8 Vegas Eateries Not To Miss

AmysDinner2014-04-06The Las Vegas brand certainly includes great food. But if you’re in Vegas as I am for #NABShow, you may enjoy getting away from the big name restaurants. So here are a few tasty spots to try this week:

1. Lotus of Siam. Excellent, authentic, and seriously spicy–thai cuisine. Try te spicy prawns or the sea bass in any of the three sauces–I had the ginger sauce with mushrooms on Saturday night and it was divine.

2. Kaizon Fusion Roll. Asia fusion with interesting (and gigantic) sushi roll combinations in a low-key, hip bar atmosphere. Just across street from Hard Rock Hotel but not nearly as pricey as their famous sushi place.

3. Sen of Japan gets rave reviews and is more authentic Japanese, for purists.

4. Pamplemousse. Locals go here for special occasion, reasonably authentic French fare. Haven’t tried it myself, so give me your feedback.

5. Lindo Michoacan. A local Mexican 3-restaurant chain well regarded, including by my local friend whose wife hails from Mexico.

6. Echo and Rig Pick out your cut of steak, then have it grilled up at the restaurant next door. Talk about “on-demand” dining!

7. Piero’s. A Las Vegas institution and close to the Convention Center where we’re all living for this conference. Dinner only.

8. The only Vegas eatery on the strip that makes my list is Beijing Noodle No.9 at Caesar’s. Try the soup dumplings (they’re not IN the soup, the soup is IN the dumplings!) and a bowl of Lanzhou noodle soup.

April 8, 2014 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Research to Target Content for Better Impact

3 Glass Bottles-1b sGetting applause for your content isn’t enough. So while Facebook and YouTube likes are nice, it’s more important to know if you are engaging the right community, and causing them to change knowledge, beliefs and attitudes—the precursors to behavior change. You can use embedded polling, an online survey, a focus group or a full-blown pre/post study—anything that will give you some data to make decisions about what kind of content to create, and how to deliver it more effectively.

There are plenty of great tools out there to help you discover what motivates your audience.

—  www.websurveycreator.com

—  http://kwiksurveys.com/

—  www.surveymonkey.com

—  http://www.google.com/drive/apps.html#forms

—  http://www.zoomerang.com/

—  http://www.surveygizmo.com/

—  http://polldaddy.com/

—  http://www.formsite.com/

—  www.constantcontact.com

www.batchgeo.com    also helps you map your data–literally, on a map! (although it wouldn’t let me put US and international locations on the same map, hmm.)

Don’t forget you can also survey in person. For example, here are the results of a quick in-class survey from my workshop on Researching Your Audience for Better Content Impact this morning at #NABShow in Las Vegas. Thanks to my terrific—and, as you’ll see, geographically diverse—participants, we had a great session.

Sample size: 37

Average age: 36

US Geographic Diversity  

Geo Diversity Amy's NAB Research ClassTop reasons for coming to #NAB: Checking out post production technology, trans media, gear: camera, lighting and audio; digital publishing ; how to develop engaging material for internal audience; how to get more views on content; discover what production is like outside our country.

 Amy DeLouise is a content producer who cares about research and speaks at major conferences and events. She tweets @brandbuzz.

 

 

 

April 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Do Tag Lines Matter?

Labyrinth_HigherEdAmyDeLouiseBlogIn a word, yes. Especially in a hashtag- and keyword-based world. Of course, not every organization needs a tag line. The American Red Cross does not use one. But then, you know what they do and how they do it. Sometimes, the very best tag lines tell you why an organization does what it does.  In consultant-speak, this is called the “Vision” of the organization (as opposed to the Mission, which is the what and the how). So, your mission might be to feed the homeless, but your vision is a world without homelessness.  And that premise–and your passion about it–should underly your tag line.

The Salvation Army has a tagline:

Doing the Most Good®

It’s a little generic. But my guess is they decided to have this because the words “salvation” and “army” both carry heavy negative connotations. The word “good” by contrast, has a very warm and fuzzy feel to it. “Doing” demonstrates an active stance. “Doing good” could describe pretty much any nonprofit. By adding in “most” they are communicating effectiveness and efficiency–the best use of your money.

Many nonprofits less well known than The Salvation Army use a tag line to enhance identity and market positioning in a crowded space. Particularly if the name does not provide full clarity about their Mission or Vision.  One of my favorites is the tag for Common Cause: Holding Power Accountable.

When developing a tag line, there are three steps you can take to help you:

1. Define Your Brand Personality (smart, young, respected, edgy, etc.)

2. Define Your Vision (the way the world would be if you succeeded 100% in your mission) and what makes you so passionate about it.

3. Determine Your “Gap”–that is, the gap that might exist between what your name says and who you are, which is often the gap between what people know about you and what you WANT them to know about you.

Defining your message in just a few words can be a challenge, but a tag line can go a long way towards helping you define your identity in an ever-crowded marketplace.

Amy DeLouise consults on nonprofit branding, and produces digital content to promote those brands.

March 19, 2014 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

4 Easy Ways to Fix This Donor Thank You Video

Thanking donors through video has become increasingly popular. Too bad this effort from my alma mater falls flat.  Here are 4 ways to improve this student “thank you” from Yale. You can easily incorporate these strategies in your next video project.

1. Authenticity.  If the purpose of the video is to make donors smile, then it’s a fail. That’s because the students have obviously been asked to “look at the camera and say ‘thank you’.” We feel their awkwardness. Even throwing in the mascot dog doeLyndaAmyInterviewingCouplesn’t help. There’s a much better way to coax great performances out of non-performers. Have some conversations before you start filming. Don’t tell them exactly what to say. Give them context. Ask them some other questions first.  Ask questions that elicit the answer you need (“what would you tell a donor who made it possible for you to have heat in your dorm this winter?) rather than asking the subject “when I say go, say thank you”.

For more interview techniques, see my course on Lynda.com (The Art of the Interview). Here’s a snippet about building rapport.

2.Depth of Field. Every shot has students plastered against the same stone wall. What a missed opportunity to show off the campus and the students in their “natural habitat”! Lenses aren’t just fancy add-ons. They are vital storytelling tools. By adding context in the background of a subject, you convey meaning and increase impact on the viewer.Lynda2Amy

3. Energy.  Adding motion to the camera, and multiple camera angles, makes a HUGE difference in the energy and impact of a video.  Who knows why the Yale videographer felt he or she couldn’t move from that one spot. But one easy way to add energy would be following some of the subjects down the walkway (which would automatically create depth of field as we’d see action in the background).  I love having subjects talk while walking (or driving). Having different students pop up in a variety of places–the library, from behind a tree, from inside a classroom–would have added all kinds of energy to this piece. Plus alumns would have had a fun walk down memory lane seeing all these locations.  In this video about a Rabbi, we shot him walking, driving, leading prayer, on the telephone—all things he does in his very busy days.

4. Music. Music has a big impact on the impression your video makes. It affects edit pacing and rhythm. While the laid-back guitar vibe of the Yale piece is nice for a Friday afternoon Frisbee game, it doesn’t convey the dynamism of student life.  A catching music theme–and more variety in camera angles– leads to  (millions!) more views of this flash mob video from Ohio State (though I’m guessing they didn’t get music licensing rights for the song)

So before you launch into a “quick” video for any purpose, think about how you can use these 4 simple tools to add impact.

Amy DeLouise is a producer and consultant who has created hundreds of videos for fundraising and education.

March 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

How Not to Rebrand: Avoiding the Silverdocs Saga

Sky at Sunset When SilverDocs became AFI Docs, the once highly successful documentary festival did more than change its name. It changed its brand. And not in a good way.

For over a decade, SilverDocs was a roaring success. The public-private partnership between AFI and Discovery Channel brought groundbreaking–and often future Oscar-winning–nonfiction films to the silver screen in a well-regarded documentary festival that supported the active local DC area film community, while drawing thousands to a newly renovated Silver Spring, Maryland cultural district.  As a member of that local DC production community, I have been proud to see colleagues’ films screened, and see them debate with nationally known mediamakers on panels and in hallways. Our local chapter of Women in Film and Video, with 900 members, played an integral role in many of the events surrounding SilverDocs. Sky Sitney, the passionate and gifted director of the festival, took it to new heights of nonfiction program content and relationship-building.

Flash forward to the creation of “AFI Docs presented by Audi”—which already sounds like so many other corporate sponsorships such as FedEx Field and PNC Bank Arts Center.  The festival turned away from its warm hug of the film community and became a more “industry-driven” project, according to a Washington Post interview of Nina Gilden-Seavey, Silverdocs founding director. The result was not just a damaged brand in the eyes of the local community. It was a bad employment brand, because the new mission was one its visionary leader couldn’t support. So Sitney has quit to pursue other ventures.

Rebranding can be a tricky endeavor. It’s a balancing act between where you’ve been and where you want to go. The trick of any rebrand is to avoid New Coke syndrome. You want to be sure that your community, and especially your leadership, can come along for the ride.  (Hint: If you’re still being called “Formerly known as…” a year after your rebrand, it’s time to rethink the plan.) That’s not to say that change and progress aren’t a good idea for institutions.  But an organization without its people won’t succeed in today’s interconnected brand landscape.  And it takes more than sponsors to make a good nonprofit run well. Let’s hope AFI Docs will find its way to rebranding its rebrand, before it isn’t any brand at all.

Amy DeLouise is a multimedia producer who consults on branding and marketing for businesses and nonprofits. You can reach her at amy [at] amydelouise [dot] com.

February 19, 2014 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Promoting Your Brand

Yellow Hibiscus, Red Center 7_IGP0786 s.c Is updating your brand part of your 2014 New Year’s resolutions? Here are five ways to boost your brand recognition this year.

 1. Improve Social Media Engagement.  Google’s new algorithm not surprisingly puts the focus on Google +1′s. AccordingWishpond’s James Scherer (@JDScherer) writing for SmartBrief’s social media blog “While links are still incredibly important, equally important (and in the +1’s case, more important) are social endorsements such as Facebook likes and shares, LinkedIn shares, tweets and Pinterest pins.”   Building in ways for your donors, your followers, or your customers to engage with you and create those ever important endorsements is essential. Consider special discounts for conferences and events, or unique content for Twitter or Facebook followers to make the new SMO work for your brand.

2. Bring Your Executive Team on Board in Social Media. Gone are the days when your intern writes your blogs and Facebook posts. Customers and donors expect to follow the CEO’s twitter feed and get an insider perspective. Let the Thought Leaders in your institution–your C-Suite team and your Board leaders–build your brand by engaging in social channels. Sure, you can help them out with suggested themes, samples , and optimal timing around key events and product roll-outs. But their insider perspective and authentic voice is essential. A polished, corporate example is Bill Marriott’s On the Move blog. A slightly more irreverant blog is DuetsBlog, which belongs to a law firm. Ford’s chief digital communicator, Scott Monty, has a twitter feed worth emulating (@ScottMonty). But the examples you can offer are as endless as the kinds of personalities in your leadership circle.

3. Ask Movers and Shakers to Tweet About You. The tweet is the modern equivalent of getting an autograph, but more useful for your brand. When one of my nonprofit clients gave a facility tour to Justin Bieber (and encouraged him to tweet about it, which he did), they got 10,000 new followers in a matter of hours. Find out if any key personalities(or well-connected board members) are already known to your institution and encourage that they will Tweet, post on Facebook or blog about you.  And yes, specifically ask them to do it!

4. Make Your Video Content Multi-Platform Friendly. Right now, H.264 is still the go-to codec, but H.265 is on the way. And yet many organizations are still shooting standard def or stuck in the land of Flash.  If you want your content to be mobile- and web-friendly, make it a priority to upgrade your acquisition and output specs. For new content, shoot in High Def, at 1080p (29.97 frame rate, or 24fps which looks nicer in many cases and saves you some file space) for maximum flexibility and image quality. This larger acquisition size takes up more space, but storage is cheap. Whereas having your fabulous web fundraising video look horrible and pixelated at your annual conference could be an expensive mistake.

5. Multi-cast Your Content. Now it’s easy to share branded videos not just through Facebook, iTunes and YouTube, but also through Podcast Alley, MeFeedia, and more.  You can even reach the television-viewing audience by doing a direct-to-TiVO distribution. This allows you to bring more eyeballs to your content, and syndicate your branded content across multiple delivery platforms.

Merry Branding and a Happy New Year!

Amy is a frequent speaker, workshop leader, and an author on Lynda.com .

January 28, 2014 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

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About Amy

Amy produces video content to help people connect with great brands--mostly nonprofit ones. She's a frequent guest speaker and workshop leader and can be reached at amy [at]amydelouise[dot]com. On Twitter, she's @brandbuzz.

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