About M/C/C Contributors

M/C/C creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of M/C/C as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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Features vs. Performance: Finding a Balance in Modern Web Design

We all know the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This concept as applied to modern Web design might read, “If a website has an amazing design and cool/advanced features but takes too long to load, will anyone use it?”

And thus is the struggle of the modern day Web designer. Of course, we want our designs to be striking and our websites to have cutting-edge features. But at the same time, we don’t want the design or features to overshadow the ultimate goals of the website. Maybe just as important, we don’t want the site’s features to adversely affect the site’s performance: slowing down load times or overcomplicating the interface, which could turn users away.

Recently, I attended a Dallas User Experience Group meetup. One of the featured speakers, Jeff Whitfield, touched on this topic during his talk. At one point, Jeff started to draw a pyramid on the whiteboard and related it to a user’s experience on a website. This idea referred to an outstanding article written a few years back by Smashing Magazine called, ‘Designing For A Hierarchy Of Needs,’ which applied psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory to Web design. (This article has a solid explanation of Maslow’s theory, as well as a great application to Web design. See visuals below.)

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

At the heart of the Smashing Magazine article and Jeff Whitfield’s talk was this question – In terms of the experience of a website, what is the most important thing vs. the least important?  As he drew the pyramid, Jeff explained that the base of the pyramid is the most important. As applied to design, the base is functionality: does the website work/load correctly/address the user’s basic needs? If the website does not load correctly, or takes too long to load, or doesn’t have the content the user is looking for, they will leave your website. Quickly. The user in that case won’t get to experience the amazing looking features you spent months creating. The same goes for general human needs. If you don’t have enough food to survive, you won’t get to achieve the higher level needs we aspire to in life: like peace, knowledge and self-fulfillment.

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Pitching Pro: Four Tips to Quality Engagement with Reporters

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Three strikes and you are out may be the golden rule in baseball, but pitching journalists headline-worthy news can be hit or miss. In fact, it’s all about the angle of the story and your relationship with the journalist— both of which can be difficult to establish. Have no fear, next time you’re up to bat take these four pointers into consideration, and you might be the “MVP” of the game!

1. Know your audience – Remember you’re talking to the journalist and their readers or viewers, so you have two audiences. If you work hard and do your research, you can learn a lot about a journalist’s beat and their writing style. This information can help you curtail your pitch to their liking. If you craft your email correctly, you could land a great story for your brand.

2. Create a powerful narrative – If your story isn’t interesting, it doesn’t matter how well written it is. Because you want to keep your relationships with journalists strong and vibrant, give them good stories. If you think your angle isn’t relevant or strong enough, you’re probably right. Try a new strategy or look for a humorous angle. Journalists are pitched news all day long, but if you create a great narrative they can’t help but give you attention.

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Tapping Into The B2B Blogosphere

In March 2012, Neilsen reported and calculated more than 181 million blogs around the world.

Yes, 181 MILLION.

Everyone and their mom seems to have a blog these days. From parenting to family to travel and even button collecting – there is a place for everyone to get a piece of the pie. While the consumer sector of the blogosphere has  latched on quickly to the trend, the B2B world has been slower to adopt these channels as strategic communications tools with real tangible benefits.

Since embracing social media and blogger relations in the past years, Dell has learned a thing or two about the importance of blogger relations. They have learned that people and their opinions come in all forms and every person finds their own and unique way to share a story. The savviest of companies are using this unique, word-of-mouth marketing strategy to help change company perceptions and tap into niche industries with relevant conversation.  B2B brands should take note!

Photo by: Dell Official Flickr, CC-BY-2.0

Photo by: Dell Official Flickr, CC-BY-2.0

 

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Yahoo and Tumblr: How Mayer’s Purchase Measures Up to Other Acquisitions

Photo by Kevin Krejci, CC-BY-2.0

Just a year into her new role as the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer already has several BIG ticket purchases under her belt. In case you missed the headlines, here is a quick recap of her receipt: in March, she acquired the news digest app Summly for $30 million. Last week, she bought the microblogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion—a move the Wall Street Journal described as, “a deal that highlights the shifting balance of power in the technology business.” Additionally, she’s rumored to be drafting a deal to buy the online television site, Hulu for as much as $600-800 million. Two things are true, Mayer is broadening Yahoo’s focus rather than narrowing it, and she’s changing the way we look at acquisitions along the way.

Photo by Wickerfurniture, CC-BY-2.0

In the past, many large tech companies would buy media, social and microblogging companies and incorporate their technology into its own platform or service. Today, it seems acquisitions are more about gaining the additional users and analytics. For example, while Tumblr will still operate apart from Yahoo, reports indicate Tumblr currently attracts about 300 million visitors a month and when combined with Yahoo, the website is predicted to grow by 50 percent.

Yahoo isn’t the only company working with newly acquired companies to enhance their features. Here’s a quick look back at three of the most notable acquisitions from the past year.

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This News is Brought to You by @Twitter

twitter newsWhat makes Twitter Twitter is that instantaneous, speed-of-light news sharing capability that many social media networks just can’t quite match. As I’ve mentioned before, in the shift from the 24-hour news cycle to a 20-minute one, Twitter has only made the business of news gathering and sharing in the wake of a disaster more treacherous – and even more important to get right. During horrific events like last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, people looked to the microblogging service for their up-to-date status updates.

News of the blasts first circulated on Twitter and came just as journalists had their eyes trained on the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes. The news played out in the way that all breaking events now do: first on Twitter, then on television, followed by a dizzying flurry of eyewitness videos, tweets, Vines and photos complementing the coverage.

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New Ways to Tell the Same Story

They don’t make the Internet like the used to; or at least, they shouldn’t.

Replace “they” with “we,” and you have a major theme of SXSW Interactive. You might know it as Responsive Web Design.  According to CNET, almost 30 percent of adults in the U.S. own a tablet or e-reader, up roughly sixteen slamjillion percent* from three years ago.

*Not a real number, but it used to be like 2 percent

Almost everyone has a smart phone of some nonstandard size and shape, and we’ve gone from viewing websites in a desk chair to viewing them in the middle of a crosswalk. How did we get here?

For most of its history, the Web looked like a desktop computer. The only major change came when we threw out those 70-pound CRT monitors and got some fancy LCD screens.

Old Web Vs. New WebSo we kept right on crafting our stories in the same way. (We were so young…) Now, the Web looks like this:

Beyond Squishy - Adaptive Design

 

If you’re a creator, curator or creatorator* of this shiny new Responsive Web, the time has come to think differently about experiences. This is not just for designers. Design and development will go through obvious changes, but they’re not the whole story.

*This one IS real.

Story. That’s what we’re all about, from traditional advertising and PR down to any basic human interaction. We share stories and create experiences around those stories to make them easy to consume and enjoy.

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Annual Review of News Media Shows Consumers Love Mobile, Social Media and Good Old Fashioned Sunday Papers

The Pew Research Center just published its annual State of the News Media report. The yearly analysis covers trends in American news consumption and journalism including everything from magazine and print news to cable television.  The findings provide insight into the industry, which can help advertisers and marketers understand where consumers are spending their time. More importantly, if the data is used correctly, it can create a solid foundation for a successful strategy for reaching audiences engaged with news outlets.  For example, while the report focuses on news consumption, it also holds clues about consumer trends in digital communication – including how consumers are using their mobile devices to read and share news.  Read on to see the top trends from 2012 and what it means for 2013. Continue reading

Lindsey’s Grab Bag of SXSWi Awesomeness

This year I was grateful to have my third visit to SXSW Interactive. As is always the case, my brain was bombarded with gobs of information and was inspired in the areas of Web design, development and beyond. Here are some highlights of my experience this year.

The first day started out with a presentation by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. That was a pretty great way to start out a conference built around the very thing for which this guy laid the foundation. It was fascinating to hear his vision for the future of Web, which amongst other things emphasizes that our democracy relies on the Internet being open.

Leap Motion is a start-up that came into the scene with a vengeance at SXSW this year.  The technology senses movement in your hands without the use of a mouse or a keyboard. This product is set to come out in May of 2013 and is surprisingly affordable at the price point of $79.99. Here I am playing around with a demo model:

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A Public Relations Case Study: Chuck E. Cheese’s Goes Gluten-Free

For some, gluten-free is more than a fad diet. For a brand whose premise revolves around the notion of providing wholesome experiences the whole family can enjoy, going gluten-free is about including millions of families and children around the country in the food and fun experience, like other kids, without the feeling of being different.

It was only fitting that the idea of expanding its food options to accommodate children who have to follow such a strict diet was one that Chuck E. Cheese’s did not approach without serious thought. This would have to be done the right way or not at all.

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Chuck E. Cheese’s Perfects the Product

While the problems and concerns surrounding dining out with gluten allergies aren’t new to those who deal with them on a daily basis, the ability to communicate those needs to Chuck E. Cheese’s Vice President of Research and Development, Joe Elliot, grew exponentially through easy access to Chuck E. Cheese’s corporate offices on the Web through site contact forms and the Chuck E-Club email program.

That’s when the company began considering what its options for a gluten-free pizza might be. It would be three years later, when Elliot was at the International Pizza Expo chatting with Mike Conte, founder of Conte’s Pasta Company and manufacturer of a fully-sauced, gluten-free cheese pizza, that the idea would begin baking. Conte’s Pasta Company’s booth in the expo hall was located next to another booth manned by Policarta, an Italian company best known for making “brown-and-serve” bags used in the restaurant gourmet bread industry.

Conte took some bags from Policarta and began to experiment in the test kitchen at his dedicated gluten-free facility in New Jersey, all the while working with Elliot to test the most promising prototypes at the Chuck E. Cheese’s nearby. The collaborators finally created a viable product and process for introducing certified gluten-free options to Chuck E. Cheese’s stores.

The Bake-in-Bag® pizza available at Chuck E. Cheese’s remains sealed while cooked and delivered, until it is opened and served with a sealed personal pizza cutter at families’ tables by the adult in charge. Under the same gluten-free procedure, chocolate fudge cupcakes from GIG-certified Fabe’s All Natural Bakery remain in pre-sealed, single-serve packaging until opened and served at the table.

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