A second (by second) look at 2016 [video]

Missouri S&T colleague Terry Barner produced a wonderful year-end video recap for our campus. It’s built on one-second clips from academic days of the calendar year, beginning in January 2016 and concluding with our December commencement ceremonies. View the video above or click here to watch.

Continue reading “A second (by second) look at 2016 “


This Thanksgiving video will restore your faith in humanity

Yes, the headline is a bit on the clickbait side, but you really should watch this video.

Continue reading “This Thanksgiving video will restore your faith in humanity”

Facebook: The next big place for brand videos?

FacebookLikeAccording to a recent study by Socialbakers, video posts on Facebook now have the greatest reach of all types of posts. (And photos, once considered the best way to reach audiences on that social media platform, are eating video’s dust.)

So if you’re already annoyed by the number of videos cropping up in your Facebook timeline, brace yourselves. More video is coming. And marketers, obedient lemmings that we are, will quickly run to Facebook as the platform for sharing video.

What does this mean for YouTube?

Despite Facebook’s recent claim that it is the platform where the majority of videos are shared, this post makes a good argument in favor of YouTube reigning supreme in the online video world for some time to come. YouTube is the No. 2 search engine (after Google), its videos can be shared across many social platforms and it gives video uploaders a cut of ad revenue — all proof that YouTube is not dead yet.

Still, it will be interesting to see how the rise of video on Facebook will challenge YouTube and other more established platforms.

How is your organization using Facebook for video?

Facebook “like” image via PRDaily

Big logo on campus: the #ThankfulMiners project

At Missouri S&T we have so many things to be thankful for, we need a big canvas to express our gratitude.

So when our marketing and communications team decided to ask our students, faculty and staff to put into written words what they’re thankful for, we did what any marketer would do. We made the logo bigger. Much bigger.

Students, faculty and staff alike shared their thankfulness on this 3-D S&T logo, changing its canvas from white to Miner green. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T
Students, faculty and staff alike shared their thankfulness on this 3-D S&T logo, changing its canvas from white to Miner green. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

This larger-than-life, three-dimensional version of the “S&T” part of our university logo became the canvas for more than 500 expressions of thanksgiving. The video below (and here) tells the story.

How this project came to be is a story in and of itself. Our marketing and communications team wanted to continue a new tradition of promoting a spirit of gratitude during this time of year. (Last year, we had students write down their expressions of gratitude on smaller, more personalized canvases.) This year, we wanted to go big. Hence, the logo. Cut to precision by technicians in our campus’s High Pressure Waterjet Laboratory, sanded to perfection by a staff member over a weekend, and painted by students from our Kummer Student Design Center, the logo — made from blue foam board, stacked and glued together — became the work of art you see here. Then we took it around campus with a fistful of green Sharpees and asked anyone we could find to sign the logo. (We also incorporated this activity into an annual story-gathering event we call the “casting call,” where some 50 students chatted with us about life at S&T.) In the end, we had over 500 written comments on the logo.

We went live with our story (A larger-than-life way to give thanks) on Thursday and will begin pushing the #ThankfulMiners hashtag on social media in hopes of hearing from other students, alumni, faculty and others who have a reason to give thanks. (Our sports teams are known as the Miners.)

Speaking of reasons to give thanks, I must give credit to our marketing and communications team for their creativity, resourcefulness, hard work and persistence to turn this concept into a reality. For all of that, I’m a very thankful Miner.

Favorites from ‘TED Tuesdays’ (video)

During the summer months, our department spent 30 minutes every Tuesday morning watching and discussing one or more TED talks. I got the idea from Nick Denardis (@nickdenardis), who mentioned on Twitter last spring that the communications team at Wayne State University, where Nick works, gets together on a weekly basis to get inspired by a TED talk. (Nick’s boss, Michael Wright, often follows up with a blog post about the videos they watch.)

In these times of tight to nonexistent budgets for professional development in higher ed, I thought following the Wayne State model would be a good way to bring a little bit of professional development and inspiration to our communications office. So I did.

We set up “TED Tuesdays” in our department over the summer, and it was well received. Not only was it educational, but it gave us a chance to meet as a group without having to attend a dreaded staff meeting. It became sort of a bonding session, a place where we could talk about the ideas presented, agree or disagree, debate and discuss, in a safe space. Also, attendance at TED Tuesday was entirely voluntary. If you weren’t able to attend or wanted to skip a session, that was perfectly OK. Finally, staff members could submit their own favorite TED talks for communal viewing, and a few of them took me up on that offer. The result was enriching for all.

Here are a few of my favorite videos from TED Tuesdays:

Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

I blogged about Sutherland’s talk back in May (see Why we do what we do), because at that time it served as a reminder that our business in marketing, PR and communications — making the intangible benefits of our products and services somehow tangible — is important. Sutherland communicates that point in a very entertaining manner.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

The author of Eat, Pray, Love inspires in this discussion about the expectations society places on artists — and the pressures they put on themselves. Her suggestion that people are not creative geniuses themselves but have creative genius — much like the muses of ancient days — is an interesting take. This one was suggested by one of our graphic designers/writers.

David Griffin: How Photography Connects Us

A visually stunning presentation by National Geographic’s photo director, this presentation demonstrated how powerful photography can be to connect us to the world around us. This talk was suggested by our staff photographer.

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of Awesome

Perhaps the most inspiring of the videos we watched over the summer. Neil Pasricha is the author of the blog 1000 Awesome Things, and in this video he discusses the importance of finding pleasure and significance in life’s simpler things. All around us is awesomeness, and we can discover it all, if we just make the effort to become aware of it. This one was suggested by one of our graphic designers.

Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

I just couldn’t resist subjecting my staff to my inner idea nerd. I love talking about and thinking about ideas, and how they arise, so Johnson’s talk was right up my alley. He’s not the most dynamic presenter, but his ideas about ideas are fascinating. This TED talk was based on Johnson’s book of the same name, which I’ve referenced previously on this blog.

I could list just about every other TED talk we watched as a favorite, but I’ll stop here.

What about you? Do you have a favorite TED talk you’d like to mention or recommend? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Friday Five: ‘Watch this’ edition

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Time to get away for a long weekend. So I’ll be brief. Here are five multimedia-centric resources and gems from the realm of higher ed and marketing/PR.

  1. Ron Bronson videoblogs, and he launches this new experiment with a thoughtful commentary on the need to mainstream the higher ed thought leadership community. I’m looking forward to watching more of Ron’s videos. (P.S. If you don’t keep up with Ron’s blog, you’re missing out on some great writing.)
  2. 5 ways to spend your video budget wisely. If you’re like me, you read that headline and think, Video budget? What’s a video budget? Even if you don’t have much in the way of money for video, these takeaways could be helpful. They might even help you make a case for a modest budget.
  3. Content strategy: the miniseries. Well, actually it’s five quick videos of two content strategists talking about content strategy. MeetContent‘s Rick Allen and Georgy Cohen sat down with Margot Bloomstein and Colleen Jones for a video interview, and shared it in five short and sweet episodes.
  4. Video marketing in EDU, a solo Higher Ed Live video by Seth Odell. If you’ve ever wondered about the role of video in higher ed marketing, this show is for you.
  5. EDUMusic Blog is a newish site where musically inclined higher ed folks can show off their talents. Yet another web creation of Mike Petroff. (P.S. Mike is quite a talented musician, and was even as a rude boy back in high school, as you’ll see if you scroll to the bottom of this blog and watch the performance by his high school ska band.)

Why we do what we do

Lately I’ve been trying to make time to watch more TED talks as a way to glean inspiration or new ideas. I usually find at least one or two valuable takeaways from each 12- to 15-minute talk I view.

But sometimes I see a talk that reminds me of something I thought I already knew, but that in the busyness of life I had somehow forgotten.

That was the case with Life lessons from an ad man, an engaging, entertaining and enlightening TED talk by Rory Sutherland of the Ogilvy Group. (The entire video is embedded at the bottom of this post, and it’s worth the 16 minutes or so of your time to watch it, especially if you’re in the business of managing perceptions.)

Sutherland, an effective ad man, reminded me about why I do what I do in higher education. At the 2:55 mark of his talk, he puts higher ed branding, PR and marketing into perspective:

The point is that education doesn’t actually work by teaching you things. It actually works by giving you the impression that you’ve had a very good education, which gives you an insane sense of unwarranted self-confidence, which then makes you very, very successful in later life. …

But, actually, the point of placebo education is interesting. How many problems of life can be solved actually by tinkering with perception, rather than that tedious, hardworking and messy business of actually trying to change reality?

Sutherland is exaggerating, but he has a point.

Those of us who work in higher ed marketing, PR, branding and communications help people solve problems by tinkering with perception. We really do. The essence of building an institutional brand is to add intangible value to the reality that is a college education. And by doing so, we make the intangible tangible.

Making the intangible tangible. That’s what we do, on our best days. Or as Harry Beckwith said, brand-building, brand-managing and marketing is about Selling the Invisible. By doing so, we add value to that thing we sell: an education.

* * * * *

Here’s Sutherland’s talk. I encourage you to watch the whole thing.