Understanding Copy in the Digital Era

Last month a gave a talk at the Copy Lab, which is a creative collective for copywriters. (I am thrilled that Kim and Kelley started it—NYC writers need an association in order to learn new skills and advocate for our profession.)  For my event, I focussed on tools and tips for creating content for web sites, social media and digital devices.  Read a summary of the talk on The Copy Lab Blog.

Also, be sure to check out the Copy Lab.  They have lots of great events coming up.



Where have all the banner ads gone?

In my copywriting for the web course, I cover banner ads.  Bannerblogs.com/au is the source that I use to show interesting work.  However, when I tried to find live examples of old-school rotating banners, I came up empty-handed.  Now, I am sure they still exist—but they are certainly not as ubiquitous as they once were.

But really.  Who ever like banner ads anyways?  It was a print/TV approach to interactive marketing that never quite worked.

What this means:  the industry is finally getting smarter about engaging people in meaningful conversations via social media.  I can already imagine a time when we will say: remember when we had to create all those endless banner ads?



How to Approach a Fundraising Campaign: Make it fun.

I recently worked on a fundraising campaign for my children’s school, PS3 in NYC’s West Village.  The creative team had one week to come up with a series of posters for The 3Fund, our annual fundraising effort which significantly supplements the school’s budget and allows for a rich arts-based education.   Due to time constraints, photography was not an option.

The result?  Text-based posters that playfully called out the very items the 3Fund pays for—and touched upon the community aspect of the PS3’s educational philosophy. The posters, placed throughout the school, helped raise money, and had the added bonus of increased parent involvement—from volunteering at lunch to school leadership positions.

Funny how much I love the pro-bono work that I take on.

(Click on images for larger versions.)

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Lego Hotel: a great example of experience design and clever brand extension


lego hotel

Facebook vs. Twitter

Despite the noise and hype about competing social platforms, Facebook is still a strong leader, as evidenced by this infographic from Mashable. See the whole blog post.

This does not mean things won’t change.  The most important thing to remember about social media is that it is constantly changing.

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How People Really Spend Time on Mobile Devices

I love this infographic from the Harvard Business Review.

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Smitten with Smitten Kitchen

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 7.43.07 AMI have fallen for the food blog Smitten Kitchen.

Sure, I am late in the game. By the time I took a good look at Smitten Kitchen, it’s creator Deb Perelman already had a book deal. Regardless, I find myself returning to the site over and over when I am looking for a little inspiration. Like Deb, I like hearty, somewhat healthy food. Plus, I trust her because she has the same size Manhattan kitchen that I do. You have to be a good cook to work in small places.

Anyways, the point being, I am taken with this food blog and it now belongs in my food blog cannon, along with 101 Cookbooks and Chocolate & Zucchini.

My favorite recipe so far?  Pancetta, white bean and chard pot pies.

Good Tweets: Man Repeller

I like Man Repeller’s Tweets.  The voice is consistent, strong and a little snarky.  Perfect for a post-lunch slump.

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Want a little inspiration with your morning coffee?

Do you know about the free, monthly breakfast series for us artistic types called Creative Mornings?  And did you know there are 40+ chapters of this fabulous lecture series going on in cities as diverse as Budapest, Cape Town and Seattle?  In 2013, each city will take on a similar theme for the month.  In January the theme will be Happiness. tumblr_mfd9fljTjv1qhkcy5o1_1280

I will be at the next NYC meeting on Jan. 11.   You should go too.  Here is why:

1.  It’s free.

2.  Meet other creatives.

3.  Get out of your own head.

What Would David Geffen Do?

David Geffern

Watching the unfortunately titled (I’ll get to why in a minute) Inventing David Geffen on PBS, I was struck by what an amazing trendsetter Geffen was.  He had an unflinching talent to read and then create cultural moments.  First with music, then with film.

Think about it.  Geffen was responsible for the success Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, CCSN, Jackson Brown but also Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Counting Crows, Hole, and Beck. Not to mention the co-founder of DreamWorks.

Given his track record, I think PBS make a mistake in framing his biography in terms of self-invention. Yes, I know he was gay and coming out was big for him personally.  Yes, he was a poor kid from Brooklyn.  But that seems like a minor subplot in an otherwise bigger life.  The story, it seems to me, was his unwavering ability to discover, nurture and create a cultural context for his artists.   His gift was three-fold:

1. Geffen understood the historical moment.   In “Doctor My Eyes,” Geffen artist Jackson Browne sings “I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams,” and with that line articulates the post-60’s malaise. Many of the music he represented in the 1970’s had a feeling of introspection and inwardness, which was how the country seemed to be feeling. Likewise, in the indulgent Reagan era 1980’s Geffen gave us Aerosmith, with more sex, less guilt.  And then there was Nirvana in the 90’s ready to deal with all that Gen X rage.

2.  Geffen understood and could spot talent, even potential talent.  Lots of people can read “the times” and make trending predictions. But he could take something raw and nurture into something better.   Not that his artists were always happy with his decisions, but that he took his work seriously—and that created a culture of craftsmanship around him.

3.  Finally, he knew how to market the hell out of his artists and fought like the Brooklyn kid he was to do so.  It’s not easy to sell something that is ahead of its time but Geffen managed it over and over and over again.

The question is:  Was Geffen an artist as much as Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan?  Or maybe Andy Warhol is a better analogy?  Or maybe we need another word for what he did.  I like the idea of culturist—someone who is able to not only predict and understand cultural changes but is able to create works of art that articulate a moment.

I think we all need to embody a little David Geffen as we grow are careers, our art, our businesses. We must understand our cultural moment, nurture our talent and those of the folks around us, and then tell our story as loudly and passionately as possible.