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Turning Around Setbacks

AppleBlog, my name is Coleman Coco. I’m a senior student-athlete at Colgate University and project management intern here at Apple Box Studios, and I am excited to give you an insight to my time working my first internship. For starters, if someone would have asked me 3 years ago, what I would be doing this fall I would say that I would be finishing up my time at Colgate and playing my last season of college football. Now, in the present, that’s obviously not how things turned out, but I would not change a thing.

The COVID-19 pandemic set college athletics back in 2020, and on top of that, I started getting pain in my foot that would cause me to get surgery and miss the 2021 season. By rule of the Patriot league, the division that Colgate University football plays in, requires all student athletes that redshirt a season to enhance their academics during the recovery process. Knowing that I would not be returning to Colgate for school or football in fall 2021, I began searching for internships and opportunities that I could explore in my hometown, Pittsburgh. Apple Box Studios stood out to me from the jump, I was immediately very interested in the opportunity and willing to do what was needed to have a chance to intern. After the interviewing process, I was lucky enough to get a chance to work with the team. I personally cannot thank Apple Box enough for how caring they were for me during my recovery from surgery and their patience. It would be fair to understand the liability of hiring an intern that has to recover for a few weeks from surgery and hop around in a boot for a while.

During the first few weeks of the internship, it is fair to admit that I was overwhelmed at times with the amount of acronyms and information that I was working with. As I grew accustomed to the level of work and expectations at Apple Box, I was able to step up.

One of the first projects that I was able to be a part of was the Mission of Mercy nonprofit event on October 22nd. I was able to help Thad Ciechanowski as a part of the video crew at this function, and after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, this year’s event was especially anticipated.

By the organization’s own definition, Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh is “a free, two-day dental clinic for under-served people living in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, many of whom are from working families who do not have access to dental work or cannot afford dental insurance. ALL services are provided FREE of charge by local dental professionals, assisted by a host of volunteers.” People who needed dental care and other medical help lined up outside of the Pittsburgh Convention Center for hours before the event even started to make sure that they could get the help they needed.

This experience helped me to understand what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to production of this scale. Whether it was meeting with TeleTracking, or shooting a commercial with Rocky Bleier, the number of moving pieces that go into the production of one event really impressed me.

Most of all, the charity of others was moving to witness in person, to say the least. Seeing so many giving doctors and helpers go out of their way to make sure the community is taken care of really hammers home the feeling of compassion. Altogether, witnessing the work that we put in at Apple Box Studios come to life at the event made the work feel all the more rewarding. So, while I recover and continue my internship at Apple Box Studios, I look forward to seeing our next project come to life.

 

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Expect the Unexpected

“The mind is like a flower, it does not bloom without the lights of appreciation, encouragement and love.” -Debasish Mridha

Expecting the unexpected has been a mantra that got me through my last two years of college and it has stuck with me ever since. It is not a special or inspiring saying, it is just a real one that I can relate to now more than ever. Being a 2021 graduate, I am still recovering from the intense year and half that unexpectedly came upon us humans. The spark of life, creativity and socialization withered deeply inside of me, and it has been hard to bring light back to each in such a dire time. With the anxiety of life being so high, I couldn’t imagine what my life was going to be like after graduation. I knew I wanted a job that was specific to my education– I just couldn’t imagine in a real-world sense what it would be like. The pandemic affected everyone in one way or another, and me, I felt lost. After spending so many years working so hard to graduate, it barely turned out how I expected, but I took life day by day instead of expecting that expectations would be met.

Being alone for so long (this includes my time on zoom calls and classes because that is not even remotely the same as being with people) forced me to produce my own “go you” energy. When I was working in the same space as sleeping, hanging out and relaxing, there was no distinguished space for me to really flourish.

It was a few months after graduation that I landed my internship here at Apple Box Studios. The moment I walked in, I was immersed with visual encouragement reminding me to step up and be noticed. It made me feel good because I felt seen and acknowledged, and made me believe I was headed in the right direction. I was greeted with the most kind, encouraging and enthusiastic group of people who are passionate about their jobs. I haven’t been around this kind of energy in a work environment in such a long time.

Now, I’m finding a rhythm within Apple Box where I learn, create and am challenged. Work is consistent and demanding —  the advertisement industry requires you to expect the unexpected and that is exactly how it is as a graphic designer here. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything else. It has been the perfect job for me, my coworkers’ patience among this high demand industry is unmatched. Apple Box Studios understands the creative process in such a critical and unique way, I have been able to find a perspective of creativity and work that I did not have before. I think Apple Box gave me more than I could have ever expected and more than they will ever know.

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The Ads of the 2020 Olympics – The Good, The Bad, and the Cringey

Hello, Apple Blog. It is currently July 29th, 2021 and you know what that means: Tokyo 2020 is in full swing! In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a quick recap: the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed last year due to COVID-19. Now, with vaccines becoming more widely available, the IOC elected to resume the Olympics, and the opening ceremony kicked off on July 23, 2021.

Like the good patriot I am, I’ve been tuning in to cheer on the likes of Simone Biles, Sunni Lee, Katie Ledecky, and my personal favorites, the US beach and indoor volleyball teams. I’ve also been paying close attention to those corporate ad spots – you know, the ones that are going for literally close $800,000,000 nowadays – to see how those key sponsors are approaching the more fragile nature of the Olympic messaging this year.

And now, as the first week of the 2020 Summer Olympics comes to a close, I’m sure everyone is drawing conclusions and forming opinions about some of these more prominent commercials.

 

So… I’ve decided to share with you some of the ads that were more memorable – for better or for worse, along with some of the tea surrounding them.

 

  1. United Airlines – “Let Yourself Fly”

This past month, some Olympic sponsors were left scrambling to change seemingly benign ads due to global polarization among COVID concerns. United Airlines’ campaign was originally centered around unity, specifically unifying the US and Tokyo through air transport. This was quickly scrapped as it became evident that COVID concerns were much higher in Japan than they were in the United States, and therefore, it might not be smart to encourage “unity” with a country who banned all spectators three weeks out from the Olympics. They caught this in time to produce a new campaign [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTHJ4wQhIM0 ] featuring US Olympic and Paralympic greats practicing in an aircraft hangar, featuring the tagline “Let Yourself Fly”. Pretty generic, but really well received—it seems the internet loves seeing the different athletes in action. It’s simple enough, but hard hitting and effective – in a way, it kind of speaks for itself.

  1. Toyota – “Start Your Impossible” Series

Long time Olympic and Paralympic sponsor Toyota was not as lucky as United when it came to fixing COVID-related considerations– though you wouldn’t know that from watching American broadcasts of the Olympics. In fact, Toyota has multiple different ads, featuring Mexican Gymnasts  [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik82joBCD6Y] Paralympic athletes [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIYLnI5F0s0] and athletic profiles,[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr3jR2keirk] running on primetime broadcasts in the continental US, centered around innovation and progress in the face of adversity. (I will admit, that Jessica Long commercial made me shed a tear or two)  In turn, you would think that this Japanese-born company would be thrilled to run ads centered around national pride, progress, and excellence all throughout their home country. I mean, anyone who’s tuned into the Olympics even once knows that some of the biggest archetypes of Olympic ads are patriotism and national excellence. However, Toyota pulled every single one of its Olympic-themed advertisements from Japanese airwaves, and even went as far as encouraging its executives to not attend any Olympic-related events. Why? Because instead of the patriotism and focus on national excellence that Olympics typically evoke, the majority of Japanese citizens actually heavily opposed the resuming of the “super-spreading event”. Toyota had to flush millions of dollars in advertising in order to stay in the Japanese public’s good graces.

  1. Nike – “Best Day Ever”

Nike attempted to take a much more modern approach [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm_aiDpkGmQ ], touching on topics in activism to rally around a more general theme of inspiring innovation and progress for the future. While the idea of progress itself is, of course, great, the commercial’s emphasis on social justice buzzwords, was met with cries of “fake woke” and “pandering” from all sides. Shouting out athlete’s mental health (a nod to the controversial Naomi Osaka debacle),  featuring Sha’Carri Richardson, and prophesying a future where “The WNBA will pass the NBA in popularity”, this grasp to fit with the times is coming across as inauthentic. Calling for unity and progress under these terms actually proves to be even more polarizing , especially when we learn that Nike allegedly doctored the voiceover to be less “woke” in different countries. In this case, trying to appeal to ideas of unity, inclusivity, and progress backfired by taking a much too “out of touch” approach.

  1. Proctor and Gamble – “Your Goodness is Your Greatness”/ #leadwithlove

Proctor and Gamble was much more subtle, centering their campaign [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2rAXgR-qlw ]  around “kindness”, “loving your neighbor”, using the tagline “lead with love”. Part of a series of slightly longer athlete profiles, the main commercial features clips of athletes helping their opponents or contributing to charity endeavors. Staying on brand, the voiceover is one of a mother, seemingly talking to her child. Of course, such a theme as being a good sport and kind to people is one of the most universally appealing things I can possibly think of. Throw the motherhood card in there, and P&G has themselves a winner. Their other, 2-minute ad [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akKI70uJ9pg] is an extension of these values, following a series of athletes as they grow up to become Olympians, guided by their mothers to have respect and compassion. Featuring multiple languages and athletes representing multiple countries, these ads were watched by an international audience via streaming service, and received very well. Internet comments specifically pointed out that the overall message was beautiful and moved some to tears. And, well, isn’t that what advertisers really want?

  1. Dick’s – “There She Is”

And I will leave you with one more ad that, although being very well executed, I mostly just want to include because it’s super cool. Dick’s “There She Is…” ad [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXUtbJVzMEQ ]is a compilation of female athletes absolutely kicking ass, set to the classic 1950’s Miss America theme song. We got it all in this ad, folks. We got appeals to nostalgia, we got inspiration, dedication to hard work, and a nod to progress. And although these themes are definitely more national and not global, it really is a great example of using modern considerations to appeal to widespread, overarching themes, because the internet has spoken, and people adore it. One YouTube comment even read “Thank you, Dicks! You have no idea what this means to a girl growing up in the 50s! Best commercial (I’ve) seen in years” (Literally, rip my heart out, why don’t you). The underlying arc of empowering female athletes is, of course, met with some pushback. But overall, it seems the consensus is that people love the juxtaposition of putting a song previously simultaneous with the epitome of the perfect American woman over videos of girls breaking barriers—but the song itself also evoked a lot of nostalgia. A lot of people also stated that they thought of their daughters immediately (once again, my heart!). The commercial seems to perfectly tow the line between pushing the envelope and appealing to audiences by showcasing relatable, realistic scenarios and evoking patriotism while acknowledging that times are changing.

 

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The Great Content Landscape Has Spoken

The landscape of effective storytelling is constantly changing. Arguably, the last ten years have seen more change than the 100 years that came before it. Notice, I said the “landscape” and not the storytelling itself. That’s because the basic ingredients of what makes a strong narrative are the same as they’ve always been; hooks, leading concepts and a journey of beginning, middle and end still rule the day when it comes to capturing an audience’s attention. What has changed are the containers we keep those ingredients in. Our definition of how we tell that story has been transformed by our primary consumption of media: our phones and the social platforms we use.

SHAPE

Anyone who has scrolled through their feeds has at the very least a cursory awareness that the shape of the videos has shifted towards the direction of squares and vertical rectangles. This is known as the aspect ratio, the first number being the width and the last being height. This revelation stands on the shoulders of the early 2000’s when we drifted towards the “widescreen” 16×9 formats of high definition video from the more square-shaped 4×3 of the standard definition world. We were told that wide was better since it more accurately reflected the wide angle we see with our eyes.  Now with 91% of people owning smart phones and 77% of people using some kind of social site or app, our primary screen time is on our phones. Apps like TikTok and Instagram have shifted our acceptance of the vertical-shaped video. This hasn’t eliminated our old friend, the widescreen-eye-friendly shape. I t has just invited other parameters to the table of media consumption. Now, when we make content and design the shape of the media, we think about 1×1, 1.25×1, 9×16 and of course 16×9. In essence, our list of deliverables has grown and what we thought we knew about eyeball aesthetics has been challenged.

LENGTH

There used to be a handful of time slots to tell a story. Lengths were based on our perception of how long people would pay attention. Content was largely delivered as short and to-the-point. News segments were always one side fighting with the other for two and a half minutes — that was all people could handle. At least, that was the contemporary wisdom of the day. Now, with the success of the internet podcasters, we see segments that are 3 hours long that can tackle the nuances of current and past events with the attention they deserve.

Ads are getting longer. Big brands like Subaru, Toyota, Adidas, and others are making advertisements that look like more like short movies than the traditional commercial spot. The logic is that longer ads will gain the trust of the audience more by incorporating cinematic elements like character development, plot and a relatable story. In essence, this gives advertisers a pathway to merge with entertainment in a more compelling fashion.

With the rise of streaming services, audiences are now more engaged in television mostly because it gives them more. Where we once thought of a three-hour movie as long, now we’ll sit through 12 or more hours of content. “Binge-watching” is now a term in our cultural vocabulary.

But longer isn’t always better. With the rise of TikTok, audiences can now scroll through a video feed of 15 second clips. Some of them are super funny, some of them give great advice, and others are just mindless escapes from reality. This trend brought others in the fold. With Instagram reels and YouTube shorts offering similar experiences, we are now concurrently seeing a thirst for shorter content alongside the longer-content cousin.

TRENDS

Shaking some of our conceptions about the rules of video has been the mission statement of the current media landscape. But what can we expect to see in the near future? Here’s a couple of trends that are sure to develop more in the years to come:

Shoppable videos – Here, you can add clickable items on a video that can take you to a store like Shopify. Like that yellow shirt she’s wearing? Just click on it and you can buy it in seconds.

Here’s a video explaining the basics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXuutvVhoVw&t=36s

360 Degree video – What better way to experience something (other than being there) than by a 360 degree experience. You can now watch a video and click around the room to see a full view of the entire area. This is perfect for real estate, amusement parks or in the case of the video in this link, airlines. Be sure to click on the arrows in the upper left. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc26i8c2Ns8

Animated Explainer Videos – Less of a future thing and more of a now thing, these are popular because they are a great way to teach by illustration and words. They can be very effective at breaking down complex topics into a simplified explanation — like this Ted Ed video about hair in humans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd18yfQqa8A

Although this is just an overview of some observations, it does highlight some of the changes in the landscape where we consume media content. What we thought piques our interest has changed. As media content creators, we need to pivot and meet the audiences where they are. There still are traditional outlets like cable TV, newspapers, etc. But those are going away in lieu of a personalized digital feed. A story made just for you. In some ways that’s pretty scary, but in other ways, there is opportunity to innovate and create.

 

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Less is More (More or Less)

When it comes to video productions for digital media, many companies struggle with how long their message should be. I always say that, when deciding this, it’s best to put yourself in the viewers seat. How much information, based on the subject matter, do they really need to know? Will they be bored halfway through? You might find the subject of your business or your product interesting, but you are not making the video for you, you are making it for other people — and that’s a tough thing for a lot of people to separate. You may WANT others to be as excited about the content as you are, but the best solution is to always get to the point of the message you want to deliver. If you can’t capture someone’s attention within the first 15 seconds of your video, then you will lose most of your viewers. Don’t drag it out and don’t give too much information away so that there is no need for them to “Learn More” or whatever your call to action (CTA) may be.

If your message is about an event, then get them excited about the event! Show shots of what previous or similar events look like, give the highlights of what they can expect, and then end with a CTA like “Register today” or “Don’t miss out!”.

If your message is about a product, show the product and talk about the things that make it great or different. Again, get your viewers excited for what the product can do for them, but don’t start droning on about the product — I’m sure more information is sitting somewhere on a website where they can read about it at their leisure.

If your video is about your company, the same rules apply. Don’t pack in as much information as you can. You want them to call to learn more or visit your website or attend and upcoming event where they can meet you and ask questions. Leave them wanting more and then give them a way to get that information.

So how long should your video be? Well, that all depends. Facebook says that your best bet is to have an informational video that’s at least 3 minutes long, which is a little odd because, most people won’t sit for 3 minutes to watch a whole video. Actually, most people bail out after 15-30 seconds, which is why 15-30 second Social Media ads are sometimes the most effective way to get the information out.

If your content is really interesting and to the point, they may watch a longer video, but unless it’s some sort of Podcast or something that is news breaking, 3-5 minutes is really pushing it. If it’s something you are selling or information you need to push out, try to keep your video between 1.5-2 minutes long. Of course, this will take some restraint on your part, because you really want to tell the world everything about your [fill in the blank]. But statistics don’t lie. Longer is not necessarily better [that’s what he said]. Know your audience, put yourself in their seat so you can find the sweet spot of the perfect length of your video.

 

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Refreshing Your Personal Brand

8 months pregnant and painting

Painting at 8 months pregnant

Well folks, it’s been just over a year since what we thought would be a few weeks to “stop the spread” turned into a complete and utter disruption of our everyday lives. Many of us left our offices and set up temporary workstations in our homes, expecting to return to work in a short time. If you’re like me, spending all your waking hours within one place slowly started driving me crazy. After two months spent cooking elaborate meals and decadent pastries, I turned to the more productive task of home renovations.

New bedroom

My husband already owned our house when we met and hadn’t ever done much to improve its appearance. I hate bare walls and unpainted rooms so had slowly been redoing the rooms of our house and decorating the downstairs rooms but hadn’t ever changed the upstairs. We decided we needed to rip out all the carpeting on the stairs, the hallway and the bedrooms and wanted to install new flooring. The hallway walls were a terrible wood paneling and we agreed it just needed ripped out and drywall installed in its place. I was 7 months pregnant when we began this project so ripping out walls and old carpeting were a little beyond my capabilities. We hired one of our friends who is a contractor and wasn’t working due to the shutdown to help my husband do all the demo and drywall work. Originally, we planned to just paint the new hallway and one of the bedrooms for the nursery, but I got overly ambitious and talked my husband into letting me repaint all three bedrooms. I had never liked the upstairs of our house because of the old carpeting, wood paneling, and questionable paint jobs done by former roommates. Once we got the new drywall, flooring, and rooms painted it was such a transformation! I felt like I was living in an entirely new house that I loved. Tackling huge renovation projects while being 7-8 months pregnant isn’t something I’d recommend but changing a space you aren’t happy with is so worthwhile.

Since our major projects wrapped up, I have been focusing on smaller projects that are more manageable now that we have a baby, and both still work full-time. My home office has moved to our dining room now and since I spend so much time in there, I have been finding little ways to refresh the space. I recently found a “new to us” dining room set that I loved but hated the

Old and new upholstery

upholstery on the chairs, so I found new fabric to reupholster them for a quick and easy refresh. We replaced our ceiling fan light fixture that only half worked with a new fully functioning one.

 

Coffee/Wine Bar

Next, I put together a little coffee/wine bar on our sideboard because I am obsessed with coffee and love red wine. I am currently working on repainting our built-in liquor cabinet and bought new hardware to install on it. We are also working on hanging pictures and fun art in our hallway. I want to make a hanging wreath for our front door out of an old bicycle wheel. Fingers crossed I can also talk my husband into letting us renovate our kitchen and bathroom soon too!

 

Here are a few of my takeaways from my experiences that I hope inspire you to make the changes you’ve been daydreaming about.

 

 

• Never underestimate the impact small changes can make
• Loving your surroundings can help boost your mood and productivity
• When your skill set isn’t up to the challenge of creating your vision, ask for help from the experts
• Incorporate things you enjoy into your space
• Taking large projects can be daunting (especially at 8 months pregnant) but the results are so worth the effort

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The TikTok Takeover

With over 10 MILLION followers, Charli D’Amelio reigns as the Queen of TikTok

Just your resident Gen Z Apple Box employee here to discuss what the kids are up to these days: …it’s TikTok. The kids are obsessed with TikTok. And I, admittedly, am one of those kids.

This app, created as a platform for creating and sharing short videos, has literally taken the Gen Z/Millennial world by storm. The videos are driven by short ‘sounds’, which can be a part of a song or a VO taken out of context. Users then act, dance, or create a story based on elements of the ‘sound’. Once other creators put their own spin on the video to add to the trend, the sound associated goes viral at lightning speed.  If you aren’t interested in creating videos— do not fret. TikTok’s algorithm caters to visual consumption, serving videos and content that are similar to other videos that you have interacted with on the app.

I love decor and this account is one of my faves! The vibes are immaculate.

So sure, it’s mesmerizing. So mesmerizing, in fact, that millions of people (myself included) admit to watching two hours + of TikTok a night before going to bed. Why? Because TikTok is exactly what younger audiences are looking for in an app. It is no secret that Gen Z is addicted to technology; they are constantly scrolling, liking and sharing. TikTok is an overload of content that never stops. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, you will not see the same story or post twice. The videos are always new and the feed is endless, meaning you can stay on the app for hours without getting bored.

Like I mentioned above, I love decor. But I love fashion more. The fashion inspiration on TikTok is never ending.

An endless supply of content can create a lot of space for advertising, especially considering TikTok’s monthly audience is about 1 billion users. Brands are creating ads that are equivalent to native video ads, which appear in your feed and look like a regular TikTok but are actually sponsored ads. Current ads on the app range from clothing to food to software. Another way brands are advertising is with influencers. In typical Gen Z fashion, influencers are heavily integrated into the app, promoting products as you scroll through your “For You Page” (your personalized feed). There’s also some talk of implementing affiliate links on the app. Affiliate links are a win-win: the links would allow brands to harness the clout of influencers while also giving those influencers a cut of the sale. With its crazy following, advertisers have the opportunity to reach a huge audience (did I mention 1 billion users a month?). That sheer volume of users is enough to make someone consider advertising on TikTok.

 

[Image 1 Link: https://www.tiktok.com/@charlidamelio?lang=en]

[Image 2 Link: https://www.tiktok.com/@stayinginstudio/video/6925766358718319877?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6930310176985843206]

[Image 3 Link: https://www.tiktok.com/@cocobeau.tea/video/6925091258734054662?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6930310176985843206]

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Navigating Quarantine Through Cooking

It’s no secret that quarantine has put a damper on the world’s creativity. Personally, being limited to my home desk all day has proven to be trying. I’m often left uninspired and undermotivated to do even the smallest tasks. As a full-time graphic designer, this doesn’t cut it. I have found that my head needs to be in the right space to start and continue working throughout the day.

Something I have always found stimulating is taking a step away from work to be creative in other ways. Whether that’s painting, baking a tasty treat, or reading a book, it always seems to turn my rut into something productive. The end result doesn’t necessarily need to be “pretty” or useful; the act of being imaginative in a way that’s carefree allows complete creativity without the consequence of judgement.

Over the past year, I’ve given myself a quarantine project. I have combined two of my favorite hobbies, cooking and photography, to create blog-like food images. I love the process of finding a recipe, gathering all of my ingredients, then getting in the kitchen to create something delicious! And while I can’t share my yummy creations with the masses right now, what better way to share them than taking mouthwatering photographs?

I’m not biased to taking photos of any particular meal of the day. I love breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert equally. Although, my favorite time to take the photos is on a bright day around lunch time (mostly because my current lighting crew is the sun).

While I have learned a lot throughout my quarantine project, my #1 food photography tip would be not to try dressing and taking the photos while you’re hungry! I hope to share more of these photos with the world long after COVID has made its exit.

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The Year of the Video

2020 has been a year like none other. It’s crushed certain businesses and industries in unimaginable ways. One question I am constantly met with is – is video production dead since

the pandemic hit? From an outside view, the easy assumption is yes. However, our business has seen a huge spike in video marketing. And I’m here to outline some of those reasons.

Regardless of the state of the world, I probably don’t have to explain the vital role video plays in the marketing stratosphere. Audiences of all shapes and sizes love video. If I had the time, I’d make an infographics video for you to prove it, but unfortunately a bulleted list of credible statistics will have to do the trick. Close your eyes, picture some funky beat building, a flash of exciting animations and colors and — boom! OK, open your eyes again so you can read on.

• 85% of all internet users in the United States watched online video content monthly (Statista, 2018).
• 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a business they support (HubSpot, 2018).
• 87% of marketing professionals use video as a marketing tool (Wyzowl, 2019).
• 73% of consumers claim that they have been influenced by a brand’s social media video presence when making a purchasing decision (Animoto, 2018).
• 88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts on social media (Animoto, 2018).
• Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year (Optinmonster, 2019).

If these statistics don’t influence your thinking, remember that nearly everyone is using video platforms as a means of communication right now. We are programmed and optimized for video consumption. And by “we”, I mean the “royal we” – aka, your audience.

Now, you might be thinking, “great, but how do I know what I need?” Well, the answer is: it depends.

Hopefully that’s where we can come in to help you. Right now, we’ve seen a surge in animated infographic videos, direct-to-camera zoom recordings, video-centric online events, motion-graphics/stock video mix, and, in some cases, repurposing older videos, if we can get our hands on the right material. If you’ve been thinking about adding video marketing to your arsenal or want to freshen up your current video offering, now may be a good time. There are ways to get creative, not crush your marketing budget, and serve up the digestible, interesting content your audience is looking to see.

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WFH: Writing from Home- How to Make the Most of your Writing During Lockdown

If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve almost made it through 2020—congrats! As relieving as that is however, it seems that COVID as well will be making the journey into 2021 with us, and As long as the virus keeps spreading, the creative and business world is going to be wearing out every virtual and social distancing method of doing work known to man. Now, I’m not necessarily complaining – there are few things I love more than writing an essay while still in my pajamas at 2pm. But an interesting thing is happening in the world of communications: despite this drastically-modernizing, virtual  way of conducting affairs, there is an element to this virtual thing that is quite old-fashioned. While a zoom meeting or a conference call is crucial here and there, most communications are really being done through: you guessed it, writing. Now, of course, we’re not exactly sitting up with our typewriters or our quills and ink, but the significance of eloquently written word truly does prove over and over again to be unmatched by technology- timeless, if you will. Whether it be emails, online marketing, or reworked-for-the-internet ad campaigns, copy is helping creatives to keep up with the great virtual shift. How else can you send a sensitive message, persuade a customer, or pitch an idea without ever actually looking your client in the eye? You paint a visual with your words.

Copy can be something very personal and special to your brand, and the actual essence of a piece is ultimately up to your discretion. However, even the best-intended words can become jumbled in the brain fog of screen fatigue and working from home. As someone who has relied on a computer for composition long before the pandemic, here are some tried and true tips to help you get the most out of your writing.

Stay inspired

Read a book, listen to a podcast, even watch TV. Just make sure you are doing some sort of activity involving words every day. It doesn’t matter if you can recite the dictionary front to back—a good writer is always taking in opportunities to observe the different ways that language can be manipulated to create a message. This is how you pick up on what voice, style, and tone you want to emulate in your work.

 

Get to sleep

Not only will a sleep-deprived brain leave your ideas disjointed and your words fuzzy, you may actually end up doing your best work when you’re asleep. Our brains are hard- wired to do all of the “cleanup” while we sleep, meaning that all of the thoughts, memories and ideas that we produce throughout the day get processed and “filed” at night. Often, in this process, we subconsciously draw the missing connection or the big idea that we were missing while we were awake. Keep a pen and paper by your bedside table – and, of course, making sure you’re getting a full 8 hours can’t hurt!

Know your ideal work environment

Pay attention to what your space feels like when you’re most productive – is it warm, cold, dimly lit or filled with natural light? If you know you work better in the morning, set your alarm, and keep the late nights to a minimum. If you can’t write listening to someone else talk in the background or you can’t possibly focus in a super quiet room, take this into account and turn off the TV or put on some white noise. Knowing yourself and what environments you thrive in are key to getting your thoughts out of your head and onto your paper (or your computer screen).

Snacks are key

A malnourished brain is just as useless as a sleep deprived one. Carbs, healthy fats, and veggies keep you thinking straight and clearly — a hungry brain will leave you jumbled, annoyed, and facing writers-block.

Start Simple

Let’s say that you have an idea or a general feeling you want to express, but just can’t get the words down correctly. Sometimes, getting back to basics can be the best way to get your thoughts back together. Write out a basic template of and intro, body, and conclusion, and then bullet out your two or three main points. As you go, keep notes of any language that might pop into your head, and fill this language in around your main points when the time is right. Not only will this help you get your ideas straight, but your readers will follow your thought process and be able to pick up on your main points with ease as well.

Write and rewrite… and rewrite

Always leave time to muddle over your work for a few days. Chances are, you’ll catch mistakes, rework awkward language, and sometimes, make the decision to reformat altogether. By embracing this part of the creative process, you will be able to present a piece that is truly professional-caliber and personal to the world, without fear of a typo or a missed punctuation.

Less is ALWAYS more

Put yourself in your readers shoes – if it wouldn’t grab your eye, doesn’t hold your attention, or puts you to sleep before you reach your call to action, imagine how your audience will feel. Cut the details and the frills and get straight to business—your readers will see you—and your product/business—as more genuine and straightforward this way, and their eyes will thank you as well.

Keep an eye out for slang or Jargon – who is your audience – role play

Take a tip from English Comp 101: Determine who your target audience is. If you are writing towards professional business people, you might not want to throw a ton of slang into your copy. If your marketing toward a general audience with many different types of people, avoid specialized jargon. Strive to really put yourself in your target’s shoes and think about how they would respond to your work – if it isn’t completely compatible, go back to the drawing board.

 

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