My TV ignorance and what I’m going to do.

Before I graduated college, moved back to the lower 48 from the great white north, married, and had a child, I didn’t watch much television. Many conversations at work, school, and later in church, would go over my head since they would be discussing the latest show developments.

My personality type radiates toward more biographies, historical, and sometimes, if I really wanted to live on the edge, historical fiction. As a result, I did often miss out on bonding moments when television was discussed. However, thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and other online streaming services, I am able to see why Grey’s, Pacey, and Olivia Pope are so important to people.

First came the stream, then came the binge.

When I was on maternity leave with my son 3.5 years ago, and was nursing every two hours, I started getting stir crazy. Did I say I was in Minnesota at the time? Yes, nothing like a Minnesota winter while on maternity to  feel cabin fever. When late night feedings happen, sometimes you have to stop sitting in the dark at 1:30am. You wonder how the world is going on around you, however, reading the newspaper becomes frightening, at least it was for me. I had a small life in the world that I was suddenly incredibly responsible for. I couldn’t handle thinking about another recession, the Middle East, and famines while only getting 2 hours of sleep at a time and eating only ‘quiet’ food that could be consumed while nursing (nothing hot, crunchy, drippy, snoozy, doopey… I digress)

After my reading options were exhausted, I would reach for the computer, specifcally Netflix. At the time Grey’s Anatomy was featured, so I pressed play. Previously, a colleague had called me April Kepner. Now, I get the joke.

My sorority sisters would talk about McDreamy and something recalled ‘er’ from years prior. Whenever I was invited to an ‘Oscars Night’, I was pretty ignorant as to what was happening. It’s really confusing to a former TV outsider why people would get so invested in fictitious characters.  Now? I get it.

It’s not just about the story, but the shared stories.

  • About how you see yourself in others.
  • About how stories ripped from the headlines are presented for an audience (sometimes for better or for worse).
  • About how special it is when you see how dreams can come true.
  • About hope.
  • About sadness.

People are all about stories, and sharing them is critical to our social and societal survival. That maternity leave left me thinking about not only my story, but the stories I would tell my son about the things he would never see. Like how his great-great-grandmother would keep Cokes and chocolate chip cookies in her kitchen for our visits while we played with her antique Lincoln Logs. Or how while living in Alaska, I was able to go snowshoeing all winter just by walking a few blocks out of Nome. Or How I couldn’t really read until I was 8, and at three he can read 3 words already. Or where I was when 9/11 happened.

Thanks to the Internet, I can now catch up on stories, for better or worse, for laughs or tears, for fun or torture.

Since in recent years I have realized and accepted television ignorance, I am making a resolution.

My TV resolution: watch all of an infamous NBC show called Parks and Recreation.

With who: husband (big fan) and a work colleague (big fan)
When: at least an episode a week
Why: because I love Amy Poehler, and have already read her biography (proof from the statement in paragraph two)
How: Netflix!

I recognize that I could enhance my mind by learning a new language, reading a new book, or doing something for the home during that time versus watching television, but really, this is for me. I now know that I need some ridiculous entertainment to loosen up and recognize when I am just plain overly stressed. I need to take a break.

I couldn’t do this completely without the internet.

Why I Adore The Mindy Project

You’re probably familiar with Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly Kapoor from The Office, and her latest and greatest show, The Mindy Project. As the show’s creator, co-producer, and main star, Kaling hits an absolute home-run not only with the overall rom-comedy of the show, but with her character—also named Mindy—and her antics of living, working, and finding love in New York City.

When The Mindy Project first aired in September 2012, I was ready. I not only loved her character on The Office, but her twitter account KILLED me. Her whit, humor, and ability to poke fun at herself was refreshing, honest, and hilarious. As a millennial, I find her highly relatable.

In The Mindy Project, Kaling doesn’t disappoint and her brilliance is apparent throughout the show. Her lifestyle makes me thankful for what I have… basically, I am happy that I am out of the dating scene.

Be who you are.

It is not all sunshine and creatively styled outfits for Mindy. Not only do many of her relationships fail—falling in love with a rich sports agent who turns out to be an addict—but Mindy goes onto show how a person can do a job well AND with passion (not wanting to drop her non-insured patients when a new career opportunity arises. Can I get a hell yeah?), all without ignoring who she is as a person (pop obsessed, awkward, rom-com addict). That is no easy task. Sometimes her personality is her greatest strength and her greatest flaw. But she is always herself, regardless of the result. You have to give her props for that.

Knowing what you want and need.

In Season 2, Mindy is engaged to a hip-hop style mainline pastor, Casey, who has a ‘what-is-my-true-calling?’ crisis. When Casey can’t decide what his true calling in life should be, their relationship gets complicated. Should he be a Pastor? Missionary? DJ? …. Spoiler alert… he ends up being a shoe designer in LA… Mindy realizes what she wants and NEEDS. She needed someone stable. Someone that wasn’t still looking to find themselves. She knew her limits, and the engagement was over.

This was a highly relatable moment. A human moment. People fall in love all the time and realize that it’s not 100% about happiness, but what you  need. I don’t believe this is selfish, I believe it is honest. It takes strength to stop a relationship, but The Mindy Project goes there with a laugh along the way.

Mindy is honest.

She is honest with herself and with others. She may compare her life, and those around her, to celebrity crushes, but she tells others how she feels. It may not feel that way when she’s dishing out her long-winded weekend plans or talking about how she reads Bridget Jones’ Diary when she’s sick, but she will tell you anything you ask, and if she believes you are being rude or invasive, she’ll tell you that too.

This strong female character makes me excited about the future of television.

Thanks Mindy Kaling.

The Mindy Project airs Tuesday nights on FOX.

Skip Facebook?

I used to tell small business owners that Facebook was a cost effective way to connect with their customers. I have to say, that it has never been free. Your time is precious and costs money.

Now, after so many businesses logged on, bought in, took the time to integrate Facebook into their businesses and marketing plans, what does Facebook do? Hold their fans hostage.

How is this one social network doing this? Well when you insert a status update on a brand (business) page, you have to pay to reach your whole audience. It has been this way for a while, I know. So what is a small business to do?

Ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Who are my customers and how do they interact/purchase with my business?
  2. Where are my customers? Are they online only? Or are they coming into your brick-and-mortar location(s)?
  3. What messages resonate with your customers and are those messages best delivered on Facebook, or would another medium be better?
  4. How are you able to measure you marketing initiatives now?
  5. Are your marketing goals aligned with business goals?

#5 is probably a better place to start if you really want to see if it is worth the investment to put money toward Facebook posts. In my mind, funding for marketing is always worth the investment if… IF you are measuring the return and if your initiatives are based on business goals.

I have read blog posts about companies leaving Facebook. If you have built an audience by putting in the time and money already, that can be a painful business decision. There are also people that might be married to Facebook, which makes the decision a much harder one.

What are your thoughts? Are you leaving Facebook?

Email Marketing Holiday Message Overload

The past few weeks have been crazy in my email inboxes. I have been bombarded with holiday messages about savings and specials the last 6-8 weeks.

One common thread that I have noticed is that several businesses have sent out the same email multiple times. The same email, even if I opened and clicked through previously. Same image placement and copy. That leaves me wondering, what the marketing people were thinking when they decided to send the same email? Were they focused on getting me to convert this time? Did you think I didn’t see the great free shipping offer?

I can also relate to tired marketers during the holiday season. However, when you send the same content over and over again, customers will only see the same content.

What are some reasons to send the same email to the same audience?

 

Television: True Blood’s social media presence

I have to say, we’re fans of True Blood in this house. I look forward to Sunday evenings in summer when we can watch the dangers that await Sookie Stackhouse. Not only do I watch the show, but I also read Charlene Harris’ books that the show is (loosely) based on. Although they are pretty different when it comes to plots and characters, there are occasional nods to the books, but I think that’s more for the readers.

Besides the compelling characters (LaLa and Eric Northman), one marketing tool that is utilized that keeps me excited about this summer show is their social media.

Ways to True Blood keeps people coming back for more:

  • Vlogging. This isn’t an easy option! But True Blood does it, and does it well… all from the perspective of baby vampire Jessica. On her teen bop of a site, she discusses her experiences and trials of being a baby vampire. MY FAV: Watch.
  • Fun hashtags. Ok, so this past year, when True Blood was filming, they would often release teaser videos on twitter with hastags like #waitingsucks and how many more days til the season premiere. Of course we’d  get excited all over again. Also, check out #trubies if you want to see some die hard fans.
  • Facebook visuals. Often, during a hiatus, the HBO original series will post hilarious images with corresponding ROFL captions. Often reminding me why Jason is one of my favorite characters. Seriously. See this seasonal post, and this one. And this one… 
If you’re looking for ideas on how to engage viewers/subscribers, take a peek at True Blood or another cult following type show. The hastags and blogs will follow.
True Blood on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TrueBloodHBO

Pinterest sharing

Since we have blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and more, we have ENDLESS ways to give people insight into our tips and tricks of our daily life/work. Today I don’t want to share anything terribly productive, instead, I’m sharing some of my Pinterest boards that house some of my favorite things. 

For your enjoyment:

Pinterest:

Beer— Here you’ll find some of my favorite beers, from  craft to more mainstream.

My future office— Items for my future dream office/professional style 🙂

Wish List— Need a present idea for me? Check this one out!

What are things you like to share online? Pictures? Life? Achievements?

 

Unplugging

My husband and I are making a move to the mountains of NC, about two hours away from where we are now. With that move brings welcome change, like having his family closer to help with our son, along with camping and hiking opportunities right down the street. 

On top of all those great outdoor options comes change for me when it comes to leaving ‘city life’ for ‘mountain’ life. I’m totally on board, but I’ve grown up on ‘city life’.

You know, like having cell service no matter the provider. Being able to get cake at 8:30 at night. Or even when I have the very rare urge to go shopping, I can at least walk around the mall and browse without hurting my checkbook.

But we’ve also made another big decision, we’re dropping smart phones. Yup. I’m going black… or some version of it.

Currently, with T-Mobile, we don’t have service in the new local, so we are looking to possibly drop this expense. We have internet at home and a… land line phone (gasp!). I’m looking forward to unplugging (a little) but I also have grown accustomed to popping open a map app to see where I am and learn how lost I really have become.

I hope I make it! Have you ever done a massive unplug like this?

Developing a new story to tell

My family and I moved. We drove from St. Paul, MN to Hickory, NC in August 2012. Since then my husband has been graciously staying home with our son while I’ve started working as a marketing director for a healthcare staffing company.

We left the MidWest really excited to be close to family and to be back close to the mountains we love. Asheville and everything that surrounds this magical place. The beer, people, sustainable food movement. Everything. What we are slowly realizing is that Asheville isn’t the only place with cool things happening. Awesome businesses, brew pubs, and projects are happening right here in Catawba Valley.

I think that when we tell people where we moved to and why, they don’t understand. I think I say ‘Hickory, NC’ and people hear ‘Hickville-no-where-town, USA.’ This my friends, is not the case.

I have had the privileged of meeting with some great businesses,  entrepreneurs, recent graduates, and hopeful marketers in Catawba County and those conversations have been some of the best I’as had in the past few months. These gatherings usually end up talking about how we can showcase the many and diverse talents and attractions of the area. Instead of focusing on the story of what we were, envisioning how we tell the story of what we are now and what we’re becoming.

Various groups are looking to improve development and decrease the ‘brain drain’ that is happening in this region.

Catawba County is full of stories of ‘what was’, not people are talking about what can be the future of the county. We should always remember what was, but instead of dwelling, we should build on that story.

How do we start to tell a new story?

The power of story – National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. While I may not be a novelist, I can’t ignore the community that pops up surrounding story. No matter who you are stories are what bind us together and help us get through tough times.

Originally stories were passed down in an oral tradition. Now pass we pass on tales through writing, art, pictures, movies, quilts, books, and several different methods to tell and display a story.

Each method of story telling sheds light on an aspect that could have been overlooked in previously.

The wonderful thing about the world we live in today is that we are able to have an international community through online forums, community boards, and live chats. And National Novel Writing Month is no exception. Through their site, they have created a community within communities, giving writers the option to join a region where they live. From there they can encourage (aka ‘pep talks’), swap story ideas, check on name connotation and much more. This gives the story tellers a place to hone in on the craft of storytelling.

Let’s face it, the art of telling a story is an important one. Today, in a social society, everyone has a story to tell, draw, animate, video tape, publish, write, sing, etc. But there is one thing that separates the story tellers from the screamers, is the understanding of audience and delivery.

Real story tellers know it’s not really about them. It’s about the audience, and from there, it’s how you tell your tale.

A social world has leveled the playing field, but it’s also drowned the system. Anything can be made public, for better or for worse. The important thing to remember is that it’s not for us to judge what’s the best and worst out there, because there might be a person somewhere, that finds a piece speaks to them. A story that’s not heard in one room, will be echoed and repeated in another.

Either way, all stories need to be told.

 

Boundaries & self censorship


Photo from: Andrew Mccluskey (Flickr)

Boundaries. Important for any relationship, from business to personal, and it’s important to identify them in the beginning and even as you go. But what about boundaries with yourself?

There are people that blog, tweet, or facebook EVERYTHING that is going on in their life. I know, everyone overshares sometimes, but I’m reminded of the quote that I heard so often growing up:

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

When I am going to mention my husband in a blog post, I tell him, give him context, even though I don’t get into anything specific in the post. Why? Because I think it’s important to note that not everyone wants to have their daily life logged online. Their space needs to be respected over my desire to vent.

Besides, I can save that for girl’s wine night right?

A more sensitve example… I’ve volunteered with children in emergency shelters, worked with abused people, and drug addicts. I’m not saying that some of those stories wouldn’t be valuable to share in the right setting, but posted online, for the world to see, isn’t always my place. I think that people need to know that you’re not going to run and post a video, or make a new status update based on the guts they just spilled. It’s already hard to trust people, let’s not make it harder by getting rid of trust in relationships.

4 personal censor rules for deciding NOT to post:

  • Would I be proud, not defensive, about what I posted?
  • Am I up for being held accountable?
  • Would I not want the person or organization to find this out?
  • How would I feel if this table was turned?

Would I be proud, not defensive, about what I posted?Am I up for being held accountable?Would I not want the person or organization to find this out?How would I feel if this table was turned?

If I answer ‘no’ to these items, the post doesn’t happen. Social networks are made to build, maintain, and grown relationships. Not to create burn books. We’re all over high school.

How do you decide what to post & what NOT to post?