Design your own custom guitar

I’ve worked with a lot of designers over the years, and one thing that seems common among them is that many of them play guitar. Another thing I’ve learned about designers is that sometimes they really like to design things—even things you don’t typically get a chance to design—so when I saw the Guitar Configurator that Moniker Guitars has, I couldn’t help but design a guitar.

There’s just a small library of graphics and a few different fonts to choose from in the configurator, but there is a note about being able to send them custom images for a mock-up. It would be nice to be able to just upload your own images, but maybe that’s a feature for the future.

Club Z2 Guitar

Not bad for a quick first attempt. If you come across a web site that lets you configure a drum set, let me know, as we’ve got at least two drummers here at Z2 who might be interested. In the meantime, check out Moniker Guitars and try your hand at designing a guitar.

April 26, 2013 · Posted by in art, design, music  

Like many of you, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV to see what looked like a low-budget action movie being shown on my local news station. Swat teams everywhere, the focus was on a white home. Officers had guns aimed at the house and were shuffling residents down the stairs. A possible apprehension was taking place right before my eyes, and I was shockingly close to the action. I couldn’t believe it was happening in real life and in real time.

The shot switched from the live view to a photo that had been Tweeted by a resident (@samanthae0) in lockdown near the scene. (I still can’t get over the fact that she took the time to add a filter.)

The media coverage this morning of the ‘Boston Bombings Manhunt’ was unlike any I have ever seen. Between the proximity of the cameras to the scene and the images from social media sites, I felt as if I were there.

Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing news media using content from social media outlets more and more. Every other day I see a dancing dog from YouTube on my local station. But it’s being used for actual news, too. Earlier this week, we saw that Texas fertilizer plant explode before our eyes via a YouTube video.

While social media can serve as an amazing tool for providing instantaneous news and reports, it can also act as an impactful source to perpetuate false information, like we saw with some of the early reporting on the Boston suspects. Now, I’m not knocking social media. I just want to point out that because it is often used as a source for traditional media, we need to make sure the correct messages are going out.

Earlier this week, Cedar wrote a post that gave companies some social media tips to follow when a big national tragedy occurs. But what if a crisis arises—be it large or small—that directly relates to your company? How do you control the messages that might eventually end up in the news media via social media? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1)      Everyone’s a reporter. Social media makes anyone on the street a source. Always watch who you and your employees are talking to and what you say.

2)     Monitor social media. Of course, as a brand you should always be monitoring social media to learn what the public is saying about you. But in a crisis situation, this is especially important. You need to be able to address inaccurate information in a timely manner to help set the record straight.

3)    Prepare statements. In any crisis, one of the first things you should do is prepare an official statement and get that out to all of your company’s representatives. Anyone who interacts with the public should know exactly what to say to keep your messaging accurate and consistent.

4)    Create a social media policy. It goes without saying that having a solid social media policy in place is one of the best ways to ensure others on social media are hearing your message. (Refer back to Cedar’s post for more on this.)

As the line between traditional media and social media continues to get thinner and thinner, be sure the right messages are getting out to everyone, be it news reporter or man on the street.

(See also, a previous blog post I wrote on crisis communications.)

April 19, 2013 · Posted by in pr, social media  

Well, it happened again. We experienced another unfortunate national tragedy Monday that completely overtook Twitter and other social networks. And right on queue, there were brands that tried to capitalize on the trending topics. One in particular was Epicurious. The image posted below, which was posted Tuesday morning, shows a few tweets it used regarding Boston and the tragedy the city faced.

It’s pretty obvious this was probably not the right approach when offering condolences. The right move is to not “sell.” In fact, the right strategy might just be to say nothing at all.

Epicurious wasn’t the only one feeling pressure. Wendy’s was found atop the Twitter search feed for “Boston Marathon” as a Promoted Account and that didn’t make a lot of people very happy. Sometimes, things happens and brands are caught off guard on social media. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, but there ARE ways to plan and react when moments like this happen. Here are a few tips:

1. Pause Posts – When a major tragedy or event happens that overtakes social media, you should immediately pause your scheduled posts. Stop everything. You never know if a post could offend someone and lead to a PR crisis of your own.

2. Suspend Ads – If you are running ads or a campaign of some kind on a social network, stop them immediately. We saw when Wendy’s paid to have their Twitter account promoted, it was bad timing and placement. I’m not sure if their “promoted account” was sitting atop all trending topic searches or specific topics, but it was there for “Boston Marathon” and that was just bad timing. It was likely set up long before the incident, which is why you must be prepared to suspend ads in an instant. When you’re reading about a tragedy, you don’t want to be fed ads from every direction.

3. Stay Silent – Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all. There were many brands that posted condolences–and that’s just fine. But even that can still be a touchy subject. Tread carefully.

This is one of those times when selling and marketing need to come to a halt. Let people have this moment. The tough part is tragedies are impossible to predict. The people in charge of your social media need to be paying attention and be ready and able to make proper adjustments. Be sure to get a plan in place now, so you’re not paying for it after it’s too late.

April 16, 2013 · Posted by in social media  


Spotted on Boing Boing, this sign at a recent concert asked people to put their phones and cameras away and just watch the show.

This resonated with me, because many of us have been to events where someone feels compelled to shoot photos or video the entire time, or post their status, share an update, etc. on a social network.

Sometimes these things are fun, and sometimes they just get in the way of disconnecting from the network and being in the moment, enjoying the world around you.

(Obviously if your job involves taking photos or posting updates during an event, that’s different, but if you’re seeing 90% of the crowd holding up smart phones, chances are they’re not all on the clock.)

April 9, 2013 · Posted by in misc, photo, social media, video, web  

Photo Truck

I’ve written about portraits before, but here’s a guy who is taking his studio on the road… literally!

L.A. photographer Johnny Tergo has an elaborate mobile photo studio on his truck and inside his truck.

Photo Truck

It takes the “shooting out the window” to a new level, providing proper lighting and an impressive amount of gear.

There is one little problem…

“Some people are not so stoked to get their photo taken without consent. Tergo says there’s been a lot of yelling.”

As a photo-nerd I find the set up really interesting, and can see some interesting uses for it, but I’m not too keen on just shooting people unexpectedly in public without proper consent.

(You can check out some of the photos on his web site.)

How would you feel about someone pulling up and shooting you (with a camera) without asking permission?

April 9, 2013 · Posted by in photo  

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