Monday, 29 October 2012

Look for longer: a great campaign

You know you're reading a good book (which, it happens, I am) when you can't stop thinking about it, and every free minute you dive back into it. It would be fair to say the same is true for any media: really impactful TV, film, theatre and art have all done the same to me at one time or another.

This got me thinking on the way home tonight about the similar impact that marketing and advertising can have. You find yourself suddenly thinking about it or, in some cases, spending ages pouring over it, even though it really isn't something of great significance.

A case in point is a great campaign that CBS Outdoors have been running, called 'Look for Longer.' If you haven't seen it, be warned it has the potential to draw you in for some serious time wasting. In a good way. It asks you to interrogate an image with a number of London's tube stations cheekily disguised as images.

I came across it when a friend posted it to her Facebook wall. Sitting in bed, supposedly winding down, I found myself spending a good half hour looking at this picture and guessing what the pictures were. I then roped my husband into playing too. Then today, when writing this blog I just managed to spend another 20mins looking at it again!

I was at the ALPSP annual conference back in September where the oft-repeated buzzword of the event was, for me at least, 'gamification'. What a great example this campaign is. Gamification differs in some ways from the great book analogy, in that it also ties into the concept of competition. People get addicted to gaming because they are, by nature, programmed to want to do better than their peers. We want to win. I'm so interested in learning more on this that I just signed up for a Coursera module - more on that to come.

The thing about this campaign is it combines the gaming element with something visually stimulating that makes you want to look, and look for longer. And isn't that exactly what brands all want to achieve? If we're looking to engage, build brand advocates and trust, then inevitably we have to start with getting people to pay attention in the first place. Finding a hook to get people spending time on your site like this seems a great starting point to build conversation and engagement around.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Stretchy time and bad habits

It's easy for busy periods to take their toll. It's been that kind of a year for me. Pretty much all year my team has been under-staffed. Initially because someone was out on maternity leave, followed by another team member resigning, then my US counterpart moving on. So it's been a drain on my time, making up for those shortfalls.

It's been a challenge. Not least of all because I find my hours in the office get taken up with fire-fighting, helping to offer support, and training more than they are with doing my own projects. The result of that is an inevitable drop in motivation that comes with that exhaustion that makes it harder to proactively initiate change, be creative, think big. When you're treading water the main objective is to stay afloat, after all.

The thing that suffers the most is always my personal development needs. This blog, way back when I was first doing my PR Diploma back in 2006, started out as a way of keeping on top of CPD - tracking what I was learning. The absence of a regular post on this blog is testament to that fatigue I've experienced this year - I just find it tough to motivate myself to sit down and log in at the end of a long day. I know I'm not alone in this and there are some amazing progammes to initiate discipline and habit formation when it comes to blogging.

So getting listed in the new Guardian Higher Education blog network was a much needed kick up the proverbial. It reminded me that this is something I really do want to cultivate. Particularly if people are going to be visiting it (1100% visitor increase, thanks Guardian team!).

Sitting and thinking about that over the last week reminded me of the old adage about the stretchiness of time, and the ability we all have to fill that time regardless of how little or how much we have to do. For example from January to May I was out four nights a week, taking rehearsals for Wimbledon Light Operatics Society (choreographing their production of Curtains). I had to be there, so I had to be strict with my evenings to fit that in around the rest of my life. Now, without that obligation, I find my evenings have passed by without me getting anything done. Stretchy time? You bet. So, a new commitment Dan and I have now made is to allocate one evening a week to our 'work'. We'll both choose the same evening, and focus it on getting stuck into those projects that we both want to do but just are not making the time for.

Alongside that, I'm  going to take my full work/life time sheet back in hand. A few years back I made a list of things I wanted to do regularly: a daily list, a weekly list, a monthly list etc. That was everything from forcing myself to read outside of my comfort zone, to regular exercise, to meeting up with friends. Basically it was the Mithu Lucraft work/life balance sheet. It's time to review that, assess how well I'm doing, and get new habits formed.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Smaller Apple temptations

My husband, as I've no doubt mentioned once or twice, is an Apple fanboy. There are more apple devices in the house than I'd care to mention. And eventually I realised I wanted one too, this time last year resulting in my iPad purchase.

It wasn't a mistake. I love my iPad. I use it all day long, from checking my emails in the morning, to reading on the Kindle app, to taking meeting notes through the day, browsing the Internet to fact check both at meetings and at my desk, watching iPlayer downloads on the train home, and streaming content to Apple TV in the evening.

So today Apple announce the new mini iPad is here. Surprisingly, it is me, not Dan, tempted to buy one. The mini offers same screen proportions in a smaller frame which you can "hold in your hand". The benefits, from my point of view, are the greater portability. Even though the standard iPad is small, it is still reasonably heavy, and it's been a pain finding a handbag that I can easily yet securely fit it into (vain, I know, but in London you can't walk around with it loose). This, more similar to a Kindle in size but with all the benefits of Apple's array of apps (everything for iPad 2 works on the mini too) is just great.

The likelihood of buying one is, however, low. I can see no reason to switch from the device I have. But I'm interested to see how the mini market takes off. Will there be a higher demographic of women, supporting my handbag theory? Will there be generally higher uptake because the price is lower? Or actually will people look at it and want the larger sized keypad and display?

Watching, with interest!