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An Exclusive Interview with Mad Men’s Janie Bryant

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janie_bryantMad Men is coming. The date has been announced for the premiere of Mad Men season six, and you can feel the excitement building. Fans are begging for details, but AMC has only allowed the release of a few glamorous cast photos. Who is behind the industry-changing costume design on Mad Men? Janie Bryant.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mad Men’s Emmy® award-winning costume designer. Throughout our 25-minute conversation, Bryant took a few moments to answer some questions that may be of interest to fans of Mad Men and readers at Talent Zoo. She reflected on her costume design choices, adding the ’60s style to clothing options in today’s ad agencies, and thoughts on a new clothing line.

Don: How does it feel to be responsible for changing the fashion industry with your Mad Men styling?

Janie: I’m glad we’re talking about this because, just so you know, I am not a stylist; I am a costume designer. It is about creating a story about the characters through costume design. They are completely different jobs. A lot of people don’t know there is a huge difference in professions. Styling is about developing someone’s own personal style. Costume design is about creating and telling the story of a character through their costumes. On Mad Men I design the costumes and I build from scratch, I rent from costume houses in Los Angeles, I work with vendors from around the country to purchase vintage clothing, and I often redesign vintage garments as well.

Don: Got it. I had no idea there was such a big difference. When you’re telling these stories through this costume design, you really changed how some people are dressing out there. Since the show started you’re seeing a lot more skinny ties, and a lot more of the tailored suits for the guys at least.

Janie:  And for the women, too. It’s been incredible to see this whole fashion movement and designers being inspired from my work. I come from a fashion design background. That was my first career and I moved into costume design. I have always felt like costume design was one of the characters of this show in particular, because in the 1960s so many things happened during the decade, not only in terms of fashion but also socially and politically.

Don: That would definitely be a lot of pressure.

Janie: I don’t mind the pressure. I love period design. I really do I love it. And I love that people have been so influenced by the show. I love that the fashion industry has been inspired by the show. I love that there has been a whole movement in men’s and women’s wear that is based around the costume design of the show too. I love it.

Don: That is absolutely great. We were talking about how your clothing choices in Mad Men really speak as much for the characters as their dialogue. Do you ever second guess any of your clothing choices, and which characters are the most difficult to dress?

Janie: Well, it is all about careful balance. Of course there are at times when, yes, I do change things around but it’s also about instincts and really using those instincts. We shoot each episode of Mad Men within eight days so there is not a lot of time for changing or rethinking things. Also, it is just about knowing the character. I’ve been the costume designer on Mad Men since season one so I really know them well. I have lived with these characters for a long time, but not quite as long as Matt Weiner, the amazingly brilliant creator of Mad Men. With six seasons in, I have my color palette for each of the characters and their silhouettes set. I like to maintain some kind of continuity of their silhouettes and carry that through each episode, but again, it really depends on what is going on with the script. It all starts there. It’s about reading the script. It’s about breaking it down. It’s about understanding what the characters are saying to each other. It’s about understanding the mood or the tone of each script and how that character is going to best show the emotions of each scene through their costumes.

Don: Out of all of the characters, which one is the most difficult to dress?

Janie: I don’t really approach it that way because it’s not really about that for me. It is more about the challenges of what I want to say with each scene. Also, it’s more about the pure volume of people. It is more about figuring out how all of these pieces are going to fit and work together. I like to approach it essentially when there are all the principles in one scene and all of the background characters in one scene as like it was a painting.

Don: That is a very intriguing thought. The landscape of office attire today is very casual compared to the Mad Men era. What do you think the impact would be on today’s workforce if the same standard of professionalism and style existed today?

Janie: [laughs] I wouldn’t call the Mad Men guys very professional — grabbing women’s asses and drinking in the office. I don’t think one era is better than the other; I think it is an evolution. We definitely live in a more casual and comfortable period of time. Do I think it looks better to be dressed up and all put together? Yes, but I don’t know if we can ever really go back to that way of being so put together and not being comfortable. People are used to being comfortable now.

Don: I understand completely. That is a very good point.

Janie: It can be compared like this — would people in the 1960s wear corsets like they did in the Victorian era? No. If you look at all of the different decades, each really gets more and more casual. Then again, I think people have also been inspired lately to dress up more and really do understand that different way of how they feel when they’re really dressed up. They understand the feeling of looking great as opposed to when they’re not taking as much care. I think it’s about education and I think it’s about knowing how to dress up. There is a time and place for everything, you know.

Don: So along with that, when you’re looking at the characters, they look so put together. It’s definitely a different style and era.

Janie: That’s called permanent press fabric. The fabrics of that period were engineered to not wrinkle. It’s a whole permanent press era. That’s why so many of the fabrics were blends. That was the whole trend to stay pressed all day long in that period. Our fabrics are different today.

Don: That is very true; most clothes today are 100% cotton. You don’t see many blends out there.

Janie: Yes, and thankfully not. They don’t breathe. That’s why manufacturers stopped making them. The trend is different now. It’s more comfort. It’s breathable fabrics that are not focused on being permanently pressed. It’s about being permanently distressed [laughs].

Don: So, how do you recommend advertising professionals today add Mad Men vintage flair to their work attire?

Janie: Well, I’m a huge fan of menswear, and whether I am designing the suits for the cast or I’m renting vintage suits, it’s all about proper tailoring. As far as the ’60s era, it’s the skinny ties, the skinny lapel, and flat front trousers. Men were also wearing a lot of accessories in that period like tie bars, cuff links, monogrammed belts, beautiful watches, bracelets, pinky rings and so much more. For the men, it was definitely a time of accessories. And for the women, again, it’s about having clothes fit to your body. I always recommend people having a good tailor or seamstress. For the women, the design has really changed from when we first started the show to season five. Then [season one] it was all about the sheath and now [season five] the times have changed and definitely more of a square and architectural shape became the fashion. The thing is for women it is really hard to say what exactly is that Mad Men look. Iconically, I’m sure everybody thinks of Joan in her tight-fitting sheaths and her wiggle dresses. Now it’s about Megan in her Zou Bisou Bisou minidress.

Don: Sure, it’s all about finding your niche and seeing what works best for you.

Janie: Exactly.

Don: Do you have any future plans of creating your own fashion label? Would it take a page from the Mad Men era or would it be completely unique?

Janie: I do. It will be unique to my designs. As a costume designer I am working from the Mad Men scripts and I love the period. I love the ’60s. It’s a great period, but as far as my own design aesthetic, my brand is much more modern glamorous and sexy with an edge. But hopefully soon you’ll see that. [laughs]

Don: Soon, yes. I know a lot of people are asking you questions about upcoming things. On Twitter I see a lot of people are asking you questions about season six of Mad Men.

Janie: I know, I can’t tell you anything about that.

Don: I understand. I actually think it is funny that people ask because everyone knows how tight the set is and everything.

Janie: We’re all hush-hush around here. As for other current projects I’ve been working with some amazing brands. I’ve worked with Banana Republic on the Mad Men collection and we have just announced our third collaboration, which is really exciting. Last year I worked with Maidenform on designing their 90th anniversary capsule collection and I still work as their brand ambassador. Also, I’ve been working with Hearts on Fire®, a diamond company which I love. Then I’ve been working with oneCARE company on a product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser® for fabric care. I love textiles and fabrics and have been working with them a lot, which has been great.

Don: It sounds like you’re staying pretty busy then.

Janie: [laughs] Well it has been busy, but it’s been really fun and really creative. I’m just working on it day by day.

Day by Day is the only way for someone as motivated as Janie to work. Her costume design on Mad Men is so spot-on that it almost feels wrong to call them costumes. It is almost more believable to think she took a DeLorean back to 1962 and filled the trunk of with as much clothes as she could. If you didn’t think working on the set of Mad Men was enough, she is brand ambassador to three brands, wrote a book called The Fashion File, designed three lines for Banana Republic, and is working on her own future line. There are four big takeaways from our conversation: find a good tailor; approach challenging situations like artwork, making every brushstroke count; to be successful like Janie you must have passion and love for what you do, and; as much as you ask, you will never get a spoiler on Mad Men.

Janie is clearly a large part of the genius behind the success of Mad Men. How has her costume design affected you? Discuss.

Article originally published on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Mad-Men-s-Janie-Bryant/16784.html

How Sharp is Your Axe?

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abraham_lincolnAbraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Reading that tells us that preparing for the ‘big moment’ is two thirds of the battle. So many people focus only on the moment without sharpening their axe. Look at this in terms of presenting to a potential client. If you go into the presentation room the day of the meeting and you have not done your homework you have already lost your chance of winning. If this were a test you would only be able to get a 33% as a top score if you nailed it. Looking at it in this manner you start to realize that homework is what is most important.

The homework starts with background research. Background research is key in developing the idea behind a great advertising campaign. Great ideas are hard enough to develop on their own, but without background research? Forget it. Your point will not translate well and the idea will be lost in a sea of other bad ideas. So what do you do? Start sharpening that axe. Find out everything you can about the demographic you are trying to reach. Learn how the market has reacted to new product launches. Delve into books of key industry-specific decision makers. Find out who went to prom with your competitor’s CEO. Do whatever you have to do. Take that full two-thirds of the time to make that axe so sharp that you could shave with it. Then, and only then, are you ready to fully develop the idea.

Once your homework is done and you have your idea formed, it’s time to prepare for the pitch. Preparing the pitch is almost more important than developing the idea. Lot of great ideas are lost in poor presentation. In The Art of The Pitch by Peter Coughter, he says “Don’t focus on the deck, focus on the story.” Think about how many times you have presented something. What is the first thing you do? You open a PowerPoint and start filling it out. You make sure you have enough material for a full hour presentation. This is exactly what the Coughter says should be the last thing that happens. Create your notes first and then make a stunning presentation after. You should not think of it like you are trying to fill up the time. Tell your story. Get your point across. Then give them time back. Just because a presentation is long does not make it good.

How does a presentation become stunning and how does this pertain to doing your homework? Easy; it needs to be well-rehearsed. Do not rely on practicing what you are going to say on the drive over or, dare I say, not practice at all. Your final homework before a presenting an idea is practicing and even presenting it to a few colleagues or friends first. If you are worried about leaking the idea, videotape yourself and watch it back. Whatever you do, practice. You will change things. You will make it flow better. You will win more often.

After the homework you are effectively positioned for the pitch. This can be applied not only to a pitch but to many other things in life, such as making home improvements, a change of jobs, or even a softball game. In each way, for the best results you must practice, learn, grow, and have your homework done before you dive into it head first. If Lincoln did it 150 years ago you can too. Redirecting focus on you, I ask, “How sharp is your axe?”

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16783

4 Must-Watch Super Bowl Commercials

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2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

Every year we are stunned by some of the commercials that come out during the Super Bowl. Sometimes they are amazing displays of an advertising budget and sometimes they are lost in a creative directors vision. This years is more of the same; advertisers trying to outperform each other to get the attention of the masses on this all-American-almost-holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday. Here are just four commercials that you must watch. They will pull at your heart strings, make you laugh out loud, and make you run to YouTube to watch them over and over again.

  1. Budweiser: The King of Beers always makes a move to make stronger and better commercials year after year. This time they look at the man who trains their prized Clydesdale horses. The commercial really brings it full circle and in its short 60 seconds really makes you feel like you’ve just watched a really good movie. Not to mention they are making great use of social media but having people tweet their favorite baby name for their newest horse with the hashtag #clydesdales. Watch the Clydesdales “Brotherhood” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs
  2. Fiat 500 Abarth: Fiat is at it again. This time their commercial goes topless. The commercial can be best described as tastefully sultry. Other than that, you have to watch it for yourself. This should get a lot of people talking. See the commercials for the Fiat 500 Abarth here.
  3. Taco Bell: This is one of the best commercials to come out of Taco Bell in years. It is called “Viva Young” and features a version of “We Are Young” in Spanish. Other than the song, there is no dialogue in the commercial except for a nurse saying goodnight to a lonely old gentlemen. Seconds later, he jumps out of bed and into some classic Detroit Muscle for a night on the town with his old codgers like no other. They end up, like all people do after a night of clubbing, at Taco Bell. Live Más. Watch it here.
  4. Coca Cola: What would a watch list be without Coke or Pepsi? Coke does it this time with a chase through the desert. This chase includes Flamingo showgirls from Vegas, cowboys, a sheik, a motorcyclist, and a large glitter cannon racing through the desert like they are trying to get to the oversized bottle of Coke first to quench their thirst. The sign says 50 miles ahead. The chase continues. The intriguing thing about this commercial is that Coke is letting the public decide how the commercial ends. Watch it here and see how it ends on game day.

Watching all of these commercials via YouTube early can be great. However, you miss out on the big reveal. The way Super Bowl commercials used to be aired before social media took a huge foothold. The agencies and advertisers that still keep this element of surprise should be commended. Coke gets innovative by intermixing both tactics. Do you think revealing these ads early on social media hurts the airing of the commercials during the Super Bowl or helps it? Discuss.

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16718

Berline Says “Brand Yourself”

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pencilFifteen minutes into a talk to advertising greenhorns Jim Berline, of the Berline Advertising Agency in Detroit, said “Brand yourself, it’s all about perception.” While the students in Adcraft’s ADvance class may have not known what to think, he went on to say “Perception is more important than reality.” What is your brand? How is it perceived? Did you know there was such a thing?

Berline specified four characteristics needed to thrive at his agency, and any agency for that matter, that are part of personal branding.

  1. Be competitive. Love the thrill of the fight. Self-confidence is key here. You need to have relentless motivation and drive. Always strive to make yourself better and learn from any mistakes.
  2. Be bright.  Know how to multi-task, well. In fact, in today’s day and age multi-tasking should be …

Read my entire article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16699

Why Radio Will Never Die

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bob-pittmanOver the last couple of years the argument that radio is a waste of time and money has surfaced. We hear estimates on when radio will die. Millions of people are seen daily with iPods stuck in their ears. One could start to see where people would think radio may have a hard time continuing. Who better to speak on this topic but none other than Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel Radio and founder of MTV? Last year, the Adcraft Club of Detroit brought in Pittman to speak during the advertising club’s annual Radio Day.

“Radio is America’s companion,” said Pittman, who commanded the stage from the start. “It’s the first social media.” Think about how social radio really is. There are disc jockeys who bring you curated content, events hosted in your local area, you can call in to interact, and now you can even tweet, message, and share with them as well. With radio advertising, it is one of the most flexible forms of media. One can change the copy of an advertisement in a single day. In radio, commercials also have many forms and for its reach is relatively inexpensive to create. Not only are they inexpensive to create but they are much less expensive to run as well. For local advertising especially, Pittman says, “Radio is the king of local.”

Bob Pittman also reminded us advertisers of something that we can tend to forget about: “It’s very close to the point of purchase.” Driving in a car, walking through a store, and streaming on the computer at work or home, radio is there to remind consumers about their product or service. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you were hungry and while you were driving were reminded that McDonald’s had a new juicy, tasty burger to fulfill all of your non-diet-food cravings? You are already in the car and next thing you know you spot a McDonald’s. That is the point. Radio is where consumers are. Nobody can honestly say they do not hear radio at least once a day. Whether you are walking down the street, at a store, in your car, in someone else’s car, or just about anywhere else, radio is there.

In speaking about digital radio Pittman let us in on a little secret, saying, “Digital is 5% of radio listening, it’s just the beginning.” Clear Channel Radio-owned iHeartRadio has helped change online radio listening by allowing you to listen to over 1,500 live radio stations online. Compared to some of the other “radio” sites such as Pandora and Spotify, he says they are “massive collections, not radio.” Pittman reminded us again why live radio will always work and always be a viable advertising medium, radio is social. He explained why radio is social in six points saying, radio:

  1. Is curated
  2. Changes constantly
  3. Has human beings to bond with the audience
  4. Has big brands with strong, loyal audiences
  5. Local content, promotion, and events
  6. Has an interactive relationship with the audience

The biggest takeaway from the meeting was, everybody has a radio. While radio may no longer be the first thing everyone thinks of, it is where everyone is. How many times a day do you hear a radio? Once you start really paying attention you may be surprised.

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16626

Look Out, Madison Ave; Detroit is Coming

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Bruce Lee once said, “We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. Yet it sometimes means that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents as well.” The Detroit advertising community has the talent and the intense desire. This was clearly evident at The D Show advertising awards last week.

Sponsored by the Adcraft Club of Detroit, The D Show is an annual event that celebrates Detroit’s best and most creative minds in advertising. There you will see shops of all sizes from small ones to heavy hitters like the Detroit offices of Leo Burnett, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Fallon, and WPP’s Team Detroit, comprising JWT, Y&R, Wunderman, Ogilvy, and Mindshare. The theme of The D Show was “Enter the D Show” which very closely resembled Bruce Lee’s infamous film, “Enter the Dragon.” It was described as the ultimate mental arts competition.

As the lights dimmed and the show took off you could cut the excitement with a knife, or a roundhouse kick, whichever you prefer. Stuart O’Neil of Team Detroit chaired the event and proudly noted, “First win the fight in your backyard, the make it on to the other show.” O’Neil speaking of “other” in reference to the Cannes Lions, Clio’s, Addys, and the like. Although The D Show may be a local advertising awards show, its ads have a global footprint.

As one may suspect, there were a lot of commercials and campaigns in the automotive sector. As one may not expect, there were a good number of campaigns outside of automotive, showing that Detroit is not simply a one-trick pony.

The D Show produced 85 awards in total. Below includes some of the stand-outs from the night.

  • One of the big local winners of the show was Yessian Music, taking home 7 Ds for original music and sound design.
  • The Richards Group won Best of TV with the Fiat commercial entitled “Seduction.” Watch the spot here.
  • In the Consumer TV category, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners accepted the D for their Chevy year-end sale event with St. Nick. Watch the spot here.
  • Capping off the night, Team Detroit won Best in Show with their Nanoblock print campaign for the Ohio Art Company.
  • See the entire list of winners.

The show was captivating and inspiring, marking a shining moment for the rebuilding of Detroit. Sherri Weitzman, President of Adcraft and National Advertising Manager at Cadillac, gave the closing remarks for the night, saying, “The out-of-town judges were blown away by the talent coming out of Detroit.” Weitzman elegantly concluded declaring, “We are back.”

Article originally published on Talent Zoo’s Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16148

Brad Pitt for Chanel No.5 – Revolutionary

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45.8 Million. That is the number of web pages that points to the Google search term “brad pitt chanel commercial.” Take off the term
chanel-no-5‘commercial’ and there are 82.5 million web pages. The Huffington Post says “There’s nothing you can’t sell with a black-and-white Brad Pitt talking nonsense in front of a neutral background.” SNL spoofed it the same week it came out. Conan O’Brien is talking about it on his show. I come home from work and there are talking about it on Extra. Does that sound really that bad?

Sure I admit that Pitt may come off as a little out of it, aloof, and generally not entertaining. However the television ad is not meant for me. It is meant for the woman who wears Chanel No.5 and the women who will hopefully want to wear Chanel No.5. It is a deeper commercial actually talking to a bottle of perfume and not a person. You have to think a little bit in watching the commercial and that is hard for some people. They are staying extremely focused on their brand message. In today’s society so many people are focused on reality television filled with drama, a lack of story, and in the end leaves you hoping for more. Chanel is not focused on this subset. Chanel is focused on the woman who will wear Chanel and appreciates some of the finer things in life.

Being the first male spokesperson for this brand was a huge transition for Chanel who has previously used the likes of Marilyn Monroe. For Chanel to spend $7 million on Brad Pitt they needed to make it worth their while. Why not make it something memorable? Few commercials outside of the Superbowl make headlines like this commercial has.

From a public relations standpoint, the public is not saying anything negative about Chanel No.5. They are making fun of the way Brad Pitt acts in the commercial. However, in all instances they ARE talking about Chanel No.5. Isn’t that the goal? Talk about their commercials has exploded virally. Over the years everyone has heard the saying ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.  And it is no more true than in this case. Will this commercial make you buy Chanel No.5? Maybe not. Will this commercial make you aware of Chanel No.5? Definitely.

Imagine coming up with the idea to film this commercial. After all it is more like a film. Black and white sets the tone. It separates it from other commercials. ‘Don’t blend in’ is on the whiteboard. Money in the budget is limited for worldwide exposure. Buy less media, add Brad Pitt. Done. He is a man so you have to be strategic in the message. Have an abstract story that few will understand and everyone will question. Make it so the viewer wants to watch it a few more times to try to understand it. Make it so that when they watch the commercial it would be better placed in a fine art gallery than on TV. Now you have done it. You have something different. The world questions different. The best things are different.

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

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Do you ever catch yourself asking someone “How did you think of that?” We all have. It is always a great question because it helps you understand how people think – if they answer it honestly. Although, most of the time the answer is “it just came to me.”lightbulb

So how did they think of that great idea? I have gathered 5 eye-opening points that have helped me stay creative over the years.

  1. Diversify yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you only watch sports, try watching a chick flick. If you go home every day after work, take up a hobby or two. If you make a ham sandwich for lunch everyday, go out. You get the idea. The key is that you need to keep yourself diversified. Try as many different things as you can. Take beer for example. You like to enjoy an ice-cold beer on a Friday night, right? You have choices. Instead of going home and pulling another cold one from the fridge you could go to the corner brewery. You could also dress up a little and go to Cliff Bell’s and listen to some great jazz while enjoying that brew or an old-fashioned. When you diversify yourself you open your eyes to things you may not normally think of or pay attention to. Anything can spark an idea. If you do the same things every day you are stuck in one target market that you may never be trying to appeal to. In turn, the ideas that you come up with may only appeal to your specific market and not necessarily the target market you are shooting for.
  2. Go outside. When is the last time you took a walk around the block or a bike ride? It seems really simple but it opens your mind. Just sitting at your desk does not always cut it. Sights, sounds, textures, and the like spark things in your mind. Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company? Not unless I said AFLAC. In one of my graduate branding courses we learned the story of the AFLAC duck. How did they come up with that idea? The creatives at Kaplan Thaler went to lunch in an outdoor patio. They saw a duck. They kept repeating the word AFLAC. It started to sound like a duck. The rest is history. After they spent countless hours of brainstorming, all it took was them to take a walk outside and go to lunch. Go outside.
  3. Research other industries.  If you are in automotive do not just look for other ideas in the automotive circles. Look at the ideas that are being developed in other industries and see how it can relate your own. I am by no means telling you to steal someone’s idea. What I am telling you is to see how you can learn from it and potentially apply it to something else. You can always learn from others. The day you stop learning is the day you have failed yourself.
  4. Keep notes. I have probably lost more good ideas than I could ever remember. The problem is that I did not write them down. Type it, write it, scribble it, draw it, whatever works. Just get it down on paper. Even though the idea may not be the best idea now it may spark something else or you may see it in a different light later.  A good friend of mine was stuck in traffic a couple of months ago and out of nowhere came up with one of the best ideas I have heard in quite a while, a real game changer. By the time he was out of the backup he had already written down page after page of notes in an old notebook he kept for that very purpose. Don’t let the ideas slip away.
  5. Listen. Whether it is a story, a newscast,  or your spouse, yes your spouse, listen. I like to bounce ideas off my friends too. Listen to what they have to say. There is always something that you may not have thought of or an angle you have never ventured toward before. Everyone’s mind works differently. Listening is what helps fine tune your idea from what would be very good to something remarkable.

Reflect on these points from time to time. Stay hungry. Keep your mind sharp. That next great idea is just around the corner. What else do you do to keep your creative side fulfilled?

If you tweet it, they will read it.

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Is your social media coordinator qualified to speak for your brand? Have you ever actually thought about it?

1030887_53077079Social networking has been one of the number one things companies and ad agencies are focusing on today. Nearly everything is digital and has to happen now. This isn’t a bad thing, it just opens up to a new type of thinking. We need to remember that social networking is no longer just an add-on. It is a very large part of your company. Anything that is posted via social media from your corporate account represents your company. It is the quickest way to talk to your fan base.

If you tweet it, they will read it. Really think about that. We need to choose wisely when allowing someone to run your social media accounts. They speak for the entire brand. I cannot stress that enough. The reason I am focusing on this so much is because of a few recent instances of social media neglect. This neglect leads to a whole lot of crisis management. Here are two examples:

  1. Kitchenaid’s presidential election woes. The perpetweeter, person who tweets for a company and commits a social crime,  thought they were logged into their own personal profile. They were wrong. Logged into the company account, they continue on a derogatory rant about President Obama tagging #nbcpolitics via @KitchenAidUSA. Read the entire story here. This is where you must separate work and home life. Up until this point it seems as if a majority of social media is being updated by lower level coordinators instead of strategic thinkers. Although Kitchenaid did a good job cleaning up this mess, it was tweeted and it was read.
  2. Kim Kardashian inspired “Aurora” dress from Celeb Boutique. The shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “Dark Knight Rises” was a horrible tragedy. The perpetweeter updating the Celeb Boutique twitter profile had no idea what had happened. They saw ‘Aurora’ as a trending topic and without looking into it further tweeted about the Kim Kardashian inspired Aurora dress. Read the entire story here. Before you make comments that can affect an entire company you must at least do a small amount of background research. It was tweeted and it was read.

With our evolving digital landscape there needs to be someone highly qualified sending out the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and anything else that touches your target audience. You should treat this as carefully as you would treat a press release or press conference. Just because a person has a Facebook profile doesn’t make them a social media guru. It doesn’t matter what age the person running your social media is. All that matters is the experience that they have and the intimate understanding of your business and industry. Do your research and select a qualified person(s) to update your social accounts. Make sure this person understands your brand and maintains the professionalism your brand deserves. The time to act on this is before something happens.

What steps will you take to make sure your social media coordinator is qualified?