Tag Archives: creative communications

Somerset Maugham, the tiger and Raffles Hotel

7 Sep

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Creativity seems to be a buzz word these days as is happiness. For us white bread types both can seem like butterflies in a strong breeze – now you see them and now you don’t. Try to capture them and they’re gone.

Now take W Somerset Maugham for instance. He was creative undoubtedly. Still considered one of the great short story writers ever. If you haven’t done so, read some of his ‘south seas’ stories like ‘Rain’ for instance featuring the morally questionable Sadie Thomson and monsoons that drove people crazy. Often set in exotic places like Pago Pago and Apia when the copra trade and rubber plantations were booming – the islands full of boozy ex pats and over zealous missionaries with sin on their minds.

I was lucky enough to stay at Raffles Hotel in Singapore before they modernised it. There was a suite there named after Maugham and one called the Conrad suite. They both stayed there regularly. There was a snooker table in a colonial space where it was rumoured that the last tiger in Singapore was shot. “Jolly good show. Got him right between the eyes!” Definitely not correct these days.

So Maugham, Raffles, tigers … and creativity of course.

You can set up a room with toys and games tables for creative thought. Or you can’t. How do you capture creativity? 

More importantly … how do you monetize it?

Publishing is a business like the movies or games. You don’t get published if you don’t have a market.

There has always been creativity in business. They just didn’t use the term so much.

 

 

 

I dare you to watch this video

9 Aug

Have you got a coupla minutes?

My kid is 12 and he loves his technology. I don’t mean that he just likes it a lot … he loves it. I like technology too. I’m using it now. But I also love books. I am auto didactic. No not that. I have always read a lot. As a kid I just tore up history books (those illustrated ones) and began reading classics via the Classic Comics Illustrated range which introduced me to Turgenev and Victor Hugo. I knew about myths and legends from Norse to Roman and later on I discovered my mother’s books. It took me a week to get over the first time I opened The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Henry Miller … well he was amazing for a kid who watched the Beverly Hillbillies.

I am not anti technology because I think it’s the greatest tool of creativity and self expression since that hungarian Bic invented the biro but I’m afraid that it’s got some limitations too.

My kid showed me this video and I think it sums things up quite well and has repercussions for us all business-wise or not:

 

 

 

 

In just 60 seconds

6 Jan

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According to an article published in the second half of 2013, this is what happens on the ‘net’ every 60 seconds.

To quote the article in the UK Daily Mail, published July 30:

‘In just a single minute on the web 216,000 photos are shared on Instagram, a total of £54,000 ($83,000) sales take place on Amazon, there are 1.8 million likes on Facebook and three days worth of video is uploaded to YouTube. 

Cashback site Qmee has created an infographic that shows this information as well as how many tweets are sent, photos are viewed, Skype calls are made, domains are registered and more in 60 seconds.

The graphic pulls information and figures from PC Mag, Business Insider and other sites to create a the snapshot.’ 

So what does this say to businesses who are trying to market themselves in 2014?

You better get some fresh content.

Google loves new and updated content.

Content that is relevant to your market.

PLAN DO ACT CHECK

Tech heads and other odd fish

13 Dec

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I’m the King of Content.

Well I self styled that one, but after working on advertising campaigns (above and below the line,) blogs, websites (static and interactive,) brochures, newsletters, flyers, trade stands and collateral, email marketing, social networking, training programs and lots in between … I think I am the King!

But I’m not a coder … yikes!

I’m a content planner and builder, creative director and project manager.

I’m also a talent scout.

I source artists & illustrators, graphics people, TV/Radio producers …

I also source web people. The people that code. They know HTML and CSS deeply, whereas I just know about it.

I need these people. And I need to get the work done.

Sometimes, but not always, these web people can be difficult. Why? could be a generational thing. Could be a time management thing. Could be a simple communications thing. Could be all of the above.

Here’s a scenario:

The project is lagging and lacking. The vision has not come together. I can’t get the person on the phone. I can’t get them via sms. I wonder should I go out on my balcony and call their name like Steve Martin did in The Lonely Guy.

Yes … they don’t always follow my timetable.

But when you get a good one it’s amazing.

Manage these people with tenderness and care.

Coach and mentor them.

Be understanding, bit not too understanding if you get my drift.

Got kids? You’ll know what I mean

Hello SILO … you’d better be flexible!

3 Dec

ImageI work on many projects with many different organisations. Corporations, authorities, not for profits and small to medium businesses and I often find that I’m cast adrift between mountains of giant silos.

Silos form when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

I’m not casting aspersions (or aspidistras) at all the hard working people I interact with. I’m just making an observation. Silos form when people are rushing to meet change.

Change happens rapidly these days. Policies change, then procedures or ways of doing things. Regulations and laws change when governments change or government policy changes. Change happens when businesses are growing exponentially and new people are brought on board.

Silos also form when there’s a lack of communication across organisations, strategic business units (SBU’s) and teams.

Silos can also form when people don’t share.

Silos affect content developers too. We can be working away using some accepted template, or creating content in a suggested way and then … it’s not quite right.

Can this be a problem? Yes and no.

Clever consultants can pick a silo a milo off (sorry, it rhymed.)

Clever consultants communicate widely.

Clever consultants are flexible and don’t go into spasms of disappointment  and take things personally regarding their work.

My mum told me that a truly sane person has an ingrained ability to change their minds!

I tell my kid all the time, life is full of paradoxes … be flexible and open minded.

And smile a lot          : )

The art of the knowledgebase

26 Oct

ImageWebsites have evolved.

In the not too distant past, a business or organisation would have a ‘webmaster’ build a site. It had all the usual suspects: Home; About US; Contact Details; Products etc. You’ve seen hundreds of them. Maybe even thousands. Static sites with a flash animation graphic to spice things up. Looked good. Never or hardly ever updated except for new product offerings.

Nowadays, in the fast paced, quick clicking social media environment, more is required.

The big question is: why will customers visit your site? Better still, why will people who are not yet customers visit. We call them prospects from ‘gold prospectors.’ Digging for gold.

The gold you put on your site is what differentiates your business from your competition. Yes you’ve got great products. But sites need to offer value in a whole lot of other ways.

One way is to provide a knowledgebase.

Articles. White papers. Videos. Blogs. Put it out there.

But ask yourself the question. “Does this content do something for my clients, customers and all the prospects out there just waiting to find a solution to their problems?”

Well does it?

I love it. Take it out! Part 2

22 Sep

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What was exciting about working in this environment was the chance to watch the words, art direction, talent and production all culminate in an ad campaign. I watched our agency put in a new government with a real US style campaign and I overheard the Chairman telling the future Prime Minister what he was doing wrong.

During this time I had the chance to pitch myself for a place in a highly thought of creative school. It was simply called The Copy School. I wrote a radio ad featuring myself as an ideas cowboy riding into town. I was good but I was green, ending with a Sam Elliott (Big Lebowski) narrator/Voice Over saying nice colour green. That got me over the edge and I was accepted with 10 others into this elite school. Each week we would attend an agency and be hands on trained by the top CD’s who would give us a practical assignment … an ad to write.

One of them, a man who went on to become a best selling author quoted Dr Samuel Johnson as saying ‘What doth please the mightly, do strike out.’ Dr Johnson or his biographer Boswell. I think he took some paraphrasing liberties there but I got the message.

What we love. What we think is sparkling copy. What we think is clever may not be right for the product or the audience. David Ogilvy was tight on the rules of writing.

It’s good to keep that in mind and not be married to our words.

It’s a lesson I never forgot.

Oscar Wilde famously quipped:

I worked very hard today. This morning I put in a comma and this afternoon I took it out.

I said just follow the lesson plan

17 Sep

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I’ve been a trainer/teacher for quite some time. I’m also an instructional designer which is a fancy, schmancy way of saying I write training courses.

I work online (Learning Management Systems) and in the classroom. I find both interesting and sometimes exciting. Sometimes I leave a training session and I feel alive, electric.

And I must also say that I get great feedback on my training sessions. If I don’t beat my own drum who else is going to?

Now I respect lesson plans and facilitator guides > I write quite a few. But do I follow them? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Like everything in life it’s vital to get a message across. How? With humour. Surprise. Coming out of left field (that must be a baseball expression?)

Once I caught myself rambling on … one of the participants eyes blinked too many times. Someone up the back stifled a yawn.

‘Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ I said that out aloud. ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah. Is that what I’m beginning to sound like?’ I already knew the answer.

When your delivering training … keep them interested. In the palm of your hand. Like they don’t know what’s coming next.

But always bring it back to your objective … teaching people.

Staring at a blank page

2 Sep

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I found this piece of paper in a file and it got me wondering. Writers sometimes get writer’s block. They can’t get started. And often the harder they try the more blank they become.

In George Plimpton’s fascinating Paris Review series, a number of famous writers were interviewed about their techniques. This was about how do you write everyday with the kids screaming, your wife leaving, a revolucion going on, a 1st book best seller to better.

Amazingly enough some writers copy out tracts of the bible to get started, some sharpen pencils, others still drink a lot and smoke endless cigarettes (a different era I suppose.) The issue is how do you get started?

It can be a problem for people in business to get fresh ideas or even an accurate idea of what their business actually does for their customers. It’s also difficult to get noticed in the crowded cyber world where attention spans are short and customers can shop around and read reviews online.

It takes a fresh pair of eyes to do that. Daily regeneration and a childlike curiosity of life which when you think about it is quite amazing.

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Rodie – King of Content

2 Sep

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“When I have an idea, I turn down the flame, as if it were a little alcohol stove, as low as it will go. Then it explodes and that is my idea.” Hemingway.