Debbie Elicksen

Publishing Media Creative Incorporated

December 19, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

Your App Sucks

tablet-apps

My first mobile device was a tablet. It was also my first journey into the experience of apps. After all the commercials and blogs I had seen, I couldn’t wait to see this device wow me off the screen. Two years later, my app experience hasn’t changed.

After shopping in the app store for the most needed apps: Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, Google, etc., I started sifting through the categories and downloaded a ton of publishing, media, and creative content apps.

Having been a subscriber to the NFL Sunday Ticket, I couldn’t wait to open the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL apps. In stunned disbelief, I saw that they were the equivalent of a static website in mobile, except stickier in moving from tab to tab. So the only time I opened the NFL app was on game days to keep tabs on the other scores. FoxSports.com was a much better user experience and even had/has interactive live play-by-play, where you can watch the ball move down the field. The NFL app has improved quite a bit by adding video, features, etc. Considering the innovation of the NFL and the NFL Network, I very much expect the app to be over the top.

Newspaper and other league apps were actually worse than the early NFL app. They had way less information than you would find on a website — a third-party basement blogger website. I deleted all of them. Radio, movie, and TV? Your app sucks. I am somewhat resentful of the time wasted in downloading them. The only news app that still exists on my tablet is Al Jazeera.

Then there are apps I loved using in the United States that will not operate in Canada. I’m talking about you, Pandora.

In 2013, there were 102.062 million apps downloaded worldwide, according to Statista.com. But only 90% of apps are downloaded once. That means once an app is downloaded, the user saw it didn’t meet their expectations of coolness or content, so they never visited it again.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised about this. After all, few industries and schools have caught up to technology. So if you’re looking for something that gives you an interactive Angry Birds-type of experience, you’ve got to download a lot of toads before you find that prince of an app.

December 18, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

Google+ Viral

whats-hot-on-google

Those Google+ experts were right, but they were also wrong.

While I do sing the merits of Google+, I don’t sing it by hating on other platforms and declaring that this is the only platform worthy of participating. That is the message that has flooded not only the Google+ stream for the past year or two, but our eardrums as the Plussers cite the ills of Facebook and chastise everyone from being in that platform and elsewhere.

As we say on LinkedIn: I’m an Open Networker.

Google+ is a tool, and a damn good one. It really helps you in the Google search engine. But after being on this platforms for a couple of years now, I do not see an exodus of my friends, family, business connections, and general acquaintances from Facebook. Judging from how many notifications I’ve had, there might be seven percent who have subsequently joined G+, and maybe one of them is active. Unlike a G+ snob, I’m not going to chastise them for that.

But to the G+ snobs’ credit, their main mission has been to clean up the Internet and create more valuable posts. We don’t need only Google+ for that. We could do that everywhere. However, many of these Plussers have huge followings and when they do post and share, it gets impressively circulated. Of course, a lot of those posts have been singing to the choir of Plussers by offering up hymns about Google+. Don’t get me wrong, there is a need for that and a few great individuals who have been wonderfully helpful to the Plus community in guiding them on how to write a proper post and get the most mileage out of the platform. It’s just when everybody was doing it, it got a tad boring.

For the rest of us who post the thought-provoking, nugget-filled, properly-crafted posts — we might get a couple of plus ones (likes) but for the most part we just hear crickets. There is no Google+ viral. What does go viral are those posts that irk many of the Plussers: the geek culture meme, a music video, or something outrageously stupid.

The Internet is our office, and just like a brick and mortar office, we need coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and sometimes we like to step away from the computer to unfuzz our eyes or allow our brains to relax before tackling another task. All work and no play is boring. If you can post the meat and still allow your personality to shine and people like your personality, that is a win. It is also a win when you can make someone smile, laugh, or feel emotion. A good Google+ page is to balance this content.

I should have written down the source (my bad) but it was from one of those LinkedIn Pulse articles, about what makes a post go viral. The author broke it down into four categories: a) the element of surprise, b) something cute, c) something creative, and d) something that taps into your emotions.

Guess what? That means silly memes, funny videos, a beautiful photograph, and music.

I have a TON of posts on Google+. The ones that have made the biggest splash have included those elements, specifically animals and music. The following are two personal examples.

skillet

This video generated wonderful discussions about the band, Christian rock, and even religion. There were spammers and haters, but I immediately deleted and blocked those authors.

 

golden-retriever-competition-fail

This video was so awesome that you wanted to adopt this dog before the clip ended. It is still circulating like crazy.

golden-retriever-competition-fail-circle-share

As the original sharer of this post, you can see how many ripples were sent because it touched a chord with so many who watched it.

Take an inventory of the types of posts that seem to resonate with people in ALL of your platforms. You may find one size does not fit all. That said, those #ThrowbackThursday posts, beautiful images, inspiring quotes seem to cross all platforms. It’s just the coffee break we’ve all be looking for.

 

December 14, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

Your Personal Facebook Is Also Your Business

Facebook

Whenever the haters start talking trash about Facebook, I just tune them out. Sure, it may not work for these people. Perhaps their expectations are that Facebook should operate like the other platforms they are enamored with. Every media requires a different effort for it to pay off, and the one you focus on the most is the one that should net you the most rewards.

For me, that platform is Facebook.

I could write another book about how Facebook is also your business. But I’m not talking about the “Facebook business page” because I’m not sold on those either. What does work is my personal page, and I am not alone. Why? Because in today’s digital medium, business is personal, especially if you work in public relations, marketing, sales, as a writer, and in communications.

Nobody wants to rub shoulders with a brand, unless that brand is you. You can like the Virgin company Facebook page all you want, but let’s face it. It is Richard Branson you are really interested in. To prove it, Virgin has 246,769 followers on Facebook. Branson has 1,753,788. Unless your business Facebook page is engaging, entertaining, and enlightening, it is never going to grab the same attention as your own Facebook page. Business goes to where your personality shines.

I recently noticed a post in my Home page that caught my attention. It pointed to an article on LinkedIn by Patty Soffer called “Freelancing — or Working for Free?

Freelancing-or-work-for-free

As a long-time freelance writer and contractor, I immediately jumped into the link and read it. Wow. It was one of those pieces that really hit home. So back in Facebook, I commented to that effect in the feed. What resulted was an engaging conversation between me, Lisa Sparks, and Christine Celise Johnson. We decided to do a Google Hangout about the key points in this article and invited the author to participate.

We had so much fun, and the topic was so thought-provoking, that it has the potential to turn into a series. Not only does this boost the digital footprint of the four of us, it provides a key checklist and resource for others who are working in the freelance realm.

While we took this conversation to Google, shared the conversation on other platforms, the bulk of the planning, communications, and overall conversation has stayed on Facebook.

Check out our conversation and we’d be delighted if you wanted to share an idea for a future Hangout.

Screenshot 2014-12-14 at 3.11.19 PM

Lisa Sparks

Screenshot 2014-12-14 at 3.10.05 PM

Debbie Elicksen

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Christine Celise Johnson

 

 

November 29, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
1 Comment

What Not To Do In Public Relations

Elizabeth-Lauten-FB.png.CROP.rtstoryvar-medium

I must thank Eric Guster for starting this conversation on Facebook and linking to the latest edition of PR fails.

It doesn’t matter what your politics are, who you like or dislike personally, what team you root for, when you introduce your real target of dislike’s children into the picture, you have crossed a line you can never get back.

No apology will erase this original rant by this elected official’s communications director. There is only one move for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher to make if he wants to save his own skin. If not to save himself — to save the integrity of his communications’ office. Just ask InterActiveCorp (IAC).

This tweet was trending seconds after it was sent before boarding a plane to embark on an eight-hour journey. By the time this communications officer landed, her job was toast.

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While there are PR fails by the truckloads, these two particularly stand out because they are extremely offensive. The fact they didn’t recognize this even five minutes after the post was made, when the brain has a chance to digest what you just said, implies they still stood behind it by allowing it to stay public.

Most of us are human and we will make a mistake. There are examples of some who publicly published a comment and once it was pushed live, immediately rethought it and deleted it. I know I’ve done it. Depending on how high profile you are, that post could still go viral, but if it was deleted within five minutes or as soon as you could log back in, that shows the insult was not intentional, just a lapse in judgment.

You would also look beyond the offensive post and determine if this was a pattern of behavior (and thought) or an anomaly.

In life, we all have an opportunity to redeem ourselves so what these people do moving forward will really describe their character and if public relations is a position they are suited for. Even if they become Mother Teresa, they may still be bullied by the lowest common denominator for their past mistakes. If the gesture is sincere, future actions will be the confirmation.

The following tips will reaffirm what not to do in public relations.

pr-quote-seth-godin

 

What Does A Publicity Agent Do? http://youtu.be/GpFO3mTf9Hk 

November 23, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

How Not to Market on Twitter

compose-a-tweet

If you are a business marketing a product or service, here is a hashtag you may want to write down before writing your next tweet on Twitter: #twitterfail.

Perhaps the best person to help you market on Twitter is John Oliver. He says it best in the following video. Unfortunately it isn’t available in an embed, so you’ll need to click here for a new page to access his bit about Corporations on Twitter: http://youtu.be/rG_7xur1iRc 

November 22, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
1 Comment

Mobile Can Really Suck

working-on-a-desktop

I know. It’s something I preach all the time. Make your business show up in mobile because Pew Research tells us that 90 percent of Americans have cell phones. Fifty-eight percent of them are smartphones.

We want access to the Internet with every step we take, every mile we fly, and every breath we exhale. I am no exception, therefore, for that reason, I am blessed to have mobile devices in the form of a tablet and a Chromebook.

You can do a lot on mobile. You can check your emails, post in your networks, access your cloud storage, and video conference. If your device has at least one USB port, you might even be able to add a mouse or access files on your portable hard drive.

Because these devices all operate on apps, what these they cannot do is operate your software. For some of us, we need that software to create, edit, and maintain our work. I am lost without my Microsoft Office Pro and Adobe products. I require other people to be able to work in PhotoShop and InDesign. These are things you cannot get in an app. I know. I’ve tried, especially since my desktop crashed for good this week (fortunately after I copied all of my files). It now sleeps with the electronic fishes and where my laptop resides (it retired with Windows XP early 2014). Yes, it is time for some new computers.

For me, working on a desktop is light years faster than struggling on mobile. Perhaps it’s because of the mouse situation (I HATE the mouse pad and its efficiency is no different than if it was operated by real four-legged mice.) Another is that those annoying auto-play videos and mobile/pop-up ads suck the air out of your life, which is probably one of the biggest reasons mobile can really suck. Those issues are not so time-taxing in a laptop or a desktop.

So while I save up my quarters for a spanking new laptop (to start) with at least 8 GB of RAM, with a speed that allows my fingers to fly on the keyboard, I’m stuck on mobile. As such, there are websites I have been avoiding because they are just too painful to open. I’m talking about you Answers.com and HuffingtonPost.com. Meanwhile, I’m praying that my mobile devices, particularly the tablet, which is geriatric in technology age, hold out just a little while longer. Then another trip to Computer Rack will be in order.

 

Debbie Elicksen’s newest book “Publishing and Marketing in the Digital Age”  is available in bookstores and online.

November 15, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
1 Comment

Brush Up On Your Storytelling Skills

Edmonton-winter

The next time you venture outdoors, to a mall, or even your office, take a look at your environment with different eyes. Look at the world from a screenwriter’s point of view.

If screenwriting isn’t your category, this exercise is especially good to help you brush up on your storytelling skills. Carry a small notepad with you or use your recording device to capture your thoughts and observations.

Describe your environment. What do you notice about some of the people in it? What is the mood? Does someone seem to be struggling with their emotions? Is there a group of people laughing? What do you notice about what is inside the room? Is the room unkempt? Is there a musty smell? Is someone’s perfume overpowering? How does the dog’s fur contour over his body? Really dig deep into what you see.

footsteps-in-snow

Notice the crunch of the snow as your boots step on the fresh powder that lightly covers the packed flakes. How tingly is that feeling inside your mouth as you breathe in the cold air?

Read a screenplay — a good screenplay. See how the scenes are set and how the visuals become an integral part of the story.

The book “Screenwriting for Dummies” by Laura Schellhardt offers up exercises and tips to help you write from a different perspective.

This video: How Screenwriting Tips Can Make You A Better Writer adds more to this topic.

Check out Debbie Elicksen’s latest book: Publishing and Marketing in the Digital Age.

November 1, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
7 Comments

Step Outside Your Writing Comfort Zone

step-outside-your-writing-comfort-zone

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, screenplays or poems, stretching your boundaries means you can get better at your craft.

Step outside your writing comfort zone. Attempt to write something you are not comfortable with. If your writing comfort zone is fiction, write a non-fiction story about historical figure. If you cover the sports beat, write something about science or fiction.

If you’ve written books, articles, and stories — try a screenplay.

Before you embark on the task of stepping outside your writing comfort zone, do a little research on how to craft a good piece. Don’t just throw something to get by. Look at the screenplays of some good movies, ones that won awards for best screenplay, so you can find hints as to what makes a good one.

If you’ve been writing for years and have gotten into a groove, where you may not even open a grammar style book anymore, pick up a Chicago Manual of Style and learn the various uses of an ellipses. Write a story where you can incorporate their different uses.

Here are some more tips:

October 26, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

Internet Conversations

Businesswoman with Feet on Desk

How would you market if money wasn’t an option? Well, there is a way to market without spending any money, but what it does take is time.

It takes a lot of elbow grease to effectively work a social media profile to create a following that might eventually turn into referrals. It is the rare occasion when an account nets thousands of followers overnight. When it happens, it may have more to do with the type of business (geek culture, celebrity, media star). Then when the followers come, unless you have a plan to actually talk to them, they eventually get bored and leave.

Consistent and determined effort is how the rest of us do it. Now, this doesn’t mean spamming your followers’ inboxes every day with the “buy my stuff” message. I’m sure that gets you a big return — not.

If you really want to see some progress (and it won’t happen overnight unless it is the right place and right time) connect with people. I don’t mean send a friend request. It’s about having Internet conversations. I mean really connect with the people you already have. Wow them. Inspire them. Educate them. Tell them a good story.

If you see something they post that resonates with you positively, acknowledge it and say thank you. If you really like it, share it and give credit to the person you discovered it from. If you come across a link in your Internet travels and know it will be up someone’s alley, but you don’t necessarily want to display it on theirs or your wall/timeline, send it with a short not via private message: “I was thinking of you when I spotted this today. Hope you’re having a great week.”

You may be a multi-level marketer and/or really believe in what you have to sell. Keep in mind NOBODY wants to be sold anything. What’s the first thing you do when that salesperson accosts and begins to feature-dump you on the sales floor before you even got through the threshold? You cringe, try to shake them off, and if they hound you enough, you find the product somewhere else where they’ll let you shop in peace and just answer your questions when you ask them.

What is it that makes the product or service so special to you? And don’t say because you can make tons of money. If it were true, your cover photo would be the million dollar house you own in Tampa with the Rolls Royce in the driveway. If it’s a product, what’s the story behind it? If it’s a service, what’s the message? Schedule posts that hone that — not all about your business but in general.

Create a following by listening, responding, and making new friends. If you think Facebook is just for family and friends and you deny or grill strangers when they try to connect with you, then don’t expect social media to work for you.

Google + conversation

Google + conversation

Twitter conversation

Twitter conversation

Facebook conversation

Facebook conversation

Debbie Elicksen is the author of Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age published through Self-Counsel Press.

October 19, 2014
by Debbie Elicksen
0 comments

How To Make A Story Out Of Nothing

 

Screenshot 2014-10-19 at 4.32.53 PM

The best storytellers are not always the best writers and the best writers are not always great storytellers. Writing is 99 percent sweat equity and coming up with a story idea can be as easy as formulating a plan for world peace.

Rather than look at the linear aspect of a topic, how about digging deeper into all the elements that combine to bring the topic to life? Take for example, a cup of coffee.

If you’re not receiving your coffee by courier from an online order, you’re probably purchasing it in a retail environment. Let’s go back to the beginning, to when the coffee was grown. Here are some storytelling elements that stem from a simple cup:

  1. The history of the family who grew the coffee beans.
  2. The growing season of the coffee beans.
  3. How the beans are culled and prepared for transport.
  4. Who ships the coffee from the country of origin to the manufacturing plant?
  5. Who are the people who work the distribution chain and what are their stories?
  6. Who creates the packaging for the coffee beans and what are their stories?
  7. Once the coffee arrives at the retail warehouse, how is it distributed and what are their stories.
  8. What do the truckers see when they transport the beans?
  9. When the coffee arrives at the retail destination, who are the people who unload it and sell it. What are their stories?
  10. How many industries does a cup of coffee touch? How many products go into its productions? Hint: oil and gas is required for transport; parts and machinery for the trucks, ships, trains, warehouses, and manufacturing floor; metals and plastics; paper and pulp mills for the paper products that make up the packaging and the cups for individual sale at the retail store; textiles for the clothing and aprons for the workers at every leg of a bean’s journey.

So you can see that a cup of coffee isn’t just a perishable product. It is a culmination of all the life stories that combined and worked together to create that cup.

Here are more ideas on how to make a story out of nothing.

Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age

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