Archive for Brand

Mike McDowell dot com is all mine!

I did it. I did it. I did it! I finally got mikemcdowell.com! And, yes, I am rejoicing with all the fervor and feelings of accomplishment as somebody who skillfully landed the parking spot in front on the grocery store. I realize that I didn’t do much to secure this domain, but I have been chasing it for EIGHT LONG YEARS. I checked in regularly, and as the expiration edged closer, I checked multiple times a day.

I am so happy right now. This is the best way I can express my joy:

 

Next step is, of course, to decide what the hell to do with my domain other than a silly redirect to this blog.

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Cheetos Setting a New Standard for URLs?

There was a point, years ago, that it became a standard practice to add your company’s URL to the final slide of your TV commercial. There’s been an evolution of how that URL is displayed…

http://www.visitmywebsite.com

http://www.visitmywebsite.com

visitmywebsite.com

Now check out how Cheetos has decided to change the game even more. What do you think? I kind of like it!

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20 Resume Tips in 20 Minutes

I was given 20 minutes to impart some resume wisdom upon the eager young learners in the Ad Club at the University of Nevada, Reno. So, I decided I’d give them 20 tips in 20 minutes. Here’s what I told them.

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The Effect of the FTC’s Testimonial Disclosure Rule Change

About a year ago, the FTC updated its guidelines on testimonials. I wrote a post about it on my other blog (for work) if you’d like to read that article. The highlights of the guideline updates were around transparency of results and testimonials. The updates included more guidelines around revealing any “material connection” between advertisers and endorsers. In other words, if the endorser received money or any other kind of payment for their endorsement, it needs to be disclosed.

This past week, I noticed the execution of these guidelines on a couple of TV commercials. Fairly interesting. This first one was the most interesting to me. It was an advertisement for a car (I don’t recall which one). The story line was essentially a couple talking about their future together and how this car was going to be a part of that future, etc. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is the disclaimer line: Individuals were remunerated. What the hell does that mean? I’m probably just a big dummy, but I didn’t know what that statement meant. And I figure most people don’t.

Remunerated (verb)
Pay (someone) for services rendered or work done

reimbursed, paid, testimonial, remunerate

Yeah, it basically means that person got paid to say what they said. This seems fair enough at first. But then it also makes me wonder if this was a “real testimonial” and the people were thanked and given some money, or if they were just paid actors reading lines, parading as “real people.” Either way, they were paid. But I can’t tell if this was an actual testimonial or not. I feel like I’m being duped.

Here’s the other one – an ad for Vonage – explaining that these people shared their stories in exchange for an opportunity to appear on a television commercial. I think the description of this disclaimer is far less furtive. I think it’s much more honest and I applaud Vonage for their transparency in respecting the new guidelines. Don’t you?

testimonial, reimbursed, advertisement

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Fraternity Social Media Policy

Note: this is not Sigma Phi Epsilon.

I spend a lot of time volunteering with college students – most of which is spent with my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. I just received communication from the national organization about representation on social media. The message was intended more for undergraduates than alumni (I think!), but I found it interesting enough to share. We are familiar with more and more workplaces developing social media policies to help protect their brand value. Believe it or not, fraternities (and sororities) are in the same boat. They have a brand to maintain, and with thousands of representatives of that brand all over the nation, it can be difficult to maintain. Especially when there is an interest to reject the “frat boy” stereotype of boozing and womanizing.

What makes it an added challenge is that we’re working with people age 18-22 (generally) who are in the habit of documenting their lives on social media such as Facebook. Posting a photo of you and your buddies hoisting up beer cans or the ubiquitous red Solo cup are badges of honor in a Facebook profile. This isn’t just a Greek Life thing, it’s a college student, high school student, young person thing. We have all seen these types of photos on Facebook. But, the dynamic changes when you’re representing an organization and not just yourself. It will be interesting to see if any national organizations impose a social media conduct policy with consequences for violations.

After all, these are brands built over hundreds of years. Keeping “incriminating” photos off of Facebook isn’t going to protect the brand (it’s made up of so many other factors), but the types of photos that are celebrated on Facebook tend to be the type that entrench Greeks in the negative stereotypes. Don’t get me wrong – these students are doing this to themselves. But they’re affecting a brand that’s larger than them – just like employees who carelessly post can have an affect on the company they work for/represent. We’ll see what happens over time as we deal with a population that’s even more and more entrenched in technology and social media and a habit of documenting their lives – good and bad.

Here is the friendly reminder to the undergrads of SigEp:

“In today’s world, everybody must learn to be careful about how they are portrayed on the internet, particularly on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  We must all be careful about privacy settings, and about what gets posted on a profile, group or fan page—whether public or private.  More and more employers are using these sites to look at potential employees every day.  University administrators are also using these sites to learn more about their students and campus.  As brothers in Sigma Phi Epsilon, we should think about how we are portrayed on these websites, and how our actions reflect upon the Fraternity as a whole.

Be conscious of how your chapter brothers are using social media sites, individually and on chapter accounts.  Chapter members should not be identifying themselves as SigEps via usernames, titles, captions, clothing, etc. if they are participating in inappropriate or unlawful behavior, using illegal substances, or failing to live up to the Cardinal Principles of Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love.”

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New Media and SEO at the Nevada Interactive Media Summit

As I posted previously, I had the honor of presenting at the annual Nevada Interactive Media Summit again this year. The Nevada Interactive Media Summit seeks to “bring together business owners, non-profit advocates, publishers, newsmakers, bloggers, podcasters, filmmakers, media, PR and advertising professionals and anyone else interested in interactive media from every corner of Nevada together for hands-on learning, rich discussions, opportunities to meet with local companies working in interactive media and plentiful networking opportunities.” I felt fortunate to be the only presenter to give two separate presentations – one on the New Media landscape and one on the strategy behind Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is the second year that I’ve presented New Media 101, and it was just as thrilling for me this year as it was last year. I really love the opportunity to take these seemingly complex (and to some people, scary) concepts and bringing them back down to Earth where they belong. The SEO presentation was a first timer for me and while I was pleased with it, I’d like to further refine it, and bring some more examples and humor into it. The conference was well worth the price of admission for attendees ($25), and there were so many intelligent minds in one space, and so many new and exciting ideas that it made for a wonderful experience. Thank you to the Summit coordinators who invited me to present my ideas and knowledge.

I’ve embedded the two presentations below. If you’d like me to present either of these for your business or organization, please feel free to contact me.

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Les Schwab Does Good Business

I know that we all have different experiences with companies – sometimes good, sometimes bad. In fact, good brands want to make that experience as consistent as possible from person to person. On this post, I’d like to compliment Les Schwab for the experiences I’ve had with their company. For about five years now, I’ve been visiting Les Schwab for all of my tire needs (although, I recently discovered they do much more than tires well). They’ve earned my trust – and I believe that is paramount in any successful relationship (be it personal life or professional life). Les Schwab is one of the few companies I’ve encountered that I trust to not rip me off. I have a long history of sales experience – I understand how it works, how up-selling works and pushing goals to increase the average transaction price per customer. Businesses can get carried away with this sales mentality, and forget to value the relationship with the customer. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Les Schwab.

I can’t tell you how many times my wife or I have taken our cars to Les Schwab only to have them find ways to save us money, tell us that something would be unnecessary, or simply give us a service for free, thank us, and send us on our way. Are you kidding me? This from someone in the automotive industry – an industry notorious for ripping you off (come in to get a filter changed, and end up replacing your transmission). Now, Les Schwab could easily tell me I need to replace all my tires with the top-of-the-line performance tires. But, instead, they’ll let me know I only need to replace two tires, and then suggest a model that will perfect for my car and find a way to give me a 10% discount on them. Thanks. Just last week, I brought my car in because my brakes had been squealing. I asked them to inspect the brakes and replace them. They inspected the brakes, cleaned them up a little bit and then informed me that they looked great and I was good to go – free of charge. Many other automotive companies would have replaced my brakes anyway, even if they were perfectly fine – and they would at least charge me for the brake inspection.

So, kudos to you, Les Schwab. You value my trust, and you have earned it – and along with it, my continued business. You need to be recognized for that.

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