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All posts for the month February, 2012

On Vomit and Irish Jigs

Published February 21, 2012 by jcrosland

Vomit.

Flash mob Irish jigs.

V-day rose ambush (and no, the “v” does not stand for victory).

These are a few of the many topics discussed by Buffalo.com guest speaker Sarah Jean (sp?). A multi-media journalist, Jean manages content on both the one site and another site, IrishCentral.com. The former is geared toward a Buffalo-lovin’ audience, highlighting events and stories from the city. She describes it as the “wacky little brother” of The Buffalo News. Which is true, given the nature of the website. Odd colorful monsters adorn the site’s banner.

The latter site showcases all things Irish dance, including its cultural background, current/upcoming events, and news snippets.

Jean then discussed the importance of voice. When writing for the Web, s/he should always consider his or her audience. After all, what may be appropriate for one group of readers may agitate another. The content must match the author’s intentions. It would be disastrous to post something that either a) doesn’t get his or her message across clearly, or b) conveys the exact opposite of what the author intended. Consider the controversial racial slur regarding Jeremy Lin (a “chink in the armor”).

I thought that there was little distinct between the voices Jean uses for Buffalo.com and IrishCentral.com. Sassy vs. friendly, bubbly vs. supportive. In a way, Jean’s little compare/contrast was more confusing than it meant to be. However, one must remember that she self-admittedly completed the presentation mere hours before it was to be held.

And speaking of presentations…

Jean did a superb job despite time limitations. It came across as relatively professional, though a bit stark at times in terms of presentation. However, the content within said-presentation made up for the lack of flashy PowerPoint graphics (because I, like, totally LOVE creative Power Points). She showed the class several examples of the power of social media, from the Jean-ology timeline to a gross-out eating competition video posted on Facebook (because it was deemed too “edgy” for Buffalo.com proper).

It never crossed my mind that one could post content on multiple social media formats. I mean, uploading videos to his or her blog seems commonplace. Using Facebook or YouTube as a means to post “questionable” or “bonus” content simply didn’t occur to me.

*hears the light bulb go DING!*

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Internet Killed The Newspaper Star

Published February 14, 2012 by jcrosland

Ann, a NU professor and The Buffalo News employee, spoke to my Writing for the Web class about how social media effected her job. It’s difficult to think that, once upon a time, The Buffalo News didn’t even have a website. Yowza!

As I stared on blankly, wondering if two Celexa pills was one too many, I made some sense of what the speaker was saying. Thanks to the advent of social mediums like Twitter and Facebook, Ann’s workload is now  twice as much: take notes,

and type up a story,

and blog,

and tweet,

and maybe make a video or two.

That is a lot of work. I understand the advantages of social media. No longer are there waiting times for the story to hit the press. The exchange of information is immediate. Everybody knows everything two seconds ago. Blink and suddenly last hour’s news seems ancient. Furthermore, editing is a snap. Whereas with traditional print mediums, in which errors (i.e. incorrect facts, misspellings) demand a reprint, digital mediums can be fixed quickly, no fuss. Also, the demand for newspapers and magazines is slipping. People prefer reading current events on his or her laptop or mobile device.

I can’t remember the last time I actually LOOKED at a newspaper. Sad, but true.

 

 

Originality and Identity in the Awfully Big World of Content

Published February 7, 2012 by jcrosland

"Who am I? And where am I going?"

If you plan on getting involved in social media any time soon (and you probably already have…Facebook, anyone?), then you should pick up a copy of Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s Content Rules. This book provides readers with a stylish and informative run-down of all things social media. This includes how to create:

  • Killer blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • And more…

These are designed to “engage customers and ignite your business” (no guarantees). Upon first glance, the book is a bore-fest. Unless you’re a communications studies major fresh outta college looking for ways to make it big (monetary or attention-wise) on the wide ol’ Net, Rules reads a lot like a how-to manual disguised in an informal writing style. It’s educational, and the footnotes can be humorous, but it’s simply not this English major’s cup of tea.

Having said that, I’d like to point out a few good, err, points that Handley and Chapman make in chapters three and four titled “Insight Inspires Originality” and “Who Are You?” respectively.

*gasp* Shame on you, Marvel Animation! -_-

How to NOT Be Like Marvel Animation (see above image)

Chapter three is titled “Insight Inspires Originality” for a reason. Handley and Chapman lay down some ground rules and advice on how to make your content (whatever it may be) stand apart from your competition. After all, who wants second place?

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Whom are you trying to reach?
  2. Where do they spend their time online?
  3. How do they access the Web?
  4. What are they craving?
  5. What do you want them to do?
  6. What content do you already have?
If you can’t answer numbers one and two, then you should probably get off the Internet and start brainstorming. I feel that number three is an interesting question. How people access the Internet alters their perception of any given content. For example, cell phone Internet access can be limited based upon the make and model of a phone. My poor, sluggish, and outdated Rumor Touch can’t process videos or photos very well (if, at all). Thus I am cut off from the niche that CAN watch YouTube videos or comment on a person’s Facebook picture. Thus, I’m less apt to acquire content on the fly, being restricted to using more traditional methods of viewing content (meaning the laptop/PC/Mac/C64 if it’s modded).
Furthermore, people who are a part of said-niche are able to respond to content quicker, thus allowing for a greater volume of information sharing. Additionally, a social media pro can upload content on the go. Content has entered a new age. No more turning pages and looking at billboards for us.

Four is exceptionally important. If you don’t know what the people want, then how can you possibly begin to cater to their needs? Guesswork has long-since been a thing of the past. With social media sites like Twitter, it’s impossible to not know what people are thinking and feeling. You shouldn’t waste your time uploading content in a format that doesn’t resonate with a given audience. Do some research, experiment, and see what works best for both you AND your audience.

If you’ve done a good job, then your success will be based upon whether or not you’ve managed to:

  • Generate at least 100 mentions of [a] product online
  • Having more than 10,000 views of [a] video across all sharing platforms
  • Having 10 bloggers write positive posts about [fill in the blank]

Handley and Chapman distinguish these goals, which are quantifiable, from non-quantifiable goals. These include:

  • Generating a lot of buzz and conversation online
  • Having [a] video go viral
  • A-list influencers or Web celebrities talking about [fill in the blank] in positive ways

Now, unless you’re a business owner or employee concerned about number crunching, then the non-quantifiable goals sound pretty good. Well, they sound good to me. After all, star endorsement and video viral status are good ways to draw attention toward your content/product. It’s even better  when said-publicity and viral status earns you money-making deals down the road.  The end of the chapter wraps up with methods of measuring success by content type (i.e. blogs, photos/videos). Certain content types operate differently. For example, the success measuring stick for blogs entails the number of subscribers, inbound links (ahoy!), comments, and the presence of social validation (ex. Blah-Blah liked [your page] on Facebook). By contrast, ebooks have only the number of downloads as a means to judge content popularity.

Moving on!

WHO ARE YOU?

Who are you? What are you? Are you a human? A robot? Trustworthy? Deceitful? Funny? Morose? Stiff? Boring? A slacker? A thinker?

People want to know who you are. They want to see that spark of originality shine through the content you upload. This is a difficult aspect of social media. Standing out in a coded sea of what could be billions is nigh-impossible…unless you bring something new to the table. Here’s what Handley and Chapman have to say:

  • Be human
  • Lighten up
  • Be appropriate for your audiences 
  • Build on your own brand
  • Differentiate from the pack of bland
  • Know who you’re talking to…and how to talk to them
  • Take a stand
  • Your voice should be authentic

Blah-blah-blah blabbity-blah.

“Be human” is a biggie for me. Too many times have I sat in a class, behemoth textbook opened before me, befuddled by the mysterious words scrawled upon its stark white sheets because, simply put, it was too complicated to understand. Now, I’m no dummy. Four years on the Dean’s List and two honors societies under my figurative belt prove my intelligence. However, college-level texts are, and forever shall remain, a challenge to my 80’s pop culture trivia-addled brain. Why must authors use such big words when smaller, more well-known ones are available.

*sigh* But, I digress.

Point three is definitely important. Always remember your audience. It would be disastrous to post racy content without a warning, especially when your site is frequented by minors and the impressionable. Likewise, you shouldn’t post something that will clash with the moral fiber of your audience. Shy away from controversy UNLESS that is your intent, I believe.

“Take a stand” is also an important point. Dare to be different. Defend your content. If someone doesn’t like it, then question them. See what can be changed to suit their needs, but only follow through with such if you’re prepared to compromise. Otherwise, never settle, and don’t sell out on your values. This is, after all, your content.

Buy the book here at amazon.com!

Amy Winehouse coroner resigns, family seeks advice

Published February 1, 2012 by jcrosland

(Adapted from The Buffalo News)

Amy Winehouse’s coroner Suzanne Greenaway resigned due to her questionable qualifications, her boss said Wednesday. Consequently, another investigation regarding the singer’s death may be held.

Winehouse’s relatives say they are seeking legal advice.

In October,  Greenaway ruled the soul singer’s death at her London home in July accidental via alcohol poisoning.

Formerly an assistant deputy coroner in London in 2009, Greenaway resigned in November of that same year because she had not been a registered U.K. lawyer for five years as required by law. She practiced law for a decade in Australia.

“I believed at the time that her experience as a solicitor and barrister in Australia satisfied the requirements of the post,” says Andrew Reid, Greenaway’s husband. “In November of last year it became apparent that I had made an error in the appointment process and I accepted her resignation.”

Reid possibly broke professional guidelines by appointing his wife as one of several deputy assistant coroners.

Of the 12 inquests Greenaway oversaw, one of these included is the north London borough where Winehouse lived. Reid says he was “confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly”–but offered to withhold these inquests over again if the families of the deceased desire such.

Winehouse’s family is uncertain as to what to do. The family states it is “taking advice on the implications of this and will decide if any further discussion with the authorities is needed.”

Winehouse’s inquest can be ruled null and void if her family opposes the court’s verdict. On Wednesday, her father, Mitch, appeared to downplay the likelihood, tweeting: “Don’t worry about coroner nonsense. We are all OK.”

Winehouse was found dead in her bed by a security guard on July 23 at her Camden home. The 27-year-old singer was most famous for her distinctive beehive hairdos and multiple Grammy-winning album “Back to Black.” She was also known for her alcohol and drug woes.

Though she is praised by fans worldwide for her distinct voice and style, said-praises were often overshadowed by damaging headlines regarding her bizarre behavior and unhealthy relationships. The singer expressed her inner demons in popular songs such as “Rehab” and “Love is a Losing Game.”