Archive for June, 2009

The Kids Are Alright

Last weekend, I hosted a graduation beach party for my son and his friends who just wrapped up their high school years. My head was flooded with so many emotions ranging from remembrances from those long ago days of innocence, to the amazing and yet troubled world into which they are headed.

I was so proud of both the graduates and the success of the public school system (not to mention the parents) here in Long Beach, CA. Here is a graduating class of some 700 plus students and close to 10% graduated with honors. Of these, they garnered over $6 million in grants, scholarship and other aid. This is over twice what the class of 2008 had accomplished. And while doing this, they as a group had a combined 12,000 hours of community service in their 4 years.

Many are headed to 4 year universities, while others will attend local community colleges, but one thing about this class of “over-achievers”, was that they were not a bunch of bookworms. They had full, well-rounded lives throughout their high school years. They were artists and musicians. They were poets and photographers. I have heard so often that our kids are being raised in a super competitive environment with too much pressure to achieve. Yes, the pressure is there, as it should be. Life is full of challenges and teaching children to focus on task is essential. But I reject the fact that all this pressure is turning kids into one-dimensional beings.

They play video games, they Twitter and Facebook and MySpace and YouTube. But they also create and learn about the world around them. They are curious. They are anxious about the unknown. But they cannot wait to take the next steps that will lead them to the lives that lie ahead. It is an unnerving time to be an adult in this world, but the kids, they’ll be okay.

Not My Post on Politicians Who Tweet

As I continue on my journey through the world of social media / communications, I find myself somewhat overwhelmed by the wealth of information available to me. Great minds offering the latest opinions and tools. or even something that was just uttered at a conference.

I have been planning on putting together a blog post about politicians who tweet (and I will), but have been buried in the morass of research material that I have gathered. Thank you all. But I thought it important to include this post about how difficult it is to research a subject thoroughly enough to feel confident about writing something, while at the same time, keeping up with all the great tweets that lead to great blogs that lead to, well you know.

Just the other day I had a conversation with my 58-year old (sorry sis) sister about my recent forays into social media and what I have learned. I told her that I ended my 30 year run as a subscriber to the LA Times, and how that, yes I miss the way that the news presented itself to me in newsprint. Her fear is that those who seek information solely through the internet, are only going to be exposed to thoughts/opinions that they are already aligned with. My response was that it has always been that way depending on which news source landed on your stoop in the morning. By the way, you would not believe how many phone calls I have received from said LA Times offering me great deals to re-up my subscription. But I am trying to see the way the world presents itself to those who never read a paper.

My kids, both attending the University of California have never been regular newspaper readers like most of their contemporaries. Nor do they buy magazines. And if they choose to watch television, it’s on their terms, either on a DVR or on their computers. So what’s a marketer to do? Listen.

Listen to the fact that that this generation will not accept brands being force fed to them. They want to engage their brands on their terms. And so that means Facebook, MySpace and the internet for their entertainment and information. I do find it interesting that neither my 18-year old nor my 20-year old, bother much with Twitter at this point. They think that their old man is kind of odd. They might be right, but as I told my daughter who is studying communications in college, if you don’t get involved soon, you will miss the boat when it comes to future opportunities.

There’s one thing for sure, I am not going to let this stuff pass me by.

BooneOakley Agency Website on YouTube

BooneOakley has done a fabulous job of utilizing one arm, albeit a very strong arm, of the social media network to launch their entire website. Although I haven’t been through all the links on the intro video, the concept, and attention that it is receiving as far as number of views is stellar. Take a moment to watch. And let me know what your thoughts are.

Stop and Listen to the Medium

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So let’s say you’re in a room, at a party maybe and there are a lot of people there. And everyone there is there for the same reason, to get noticed. To be heard and seen and perceived as important in some way or another so that they stand out in the crowd. Okay, now imagine the room stretches from Boston to LA, and those attending the party have at least one thing in common-–they are all out of work print production professionals. The first thing you might ask is, “do I have to be at this party?” For these purposes, the answer is yes.

You are an unemployed print pro, so that’s why you are there.
But do you have to stay? Well, that’s different. You are free to leave at anytime and join any other group of people looking for work. You decide to leave.

So there you are in a new room. It’s unfamiliar. The conversation is different. At first you feel like maybe you don’t belong there. The other room was filled with conversation that was so comfortable. It just felt familiar, easy. Maybe you should head back to the other party. No. You begin to listen to what’s being said. It’s not all that different at all. In fact, the more you listen, you realize that these people have a lot in common with those in the other room. They just do it without paper. They converse online with Twitter and Facebook and yes, with blogs. And the conversation is stimulating. This is a party you want to be at.

So you decide to stay, to listen to what folks are saying. You listen a lot at first because you’re a little unsure about whether you know enough to join in the conversation. You want to make a good first impression. You do have a lot to say though. You’ve been a marketing person for 25 years. It’s not so different, it’s just a different medium. But like a lifelong painter approaching a chunk of marble with a chisel for the first time, you stop yourself. You step back and listen. There will be plenty of time to talk later. Once you learn and understand the medium.


As Bill Tweets

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