Digital Strategy

My two cents: The NBA Social Media Awards

NBA Social Media AwardsLater tonight, the NBA will host inaugural Social Media Awards, an event that will surely make ripples both online and off.

It’s clear the NBA recognizes the value of the digital chatter surrounding its brand, its players and its games. Many of the award categories – “The EPIC Award” and “The LOL Award” are just two of them – capitalize on social media memes and lingo.

The NBA is right to highlight its fans this way; these awards are a sports industry first. However, there’s a lot more that could be done.

Check out the full post on the LoSasso Blog.


Coffee Review: Stewarts European Dark Roast (Chateau de Loraine)

Stewarts Coffee European Dark Roast

I’ve been on a Stewarts Coffee kick recently, for obvious reasons. Stewarts Chateau de Loraine coffee, its European Dark Roast, was included in the package and is the subject of my latest coffee review.

Brand: Stewarts
Chateau de Loraine (European Dark Roast)
Body: Medium-to-full
Price: $7.24 for a 12-oz can (online)

This coffee has an interesting story, or so says the label on the can: During the 20s, Loraine, the wife of Stewarts Coffee’s founder requested the company make a darker blend. Apparently she was a big entertainer, and many of her European friends were used to bold coffee – something Stewarts had not yet made – and she wanted to impress them. And “Chateau de Loraine” coffee was born.

While it’s certainly much bolder than Stewarts Hawaiian Blend Coffee, it’s not as bold as a more finely-ground espresso blend – Cafe Bustelo, for instance – but still packs a bit of flavor.

It starts out with a very toasty, nutty flavor and evolves to have a slightly sweeter finish. Again, it’s good either black or with a bit of skim milk, but you won’t want to dress up this coffee too much.

Verdict: Again, Stewarts delivers a great coffee for the price. It’s a great alternative to, say, a whole bean, single-source coffee. It might be hard to find in some stores, but is worth ordering from the Stewarts website, or Amazon, when it’s in stock there.


The first no-hitter call in New York Mets history

Let's Go Mets - Mr. MetThis was too important to post on Tumblr. Last night, Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the New York Mets’ 50-year history

Here’s New York Mets radio announcer Howie Rose calling the final out:

For you New York Rangers fans out there, Rose also made the now-famous “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call to end Game 7 of the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Finals.

On the TV side, longtime Mets announcer Gary Cohen made the call on SNY, with Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling providing color commentary:

Congratulations to Johan Santana and Mets fans everywhere on this historic occasion!

(Audio courtesy Soundcloud, WFAN)


Coffee Review: Stewarts Hawaiian Blend

Stewarts-Hawaiian-Coffee-reviewSeveral years ago, I wrote my first cigar review. At the time, I knew nothing, really, about reviewing cigars. I knew I liked them, and I knew I liked to write. I eventually wrote a lot more reviews, and even created the Cigar of the Week section of my blog.

Last week, I received a box of coffee from Stewarts. I decided that as I drink my way through it, I’ll try to review each of the coffees. I’m not promising a “Coffee of the Week” section, but hey – who knows?

Brand: Stewarts
Hawaiian Blend Coffee
Body: Mild-to-medium
Price: $7.24 for a 12-oz can (online)

Stewarts coffees are usually the best you can find out of a can, and its Hawaiian Blend is no different. It contains 100% Arabica beans, a rarity for canned coffee.

It’s a medium-bodied coffee that’s smooth enough to drink black, but tastes just as good dressed up a bit. (I put a bit of skim milk in for my third cup.) The finish is sweeter – a bit citrus-y and a touch creamy.

Verdict: Overall, it’s a great coffee for the price, and it makes me excited to try Stewarts’ Kupanaha Kona Blend, one of its newest coffees.


Guess I’ll be drinking Stewarts coffee for a while now!

Last summer, I compiled a brief list of good Chicago-made products. Recently, Steve Blair, Retail Director of Stewarts Coffee, stumbled across the list and decided to send me a “thank you” package (picture below) of various Stewarts coffee blends, most of which I’ve never seen before in my local supermarket.

Stewarts coffee

If you’re familiar with my blog, you may have seen some of my “Cigar of the Week” posts. To thank Steve, I’m going to review each of these coffees as I enjoy them. (Of course, I won’t open them all at once!) I might even pair them with a cigar or two for a morning smoke.

Stay tuned.

Digital Strategy

Homeless Hotspots: My Two Cents

Homeless HotspotsThe dust has settled from SXSW Interactive, where the biggest story, arguably was that of the Homeless Hotspots.

I’ve thought long and hard about why this just didn’t sit right with me, and I’ve had some public (and private) Twitter and in-person debates about this. From the start, my argument has not been one that compares the Homeless Hotspot participants to infrastructure. Nor do I believe BBH, the agency that created it, was ill-intended in its efforts.

In fact, I applaud the organization – and Saneel Radia – for launching a disruptive program that raised real dollars for Austin’s homeless population, and generated awareness for the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. I do believe, however, that its comparison to the street newspaper model was inaccurate, at best. At worst, it did a disservice to the content and stories contained in the papers themselves. And it just missed the point of street newspapers, perhaps news media in general.

The advertising space is constantly evolving. Recently, there has been a lot of talk of how some advertising agencies are beginning to develop products as a way to educate themselves and clients on emerging technologies and trends, and also as marketing vehicles. If the technology is useful and actually makes people’s lives easier, that’s fantastic, but better, more useful technology is not an answer in itself. Rather, technology is a lens through which a greater variety of stories can be better told.

Two quick examples: the Gutenberg press isn’t important because it was a tool, but that it allowed stories to be created and shared more quickly. The Digital Revolution isn’t revolutionary because of its tools – although the PC and the Internet are surely marvelous – but because its tools allow stories and information to flow almost instantaneously.

In the case of the Homeless Hotspots, the wi-fi provided drove people to a transaction, in most cases. And this should not be overlooked.

When street newspapers are sold, not only are transactions made, but the stories contained therein generate awareness and – more importantly – an action. If one makes a conscious decision to not only support the cause by buying a paper, but takes the time to actually read the stories, they’re ultimately doing more good.

Buy a street newspaper. You might be tempted to give your local vendor money, but not take the paper. This assumes, just as the Homeless Hotspots program did, that the content has little to no value. This assumption is just wrong.  In many cases, the vendors want you to read their papers. By reading them, not only are you committing some time to their cause, but you’re learning about them as well. And once you’re done reading the paper, you’ll likely share it.

Now, I’ve played “Monday Morning Quarterback” on my blog before, but what would I have done differently here? Not much, actually. I’d have worked with the ARCH, and perhaps Good Magazine, to create a Starbucks-like content portal for customers to see upon when they logged in. This way, once the transaction took place, they could dive into – and perhaps share stories of – the Austin homeless experience. That would’ve at least elevated the content, the stories of its participants, to some level of importance.

What do you think? Would you have done anything differently?

Digital Strategy

Storytelling lessons from the3six5

From day one, the3six5 has really been the gift that’s kept on giving. Not only is it a blast to run, but it exposes me to all sorts of fantastic people that are much smarter than me.

Scott Meis, a Seattle-based digital strategist — and one of our 2011 writers — wrote up a blog post outlining some of the storytelling lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Check out his post here.

Digital Strategy Media news

OMNT Q&A: Dan Schneider, Denver Post

About a month ago, I wrote about my experiences creating single-topic Tumblr blogs. Since I’m a news industry vet, it got me thinking about how news organizations are using Tumblr, and what they’re getting out of it.

Dan Schneider, SM producer for the Denver Post, was kind enough to answer my questions for Old Media, New Tricks. Check out Dan’s Q&A here.

Digital Strategy

The most important aspect of good customer service

There are a few “top ten” lists out there of what to do in order to provide great customer service, and they all kind of read the same: listen, make customers feel important, apologize, say “yes” a lot, identify needs, et cetera.

As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “yada, yada, yada.” Of course these are all important components, but there’s something missing. Something big, in my opinion, that’s seldom discussed, and worse: seldom practiced.

In my role as Social Media Manager for Sears/Kmart electronics, we handled a lot – a LOT – of customer service issues, stemming from a few things (e.g. e-commerce or in-store experiences, missed installation appointments). Through this, I learned that – assuming the processes are in place – issues can be resolved, but just how they get resolved are crucial to keeping your customers happy and coming back.

I recently experienced a relatively minor issue with a major airline. The issue eventually got resolved, but not before I was made to feel like a complete idiot by one of the airline’s customer service reps. So the issue became a major one, personally, for me, and made me question whether I’d continue to use the airline. (It also inspired me to write this blog post.)

This drives me to my key point: it’s important for brands to understand why customers are complaining, but it’s even MORE important to express empathy and understanding. Thank customers for bringing issues to your attention. Understand and acknowledge just why a customer may be upset about an issue. If they’re made to feel like their complaint is strange, or out of left field, then they won’t be happy.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s still important that their underlying complaints are resolved in a sufficient, timely manner. However, a little bit of empathy and understanding will get the customer service process off on the right foot. The more your customers feel like their needs are understood, the easier – and cheaper – it will ultimately be to resolve their issues.

What do you think is the most important part of good customer service?

Digital Strategy

Work recognized with two 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards

I’m not one to hang on my hat on past projects, but I just found out about this from an old co-worker of mine: Sears Holdings Corporation announced that it had won two 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards for projects I created and executed while still a company employee. (NOTE: The awards were likely given to Euro PR because I’m no longer an SHC employee.)

The awards are:

  • Best Use of Digital/Social for a Consumer Technology Campaign (Gold) for the Sears Blue Blogger Crew, which we launched at CES 2011.
  • Best Use of Digital/Social in an Arts/Culture/Entertainment Campaign (Silver) for KmartGamer. We launched KmartGamer in 2010 as a low-rent way of connecting with core gamers, and we expanded our efforts into a blog launch, efforts at the E3 convention and much more.

Once again, thanks to everyone who was associated with getting these efforts off the ground, including Ryan Manning, Andy Flynn, Philip Nowak, Scott Murphy, our crew at Euro PR (Kelly Kaufman + Rory Swikle), and Josh Deane with KmartGamer.

For a full list of Bulldog Award winners, click here.