Finding the Bigger Event Engagement Picture

This blog post originally appeared on the Meeting Professionals International blog. Since its publication, the website has been redesigned and older blog posts are not longer available. It has been republished here with permission.

As far as Matt O’Neil, vice president of brand and media for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, is concerned, game day extends beyond the one day a week that the team is on the field. And he believes that event professionals should take the same approach to social marketing for their events.

This was one of the messages delivered to approximately 150 meeting, event and travel professionals who descended on The Star in Frisco, Texas—the new headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys—during Omni Hotels & Resorts’ “Be Collaborative” professional development series. Omni is building a hotel as part of The Star in Frisco complex, which will have 300 rooms and roughly 30,000 square feet of meeting space when it opens in July 2017.

Following a presentation about the latest hotel industry data and how it can affect availability and pricing, O’Neil delved further into the social and marketing techniques his team uses to promote a brand that has long been known as “America’s Team.”

“There’s a calendar year of 365 days that we have to engage our fans,” he said. “There’s just a bigger picture than your events. There’s a longer window in which you need to engage your people and your fans and your customers.”

O’Neil oversees a large area for engagement, managing the team’s marketing, advertising and creative services; content providers (radio, television, internet, social and mobile channels); and what he calls “event presentation” for game days or third-party events: content for the AT&T Stadium video board and activities that occur in the plaza or at halftime.

“Anything else that touches the brand in any way, I either directly control or have influence in or feel responsible for,” he said.

The importance of the brand is paramount, according to O’Neil.

“It’s 365 days a year of how you are filtering your brand into your experience,” he said. “It’s wildly important to the success of your business.”

O’Neil said the job of deciding what the brand is has shifted from the business owner or event planner to the customer or the attendee. As a result, attendees’ post-event reaction has been even more important.

“They come home…and someone asks them, ‘Hey, how was that conference, how was that meeting?’ If they don’t say ‘great,’ you’re screwed. They’re not coming back next year,” he said. “That hurts your personal brand and hurts your meeting or event for next year.”

Every single touch point matters to the brand, and O’Neil says that creating the best content for social media is a major part of that. The turning point for the Cowboys was creating a parody of the popular “Mean Tweets” video, inspired by the feature on the late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! The video ended up being the most-watched video on an NFL team website five times over, driven entirely by social and signaling to O’Neil and his team the importance of creating extraordinary content just for social media.

As a result, O’Neil and his team look at five areas when creating content for social media marketing.

O’Neil says authenticity is key when communicating with attendees. If you’re not familiar with a certain topic, turning to your speakers is a good way to get it right.

“Tell [speakers], ‘If you’re going to speak at this conference, then I need five social posts from you.’ It’s super easy and it’s authentic,” he said.

Another suggestion from O’Neil is choosing a voice, saying that the “default” voice for social media is witty and cleaver. He said the voice should reflect the makeup of your audience, pointing out that the voice for an event for construction workers would differ from an event for senior citizens. He added that when it comes to the voice, it’s not about you, rather it’s about your audience.

Another key is posting at the same interval on a regular basis. O’Neil says that if you publish a blog post (or any other social channel) every Tuesday, then your audience will come to expect that and it’s important to maintain the schedule.

O’Neil says that in addition to posting regularly, one of the most important factors is that material should be the absolute best work you can produce. He judges the strength of content by how many times it has been shared.

“I am a finicky share person,” he said. “It better blow me away for me to press the ‘share’ button and give it to my network.”

Speed and Timing
Putting the content out at the right time is also critical. O’Neil said that the Cowboys’ take on the popular “mannequin challenge” video, shot prior to a plane ride back following a road win, garnered 13 million views, while similar videos by other teams only received a fraction of that. He said distributing it at the right time of day (social media was still active following the win) made the difference. Putting it out the next morning after the plane had landed might not have been as effective.

“Think about putting out content that is relatable to more people,” O’Neil said. “Social media, especially Facebook, allows you to target in a really good way.”

He said that as close as fans are to the Cowboys brand, many times fans still see the players as almost super-human. Their objective then is to produce material that makes the players relatable and human to everyone.

O’Neil talked about the number of videos that were produced before the season featuring then-starting quarterback Tony Romo. After Romo went down with an injury in a preseason game, the material was rendered unusable. His point underscored the importance of staying up to date when producing content.

“How are you being relevant to your fan base?” he asked. “What is going to be relevant for them to hear right now?”

Social Distribution
“When you put out a great piece of content, before you press publish, who are you contacting to help amplify that message?” O’Neil asked.

He said that a post on a social channel with a small number of followers will obviously not go anywhere. Distributing carefully thought out material to the right channels, though, can lead to bigger gains.

“How are you creating great content, how are you thinking through every single word you’re putting out there?” he asked. “How are you drawing people to the meetings, to the conferences, how are you doing it?”

Battling “Yes,” Perfection and The Clunk

This blog post originally appeared on the Meeting Professionals International blog. Since its publication, the website has been redesigned and older blog posts are not longer available. It has been republished here with permission.

Tami Evans started out the final 2016 IMEX America keynote address with a 10-second pause and then a confession.

“I figure that a Vegas showroom is the best place to share it, because it’s just us: Hi, I’m Tami and I’m a recovering people pleaser,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Evans described the constant struggle of balancing work and life, keeping everything in check until someone asks if she can take on one more thing, to which the answer is automatically “yes,” an answer given by many audience members in unison.

“Oh, alright. There are many of us here today,” she said laughing. “It’s just one ‘yes’…but that is a slippery slope.”

Evans then described how that one “yes” leads to an increased number of unexpected duties until, finally, a person doesn’t have the bandwidth to make time for their most basic needs. Her solution was to politely put off the request (“Let me get right back to you on that”) in order to focus on the most what was the overarching theme of her keynote address: Taking care of yourself in order to do the best work for others.

“You have to say ‘no’ to make room for ‘yes,’ she said.

Evans congratulated the audience for saying ‘no’ to family and work obligations this week to attend IMEX America, noting that the meetings and events they plan make the world a better place by connecting people through experiences and creating relationships.

Discussing how to stay motivated, Evans cited a Gallup study revealing that the top motivating factor in the workplace is appreciation, something that costs nothing. Showing appreciation throughout your life can make a difference to the people around you.

The main blocker of motivation, she said, is perfection.

To illustrate this, Evans told a story about pursuing acting in New York. She was always chasing her idea of perfection, but failing to land gigs. While heading to an audition, she was convinced that she had achieved the level of perfection, only to be told by someone on the way in that the entire back her skirt had been tucked into her pantyhose.

About to leave in humiliation, she changed her mind, going into the audition and telling the story instead. After sharing a laugh with everyone and giving a performance that she said wasn’t perfect, Evans landed the gig.

“They said they liked my personality and my passion,” she said. “It took that ‘pantyhose moment’ for me to realize personality and passion upstage perfection every single time.”

She urged the audience to embrace their “pantyhose moments” when things go awry and perfection needs to be put on pause, allowing their personality and passion to prevail.

Moving on to the topic of relationships, Evans said that all of us need to look inward as well as outward when dealing with others.

“The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your relationships, with others and with yourself,” she said.

For inner relationships, Evans encouraged the audience to trust their intuition, calling the feeling that something is not quite right “The Clunk.”

She said that she first discovered her clunk while accompanying a friend on a shoe-shopping trip to a Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Offered champagne upon entering the store, Evans quickly realized that she was out of her element (“They do not do this at T.J. Maxx”). Talked into buying a very expensive pair of Jimmy Choo high heels, she never wore them due to her clunk telling her that she couldn’t afford them.

Not long after, she listened when her clunk told her not to take the shoes on a trip to see a friend, where the friend’s dog ended up chewing another pair of her shoes beyond recognition. After the near miss, Evans returned the shoes and the clunk went away.

She said the clunk appears whenever we’re making a choice that isn’t the best decision for our lives, whether it’s going along with something we don’t want to or not speaking up when we feel we have a worthwhile idea.

“Your clunk equals junk,” she said. “Take the step that it takes to take back your Choos before the other shoe drops.”

Evans then turned to relationships with others, telling a story about a walk with her son. They came across a dandelion that had gone to seed, with the small white ball on top exposed. Her son picked it and blew, sending the seeds floating away, with Evans taking in the scene and calling it a “momma moment.” She said that when she younger, she did the same thing while making a wish. When she asked what his wish was, she was taken aback when he focused on the scientific aspect.

“Now I’m having another kind of momma moment, where I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have failed to instill childhood whimsy in this person!’” she said.

Evans said that they were both right in their approach, as they both see the world in very different ways but still respect each other’s point of view. She called this their “dandelion treaty.”

She encouraged the audience to have their own dandelion treaty, urging them to find middle ground with the people they disagree with or find challenging so they can both be happy, and getting rid of intolerance in the process.

Evans asked the audience to try at least one method when they returned home, whether it was with their team at work or in their personal life. She also advised attendees to find the difficult balance between the business and interpersonal aspects of their planning careers, utilizing both their brains and their hearts.

“Do you know how special you have to be to be successful in this industry?” she asked. “So I celebrate you and congratulate you.”

Covering the Job Search Bases

A couple of weeks ago, I was forwarded an article about things to do when the job search isn’t going well.

While the article offered some solid points (“Partner with a friend, another job seeker, a coach… somebody!”; “Read motivational books, articles, websites”), I think it left out a few important  points that I picked up during my year in the job search.

Make Minor, Then Major Renovations
There’s a rule that I adhere to when writing anything: If I think I’m done, walk away from it for a while. When I come back to it, I can guarantee you that I will make edits.

The same can be said about a resume. I’m constantly thinking up new (and hopefully better) ways to describe my skills and accomplishments. Plus once a quarter, I sit down and take a critical look at the document and make as many major changes as I can.

Keywords Really Are Key
Knowing the keywords that relate to your target job and making sure they’re in your LinkedIn profile and resume will help you show up higher in a search and allow the right people find you. My profile is by no means perfect, but with the help of LinkedIn coach Terry Sullivan I’ve made an effort to match it up to my general job title of “communications specialist.”

The word “communications” shows up 24 times and the phrase “communications specialist” is listed eight times. Other specialties are also listed such as “photography” (32 times), “graphics” (10 times), “social media” (20 times) and “web” (16 times both on its own and part of the word “website(s)”).

Additionally, where your keywords are listed in your profile can help you show up higher in search results as well. Although it was published before LinkedIn debuted its redesign a couple of years ago, LinkedIn expert David Lanners’ video and pdf of the varying search values in a LinkedIn profile is still very relevant.

Weekend Update
Early on in my search, a recruiter shared an interesting point with me: Updating your online profiles over the weekend puts you higher in the search results when recruiters get in the office on Monday.  When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. The results returned by search engines like Google show the most updated sites first.

Many people (myself included) make at the very least minor updates on Sunday and upload the resume or save the profile to various sites (LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.).

Get Out of the House
Keeping your online profiles updated is important. Networking in person is critical.

While it’s good to network with other job seekers, it’s also very important to network with people who are currently working. One of the best resources for finding all types of networking groups in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is

Something else to consider is networking with groups or associations within your industry. In my search, networking events help by organizations such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) or the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) were great for a couple of reasons:

1. The networking events are sometimes fairly inexpensive.

2. I didn’t have to spend forever explaining to other attendees what my job entailed.

3. They sometimes had insight into the hiring status of companies in the industry.

4. Many of those attending events have been in the job search and sometimes can offer great insight on the process.

Additionally, some organizations will sometimes offer you a reduced rate or even extend your existing membership at no cost if you let them know you’re in the job search.

When Hashtag Hijacking Goes Right

When the subject of Twitter comes up with certain people, the response is usually the same and said in a rather whiny, annoyed tone:

“I don’t want to see pictures of what other people had for breakfast.”

It’s at this point that I launch into my usual defense of the social media platform, explaining how it’s a great way to keep up on news, you can learn an amazing amount, it can be an amazing tool for distributing information, blah, blah, blah.

And then you have people like isotope geochemist and laboratory scientist Hope Jahren who last week employed the old (and correct) adage, “Show, don’t tell.”

Slate magazine’s Future Tense blog had a great story last week about how Jahren and other female scientists decided to make a point by “hijacking” Seventeen’s “Manicure Monday” event, where the magazine encourages young women to upload photos of what their manicures, using the hashtag #ManicureMonday.

For the record, “hashtag hijacking” (as it’s referred to), usually isn’t a good thing: Just ask McDonalds or JPMorgan Chase. The scientists’ motive, though, wasn’t to attack the publication. Their plan was to use the Twitter dialogue to upload photos of their own nails working on research or experiments, hopefully encouraging young women to look at the bigger picture.

Seventeen magazine has 700,000 followers,” said Jahren in the Slate article, “and it’s my dream they’ll retweet one of these images to show their followers, presumably a lot of girls, that it’s about what their hands do—not about how they look.”

Jahren had plenty of support from colleagues in the scientific community and the results were incredibly interesting:





In the end, though, the results weren’t all that Jahren had hoped for, as she discussed on her blog.

While hashtag hijacking isn’t kosher, the reason behind this one was incredibly laudable. It’s no secret that not nearly enough young women are being encouraged to study math, science or technology.  Jahren and her fellow scientists not only made an impressive effort, but used the right platform to hit their core audience.

Interestingly enough, Jahren noted in the Slate article how she is criticized by others in the scientific community for using social media.

“When her academic colleagues asked her why she wastes her time tweeting, Jahren responds by saying it’s better than wasting her time writing publications nobody will ever read.”

Hopefully an influx of female scientists in the near future will prove to her critics that Jahren is right.

Paying For the Free Lunch

I’ll be the first to admit that Mary Jones’ economics class was not the highlight of my high school career. I did manage, though, to take a few valuable lessons away from that course and one of them came back to me during the recent Instagram controversy.

In case you’re one of the five people that missed it, the Facebook-owned photo sharing site issued a new terms of service (t.o.s.) agreement. Some people interpreted a portion of the agreement, scheduled to go into effect in mid-January, as Instragram having the right to sell users’ photos. The allegedly offending section that caused all Hell to break loose online read:

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.”

Instagram quickly responded (or backtracked, according to some), basically saying, “Um, yeah…that’s not really what we meant.

Whether or not massive profits were behind their evil scheme to market photos of somebody’s cat or the 267 self-portraits you’ve taken, it does bring to the forefront a fact that all social media users need to accept (here comes the big economics lesson):

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Let’s face it: All of the social media sites that we use on daily basis aren’t altruistic endeavors; they’re businesses that have to make money to survive. If they survive, we can keep posting our inane stuff and everybody is happy.

Like any good business, they’re always finding (yes, sometimes annoying) ways to be profitable. Twitter has “Promoted Tweets”, while Facebook offers anyone (read: advertisers) the opportunity to place ads, promote posts and is now testing an option that will allow people to send messages to users they don’t know for a dollar a pop.

For the record, I don’t like or agree with efforts like the Instagram t.o.s. For years, photographers, graphic designers and writers have been dealing with contracts that assume all rights to their work (called “right grabbing” clauses) that make the text above look like child’s play. It’s one of the main reasons, along with laughable compensation rates, that many professionals (myself included) have all but given up pursuing freelance work.

As much as I like and use social media, there’s nothing out there that I would pay cash for. I think it’s safe to assume most everyone else would agree, as shown by the uproar created by Instagram’s t.o.s. issue. The problem is that “free” comes with a price and in the end, that price will be social media platforms taking our content and using it however they see fit. Next time, though, they might not back down like Instagram did when users cry “foul.”

Not Killing the Messenger or the Message

In Jerry Seinfeld’s excellent web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Seinfeld meets up with Michael Richards, his old cast mate from the classic series, “Seinfeld.” During the episode (titled “It’s Bubbly Time, Jerry”), the drive to the coffee shop is hilarious and displays not only the comic genius of the two men, but also makes you wonder how far off from Richards the “Kramer” character really was.

The most interesting (and touching) part of the video, though, comes at the 14-minute mark when Seinfeld and Richards discuss an on-stage incident Richards’ had several years ago. While doing stand-up, an audience member began heckling him and Richards ended up directing a racial epithet at the man. He expresses his appreciation for Seinfeld’s support during that time and confesses to him that the embarrassment of the event still affects him. Richards says that it was so devastating that he hasn’t done stand-up since, even though he has new material he’s been wanting to try out.

It’s at this point that Seinfeld gives his friend the excellent advice to just let it go:

“That’s up to you, to say, ‘You know what? I’ve been carrying this bag long enough. I’m going to put it down.’ ”

After watching this I began thinking about great advice and lessons I had picked up along the way and two examples that I use often came to mind.

One was a story I heard from a former supervisor about something he had read in a book concerning customer service. In the anecdote, a businessperson was going a presentation at a hotel and found that the room he was presenting in didn’t have a dry-erase board. The first person he saw was a passing bus boy from a nearby restaurant and asked the employee if he could find a board for him. The item was delivered and the presentation was delivered without a problem, but the businessperson noticed that the bus boy would stick his head into the room from time to time.

At the end of the day, the hotel manager stopped by to check to see how everything went and the businessperson mentioned seeing the bus boy several times after requesting the dry-erase board. The hotel manager replied that part of his customer service policy was that no matter who you were or what you did at the hotel, any request by a guest was owned by that person to the fullest. As a result, the request made to the bus boy meant that he needed to check back on the situation and had the power to fix the situation to customers’ satisfaction.

Another lesson came in a discussion with several other photographers about how the advancement of digital photography seemed to have made some people think that it didn’t require as much skill and talent. One photographer made the comment, “It seems that people have stopped wanting good and started settling for good enough.”

To me, both these lessons are great, as they illustrate that while many people have lowered their standards, good customer service and extra effort still is, and will always be, valued.

The thing that really made these great pieces of advice interesting, though, is that I couldn’t stand either person that gave them.

The supervisor was put in charge long before he was ready and instead of being a great leader, was petty and immature in the way he played favorites with employees and caused rifts among the staff.

The photographer, while great at his craft, was extremely egotistical (even for a photographer, a group known for egos!) and felt he needed to shove his opinion on any subject down your throat and you should thank him for the experience. He was so disliked, that employees at other sites within the company often responded with, “You have to work with [insert photographer’s name here]? Geez, I’m so sorry…” when they discovered the location where I was based.

My advice from both of these examples is this: Great advice comes from all angles, even those you might not expect. Although you might want to kill the messenger (or maybe just rough them up a little), hold off because their message might be worth hearing.

Working Through the Networking Scrum

Following the conclusion of an NFL game, you’ve most likely see the two head coaches surrounded by a gaggle of photographers as they meet on the field to shake hands.  Photographers that shoot the games refer to this as “the scrum” (in reference to the similarities of a rugby game) and while many discuss it with much disdain on various message boards and websites, only a few take the initiative to step outside of the hoards and try to get a different shot. The rest do the same thing they’ve always done and complain about it later. This type of situation came to mind recently as I was reading a complaint about a networking event.

Yes, networking in a large groupcan be
loud and crowded. But it’s not impossible.

A couple of months ago, I started attending networking events put on by a company that stages them in various cities around the country. In my opinion, the meetings were well organized and attended by quite a few businesspeople and job seekers alike, so they can be a bit crowded and sometimes noisy (like many networking events). Overall, though, I found them to be a positive experience. As a result, I was intrigued by a posting in the organization’s LinkedIn group titled, “Networking after work will advertise a networking event. Beware it is real cheap but the event will be way overcrowded and loud.”

The person who originated the thread complained that the event he attended in Chicago was a disaster and listed everything he thought was wrong with the event, with another attendee agreeing. The complaints got me thinking about why my experience was so different when the environments were similar. Here are three techniques I’ve realized I used to make a crowded networking event effective.

1. Work the edges. Although the majority of the people were in a large mass (scrum) in the middle of the bar and it was a bit noisy, I made contacts by stepping away from everyone else and met very interesting people who were also on the outside of the group. These weren’t the dregs of the group either. The people I met included:

A gentleman whose company offered cloud computing services. The whole concept intrigues me, and this was a great opportunity to get valuable insight into the level of security “the cloud” offers. (He feels that even though there is the slight chance of information being compromised, cloud servers are still much more secure than the average corporation’s firewall).

Two I.T. specialists that had been using a recently opened section of the area’s mass transit system in their commute. I had been wondering how effective this line running from an outer city into the Dallas/Fort Worth area would be and they gave it glowing reviews.

A graphic designer looking for a position in the non profit industry. I had met someone earlier that worked at one of her target companies and was able to relay some information on the employer.

2. This is just an introduction. If you’ve been networking for any amount of time, you’ve most likely recognized that the true networking begins after the event. You send a request to connect on LinkedIn (using something other than the generic text LinkedIn give you) or communicate via email. I sent the graphic designer I met a couple of resources on non profit employment and have passed along job opportunities I’ve come across.

3. Stop acting like a spoiled child that expects to be catered to and give a little input. I’ll apologize in advance: I’m going to rant a little here.

A problem I’ve run into while networking are adults that expect groups or organizations to do everything for them and don’t want to put any effort into the process. You get out of networking what you put into it. Don’t like the way things are being done? Volunteer to help make the event a better experience. The venue sucks? Make a suggestion of a place that might be better suited. If you’re paying for the service, then be an effective customer and give feedback that can help the organizations produce a better product. JUST DO SOMETHING!

Unfortunately, there are some people who simply want to complain and don’t want to put forth any effort. In the LinkedIn group discussion concerning the Chicago event in question, an attendee posted a favorable review and I made a post agreeing, with a few other comments.

The response from one of the Chicago attendees: “Lucky Dallas.”

When Good Publications Go Bad (Or Just Do Something Really Stupid)

“Wow, I expected better from PDN.”

The message board title on the photography website automatically captured my curiosity. “PDN” referred to Photo District News, one of (in my opinion) the leading publications that covers the business of photography. The magazine had launched a new digital publication aimed at female photographers, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Once a male dominated field, many women have now taken over and redefined several areas of the business including family portraiture, weddings and even boudoir photography.

PDN took the liberty of setting all of that back a couple of decades with the material they packed into this thing. A selection of article titles:

“Stay Smashing: Follow these tips from Smashbox Cosmetics global pro lead artist Lori Taylor and avoid makeup meltdown during arduous summer shoot.”

“Seasonal Flats: These flats will keep your feet covered, comfortable and cute while you’re on photo shoots.”

“Step by Step: Create these beautiful paper lanterns for your home or studio.”

“In Mint Condition: Stay on trend with these green accessories.”

Feel free to check out the rest of the train wreck here.  To their credit they were kind enough to throw in a couple of articles on technique and business (how progressive!).

The interesting thing, though, was the opinions professional articles had on the content. They ranged from anger over the subject matter to lack of surprise, saying that many photographers were focusing on fluff, rather than technique and business. Some even said that it really didn’t matter, since the target audience wasn’t able to compete and wouldn’t last in the marketplace.

Here are my thoughts:

1. This is a slap in the face to women in the industry. It’s like a respected business magazine running makeup tips for businesswomen. Interestingly enough, the week this came out I received two other photography magazines, “Rangefinder” (owned by Nielsen Business Media, which also publishes PDN) and “Professional Photographer.” Both magazines happened to run several articles featuring women and, get ready to be shocked, they actually focused on the business aspect of photography! No accessories to be found.

2. Yes, there are a number of photographers out there that value style over substance and couldn’t care less about the business aspect. While they might not be a direct threat to experienced professional photographers, it’s one more roadblock they have to deal with in doing business.

An interesting twist to this story is that not long after the uproar started, Nielsen Media released this statement:

Dear readers,

On July 10th The Nielsen Photo Group, parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder and other publications and photography events, introduced a new, free digital magazine edition of PIX for photo enthusiasts. The content of this edition is specifically geared toward women who enjoy photography as a hobby, featuring articles and product suggestions intended to inspire women to shoot more and create better photographs.

An e-mail announcing PIX was sent to The Nielsen Photo Group’s entire audience including hobbyists, students, emerging and professional photographers. The e-mail introducing PIX mistakenly had the name Photo District News in the sender line.

We value your opinion and are dedicated to learning about what you want to see in future issues of PIX. Our success lies in understanding the needs of all photographers and continually innovating to meet your ever-changing desires. Please feel free to e-mail our marketing director, Michael Zorich at with suggestions for what you’d like to see in future editions of PIX, the photography lifestyle digital magazine for women.

Thank you

Maybe if they would’ve taken this approach to begin with, this whole mess could’ve been avoided.

Communicators: Carl Pascale

“Communicators” is an ongoing series detailing the various ways people use communications. The first entry focuses on how marketing and strategic planning manager Carl Pascale is using video to demonstrate the need for strategy.

After working for defense contractor Lockheed Martin for 22 years, Carl Pascale gained quite a bit of knowledge about strategy. Now he’s using the lessons he learned from business development and marketing efforts involving fighter jets to help others plan their personal strategies.

Carl Pascale

“At the time I started with them, most of the business development and marketing activities were around the F-16 program, one of, if not the, most successful fighter aircraft program in the history of the world,” said Pascale. “They’re still selling them today, now 30 plus years after it was introduced and my role was to do a variety of things. I got involved in putting together the strategic plan for the company.”

The strategic plans Pascale helped develop described what Lockheed’s focus was going to be for up to a year, but also included looking ahead anywhere from 5-10 years. The data produced would also help other departments align their course of action with the company’s goals.

“It’s trying to figure out [a course of action] without getting terribly specific about product necessarily, but just the market opportunity, what’s out there, what the company’s position is in terms of market share and the potential, what the competitors have,” said Pascale. “Can you take share from competitors or are there spaces or niche markets that are not presently addressed that might be opportunities, so all of that provides context, direction for all various organizations in the company.”

Lights, Camera, Strategy

After leaving Lockheed in December of 2011, Pascale found a new outlet for his strategic skills in the form of a video clip. He jokes that he “stole” the idea from the feature on magazine Fast Company’s website, “30 Second MBA.” The video series features a variety of people, ranging from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to Bjorn Rebney, CEO of the mixed martial arts league Bellator, giving their thoughts on various aspects of business.

The videos, Pascale thought, would be a chance to reach a larger audience with his opinions on strategy.

“It occurred to me that much as I might work to have conversations with people and talk about what I do and what I’ve learned from my experience, video is probably an effective way to reach people I otherwise wouldn’t with that message.”

“Also, I don’t have a job,” he added with a laugh. “The other motivation was this is a way to reach potential employers. Something to hopefully set me apart.”

So far, the subjects Pascale has covered with his videos include “Business Base Forecast,” “Why is a Strategy Necessary?” and most recently, “Adaptive Strategy.” He said that the subject matter comes from his experience working for Lockheed over two decades.

One of the biggest challenges, though, hasn’t been coming up with subject matter or talking to the camera. It’s been the technical aspect of producing the videos.

“I have no experience [creating videos],” said Pascale. “This is new to me. So the first one, you’ll probably notice the lighting is good and the camera is set back. I had my son help me with that one. The other one I experimented with just using the camera in my laptop because I wanted to get closer and the lighting is not as good.”

A New Type of Audience

The other challenge for Pascale has been having an audience that he can’t physically interact with.

“I think it’s, for me anyway, it’s odd to have an audience that I can’t see. I really enjoy the eye contact and getting people to react to me,” he said.

While his audience has changed from a room full of people to individuals watching him on computers and tablets, he hopes that he can still get some sort of a reaction. Pascale said he wants give people something to think about and would like to see the head nods or perplexed looks replaced by emailed questions and online discussions.

He also plans to continue the video series once the job search is over, as it has quite a bit of potential.

“I actually think I will,” he said. “I think I’ve unleashed something that I’m not going to be able to get back in the bottle and now that I’ve gotten it going, I really want to make it better. I really want to figure out how to get it to where I think it will really have the look and the content that will make people listen and react.”

Pascale says that has gained quite a bit of perspective through the entire process.

“Thank goodness I got into the job search six months ago, because if not for that I wouldn’t have gone down this path. I think this is in the set of things that I’m pleased to say have been one of the more rewarding things to come out of the being in the job search.”

Click here to view Carl Pascale’s LinkedIn profile.

Follow him on Twitter at @CarlPascale




Mission (Not Quite) Impossible

Dear Mazda,

The mysterious envelope.
(Click photo to enlarge)

A few years ago, I purchased my first new vehicle: a Mazda Tribute, one of your mid-sized SUV’s. I wish I could say that there was brand loyalty, that we had a great automotive history together, blah blah blah. Basically the decision came down to 1) I could fit all of my stuff into the cargo area and 2) the price was right. I have to say, though, I’ve been very happy driving it.

After making this momentous purchase, you added my contact information to the massive marketing database that many corporations maintain. These days it’s to be expected. What is also to be expected is the occasional “advertorial” magazine or the mountains of marketing material I’ve received from you advertising the next great vehicle. Aside from the service coupons that have come in handy, most of it has gone directly to the recycling pile without a second glance. Sorry. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. That is, until last week.

The “top secret” dossier (top and center)
and the detailed photo envelope.
(Click photo to enlarge)

At first, I thought the plain, brown envelope was something from my dad, so it had my attention. The man seems to own stock in whatever company makes those things and will send anything and everything in them. The “Top Secret” stamp on the front left me a bit baffled and the return address of “ Mazda North American Operations” let me know this did not relate to family business. I was intrigued.

When I opened it, the first words out of my mouth were “What the [heck]?” (This blog is PG, so you know…).

I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting the extremely detailed envelope designed to look like it came from a one-hour photo lab. And the dossier…wow. More information than I’ve ever wanted to know about their newest “highway agent.”

The first volley was successful: You had my attention.

The content was very well produced. The “surveillance photos” in the photo lab envelope were great, but the faux handwritten notes on back of the photos (which I didn’t notice until later) detailing gas mileage and the cubic feet of storage space were a very nice touch. I actually sat down and read the “intelligence report” which detailed your new “crossover sport utility vehicle.”

The action shots that made up the surveillance photos.
(Click photo to enlarge)

Point goes to you guys: The material has avoided the recycle bin.

I’ll have to admit, though, that I’m really not as interested in the crossover as I am the advertising vehicle. Okay, I really didn’t mean to go there.

So here I sit, sandwiched into an airplane window seat, writing a blog post about a car ad of all things. You have me spreading your message, doing the dirty work for you.

Game, set, match: Mazda.

Congrats on the victory. I have to admit that advertising efforts don’t jump out at me very often, but this was cool. While I won’t be in the market for another vehicle for say, 50,000 miles or a couple of years (whichever comes first), I’ll keep you in mind. In the meantime, if you can work on a hybrid Tribute, that would be great. Just make sure the promotional material is just as cool as this.