Mobile Blog: From My iPad to Your Pad

February 24, 2011


The post in Preview mode

On the go a lot, I am always looking for ways to lighten my load and accomplish more. That’s why I was happy to find the two cool apps that allow me to blog on my iPad.

WordPress for iOS
Although not as robust of course as the regular application, it does offer quite a lot. You can import media, photos or video, as well as view and delete comments and pages. It allows you to add more than one blog too, which makes it easy to go back and forth without logging in and out. You compose the post in the “write” mode, then click on “preview” to view it, much as you do in the regular WordPress.  There is no visual mode, so once the post is written, you have to edit without seeing the photos, only the html coding of them. (see below.)


The post after it is published. Photos only visible in html mode.

PhotoPad
This is one of the coolest iOS photo apps I have seen–and it’s free. Before I found it I had downloaded Adobe Photoshop Express. It allows you to adjust exposure and contrast, and has some cool borders and effects, but I rarely use those. What I really needed was the ability to scale my photos to exactly the right pixel width for my blogs. Photoshop Express offers cropping, flipping, straightening, and rotating, but not scaling. Here’s where Photopad really works for me!

In the top navigation you select your photos from the photo library on your iPad. Cropping and rotation, paint brushes, paint bucket, color adjustments and special filters are located in the tools menu accessible at the top of the screen. There is also a history, so you can retrace your steps and go back to something earlier if you change your mind.

Cropping is easily managed by manually dragging the edges of the bounding box with your fingers. When you like what you have created, just tap the check mark in the upper right of your screen. Done. If you don’t like it, no problem. Just tap the “x” on the top left and it will bring you back to the original.

The brush tool lets you draw on the image. Great for adding notations, such as the arrow I placed on the above image.

Want to  create artwork from your photos? There are some cool things you can achieve with the filters. The example above was created using the “abstract” filter.

This image was posterized. Kind of cool, eh?

But my favorite feature is the scaling mode. It allows you–albeit a bit slowly–to adjust up or down the actual pixel height and width of the image (in green.) Photopad does not constrain the ratio, so I took note of the percentage (x1.00) on one, then matched the other to that. It worked perfectly.

Once I saved my images, they were in my photo library and I could upload them into the WordPress app to post from there.

Now go blog from anywhere!

I’m Thinking of Cheating on Facebook

February 10, 2011

I am, and I feel horrible. What kind of person does that make me? We’ve been together for a good five years now and suddenly out of nowhere I’m bored? And for no good reason, Facebook has been so good to me. He’s always there with good news first thing in the morning, and something sweet and nostalgic to say good-night with. He has kept me company on lonely nights, kept me connected to friends and family overseas, he has even gone out of his way to find long lost friends and reconnect us. And he makes me look good, too – reminding me of people’s birthdays and keeping me updated on current events.

And he respects my independence, gives me space. In fact all he requires is a check in, a fix whenever I need it. I can tell him when I want him to call or write me, I can even tell him how much or how little about our relationship he can share. And he is so organized! My photo albums and musings were one hot mess till he showed me an easy way to keep them under control. And he’s fun too, with all these games and so in the know with social events and art openings. But here’s the thing, I met a new guy at my sister’s house over the holidays and made friends with him. He and I have been in touch, and now he wants me to go out with him. At first I didn’t take him seriously, but the more I find out about him the more I want to know. He’s a straight up man of a few words, 140 to be exact. I like the way he challenges me to think about the efficiency of language, and that sound he makes when he has something to say – so sexy!

I think Facebook is starting to notice. He hasn’t said anything yet, but how could he not? We used to talk all the time, but lately I’ve only been check in when twitter’s quiet. Should I talk to Facebook? If do talk to him, what do I say?

Maybe I can date them both…why, oh why can’t we all just get along?

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About the Author
Tish Vallés was born in New York and raised in Manila (during the years of the Philippines’ martial law) by her Spanish father and Filipino mother.

For almost twenty years, Tish has worked with brands and their power.  She was Planning Director at Ogilvy Manila at the height of that company’s creative and commercial growth.  She spent six years as Regional Planning Director at Ogilvy Asia Pacific, where she was responsible for the strategic direction and stewardship of leading brands across the region’s twelve markets. Global brands on which Tish has worked include: Dove, Pond’s, Pampers, Hyatt, Pfizer, Kraft, Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, Kotex, Listerine, Tylenol and Huggies.

Having lived in Manila, Bacolod, Singapore, Bangkok and New Mexico, Tish is now based in New York, where she is an independent strategic consultant. Her roster of global clients includes: Big Green Door, a London-based Marketing Innovation Consultancy; Strawberry Frog New York, a boutique agency that builds brands by sparking cultural movements; Ogilvy Healthworld and t-3: The Think Tank. Tish also heads Strategic Stiletto, an independent brand advocacy consultancy firm.

Also a social entrepreneur whose focus is on harnessing the power of digital technology for the empowerment of those who need it most, Tish is Co-Founder of the Women’s Worldwide Web and a board member of the Nepalese Youth Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter and on her two blogs: Strategic Stiletto and An Accidental American.

Had Jack Kerouac Been a Blogger

January 22, 2011


Jack Kerouac’s typewriter on display in Lowell, MA.
Photo from The Beat Museum on Wheels, via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

by James Navé, Co-Facilitator, The Blog Workshops

In a recent post from www.Copyblogger.com, Logan Zanelli contributed an article entitled 125 Tips For Building and Irresitable Brand. Zanelli opens by asking: “How, exactly, do you create a brand that’s irresistible to your audience and positions you as an authority?

Zanelli asks 125 provocative questions that he uses in his coaching to help people build a personal brand.  If you’re as curious as I am, and I suspect you are, you would, as I did, read on.

After reading all the questions, I decided to answer them. Here’s the first question followed by my answer.

“What drives you? Is there an emotion, need, desire, or past event that motivates you to take action? How can you infuse some of that energy into your brand?”

When I was fifteen I watched my father go to work at the Power Company everyday. He went because of duty, not passion. It was his job, something he had to do to feed his family, a wife, three sons, and one daughter. His passion was music. After work he played music; during work he longed to play music.

One summer’s day, the fear of having to spend my life working like my Father shook me. I decided, precisely at 4:37 pm, while walking down a two lane road, that I would never be subservient to a boss, someone else’s schedule, or the grind of an impersonal workplace.

In that flash, I gave my life over to the unpredictable notion that I could live on my own terms, in my own way, and with a sense of wide eyed joy that would wake me every morning with one question on my lips, “what’s next?”

I seldom quote Jack Kerouac’s The Road. But I think in this case, Old Jack sums up exactly “who and what” I saw when that flash of inspiration surged through.

Here’s what Jack said.

“They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

There’s a wild spirit that infuses Jack’s quote. It stirs your heart, makes you want to put on something fancy, dance all night and when dawn comes yell out to anyone who is listening, “Here I am world, good morning!”

That is the kind of energy my brand will radiate.

6 Benefits of Building a Brand in the Blogosphere Age

November 30, 2010

From American Express Open Forum, by Lena West, XynoMedia Technology

Social media has put the one-to-many model of marketing and branding on steroids. It used to be that companies had to market to people by sending catalogs, brochures, postcards or other direct mail pieces. It was time-consuming to get all that promotional material printed, collated, folded and out the door into a local mailbox. Whew, it feels like a lot of work just describing that process (not that there isn’t a place for direct marketing still).

But, for the record, let’s talk about what a brand is and isn’t. A brand is not your logo, your corporate colors or the font you use for callouts on your blog. A brand is the culmination of the total experience your market has with your company. So, it is all of those things collectively, yet none of those things separately.

For example, my brand promise is built on generosity, reciprocity, no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, make it simple principles. This comes across when I’m speaking on stage and in person. I’m amazed when people tell me that I’m the same person onstage and off. My brand comes through in my writing style. I write how I speak. The logo for my company is very strong and solid, because that’s who I am. This is starting to make sense, yes?

We’ve entered a new era riddled with dichotomy. There are more eyeballs than ever, yet consumers are more educated, private and cautious than ever. They can friend and unfriend you all in the same minute. The market isn’t fickle, it’s downright erratic at times. How on earth can an honest company build and execute on a brand promise with all this undulation?

Social media allows you to:

1.  Seize the opportunity. When done correctly, social media can create a depth of experience with your company that would normally take years to cultivate. Take Twitter for example; companies have employees Tweeting on their behalf. What does this do? It makes the face of even the largest company, human. Have you ever seen Verizon’s Twitter page? You get to see faces behind the Tweets and the use of the Twitter shorthand up carat allows people to speak directly to a company’s Twitter spokespeople and have a real-time conversation. Company Twitter representatives can offer support, general direction and praise all without picking up the phone, drafting an email or leaving the office. You can’t beat that with a stick.

2.  Choose who you are. All social media platforms have one element in common: a user profile. The user profile allows you to craft your brand experience based on the words you use, the words you don’t use and the energy in which the content is expressed. Of course, your network updates and Tweets need to reflect the same tone. For example, if your company’s description is very punchy, your market’s experience with your company won’t be the same if your updates are stiff and straitlaced.

3.  Tell the same story everywhere. If your business is represented and active on a few social media platforms, this gives you the opportunity to underscore exactly what your brand is about again and again and again. It doesn’t serve you to deliver one experience on your blog, a different experience on your Facebook Fan Page and a third type of encounter on Twitter. That’s inconsistent and will never help you build a sustainable brand that people like – and your market needs to like your brand.

4.  Leverage instantaneous feedback. The double-edged sword of social media is that your company can get feedback as fast as you can ask for it. Just ask the folks at Gap. Sales had been down for some time and without warning, pomp and circumstance, the company changed its logo from the classic, serif font we’ve all known to grow and love to something that looked like it belonged on a t-shirt tag in a strip mall.  I love Gap, but this new look was about as palatable as sourball candy. Now, don’t try this at home kids… the scuttlebutt about the logo did get the company some much-needed attention and sales are up. Did Gap do this on purpose? Did they use social media to drum up some social attention? We’ll never know, but the response across social media was, and still is, undeniable. The team at Under Armour has had the exact opposite experience with their Protect This House online video and commercial campaign. It’s called a double-edged sword for a reason.

5.  Invest time only. Many social media marketing tools are low-cost or free. You don’t have to pay for printing, stamps, paper or ink. If you can type, point and click, you can participate.

6.  Topple the leader. Social media platforms are just that – platforms. They are ways for your business to listen to your market, build a fabric of conversation around your brand, and when done right, eat the competition’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. It is not my intent to imply that this can be done quickly, but depending on your competition’s social media credibility (if they have any), there’s a potential to corner market share and mindshare. I forget who wrote this, but I read somewhere that nowadays everyone has a megaphone – it’s called a blog.

Blogging at Mother Earth News Fair

November 12, 2010

We were honored to be invited in September by Mother Earth News to offer two short blogging workshops at their fair, which drew more than 9,000 visitors to the Seven Springs Resort southeast of Pittsburgh.

If you missed this inaugural Mother Earth News event, you’ll have a chance on the west coast where they’ll be hosting two fairs next year. The hands-on sustainable lifestyle event features an expansive eco-friendly marketplace, organic and local food tasting, live music, plus dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on gardening, green building, renewable energy and more.


Blogher ’10, a Wow Event

August 8, 2010

We were thrilled these past 2 days to be a part of more than 2500 bloggers in New York City at Blogher ’10. We met amazing bloggers and other influential woman voices such as feminist icon, Gloria Feldt, former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, and Marie Wilson of The White House Project. Feldt spoke about how all our stories are important–how the personal is political. The power of women bloggers was very clear as evidenced by the presence of brand sponsors such as Chevrolet, Pepsi, P&G and others who were there to grab the attention of the more than 1200 Mommy bloggers in attendance.

We attended a some wonderful informational sessions from which we walked away with some great tips to share:

Know Your Goals
Tech consultant, Adria Richards, Nancy Martiera of Ketchum PR, The Web Farm’s Keidra Chaney, and Wasabimon blogger Stephanie Stiavetti’s panel on Bog Stats was terrific. Some ideas gleamed: If you are treating your blog as a business, write a short business plan or a mission statement to identify your goals, timeline (5 years?), your targeted audience, and spell out what you want your readers to do. It’s ok to change your goals or to add to them, but having goals gives you a plan and also allows you to monitor and track your progress using tools such as Google Analytics.

Never Stop Learning
There are wonderful free tutorials available online. Check out Google’s Conversion University for lessons on how to interpret and use your analytics effectively. Learn, for example, about Bounce Rate and why sometimes having a high bounce rate is not bad.

Blogher ’11 will be in San Diego–we encourage you to attend.

Does Blogging Drive Connection?

June 9, 2010


Image courtesy of flickr/rodrigofavera

Long gone are the days when ‘online’ was synonymous with social isolation and loneliness. In fact, we’re now witnessing the exact opposite: technology is driving people to connect and meet up en masse with others, in the ‘real world’. It makes for an interesting, easily-digested trend, begging to be turned into new services for your customers.

Thanks to the online revolution, hundreds of millions are now actively searching for, finding, connecting/signaling, and staying in touch with likeminded souls in the virtual world. Constant updates, GPS and mobile online access is now bringing this explosion of dating, networking, socializing and mingling to the real world domain.

People Love to Connect
Some numbers:
• Twitter: 100 million+ users, with 50 million tweets sent each day.
• Facebook : nearing 500 million users. The average user has 130 friends, spends 55 minutes a day on the site and receives three “event invitations” to real-life gatherings every month (in December 2009, the company stated that 3.5 million events were created every month). Next? According to The New York TimesFacebook will soon incorporate ‘location’ in two ways: its own features for sharing location and APIs to let other sites and apps offer location services to Facebook users. This could well be a MASS MINGLING killer app.
• LinkedIn : over 65 million members. A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second.
A ‘veteran’ MASS MINGLING engine like Meetup has 6.1 million members, handling 2.2 million RSVPs and 180,000 meet-ups, in 45,000 cities a month.
• Foursquare has one million users, while Gowalla: 150,000 users.
• Nearly three quarters (73%) of online teens and an equal number (72%) of young adults* use social network sites. 73% of adult profile owners use Facebook, 48% have a profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn. (Source: Pew, Feb 2010.)

Some thoughts on how this will lead to ‘forever connected’ amongst younger generations, from our fave media guru Jeff Jarvis:
“Thanks to our connection machine, they [young people] will stay linked, likely for the rest of their lives. With their blogs, MySpace pages, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Seesmic conversations, Twitter feeds, and all the means for sharing their lives yet to be invented, they will leave lifelong Google tracks that will make it easier to find them.”

People Love the “Real World”
This incredibly powerful tandem of mass urbanization and experiences has resulted in an orgy of real world activities and happenings that are all about mingling; from countless cultural and not so cultural events, concerts, festivals, and seminars, to a burgeoning and truly global bar/dining/party scene, to a Warholian retail renaissance, to tourism & travel now being one of the world’s largest industries, employing approximately 220 million people and generating over 9.4 percent of world GDP. In short, people have always, and will for a long time continue to enjoy interacting with other warm bodies.

via Trendwatching

We’ve Launched Into the Blogosphere!

May 4, 2010

We had 12 fabulously interesting participants generate wonderful content at our first workshop, April 24,  in Greenwich, CT. Navé jump started everyone’s creativity with the Imaginative Storm exercises and we then moved from The Storm to The Creative Form. We were amazed by the boatloads of great material our participants wrote – content they could easily use for their first blog posts. From the feedback we received, our maiden voyage was a success. One workshop participant, Kelly Crisp, has already launched her blog, Karma & Consequences. Bravo Kelly!

Some of our participants requested an ongoing series to further fine tune the creative process. We are thinking of launching a series in CT, and will let you know. Others inquired about one-to-one blogging consultations about content, design, and technical aspects. Robin is available to work with you by the hour or can develop a customized plan to address your individual needs.

Stay tuned for more. We are exploring future workshops in New York City, Taos, Paris, and Los Angeles. Please let us know you have ideas for other venues, we are open to suggestions.