Print vs. Web

It’s an ongoing debate amongst designers: what’s a better form of design? Print or web?

With the coverage of news, sports, and design making more and more appearances online, it comes as a surprise when a blog goes in the opposite direction.

It’s Nice That, one of our favorite design blogs (and one that is accessible via our resources page), has recently created its first-ever print publication. The blog, which discusses work from firms/designers across the globe, has made a distinct effort to include print design as part of its offerings.

“However much we love posting and reading articles online, there’s still no substitute for holding a beautifully printed object in your hands. Because of this we publish a physical incarnation of the blog twice a year, aiming to archive the most interesting posts from the previous six months as well as commission more in-depth features and interviews,” say the good folks at ITN.

At HB, we do our best to incorporate both print and web into our design offerings. Having a strong presence in both fields is something that our clients value.

Northeastern – MBTA advertising

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After a five-year hiatus of not producing advertisements on the MBTA, Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies was looking to produce an eight-week flight of on-train and in-station posters.

The ads were designed to convey sophistication, flexibility, variety, and affordability. We worked with our friends at the College of Professional Studies to create a series of ads that combined facts about the MBTA with facts about CPS.

This is currently running and will continue to run until mid-April. They can be seen on various trains and stations along the Orange and Red lines.

The Design Process

In the HB creative department, we are constantly working through different stages of our design process. Typically, this starts with a discussion amongst our design team and the client. After defining clear next steps, our creative team gathers for a brainstorm and begins to conceptualize designs.

Recently, we worked with the Marino Center for Integrative Health to introduce a new brand to its constituents. Through new company messaging, a monthly newsletter, on-site signage, a revamped website, and stationery, Marino has upgraded its look and feel to match its first-rate patient services. A shows some of our logo developments.

For more about process, check out this post from one of my favorite bloggers: David Airey.

Building Brands… and Rebrands

One of our favorite resources for design discussion and brand criticism is Brand New, a blog that discusses corporate and brand identities.

The site does a great job of breaking down new brands and developing conversation amongst bloggers, viewers, and designers.

When you’re through, be sure to check out our own branding section.

Was it a Twebinar or a Tvebinar?

I attended my first Twebinar yesterday. “A what?” A Twebinar. Twebinar = webinar + Twitter.

Imagine a Webinar during which attendees can have conversations about the Webinar using Twitter. Referred to as a microblogging tool by the social media crowd, I describe Twitter as a public instant messaging platform. Check out this in Plain English video on YouTube for a great demonstation.

Back to the Twebinar. I consider a typical Webinar to be a live event with a slide deck. Yesterday’s event was mostly pre-recorded video with a few minutes of live video and no slide deck. The slide deck wasn’t missed, but the live video portions played such a small role today that I wondered why it was a scheduled event rather than just a video clip posted on YouTube. Enter Twitter.

Making it a Twebinar was brilliant, as the community of 500 viewers simultaneously watched the video and tweeted about it online. Yes, much of the tweeting focused on technical difficulties experienced by some attendees, but there were also many posts and comments about the Twebinar’s content: interesting examples of companies successfully using social media to spark conversations. Today’s Twebinar certainly got me talking – and thinking that perhaps the new age of Webinars will be Vebinars and Tvebinars.

If you check out Twitter, be sure to find and follow me. I am @perrinmcc.

Preparation

The Boston Globe recently ran an article on the meticulous preparation of Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen. The University of Connecticut graduate is arguably the NBA’s best shooter and is known as a true professional.

Granted, the life of an NBA player is much different from that of a designer at Hart•Boillot. However, both professions require a great deal of readiness. Taking time to prepare is an important part of the design process – and the Hart•Boillot way.

Before the next Celtics game, expect Ray Allen to repeat his everyday routine including a meal of chicken and rice, head shaving, and shots from the baseline, elbow and the top of the key… And before our next client meeting, expect the same habitual preparation such as pastries, agenda setting, and clear time parameters from Hart•Boillot.

Social Media and Politics

I had the pleasure of participating in Social Media Club of Boston’s “Civics, Social Media and the Countdown to Election ‘08” on February 7 at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. While I was excited about the meeting, I almost avoided it to hear Ségolène Royal, the former French presidential candidate, who was speaking in the room next door!

The meeting included a panel comprised of Morra Aarons-Mele, political director of BlogHer.org, the largest site for women bloggers, with over 5.5 million unique visitors a month; Joseph Carrabis, founder and chief research officer of NextStage Evolution and NextStage Global, author of 23 books and over 300 articles, and a master at analyzing marketing, media and customer (audience) behavior; and Robert Boyle, founder of Glassbooth, an organization created to develop innovative tools to empower the American voter. Glassbooth’s first tool, Glassbooth.org, was launched last November and was instantly a critical success – check out this site’s brief quiz and see if your preferred candidate actually shares as many beliefs with you as you might think.

The meeting addressed numerous issues related to social media, including: privacy vs. anonymity, the dark sides of social media, the way social media can extend the news cycle (for better or worse), the lack of issue-based analysis in traditional media in the US, and US journalism vs. global journalism.

Among the many kernels of knowledge and wisdom shared by panelists and attendees (who included some amazing social media pioneers, such as video blogger Steve Garfield) was the fact that research shows that most voters actually did not vote for the candidate who most strongly agreed with them on the issues in recent elections. Apparently, most voters end up supporting the person who presents information in the way that they prefer to have information presented, rather than the person whose beliefs and record most strongly align with their own.

While I find such results depressing, it does support the notion that marketing is critical, no matter what your product, service or message. Some politicians might think, “If I say it, they will listen,” just as engineers might think, “If I build it, they will come.” Until these become true (and it might be a better world if they were), we will have jobs marketing, packaging and presenting information to our audiences, touching their specific emotional triggers and producing the desired behavior. Fortunately for us, in B2B marketing communications, we work hard to translate a message into words and images that clarify the content for the audience, and we aren’t asked to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes!

PR measurement in the new world

Before new or social media came onto the scene, the PR measurement debate focused around the value of ad equivalency, print “hits” and column-inches, Web site visits, and estimated audience. Now that blogs, wikis, and podcasts have entered the scene, the discussion points (or points of contention) multiply.

At a research symposium earlier this month, the Society for New Communication Research (SNCR) presented the results of its research, “New Media, New Influencers & Implications for the Public Relations Profession.” As part of its research process, the group conducted a survey to examine the current PR landscape and how the industry is embracing social media.

One question asks what criteria companies use to determine the influence of bloggers and podcasters. The top three responses were:

  • quality of content
  • relevance of content to your company
  • Web search engine rankings.

The lowest ranked metrics included:

  • number of comments on the blog/podcast
  • content syndication
  • longevity.

Interestingly, these three offer the most valuable information for those measuring effectiveness at reaching an audience. Indeed, a blog may have high Google rankings and be easily found, but if no one subscribes to it or comments in it, how valuable is it?

To read the preliminary new influencers research results presented at the symposium, click here. The full report will be issued in April.

The Age of Transparency

Earlier this month I attended a research symposium organized by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). The use of the word transparency at the event reminded me of the “Hi Bob” drinking game. (A college drinking game, in which players watch the Bob Newhart Show and drink every time a character says, “Hi Bob.”)

The most interesting use of the word was by a Sun MicroSystems representative, when speaking about the CEO’s blog. Spend some time reading a few posts to see how Jonathan Schwartz uses his blog to give his readers insight into the company.

His dialog with the SEC is particularly interesting. In late 2006, Sun started to investigate its ability to use the Internet as a vehicle for posting its financial results. Sun first reached out to the SEC about this in a letter of September 2006, which Sun’s CEO posted on his blog. This blog post from late July 2007 gives a nice overview of Sun’s new approach to sharing its financials and providing greater transparency to all investors.

Freakonomics: The Blog

I haven’t had a chance to read Freakonomics yet, but it’s on my to-be-read book list. However, the Freakonomics blog has become a favorite of mine, despite the fact that I am not generally an economics buff. The blog offers tons of fascinating facts, as well as perspective and the Freakonomics-signature attention to seemingly random pieces of information. All in all, the blog creates a fairly engaging and diverse read. I highly recommend it!