Realtime Storytelling

Case Study: Oreo Blackout Tweet from 360i on Vimeo.

RTM, AKA Trendjacking/newsjacking is an extremely viral way to tell  digital stories, but it can also spread negative information about that brand or idea just as quickly.

The reality is that unless you have the manpower to watch internet trends closely, the critical eye to know what stories resonate with your audience, and the ability to quickly create really great content that can connect with those trends, then Trendjacking like Oreo is best left alone. Don’t be like these guys:

But if you dare … here are my Five Questions to Ask Before Trendjacking…

  1. Do I/we have something meaningful to contribute to this conversation or are we just trying to get noticed?
  2. Does it fit with our brand tone/persona (which should fit with our mission/vision)?
  3. Who could possibly be offended by what we are about to say?
  4. How can this be taken the wrong way?
  5. What is the plan for backlash?



Brand Persona & Tone

Update: Brand persona answers questions on Facebook Live to promote new product.

Brand Persona is critical in digital storytelling.

Planners must define how the brand will behave in the social space with customers: what voice will be used and how deeply the brand will interact with customers. I had you research this during your audit, referring to it as “brand tone.”

Let’s look at some examples:

Observe that some brands have somewhat different tones on their various channels. Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat tend to be the “hippest,” while Facebook is often more conservative, LinkedIn as well.

Why do you think this is? Do you agree with this strategy?

When creating brand stories, you must ensure that your brand is represented in a manner supportive of it’s overall position as a corporate entity (not that you can’t have fun with it!)

Poopourri happens to be my favorite brand persona. I met and co-presented on a panel with the creator and CEO, Suzy Batiz. She has an intuitive grasp of the importance of persona. They run all strategic planning through the persona, asking the question “what would she do or say?” They have an even clearer focus on their target market. Can you guess the demographics/psychographics of their primary target is based on one of their original commercials?

Incredibly effective in my opinion!


Digital Storytelling with Chatbots & Podcasts

The New York-based mattress company Casper is using science, design thinking, and whimsy to make sleep products worth talking about (source: Fast Company). They created a pop-culture-savvy text bot, Insomnobot3000, for users to message when they can’t sleep.

In the company’s recent eight-episode podcast series, In Your Dreams, comedians and hosts Chris Gethard and Gary Richardson analyzed listeners’ nighttime visions.


Storytelling with Spotify

Brands can harness the power of music to create branded playlists, take Coca-Cola for example:

Every Song Has a Place: Coca-Cola, Spotify Launch Groundbreaking Social Music App

Coca Cola has a verified account on Spotify and has created several playlists like the one below in conjunction with USMNT All-Star Greg Garza.

Unlike Pandora, the Spotify platform offers OpenID for Facebook users. The platform provides basic social networking, you can connect with and follow friends in platform, see what friends are listening to, create, share, follow and crowdsource playlists. Prior 2016, Spotify integrated listening activity into Facebook activity feeds, allowing friends to see what others were streaming.

If you’re adding your own mega mix to Spotify – perhaps for a summer party or wedding reception – you can now choose the option to make the playlist collaborative. You can grant friends access to it and let the music sharing begin.


Brands can create and share playlists via email marketing (I received this one from Yoga Journal). The playlist was embedded into the email and article: A Playlist for a Soulful Practice

And of course, I’m going to share my own personal brand (Frida rules). Enjoy!

You’re probably not using Spotify the right way


Is it PR, Marketing or Advertising?


We know the textbook definitions.

Public Relations focuses on long term, mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. Marketing focuses on products and services that respond to the wants and needs of consumers…to foster an economic exchange between an org and its consumers.

Advertising is a subset of marketing, focusing on persuasive communication through purchased media to promote a product, service or idea on behalf of an identified organization or sponsor.

Who Cares?

Blah, blah. You know who could care less what we call “it?” Our publics. That’s what digital “convergence” is all about.

What our publics do care about is relevant and timely content that adds value to their digital lives. Digital marketers and advertisers are experts at building paid campaigns that can be tested, measured and tested again. They can easily report their contributions to the bottom line. PR has historically had a difficult time demonstrating how earned and shared media should be valued and reported.

Relationships + Profit = Success

In our quest to be the heart and soul of our organizations, our job as PR professionals is to ensure that campaigns focus on our publics, not the product. To surprise and delight. But we must never lose sight of the bottom line. Without profit, all the social capital and goodwill in the world won’t save the organization from bankruptcy court.

To ensure that we are building relationships while simultaneously making clear contributions to the bottom line, we must learn how PAID media works. This week’s HubSpot short course in digital advertising will show you how “to put the right content in front of the right people at a specific point in their buying journey, inspiring them to take the next step towards becoming a loyal customer.”

Let’s Work Together

For your second blog, scan the HubSpot article below, pick a campaign and tell me a story about how digital convergence is pushing all three disciplines [PR, marketing and advertising] to work together. Let’s all have a seat at the table.

10 of the Best Public Relations Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

QR Codes Just Got Cool Again

In Digital Public Relations, we have this thing called New Media Monday (#NMM). Student account teams are charged with finding the latest and greatest technology and leading a brief discussion in class. We’ll kick of the semester with some old tech that’s getting a new lease on life thanks to Apple!

This article is great for understanding QR Codes.


Creativity is Not Accidental

“What do you want to do this weekend?”

This question, unanswered, still hangs in the late August twilight.

Instead, the glare of oncoming headlights going way too fast, the crunch of metal. The sensation of spinning through space and time. I sit stunned in the passenger seat. Richard’s voice, “are you ok babe? Can you move?” My head rests against the airbag that kept my head from hitting the window, the pain of an impact so strong it spun us around like a child’s toy bringing me back to reality.

We all walked away, alive and whole.

Lucky. No broken bones, mild concussion, I’ve got this. Oh-so-naively, I gave myself the weekend, on Monday, it was business as usual. Start the day with a short run and my yoga mat. Take my son to school, teach my classes. Grade projects. Wine with friends. Dates with Richard.

Enemy Mine

Then the headaches. As the deep purple bruises faded to shades of pink and yellow, my injured brain began to  wrap my body and soul in a thick layer of bubble wrap. I could see out, but everything was distorted. Mental fog. Nausea. Dizziness. Deafening tinnitus in my right ear. Memory lapses. Did I mention crippling headaches? My mild concussion turned into a “syndrome.”

Undaunted, I keep pushing…I just need time and space to heal, right? I rest on my office floor between student meetings. At home in bed by 6 p.m. most evenings. I resign from volunteer commitments, turn down all extracurricular activity. In just a few weeks, the word “no” is an unwelcome staple of my vocabulary. I felt weak and cowardly, like I was letting the whole world down. I start a “concussion” series of paintings to channel the anxiety I felt as my rogue brain became my enemy.

But nothing worked. Nothing. And it begins to sink in, I have a head injury. A numbness settled over me. I felt uninspired and inadequate. A college professor who can barely string coherent sentences together? A wannabe artist who has a panic attack when she picks up a brush? What now?

Panic replaces self confidence. I barely recognize myself. Emptiness where expression once lived. Did the accident knock the creativity out of me? Did a piece of my intelligence get lost in the twisted metal like my favorite pair of glasses that we never found?

Creative Crisis

A diagnosis of “post-concussion syndrome” is nebulous (or, more aptly, the most BULLSHIT diagnosis ever). There is no treatment or real prognosis. No promise of recovery. Each day brought new symptoms and challenges. Basic problem solving skills eluded me. A single trip to the grocery store exhausted me. A hypertensive crisis and emergency EKG finally got my attention. Eight weeks into the semester I yielded to my doctor’s orders, handed off my classes to colleagues and went home to (hopefully) heal.

Alone with my worries, I obsessed. What if I couldn’t go back to my old life? What if I was permanently impaired? I had so many dreams…to write…to paint…to develop social media courses…lead study abroad programs. What if?

Since my creativity was MIA, I settled for reading about my favorite artists and listening to books on tape and podcasts about people who had experienced TBI. Although I could not retain everything, as I learned about others who had parallel experiences with either physical or mental challenges, I was comforted. Not exactly optimistic, but no longer terrified.

Beautifully Broken

Here are just a few of my “post-concussion” heroes. In one way or another, they overcame. They persevered. Instead of retreating, they created.

Frida Kahlo

If you know me AT ALL, you know Frida Kahlo is and will always be an inspiration. The arresting pictures of Frida Kahlo (1907-54) were in many ways expressions of trauma. Through a near-fatal bus accidents at the age of 18, failing, health, a turbulent marriage, miscarriage and forced abortion, she transformed her afflictions into revolutionary art (Andrea Kettenmann).

Kahlo was forced to spend months confined to a bed, but continued painting using a special easel. She literally turned emotional and physical pain into art.

Photo Credit: Museum of Latin American Art

Jane McGonigal

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. Anyone faced with a tough situation can benefit from this game.

Glen Campbell

glen_campbell_ill_be_me_posterIn 2011, music legend Glen Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of hanging up his guitar and preparing for the inevitable, Glen and his family set out on a “Goodbye Tour.” Campbell turned his struggles with the devastating disease into a powerful documentary and Grammy Award-winning song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” You don’t have to be a country music fan to be moved by his story. Watch the trailer here and stream the documentary on Netflix.

Vincent van Gogh

van_gogh_-_starry_night_-_google_art_projectYes, his mental illness is legendary as is his body of work. But did you know van Gogh likely suffered advance-stage syphilis? Or that The Starry Night was inspired be the view (sans bars) from his room in a French asylum? That he wanted to be a minister and insisted on giving his meager possessions to those less fortunate? His artistic techniques were (and are) revolutionary. I find it oddly comforting that someone so extreme and unstable, someone so crippled in mind and body was still able to create something beyond himself.

Creative Response

My friend and colleague (and creator of A Creative Human) once asked me for my definition of creativity. Although I don’t recall my exact response, I’m sure it included phrases like “new approaches to old problems,” “no fear” or my old standby “question everything.” While those still ring true to me, I now put “perseverance” at the top. Creativity is no accident. It’s not lost or found. It is a human response to challenge. A choice to be made. My journey is still unfolding, but I refuse to let circumstances define me. I choose to be creative.

How do you define creativity?