Using Comics In Annual Reports To Cut Clutter

Credit: Loew's Annual Report via BusinessWeek.com

Credit: Loew’s Annual Report via BusinessWeek.com

In Bloomberg Businessweek April 22 – 28, 2013, a story about a comic book as an annual report was fetching enough to inspire this morning’s article. 

 The funny thing was, I read the name of the corporation using a comic book to inform shareholders as Lowe’s, my favorite giant hardware, lawn and garden store. Alas, the brand is Loews, just a transposition error.

 Loews is a holding company for hotels, sells business insurance, and produces energy. Imagine writing an annual report for a company as diverse as this.

 Its comic book annual report, also being called a graphic novel, stars Lotta Value, an investment hunter, who gallivants around Loews’s holdings and business units on adventures.

The creative team obviously had to think harder for this one. One critic of comic books in the article said the illustrations are “dead.” I’m impressed, but who am I?

Earned Media

Actually, I’m most impressed with the public relations team that earned nearly a two-page spread in Bloomberg Businessweek for Loews’s first foray into comic books as an annual report; complete with all the illustrations used in the “13-page graphic novel.”  

Corporate communications teams that write annual reports need to dig up inspired creativity to cut through communications clutter for shareholders, stakeholders and other interested audiences.  

 Using comics, however, is a crapshoot. Just the drawings alone have to be remarkable. For a corporation as diverse as Loews, the illustrations and copywriting have to be way above on the creatosphere.  It boils down to whether the concept appeals or if the communications team just doesn’t care.

 Bloomberg Businessweek’s take on all this is pretty believable, so I’m going with that:

 “The bottom line: Loews wants to attract more individual investors to its stock, which has returned an average of 16 percent annually for the past 50 years.”

 Using drawings and stories for annual reports means the company is ready to take a few risks and keep on going. With the birth of PI Lotta Value, the corporate communications team has a whole lotta (heh) opportunity to develop more communications vehicles featuring these cartoons. 

 I wonder if Lotta Value will become the next inspiration for a new TV series ala The Walking Dead? 

 The-Walking-Dead-Michonne.jpg

Michonne of The Walking Dead
Enhanced by Zemanta

10 Tips Why To Appoint A Social Media Executor

Fatality and happenstance are occurring faster than furious these days. What does that mean for we in social media who are engaged more than frequently every single day of the year?

If you blog that means you have at least the Big Five channels on which you engage. You then have a second-tier list of additional apps and channels on which you’re building community, too (e.g. Instagram, GoodReads, Zemanta).

Should ever your unexpected demise occur, have you thought of how your online community should receive this news in an appropriate fashion? There is a grapevine on the Interwebz.

When our colleague, Trey, left this world of his own volition several years ago, it was horrifying to us all, and the gossip mill was alive and too well with untruths. No one took control of his blog or channels to set the record straight.

It is our responsibility to pave our pathway to the future with golden bricks; leave a legacy that keeps people speaking about you in high regard. What that means is we should not leave too many loose ends; this includes our online persona, brand identity and the many core communities we’ve established, grown and now nurture.

This entire post came to me last night, out of the blue. I have done no research to ensure what I write below is accurate; these are my own ideas. If you have others to share instead or in addition, please do. Perhaps there are services and apps people can use, too.

10 Tips Managing/Being A Social Media Executor

1. Look around your community. Is there anyone you really trust and have also had privilege of meeting IRL? Do you engage with them weekly, and is that relationship solid? Pick someone and broach this conversation. Ask them if they would be your social media executor.

2. Give them the log in information to your blog. Provide a set of instructions and expectations, as well. You should give them the name of your estate executor (at this time) so as to expect a phone call (hopefully not for decades).

3. In your will (do you have a will, peeps?), add this person’s name and contact information so the executor of your estate can reach them immediately and share the news with factual information.

4. Write The Final Post and add it to your blog dashboard in DRAFT form only. Ignore it!

5. When your social media executor gets the news, have them publish “The Final Post.” I’d also suggest the social media executor add an addendum to the post.

6. Write a draft blog post entitled, “NEVER POST THIS; for Social Media Executor.” In this piece, you will share the log in information for all the social media channels on which you engage.

7. The social media executor will communicate with the estate executor and plan how to announce on each channel that the owner of this identity will no longer be posting.

8. Give communities the opportunity to express their sentiment on that person’s channel. The social media executor will know how to communicate with each community and allow people the opportunity to share and ask questions.

This step is so critical, but maybe that’s my view and others may not agree.

9. Write down your expectation about how you’d like people to know such news. If you want to abruptly close channels with no intermittent period, then say so.

10. Have the social media executor close accounts as appropriate after communicating with the family and/or estate executor.

(Quick P.S.: The title is awkward as the 10 items are more “about” how, whether to appoint, how to be one and so there wasn’t a great way to express; hopefully you got the gist!)

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Google, Frommer’s, Zagat and Content Marketing

from +Amanda Blain

Did you see the news? Google is carrying forth with its strategy to become a content marketer with the latest acquisition of Frommer’s travel guides for $25 million. In the world of travel guides, I wonder if that’s a lot of money? When you look at what Facebook paid for Instagram; it’s peanuts.

I, for one, love Frommer’s. It’s my travel guide of choice along with Lonely Planet. Last year, Google bought Zagat Reviews, and you begin to see the strategy unfold with its launch, too, of Google Flight Search.

Talk about becoming content kingpin in the travel and hospitality industry over night, eh?

So, what does this say about search engine Google now owning hot travel sites where hotter content rules? Because it can, it is diversifying in a sector that caters to a wide demographic from teens and tweens to mommies, business folk, seniors and great seniors.  How smart is that for a strategic move?

I don’t have to tell you that Google has opened up new and huge opportunity and successfully diversified its interests; much to the chagrin of Yelp and Yahoo!

What’s Your Google Strategy?

Here are some tips you might parlay in your own neck of the woods:

  •  If you’re @RalphDopping or @PattySwisher who work in the architectural fields, perhaps their firms might join forces with a construction company or launch their own. Small construction is still a good bet (versus building high-rise office structures), and perhaps architects can earn a greater piece of the pie.
  • If you’re @KaarinaDillabough who works as a business and life coach, is there a way to boost business by developing killer content that encapsulates tips for the stressed mommy entrepreneur? She can build a new channel that way; open new doors.
  • If you’re @NeicoleCrepeau who owns Coherent Interactive, a digital web shop with marketing analytics, perhaps she could partner with Soulati Media, which brings solid PR experience to marketing teams.
  •  Adam Toporek diversified his brand; I watched the whole thing. He decided to refocus his brand new blog on customer service and went dark awhile as he rebuilt the site and now targets content specific to that topic. Now, when I write my customer service stories, I always shoot them to him as they fit better on his blog than mine.  What’s he done? Become a content expert in that sector, just like Google is doing in hospitality and travel.

Very cool.

Migrating PC To Mac 2

I ran a Q&A with Mark Robins, CEO of Lawyer Locate in Canada, about his company’s migration to Mac from Windows. Using Apple Care, his migration was easy peazy lemon squeezy. Heh; have always wanted to use that in a blog post.

As for me, let me set up a back story and see if you agree with how I’m transitioning:

  • PR/marketing professional with a Business-to-Business Social Media Marketing virtual firm.
  • Operating Windows XP work station, about three years old with two external hard drives, home to a near-daily blog with lots of photos, client files, accounting, and gosh knows what else.
  • Outlook in box filled with 10,000 emails and an out box of 5,000. Outlook folders of archives from 2009 and beyond for clients.

I bought the iMac, now affectionately called Big Mac, with a Time Capsule, track pad, keypad with numerals, and Windows for Mac without Outlook. Set up was a breeze, except I thought the Time Capsule was a modem; in fact it was an external hard drive. I think it can be a modem, though, and that’s what had me confused with the set up.

Before I took Big Mac out of the box, I called Geek Squad twice and spoke with  others who had already migrated. I decided to run two operating systems in order not to miss anyone or any file. Problem was, my PC was infected with a Trojan virus, 257 threats and registry issues. Geek Squad fixed it in four hours one night while I watched, took a nap and got back up to work again at 1:30 a.m.

With the PC fixed, I could set up Big Mac with three email accounts (easy) and as needed, began to email files from the PC to myself on Big Mac. On day two of using both computers, I was typing emails on one screen while on the phone, hunting for files on the PC, and turning to Big Mac to work and send the file.

My thought is not to migrate all my files over to Big Mac, but to keep a PC so as to be able to access files from the external hard drive as needed.  And, if kidlet needs Windows at school instead of Mac, well, then she can be compatible. I decided not to use Outlook; it was one of the main reasons I needed a new computer — too many bugs and issues and so frustrating. I’m using iMail synchronized with Gmail, and the calendar is working fine with Outlook invites hitting the timeline no problem.

I’m so excited about the potential of Mac with movies, photo editing, Power Point and more. If I can ever get the font resolution to rectify that will be wonderful, but I have to remember, it’s only day two.

And, one final thing — I anticipate many more professionals and individuals and families migrating to Mac prompted by iPhone and iPad synchronization with the primary computer. That’s another solid reason I made the switch.

Thanks to @Geoff Reiner for sharing his resource about Mac here via Dan Rodney. Thanks, too, to Greig Sutherland of Arb-Aid in Denmark for his book recco, Mac At Work. I’m all ears!

Migrating PC to iMac

The most challenging tech experience of all has begun; I’m migrating from PC (Windows XP, a life-time user) to Mac. The iMac, named Big Mac, sat in the box two weeks because I was in fear of how best to begin. I’ll keep you informed of my tips and tricks along the way, but I thought it best to ask the experts who have already graduated from this experience.

Today’s special guest is Mark C. Robins, CEO of Lawyer Locate, a Canadian firm that does exactly as its name suggests. Mark is one of the most generous Twitter pals on Earth. Nary a Friday goes by when he isn’t doling out #FF greetings, and I love him for that.

My questions have multiplied since I wrote this; the Big Mac was still safely ensconced in its box. Today is day two of the experience, and my head is swimming. Mark is going to help me and you, too:

What is the first tip you’d offer someone migrating from PC to Mac?

If possible let Apple transfer all your PC files and programs for you; there may be a small cost if you did not Buy “Joint Venture” but well worth it to have the experts do it.

If you have an external hard drive that houses photos, music, files and Outlook email what do you recommend for files migration?

Again same as the previous answer let Apple do it for you. In Canada it is simple to take your Mac and drive to the Apple Store Genius Bar (make an online appointment first) and they will do the rest, sometimes while you wait.

Are there resources you used when you/your company migrated over? Sites, links, apps that make it easier?

Sorry to sound like a broken record but we did a great deal of research into this and found that even our PC IT people recommended letting Apple do it. In our case we have four iMac’s to set up and they took care of all the transfers and set up over a single weekend.

Here is the link to joint ventureJayme Note: I bought three years of Geek Squad, Ask An Agent, and I want to say I have called several times and am duly impressed. They will take remote control of my PC or Mac and do all the set up for me.

On a scale of 1-10, how hard is this migration? How long do you expect it to take?

It took 1 weekend at the Apple store to completely migrate all our PC data and  programs. We opted to use “VM Virtual Machine for our Windows stuff.

Talk about iMail vs. Outlook? Compatibility? Best way to migrate files or archives?

There were some issues at first with bringing over PST files and the iMail does not have as many pretty bells and whistles. In the end, we have found iMail much better and more stable than Outlook. There’s also the issue of ease of use with our iPhones , iPads etc. We chose to use PST Converter Pro to import our Outlook PST files.

I’m already going to run Windows for Mac, but not Outlook. What other software is recommended to ensure compatibility?

VM ware Fusion is what we use and it works great; there’s a bonus of faster speeds as it uses 100% of your RAM to run the windows program so no bogging down, and easy switching between Mac and windows.

I’m thinking I’ll always need to keep a Windows computer/laptop handy to access external hard drives’ files; what do you think about that?

No need at all! You can have all your PC and Mac files on the same iMac hard drive and I suggest you invest in a Mac “Time Capsule” back up drive.

What advice can you give someone without an IT department migrating on his/her own? (I’m thinking it’s “have patience!”)

At the beginning I suggested that you use Apple care, Genius Bar and Joint Venture. The Apple support is second to none and I highly recommend using them when you have issues or problems. You will no longer need an IT person or company. With Apple they take care of you from beginning to end and everything in between.

Making the change was a huge fear for me but once we started there has been no looking back. I cannot imagine ever going back to PC-based computing and even now I rarely use the Windows side of my iMac. There’s really nothing there that I can’t do with an Apple App.

Enjoy the new way of computing, Jayme, one without blue screens and crashes!