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Great Content = Ordinary Products That Do Great Things

These days content and social media managers are a dime a dozen. The challenge is finding one that can not only do the job but bring a unique perspective that helps elevate the content from ordinary to extraordinary.

I’ll give you an example…the following is what I consider a fairly bland, ordinary, check-the-box Facebook update: {PRODUCT} is special. Learn more here about {FEATURE}: {LINK}

Sure, it communicates what the client wants it to communicate but does it really engage with the client/customer? Not really.

Great content, when it comes down to it, is a function of one thing: not just talking about a great product, but a product that does great things.

Take, for instance, my former client Porsche.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 6.25.36 AM

The product is so sexy, such an amazing machine that the team essentially could just post photos all day with no text and beat out most other pages in engagement. As it stands, though, they have a great social team and I had to hunt long and hard to find a post that even resembled a basic one like that.

Your product might not be as sophisticated or as aspirational as a Porsche but damn, what if you thought it performed just as well? What if you talked about what the product could do rather than just its features?

Let’s take an appliance brand, shall we? There’s nothing blander than selling blenders, right? Well, apparently Frigidare proves us wrong:

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What did they do? They talked about the results, not the product itself. Getting the customer to imagine their life with a product or service has always been a staple of great salesman.

What we have to do, as content marketers, is pull our heads out of our asses and think about the great things our products can do. Sure, the examples I gave were quite basic Facebook posts but you can extrapolate that same concept to almost anything.

White Papers, Presentations, Tweets – they can all start down the road to amazing results by asking how does the product do great things.

Next time you’re asked to hire a community manager or even write content yourself ask what great things your product can do and then see what content comes of it.  I’ll guarantee you its going to be better than you think.

Try it and tell me how it goes.

The Nature of Innovation

Whenever I sit down with my team to brainstorm we always start with examples of creative executions from other brands and agencies.  This was always something I found a little sketchy because, after all, aren’t digital strategy teams hired to be original?

I started to question whether or not everything I had done had just been an imitation of something that had come before.  It turns out that quite a few of my best ideas were based on something that came before. The twist was that, after seeing what resulted, imitation wasn’t a bad thing.

By starting with where others left off, I was able to actually become more creative.  My ideas began to have their own identity.  The best ones, in fact, inspired imitations themselves.

I guess standing on the shoulders of giants is a good thing, as long as your end goal is innovation.

Georgia-Based BOTANTICA by Design: The “Breaking Bad” of Soap & Lotions

You know those friends that can’t wait to show off their hobby? Scott is one of those guys.  In fact, the first time I visited his home, he couldn’t wait to show off his laundry/mad scientist inventory. It was literally stacks and stacked of  soaps and bottles of lotions – all of which he creates from his own home.

Scott has turned that hobby into a small but rapidly evolving business. Sure, plenty of folks have dabbled at making their own soaps and lotions and many of them do create really….ummm…interesting stuff?

The cool thing about Scott’s creations, which are created under his “BOTANICA by Design” brand, is that they are not only all natural but bring a cool Hawaiian inspired creativity to their blends.  For instance, he created a set of soaps infused with botanical scents like lilac that smell and feel amazing.

Designed as an alternative to major market brands, Scott is keenly aware of how his products not only smell but feel.  His Papaya body lotion, for instance goes on light and absorbs quickly as opposed to remaining heavy and greasy.  Even the scent balances with your own skin leaving a pleasant, sweet air rather than being overpowering.

You can check out more about Scott and his product line at http://botanicabydesign.com/.

Blogger Disclosure: Scott is a friend and he shamelessly forced his product on me. Of course, I willingly accepted and any and all opinions or recommendations are covered by my standard disclosure policy for this blog.

Moving Day…

They say that it is better to lead by example than design.  In the world of digital engagement that often means blazing a path where there was none, previously.

That’s why I am excited to announce my move to Brandmovers Inc., a global interactive and digital marketing agency based here in Atlanta, as their lead digital strategist.

More on Brandmovers in a moment but let me say something about the company I am moving on from…

For a little over two years, I have been privileged to work with the brilliant team over at Brandware Public Relations. We’ve worked hard to build an innovative social PR operation and I couldn’t be prouder of the results.

It’s tough to move on from a great boutique shop like Brandware where your co-workers really do become like family.   However, this move comes at a time when Brandware’s prospects in social PR couldn’t be brighter and I am confident that what we’ve built can transcend any one person.

For me, Brandmovers offers not only the next logical step but also the chance to see how far the envelope can be pushed with respect to results for brands via digital engagement. With a team of over 65 in-house designers, developers, account managers and strategists spread across offices in London, Mumbai and here in Atlanta the opportunities are exciting, to say the least.

Of course, I’ll continue blogging here at Just Friggin’ Peachy but  be sure to check Brandmovers out on Twitter, follow Brandmovers on Facebook and check out the team blog. </shameless plug>.

Stay tuned, folks.  It’s going to be an interesting ride!

Polly Wanna’ Cracker? Kellogg Wants You To Tweet For It

There may not be such a thing as a “free lunch.” Thanks to Kellogg though, Twitter users in London can now at least have some free chips…well, almost free.

Kellogg UK has opened up a “Twitter Shop” to drum up buzz for their new Special K popcorn/cracker creation.  Users walk into the shop, tweet about the crackers and they get a free box.  Simple enough but just in case that didn’t make sense, they created this handy promotional video:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWSRRLFPCYk

Now, this isn’t the first time a company has given away free stuff in exchange for tweets.  I recall Yahoo! did something similar at a conference I attended.  With them, I got to take home a huge, paper dictionary of social media and web terminology…I know, ironic right?

I tend to like this tactic in general and love the guerrilla-style offline marketing execution Kellogg UK created with it. Hey, they were probably going to have to do trials anyway so why not require some buzz creation along the way?  The only caveat I have with this is that there is no online component to this aside from Twitter.

To me, Kellogg is missing a HUGE opportunity to create a microsite with live feeds from the store.  IMO, users would LOVE to share photos of themselves in the shop tweeting or trying the new creations. It would help amplify and multiply the buzz opportunity.

Kellogg USA…send the check to me via paypal ’cause unlike the people in the video, I don’t work for crackers. Toodles!

A Little Green Monorail of Metaphor

I am totally serious, here it is….

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No, there isn’t a point. I just saw this little guy on my way home from a run. He was crawling along the railing at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Seems like he has a ways to go…

Anyway, I am sure there’s a metaphor in here somewhere about it being a long road to happiness but it’s Labor Day Weekend and frankly isn’t the photo enough of a statement? Seriously, he’s like a little green monorail of metaphor.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everybody!

Burn All Your Performance Reviews

If you’re like me, you take performance reviews very seriously. They’re a great way to get a read on how you’re doing professionally and they allow you to set out goals for future growth. They are also one of those documents that should be read over thoroughly and then promptly destroyed.

I’m serious. Performance reviews should never be allowed to simply sit around in a file folder. In fact, performance reviews should never exist anywhere where they can be easily reached once they have been initially delivered. This is a truth I had to discover the hard way after keeping all of my previous performance reviews for the last 9 years.

Not only did I keep a digital copy of my reviews; I printed out each of them and stuck them in a manila file folder. This folder sat just beneath my desk and it had a tendency to be pulled out when I was feeling introspective.

Simply put; performance reviews are the last place anyone should be looking when they are trying to determine the best way to move forward. The reason for this is, like many documents, performance reviews are subject to their author’s own personality. This is not to say that my previous supervisors had it out for me. In fact, the exact opposite is true and that was the problem; performance reviews tended to reflect the best way I should move forward AT A SPECIFIC TIME.

That’s why I chose to take all of mine this past week and commit them to the care of my fireplace. I was simply tired of trying to reconcile my current path forward by examining the path I took to travel here. It was like Lewis and Clark trying to find their way through undiscovered wilderness by facing backwards. Every time I tried to make a correction based on what I had previously done, I took my focus on interpreting exactly what was in front of me.

I truly believe that the performance review process has merit and can be incredibly useful when done correctly. The fact is though that when you keep them around for future reference they make really lousy road maps.

If you have any still around, do yourself a favor and just get rid of them. Wish them the best in their future state of kindling, bird-cage lining, or however you chose to use them. Trust me on this one – you’ll be much happier and, without the reverse road-map, you might even get to enjoy the journey.

Photo Courtesy RyanKemmers

NASA Scores Major Social/PR Win With Mars Landing

For those of you keeping score, NASA not only landed a direct hit on the planet Mars early this morning, they also landed a huge PR win via social media.

According to my data; in the last 24 hours, conversation about NASA has jumped over 350% thanks to smart tweeting by NASA’s social media manager, Veronica McGregor and, surprisingly also by JPL’s flight director Bobak Ferdowsi.

McGregor, no stranger to the social media limelight, lit up Twitter with the amazing personality she powered up for the mission’s official Twitter handle, @MarsCuriosity:

Meanwhile, Ferdowsi himself became an instant celebrity adding more than 20K followers since the start of this morning’s live stream. Perhaps not intentionally, Ferdowsi became the face of the new, modern NASA with his stylish haircut and {achem} dreamy smile.

He even managed to inspire his own internet meme and fangirl/fanboy tumblr:

Maybe I’m just a huge geek but I can’t help but feel really inspired by not only the mission but the smart risks and new energy being brought to NASA PR. Congrats to Veronica McGregor, Bobak Ferdowsi and the entire NASA-JPL team!

Of Dogwoods & Gratitude

I was originally was going to make this Part II of my Maslow post but I wanted to preempt it to share something that ran through my mind today.

Amid the insanity of a couple thousand OTPers descending on Midtown Atlanta, I was still able to make it out to the Dogwood Festival.  Though the festival was made up of mostly the same artists and food vendors you see year after year, it was the first time a couple of my friends had gotten a chance to see it so I agreed to be a guide.

Along our walk, I decided I wanted to show my friends the newer section of the park including the Legacy Fountain.  In contrast to the main sections of the park, the newer area was almost completely void of visitors.  It made for a nice calm and with the cool wind whipping around us, it made one of my favorite poems come to mind:

“I walked in a garden today
Where loving hands had wrought
She could not have known
As she toiled there tirelessly,
That I would come today
Despairing, lonely and afraid
And that her garden
Would restore my peace of mind
And give me hope and faith.
I walked in her garden today and
Tonight I thank God for her
Who toiled there tirelessly.”

O.R.W. – Cheekwood Botanical Garden

Though the last few weeks have been an interesting mix of productivity and drama, the thing that has stood out the most is how much I am learning about the finer points of cultivating serenity. Sure, it sounds kind of fluffy but you never know how important it is until you need it to kick your goals into high gear.

That poem and, in particular, the timing it had running through my head reminded me that building that sense of serenity is a two-way street. In one direction, we’re trudging a road paved by others.

When you’re looking for that serenity and you’re a typical “Type A” personality, that journey usually requires the help of people that have been there before.  There is an enormous amount of gratitude to be found for those people who are there for you be they family, friends or just someone with a big heart who is willing to help.

In the other direction, you’re maintaining or paving that road for people who may come after you. Like the poem says, you may never know who comes after you but that road may indeed mean quite a bit to them.

The friends I took through the park had a chance to experience what I’ve gotten to experience dozens of times before.  In sharing that experience, though – this time it was somehow more profound.

Like I said, it was kind of a fluffy moment but when you work hard and care a great deal about what you do, these moments help remind you of what’s important. If this sentiment means nothing, I promise the next post will be fantastically geeky enough to make up for it.

If the sentiment did mean something to you, that’s even better. In that case, I encourage you to try it out for yourself and pass the feeling forward.  You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Courtesy of brettlohmeyer

A Day In Los Angeles Via Instagr.am

I’m out here in Los Angeles for BlogWorld.  Before I partake in what will surely be a quasi-orgasmic experience of geekdom, I did decide to take a day to visit clients and make some new business connections in the “real world.”

Because a day tooling around with Brandware’s main Los Angeleno was too good not to record for posterity, I whipped out the iPhone and documented a day in the life, instagram-style.

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Overcommitted, Much?

We all like to think we’re more important than we really are. It’s just a basic fact of human ego.

This is why we blog, this is why tweet – it’s to get attention for ourselves because we believe the external validation is necessary to our very beings.

It’s also why we cram our schedules full of so much even though we realize it might detract from the overall quality of the output.  Take this past weekend, for instance.  Some time during the summer I had the great idea to run my first half-marathon.  I trained, I researched and found one to register for.  Only later on did I realize that it was the same weekend as a conference I had to attend AND, subsequently emcee one of the workshops. It was also Halloween weekend and parties-a-plenty to rock out at, in the evening.

A normal human would say “let’s rearrange some things here.” For one reason or another, I did not. I got up at 5, ran the half-marathon, attended the conference and still had enough in me [read “5 Hour Energy”] to attend not one but two Halloween parties.

It was great, it was amazing and I honestly can’t believe I did it all.  Neither can my body, apparently.  It was like “I see what you did there with the thinking that you could defy the laws of physiology.”  Suffice to say, I spent Sunday on the couch unable to move my legs without being reminded that I probably overdid it.

Morale of the story is that each of us has our limits. Extending ourselves is great but our lives balance the process of expending energy and renewing it. Sure, you can commit yourself to being superman/woman but know that everything comes back around in one way or another.

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering – 2 hours 10 minutes on the half-marathon ;-)…

Confessions of a Car Nut N00b

When I first went to work at Brandware Public Relations, I knew I was in for a learning curve. Little did I know I know that curve would require seat belts and paddock access.

Allow me to explain. Brandware Public Relations, by virtue of the background of some of its team members, is an automotive powerhouse in the public relations field.  The person that referred me to Brandware is a car nut, my boss is a car nut and yes, many of our clients are car nuts.  On the other hand; I owned a car for maybe 2 ½ of the 12 years I was away from Atlanta.

It’s not that I don’t love cars or didn’t study the industry in-depth in business school. Auto enthusiast culture was just never much on my radar screen to the extent that it is for industry insiders.

Flash forward to this past weekend and Petit Le Mans – my first car race. Walking through the paddock, taking in the sights and sounds of top-performing super-cars, watching, in awe, as the pit teams serviced cars with speed and precision that would put any six-sigma black belt to shame.  I can now see what the big deal is.

httpvh://youtu.be/WCEihyTH8-s

At this point, I am reasonably sure my co-workers and the clients that know me best are laughing their collective buts off or looking at this post.  It’s the “aww – look at the cute car n00b” expression that I’ve become quite familiar with. In fact, I’ve never been shy that CPG is more “my speed.”

However after this weekend, I’m definitely starting to catch on. In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, “I wanna’ go FAST!”

Be Irrepressible

One year ago, today I sat in my friend Amanda’s apartment in DC and decided to “bite the bullet” and move back home to Atlanta.

It was one of those “wine and empathy” kinds of nights. I had just left what was supposed to be my “post-MBA dream job” and was a little frustrated at myself and the situation for falling short of my expectations. Even though I had final-round interviews set up with a couple of firms in Atlanta later that week, I wasn’t really sure if this was the right path.

I went through a lot after that night in my friends’ apartment and not all of it was good.  There was a lot of self-doubt, a little anger and a lot of soul-searching. Luckily though, I landed more on my feet than I could have ever imagined. I ended up in a position that afforded me the chance to see what I could do, without limits.

It’s a pretty cool feeling.

This blog is about telling the next chapter in my story.  Sure, I’ll relate things from the past and readers will definitely get a heavy dose of my point of view on things. Before I completely close the previous chapter though, I do want to say something.  Things would not have turned out as good as they did without a belief that being irrepressible is a good thing.

In fact, if I’ve learned anything in the past year – it’s that irrepressible is something everyone should aspire to. People should be irrepressible about their own instincts.  They should be irrepressible about finding a better way of doing things.  They should be irrepressible in standing up for their own value regardless of some that might say otherwise.

Life is too short to live in a homogenous fantasy that says that you don’t have the right to disagree. Being irrepressible is the only true way to ensure that you are living up to your own full potential.

I now think back on that night in DC and realize it was a turning point. Sure, things won’t always go my way.  However, the experience of moving back has validated that though it might be the bravest and craziest thing you can ever be, the fight for being yourself is worth it.

SO what if I am outspoken, irrepressible and more valuable to the teams I work with because of it.  I embrace those traits even if it means I have to search harder for a place that fits with that mentality.  The rest…well, it’s just friggin’ peachy ;-).

Labor Day

At the end of a crazy summer, sometimes you just have to get away.

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The view from my mini-vacation.

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