December 28, 2013

3 ways to better connect with your audience in 2014

Beyond the mandate, the mundane, the routine, or the motivating and congratulatory need to communicate…serious legal matters, downsizing, budget cuts, human crises, and critical emergencies require timely communication. 

After all the New Year celebrations are over, serious news in 2014 may call for engagement more than anything, and here are some of the best basic ways to connect with an audience across all communications channels.

Examples, scenarios, case studies
Even during times of seriousness, perhaps more so, it’s important to use STORY to communicate. Authentic situations and characters, or anecdotes, to which your audience can relate make the impossible-to-imagine, the abstract, and difficult-to-swallow subject matter RELEVANT.

Hearing from someone who matters
Hearing from leaders (and I don’t mean CEOs necessarily) is also an important way to convey the seriousness of the subject matter. A respected expert in the field, a company “hero,” a celebrity or other high-visibility individual who has a stake in the outcome or cares about the subject matter…these are potential messengers of important information—as long as the messenger MATTERS to the audience.

Stay focused on the outcome
Yes, recognize and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. But instead of focusing on reduced funding, challenging markets, or critical safety violations…it’s important to stay focused on WHY you are communicating with your audience. What is the vision, the endgame?
  • Have a problem with product quality? Communicate to let your employees and the customers/public know what happened, what you are doing about it, how soon it will be fixed, and how you are going to ensure quality going forward.
  • Facing budget cuts and downsizing? Communicate fairness, transparency, responsibility, and transition.
  • Have a tragic workplace act of violence?  Communicate to inform, to comfort, to support, and to try to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.
  • Have safety issues on-the-job? Communicate to let your employees know their safety is your first priority, what you’ll change to support that, and to assure management/congress/stockholders/taxpayers that you are taking action, and how.

However serious the current situation, it does not DEFINE the company, the organization, the agency, or the employees. Whether you're communicating from a combat zone or a corporate boardroom, make a New Year's resolution timely, stay relevant, make it matter, and stay focused on the optimal outcome. 

For more on media and communications, go to:

December 23, 2013

What do you mean, Happy Holidays?

It's occurred to me that holiday greetings and salutations are similar to business communications. We have to consider our audiences, know our intent, and communicate clearly focused on the desired outcome.

In the movie, Love Actually, arguably a modern day Christmas classic, Mark finally blurts out his true feelings for Juliet via cue cards at her doorstep.

Our holiday greetings don't need to be a confession, but if we peel away the layers of every variation of Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale, and Mele Kalikimaka, they all have something in intent to wish something good, as Tennyson said, "...peace and goodwill to all mankind."

Say what you mean, and DO what you say. Express it in the best way you possibly can.

Sharing and spreading those wishes are my intent here too. Beginning with the most basic peace and joy that I possess, I give to you:

"We have within ourselves
Enough to fill the present day with joy,
And overspread the future years with hope."
--William Wordsworth

All the very best to you and yours this holiday season and in the New Year!

More about media & communications at

December 2, 2013

Ready for "Action!"

How to spend a little, and get MORE when producing corporate video? Here are two of my favorite ways:

People who know me have heard me say: "Put 10% of the budget into AUDIO mix, music, sweetening, and it'll make as much as a 40% improvement in the finished video/animation."

There's another way to spend a little, but get a LOT MORE for your money. Disproportional value, in the right direction. I like that.

By CASTING the right talent, you'll not only get a superior performance, you'll make more progress on set, get more accomplished, avoid overtime, and deliver a top-notch product of which you and the client can be proud.

How to do it? It starts as a conversation with your talent agent or casting director:
1. Be clear about the project, the expectations, how it will be used...broadcast, internet, trade show, print, mobile.
2. Precisely describe what you are looking for...gender, age, ethnicity, "look." 
3. Is the shoot date firm? Don't look at talent who will not be available to you.
4. Don't low ball...but be realistic. Be honest about budget limitations, but this is an area you DO NOT want to cut corners. (IF you start low ball, and then don't get what you need, you'll end up throwing more money at it, but have less time before the shoot date to commit the best talent.  An undesirable trade off for sure.)
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate with your casting director or talent agent. Make sure details of the agreement are in place.
6. Relationships matter. Use a trusted source. 

Think about these guidelines, and be ready for "Action!"  End result:  Happy client!

Thanks to Nanci Washburn at Artist Management in San Diego for providing MMP with great choices for this spokesperson lead, and other actors for our recently-produced scenarios. They made an ambitious production do-able, with uncompromised quality, completed on schedule and on budget. 

November 19, 2013

Q&A Your Way to Stellar Service

Getting to YES, as quickly as possible, helps customers appreciate and remember stellar service.

Janet Dahle & FANTASTIC friends,
ready for the paparazzi!
A weekend meet-up with long-time friends last weekend at The Beverly Hills Hotel reminded me that there is no substitute for well-staffed, well-trained, genuine, cordial, attentive customer service.  That every member of the staff was contributing to a most memorable weekend experience for us, is what made our stay at this famous hotel exceptional. A little shopping, a little sight-seeing, a LOT of relaxing and catching up with each other...pure bliss! My gal pals had flown in from Australia and the Northwest, so we were very happy to spend time together.

Stellar service began with questions and answers...

Can we order breakfast (at noon)? Of course...24 hours a day.
Could I have sliced tomatoes? Sure.
Could I have those grilled? Not a problem.
Can you come set my iPad up with your wifi? We'll send someone right up.
Is it okay if we check out a little later? Why, of course.

Then, beyond mere Q&A, the concierge, the bell hop, the guest shop clerk, the pool boy, the wait staff...all were willing to not only answer "yes" to every question, but ready with conversation and recommendations. Making it personal. By the pool: "What's that for?" (Shade, would you like me to put it in place for you?) In the Lounge: "May I have another club soda?" (Yes, but you may be interested in trying our juices...) To the Concierge: "We have a car...can you tell us where to tour by celebrity homes?" (We have maps, let me show you...) "What's the most unusual thing a guest has ever asked?" (We once had a woman ask us to get her a role in a movie during her stay).  WOW!
Stellar Service...YES!

Sadly, all good things must come to an end--until next time. Having the car brought up to valet, and our bags already packed away in the trunk for us upon completing checkout...we drove away and I exclaimed, "That was FANTASTIC!"

More importantly, it made me want to share the experience.

No matter what business you're in, you'd probably agree..."FANTASTIC" is the response we'd like to get from our clients, customers, users, or guests.  So start with YES, then make it personal.

(By the way, the juices featured in The Polo Lounge were the best I've ever had...if you're interested, Fantastic and FRESH...who knew kale and spinach could taste so good?!)

September 27, 2013

Happy Hour: You're welcome.

Consider this a cross between professional development and a contribution to your personal welfare.

For your welfare, click here if you want to be:  Content, satisfied, happy.

And as professional development, and for a different kind of "content," consider this:

According to Wikipedia:  The word "content" is often used colloquially to refer to media. However, content is more accurately used as a specific term in that it means the content of the medium rather than the medium itself. Likewise, the single word "media" and some compound words that include "media" (e.g. multimediahypermedia) are instead referring to a type of content. An example of a type of content commonly referred to as a type of media is a "motion picture" referred to as "a film." The distinction between medium and content is less clear when referring to interactive elements that contain information and are then contained in interactive media, such as dice contained in board games or GUI widgets contained in software.

I like to ponder the semantics of "content" favorite motion media content is Major Motion Pixels; it makes me happy.  How about you?

August 26, 2013

Ethics: How to mind your multimedia production manners

Doing the right thing is often connected to doing things right.

While I am not an attorney (and don't play one of television, either), there are some tips and recommendations I can make to help any corporate communications professional involved in producing video or motion media. Make sure your corporate ethics are mirrored by your creative and production vendor partners.  Here are the basics:
  • If you use licensed music, footage, animation, or graphics, ask to have a copy of the licensing agreement for your project file.
  • If your voice or on-camera talent isn't a "buy out" (a buy out means the talent's recording can be used for any purpose for as long as you like--as defined in an agreement/"dealmemo"), make sure you get a copy of the contract, so you can see and adhere to whatever "use" limitations there might be.
  • If confidentiality is important to you, make sure your contract with your vendor partner has a non-disclosure agreement clause that ALSO covers all their subcontractors and employees.
  • If your production contract is based on time and materials, make sure you have documentation from your vendor to justify the hours/days spent by their employees and sub-contractors on your project.
  • If your production contract is a Firm Fixed Price or Not-to-Exceed basis, make sure you spell out the specific details in a Scope of Work.
  • Make sure you have "talent releases" for anyone featured in the video, whether they are professional talent or employees/managers/executives, or people on-the-street. There are some exceptions to this in public venues...and other ways of notifying the public that their image or voice may be used in a production.
  • If filming on location, make sure you have "location releases" that acknowledge the imagery of that location may be used, and whatever other details are necessary.
  • Often, large companies or government entities require a Certificate of Insurance from production vendors, with their organizations listed as additionally insured. There is typically no/low additional charge for these to be drawn up by the insurance agent, beyond the annual policy carried by the production company...unless you require more business liability coverage than is carried by the production company (typically $1,000,000).
  • And finally, make sure proper permitting has been arranged...this can get complicated, i.e. city, county, state, federal government property and facilities sometimes overlap. Coastal commissions, airport/port authorities, DOD/Navy/USMC/USA/USAF military bases, Parks, etc. 
And, it's always a good idea to run your contracts and arrangements by your attorney or corporate counsel.

Particularly in the era of social media, instant video uploads, and user generated content...minding your manners is much more complicated than "please & thank you."  Poor choices can risk the organization's reputation, their brand, and even their stock price.  

Any other tips or lessons learned? Leave a comment!

August 5, 2013

A bridge to new ideas...

Moving forward:  I am happy to announce that I am expanding my client base AND am now able to bring about more creative and strategic support than ever before.

As of August 1, my company, Major Motion Pixels Inc., will be focused on providing outstanding creative design, production, and distribution of video/motion media content for Marketing/Sales, PR/IR, and HR/Training/Learning clients in the public and private sector.

A bridge:  While in Nebraska for business last week, I saw this metaphoric image…a symbol of my own professional transition. In this case, the bridge crosses the Missouri River from Nebraska to Iowa. And as we all know, Iowa may not be heaven, but I saw what looked like the Field of Dreams. A nice way to view a very positive move.

Better value and results: We are looking forward to working with our extended network of clients and creative talent to look at things in a new way, aimed at producing fresh and promising communications tactics and tools.

Stay tuned and stay connected!

June 17, 2013

Upside down content...

Ever have a client (or been a client) who said: “I don’t have a lot to spend, so I just want to do a quick little video for YouTube”?

Every time I hear this, sirens and alarm bells start going off inside my head…Danger! Careful! Wrong way! Do not enter!

Who would think that NOT spending for the world's largest, global audience would be a good idea?  That's why I think of it as upside-down content.

If part of what we’re doing as communicators and content producers is reducing business risk, why oh WHY would we risk a brand, a reputation, a stock price—on not spending ENOUGH to mitigate risk?

One of the best “little videos on YouTube” I’ve seen recently was for COKE.

Underproduced ON PURPOSE, with no unnecessary computer-generated special effects.

Over planned ON PURPOSE, giving utmost care and strategic thinking to the concept, the audience, the execution, the BRAND.

I don’t know how much they spent on this little YouTube video, but I’m betting it was just ENOUGH to be


Who can argue with over 3,000,000 views of this little video on YouTube?!

May 23, 2013

A "Stop & Go" brand that sticks

On a recent business trip to Berlin, I heard the story about a source of unique pride for Berliners…the Ampelmann.

The East German traffic light symbols, known as Ampel men, were designed by a traffic psychologist named Karl Peglau, and debuted in 1961. 

“Its design was psychologically conceived, because road-users react more quickly to appealing symbols.

The end of the cute dude with the hat?
The West German authorities, politicians and traffic engineers were critical of the little men on the East German traffic lights, so in 1994 work started on replacing them with the west, or euro, traffic light man.

A resistance movement evolved…the “Committee for the Preservation of Ampel Men” and as I understand it, they were creative with their protests.  Ultimately, once the media got on board, the politicians and bureaucrats really couldn’t ignore them any longer.

The Ampel men were eventually resurrected and became a most popular “brand” for the community, uniting both East and West Berlin…

Once again, STORY & CHARACTER carry the day!
The moral of this story in my opinion was:  YOUR AUDIENCE GETS TO DEFINE THE MEANING OF YOUR BRAND. 

The Ampelmann has had books written about him, and has become somewhat of a cult figure, with television animated series, safety programs for school children, all manner of merchandise, and now even retail outlets and restaurants!

The Ampelmann brand has a secure spot as a beloved Berliner…retaining a bit of East Berlin in the West.  An enduring and meaningful on-the-move brand that communicates much more than “stop” and “go.”

Click here for more about Ampelmann.

April 26, 2013

That NEW Black Magic has me in its spell...

Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera
Even though I consider myself an imagery gal, I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to tech.  That's where I lean on the expertise of editors and engineers I trust.  The good thing about being tech agnostic (or tech ignorant or tech naive), is when something comes along that is so undeniably superior and CHEAP too, it'll get my attention, no matter what brand.

My mind was blown recently by the NAB announcement of a new low-cost camera with enough firepower to put a whole lotta camera snobs out of business.  

These four things alone impressed:
1. Records 1080HD resolution ProRes 422 (HQ) files direct to fast SD cards, so you can immediately edit or color correct your media on your laptop.
2.  It captures a super wide dynamic range of 13 stops.
3.  Flexible lens mounts for superior glass, or easy adapters.
4.  All those connections for audio monitoring, mic, charging, and remote operations.

WOW.  And did I mention it was cheap?  So cheap in the scheme of business, it's not even worth talking about how much it costs ($995).  Makes me want to get one, and put it to use!

Shipping in July.

You can learn more about it here:  Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera

March 19, 2013


Credit: Extreme Airshots
Three of my colleagues attended SXSW (the South By Southwest Conference) in Austin last week. Meanwhile, I experienced SXSW at a distance via twitter and facebook.

My colleagues returned yesterday, brimming with inspiration and enthusiasm from the experience of meeting and mixing with everyone who shares interests in Music, Film, Interactive with a heavy dose of technology.

One of my colleagues suggested I watch this:
Click here for inspiration from SWISS-MISS at SXSW.

"Swiss-Miss? What the heck?!" I know, I thought the same thing.  She is a "Swiss designer gone NYC." And indeed, I found inspiration in watching this woman who appeared to be a regular wife and mother, give a keynote address, sharing her 11 Rules and Values to Live By.  No ordinary woman, she has accomplished much, forged new ground, demonstrated sustained creative innovation...all while incorporating her personal life and relationships (yes, even her young children) into what she does.

My favorite of the 11 Rules?
1.  Invest your life in what you love.
8.  Ignore haters.

See if any or all the life suggestions she makes resonate with you...something to ponder over a cup of hot chocolate. 

March 14, 2013

GoPro or GoHome

(Eric Millette for Forbes)
I really liked this Forbes story about Nick Woodman, UCSD alumnus, who is CEO of GoPro.
The secret to his startup success?  Summed up in these 5 principles.  Nothing surprising, but good never, ever, ever give up.
1.  Follow your passions.
2.  Fear failure.
3.  Obsess over your product.
4.  Learn to sell.
5.  Evolve or die.
After a couple of flops (important lessons learned), he's found success with GoPro, which merged his personal passion for surfing/extreme sports with gagetry and geekdom. Voila...GoPro.

His hard-earned breakthrough product: "By 2010, the company had its first HD camera. Today, the company’s top-of-the-line $400 Hero3 Black edition has 12-megapixel photo capability and 1080p video at 60 frames per second."

Found the niche based on how he liked to spend his time, and then re-trenched to the extent that he moved back in with his parents and lived out of a Volkswagen bus for a period of time.

As for me, I like that Big Billionaire (with a really BIG capital B) idea, but I know I won't be living out of my car to make it happen.

Enjoy the full article here:  Forbes Article about GoPro and Nick Woodman

TimeLine Evolution of GoPro:  From 35mm to HD

February 10, 2013

Second Screen a Screaming Success

Opportunity is knocking!  Entrepreneur explains "Why the 'Second Screen' Industry is Set to Explode."  At home, more and more multi-taskers are using multi-media to multi-view and engage in more ways than ever with brands that know how to tell their stories across platforms.
Click here:  Check it. The Entrepreneur "Second Screen" article.

January 30, 2013

Budgets and Beltway Bandit Bummers

Today I attended a luncheon in San Diego, where my favorite line from the keynote speaker was, "FLAT IS THE NEW UP." It's been bad news for a lot of the defense sector recently.  But amidst all the talk about fiscal cliffs, sequestration, furloughs, and continuing resolutions...there seems to be some optimism.  For those companies that can find and exploit innovation and discovery, and can nimbly adjust to the demands, twists, and turns of the market...I believe there is unprecedented opportunity.  I choose to see it as a challenge, and I hope to help guide clients through the uncertainty of this find success.

HD Video Quality at HALF the bandwidth--I'm in!

H265 video codec (compression/decompression) promises HD video at half the bandwidth, which is changing EVERYTHING about online video and video conferencing...I saw a cool video today by Cisco, after talking with someone from a company called Vidyo.  Amazing stuff, happening now.  Here's where you can find out more:

H265 demo from just four months on this link to view: Cisco H265 demo.

The Internet of here to view:  Today is that future.

Check out what Vidyo is doing here:  Yo, Vidyo, what's up?

January 17, 2013

Content is (still) king

Since my work world is all about creative content, I'm encouraged by the anticipated growth in this area.  B2B Online's article "Mobile apps, social integration, content are key trends" is increasingly relevant...and of course, VIDEO is becoming  a key part of the content mix.

"A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute found that, on average, 26% of the total b2b marketing budget is now dedicated to content marketing, and that figure is expected to increase this year.  The study, based on an online survey of 1,092 b2b marketers conducted in August, found that more than 60% plan to increase their content marketing budgets this year...  To develop all this content, marketers are relying on their own marketing departments, as well as agency partners and freelancers.  Tom Haas, CMO at Siemens Corp., said one of his top marketing priorities this year is “content integration.” “Specifically, how we can integrate content across different platforms, particularly online and offline. That's very important to us.”  At Intel Corp., the marketing organization now has an editorial calendar that it uses to plan and develop content across all its marketing channels, from advertising to social media."

January 11, 2013

A confused mind says no

One of my favorite sayings (thank you Ron Seaver) is "a confused mind says no."  Our goal as communicators, is to reduce or eliminate resistance.  

Nancy Duarte, in this Harvard Business Review blog, addresses audience's spot on!

Click to read about how to:  Anticipate and avoid resistance to your communications...

January 7, 2013

Native advertising...

Just when we thought we were caught up on the latest lingo...this one came up.  Native advertising.  The term used by many, understood by few.  This infographic does a good job of explaining what it is, and what it isn't.

We'll see how this "native" plant survives, flourishes, or evolves...

Check it out:  This Infographic Explains What Native Advertising Is

January 6, 2013

Take your audience with you

One of the greatest things about digital/social/mobile media is that you can take your audience with you wherever you go, and, wherever they go. 

Being able to deliver on your promises from anywhere, faster, is the holy grail for business.

While our lives seem to be blending personal and professional time, mobile media has given us the flexibility to respond in ways we never thought possible.

Lisbon, London, or Lubbock?  No problem.  Taking your audience with you makes it possible.

January 3, 2013

Boot the Buzz Words

In 2013, the buzz word from this list I am most happy to boot, is "viral video."  About time!  Want to produce great content, terrific production values, even with controversial topic/material?  Great.  But "going viral" is a wholly different matter.  Check it out:

13 buzzwords that need to die in 2013 If "dynamic," "viral" or "social business" are part of your regular vocabulary, it's time to bid them farewell. Here's why.

Two Big Mobile Trends for 2013

2013 marks the increased momentum of MOBILE:  Two trends to watch in the New Year?  Mobile Video and Sponsored Stories.

According to this, benefits of mobile video include:
  • Boosting the customer experience
  • Increased ROI with customized video content
  • Increased brand loyalty
  • Increased content share on social media
Sponsored stories, or "native advertising," also promise a more integrated way to engage with prospects and customers.

Great strategy!