In a Flash

Last summer, my husband and I got iPhones.  I was a bit reluctant to enter the smartphone realm, but I’ve been surprised at how handy it is to have internet access pretty much wherever I am.  For example, one evening I left Tweedee with a FedEx package that needed to be shipped that night.  I drove past our usual drop box without a thought.  About halfway home, I realized I still had the package.  I pulled over, got out my iPhone, looked up FedEx drop box locations, and found an alternate box near my house so I didn’t have to back track.  Without an iPhone, I would’ve had to drive back to our usual box.  Is that the end of the world?  No.  But I was happy to have saved myself some time.

My biggest frustration with the iPhone is that it doesn’t support Flash.  That means that any site with Flash video or graphics doesn’t load correctly on the phone.  When I go to a Flash-based site, I get a little blue cube with a question mark on it where any Flash element is.

Now, with Apple set to release the iPad, the issue of Apple products (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad) being Flash compatible has been in the news.  But Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, is refusing to make these products Flash friendly, calling Flash a “CPU hog,” among other things.  If you Google Steve Jobs Adobe Flash, you’ll get quite a list of blogs and news sources with information and opinions about Jobs’ refusal to play nice with Flash.

So what does this mean for the users of the internet?  Not much.  Any change in coding probably won’t affect the end-user much.  But it does mean that businesses and their web designers and coders will have to think about smartphone compatibility as they build their sites.  It also means that, if a company has video on their site, they’ll have to decide if they want that video encoded to Flash or if they want to go with something else.  As a video production company, we at Tweedee are very interested in how this will play out, and we’ve already begun taking steps to make our StreamPilot site more smartphone friendly.

Blogging away!

when something old is new again

it’s the time of year when the world starts anew…. and many of us look back at what we’ve done.   new year – it either gives a a sense of

sandy kowal - looking forward to.... something.

“better things to come” or “oh, no, not more of the same.” me, i tend to be melancholy. introspective.      each year its different for me.   this year i worry. what usually worries me is the sense of dread over things i can’t control…. like the economy, war, is God really listening to me? i do realize that worrying about stuff i can’t really control is probably not the best way to spend my time…  but i guess that’s what makes me who i am…   human a small business owner.

Don’t get me wrong i do feel blessed… by my relationships (yes, honey, i mean you), my fantastic job and the many gifts in my life.    life IS good.

i stumbled across this website last year… it’s like heaven for old discarded photos from a million years ago. when i get mucked in my melancholy madness i like to go look at these oldies but goodies. i like to look into the eyes of the proud parents with a newly hatched baby or the fancy ladies with fashionable hats or the fresh faced lovers on a date. they make me smile. they make my heart swell with hope. they make me look forward to better things coming in the new year… knowing that whenever i need to i can look back at this website, when something old is new again.   happy new year.

what have you done for me lately?

sandy flies

sandy flying high - you are the wind beneath her wings.

today i felt the power of social networking. i needed my team – and they came through. let me start at the beginning…

it’s my turn to blog this week. usually i have some clever idea (at least in my mind) or some concept i’d like to share. this week – nadda. empty. zip. everything i thought of was boring. uninspired. gray. in fact, as it turns out, my only good idea was calling on my Facebook and Twitter friends for ideas.

here are a few of their suggestions from tweets:

gchadwick@tweedeemedia write about how u did that intro video to your website. That video is awesome, I love it!!!

abcfloan@tweedeemedia NPR Music Question Of The Day: Have The Past Decade’s Changes In Technology Made The Music Better?

mlange221 how about using social media correctly. Why advertising speak doesn’t work on FB.

my Facebook friends gave me some spark:

Tracy Ann Mangold How a simple change of view can help you to see things from a totally different perspective. This can be physically changing your view or simply looking at things in a completely abstract or different way than you would normally. That would tie in perfect with what Tweedee does for clients.

Peter Kleppin how about how many feet of cable it takes to connect an editing computer… or the number of formats that have to be deliverables in today’s crazy digitized world…
Dan Montenegro Boy did you guys not understand the task at hand! This is what she really wants.
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.
Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
Greg and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay
“Come and play with me Gregg
Come and play with me.
And I will take you on a trip
Far across the sea.”
(this songs goes on and on, so i edited it down to this – but you get the idea…… sorry, dan – but i LOVE it)

from my friends and followers i got some really great ideas (you’ll be seeing some more of them detailed in future blogs). my creative team grew from the 6 of us in the office to the hundreds i can touch with just a few key strokes and clicks online. social networking is an easy and effective way to be inspired, reconnect with colleagues, increase your resources…  so, my friends, what have you done for me lately? a lot. thanks for being here for me.

Get It Right

Here at Tweedee Productions we recently received a batch of marketing post cards from a well renowned local university that will remain anonymous.  They were nicely produced with eye-catching graphics, easy to read text with information that I actually cared about.  Here’s where they blew it.  Every one of the cards we received had our first names wrong – way wrong.  My name was changed to “Marc” Schieve (I have a cousin named Mark).  Mac became “Esty” Chorlton (sounds upper class doesn’t it?).  Sandy Kowal was renamed “Nancy” (at least her gender didn’t change).  And TV’s Dan Presser became a woman named “Deb” (hummm). 

So, how you ask, can a big institution with lots of money to spend on marketing get something so simple so wrong?  Well, because it probably doesn’t really matter to them.  Sure, they hope all of their post cards get to the right person.  Sure, they want the addresses to be correct.  But, in reality, they’re sending out thousands of these things hoping that maybe 25 percent of you actually read them.  Then, if they’re lucky, two to three percent of you will take action on their message.  Direct mail marketing has it’s place, but in this case it seems like a big waste of paper and postage to me.

I like to think that we are a little more efficient in how we market ourselves.  We use a cool system called StreamPilot, which is a web-based platform using an email a message with a link to our quarterly video newsletter.  No wasted paper, postage, or wrong names.  Our last quarter’s video newsletter had about a 30% click-through rate – that’s the percentage of people who opened our email and then clicked through to watch our video.  Not bad.  Since we don’t spam our mailing list is not that large.  We have a loyal list of people who have said they want to hear from us.  And since we don’t need to blast the market with direct mail we save on paper, printing and postage.  Hopefully we get people’s names right.

If you’d like to receive our entertaining and informative quarterly video newsletters click here to sign up.  Thanks, Marc.


Send me something.

Go Team Go!

Hurray!  The football season is finally upon us!  I can smell the brats sizzling on the grill now!  Let the hitting begin!

I love football and team sports in general.  I like to analyze why some teams are far superior than their competition.   To me if a team plays at a high level year after year it usually means that in addition to great players, they have a great management team.  There’s more to it than just, “we score more points than the other guys, that’s why we’re better.”

However, I usually cringe when the owner of a non-sports related business uses sports analogies to rally the troupes.  Saying things like, “We’re in the fourth quarter and it’s fourth and goal.  We need to punch this one in to go to the playoffs!”  Talk like this usually sounds phony coming from a guy in a suit who has never played a down.  You just know there’s an employee in the back of the room rolling their eyes.  Or how about the employees who don’t understand sports cliques and have no idea of what the boss is trying to communicate.  Nonetheless, I read a quote last month from University of Wisconsin’s head football coach Bret Bielema that I could apply to our “team” here at Tweedee Productions.  Coach Bielema was talking about what he wants his team to focus on this upcoming season.

“We talked about details, how every day matters and about trying to take care of their business in that today is going to affect tomorrow but, more importantly, it’s going to affect our first game just as much as our last game,” Bielema said.  “And about being highly accountable not only to yourself but to each other.”  – WSJ August 12, 2009

As I read the quote, I thought of how easily all of these principles could be applied to our business.  In our industry, we have to sweat the details or we won’t be around for long.  What we do every day does make a difference to how successful the business will be.  I’ve told my team many times that it matters more what you do for the company when you’re not busy with direct client work than when you are.  In other words when business is slow it’s easy to get complacent, but it’s also the most important time to work on the business.  Then when business picks up, you’re better prepared for the next client related project.  Like coach Bielema says, what we do today will affect tomorrow.  We may not win our first game, but we will be in a better position to win our last, and ultimately have a more consistent “season”.

The last line was the clincher – “being highly accountable” to ourselves and to each other.  Just as in a business-client relationship, the members of a company have to trust and be accountable to themselves and to each other.  A business will become extremely dysfunctional if there is mistrust of management, contempt of the employees, and if the partners or owners aren’t loyal to or trust each other.

So take some time to ponder these thoughts the next time you’re throwing the ol’ pigskin around.  Stick to your game plan, play within yourself and win one for the Gipper!

Oops.  I guess those are all sports analogies.  Feel free to cringe.

Win this game!

Win this game!

On Balance.

Life is good again. In the words of those musical maidens of the ’80’s, “Vacation…had to get away.” Sometimes, you just have to step back from the table before you get too full. It helps the food taste better the next time. I won’t bore you with the details of “what I did on my summer vacation.” But, I do want to talk about how something as simple as a little time away makes us all better.

My Grandpa Presser always used to say, “everything in moderation.” It’s a good philosophy… even if he didn’t always practice what he preached. Just ask my older siblings about the time he was hanging out of the car window singing “The Whippenpoof Song” after a particularly sozzled night at a Milwaukee Braves game. Sometimes, balance loses out to excess – at work and play. Although, I think even his occasional over-indulgence balanced out the pressures and stress of the “daily grind.” (We humans can rationalize anything.)

You’re probably wondering what my point is, right? (One of these days I’m going to try that writing method my friend Steve blogged about.) What I’m saying is that sometimes the best thing we can do for our clients is take a vacation. It helps restore balance, recharge the batteries, and make us hungry again. The creative juices begin flowing better and everything seems easier to handle. Steve says, “if the best ideas happen in the shower, a vacation is like a seven day soak.” I like that. Time to towel-off and get back to the glorious excesses of Tweedee Productions. I think I’ll start with the peanut-butter pretzels in the break room.

Dan in a happy place.

Dan in a happy place.

communications breakdown…

i may not be the most prolific blogger or the funniest person on the web or the most informative, but because of facebook, twitter and my persistent friends i am becoming a new communicator.  i admit, i’m bad about making phone calls to my friends and family… it sometimes takes me a while to return personal emails… hey – i’m a busy person – as far as you know.
but now with facebook, twitter and other social sites i feel more connected.  i’m not sure when i exactly began to feel this way… but now i’m assimilated into the new media.

soon, within the year in fact, i can join the wave.  what’s the wave, you ask? its a new communications vehicle from google – the search engine people. the wave will be a hosted conversation/live typing tool/add people as you go instant message.  all waves will start at the google “hub”.  once you join the conversation wave you can add comments, just read along or start your own new wave of thought (but you don’t need to get the flock of seagulls haircut). google plans on being your common hub for the other social sites you belong to – just to keep it convenient.   now i’m no techno geek, so i don’t quite understand how it will all work…. come to think of it, neither does google at this point.   now i’m not sure if i want google to have access to all my social activities on the web.  i would like a bit of privacy – even if its just in my imagination.
but i am intrigued.

sandy kowal - trying to stay on top of things.

sandy kowal - trying to stay on top of things.