Disasters in Vlogging (my EPIC mistake)

FULL DISCLOSURE
Whilst I may be a professional storyteller & content creator in my day job (and, long-in-the-proverbial-tooth when it comes to content production & creative expression) I still screw things up from time to time. Especially when I don’t follow my own best practice rules around content, setting up a good story arc, & getting the right footage or images to support a particular story line.

Case in point, my last Vlog. The idea was supposed to be silly, fun, and informative. And, it was going to center around all of the strange & wonderful flavors of chips found in New Zealand that I didn’t grow up with in the USA (meat people, chips here taste like every type of meat under the sun… it’s a trend that’s both weirdly tasty and wildly fascinating all at once.)

To begin with we thought our idea was clever & the narrative clear while filming. After an hour of shooting, we packed up shop & I hit the editing suite. The video we shot was neither clever or clear. My story line was too complex & went off tangent. No matter how I cut the conversation, the end product felt gimmicky & wobbly at best. It was one for the rubbish bin. To say I was disappointed in myself for not getting good enough content for a YouTube channel with only 14 subscribers would be an understatement.

I was livid with myself! C’mon, Cass! This is what you do. It’s what you’ve been doing on behalf of brands for over a decade. I kept asking myself “Why’d you not put into practice the elements you know are needed to make a good, cohesive story?”

The answer: I dunno.

Maybe I got over-confident. Maybe I thought I’d fix any missteps in post. Or, maybe I just was trying to do too much at once (I’m going to go with this one.) The end result is that I’ve binned this video as I’d imagined it in long-form in my head & instead put together a cut-down version of outtakes which are actually pretty funny!

And, whilst I’m kicking myself for not having a video to post for a few weeks now, I’ve learned some good lessons. 

Simplified down, here they are:

Lesson 1: know the story you want to tell before you hit ‘record’
Lesson 2: stick to a simple story line (this is imperative!)
Lesson 3: know the tone of your narrative up front – and plan B roll/supporting shots
Lesson 4: outtakes are sometimes the best takes
Lesson 5: eating chips & drinking gin on a Sunday afternoon with your best friend/soulmate is worth a re-shoot next week

Enjoy our outtakes, they’re all we’ve got this week!

Photographs & Memories – June 2017 

Okay, okay… I’ve been fairly lax on the posting-my-best-photos-monthly front. Why? Because, busy.

Busy with work, with family, with travel & adventuring… basically, sneaky ‘ol Life got in the way of being bloggerific. And yeah, the ‘glorification of busy’ is a thing… so I need to stop using busy-ness as an excuse for not doing more of what I love. 🙂

That said, June was an amazing month in my world. And, I can’t wait to share some of our adventures with you! Work was fulfilling, family were/are happily settled, and I was blessed to travel to two beautiful, sunny, summery climes to escape New Zealand winter for two of the four weeks of the month. Speeding up, slowing down… enjoying a change of pace most days.

Winning!

Below are some of my fave images and memories from Queensland, Australia (if you ever have the chance to visit the Capricorn Coast & Great Keppel Island – do it!), and from home – ten sun-drenched days soaking up my people and culture in California.

Shades of turquoise and gold play havoc with my happiness in these images. And, smiling faces remain happy for all times.

Enjoy, Team. As always, if you’re keen to use my images, please reach out and ask.

Cass

Surf spotting, Huntington Beach style. This is, by far, my Happiest Place on Earth. Waves crashing, thrashing and gently finishing their journeys in soft sea foam blankets at the sandy shoreline.

Venice Beach, when you’re there… look up. Always look up. Blue on blue on blue…

No work. No shoes. No worries. And… no gravity? As long as the sun is shining, life’s shining too.

Skateboard serenity at Venice Beach. These cool cats are easy to watch for hours on end.

Absolutely blissing out.

I attended VidCon in Anaheim – it was a pleasure to meet so many people from different places, backgrounds, and dreamstyles. I enjoyed geeking out & spending time with each person who spent their time chatting to & laughing along with this tourist at home. Above is Hannah Hart, YouTuber/Author/TV powerhouse & all-around fabulous human. Let’s be honest – being a Momma & running the rat race means I didn’t have a clue about who most of the ‘stars’ were, but it was a fascinating experience & I’m already looking forward to the next VidCon!

This big geek! Nerding out before the VidCon extravaganza that was.

The Rainbow Hut on Great Keppel Island in Queensland, Australia. It felt like we stepped back in time to a place dripping in multi-colored, sun-drenched amazingness. Cannot wait to return!

This has to be THE ROOM with THE VIEW. Great Keppel Island Hideaways, I could’ve stayed on here for ages & ages… heavenly, mystical, & OTT on the natural beauty scale.

Toes in the water, salty jeans, and a smile permanently painted on. Talk about one heckuva arrivals & departures lounge.

Yeppoon sunrise. Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. #TakeMeBack

 

Breaking Bad Buzzwords (A Marketer’s Guide to Less BS)

Have you ever had an out-of-body experience in a work meeting? One of those did-I-just-zone-out-or-are-these-people-speaking-Martian moments where you hear people as clear as a bell, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t figure out what in the world they’re on about?

You hear words, pauses, and see nods of approval from others. But sentences are far from sonorous. They’re not easily digestible. You chew and chew on blurted acronyms. And, although you try your best to take everything in and make it stay – the words just slip through the cracks like sand through a sieve.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Buzzwords. Words that aren’t words. Acronyms. Jargon-y sentences. Marketing dogma. Monday-to-Friday speak that focuses in on laddering up to strategic objectives while still maintaining the essence of a brand through targeted audience demographics.

Ugh.

If stopping eyeballs from rolling (my own & those of others in the room) was a superpower, I’d use mine for good. Promise. My goal? To save the world from meeting after meeting of Buzzword Overkill. I’d swoop in and demand clarity. And detail. And real-human-speak.

I’m not sure if I’d don cape and spandex bodysuit, but that’s not the important thing to ponder on right now (or maybe it is?) Spandex is pretty darn comfy.

Honestly though, all sarcasm and irony aside, in my eyes the use (or often over-use) of professional slang can at once be overwhelming and off-putting. When buzzwords and acronyms are thrown around willy-nilly like confetti, I zone out. My internal monologue takes over, and my mind wanders off to greener, more concise pastures.

Looking back a few years, my career was focused mainly in the arenas of social media and digital marketing.  During this time the word ‘viral’ was my Kryptonite. It was – and often still is – overused. The best thing about an evolving digital and social marketing landscape? More and more marketers and agency partners understand that marketing, storytelling, and channel mix all play together nicely if done well. In fact, I haven’t been asked to make a viral video in at least six months now. It’s like seeing a light at the end of a common-sense tunnel!

But, beyond asking for viral videos and shareable Facebook posts – there’s a new Buzzword heading  for (or already at) Overkill Level 10. And, weirdly/fittingly/hilariously enough… it’s in my actual job title.

That said, before I move onto said word/phrase let me just say this – I love what I do. Love. I wake up each day able to practice my passions – and get paid to do so. That’s a big win. Storytelling in all of its shapes, sizes, forms, and nerdy amplification/distribution subsets really keeps my engine revving.

So, let’s hop to it. I’m sure you’ve guessed the word.

Content.

Yep. Content. 

The word ‘content’ gets bandied about these days in so many shapes, forms, manners, and reckless iterations that I sometimes find my head spinning. Literally.

When talking about campaigns and strategy, lots of folks typically define ‘content’ as a singular item, story type, artistic execution, or any mismatched mixture of the above. Video? Yep, that’s content. Images? Uh huh, that too. Social media posts? You betcha. Infographics? Yessiree. Long-form articles? BIG YES! But  what about those folks who, oftentimes in the same meeting – and sometimes in the same breath – mean something completely different to any of the above? They’re human curveballs sent to strike me out swinging – or at least have me knock a foul-ball into catchable territory.

Because of inconsistencies in how each person in a room defines content, I’ve implemented a rule in meetings where the word ‘content’ is actually banned. Why? Because content itself is a catch-all phrase. It can be the most broad definition of branded communication, or drilled down into a singular touch-point. But, most people don’t take the time do define what they mean when they’re talking content. Which is why it can be a confusing and confounded principle to grasp for a lot of people. It’s also why there are so many divergent views on strategy and campaign roll-out when talking ‘content.’

By banning the word itself, or getting people to substitute it with something silly like ‘pineapple,’ I find meetings are more, erm, fruitful.

Really though. Think about how many times a day a typical marketer, agency suit, or creative hears, writes, or reads the word ‘content.’ Then imagine the word pineapple being bandied about haphazardly instead.

The absurdity, and the absolute frustration in using a nonsensical word when you want to use another kind of makes you stop, think, and be really concise and detailed when talking about strategies and ideas. Which, I reckon, is a good thing when money (or the potential for it) is on the line, right?

We need to be super-iterative when we talk about content. When we talk about context. When we talk about placement. And channel. And insights… and, most importantly, when we’re storytelling on behalf of a brand.

When approaching content marketing (AKA storytelling), the first thing I need to begin a journey into the depths of creativity is data. And from the data, insights. And then information about the product/service/offering we’ll be creating ideas from. Then, we crack into iteration. Into channel. Into creative execution. It’s so much easier to talk about a video series, or an infographic based story, or a long-form textual article, or a quiz than it is to talk about, ugh, ‘content.’

So don’t just take it from me. Take it from all of the eye-rolling-content-saturated-modern-marketeers and do us all a favor. The next time you’re tempted to use the word ‘content’ in a meeting, be super specific. Even in your own mind, think ‘pineapple.’ Sometimes simplifying ideas down to their most basic function is difficult – but embracing the hard stuff means better clarity. And, bigger wins.

Also, it means I’ll still be awake at the table, listening to you – taking it all in, actively engaged and impassioned. And, nodding in delight at your, ahem, pineapple creating acumen. Thank you in advance for your clarity.

Now, who’s up for a tropical cocktail? I seem to have a hankering for one now…