Curator News Feed: July 19, 2013

Happy Friday, readers! This week, we spent a few too many stolen moments marveling at footage of bears catching salmon in Alaska (hey--don't knock it 'til you try it). In addition to spying on our furry friends in the North, we also did some reading about everything from dragon skulls to a beat boxing. Check out our links of the week: Via AdWeek

Giant Dragon Skull that Washed Up on British Beach is an Ad for Game of ThronesAdWeek. I love cool, unexpected marketing like this. It goes to show the value of smart execution is exponential to the actual cost. -- Dan

Mimi Thorisson Blog. I've had a frenetic last few weeks between work and travel. My wife and I have planned a down weekend — lots of cooking, family time with the kids, and lazy, long meals outside.  Whenever I have one of these weekends on the horizon I love to find something new to cook.  I recently found this blog.  It's beautiful and recipes look great.  I've challenged myself to find a dessert to make for the family from this blog tomorrow.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Have a great weekend! -- Scott

PR Nudges Its Way to the Content TableDigiday. The headline caught my attention and the content was a little surprising. Probably because we don't believe in nudging our way, but rather marching to the table with confidence. -- Jennifer

Beatbox Brilliance: Tom Thum at TEDxSydney, YouTube. I was browsing the TEDxTalks YouTube channel this week and came across this video of the ridiculously talented beatboxer, Tom Thum, at TEDxSydney. WOW, just wow. -- Chelsey

Traveling from your desktop, Mashable. Nothing can replace the thrill of travel. The sense of awe you feel looking up at the Eiffel Tower for the first time, or the connection you feel with history while wandering the courtyards of Edinburgh Castle can’t be recreated by looking at pictures. However, Google’s new street view project is bringing the experience of travel about as close to real life as you can get without getting on a plane. The street view team has expanded beyond the camera-globe topped cars to smaller units that can explore iconic buildings around the world. To get a flavor of the project, follow this link and zoom in to street view, then use the navigation tool on the left to change floors. It won’t replace actual travel, but it’s a great way to explore new places before you visit or reminisce travels past. -- Matthew

Pitchfork: Chicago's Music Festival, In These Times. This weekend I'm headed to Chicago to visit friends and listen to great music, for some of the time at Wrigley Field (I'm considering wearing a Cardinal's jersey just to spite the Cubs.) to see Pearl Jam and also at Pitchfork, a music festival in Chicago. The line-up ranges from R. Kelly to Solange (Beyonce's younger sister) to Bjork. This article reveals more about why Pitchfork thrives in Chicago and touches on the city's music history. It's a more interesting story than you might expect. I'm excited to check it out! -- Maria

PR Pro Habits That Journalists Despise, PR Daily. As a PR professional, I send out a lot of email pitches to journalists. But I also graduated from journalism school, and I know all too well how annoying it can be to receive a totally irrelevant pitch. I always make the effort to keep my pitches highly tailored, but this SlideShare serves as a great reminder for all of us. I think this quote sums it up pretty well: "Be creative, and please, please, please don't bore me." -- Megan

Credit: HubSpot

The Lernstift Smartpen Checks Your Spelling as You Write, CNN. I’m not one to typically geek out too much on new technology inventions, but this one caught my eye. A new pen is designed to actually detect when you make a spelling error. It’s the ultimate cross between the current digital world we live in and the long-lost art of handwritten text. But, with the reality being that we have moved over almost completely to digital, with this still hold value for consumers? -- Annie

Social media crisis management: Be sincere, and verify, Portent Interactive Blog. It seems like social media crises have been happening long enough that people would know how to react (and how not to), but every time I start to think that, another Amy's Baking Company comes along and proves that cluelessness still abounds. One point from Ian Lurie's post crystalizes what I think separates those who get it from those who don't: "Remind yourself that you do not get to decide what an apology is. The audience does." Read this, and for god's sake, bookmark it. -- Paul

Brown Bear and Salmon Cam, The amount of time I spent watching bears fish for salmon seemed to earn itself my link of the week. What about it has us so mesmerized? I'm not sure, but it's definitely something everyone should see. -- Brooke

Curator News Feed: July 12, 2013

Curator has been quite busy this week: Ann Marie and Chelsey were back and forth from California for client events and meetings. Noelle is currently exploring the grounds of another client, Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto with journalists in Mexico. And back at the homestead, the office has been setting its sights on not only back to school, but holiday initiatives for our wonderful clients. Phew! Amongst all the productivity, we still found time to produce some pretty interesting links. So without further ado: the Curator News Feed for July 12th.

"#Fireworks don't fly. (On planes)" via TSA's Instagram account

Marketing Agencies Will Disappear in 10 Years Study Says, PR Daily. Shocking headline. Interesting content. Glad we’re already doing the content marketing and “PR thinking” thing… – Dan

How To Become More Unstoppable Every Day, Fast Company. This is a feel good story about a girl who pushed outside what she thought her limits were and went for it, not to break some crazy world record or become the best at it, but for her own happiness. Her most recent project was to learn to dance in a year, all while holding a full-time job. My favorite line from her is on her site, here: "This isn't a story about dancing, though. It's about having a dream and not knowing how to get there—but starting anyway. Maybe you're a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You;re an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You're an athlete but you just haven't left the chair yet." – Maria

TSA's Gun Policy: Confiscate It, Instagram ItCNN Money. It's the reason we arrive at the airport hours before our flight even boards. We all dread it: TSA security. Well, now you can follow your favorite airport gatekeepers on Instagram. The account already has 40,000+ followers with only 11 pictures posted since it joined June 27. No doubt these pictures are alarming--a stun gun disguised as a cigarette holder, grenades, throwing knives, loaded pistols. Reading some of the comments, the account is already pretty controversial. What do you think; does TSA's Instragram account make you feel more safe in the air, or otherwise?  – Megan

32 Tricks You Can Do With Wolfram Alpha…, BusinessInsider. Wolfram Alpha, if you're not familiar, is kind of a nerdy Google that came out a few years ago. Whereas Google is almost entirely focused on searching for links, Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that's focused on answers. Take the first tip on this list: You can input the names of Subway sandwiches and the toppings you want to include on those sandwiches, and instantly find out an approximation of how many calories will end up in the sandwich you build. Crazy. – Paul

The Number Facebook Doesn't Want You To See, BuzzFeed. Here's an uncomfortable truth: None of your Facebook friends care about your updates. Oh, they see them; they just don't care. That's the gist of this article by BuzzFeed, which points out that while most Facebook posts "reach" hundreds or thousands of people, that reach doesn't often translate into interaction. I've found a lot more success posting in Groups and Lists with fewer people, but a narrower focus. That way, my friends who like social media, for instance, see my social-media-news updates, and those posts get a lot more feedback. – Paul

The Pixar TheoryJon Negroni. Ever thought Pixar movies were connected? You were right. This article will blow your mind. Special thanks to former Curator, Lisa Kennelly, for sharing this on her Facebook page and possibly changing my life. – Chelsey

The 7 Types of Hashtag Abusers, NY Mag. Hashtags are everywhere and they're a great tool, but it's also important to keep your hashtag usage in check. Don't be afraid to admit, are you one of these hashtag users? – Brooke

3D Printing, As 3d printing has become more accessible, it's still remained a bit out of reach for people who just want to tinker and not drop a few grand in equipment. I ran across a great writeup on the new eBay app that lets you print stuff called Exact, which looked rather interesting, yet seems to be more about customizing existing models. Then in the comments ran across the really interesting site which lets you actually upload your designs, both 2d or 3d if you have the know-how, and get models printed and shipped to your door. Check it out if you've been kicking around a product idea or two, it looks really well polished with a solid community around it. – Shawn

The World's Most Active Twitter City? You Won't Guess It, Forbes. A fun article in Forbes this week that revealed the results of which city in the world is the most active on Twitter. Think the no. one spot would go to New York, Tokyo, or maybe London? Well, guess again. Read the article to find out which city ranked at the top. Funny enough, San Francisco (where Twitter is headquartered) was not even ranked amongst the top 20 most active Twitter cities. – Annie

Wax Dummy for Coupons, Design Taxi. We’ve all seen business beat the street with a stack of coupons to bring in customers, but I’ve never seen a company mix the coupon offer with their service in quite so clever (yet slightly disgusting) of a way. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’ll just tell you the business is a waxing studio and the person handing out the coupons was wearing them. It’s proof that nothing gets people’s attention like a good mix of curiosity and schadenfreude. – Matthew

Do You Have the Sticky Factor?

Lots of businesses are throwing their messages out into the world, but what makes them resonate?

Curator recently launched (props to Shawn Herron for his creative talent), a campaign to spread the word and give a little thanks to Seattle’s famed hero in bringing back the Sonics to our city. Within hours the site had taken root and captured the attention of folks like Gary Payton, local news stations and dozens of Seattle Sonics fans throughout Washington State.

This has me thinking a lot about the ‘sticky’ factor. In other words, what makes some messages stick and others not? In my opinion, what made the Thank You Chris Hansen campaign work was dependent on a few crucial factors:

Relevance – The campaign appeals to an issue that is relevant and impactful in the minds of Seattle residents and basketball fans alike.

Timeliness – The campaign took advantage of launching immediately after a significant news cycle on the decision to build a new stadium to support bringing back the basketball team. It was additionally timed with the local F.X. McRory’s event (read more about that in The Seattle Times).

Uniting Towards a Common Goal – The campaign created a sense of its own community, gathering people who may otherwise have nothing in common and uniting them together through a common goal.

For a message to stick, the audience needs to feel like they are emotionally vested.  This was a key component of the Thank You Chris Hansen campaign because it tapped into basketball fans’ passion for the game and nostalgic memory of the Seattle Sonics. It generated its own subculture.

It seems simple enough, but the sticky factor of a message is still an elusive goal for which so many are still trying to write a formula from Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point outlining how the quality of an idea contributes to its ‘stickiness’, to Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Despite these writings, marketers, advertisers and businesses alike are still challenged by competing with the other 3,000+ messages consumers are inundated with every day. Based on the current media landscape, this challenge will only increase. Regardless, I’m still so interested to learn about more case studies that conquer the ‘sticky’ message challenge and am excited to be a part of creating more campaigns that resonate with our audiences.

The power of presentation

In the last month, I’ve read several articles that explored nonverbal communication and some of the psychology behind the way people engage with messaging, specifically advertisements, and it got me thinking about the question of presentation versus message. We often see mediocre ideas and messages triumphing over higher quality content simply because the presentation wasn’t as effective. Our world is undoubtedly becoming more and more visual and the sound bites we use to communicate are shrinking. While this poses a challenge for people in the industry of communication and storytelling, it also serves as an opportunity to explore ways to captivate audience members through simple adjustments in overall presentation.

People tend to be moved by emotion, so it seems logical to start there when dissecting the tactics that convey messages successfully. An article I read on Street Directory discussed color and how different hues speak to specific emotions and associations of our subconscious. With the rapid growth and popularity of Pinterest and Instagram it’s clear that people respond strongly to visuals. But what makes one image superior to another? It could very well be the content of the photo, but often it is the quality and colors that move people to action (whether that be sharing, pinning, liking, etc.). I didn’t realize that I personally have started associating certain colors with brands or even industries. Take my phone, for example. I have all of my apps in folders and it’s actually interesting to notice how many of the logos are the same color based on category. Because we interact with logos and brand images all day long we subconsciously begin to link color palettes to specific functions. It’s funny to see and hear the reaction when these are changed. For example, when GAP revamped their logo and introduced a new black and white color scheme a couple of years ago, the public went crazy criticizing the changes. The company ended up reverting back to the blue version.

2010 GAP Logo Change


Similar to the silent language of color is the world of nonverbal communication. Facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye movement, proxemics (essentially personal space), paralinguistics (tone, volume, inflection, etc.) and appearance are all unspoken behaviors that communicate far beyond the reach of the actual content or words used. All of these components influence audience perception and decision-making, especially when the message includes a call to action. It really is amazing how influential even the most minor of adjustments to these devices can be to the overall presentation and penetration of an idea or message. 

I think of body language as like a person’s energy, and it’s totally contagious! I remember two distinct examples from past internships where one client meeting was led by someone who never made eye contact, was fidgety and very cold in terms of their behavior toward the rest of the group. The other meeting was led by a woman who looked everyone in the eye, shook hands, made gestures during conversation and was smiling the whole time. I remember being immediately captivated and excited to work with the woman from the second meeting based on her mannerisms and the way her actions made me feel both comfortable and important. I think in both cases the nonverbal communication set the tone for the meetings and directly impacted the level of engagement everyone in the room reciprocated.

Thanks to technology, these may not be top of mind or even applicable when the message is being disseminated through mediated lines of communication. But people still thrive on human contact, and that’s such a huge part of the work we do at Curator and in any field.