April 20, 2009

Amazing TOMS Shoes

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 3:25 pm

I can’t stop being in awe of TOMS Shoes and its founder, Blake Mycoskie.  I have written before of my admiration for this company here and here.  Mr. Mycoskie spoke in Little Rock at the Clinton School of Public Service several weeks ago; you can view video of his presentation on the Clinton School Speaker Series site.

On Sunday, the LA Times wrote about the successful business model developed by Mr. Mycoskie, the one-for-one purchase: for every pair of shoes purchased by you, the consumer, TOMS gives one pair of shoes away.  Knowing this, it is hard not to buy one in every color (I have purchased four pairs so far, but then again, I do have a shoe obsession).  My friend Blake’s Think Tank is a big TOMS fan too:

TOMS Shoes seems to be doing everything right when it comes to promoting the brand through social media efforts: corporate blog, Chief Shoe Giver blog, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.  In the LA Times article, Mr. Mycoskie says:

“When you’re buying a pair of Toms, if you don’t feel like you’re part of a community then I’ve failed,” he says.

Expect to keep hearing about this company over and over again.  And, go buy some shoes.

Letter Writing

Filed under: Current Events,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 6:08 am

Our “digital” president still reads hand-written letters (10 a day) and responds with hand-written letters.  As reported in the New York Times today, these letters can have quite an effect on President Obama:

“Designed to offer a sampling of what Americans are thinking, the letters are read by the president, and he sometimes answers them by hand, in black ink on azure paper.

“’We pick messages that are compelling, things people say that, when you read it, you get a chill,’ said Mr. Kelleher, 47. ‘I send him letters that are uncomfortable messages.’

“The ritual offers Mr. Obama a way to move beyond the White House bubble, and occasionally leads to moments when his composure cracks, advisers said. ‘I remember once he was particularly quiet,’ said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, ‘and I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said, “These letters just tear you up.” It was after getting a poignant letter from a struggling family.’”

While I am fan of technology and our ability to instantly connect by way of technology and social media, and while I am fan of President Obama’s digital savvy, I still appreciate the power of hand-written letters.  They are more personal and can convey more emotion.  There is something to be said for the more traditional communication tools every once in a while.  I am proud of our president for employing both traditional and digital communication to connect with his constituents.

April 19, 2009

links for 2009-04-19

Filed under: Bookmarks — Emily Reeves @ 5:05 pm

April 18, 2009

links for 2009-04-18

Filed under: Bookmarks — Emily Reeves @ 5:07 pm

A Boon for Technology, a Curse for Class Attendance

Filed under: Culture,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 4:44 pm

Reported in The Atlantic:

“Students who listened to a lecture podcast and took notes scored far better on exams than students who attended the class in peron.”

Based on the research article “iTunes University and the Classroom: Can Podcasts Replace Professors?”

April 17, 2009

links for 2009-04-17

Filed under: Bookmarks — Emily Reeves @ 8:33 pm

Stone Ward Announces SWIM

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 10:13 am

We are launching a new program over here at Stone Ward: Stone Ward Interactive Meetings, or SWIM.  We saw a need for education among college students in the area of online communications and decided to create this eight week course.  Anyone can attend the sessions live, but they can also be viewed online through live, streaming video.  The first one will be May 1st at 5 PM at U.S. Pizza in Hillcrest, Little Rock, Arkansas.  We hope you will participate.

April 16, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Brantley & Mr. Stodola!

Filed under: Current Events,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 9:52 pm

Stone Ward hosted the finale of our Energy Efficiency Arkansas television commercial shoot with Archie Bell and the Drells at the Peabody bar.  Among our honored guests: Max Brantley, of the Arkansas Times, and Mark Stodola, our esteemed mayor. Thank you, both, for attending our event.  Fun times!

River Market, Apr 16, 2009River Market, Apr 16, 2009River Market, Apr 16, 2009

links for 2009-04-16

Filed under: Bookmarks — Emily Reeves @ 2:38 pm

April 13, 2009

How to Waste Time

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:35 pm

Check out the 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced on the Internet.  Seriously funny.  And seriously time-consuming.

Anti-Social Behavior

Filed under: Culture,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 7:10 pm

Last week, my friend over at Blake’s Think Tank wrote a post titled “Texting Etiquette.” He was right about that feeling of wanting to stomp on his phones when having a drink, or in this case lunch, with him:

Lunch with Blake’s Think Tank
Originally uploaded by reevesemily501

Really though, I don’t mind this behavior. Because, the truth is that I am not much better than he is when it comes to watching for and replying to messages on both my Blackberry and iPhone during business meetings and social outings.  I even find my own behavior annoying at times.  I know my dad has complained about spending time with my brother and me; we are always looking at some sort of device:

Ms. Adverthinker & Brother Visit Dad
Originally uploaded by reevesemily501

In a TED Talk released this week, Renny Gleeson says that “our reality is less interesting than the story I will tell.”  And he asks that “we please make technologies that make people more human and not less.”  Watch it here:

Maybe it is a lesson we could all learn in this instant-communication world in which we live.  But, we probably won’t learn it anytime soon.

Quality Writing

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 3:29 pm

I have been frustrated lately by poor writing on blogs.  I know that I should expect this from blog-writers: we are amateur writers, writing quickly and writing frequently.  However, many of my frustrations are actually with those who are considered professional journalists and are writing poorly (to be fair: this is mostly local).  They should be worried about these citizen journalists we call bloggers taking over the news-sharing business; the good blog writers are more thorough, yet concise, and more articulate than many of our local journalists.

Why am I thinking about this today?

  • NY Times article today about “hyperlocal websites.” The idea: with the newspaper business suffering, local coverage is suffering.  These “hyperlocal websites” compile links and information from community bloggers, “along with data feeds from city governments, with crime reports, restaurant inspections, and notices of road construction and film shoots.”  Some even hire journalists: “One journalist in each town travels to school board meetings and coffee shops with a laptop and camera. Patch also solicits content from readers, pulls in articles from other sites and augments it all with event listings, volunteer opportunities, business directories and lists of local information like recycling laws.”  And while many of these start-ups are relying on traditional newspapers for some of their content, “many hyperlocal entrepreneurs say they are counting on a proliferation of blogs and small local journalism start-ups to keep providing content.”  I love this idea of community reporting and sharing.  The Arkansas Times already does some of this locally, but we could definitely use more.  (FYI: Blake’s Think Tank has been advocating something like these “hyperlocal websites” for some time now.)
  • “The Poetry in Your Head.” A few weeks ago, I wrote a post to Twitterers suggesting that they take their writing cues from poetry.  Today, I stumbled upon the “On Point” NPR radio show about memorizing lines of poetry.  The host says: “In the era of the iPod, Americans can have anything they like, anytime, in their ears: hot music, the news, this show.  Jim Holt knows that, says it’s fine, but he’s stumping for something more. Something ancient. Something so old it’s new again: memorizing poetry.”  Jim Holt also wrote an article for the New York Times Sunday Book Review about memorizing poetry.  In neither the radio show nor the aricle does he claim that this memorization will make a person a better writter.  However, I want to believe it will; an increase in vocabulary, in word combinations and in rhythm could surely come from poetry memorization.  As writers, we should want all of these things.
  • Who needs the media when “content distributers” can go straight to the consumer? I know this is not exactly a valid argument since “content distributers” (advertisers/brands, celebrities, government, etc.) would hold back all the “bad” news if they were totally in control.  However, with consumers talking back in our two-way communication model that is the Internet, it is now much harder for companies to hide anything.  It is our new transparent world.  And consumers are in control.

So, I talk about wanting quality writing (typically provided by professional and experienced journalists), then advocate citizen journalists (those amateur bloggers).  Really what I want is quality content delivered in a quality format.  It doesn’t matter who or what gives it to me, but someone or something needs to stand up and deliver.

TOMS Shoes and AT&T

Filed under: Advertising,Culture,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 8:27 am

AT&T premiered a new commercial during the Masters coverage this weekend; it featured TOMS founder Blake Mycoski.  I have written about TOMS before in this space.  The company gives shoes to children in need around the world.  They are able to do this with a business model based on an one-for-one purchase: for every pair of shoes purchased by you, the consumer, TOMS gives one pair of shoes away.  On the company’s blog, Mr. Mycoski writes:

“Two months ago AT&T approached us wanting to feature TOMS in an ad campaign. We could not have been more excited and grateful, but to find out weeks later that the ad would premiere as part of the Masters telecast was truly an honor.”

And, through Twitter, TOMS tells us that the commercial is doing the company some good:

“since the #TOMSatt commercial started airing last Thurs, thousands of children will receive a pair of shoes thanks to you!! One for One”

AT&T should receive big kudos for using their media power to promote companies like TOMS.

April 10, 2009

Cautious on the Record

Filed under: Current Events,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 6:42 pm

Watching video online is mainstream at this point: more than 145 million U.S. web users watched 13 million videos in February, according to ComScore.  While most of the videos watched on sites like YouTube are amateur, there is new movement from YouTube to get more professionally-made content on the site and increase overall video quality (NY Times):

“YouTube draws about 100 million visitors each month, making it an enormous stage for media companies. But many television outlets have been reluctant to share videos with the site. Along with CBS, notable exceptions include ABC’s late-night program ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ which has harnessed YouTube to great effect, drawing 11 million views for its videos in the last month. ‘Consider this your oasis in a desert of skateboarding dogs and popcorn-eating hamsters,’ a message on Mr. Kimmel’s YouTube channel says.

“With deals like the one with ABC, YouTube is working hard to revise that user-generated reputation. ‘They need the money,’ Mr. Vorhaus said of YouTube, and adding professional video is ‘how they’re going to get it.’”

President Obama has clearly taken advantage of an audience hungry for more quality video.  During his campaign, his team uploaded over 1,800 videos to BarackObama.com; he now he has an entire staff dedicated to new media (NY Times).  As expected, President Obama’s videos are always professionally shot and edited, contributing to his overall polished and “cool” image.  He is setting the example of how to present yourself in a public forum, when the video will live on forever.  People have become too casual in how they present themselves online, whether it be Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.  We have all become public figures in this online world.  No longer is it just celebrities that get ridiculed for ignorant behavior displayed in public: we are now inviting it on ourselves by not thinking before posting. The New York Times theorizes a movement toward more cautious behavior from public figures:

“We tend to assume that the proliferation of digital media must be coarsening American speech and behavior. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The threat posed by video parodists appears to have turned public figures watchful and cautious, like people who affect polite reserve in crowds for fear of being mocked or mugged. In the midst of so much digital chicanery, celebrity comportment may grow steadily more formal.”

As with most trends, this behavior should eventually trickle down to the general public.  I am hopeful that it trickles quickly.

April 5, 2009

Starbucks Does It Right

Filed under: Culture — Emily Reeves @ 7:56 am

Starbucks’ new oatmeal bowl fits perfectly on top of the cup lids. Smart.

Originally uploaded by reevesemily501