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Improv with the CIO

Improv with the CIO

Our Voice of the Customer marketing team has been exploring creative approaches for our customer interview videos.  At a recent CIO conference we asked a few adventurous executives if they would be willing to try something a little more entertaining.

Dinner with the CIO

At any C-level executive event, there is a lot of pressure on the events team to make sure everything goes smoothly.   The agenda is managed very closely, so we only had about 15 minutes for these interviews.   Thankfully, it was one of those wonderful occasions where everything went our way.  Our amazing events team worked with the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel staff to get us access to film in one of the restaurants during the day before it opened for dinner.   All of the CIOs were fabulous!  We had created just enough structure to the scene to make it easy to improvise, and they all seemed to have a fun time and enjoy the experience.

Ann Handley shares more of the backstory in her post, Humor and B2B Marketing:  A Love Story.

 

Sunset at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Forbes: How to Add Humor to Marketing

Forbes: How to Add Humor to Marketing

I had a fun visit with Ekaterina Walter for her Forbes article, B2B Marketing Does’t Have to Be Boring.  She cites the Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising which found that 47% of respondents agreed that humorous ads resonated the most.  We discussed a few brands, including B2B brands, that are successfully using humor to connect with their audiences.   One of my favorite is “Mr. W.”

Mr W

If you’re not following Ekaterina on Twitter already, you must in 2014.

Forbes_logo

Jimmy Kimmel FTW! Best Viral Video of 2013

I’m aware that it’s only September, but I’m going to go ahead and call it. Best social media video of the year goes to Jimmy Kimmel.   His prank video Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire! scored over 12 million views in less than a fortnight.  And what’s better, his reveal video has nearly 15 million views on YouTube in less than one week.

Kimmel told The New York Times that he and his team came up with idea and shot it several months ago, well before Miley Cyrus’s infamous twerking performance at  the MTV Video Music Awards.   Kimmel said he divided his writers into three teams and asked them to “come up with a video idea that would make national news without using the muscle of the show, our Facebook page, Twitter or YouTube channel.”

Jimmy Kimmel YouTube

SXSW Panel Picker Attack Ad

In the final week to vote for the best SXSW panels, the election turned ugly. Ann Handley and I have always committed ourselves to a higher standard until we read a something on the internet that said negative campaigning works.   We’ve submitted a session proposal to share a few simple ideas for producing stand-out content on a grad-student budget.  We’d be grateful for your vote (registration required) in the SXSW Panel Picker.

We’ll share some behind the scenes stories on creating content for the IBM Smarter Planet campaign, Cisco’s Webby Honoree documentary, and other low-budget / no-budget series.   We’ll also talk about how to use improv principles to inspire a continuous flow of ideas to fill the editorial calendar for you content marketing strategy.

Thanks for your consideration.

Improv Rules for the Conference Call – #INBOUND13

I studied improv under Amy Poehler at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater for two  years before she joined SNL.  While she’s the most brilliant improviser I’ve ever witnessed, she’s also one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, following only Ms. Reed, my sophomore Latin teacher in the stack rankings.   She has the gift of encouragement, and when you’re learning to perform The Harold — a long form improv format where a troupe perform a 30 minute show based on a single audience suggestion — encouragement is needed.

Some of the most terrifying moments in my life occurred in my early days of improv.  After learning a few simple principles, I began to feel comfortable stepping out on stage in front of a full audience with nothing but trust for my team and an empty mind, ready to discover the show.  I reluctantly began to understand what Del Close meant when he preached, “Follow the Fear.”

In the world of corporate communication and content marketing, it’s fear that keeps us from our best.  Fear to be different, fear of not getting promoted, fear of failure.  When I’ve applied the rules I learned in my corporate life, it’s lead to my biggest successes.   I’ll talk about three of these rules at #INBOUND13, Wednesday 12 noon, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  Swing by if you’re in town.  I’ll post the video when it’s live.

 

 

The Daily Show’s John Oliver on Big Risk Taking

John Oliver  talked to NPR about his summer experience of trying to fill adult clown shoes on ‘The Daily Show.’  He’s been a huge success, but I’m guessing when he received the invite, at least at one point, he had cold feet.

DailyShow_JohnOliver

For me, when big opportunity has knocked, I have refused to answer plenty of times,  feeling that I was unqualified.  But over the last 10 years, I’ve come to realize that feeling unqualified is a rare and precious certain sign that I should run through the door with reckless abandon.  It started with my first TV commercial, “Filibuster.”  More on that story on a future blog post.  As Del Close used to preach to improvisers, “Follow the fear.”

Oliver outlined his process for preparing to take on the big role.  These steps in FastCompany Co.Create should be used for anyone taking on a big endeavor in business, sports, life or baking, especially “Be ready to fail.” and also “watch unedited tapes of Stephen Colbert interviews.’

Congrats, Mr. Oliver.

From LaughSpin:  “John Oliver’s 10 best moments on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Sharknado: Social Media Gold

The only wisdom I have to offer at social media conferences is this:

BtoBsharks

But it works in B2B content marketing.  And this week, Hollywood confirmed this maxim, proving images of selachian fishes captivate an audience even without a good script or a decent story idea.  Nielsen pegs Sharknado’s TV audience at 1.4 million viewers, on par for other SyFy Channel original movies, which cost an average $1.5 million.  Syfy Digital SVP Craig Engler reported that  the hashtag #Sharknado appeared 387,000 times on Twitter on Thursday night, hitting 5,000 tweets per minute at its peak.  The social media success, including celebrity tweets, created press coverage for the film, and I would image helped to build a large audience that will make the film one of the most success reruns on the network.

Although the Dollar Shave Club’s CEO revealed to the WSJ All Things Digital that the critical success factor for a viral video is to use a bear,  Tina Fey clarifies which beast is best.

If we’ve learned anything from Shark Week on Discovery Channel and literary classic characters like JabberJaw, if you want content to connect with an audience, just add sharks.

Special thanks to  Oakley Boren for creating this image at the Social Media Explorer OC conference.

social media shark quote

Image by Oakley Boren

sharknado

 

UPDATE:

7/30/13 The Poke: Blog of the Day:  Sharks Make Movies Better.   Hat tip Oakley Boren

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Hader Retires from SNL, Joins T-Mobile

WSJ All Things Digital reports that comedy actor Bill Hader, who recently announced he’s retiring from Saturday Night Live after his ninth season, will be the new spokesman for the mobile telecom brand.  Hader got his big break when Megan Mullally saw him perform at an improv show and introduced him to Lorne Michaels.  For his SNL audition, Hader relied on the ol’ standby scene — James Mason ordering donuts with an expired gift certificate.

The funniest commercial in the series is “Rice,” which co-stars Brian Huskey, who was in my first improv class at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater.

I say bring back Catherine Zeta-Jones.

T-Mobile Mobile Makeover Commercial w/ Catherine Zeta-Jones.

 

Humanizing the Brand… It’s Not Rocket Science

We can send a person to the moon, but still struggle to humanize corporate brands.  NASA has successfully done both.   As BuzzFeed reports, a seven-and-a-half year-old aspiring astronaut named Dexter, submitted his cover letter and curriculum vitae visualized in a crayon infographic.  NASA responded by granting the youngster his first flush letter, and a bunch of other cool space stickers and photos.  Sometimes, it’s just that simple.

Dexter’s mom posted an image of the letter to Reddit yesterday, and it has over 200,000 views, plus coverage in The Huffington Post, Fast Company, and Abilene Public Radio.

I know this takes a little time and effort for a corporate communications or social media team to respond, but sometimes doing the right thing, albiet simple, can have a huge impact on a brand’s public image. For B2B brands, a good part of the social media budget and objective should be geared toward these type of engagements. It’s a much more efficient use of resources than over-analyzing ROI.

Not all brands can offer a potential future trip to outer space, but a simple reply creates a connection, which could lead to a deeper relationship. I remember being impressed when Nordstrom noticed my tweet.

I wasn’t quite as moved as when I received an auto-pen handwritten reply after writing my U.S. President when I was Dexter’s age, but a department store is no match for the charisma of William Taft.

9 Steps for Writing an Audience-Flattering TED Talk

The TED-O-Matic, by Bruce Feirstein, in Vanity Fair.

ted-o-matic

Last year The Onion debuted its TED satire.

If the TED-O-Matic doesn’t give you the help you need, try Nick Morgan’s article, How to Prepare a 20 -Minute TED-like Talk, and Nancy Duarte’s TEDx speech: The Secret Structure of Great Talks.  Her analysis of speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs  are compelling.