Marci, CEO of Innerscope Research, in a related article. "The science is very clear that emotions are prime determinants of behavior."

The study was originally conducted in late 2008, and then compared live biometric monitoring of emotional engagement with scores from TiVo's Stop||Watch(TM) ratings service, which collects anonymous, second-by-second audience research data from 100,000 TiVo subscribers. When the two metrics were compared, the emotional engagement of Innerscope's viewers correctly predicted whether, and how many, viewers would elect to fast forward at any given moment.

Our Take On The Brain.

We don't pick sides. For all the studies, it seems obvious that people are people, and different people react differently to different things.

Some people are predisposed to making emotional purchasing decisions based on personal trends (the shiny object afflicted) or because they want to help others (chronic solution providers). Others are predisposed to making rational purchasing decisions based on price point (bottom liners) or a logical presentation of facts (analytically enabled). Most people are some degree of two (assuming they aren't polar opposites).

Most advertising has a tendency to target one trait extremely well — e.g., children's cold medicine — or some pairing of the two — e.g., a cheap and trendy app. Of course, the very best advertising, which you don't see very often, hits all four equally.

If you still want to keep it simple, emotional vs. logical advertising, there is one broad-based solution. Emotional communication most often attracts interest while rational communication closes the deal or at least prevents buyer's remorse. And if you don't believe it, then wait for the next study that reveals whatever the opposite of whatever today's study says.

As for which advertisements do most consumers really fast forward? They fast forward on the very first bad commercial, and all those that are unfortunate to follow it during the break. No study needed.

Thursday, April 9

Demonstrating Courage: Jason Teitelman

Jason Teitelman, Web designer and office manager for for SiteProPlus Website Design, is no stranger to St. Baldrick's, a foundation with the mission to raise awareness and funds to cure kids' cancer by supporting cancer research and fellowship. Like many people, he had seen posters in local stores and coffee shops and always thought it was a fun idea.

"I had never really thought about participating, but this year was different," says Teitelman. "I saw the event posted on and it prompted me to visit the St. Baldrick's Web site. After reading a few of the children's stories, especially the memorials, I felt like I really wanted and needed to do something to help."

So Teitelman enrolled to become a "shavee" at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Shavees are people who shave their heads and help raise funds for children with cancer. According to Teitelman, the facility was amazing and the staff were friendly and compassionate.

"I just want to acknowledge the fact that they put on a wonderful event," he said. "Everyone I went with was impressed with the center as well as all of the support."

There were several memorable moments, Teitelman recalls, ranging from an outpouring of support from his family (mom, dad, wife, son, brother-in-law, and niece) to his 13-month-old son's initial puzzled pause after his head was shaved. Equally memorable however, were the parents of sick children who were especially appreciative of the support.

"They were really thankful for people like me, who haven't had any direct experience with childhood cancer," Teitelman said. "They appreciate everyone who takes a few minutes out of their day to recognize that there are children and families out there who are going through very difficult times. They could use all the help they can get."

For his part, Teitelman raised $295 of his $500 goal. But given the total donations raised by all participants, but he stresses that he was happy with the results nonetheless. In fact, he says joining the event had a greater impact than he ever imagined.

"I am planning on doing it again next year," Teitelman said. "And after seeing me do it, some of my family members are thinking about participating also!"

Another interesting aspect of Teitelman's participation in the event was that while he does have a blog, he hasn't updated for it some time. Instead, he enrolled in and used his Facebook account to promote the event and let people know about his participation. It's also an interesting side bar to the success of the new network in that anyone can make a difference.

"I'm also looking forward to participating in Earth Day because there is always a great outdoor activity to look forward to," says Teitelman. "And, now I'm in the process of helping a friend organize a 'Work Happiness Action' day where we ask people to do something to make people a little happier in their workplace."

We think that's a great idea, and plan to keep an eye out for it in October. Sometimes, it's those less tangible results, like those started by Teitelman, that create a butterfly effect, without measurable limits. And we think that's pretty courageous.

There are currently more than 80 events listed at and one "main event being BlogCatalog, Bloggers Unite, Copywrite, Ink., and Heifer International.

Wednesday, April 8

Uniting People: Bloggers Unite For Hunger & Hope

With each passing second, one person will die of hunger. Every fourth second, that person will be a child. In fact, hunger accounts for almost 60 percent of all deaths in the world, making starvation the single greatest killer on the planet.

There is no need to discover a cure. There is no scientific breakthrough waiting to be discovered. And yet, they die.

On April 29, thousands of bloggers will call for change. Not only will they call for change, but they will call for change that provides long-term solutions that reduce starvation and lifts people out of extreme poverty. You too can be part of it.

Unite For Hunger & Hope on April 29

BlogCatalog, Bloggers Unite, Copywrite, Ink., and Heifer International have partnered to launch a social awareness campaign that asks everyone talk about world hunger on April 29 and point people toward solutions. While bloggers from around the world will provide the cornerstone of the campaign, a blog is not required to make a difference.

"With the new BloggersUnite platform, people don't need a blog to join or make a difference," says Antony Berkman, president of BlogCatalog. "They only have to want to make a difference. Do they want to? I don't know, but I sincerely hope so with all my heart."

Using as an event coordination page, Unite For Hunger & Hope provides bloggers and social network members an opportunity to join the campaign. Once they do, they can join the event, post about the event, talk about event, share the event with friends, add badges to their blogs or network pages, and find informational resources (that are currently in development). While any organization that provides solutions to solve world hunger is appropriate, Heifer International, currently celebrating its Pass On The Gift campaign, is one best practice example.

What makes Heifer International stand out as a best practice? It doesn't feed people for a day. It teaches them for life. Specifically, this global non-profit provides sustainable solutions to end hunger and poverty by providing livestock and agricultural training to improve lives.

"Heifer International is thrilled to be a part of Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope," said Tom Peterson, senior director of Heifer International. "Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope is a great way to harness the power of the Internet, and it coincides with our Pass on the Gift campaign.”

The Pass on the Gift campaign is a month-long celebration that allows participants to get involved and work together to end hunger. With an entire month of stories highlighted from around the world, Heifer International will share dozens of examples and ceremonies that anyone can write, post, or share on April 29 posts.

Already this month, Heifer International took Manhattan, brought attention to the plight of small farmers, and inspired people to host awareness-generating local events with something as simple as a pizza party. But all of this doesn't have to end with 30 days if enough people highlight any of these programs on April 29.

"BlogCatalog members have been responsible for generating hundreds of thousands of posts on topics that range from AIDS to human rights," says Berkman. "Now, when you combine that with social networks, it sends a very powerful message to the media and world leaders that hunger is not only something we can address, but it's something we can solve. There is no need to wait for a cure. With organizations like Heifer International, we only need to help them increase the number of people they touch every day."

Since 1944, Heifer International has helped communities learn to become self-sufficient by raising animals that provide direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and schools. For more information, visit its site.

Since 2007, BlogCatalog’s Bloggers Unite initiative has evolved from the first blogger-driven social awareness campaign initiative into a self-sustaining social awareness network. More than 190,000 bloggers interact on every day and provide the foundation for But their efforts do not stop with two social networks for bloggers. Many of them work together with friends and family on social networks ranging from Twitter and Facebook to Digg and Bedo.

So what do you think? Is hunger worth writing, talking, and doing something about? You can start right here today.

Tuesday, April 7

Cutting Market Share: TNS Media Intelligence Study

Last December, TNS Media Intelligence noted that total measured advertising expenditures in the first nine months of 2008 declined by 1.7 percent as compared to the same period in 2007. Since, spending has been dramatically cut, with television being especially hard hit. Network advertisers lost almost 10 percent of revenue in the fourth quarter 2008.

“Media ad spending, which began tiptoeing into negative territory in early 2007, has crossed an inflection point in the past six months as the economic downturn has become more widespread,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at TNS. “Preliminary data from the fourth quarter indicate a further slackening of the overall advertising market.”

A subsequent study, released this March by TNS, demonstrates such dramatic cuts are a mistake. Specifically, the study showed that when marketers cut spending during a downturn, they lose market share and brand awareness to private labels.

TNS covered eight U.S.-based household and personal-care marketers that cut measured media spending an average of 8.8 percent, which was higher than the 5 percent cut among advertisers overall. According to AdAge, U.S.-based household, personal-care and beauty marketers slashed spending 14 percent on average in the fourth quarter. The results are dramatic, but not surprising — companies that went with the flow of the boom-bust cycle and cut ad spending tended to lose more share to private labels both immediately and over the long term.

The Internet recession-proof myth.

Despite the study, some social media "experts" claim the recent advertising decline is merely a sign of the times, even going so far as to say that advertising is no longer needed. However, it's simply not true.

Recessionary cutbacks have had an impact across the board. As Simon Owens noted, spending on blogs, especially political blogs in an off-election year, is down.

"Everyone looks at the numbers and says, 'Wow, advertising is growing 20 percent a year online,' and they get really excited about that," Henry Copeland, the CEO of Blogads told Owens. "But most of that growth is cost-per-click — it's Google, it's AdWords, it's AdSense."

On the surface, other studies seem to indicate the opposite, citing that 63 percent of companies plan to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2009. However, the discretionary spending doesn't seem to be reaching content sites like Pajama Media, which closed its doors.

In addition to Google, Adwords, and Adsense as Copeland said, the investment seems to be made in direct-to-consumer presence on the Internet, hindered only by social media's continued challenge to prove itself as remotely measurable. (It's measurable.) However, that still leaves one piece of the puzzle missing.

If social media can supposedly supplant advertising as some suggest, then why would large marketers lose market share to private labels despite being among the earliest adopters of social media? In looking at several studies, it seems obvious that ad cutbacks are the common denominator, which means advertising is still a critical component to communication.

Isolated research creates erroneous conclusions.

Unless you look at the world with the lens of a single discipline, it seems very obvious how communication fits together. While each of the three disciplines — advertising, public relations, and social media — crossover into each other's area, each are particularly strong in specific areas.

• Advertising is best suited to establish awareness
• Public relations is best suited to establish position
• Social media is best suited to establish engagement

Naturally, all three can effectively establish awareness, position, and engagement, but it's generally more effective when all three work together. And, as illustrated by the March study, it doesn't change in a down economy. Companies that win are those that continue to communicate across several streams, with the right mix of which being largely situational.

Monday, April 6

Measuring Communication, Cost Part 2

One of the most overlooked cost considerations in communication measurement is the "time to produce" or "speed to market." While the cost less is tangible than direct expenses, it's no less important because it can have a dramatic impact on communication.

As Laurence Haughton once titled his book "It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow." In the book, he and Jason Jennings contend that only the swiftest of corporations will thrive in today's marketplace. And while I've disagreed with Haughton before, this is one point where he is half right.

How Time To Produce Impacts Public Relations.

A few months ago, a public relations firm had an opportunity to deeply expose one of its clients to a new audience by tying in local results on a national study. In terms of news value, the story had impact, proximity, timeliness, human interest, and sensitivity — five of the ten elements that make news.

Unfortunately, the release that could have made headlines and would have resulted in speaking engagements took three weeks, leaving less than a one week window to retain any news value at all. The result was a single story in one online publication that didn't reach the intended audience.

While the late release didn't create any negative impressions, the costs associated with the release produced a negative return on communication. And, had it been a crisis communication situation, three weeks would have been just enough time to kill the organization.

How Time To Produce Impacts Advertising.

The same intangible cost has an impact on advertising as well. For example, most Web sites take two to three times longer to produce than a blog, most print advertisements take two to three times longer to produce and place than online advertisements (even longer when compared to non-ad communication vehicles), and most television commercials take four times longer to produce than an online video.

This isn't meant to disparage traditional advertising. It's needed. However, in prioritizing production, quicker and more efficient methods of communication might be worth considering. Every day there is no communication is another day that potential customers are making different purchasing decisions or increasing brand loyalty or promoting the competition.

So Why Was Haughton Only Half Right?

Sometimes companies race ahead too fast. In 2007, for example, we took note of several companies attempting to leap frog to the next level as fast as possible. One of the applications, BlogRush, has long since crashed.

There were several reasons for the "crash," but part of the underlying problem was that its customers could not keep up with the changes taking place and neither did their communication. The lesson to be learned remained the same. Planned product rollouts plus expedited and efficient communication usually wins the day.

Download The Abstract: Measure: I | O = ROC

The ROC is an abstract method of measuring the value of business communication by recognizing that the return on communication — advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media — is related to the intent of the communication and the outcome it produces. Every Monday, the ROC series explores portions of the abstract.

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