The New York International Auto Show opened its doors this weekend to the public and we were on-site earlier in the week with the Synaptic Digital production crew to support General Motors during the press days. We conducted two satellite media tours for GM, with their spokesperson James Bell speaking to the media about the state of the auto industry and how the new GMC cars are equipped to handle safe pet travel.
It was at the show that we met pet expert Charlotte Reed, who we then invited to our Atlanta office to meet our office dogs at a special Canine & Human happy hour! Be sure to check out the photos on our Facebook page. GM's big reveal came around lunchtime when the press gathered at the North Pavillion to see what's new....and the Camaro Z/28 rolled onto the stage to a big round of cheers and applause. Other hot cars included the 2014 Corvette Stingray, the Cadillac CTS and the Buick Regal.
Kia brought the KIA Soul hamsters with them as well as the whole Marvel crew with a Green Lantern car, Batman car, and Wonder Woman car.
Other auto brands at the show included Bentley, Rolls Royce, VW, Lamborghini, Lexus, Toyota and BMW. You can see some more photos in the slideshow below.
Since HBO's launch of www.jointherealm.com, a site that allows fans of the popular show Game of Thrones to create their own house sigil, hundreds of thousands of fans have generated their own coat of arms and shared them across social media channels, stirring up excitement for Season 3, which premiered last night. Check out what we created as well as some of our favorite brand and celebrity sigils below and be sure to Join the Realm and create your own family arms at www.jointherealm.com. What are some of your favorites that you've seen this week? What does your house sigil look like? Share it with us in the comments.
How do you FedEx a Panda? No, it’s not one of those unusual Google suggestions and it is not the opening line of a joke. But FedEx does have the answer to the question – put them on a chartered and a panda-decaled aircraft and spread the panda fever around the world. For the latest 3 pairs of pandas that have been relocated from China to Edinburgh, Paris and now Toronto, our team has followed the trail and has captured some amazing footage along the way. The love of pandas has taken over the wires as well with media internationally putting the spotlight on panda conservation efforts (and how undeniably adorable they look).
The latest panda pair, Er Shun (female) and Da Mao (male), arrived in Toronto on March 25 – flying first class with plenty of bamboo to snack on during their 15 hour flight and all the attention of a group of vets and the FedEx team. They were chosen as an excellent genetic match for breeding and Toronto Zoo officials hope that they will be able to add the dwindling world population of pandas.
As the saying goes, "A picture is worth ten thousand words." And in social media, no truer words were spoken. With a plethora of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, the power of visual marketing is abundant. In fact, Facebook has more photos uploaded than Flickr, Instagram and even the Library of Congress. So how can brands harness this power and gain more brand affinity and engagement through visual marketing? The truth is, most marketers are missing the point.
We have a lot of bad habits from our traditional media practices that we hold onto that are really ineffective in this new medium. It seems like mass media, but the rise of social networks and digital media has created an opportunity to create real and meaningful dialogue with our audiences on a one-to-one level through technology. That technology has become ever-present and critical component to everything we do. But while the technology is key to distribution, the story is what matters to the audience. And this is something we must not take lightly. Combine that with the right visuals in photos, videos, infographics, and you're onto something.
So how to you get there? First you have to uncover the underlying motivations of why people share in the first place. To give value and entertainment to others, to provide a sense of who we are, to stay connected and build relationships with others, to create personal involvement and stay connected with others, and to persuade others to care about what we care about.*
*Source: NYTimes Customer Insight Group study
It's the content, in the right context, that will ultimately drive conversation. The intersection of where you (as a brand) can share what you want to say and what they (as your audience) are interested in consuming. Relevance is key to great content. Timing is also extremely important. You must consider how the consumer is bombarded with content and navigate the right communication path to ensure your content gets seen, heard, read and shared.
To address which visual platforms would work best for your brand, it would be best to ask yourself these questions - What are your brand's goals? What are your brand's resources? Where is your brand's audience?
Then you can decide which platforms make the most sense for your brand's content.
Here's the lowdown on the platforms:
Pinterest: Reflects aspirational desire and "want" - intent to purchase with aethesthically beautiful photos. For Brands - huge opportunity to express brand ideals, authenticity and style.
Instagram: It's about art, not ads. Be the brand, not the product. Fuels into other networks so use as an opportunity to cross-promote.
Tumblr: Blogging platform; social network; content distribution platform - use when you are trying to young adults. Most popular with 13-25 year olds. "Facebook is where teens and young adults connect with family and friends - Tumblr is where they connect with like-minded people about topics they care about" - Tim Peter
• Use images that are beautiful/eye-popping/funny/inspirational/emotional/relatable/shareable (that you have rights to) and distribute them across social platforms
• Think about streams: timing of publishing and catching people’s attention
You don’t have to win The Super Bowl to have an excuse to go to Disney World in February, you just have to keep tabs on the Ragan Communications’ Events calendar. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of beautiful, sunny days with a few hundred of the best and brightest minds in communications last week at the 6th Annual Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The conference featured presentations from communications professionals at Disney Parks, The Phoenix Suns, Whole Foods, Google, ESPN, Southwest Airlines, Marvel, Microsoft and Zappos to name a few.
I was fortunate enough to participate in a panel discussion about how brands can use Pinterest for Storytelling. The panel featured Whole Foods’ Michael Aaron Bepko, Global Online Community Manager; Samantha Hosenkamp, Social Media Director of Ragan Communications, and Kevin Dando, Director of Marketing Communications for PBS.
As a supplement to the ideas I shared during the lively discussion (thanks to everyone that turned out to pack the room during our session), here are 6 tips brands can use to leverage Pinterest for brand storytelling:
1. Incentivize Your Community to Participate - consider sponsoring contests and promotions to reward your community for generating content on the platform. For example, start a "Pin It to Win It" campaign where Pinners - users who pin specific images related to your brand. Everyone that pins within the guidelines of your promotion are entered to win a prize or some recognition for their efforts. Perhaps the winner serves as your Pinterest brand ambassador or gets some more formal role for a period of time (e.g. summer intern for your brand).
2. Tell Your Story Over Time - use a Pinterest board like you would time-lapse photography or a flip book to tell your story. Do you own a pumpkin patch you want people to come to this fall? Start by pinning images of you unpacking the seeds, planting the seeds, watering the seeds, watching the seeds sprout, etc. - tell the story of pictures all the way through families coming out to your pumpkin patch to get their prized selections. You can do this over the course of a long period of time, or you can do it in a day - for example, show images of your upcoming road race starting with setting up the course, runners starting to pile in each hour, people running the race, and the first and last people to cross the finish line. There are endless opportunities for using images over a designated period of time like this.
3. Guess The Picture - ask your audience a trivia question, with an image-based question. For example, guess the destination we're sending one lucky winner too. Take a picture of the event and cut it up into 20 different images. Post different pieces of your image puzzle over the course of the contest and enter all correct guessers into a drawing to win - then pin a picture of the winner receiving their prize.
4. New Product Launches - there's no rule that says you can't use your Pinboards to promote the products or services you sell. When you get in a fresh batch of your latest product, why not pin an image of those products going onto the shelves? Come in and get yours before they're all gone. Feel free to update the board as your limited supply leaves the shelves - you just might drive in-store traffic. You can do the same with sale items, clearance items or event items that you sell online. Show images of your trucks being loaded with product heading out to all your retail stores if you're a wholesaler. Customers buy from you, why not remind them what they buy?
5. It's Okay to Be Fun and Goofy - you don't have to be serious with everything on Pinterest. Consider putting a funny or witty spin on the drab and boring stuff some might perceive about your business. GE does a great job of this with their "Big Ass Machines" board. They show pictures of, well, big ass machines they manufacture. They could have called the board something more descriptive (and boring), but we wouldn't be talking about it. What do you joke about inside the company that people outside your company wouldn't know about? That type of stuff can be gold on Pinterest.
6. Pay It Forward - it's not all about you. Consider sharing content from other brands' boards to generate interest for your own brands. Are you inspired by the products and services other brands post on their boards? Create a board of your inspirations or things you love and share it with your community. Those brands - and the people enjoying your curated content - will reward you by sharing your content. Pay it forward.
BONUS: here's a bonus tip for you… are you looking for clever images to include with your blog posts? Embed an image from your Pinterest board as the visual to complement your next blog post. You'll drive traffic to your Pinterest boards from your blog - but you'll also attract new readers to your blog from Pinterest.
What ideas do you have for telling your brand stories via Pinterest? How can your favorite brands leverage Pinterest to make their content more interesting and engaging? What are you doing on Pinterest that our readers would be interested in? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Want more about Pinterest? Check out these Definition 6 resources:
Detroit has been famous for its fair share of music legends and automotive legacy with cars still firmly defining the city’s identity. The North American International Auto Show which takes place in the Motor City at the beginning of January continues to bring in the crowds from all over the US and the rest of the world. With sales figures on the rise and the US providing most of the orders for new Bentley cars, NAIAS was the perfect place for the company to launch a new high luxury car: the GT Speed Convertible, the fastest 4-seater cabriolet in the world.
Definition 6 was there to support the launch by delivering global broadcast coverage through production and distribution of b-roll, live press conference coverage and live interviews. Our team succeeded in placing 17 satellite and 5 on site interviews in US and international media. CNBC auto industry reporter Phil LeBeau was at the Bentley stand to discuss with Christophe Georges, President and COO of Bentley Motors Americas, the increasing sales figures and how Americans are rewarding themselves again. AFP and DAF also reported on the success story – in English, French and German. And Foxnews.com discovered what a $300,000 car look like.
You can watch a roundup of Bentley’s activities at Detroit here and check out a gallery of photos from the show below.
It may be cold outside but it was HOT in Detroit for the 2013 Detroit Auto Show for the reveal of the new Corvette! Journalists and attendees from around the world gathered earlier this week to preview the release of the 2013 models. Besides the excitement over the Corvette, the Cadillac ATS (our client) won North American Car of the Year.
Here are some pics with journalists and other media reporters pouring over the new Corvette:
The Definition 6 and Synaptic Digital team (including Paul Hernacki, Michael Kogon, Julia, and Chris) even had dinner with Wolfgang Puck!
CES 2013 is amazing so far. A great number of people from all different industries have gathered here in Las Vegas as we watch this moment of transformation together in the world of technology. If the last 3 years have each been "the year of mobile", then 2013 is shaping up to be the year of smart. Smart, connected devices are everywhere. Cars are connected, appliances are connected, my guitar is connected--I even found a fork that is connected. It has been a great show so far, and it is still early on. Keep an eye out for more exciting things to come from CES 2013.
The wait is almost over – Downton Abbey’s Season 3 premieres in January 2013. To generate buzz for this, we worked with PBS on Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey to create a 5 minute recap video of seasons 1 and 2, which launched on their website earlier this week.
The goal was to create a shareable video that would tap into the existing fan base of really loyal fans, but also engage and entice new fans from a wider demographic to get a glimpse into the dramatic storyline.
This web-only video presented the interesting challenge of compressing more than 19 hours of programming into 5 minutes. The team at Definition 6 screened all the episodes, created character outlines, segmented storylines and wrote the voiceover script to incorporate with the sound bites from the footage. Culling the episodes down to the bare essentials was not easy with a show as rich in story and character as Downton Abbey. It helped that the voiceover is written in a casual American style that plays well in contrast to the show clips, allowing more of the show’s character and personality to come through. The viewer is drawn in by the rapid narrative and quick cut highlights.
When a crisis hits like the recent Hurricane Sandy, social media becomes even more important and provides a way to mass communicate to friends and family, find out breaking information, and gives the ability to share details in real time, especially when the lights go out. As we witnessed on the East Coast this week, much of the communication during the storm happened via Twitter and Facebook, and on mobile devices. It’s hard to imagine what we did before.
But with so many without power, it does force us to use real human interactions to communicate -- neighbors meeting each other, helping one another out, sharing generators, and more - and to get through this trying time.
And while technology is extremely useful, it begs the question - do we rely on it too much?
Today’s technology allows us to be connected everywhere we go—but does it simultaneously disconnect us from our real surroundings? Our devices have an impact on social interactions and business communications. The rapidly increasing integration of technology into society has altered the way we interact on a daily basis, and it’s important to be aware of its implications. Even “the telephone call is a dying institution…Americans ages 18-29 send and receive an average of nearly 88 text messages per day, compared to 17 phone calls.” 
While seated in my big comfy chair at a coffee shop recently, I noticed a husband and wife walk in, holding hands. When they sat at the table, however, both individuals took out their iPhones and spent the entire visit on their phones. Once, at a nice Italian restaurant I watched a family of three during their meal. The father on his Blackberry, the mother on her iPad, and the son listening to music—for the whole meal, not one word was spoken except to the waiter.
Are you using technology to communicate with someone while ignoring a real human connection face-to-face? Of course making this substitution can be perceived as rude. However, it is important to look at communication technology as a means to an end. If we are using technology in order to arrange a face-to-face meeting, how could that be bad? If being able to communicate with someone even when they are not anywhere nearby brings you closer together, technology can be viewed as something that nurtures relationships, not creates distance within them.
Face-to-face meetings in business are ideal for productivity and clear communication, but how often is something less personal used as a replacement for a face-to-face meeting? With today’s technology, we may be losing the art of real conversation as we slip further into our devices as mean of communication. Effective conversation is critical to effective business. When used correctly, technology can nurture our communication abilities and teach us important lessons about making the right impressions.
Balance is to this, as it is to everything--the key. Finding the right balance is critical to a healthy and successful usage of technology. It is important to ask yourself—what am I ignoring while using technology? And—what do I have the potential to gain while using technology? The answers to these questions will help create boundaries in your real space, strike a natural balance, and help you to never forget the art of real conversation.
What do cats, carnival games, siamese twins and binders full of women have in common? Give up?
They all attended the Definition 6 NYC infamous Halloween party last week. The Carnival theme was prevalent from the moment you stepped off the elevator, with Miss Harvest Moon performing her contortionist act inside a 10 foot birdcage.
Full costume attire is almost a prerequiste for attending, and even our CEO got into the action. But for those who did not know the drill, we also had some awesome make-up artists there to help you get your face paint on.
The party had over 300 attendees from the creative and digital marketing industry from Sesame Street, HBO, Oxygen, TruTV, Nickelodeon, LexisNexis, Yahoo! and more. Sponsored by ExactTarget, Bootlegger Vodka and Sixpoint Brewery, the party was rocking into the wee hours of the morning to the sweet sounds of DJElle.
As always, the photobooth was a big hit, despite some mooners (which we've kindly edited out). Check out the photos from our NYC photobooth on our Facebook page, and our Atlanta Party here.
Here's a preview of the action from our Flickr page:
We’re excited to announce Definition 6’s acquisition of Synaptic Digital. This video explains more about the deal and the evolving communications model. You can read the full press release on our website.
“It’s all about content. Now, more than ever, brands need to find compelling ways to tell their story, to connect and engage with their audiences, and do it within the right context.
That’s why we’re excited to announce Definition 6’s acquisition of Synaptic Digital, an earned media and strategic content distributions company.
I’m Michael Kogon, CEO of unified marketing agency Definition 6, here with Nick Abramovich, CEO of Synaptic Digital, to let you know a little bit more about our newly combined companies and why this is unlike any offering you’ve seen before.
This will enhance Definition 6’s content marketing capabilities, nearly doubling the size of the agency, with global expansion in Europe and Asia.
Synaptic Digital excels in content marketing and has created an incredible platform to help brands and PR agencies gain exposure for their content. Combined with the digital marketing and brand storytelling capabilities we already have in place at Definition 6, our arsenal for content creation and distribution is even more robust.
Being a unified marketing agency, this acquisition aligns with our strategy for creating content for brands, in the right context, at the right time.
With consumers being able to access content from virtually anywhere, on any device, it’s increasingly more important for brands to tell their own stories in order to connect with their consumers.
The key is not only to create a brand message, but to place that content within the context of the audience. That is where the magic happens.
We help brands recognize the market opportunity, help them to create the right experiences for their consumer, strategically across the right channels, which leads to increased interactions and transactions.
This drives the conversation between consumers and helps spread the brand’s message – the heart of our unified marketing approach.
We’ve seen this model work for top brands like Coca-Cola, Mitsubishi Electric, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Facebook, HBO – where it’s not just about getting your message out, but it’s about establishing that personal relationship - emotional connection - with your consumers, at the right time.
By adding the distribution network TheNewsMarket.com, our agency’s clients will have more opportunities to distribute their message across traditional, digital and social media channels effectively.”
“We’re really looking forward to bringing together the strengths of our two companies.
Combining first class production and technology capabilities, marketing and PR disciplines improves our ability to create relevant content and distribute the content in the right context and ultimately to serve the marketplaces’ needs.
For our brand clients, having the digital marketing and high-end post-production capabilities of Definition 6 in tow, we’ll be able to deliver impactful content packages like never before.
For our PR agency clients, we’ll be leveraging Definition 6’s social media and digital expertise to better serve our agency partners and expand upon our offering beyond broadcast PR services.
The communications model is evolving. Understanding the earned, paid and owned media mix is critical, and more and more success is dependent on companies having the ability to create amazing content and enable distribution.”
“Brand storytelling is at the heart of what our companies do, which makes this acquisition beneficial for both. We can continue to create award-winning work for more brands, better, more efficiently and at a greater scale.
Content marketing is going to continue to be a growing factor in the coming years. And we’re preparing an agency equipped to help our clients succeed with a unique offering.”
Just this small collection of movies really drives home the fact that regardless of what product or service your brand offers and how you position it on Facebook, and other social media channels, every brand has a story to tell.
What's your brand story? Have you used Timeline Movie Maker for Pages to tell it? What other movies are you seeing out there? Post your comments below!
Recently I've been ruminating about social media with colleagues and friends, and I realized that the family dynamic has drastically changed with the evolution of technology, and behaviors we take in social media are very similiar to those that once around the water cooler in the office. For example, watching a primetime television show with your family can now involve tweeting, checking in, and chatting with others in real time about the show, whereas before, these conversations were limited to coversations taking place the next day at work.
In fact, social media provides such immediacy that the water cooler conversations have gone away and are taking place at the virtual "lounge" (aka Twitter, Facebook, other preferred social media platform).
In a recent Jack Myers blog I elaborate on this further, but it definitely has spurred some controversy among my networks.
When I posted the water cooler idea on my personal social media "stations" there were, of course, some contrarians. One said "You're still thirsty after using social media." (funny) But another was even more specific, saying, "I think the whole social media thing is over blown. There was no social media during Tiananmen Square. The Soviet Union fell without Twitter and Facebook. When freedom rings, the masses answer."
The world saw all that on TV not in the square or at the Wall. And everyone talked about it the next day. Not much changed in China, and the Wall didn't come down because of an outpouring of global social action through moral outrage and word of mouth...it came down because it was time, and Ronald Reagan said so!
Social media is now our most effective "word of mouth tool."
So let me ask you - do you agree with this water cooler analogy?
Depending on your age, you might (or might not) remember something called "Fan Clubs." Basically you paid a yearly membership fee and in return got special messages from the club, discounts and even free gifts from time to time. There were fan clubs for everything: sports teams, pop stars, swimsuit models, bands, TV shows, hobbies, popular toys... this list could go on and on. Personally I've been a member of fan clubs for Pearl Jam, Queensryche, Model Car of the Month, Beer of the Month, Ovaltine, Sweet Pickles and to be completely honest here, I was even a member of the Samantha Fox fan club for a couple years.
My favorite Samantha Fox song, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now".
We joined fan clubs because they made us feel special, especially at a young age. They brought us closer to brands, activities and people that we were passionate about. That postcard from Donald Duck, Yoda, Samantha Fox or Michael Knight had our name on it and gave us bragging rights at school. And good fan clubs, like Pearl Jam's Ten Club, gave fans exclusives like access to premium concert seating and free records. I remember getting a Pearl Jam fan club record called "Let Me Sleep" and bringing it to school. People were cutting class just to see it and none of us even owned a record player.
You've Got Mail... In a Few Months
But because fan clubs relied heavily on the US Postal Service and the printing process, communications between fans and the fan club administrators were spotty at best. Fan club newsletters were usually monthly, delivered via snail mail and didn't provide much opportunity for fans to respond or contribute to the club. Sure you could mail a letter to the fan club but would anyone read it? Respond? Would Yoda ever read my letter telling him that Santa brought me green and brown Yoda Underoos for Christmas? If he did, he never responded.
Yes they actually made green and brown Yoda Underoos.
Digital Technology Gives Fans a Bigger Community Voice
But as clubs started to adopt digital communication tools like email and web sites, fans finally got to have a voice in their own community. Content could be delivered to fans more frequently, the fan experience could include interactive web pages and fans could even directly communicate with other fans if the site had a forum or chat room. The introduction of Blogs in the early 2000's made things even easier. Fan club administrators didn't have to rely on website designers to update pages and format email newsletters anymore. Blogs were easy to write and could include images, audio and videos unlike forums and chat rooms. Blogs basically allowed anyone to be content creators. Some brands even started allowing fans to write blog posts. And the best part? Fans could react to this new frequent stream of content by simply writing blog comments.
Social Media and Real Time Conversations Between Fans and Brands
Fast forward a few years to today and social media has changed everything. Mass communication with a niche community, or even the entire planet, is now direct, easy and instant. Where a monthly printed newsletter might take weeks for a fan club administrators to produce and distribute, a single tweet composed by Lady Gaga from her phone after her sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden has the power to instantly reach millions, especially now that she's the first person to garner 10,000,000 followers. There are articles written about her social media success frequently, including an article posted hours after this blog was written!
And social media is a two-way street. Of course messages can be broadcast to a large audience. But the ability for fans to engage with celebrities and brands has never been easier thanks to social media. Instead of writing and mailing a letter to an anonymous fan club PO Box, fans can now use services like Twitter to Tweet directly and publicly with personalities.
Fans can also engage in conversations with other fans all over the world and give fan-created content a virtual thumbs up by "Liking" it or re-sharing it. The voice of the fan has never been louder or more influential. And some major brands like Coca-Cola are embracing this power. Coca-Cola (disclosure alert: Coca-Cola is a Definition 6 client) is leveraging the power of social media to let their Facebook fans manage, moderate and produce content for their own community. Coca-Cola still participates in fan conversations and community content creation, but their Facebook page allows any fan to post something on their wall. The community even moderates fan content. Inappropriate messages are flagged by the community. Not only does Social Media enable brands to instantly communicate with their communities, but it also allows brands to give an equal voice to that community.
The Layers Are Gone
Social Media has changed fandom forever. It has brought fans both closer to celebrities and brands, as well as each other. The multiple layers of communication are gone. The "fan club managers" who were hired by a PR company, which was hired by a record company, who only communicated with the band through their manager, can all be eliminated with Social Media. Many personalities, like Lady Gaga, have assumed the role of Community Manager and use social media to communicate and have conversations directly with their fans, and in their own voice. Seems like we've come a long way since decoder rings and Ovaltine.
"Imagine waking up and hearing an ad on TV for a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal, then checking your iPhone on the way to grab some coffee and seeing an e-mail for a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal. Then, when you fire up Pandora for your workout, you hear ads for a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal, while on your Yahoo! mail, you are served a banner ad for a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal, and then on the subway, signage for a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal, and on the billboard outside your office, and in online video ads, and then, as you check-in into the Shake Shack – Bam! You get a Foursquare Deal Near-By with - you guessed it - a $.99 Chicken Strip Meal."
For years this integrated marketing approach of delivering the same message across multiple platforms was considered a best practice, however in the "always on" device-driven world we live in today, consumers tend to respond better to advertising that is tailored to the platform and recipient - in essence, delivering a unified experience versus a consistent message.
To learn more about my thoughts on unified marketing, visit my recent post on MediaBizBloggers.
We are a unified marketing agency, connecting brands with people in motion. Through imagination, innovation and insight, we execute ideas that deliver continued value across all brand interactions - while unifying the disciplines of marketing and technology.