Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on July 8, 2014
Last week, Emily Warn and I sailed high above Puget Sound on the Seattle Wheel for a 360-panorama portrait of us for our new website. We wanted an interesting business photo of the pens who make up Two Pens in our local environment (Seattle) while conveying our passion for online technology. Digital wizard Bradford Bohonus of Bohonus Photography does the best work in this exacting art (IMHO). I figured the VR photographer who shoots amazing panoramas for Microsoft and Google would make us proud.
In conceiving our business photo, I did a lot of thinking a lot about what makes a commercial portrait pass or fail. So let me dissect a few of the business photo fails before I ask you to weigh in on whether we passed the test at the end of this post.
The Obvious Selfie
Posted By Emily Warn on July 2, 2014
The Facebook experiment in manipulating emotional content risks diluting the cultural power of networks.Photo copyright 2014 Cynthia Hartwig
Warning: There is no call-to-action in this post. By reading it, you will not learn how to write better social media content or how to use Facebook or Twitter. You will hear me rant with a purpose—to talk about how Facebook’s experiment in manipulating emotional content threatens the cultural value of social networks. I also write in hope that Facebook will return to fulfilling its promise to us in its mission statement:
To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them
What Networks Are
Facebook’s revelation this week that they conducted research using the emotional content of people’s posts without their permission lays bare why Facebook is smothering social media. It has forgotten what fuels it—-the roles that affinity and chance play in organizing and sustaining social networks.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on June 24, 2014
Rather than ordering people to stay out, this sign from the Seattle Parks Department makes readers feel good about keeping dogs off the plants. You get the sense a human being is speaking in a friendly, reasonable tone of voice.
Consider the sign I walked by in my neighborhood park on Lake Washington Boulevard while walking my dog: “Good Dog, Green Dog” it said. Who wouldn’t lean in to learn why my dog has been given a pat on its black head for not stepping (or pooping) on the newly replanted flower bed? The sign caught my attention (always the first order of business), then taught me about the ongoing reseeding of a neighborhood park. It also spoke in the voice of a real person–not some faceless bureaucrats.
Voice isn’t just a speaking tool. It’s a powerful business writing tool.
A business writing voice reveals the warm, personable human being behind your words and subtly persuades the reader to believe and trust what you say.
Posted By Emily Warn on June 17, 2014
Cynthia Hartwig’s obsession with developing a great visual brand means she’s constantly shooting imagery wherever she goes. Her callas lily went through the Dubble App and became something more than just another flower photo.
Out walking in Seattle yesterday, I bumped into Cynthia photographing a rain-soaked clump of blue bells at a park overlooking Lake Washington. Her camera was about 1 mm from the flowers as if it were an octogenarian’s reading glasses. Now what is she seeing, I wondered. I ask the same question every time she pulls her camera out of her purse and points it at just about anything, which is frequently. (Read her post on A Camera is an Unsung Creative Writing Tool
I also felt lucky. I knew she was stocking her already bursting collection of digital photography, and that every time I would need an image to help a headline tell a story–voila!–she would have the perfect fit.
Cynthia is a master at putting photos and other visual images to work. In the process, she has developed a visual brand for Two Pens that is unpredictable, quirky, fearless, colorful, unusual, and definitely as opposed to stock photography as we are to being marketing hack writers. Here are a few of my favorite examples of how she uses images to tell stories, and in telling the stories, how she is building Two Pens’ brand.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on June 10, 2014
A slightly soft image of yellow blossoms fills the frame of my pie pan shot with a diagonal spray of color. The Dubble App gives it a lush, painterly feel that few stock photos can match.
Stock photography has become the new wallpaper. Bloggers, people who post on social media, designers, email and e-newsletter creators plus a host of other “communicators” are all using the same images. The net result? Visual content (one of the most powerful assets on the web) gives away its social power because none of it is new or surprising. That’s why I’ve become obsessed with the Dubble App
, a clever and quick way to create branded visual content. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on May 28, 2014
Social media technology is an insane librarian circulating poetry in ways never imagined. Copyright @ Jarrett J. Krosoczka (http://thejjkblog.blogspot.com)
I went on way too long about my pet peeve when someone asked me about the negative impacts of social media on poetry. I was at the Skagit Poetry Festival on a panel about technology and the future of poetry. Many poets believe that social media will catapult them into the limelight if they learn to work its levers. We become dutiful, mini-marketing machines, shilling our books, reviews, workshops and readings.
This is very bad for poetry. Self-promotion has the opposite of its intended effect; almost all of us completely ignore promo-posts. You can learn effective ways to promote your poetry on social media if you get curious about what’s out there. The social media network in the poetry world is really just an insane librarian circulating poems on the Internet. Here are some random tips on whirling in the vortex.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on May 20, 2014
Most audiences suffer math anxiety not because they’re bad at numbers—but because they’ve sat through too many presentations that have gone off the rails with incomprehensible financials or statistics. Presentation tip 101: never show a spreadsheet with itty-bitty numbers without a human translation.
If You Are Presenting Numbers, You Have to Connect The Dots
The problem with a sea of numbers on a spreadsheet is that an audience doesn’t know where to look. As the presenter, your task is to chart a path through the thicket of data so people can easily follow your logic. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on May 13, 2014
Facebook is hard on bloggers. They continually update their services and immediately outdate posts explaining how the previous version worked. That’s what just happened to me. Last year I showed you how to use Facebook Notifications to keep your hundreds of FB friends from driving you crazy. Then Facebook made changes to Notifications, driving me crazy. Then last week, they released an update to their Groups feature, which makes it easier to control Notifications. Sanity restored, at least for a minute.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on May 6, 2014
Perch, buffalo, gaspargoo, pike, trout, herring… This list of words is a lexicon about a specific industry. Building a lexicon helps make your writing abut an industry more real. Copyright 2014 Cynthia Hartwig
Business writing is often bland. It’s rarely grounded in sensory or precise language. Think white bread and you pretty much have the gummy nature of corp-speak. So how does a business writer tackle a new technology or industry she knows nothing about? Don’t fake it. Create a lexicon, which is just a fancy term for a word list. (more…)
Posted By Emily Warn on April 29, 2014
Is this too long for a blog post? The medievalists would think we were speaking Greek.
One of the longest running discussions in the Content Strategy LinkedIn Group
I’m a member of is about how long should a blog post be. One of Two Pens’ most popular posts
offers one answer. But there are about as many opinions on the subject as there are bloggers. I decided to do some unscientific research–I read the top-ranked posts about it–and drew my own conclusions. (more…)