September 16, 2014

So what you do think of WordPress 3.4?

It’s been a few days since WordPress (WP) 3.4 rolled out to the masses. What do you think? The new features seem cool for those of us that like to constantly tweak our sites. As someone who uses WordPress as part of their job, the new features open up lots of possibilities, here are some of my favorites:

NEW FEATURES:

  • Enhanced theme control
    • Customize theme options before activating a new theme using Theme Customizer – If you’ve ever tried to figure out how your site would look under another theme, in the past it involve a special testing plugin or testing area. This solve that problem and gives you control over most of the elements that need to change in terms of customization.
    • Use Theme Previewer to customize current theme without changing the front-end design – Always a good idea to preview your work before it’s permanently on the site.
  • Custom Headers
    • Improved Custom Headers with flexible sizes – As someone who as created dozens of headers while working with WordPress, this one was a “why didn’t I think of that” moment! No longer do you have to try to squeeze the clients’ information into the pre-determined size requirements. It will be interesting how people use this feature.
    • Selecting Custom Header Images and Custom Background Images from Media Library ScreenThis opens up the possibilities here, let the creativity begin!
  • Media improvements
    • Support HTML in image captions – Cool little idea, that I could see using in several different ways, not only in photo credit links, but linking photos like ideas to other posts or sites.

Also the translation additions and installation changes are welcomed changes and I’m excited to learn more about them. Let me know what you like about the latest version of WordPress?

Check out WordPress 3.4 for more details.

Until next time, Tim

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The Power of Words – The Fall of News of the World

As I’ve noted in prior posts – contrary to the popular belief the core of the Internet is not images, but words. Twitter and Facebook thrive on the words of the populace and with the news of the demise of the 168-year-old News of the World. Social Media is being proclaimed as the victor in bringing the alleged illegal action of the newspaper to the attention of the world. Now that the consumer is an instant author, even a historic bastion of journalism is susceptible to being brought down by the words of the masses. According to Gerry McGovern, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and others through history understood the power of words and appropriately as technology has evolved so has the way words get to the masses.

Today it’s a 140 characters at a time, but as the Muslim Spring and other tragedies have shown us the words of the public spread information and news quite effectively. The pressure to get the story in this digital age seems t have caused the News of the World to do anything to get the story, but in the end the public has the last word.

Until next time, Tim

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QR Codes Merge Print with Online

RavenWood Creative's Business Card with QR codeIf you’ve begun to hear a lot about QR codes, short for “Quick Response,” you’re not alone. They have been popular in Japan for years and they are starting to catch on here in the states. The two-dimensional bar code can store a lot of information and when read with a QR reader (yep, there’s an app for that) via the phone’s camera you can direct users to specific web sites for more information, have them download your contact information, or anything else.

Recently, RavenWood Creative was producing new business cards and with the emphasis the firm puts on new technology, printing a QR code on the card seemed like a no-brainer. And getting it done was a no-brainer as well.

1) Go to a QR Code generation site, there are several but RavenWood Creative went to QReate and Track

2) Enter your information for the QR code.

3) Create the code and download the .png file provided.

4) Use the high-resolution image to put on your marketing material.

That’s it, if you have any questions let us know and we can explore how to implement QRCodes in your marketing.

Examples of what QR codes can do:

  • Allow people to scan one off your business card and download your contact information
  • Link people to a website for more information on anything – an upcoming conference, a movie trailer, a product description, a video – anything online.
  • Print one on a t-shirt and let users find out more about marketing and educational efforts.
  • And most importantly, measure your results, by tracking who scans your code and when…

Until next time, Tim

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What would we do without “OK”?

This week back in 1839, the Boston Morning Post first published the initials “O.K.”

Can you imagine living in a time before “Okay” or “OK” was in the language? If someone tripped and fell in front of you before 1839, I guess you asked if they were “adequate” or “peachy keen.” It’s very odd how language has evolved. It seems OK was an abbreviation for “oll correct” and popular slang term of the time that was a misspelling of “all correct.” It seems it was a hobby at the time for young people of the time to take words, misspell them and use them as slang when conversing. I’m sure glad that hobby never caught on, d’you? Dag – that’s the bomb!

What are your favorite slang terms, and is technology and its omnipresence in today’s society influencing our language in a bad way?

Let me know, a’right. Until next time, Tim

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The Changing Definition of “Audience”

The social media aspects of the Internet are changing the rules of the game and personal technology, (i.e. mobile phones) are changing the audience at those games. As I prepare to take in a ballgame of the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies tonight, an article on Mashable caught my eye. It seems the SEC College Football Conference has updated its media policy to be stricter on regular fans in the stands:

football-fans“Ticketed fans can’t “produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event. …”

This policy is stricter than most policies out there and written that way for a reason. Since it’s publishing it has been slammed by bloggers, Tweeters, and the like as “chasing shadows,” or “not enforceable.” All true, but I don’t see security personnel scanning 90,000 fans and swooping in on a fan in the stands who’s using TwitPic to upload a shot of the latest touchdown by University of Florida.

I agree with most that state that such policies, such as the SEC’s is a fear reaction to not only the present technology that makes every fan with a mobile phone “a mobile news van” but also a policy that is trying to prevent the future from happening when phones will be uploading and sharing video of the action (can you imagine the phone bill?). The definition of audience is merging with the media. Fans are becoming reporters and reporters are relying on such technology to capture fan reaction or track down different perspectives. Remember policies about using the phone at work? Or ones regarding sending personal emails from work? Some are still in place in the corporate world. And right now there is an HR professional out there somewhere writing a policy regarding the use of social media within the company. All will be ignored or skirted as the technology becomes easier and easier for everyone to use. “It’s my mobile phone. I can do with it what I like,” is the prevailing attitude and I think the SEC will soon find that out. Technology is making it more difficult to keep events, whether they be sporting events or a plane crash on the Hudson, from being the sole domain of the media. We’re all media and the sooner the traditional media: newspapers, TV, even today’s bloggers realize it and forget about trying to legislate how we interact and use technology the easier it will become for them to reach and engage their “audience.”

What do you think?

Until next time, Tim

Somewhat related video from YouTube, could this be the future the SEC fears.

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RavenWood Creative’s Tim Ernst Featured in Communication World Bulletin

CW Bulletin | Combat Information Overload with Visuals – July 2009

 

The July 2009 Communication World Bulletin from IABC features a piece I wrote on using visuals in online communication. Visuals are more that photos on the screen – as websites on their own are a visual media, just like TV and film. Check out my column Using Visuals in Web Communications.

 

Let me know your thoughts on the piece.

 

Until next time, Tim

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Made in America – Red, White and Green…

img_0490Last week ABC’s NIGHTLINE did an interesting story on how hard it is to buy products Made in America. As I watched I found it interesting how complacent everyone was about it. I remember watching John Ratzenberger and his Made In America series on the Travel Channel and thinking how proud I was that Americans still make top quality products. A search of “Made in America” on the web finds that maybe the future of American industry lies in new forms of energy. This video is cause for hope, maybe this economy will force America to embrace alternative energy. I recently returned from a trip to San Francisco and was amazed at the “eco-savviness” of the city. Recycling was prominent everywhere, the food court at the Westfield served you on china and with utensils to cut down on the paper plates and cups going in the trash stream. Hybrid taxis and no or low emission vehicles were everywhere. I understand from one of our cabbies all taxis in SF must be hybrid or natural gas vehicles by 2012. It just reminded me that we have a long way to go here in Pennsylvania. The future is alternative and thinking green and the East Coast of the US has a long way to go.

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Social Media Exploding and Twitter is Lighting the Fuse

Tomorrow, I plan on taking on the impossible. I need to sum up what’s happening on the web in the realm of social media for group of business people, and I only have about 30 minutes. I’m presenting on the web to the Flourtown Businesspersons Association, FBA, a group that spans several generations and obviously is a diverse audience from different lines of work.

I plan on briefly covering the history behind social media, about a minute. Discussing how eBay and other original online communities (remember listserv, bulletin boards, chat, etc.) have continued to evolve to the facebooks and Twitter of today.

Then, I’ll explain how facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have taken the online world by storm. Facebook offers advertisers the opportunity to get in front of 175 million pairs of eyes.

Finally, I’ll tackle some of the many examples of how people are using social networking, these new media tools and micro-blogging such as Twitter to find jobs (Dave Murray), recruit members (Coast Guard), and stay in contact with customers (TSA, Timbuk2, Zappos).

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Until next time, Tim

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eBooks for Marketing – David Meerman Scott Part 2

Sorry, this took a while to get this entry posted. But while at David Meerman Scott’s keynote address at TS2 in Philly, he brought up something that I hadn’t noticed happening in the marketing arena.

guess I was too close to it, as a writer of white papers, I was trudging along doing the “industry standard” technical papers for clients describing why their whatchmacallit is the greatest and most dynamic in the industry. Meanwhile a sub-culture of marketing was developing the “marketing ebook.” I’m a convert!

The ebook differs from the white paper in 3 ways:

1: it’s formatted in the landscape ratio, making it easier to view online.

2: it’s colorful and makes use of eye-catching graphics.

3: it’s FREE!

No longer are you putting out a white paper trying to get sales or customers to read about your latest and greatest. You’re entertaining and educating them in a style that’s easier for them to digest. And you’re not collecting an email or making them register to get it. It’s free and if they like what you are saying they will contact you.

It’s a softer marketing – it’s much like television shopping. In the mid-80s a lot of TV shopping channels popped up in the USA. By the late 90s, only two really survived and thrived, QVC and HSN. What made them do better than the competition? It’s the perfection of the soft sell. QVC hardly ever talks about “hurrying up” or “buy now before it’s too late.” They don’t have to, they gently tell their shoppers when the price “changes” and “what a good value it is,” and let the shopper decide when to call or click.

The same can be said about ebooks.

Looking for some good examples: David Meerman Scott has some I’d recommend, as does Cameron Chapman in a Mashable entry.

Until next time, Tim

More on New Marketing

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Very Cool WordPress for the iPhone

Well, this is coming to you from my iPhone. I just downloaded wordpress off the app store at iTunes and within a few moments I’m blogging from my phone. Very cool.

Anyone else out there doing this? This type of mobile blogging was a fantasy a year ago – the pace of technology amazes me and I follow it pretty closely.

Until next time, Tim

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