Content lessons from the Corner Gas Movie

I’m a huge fan of Corner Gas who watches his DVDs over and over. I’m not usually a fan of tv shows being turned into movies but couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the Corner Gas movie. Maybe it will turn out right? Thankfully, it did! I can sum up Corner Gas: The Movie as an unconventional movie experience. And it was refreshing. Because something unique was done. A few unique things, actually. And that’s what can make your content stand out, no matter the medium or format. 1. A very short theatre run It was only in theatres for 5 days in select theatres. At first I thought this was a little strange. Why go to all that production trouble just for a week of showings? Then I pondered if it had anything to do with budget or perhaps Canadian movies having a hard time competing with American ones. Or maybe there was a positive reason? Read on… 2. Quick DVD release The DVD is set to release the week after as will digital downloads. 3. 20 minute warm up before the movie started Instead of sitting through 20 minutes or more of commercials for movies, cell phones, bank services, and cars I’m not in the market to buy, Brent Butt treated us to his comedy, really funny Corner Gas trivia games (many in the theatre including myself laughed out loud), bloopers and even a section where he asked the audience to snap photos and tag with #CornerGasMovie for a Selfies For Swag contest. The latter was genius. It was cool to see photos of my fellow Corner Gas...

NASA’s cool ABC’s of Orion

Photo credit: NASA How do you engage an audience on the many complexities of designing a spacecraft to send people to outer space? With infographics, of course! And not those wordy ones. The pictogram kind. Coinciding with upcoming test flight of the Orion spacecraft on December 4, 2014, @NASASocial tweeted a pictogram for each letter of the alphabet corresponding to a feature of the new vehicle every ten minutes. #Orion from A to Z: A is for Apogee. Apogee is the point in an elliptical orbit when farthest from Earth pic.twitter.com/L3q8TB1mj3 — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 #Orion from A to Z: B is for Beyond: Orion is designed for deep space missions to go beyond Earth’s orbit pic.twitter.com/OUlJNDQqjr — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 #Orion from A to Z: C is for Crew Module: a home for our astronauts on board with living space & supply storage pic.twitter.com/X8Yl133aZj — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 And what beautiful, simple graphics they are! I especially like the tag cloud like collage at the top. Graphics like these are always great way to quickly and simply illustrate the many fascinating details about a concept. In this case, something completely outside of everyday life. NASA’s Orion spacecraft is designed to take humans farther out in space including Mars and asteroids. It will also sustain the crew during the travel, and be used to return to Earth. Just like during the Apollo missions in the 1960s! In fact, I’m wondering if their choice of using pictograms could be related to a theme of lunar landing retro? If so, I think...

Design for the user. The user isn’t you.

It is too easy to assume that whatever it is we’re about to post is earth-shattering fantastic, but that doesn’t mean our audience will think so, too. They are interacting with our websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, or whathaveyou, to solve a problem. Be it finding a specific product for their home, information about a school course, making a donation, finding the time when a bus will arrive, whatever it is that drives a person to search or browse somewhere in your digital footprint in the first place. Thus – 1. Design for the user 2. The user isn’t you I first read these two golden rules on a blog about user experience design back in the early 2000s during my web design days (unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the blog nor link to give proper credit). These rules can be directly applied to content marketing. Actually, anything we create for online consumption. 1. Create content for the user. The user isn’t you. Like I said, it’s our job as members of the digital team (content creators, content marketers, communicators, etc.) to make it easy for our users to solve their problems. We need to simply ask ourselves, “Will our users find this fantastic earth-shattering thing useful?”. And answer it through the eyes of the members of your personas/target audience. For instance, when I worked at a hospital for kids with disabilities, I’d ask myself “how would this piece of content [a photo, a link to a page on our website, the wording of a tweet] help me if I were a parent with a child with...

My comic strip campaign for stuttering awareness

International Stuttering Awareness Day takes place every year on October 22. I like to plan an awareness campaign each time. In the past I’ve created audio podcasts, special Google+ Hangouts throughout the day, blog posts, and tweeting stuttering fun facts mixed in with a few silly, made up ones for engagement. This year, I decided on creating a series of comic strips. I chose a few common stuttering misconceptions and added a one-panel comic strip to them. I wanted to use humour (my speciality) to politely inform and educate. The strip above is my favourite of the bunch. I posted the rest of my comics below. Since my goal is to spread awareness, I designed the graphics to be viewable and shareable on social media networks. And since there’s a lot of noise on social networks these days, I opted for a minimal and straight-to-the-point design. I also created one for the kids! Of course, they aren’t really on social media but this would be more of an offline campaign or B2B (speech language pathologists, schools, etc.) of sorts. The cartoon fox is Franky Banky who is the protagonist in my illustrative self-help book for my fellow people who stutter. So yes, my other goal is to spread brand awareness (hence the brought-to-you copy at the bottom). The International Stuttering Association hosts an online conference every year in October leading up to International Stuttering Awareness Day. Head on over to isad.isastutter.org if you’d like to learn more about stuttering and what it’s like to live with stuttering. You can also check out my podcast, Stuttering is Cool...

What does podcasting look like in 2013?

Looking to relaunch his podcast, my friend and fellow podcaster, Sylvain Grand’Maison, recently asked on the Podcast Artifacts Facebook group what is important to add on a website for a podcast in 2013. Back in the 2000’s, an RSS feed was vital, buttons to various podcatchers, email subscriptions and of course, an audio player. But are they relevant in today’s world where the website is just one piece to the content consumer’s toolbox? Sylvain’s question really made me think. The audience of my podcast, Stuttering is Cool, is mostly non-tech so I have always kept and tweaked the podcatchers buttons on my website. And I also offer email notifications (let’s face it, podcasting has never been as easy to access as traditional radio). Then again, I also designed my website to work like a radio. Just press play. So what kind of advice did other group members give Sylvain? In a nutshell, add the traditional stuff since it’s a best practice to ensure all levels of technological knowledge has been accommodated. Don’t forget accessibility as well! 1. RSS feeds still serve a purpose for apps like Flipboard and Google Currents. 2. Email subscription can be effective if your audience is low-tech. Remember, just because you are a techie, doesn’t mean your entire audience is as well (and you shouldn’t ignore the non-techies). Unless, of course, the topic of your podcast is tech in nature, then you can safely assume some level of knowledge. And just because you have a website or blog doesn’t mean people will take the initiative and return often. The web is very noisy now and...