Showing posts with label messaging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label messaging. Show all posts

May 19, 2019

The Goliath Arab Propaganda Machine

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The Goliath Arab Propaganda Machine."
It has been 71 years since the founding of the modern State of Israel, and while Israel is thank G-d strong militarily, it continues to be seriously threatened by a relentless Arab propaganda war, which they are winning. This War of Words manifests itself on college campuses, protests and rallies against Israel, “progressive politics,” BDS, and the endless stream of anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

Please G-d, He will help us not only militarily to defeat the enemies of Israel, but also to prevail in the battle for truth and justice, identity and history, and ultimately for the Promised Land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ruediger)

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September 10, 2017

@Takoma Park Folk Festival


So today we were at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. 

It was a combination of food, chachkas, art, dance, and music--thank G-d, it was a good time!

When we were going through the booths, I came across this one artist pictured here. 

A little scary looking at first, but actually seemed nice enough and he stopped to speak with us. 

I asked about his very cool jacket.

And he told me, how he had actually made it with all the artistic things on it, including spikes, skulls, medals, patches, and even a pair of teeth!

Then he took off his jacket and turned around to show me his vest. 

On the back was this awesome fighting foe.

I said feigning surprise:
"Oh, and it says RESIST on top?"

He replies:
"Yeah, never miss an opportunity to share a message!"

I thought to myself this guy is pretty smart, especially as he started to explain not only his jacket, but the meanings behind some of his other artwork. 

Creativity is a wonderful thing--especially when no one gets hurt :-)--and it immediately sparks interest and dialogue.

How'd you do that?  What gave you that idea?  How do you use it?

The boring becomes exciting when another soul expresses itself. 

Yes, we're all the same, but also we're all different!

It's by "going there," you explore and learn new things.  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2017

People Nutrition

This is an risque t-shirt this lady is wearing.

It's a big nutrition label. 

And she's wrapped in it!

I'm not sure if this is a gag or fashion statement or even a sexual thing.

Is she advertising that she's like the food?

What was really funny though is by her butt...it says 

"Moschino chocolate tastes good."

Maybe that should be a black box warning!

Uh, this is way too much information for me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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February 24, 2017

The Trouble With Communication

So I remember this old comedy skit showing the problem with communication.

There is a deaf guy trying to communicate with a blind guy.

Boy, this is a real conundrum.

The deaf guy communicates with sign language that the blind guy can't see. 

And the blind guy communicates by talking which the deaf guy can't hear. 

So neither are getting any messaging across. 

This is sort of like every day life, where people communicate talking past each other. 

Each may only be concerned with what they feel, think, and have to say. 

They don't really care to listen or understand the other person. 

It like the blind and deaf guy communicating and neither can hear the other. 

Most importantly, we need to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. 

To think from their perspectives, and to communicate having in mind to fulfill for the other person--what's in it for me (WIIFM).

In Judaism, their is an important teaching that each person is an entire world unto themselves.

We need to be sensitive to their world and speak our mind, but definitely in their language. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 14, 2017

Not 4 Valentines Day

Valentines Day is the holiday of love. 

And this photo is not the message you want to see or expect today--of all days!

Anyway, they were selling this sleep mask at the mall.

One one side, it says "Ready"--yeah, a little forward, but problem welcome by most partners.

On the other side, it reads, "Not 2Nite"--gasps and disappointment for sure. 

What type of Valentines Day are you going to have?

Love is in the air, enjoy!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 17, 2017

Twitter BESTS Facebook

Here are six reasons why Twitter bests Facebook and we ain't seen nothing yet:

- Unadulterated News & Messaging 
Twitter is where you can hear it from the President's mouth or the Kardashians or anyone else for that matter with no media bias and filtering (their very mission is information sharing), while Facebook is often about reposting stories, pictures, and videos that we find of interest already on the web. What's even more amazing is that anyone of us can tweet back to @realDonaldTrump or @SpeakerRyan...that is some unbelievable access we now have. 

- Speed of Information To Market
Twitter is now considered the fastest way to get the latest (and greatest) on what's happening.  From the US Airways jet crash into the Hudson River to up-to-the-minute updates on the Mumbai terrorist attackYou could even watch the election debates or the Walking Dead and get a real-time running commentary. 

- Our Very Social Identity
Twitter is now part of our very social identity, so that everything from our blog writings to our resume has our Twitter handle. Mine is @AndyBlumenthal.  

- It's Populism As A Movement
Twitter, while not technically as popular in terms of number of users as Facebook, is more popular in terms of the cultural impact. Politicians are putting out policy debates online and fighting it out there too, while celebrities and athletes are sharing personal updates, and the world is truly communicating directly and succinctly in 140 characters or less what's really important to them. 

- Operating On A Global Open Platform 
Twitter feeds are open to anyone who follows them and tweets are searchable on the web as opposed to Facebook which is predominantly a closed system to the web and you've got to be "friends" to get the real scoop with someone. Whether the Iranian Green Revolution or the Syrians Being Bombarded in Aleppo it's open and on Twitter. 

- Get Your BIG Data and Feed Your Artificial Intelligence
Twitter has about 500 million tweets a day or about 200 billion a year.  Even pulling out the ridiculous "What I had for lunch today" tweets, there is still an unbelievable amount of data to mine for analysis and artificial intelligence. Talking about a potential treasure trove of information and sentiment from over 317 million users, and computer algorithms are already churning through it to make the big data intelligible and usable for decision making. 

Certainly Twitter (and Facebook) need to get their virtual arms around fake news and profiles, but the good thing about it is that others can call b.s. as soon as they see it in 140 characters or less. ;-)

(Note: I am so impressed with Twitter's prospects, I am putting my own money where my mouth is.)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 3, 2017

The Trump Twitter Genius

President-elect Trump is a Twitter genius!

At 70-years old, he has managed to use a millennial social media tool to take on the world, and despite opponents questioning of his temperament, so far he has unequivocally won with it. 

Using Twitter, Trump defeated candidates from Cruz to Clinton in running for president of the United States and at a fraction the cost.

Using Twitter, Trump has shaped not only policy discussion, but national sentiments around healthcare, over-regulation, tax reform, and even updating our critical nuclear deterrent capability. 

Using Twitter, Trump has strengthened alliances and friendships with nation and states from Israel to Taiwan and decreased escalating tensions with Russia. 

Using Twitter, Trump has put competitors and adversaries on notice about bad behavior from China to North Korea.

Using Twitter, Trump is setting the stage for correcting economic problems and imbalances from unfair trade practices to shipping jobs overseas.

Using Twitter, Trump gets around media bias and messages and connects directly with the people of the world. 

Of course, it is critical to vet important communications and ensure they are accomplishing the goal, but this needs to be weighed with the ability to reach out and get the message out quickly and effectively to the masses...and it's a most fascinating and delicate balance that needs to be achieved. 

So far though, we are no longer working at the speed of government, but at the speed of the Internet. 

This is an incredible awakening in politics, but also for everyone on the incredible power of social media tools to communicate directly, unvarnished, and with impact, and no one has done it better than Donald Trump. 

The mastery of social media will continue to depend on messaging with speed, significance, and effect balanced with the vigilance as to exactly when to hit that crucial send button to the Twitterverse and the world. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2016

Words Have Meaning

People can be so careless and callous with their words. 

They say stupid and hurtful things. 

Sometimes, they may try to couch or sugarcoat what they are saying, so you need to put 2 and 2 together. 

Yes, that's four...bang!

Whether it's transparent or hiding behind a veil of political correctness or mischievousness, you get the messaging. 

Everyone has an angle, as they say in Hollywood. 

Is it benevolent or malevolent or perhaps just dopey does. 

Either way, words are very important.

It's called communications and you send out messages verbally and non-verbally. 

Rule of thumb:


"Clarity, conciseness, and coherence."

Often, the messaging can be confused...like the old game of telephone or just in-coherency of words or thinking. 

So which it it--there is no return policy to speak of or there are no returns allowed.

Tell me damn it! 

Why can't the English learn to speak english? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2016

Keeping Organized

So I'm in this clothing store...

And behind the cash register is this closet. 

The cashier goes to the closet to get something and leaves the door open. 

The closet, especially compared with the rest of the upscale clothing store, is really a mess. 

But at the top, hanging is a yellow sticky note.

And the note says, "Keep Organized".

The first shelf with some binders isn't too bad.

But then as you get further away form the reminder to keep organized, it gets worse and worse. 

Office supplies, hand creams, napkins, sprayers, and more, all sort of thrown in there. 

I was surprised not to see someone's leftovers from lunch. (lol)

And then on the door itself are all these taped up reminder papers and old used tape with papers long torn off still hanging there.

I don't think this is the image or brand this store wants to convey. 

The funny thing is that out on the floor, the salespeople were working on all the fancy displays and using these corporate design books that show them exactly what to lay out, where, and how. 

Then again, what's visible and skin deep doesn't always represent what's beneath the surface. 

Like politics, if you knew how the sausage was made, you'd probably never eat it. 

Maybe some things are better left behind closed doors. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 14, 2016

Jane Confronts Tarzan

Thought this was pretty funny.

I went to the gym to do some lifting. 

And low and behold, someone had left this funny message:

"Dear Tarzan,
Please put the heavy weights back so I can move the bar up and down."
Thank you,
Jane"

How creative a message was that!

Tarzan and Jane, nice sense of humor. 

Effectively asks for what she wants--put away the weights when you're done!

Is polite about it--please and thank you.

Must've worked because the bar was unencumbered and moving up and down fine, and there was no leftover heavy weights to be found. 

A little thoughtful note can go a long way. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 5, 2015

A Ricksha With A Worthwhile Message

This guy is pedaling this ricksha around town in Maryland, USA. 

And it carries messages of hope and peace. 

Some examples (visible in the photo):

- "Promote the Olympic spirit."

- "Hope for world peace."

- "Protecting mother earth."

It looks like he could be right off the streets of China or something and transported here to deliver and remind us of these important ideas. 

What is interesting to me is that in this day and age of social media and online advertising where messages are often drowned out amidst the daily deluge we get, that here a simple ricksha can grab people's attention and perhaps have a positive influence on them.

With just some subtle messaging along the vehicle's canopy and with pictures and flags around the back.

Perhaps it's not only how much one advertises and promotes, but how thought-provoking and novel it's done. 

I don't know how many miles this guy can pedal a day, but I bet he gets more likes than much of the garbage just being throw up online because it's so easy and available for everyone to do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 1, 2015

Snapchat, Eat Your Heart Out

As so many of you app users know, Snapchat allows you to send texts, drawings, photos, and videos, but with privacy, knowing they will disappear in a few seconds.

Disappearing messages is certainly not a new idea--in spycraft or for kids. 

Remember the disappearing ink (or maybe you've forgotten because it disappeared)?

Well, this is a photo of disappearing-disappearing ink!

Someone apparently stole the disappearing ink right out of the packaging in the store--it has truly disappeared. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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December 18, 2014

Thirsty and Hungry

I took this photo today of this funny banner hanging out a thoroughfare window in Washington, D.C.

This big 6 feet banner says "Moms Drink For Free."

So not sure, is it a special running at the local bar for the holidays or a wish by a bunch of mom's looking to get toasted?

Now, look carefully to the right, and you can see in the next window the messaging continues and it says "+ Send 1 Pizza."

So these "moms" are not only thirty but apparently hungry too--they want pizza and brew!

Not sure to what happened to "moms" just being normal mothers and good role models, and not hanging their menu cravings out the window in downtown. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2014

Surveillance Society {Funny}

This was funny photo my wife and I took in a medical practitioner's office. 

Above the floodlights, was a picture of these staring eyes.

And it was simply thumbtacked onto the wallpaper. 

One of the receptionists asked why we were taking the photo.

We sort of giggled--uh, this was not exactly the typical surveillance scenario in the 21st century of CCTVs, drones, hidden mics, tracking devices, and big data--not even close!

But maybe it's just a reminder that someone is ALWAYS looking. ;-)
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February 26, 2014

March Of The Dangerous Penguins

This was a funny picture on the streets of Washington D.C.

Someone drew these "armed" and dangerous penguins on the back of a chair. 

The chair is translucent, but with the snow coming down and covering it, you can see this crazy drawing. 

Perhaps this is a message from the local NRA advocating for gun rights, who knows?

Anyway, these penguins are cute little fellows even carrying scoped rifles and staring down the everyday passerbys. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 20, 2014

The Starbucks Playbook

I'm in Starbucks and this young lady is drawing one of Starbucks promo signs. 

This one was for the new Starbucks Caramel Flan which is a latte (coffee with a shot of expresso and frothy steamed milk) with whipped cream and generous topping of caramel.

In making the sign, the girl was nervous that she wouldn't do a good job because of her drawing skills, but she was actually doing pretty well.

I learned some interesting things from her that the big picture of the cup of coffee on the sign is actually a magnet--so that just snapped in place and was a big help.

Then as you can see on the left, she is a holding a playbook from Starbucks Corporate that has a miniature version of the sign that she is supposed to draw with instructions. 

So this is her guide and the same used by all the other Starbucks putting up this promo this week. 

From a marketing and branding perspective, this helps keep it tight in terms of the messaging, timing, and look and feel. 

Starbucks leaves nothing to chance with their coffee sales and this methodology of having each store draw the promo by hand but from a playbook makes it both authentic and professional. 

Nice job with the Caramel Flan sign! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 13, 2013

Communicating 360

My daughter, Michelle, is taking a university class in public relations and as part of the class she was asked to interview 3 people about their perceptions of this field.

So she posed some questions to me and here is how the interview went:


1. In your own opinion, what is public relations?  Why do you think of public relations this way?

Public relations is simple, it's about relations with the public--communicating and connecting with people about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, for whom you do it, when you do it, and where you do it.  It is includes marketing and sales, customer relations, investor relations, government relations, relations with partners, as well as crisis communications, and maybe even recruiting talent to the organization. 


2. What do you think of when you think of public relations? Why do you think of this/these?

When I think of public relations, I tend to think of many of the big, well-known brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Allstate, and so on--they do a lot of advertising and communicating with the public. They invest in this and it has a pay-off in terms of organization, product, and brand recognition.


3. What do you think the skills are that are needed to work in public relations?

Creativity, visual thinking, messaging, branding, marketing, sales, and psychology. 


4. Would you distinguish public relations from marketing? If so, how?

Public relations, to me, is broader than marketing. Marketing has to do with getting product awareness out there and selling, but public relations involves not only connecting with customers, but also investors, suppliers, partners, even the government, and international players. 


5. Can you give examples of what you think public relations is today? 

Public relations is how an organization interfaces and communicates with all its stakeholders.  It is mainly external or outward facing and differs from internal communications which is inward facing, like talking with employees. Public relations uses advertising, media, commercials, messaging, branding, logos, newsletters, mailings, to get the word out from the organization's perspective--good news and also countering bad news.


So how did this "IT guy" do with answering questions about public relations? 

Not my field, but maybe the MBA and private-sector experience helped, a little.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 20, 2013

Playing For The Meal



I love this guitarist on the corner with the sign that says, "To eat for today one must play for the meal. You Pay. Thank you."

Five communication lessons I had reinforced from this:


- Be direct--he is right to the point...he plays, you pay--that's the deal.


- Be clear--the writing is large, the letters are distinct, and easy to read...you get it!


- Be concise--the message fits on a small cardboard...no rambling placards, just the message next to the guitar case for collecting the money.


- Be purposeful--he states the reason for his being there right up front...he's hungry and is willing to work for it!


- Be courteous--he ends with a nice thank you that is set off to the side in script.


If his playing is half as good as his message...he's earned his meal. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 3, 2012

Better A Rock Than A Pebble



Pebble is coming out with a Smartwatch that connects via wireless
Bluetooth to either iPhone or Android devices.

It can be used for getting messages, including from Twitter and
Facebook, as well as for caller id, music controls, GPS, and more.

And you can download more apps from the watch app store.


Pebble uses a high resolution ePaper display technology, has a
vibrating motor, microprocessor, accelerometer, and the battery can run for up to 7 days.

It has been crowdfunded through Kickstarter website and has since
April sold, pre-order, approximately 85,000 watches at a $115 pop.

While I like the idea of being able to get information in more
convenient form factors whether as a watch, glasses (like Google is working on) or other device configuration, I think the Pebble has a way to go in terms of it's particular design.

Honestly. the Pebble looks cheap and chincy to me. The device looks
too plasticy. The colors seem more geared towards kids.

Additionally, the screen looks way too small to be very useful except
for the most basic alerts, but maybe this is all to make lighter and more mobile.

I plan to wait for something a little more substantial and with a
larger screen.

A ruggedized version would be especially appealing including water,
shock, and dust resistant and so on.

Perhaps the
crowdfunding model has worked for this smartwatch for people looking to get the latest technology or even make a fast buck, but I think a little more crowdsourcing, in terms of customer requirements and feedback, would make an even better product for all.
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May 30, 2012

Communication, What Comes From The Heart

Leaders always seem to be trying to get their message "right".

They ponder what will it take to win the hearts and minds.

They may hire consultants to tell them what they should say.

They engage fancy speechwriters to say "it" just so. 

Then, they monitor the polls to get feedback and see how their message was received.

However a new article in Harvard Business Review (April 2012) throws a curve ball at this whole notion--stating: "It seems almost absurd that how we communicate could be so much more important to success than what we communicate."

From my perspective, there are many factors that contribute to the success of our communications:

Firstly, let's face it--personality, likability, charisma, and charm go a long way to influencing others--and yes, it seems like this is the case, almost at times, regardless of the message itself. 

Then there is everything else from emotional intelligence and political savvy for "working" the audience to doing your homework in terms of getting your facts right, making your presentation engaging, using back channels to build support, and giving people the opportunity to ask questions, contribute, and buy in. 

According to the HBR article, successful communication directly impacts team performance, this occurs through:

- Energy--"the number and nature of exchanges among team members"--with more interaction being better.

- Engagement--the distribution of communications among team members--with more equal distribution being better (i.e. communication isn't being dominated by one person or a select few).

- Exploration--this is the communication between a team and other external connections--with more outreach being better for creativity and innovation. 

For all of us, communicating is as much about the way and how much we interact with others, as with what we actually have to say. 

That's not to say, that what we have to communicate is not important, but rather that the mere act of communicating with others is itself a positive step in the right direction.

We have to genuinely interact and connect with others--it's a critical part of the influencing and teaming process. 

Only then, does honing the message itself really make the difference we want it to. 

People communicate with other people and this happens in  a very direct, personal, and emotional way. 

There is a Jewish saying that my wife often tells me that her grandfather used to say, "what comes from the heart goes to the heart."

I think that is the correct notion--sincerity is at the core of it takes to really communicate effectively with others. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to VisaAgency)

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