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Posts Tagged ‘web programming’

You may not have heard of this little mom 'n' pop operation

As a companion piece to our last entry, here is a website I wrote* for Johnston Brothers Custom Imprinted Gun Cloths and Bags, a South Carolina maker of… wait, I knew it a minute ago!

This was a writing gig that was probably more fun than it should have been. First of all, it was 4 hours start to finish – including the client interview – and I received payment in under a week. What’s not to love?

Secondly, I love the client’s entrepreneurial spirit. I am always in awe of that kind of carve-a-niche energy some clients have – because I sometimes (ahem!) find it lacking in myself!  Here is a guy who saw that 90% of the little gun shops in the US do little to no advertising or marketing. They basically count on the fact that they are the only shop in the neighborhood.  So this client makes gun cloths, which every serious shooter must have and use, and personalizes them with the name of the shop and contact info.  That’s about all I can reveal, but the benefits should be obvious.

Anyway, you hear a lot of doom and gloom about small businesses. In order to survive, small business has to get creative. This is exactly the kind of quick, inexpensive yet good-looking website that can do the trick. It’s exciting for me to be involved in this kind of solution. Take that, commies!

*hat-tip to Charleston SC designer Studio 7 Design, and programmer Metatation. Thanks for the gig, fellers!

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ImageMatrix Halloween Party, City View Tavern, Cincinnati 1989

For those of you who aren’t Cincinnati Krauts, that means “Beer please!” As I was going to press last time (or whatever) I learned that the long-gestating Kroger Supermarkets beer web page I had written had gone live.

This one was fun. Working with a Cincinnati web marketing firm that I can’t name, I had to dig in to all kinds of beer ephemera to write web copy about beer trivia, food pairings, beer history in America and so on.

As I said previously, I have done a bunch of beer writing for Anheuser Busch, Miller Coors and Kroger – mostly for video. And of course, being some internal merchandising or training video, I almost never get to see the final product. So it’s really fun to see it all come to life. Especially the timeline of Beer in America. So check it out!

And now, I leave you with the words of Norm from Cheers: “Women! Can’t live with ’em, pass me the beer nuts!”

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And if YOU can’t live without compelling copy for web, print, social media or video, Please contact LivelyExchange (at) gmail.com!

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Today, an old compatriot chimed in about particular aspect of my resume. And I suddenly realized I once blogged – that is, TYPED, onto PAPER, and FAXED to someone, for PUBLICATION, on PAPER – about an ITVA meeting that his company had sponsored. It was the dawn of non-linear video editing, and a bunch of us tape-to-tape editors were gathered around a first-generation nonlinear system, poking at it with our spears and saying things like “Unh! Magic glow-box make pictures be!” Anyway, this one’s for you Tim, AKA T-Bone Malone, AKA Tim-Tim-Sala-Bim! Please to enjoy this 1995 REWIND Classic!

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What’s a non-linear editing freak to do? There you sit at your Mac, which has been tricked out with all the latest software. Sure, all those bells and whistles (not to mention the flame decals on the sides of your monitor) seemed like a good idea when you misappropriated your office furniture budget. But now it’s time to use the stuff, and you don’t have a clue. If you’re like me, you’re not about to read a 600 page manual just to figure out how to make your logo spin. However, the sheer statistics regarding spinning logo injuries require you to receive at least a little instruction, for safety’s sake.

So where do you turn? Well, if you attended our February chapter meeting at Park Avenue Productions (and a surprising number of you did) you got the lowdown on the Digital Production Academy. Bill Wells, the Dean of Men at the Academy, was our featured speaker, along with Joel Embry of sister company Television Systems Inc (who also serves as DPA’s Athletic Director.)

Founded in the late 1950’s, the Academy was the haven for radical thought and the gathering place for all sorts of creative weirdos who could not otherwise make it through college (funny how some things never change.) According to records, their first graduate project was a black and white , 2-D treatment of the word “NEW”, which was supered over a box of laundry soap. It required a computer as big as a two bedroom house in Cheviot, and twelve weeks of rendering time. Also, an engineer died when a paper cut he received from one of his punchcards became really infected.

The DPA has come a long way since then, and was recently ranked in US of A Today’s Top 25 Schools Which aren’t as Geeky as You Might Think. Unlike some schools Back East (Rockport) and Out West (AFI), the DPA is geared toward guys and gals who make TV, corporate and otherwise, on a daily basis, and who don’t really care what Scorcese had for breakfast the day they shot the kitchen scene in “Raging Bull.” Instead, you get an intensive two to five day seminar that speaks directly to your immediate production needs. By the way, Mr. Embry had too much class to name the offending schools, so I did it for him. This is the sort of bare knuckled journalism which answers the question “exactly what am I getting for my $150.00 ITVA membership?”

In the course of the evening’s presentation, one very important question was answered: Just suppose my $440 million company had, I don’t know, a bake sale, and came up with a couple of grand to spend on software: Where would we begin? The answer came without hesitation. Photoshop, for around $700.00, is known as the “Swiss army knife” of production tools. Comet CG, at $1200.00, and Adobe AfterEffects, at around $1,895.00 (the “Soviet assault rifle” and “German Panzer division,” respectively) round out the package. Why these particular systems? Well, TSI sells them, for one thing. But they also feel that they are tools which do the job of making TV well, and inexpensively. Of course, there are other choices. You could go down to Steinberg’s and pick up a Flame suite, but you’ll probably have to root around behind the couch cushions for that extra few hundred thou. And while you’re back there, could you look for my virginity? It’s been missing since 1980.

Overall, it was a very informative presentation. It was also a bit of the old deja vu for me. Later that evening I sat in the drawing room of stately Lively Manor, sipping General Foods International Bourbon and leafing wistfully through my yearbook from the Digital Production Academy. Instantly I was transported back in time, to a scene reminiscent of a digitally remastered version of “The Day the Music Died” crossed with “Revenge of the Nerds.”

It was a brilliant autumn day as the DPA Fighting Pixels took to the football field bearing the school colors (Red, Green and Blue) on their jerseys with the pocket protectors. Meanwhile, a marching band full of guys with their eyeglasses taped together blasted a bad brass version of their fight song, Black Sabbath’s “Digital B*tch.” It was a hard-fought but ultimately disappointing gridiron match against Starfleet Academy to decide, once and for all, whether Kirk or Picard was the better captain. Later the crowd stormed the field, destroyed the uprights, and burned and looted well into the night. In all, it was a Homecoming I will remember as vividly as if it were a bit I made up right before my deadline.

Anyway, DPA is located in Sellersburg, Indiana (that’s Louisville, KY to you and me.) They can be reached at (812) 246-1075. The number for Television Systems, also in fabulous downtown Sellersburg (near the theater district) is (800) 545-6949. Mention this article and receive a 5% discount on all orders over $350,000.00!  Lastly, call our gracious hosts, Park Avenue Productions, at (513) 281-4888 for production services, or to merely borrow their studio for an ITVA meeting and grind a big mustard stain into their carpet (sorry, dudes.)

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A video production friend of mine (and frequent partner in Las Vegas shenanigans) made the mistake of asking “What are you working on now?” I answered, and thought I would share with you, my Legion of Fan:

  • Consumer electronics website, point-of-sale, brochures and trade show materials,
  • Real estate website,
  • Social media for a consumer testing firm,
  • Legal Services website,
  • Liquor and spirits press release and article,
  • Mental health practitioner website,
  • Residential and commercial HVAC website,
  • Social media for a home security firm,
  • Producing a video for a certain giant healthcare firm, and a
  • Financial planning website

…all at different stages of development, of course.

I then asked him, “What are YOU working on?” His reply? Editing “Party Sluts Invade Lake Havasu!!” Which is infinitely cooler than all my stuff combined and multiplied by Pi!

So, how’s YOUR two-thousand-eleventy so far?

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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A while back during one of my carpet-bombing cold call email blasts, I got this reply: “Thanks for contacting me Michael. I like your experience and your samples – so much so that I am going to overlook the typo in the opening paragraph of your cover letter.”

Now, this guy had me dead to rights. I had made the type of error I always do – something along the lines of “I’m responding to YOU ad for a copywriter.” A missed keystroke, nothing more. A dumb mistake but, really, what douche makes such a point of calling it out? Well, apparently, THIS douche, because I never heard from him again.

So, fast-forward to today. At a meeting with a potential (and totally non-douchey) client  he remarks: “I’m glad I was able to reach you through (a mutual acquaintance.) Did you know that there is no simple, clear way to reach you on your blog? No biggie, just something to think about.”

And he was right. First of all, thanks for the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. But DAG, how can I have been at this blogging thing for 2.5 years without a contact page? The problem is, you only get so many navigation tabs on WordPress (with my specific template.) So I went through all my pages and inserted “Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com.”

Appropriate? Tacky? Who knows? All I have to say is “Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!”

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Re-using old Baby New Years: Part of the "new austerity"

January 2011: New Year, new resolution to blog more consistently, blah blah bling bling blah.

Anyway, so far so good in the new all-freelance era of Freelance Copywriter Charleston SC (see what I did there?) The Philips stuff is less prominent but more satisfying, pound for pound, so there’s that.  The healthcare client is undergoing some personnel changes, but I am confident it will find its equilibrium.  My Charlotte web marketing client is hitting the ground running in 20-oh-11, and apparently they aren’t sick of me yet.  I’m doing a couple of web and print projects for a giant Midwestern grocery chain.  A law firm in Columbia SC needs some web copy. A Charleston realtor needs some blogging, a mental health professional needs web content, and so on. My biggest new project has been cooking along for about 4 months now – social media coordination for a marketing website. Nice steady tentpole gig, Praise Be, though the workload and the success of it is a primary reason for my lack of personal blogging lately. What, you mean I have to log out of THEIR WordPress site and log back in to MINE? That reeks of EFFORT!

So, that’s the update. I actually have several ideas for blog posts upcoming, so consider yourself warned! Talk soon!

Please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com

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It’s a fairly common tactic in advertising: inventing a fake disease or syndrome that only your product or service can relieve.  Goodwill did it recently with TMSS, or Too Much Stuff Syndrome.

And now, Philips joins the fake disease game with DBA, or Dead Battery Anxiety.  I believe the local creative director came up with this idea. I like it because it could almost be a real thing. People living in fear that the batteries on their cell phone or MP3 will die at the most inopportune time – haven’t we all been there?

So we conjured up this fake foundation to promote awareness, and started writing various case studies and video vignettes to illustrate the heartbreak of DBA. I did several of the pieces here, an agency did several more, and there are several yet to be produced. In addition to the copywriting and script blocking, I also got to help direct the casting session, and I even did some voiceover work. This took me ALL the way back to the corporate video days!

Anyway, check it out. And if you’re wondering which pieces are mine, the answer is simple: whichever ones you like!

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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