Monday, May 17, 2010

We've Moved!

Well, to be specific, The Raleighwood Blog has ;-)

I am happy to say that I moved our new look online this weekend and as a result, if you're subscribed to this blog (THANK YOU!), please update your bookmark to: http://www.raleighwoodmedia.com/?feed\x3drss2 and if that doesn't work, try http://www.raleighwoodmedia.com/?feed=rss2!

Thanks for reading!

XoXo,
Lisa

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Link Shorteners

I posted this update to my twitter/facebook profiles this morning, but thought it was relevant enough for a blog post.
Pet Peeve: Email & other publications using shortened links. It's fine for twitter, but otherwise, I want to know where you're sending me.
Here's my views on using link shorteners/url shorteners in your marcoms (marketing communications).

The Good: URL shortening is used to reduce the number of characters in any web link - most commonly used to fit a link and its related commentary/description within Twitter's 140 character limit. TweetDeck, a popular desktop Twitter application previews the link's actual destination when clicked. TinyURL (a free url shortening service) offers a preview so you can decide whether to continue to the link's destination or not (although it does require enabling and the use of cookies).

The Bad: Bit.ly, another popular link shortener, does not appear to have a prominent preview tool. From a professional standpoint, it does look appealing though because you can create an account and track the number of clicks your links get, etc.

The Ugly: The smart computer user needs to know where they are being directed on the internet! A lot of nasty viruses and malware are running around out there - and no one wants to deal with that.

While I appreciate the value of link shortening for twitter updates, I prefer not to see them on facebook, in emails, and even more so in online publications, blog posts, and articles. If not for the safety factor, there's the other reason that when I'm reading real estate updates or marketing updates, I've probably already read the article on Realtor.org or Mashable.com that you are linking to. There's no reason for me to click though to something I've already read!

So please - don't waste my time or leave me exposed to security risks when you're publishing links online :-)

If anyone has any tips on best practices you've experienced for using and sharing web links using link shortening, please pass them along! I'd love to share them here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More Changes Coming to Facebook

I guess I'm just getting old, but after seeing about 809374 changes to the facebook platform since I first started using it "way back in college", I'm kind of over it. The changes that is! Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan, but it looks as if soon I will only be able to "like" facebook in the future, instead of being a fan.

Personally, I think there is a stronger connection between a brand and its customers with the usage of the term "fan" instead of "like", but according to this recent article in the N&O, customers will soon no longer become a fan of your business, they will simply "like" it - just like the status updates of their friends. I believe that is oversimplifying things to a point of making them less relevant, but they didn't ask for my opinion ;-)

Nonetheless, those who hope to successfully attempt to manage their business (and brand) in an ever-changing online landscape should be aware of things like this. So be sure to read the entire article (it's short - promise!): http://blogs.newsobserver.com/techjunkie/facebook-dumping-become-a-fan.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quick and Dirty Tip: Brand Your Signature Cocktail

Just a quick look at a venue who has done a great job in branding their signature cocktails!

{And really, a tip that you could think about when branding ANYTHING signature. Your signature service, product, or you guessed it... cocktail!}

I had a fun dinner tonight after work with Adrianne and our significant others at our local Red Robin. I ordered their "Gold Margarita" and check out what was delivered to my table:



PS - Also a good idea? They put the prices of their cocktails on the table promotion pieces and their menus. I am a lot more likely to buy a cocktail if I don't have to ask how much it is! (You've heard the old adage: "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it". You'd never want someone to think that about your drinks, right?)

One of the things I like the most about this idea? You could apply this concept to so many other products or services - not just cocktails!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NCB Show Recap - Part 1



Last week I had an awesome, but exhausting, experience at the annual Nightclub & Bar Show (convention and trade show) in the always fun city of Las Vegas!

Along for the ride? My "Director of Awesomeness" / "Right Hand Man (Who Doesn't Get Paid)". That would be my boyfriend - Nick. (He was on vacation from work and never passes up a chance to go lose some money in Vegas, which as a result, paid for our $200/night hotel - yay!)

I will later recap some of the more enjoyable conference education sessions I attended (and provide a "how not to" on the one disaster of a session I attended) later here on the blog... but today, I wanted to start recapping the last day of trade show (for me at least) - the show floor!

My Director of Awesomeness joined me at the show on Wednesday for a day of checking out the newest brands, services, and the like - all slingin' their goods to the nightclub and bar trades. The unofficial motto is "work hard, play hard"... and honestly, that totally fit the bill. I was barely able to stand by the time we got to about the 150th vendor, but I promised myself I was going to make it all the way across the show floor to visit my friends from South Carolina at the Firefly Vodka booth - (Hi, Matt!).

So without further ado, here are the brands that I liked the most from the show. (This is not to say there weren't tons of other great vendors, but as you can imagine, many were geared toward security, lights & sound, other bar operations, etc. -- all things that a marketer and event planner can appreciate -- but don't really have much to do with my day-to-day work.)

Know Your Market
GoCruso.com
I met these folks after seeing about 20 other booths and since we didn't receive a tote bag on the way into our show, and I neglected to bring a bigger bag myself, my hands were FULL. (Nick's, too.) I was amazed that this was the first, and the only, vendor to provide eco-friendly tote bags (actually, any tote bags at all). I saw them from across the way and made a beeline for them. Genius! Just because they had the foresight to bring bags, they have my vote.

GoCruso.com is creating a "social networking site for the food service industry". They had a really impressive booth and staff, so I'm pretty surprised that the site isn't up yet - as of when I'm writing this post.


Let's Party
Spirit Foodservice
Festive straws and stirrers to work any event's theme! (Private label/custom products available!)


HookaLime
Never let the rind spoil a good Corona! These guys were smart enough to send show-goers home with samples... I'll be sure to try it out next time we're at the beach.


Scaled-Down Bowling
Nick LOVED this vendor. (There were two that stood out that he really liked - one of which will stay a secret for just a tad longer as one of my clients is going to be introducing it to the local market soon, and I don't want to spoil the surprise!)


BottleStar
A cute and inexpensive way to add lighted-pours to bottles. Fun holiday d├ęcor, no? Could also be fun way to add spunk to a dark bar.


TweetWall Live
Display buzz, tweets, mentions, and more. What I really love about this company? They charge an affordable one-time fee -- no monthly recurring fees!

Ok, that's enough review for right now. Tune in later this week for my second round of favorites!

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Know I Love a Good Commercial, Right?

I also happen to really love animals. The following is a win-win for me :-)



Here's the direct link if you can't view the video above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZOeWFBy75A.

Well done to Sears Optical and whichever agency/agencies had the opportunity to put together this project! (I think it may have been Sponge Chicago, based on the YouTube description.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Swag: Send Them Home With Something They'll Value

I am not a fan of junk. If something doesn't have a function or intrinsic value, I don't have much use for it. I realllllly need things to be organized and for everything to have a place!

Fellow local twitter user, @DanLondon (who also serves as the Director of Online Marketing at ShareFile.com), posted something I favorited a few months ago because it resonated with me:@DanLondon: Funny. Tech has evolved but swag is still in 1984 (not that I don't love my hackey sack) #isum09Since obviously this is something I'm passionate about (and no, I didn't know one could be passionate about swag), I'll occasionally share some things that I think make great alternatives to the keychain (don't we all have a keychain full of keychains in junk storage?) and the ink pen (if you buy cheap, they won't write anyway).

The very first feature comes from Eventbrite... a must-use utility for anyone hosting any kind of event (ESPECIALLY if you need to actually sell tickets). Specifically, this was posted on their facebook page.Click on the image above to view the branded chocolate poker chips in detail... a delicious takeaway from the casino-themed after-party they were hosting at a conference.

Oh, and their tagline? "Always a full house with Eventbrite."

Now that's what I call clever!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Local Business Spotlight: Creative Re-Branding from TS Designs

A very cool company based out of Burlington, NC, the TS Designs "about" page notes:Among all the renewable energy structures, natural landscaping, and water-saving facilities, it’s easy to miss the answer to the question: what does TS Designs DO?
We print and dye t-shirts!

While that may not seem as sexy as a tracking solar array or biodiesel, we have a passion for making the best damn shirt you’ve ever worn.

They've launched a re-branded campaign to help illustrate the difference between their lines... in a manner consumers would easily recognize:
Not bad, huh? You can leave them some love on their blog if you like it, too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Guilty Pleasure: Reality TV

I hate the thought of watching sad or graphic tv shows with my downtime. Life can be pretty depressing, so why watch it for entertainment?

Some of my favorite shows are ones where they change someones life (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deserving Design, The Biggest Loser, etc.) and business-related shows (The Celebrity Apprentice)... I think this just merged those two interests together.

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/undercover_boss/
Premieres after the Super Bowl

I'm pretty excited to DVR this. I watched the extended preview online and of course, got a little teary-eyed (but that's what they wanted, of course).

It looks like one of the top leaders at Waste Management will be the first profiled on the show. What I think will be most interesting to see is if this is just a good marketing program aimed at building goodwill, or if it will actually lead to better top-down leadership at companies that employee lots of people.

PS - True confession, Nick and I watch Jersey Shore, too. Not changing any lives there, but it sure is good for some laughs!


{Image: CBS.com official Undercover Boss site.}

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thank You: Ian

{Thank You: A simple "Thank You!" can go a long way. I'm sure that I forget to say them along the way, just like anyone else. I hope this blog mini-series helps me remember to say it to some of the amazing people I'm so blessed to know!}

Thank You: Ian

The handsome guy in this picture is my friend from college, Ian.

In case you can't tell from that mountain side pose... he is awesome.

How awesome?

Here's a clip from the email I received from him on Christmas on my Blackberry (yes, I know, but I promise I was only checking email and texts from friends and family with Merry wishes!).I told Santa about all your interesting projects and blogs online.... you may be getting a new client soon!
I've always known that I've been surrounded by some of the best people in the world and this just highlights a bit of that.

Ian is teaching in Istanbul, Turkey these days but Nick, my sister, and I had the chance to share a few stories and drink with him at The Pit when he was in town last fall. I can't wait to catch him stateside again or maybe meet up with him on one of his world travels!

Thank you for the support and friendship, Ian! Stay safe on all your adventures and enjoy Turkey... I hope you find a great sorority soccer team to coach there ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Might Be on to Something Here...

Evan, owner of SearchSage - a Raleigh-NC based search marketing consultancy, and I launched a joint project at the end of December (2009) just in time for the New Year's holiday.

Here's the skinny:
In a casual conversation one day about the vast array of options that Raleigh has to offer for New Year’s Eve (actually, for any day of the year), we quickly realized there was not a “one-stop shop” for that information… or at least one where you could pick and choose your destination based on your preferences. So we set out to create RaleighNYE.com – the place for all of your Raleigh New Year’s Eve details!
I wanted to write this post really quickly, mostly to say "Thank you!":
... to everyone who helped make the site a success by submitting events and feedback,
... to those of you who visited and checked out all that Raleigh, and the surrounding areas, have to offer,
... to those of you who shared it with friends, co-workers, etc...

Thank you times a million!

We launched the project on December 29th and in just a few short days, recorded 1,189 visitors, 1,480 visits, 10,855 page views, an average of 7.33 pages/visit, and an average time on site of 4:20.

While we are TOTALLY humbled by the amount of traffic that we received, we are most importantly insanely happy to infer from the results that the site has been valuable to so many (good time on site and average number of pages per visit).

To the restaurant and bar owners in the area: We sincerely hope that your businesses benefited from our site!

To the restaurant and bar patrons: We hope that you were able to find the perfect NYE party for you and your guests!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Details: Print-Ready vs. Ready for End Consumer

I just posted this to my twitter account - and then immediately felt it was too important not to share in a more "permanent" fixture, like my blog.

@ncsulilwolf Pet Peeves from the Advertising/Publishing Industries: Print-ready PDFs (complete with cut marks) being posted to end consumer websites! UGH
I'll call the offending party out by name, because I know they are much too large to care. I was on the GE consumer products website tonight looking for a manual for a universal remote control (so I can watch Dirty Dancing on the TV here in the office while I work, DUH!).

Now, while the mission was ultimately successful, and I did find the manual, the manual that I found was actually not the one intended for end consumer use.

What I found instead was the print-ready PDF of the manual that had probably been originally sent to the printer. It had all sorts of margins, cut marks, directions, and more. And it wasn't 100% correctly formatted, so I kept getting all sorts of errors when trying to scroll through the pages. Unfortunately, this document should have simply been passed through Adobe Professional and cropped - at a minimum - before being published to the consumer website.

I see this happen way too often... in all sorts of industries and businesses! In 2010, we all need to take a few more minutes to focus on the details and ensure we're always offering QUALITY.

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a fully featured version of the Adobe Reader free software and is TOTALLY worth the price. If for no other reason than to make changes like this in case your ad or production agency sends it to you in a format not appropriate for consumers.

And no, this post was in no way sponsored by Adobe... but I do find Acrobat Pro more and more useful each day. (That also goes for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

FYI for Bloggers and Brands

Unless you've been hiding from media headlines since October, there's a good chance to heard something about how the FTC (Federal Trade Commission - whose job is to "(work) for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them") is changing how bloggers and brands can represent each other online.

To read the full news release from the FTC, visit http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.

The changes actually affect all testimonial advertising, bloggers, AND celebrity endorsements. But let's just assume you're not a celebrity, or hiring a celebrity, for a moment ;-)


So how does this affect you?

The short and sweet is that when a review is given with non-typical results, typical results must be clearly outlined. The other point is that the connection between the consumer and brand must be disclosed. ie: The posting blogger must disclose that he/she was contacted by the brand and what the terms were, if it's a brand they're personally representing, doing it for a family member, etc., etc.

And for Heaven's sake, never create misleading content. It's a big no-no in advertising and blogging crosses into that territory.

Of course, this blog post in no means constitute any sort of legal advice and you should always, ALWAYS read the rules for yourself and consult your own legal counsel if you have any questions about how to interpret any guidelines.

Visit http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm and look under "related items" to download the latest guidelines for endorsements. (These are always subject to updating and revisions, so I'm not posting a link to the current document - instead, I'm telling you where you can find the most recent version.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Client Event Spotlight: Brittany's Battle, Inc. - Annual Angel Gala

Brittany's Battle
2nd Annual Angel Gala

Date: Sunday, Nov. 22nd
Time: 5pm to 8pm
Venue: 1705 Prime
1705 E. Millbrook Road - Raleigh NC

Get Your Tickets Now!
Tickets can be purchased through eTix.com. The cost is $30.00 for individual tickets prior to Nov 15, 2009. The cost will be $35.00 after Sunday, November the 15th, so be sure to buy your tickets online this weekend!
Gala Features
With every ticket purchase, you will be automatically entered to win fabulous door prizes - including a TV with a built in DVD player compliments of Alco Electronics!

There will be appetizers, light buffet dinner, dancing, desserts, a silent auction, an online auction, cash bar, door prizes, and more chances to win wonderful prizes.

Some aution items include a trip to the NASCAR All-Star race in May, a weeks stay in an ocean front suite in Wrightsville Beach, an autographed hockey stick signed by the Carolina Hurricanes, tickets to UNC & NCSU events, gifts baskets for all ages and tastes, and much more!

The online auction - hosted by ebay and featuring exciting autographed items from country music's finest - will go live a few days before the Gala and will end a few days after the Gala.

Be sure to visit BrittanysBattle.org for more information! Hope to see some of you there :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Double Classy

Since their launch (maybe just over a year ago?), I have been a huge fan of Southern Weddings. Based out of our neighboring Chapel Hill, NC., I don't subscribe to many weddings blogs, but they sure make the cut.

Nonetheless, I was totally in awe of their Veteran's Day post, which expands beyond one day of respect for those who tirelessly serve our country. Not only are they providing a copy of their newest issue (which is sure to be an early sell-out), but they are including some Southern goodies, too. I'm sure they're also including the shipping in that offer.

How many magazines, or businesses in general, do you think would do that?

http://www.swsmag.net/blog/2009/11/11/todays-the-day-well-half-the-day-mega-photo-contest.html

All you need to do is read the very last line of the blog post, but you might as well enjoy the entertaining pictures while you're there!

Kudos to Lara, Emily, Katharine, & Whitney!
(Hope I didn't leave any SW team members out!)