Tim Washer. Keynote Speaker + Event Emcee
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Top Pumpkin Uses for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Midterm Elections

Top Pumpkin Uses for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Midterm Elections

I’ve been procrastinating for only half a decade or so on launching a weekly YouTube comedy series.  I’m a total hypocrite for preaching improv principles such as “follow the fear” and “there are no mistakes, only gifts,” while letting doubt hold me back.

To be fair, occasionally I have the opportunity to be a small part of some comedy productions created by folks who geniuses, so when I first experimented on my own, the comparison was embarrassing.  But I know I let that fact drift from reason into an excuse to hide behind.

With the help of my daughter, I completed and published episode #1 yesterday.  And I’ll be celebrating throughout the week.  Actually, probably only until lunchtime today, as I need to start working on the next video.  What the heck I’ve I done?!

Finding Creative Inspiration 

I’ve been building a list of ideas and even scratching out scripts for a while, and I now feel the pressure to fill the pipeline.  Disciplined YouTubers suggest having 4-5 episodes “in the can” before launching a series, but I’m not disciplined.  Most ideas are connected to my current personal struggles, like trying to manage as a single parent, dealing with post-divorce depression, and trying not to be overwhelmed by the fear that comes with the risk of transitioning from a comfortable corporate job to working solo as a comedian.  Usually, those are dependable sources for funny ideas.   It helps me to laugh at the pain, and hopefully, it might defuse distress for others.  One of the greatest gifts we can give is reminding people that they are not alone in feeling shame.

When those sources fail me, I look for visual inspiration.  I figure if there is a scene that I enjoy, others might appreciate the view as well.  Then I explore ideas on how I could build a comedy concept around the shot.

Enter the Pumpkin

Our church has been operating the pumpkin patch as a mission for over 20 years.  There have been times when I’ve been skeptical about the project, usually after spending a September Saturday morning helping to unload 2,700 pumpkins weighing-in at 45,540 pounds.  Sure, it’s a great core workout, but who needs a strong core if you can’t move your legs?

The heavy lifting is always good fun, and I’ve gotten to know many folks from the Ridgefield community who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

The patch hosts a free movie night each fall which is a family favorite.

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We purchase our inventory from a 1,200-acre farm on a Navajo Reservation 2,200 miles away in New Mexico, so we’re just shy of qualifying for Buy Local certification.  But the revenue supports 700 Native Americans living in an area of the country with 42% unemployment.

Due to pumpkins high price elasticity of demand, during an economic recession, most households cut back drastically on their pumpkin spend.  In a good year like 2011, we sold approximately 60 tons, raising $57,000 — 100% of the proceeds go to fund charities both locally and around the world, including an orphanage in Mozambique.  The rain this year has thinned our customer traffic and reduced sales, so we may need to layoff volunteers.

We’re open for business through Oct 31st.  Keep up with the Jesse Lee Pumpkin Patch on our Facebook page, and be sure to join us next year.

Unrelated:  Does anyone have an idea for next week’s comedy video?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BMA Chicago:  Late Night Comedy Meets Corporate Storytelling

BMA Chicago: Late Night Comedy Meets Corporate Storytelling

A few links from #BMA14 presentation:

Mainframe: The Art of the Sale, Lesson One: http://youtu.be/MSqXKp-00hM #BMA14

The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day http://youtu.be/Z1xKpm0nURk #BMA14

John Cleese on the 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative http://ow.ly/xoPZR

Mini documentary: Phone Company In A Box http://youtu.be/WHaQY2MlHV8 #bma14

Smart building: Internet of Everything video https://vimeo.com/89159331

Humor and B2B Marketing: A Love Story. Improv with the CIO http://shar.es/VkNWi via @annhandley

Stephen King, Failure, Ghosts of The Stanley Hotel http://disq.us/8ilzm9

John Oliver’s viral video: the best climate debate you’ll ever see http://gu.com/p/3pb3c/tw via @guardian

 

 

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.

OSN: Yankees’ A-Rod Past Prime, Unable to Match Asinine Public Embarrassment of Years Past

OSN: Yankees’ A-Rod Past Prime, Unable to Match Asinine Public Embarrassment of Years Past

ESPN /ABC News reported today that NY Yankees “star” A-Rod might be suspended for drug use or poor performance, but The Onion Sports Network broke the story years ago:

OSN_GOOMF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zveFhcqj_SA

A-Rod Past Prime, Unable To Match Asinine Public Embarrassments Of Years Past

UPDATE:  from The Onion:  A-Rod Shows Minor Leaguers Proper Way To Put Down Teammates

 

Vermont Tourism Ad: YouTube Comedy Week

Lake Champlain

 

A top vacation spot, the Green Mountain state is home to the von Trapp Family Lodge, Smuggler’s Notch ski resort, and Ben & Jerry’s; and leads per capita in covered bridges, maple syrup and cheddar cheese. A bicycling tour through the fall foliage should be a top five item on everyone’s buck list. Dedicate at least two days on the itinerary to explore Burlington — visit Church Street, American Flatbread, Penny Cluse Cafe and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Oh, and there might be a monster lurking in Lake Champlain.

 

Enjoy YouTube Comedy Week.

2013 Webby Award Honoree: Phone Company in a Box

 

Webby Awards

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

One simple approach to creating stories for corporate social media and content marketing is focusing on  history.  Even for a young company, there is history in the industry or in the innovations that inspired it.  The key is to research and discover the fascinating stories and storytellers.

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In 2011, we took a small part of our budget and produced a documentary about some of the pioneers who helped build the telecom network, and how the “largest, most reliable machine ever built” is contributing to economic growth, especially in developing regions of the world.

We did not mention our company or products ever, but focused on stories.  That allowed us to connect with the audience in a much more compelling way, and still do the marketing work of amplifying an important message about the importance of the telecom network.  It is one of the top ranked videos on our YouTube channel, and was broadcast on the ShortsHD television network.

Our documentary has been recognized as an Official 2013 Webby Honoree in the Technology category for Online Video and Film.  We’re proud to be in the good company of Team Coco, honored for the “John Adobe” video.

Spend some time on the Webby Awards site and scroll through the winners like the inspirational TED Ed, Google’s win in Corporate Communications, and Jerry Seinfeld’s breakthrough Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”  Congrats to fellow Upright Citizens Bridge alum Michael Dubin for his Dollar Shave Club Webby win.  Yet another testament to the power of humor in marketing.

 

ROI on Humor in Social Marketing

 

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I’m often asked what is the value of using humor in social media and marketing efforts.  While I can’t always make the case that a :60 YouTube comedy is going to inspire an impulsive purchase of a $100,000 piece of hardware, comedy helps corporate videos stand out and be remembered among the clutter.  NBC News reports that 72 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, so it is becoming more and more difficult to get noticed.

Today, at the B2B Content2Conversion Conference at the New York Times Center, Michael Brenner, Forbes blogger and SAP vice president of marketing, included our valentines video as a case study.

The spot, while completely absurd and ridiculous, helped us amplify an important marketing message during a product launch over three years ago.  It earned press coverage in The New York Times, NetworkWorld and other trade magazines; and David Meerman Scott referenced it as a best practice example in his bestselling book Real-Time Marketing & PR.

And here we are, more than three years later, and it’s being presented to a group of B2B marketers and influencers, and the social buzz continues from some of B2B’s top influencers, including Ann Handley, Margaret Molloy and Marissa Pick.

I don’t think Michael Brenner sold any routers for us today, although if he did, I’m sure he’ll DM me about his commission check.

 

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Margaret

Marissa

 

The Best Real-Time Marketing Cookie in the Jar

I’m often asked which cookie has the best track record in real-time marketing.  The BuzzFeed headline “Oreo Again Dunks The Competition On Twitter” tells the story.  Not only is this brand quick with the retort, but it is hilarious.  If I were a cookie and wanted to know how to use humor in social media and marketing, I’d ask Oreo to be my mentor, and watch it’s Super Bowl commercial again (below).  I’d also read David Meerman Scott’s book on the topic, which might be a challenge as the literacy rate among cookies is notoriously low.  As Ann Handley and I recently debated on our new series Better Marriage Through Big Data, this brand has raised the bar for all marketers to get on board with real-time marketing.

cookieMonster

BtoB Magazine: Elements of a Great Story

Usually the first question I ask when I’m preparing to produce a corporate video is “Can we film this in Burlington, Vermont?”  It’s a beautiful location, especially August through October.  But on our recent trip, the temperature on the lake with the windchill was minus 40.  Communication is challenging when your jaw is frozen shut.

Frozen Lake Champlain

Stalling so we could stay indoors a little longer, Steve Shepard and I had a chat with Ann Handley about corporate storytelling.  It’s featured in BtoB Magazine this week.

Shep_Tim

Plan to shoot your next video there, and schedule stops at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, and American Flatbread. But keep an eye out for the lake monster.