Category Archives: web

Launched! Landmark Study on Benefits of the Performing Arts

I have spent 2 years on this epic exploration that had me visit eight provinces, one territory and meet over 1,000 people who work in the performing arts.

Here’s part of the press release (click for full release) and the report and infographic links:
April 29, 2013 – Performing arts presenting generates a wide range of benefits for Canadians, the communities they live in and society at large, according to a report prepared by Strategic Moves and released today by the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA).

The Value of Presenting: A Study of Performing Arts Presentation in Canada includes a comprehensive historical and contemporary overview of the performing arts ecosystem. It reveals that performing arts are valued by the vast majority of Canadians – across socio-economic differences – and it provides a new perspective on younger Canadians’ interest in live performing arts. Most importantly, the study identifies a broad range of public benefits associated with performing arts presentation, including better health and well-being, greater energy and vitality in communities, and a more caring and cohesive society.

The Value of Presenting report cover Infographic of performing arts attendance data Infographic about the benefits of performing arts
Read the full report View the infographic View the infographic

Canadian Atlas Online

If reading reports isn’t your thing read on: I am thrilled that we were able to partner with the one-of-a-kind Canadian Geographic, in putting together a brand new, unique thematic for the Canadian Atlas Online. This thematic aims squarely at the public in general, and the education sector in particular. It offers a look at performing arts in Canada historically, geographically and in terms of the many benefits Canadians receive. And all that in short, to-the-point descriptions, videos and games! The team at Banfield-Seguin & Porkcoffee did an extraordinary job putting my scripts, finely edited by Canadian Geographic’s team, together and making some complex concepts come to life in short and poignant videos!

http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=performingarts&sub=performingarts_basics_introduction&lang=En

 

Economics of fear reloaded

Back in early 2009 I was struck by the incessant credit crisis coverage that had been going on since Lehman’s Brothers collapse in 2007, and before then if you had been paying attention to the sub-prime mortgage asset-backed securities issue. I thought it had to have impact on how people would behave in terms of consumption choices.

Economics of Fear and Sustainable buying practices

Now it’s late 2011, and we have just come through 5+ years of unending credit crisis, recessions and now debt crisis news coverage.

The coverage of “the markets” – those mysterious beyond-human-beings-making-decisions markets – is like a game show or maybe an endless cricket game, just a lot faster:  like hockey where the spectator never quite “sees” the puck but can infer it from the players motions.

The headlines are unhelpful at best to illuminate the issues – headlines are there to “sell papers”, or in online vernacular “secure eyeballs.” (It’s good to remember the motivations each industry has in its activities.)

Yesterday’s news of German Bond Auction not selling out is a prime example of disinformation moving faster than light (Neutrino pun intended): How many in the public who consume headlines know what a bond auction is, how it works and who the usual buyers are? If you read beyond the headlines you might learn a few other facts:

They come from the bottom of a Wall Street Journal article headlined: “German Bond Sale Spurs Worries”

  • “Germany had never tried to sell a 10-year bond that paid only 2% interest, and the historically low yields appeared to depress appetite among the traditional circle of buyers.”
  • “Germany sold 3.644 billion Euros at 1.98% average interest.”
  • “Germany traditionally auctions bonds, rather than operating a syndicate of primary dealers to place them with investors. The Finanzagentur, the government’s issuing agent, then gradually feeds the bonds it doesn’t sell into the secondary market. This system means that there is no pressure on banks to bid for the bonds or risk their relationship with the sovereign. Moreover, banks across the Continent are trying to reduce their holdings of sovereign bonds, or at least not take on extra exposure, Mr. Krautzberger said.”
  • Take a moment to check out the interactive feature in the article that shows how German bond yields have declined recently …

No doubt it sounds like the Finanzagentur miscalculated and underestimated the political sentiments and headlines that could follow if they did not sell out and the concerns they might raise.

Bringing it home I have two questions for you: How much are the headlines affecting news-spectators decision making about their own debt, credit, income, savings and spending? And what is your organization’s strategy to adapt as consumer behaviours keep shifting ever more online/mobile which has shifted traditional power away from brands and toward consumers and the platforms they use?

What do you want from the web?

I’m preparing training material for a client: “How your Web Presence Can Help You Build a Stronger Profile”.

The point of view I am taking is what it really means when your audience can do everything your organization can do online. Think about it: individuals possess the power of the printing press without the cost of printing and distribution. All they need to figure out is how to create content and attract audiences. That of course, is the hard part.

And yet, much of what goes online leaves me with a back to the future sort of feeling.

  • Facebook: Social (Connecting and sharing with your friends)
  • Youtube: TV (Broadcast yourself)
  • Flickr: Photo journalism (The eyes of the world)
  • Twitter: News (What’s happening?)
  • Podcasting: Radio (video) by everyone

That’s why the training program will focus on providing an understandable thought framework, and then demystify some of the voodoo – like SEO, UXD (yes, that means user experience design) – to empower my client to think smart and make good decisions as they strengthen their web presence, purposefully and without running off in all directions.

My basic message is that online marketing is about connecting with the right people where they are in ways that are meaningful to them. The enabling aspects are tried and true concepts:

Online channels are about dialogue and conversation; they work because of relevance to the audience and timeliness; and, most difficult of all in this engineered world they demand authenticity.

Website code and Competitive intelligence

I recently came across a piece of code on a web site I was checking out in preparation for my SEO seminar.

Programmers used green comment text as a way to distinguish notes to the programmer or reminders, from code that makes the site work. These notes do not show up as content in the graphic interface of the web site. If you want to see what sort of “conversations” and notes programmers leave behind when building a site, simply look at the source code and scroll for the green bits.

Now, imagine a company in a highly competitive field having this sort of programmer’s annotation about a future product in the code. This could well be a major issue if a competitor receives advance notice of future actions, just because a programmer wanted to identify a placeholder for a future product on the web page.

While I find this interesting from a competitive intelligence perspective, it raises another question: when you approve your web site, do you ever actually look at the code? Have you considered the liabilities that inadvertent disclosure can bring to your company? Do you have any sort of quality assurance and brand protection process in place re: coding? And, in earlier posts I talked about the importance of meta tags and title tags – so: what is your quality assurance process to make sure these search engine optimization aids are in place and make sense from a brand and messaging architecture point of view?

SEO Analytics

Analytics are an important aspect of search engine optimization. You can use analytics in developing a brand new site or you can use it to assess performance of an existing site and figure out what changes need to be made to improve the standing of the site. Some of the analytical data at your disposal, often available using free tools but at least cheaply includes:

  • Web Traffic Statistics – Traffic and keyword analysis. Whether you use a custom, proprietary package or Google Analytics, just remember that they give you great trending information, but they may not be comparable data points because they may use different methodologies, e.g. cookies based tracking vs. IP address look up, to arrive at their reports.
  • Text analysis – this includes keyword extraction from your curent web page to see for which keywords your page does well, and assessing term targeting, ie how well does your site perform against your important keywords
  • Crawl test – ie how does a search engine see your site
  • Indexed pages – are there pages missing that shoudl be indexed by a search engine. Here a sitemap and robot.txt file can alleviate any problems
  • Rank Tracker – software that tells you whether your site ranks anywhere near the first page of search results for specific keywords
  • Back links – get a report on how many sites and who links to your site. Linking strategies can be an important part of achieving high search engine rankings.
  • W3C validation – the World Wide Web Consortium is the standards organization for the web. It offers several free validation tools such as HTML validator designed to help you determine whether your site meets international standards.

SEO – keyword thinking

No doubt, the most important part of your web site is what it says to the human visitor. However, when you write your site with SEO in mind you should evolve a keyword mindset: Humans categorize and we use keyword concepts to make sense of the world and the web.

Keywords are also the driving force in search engines. That’s why in addition to weaving these important words and phrases throughout your web site, you need to ensure that the coding aspects of the site are considered.

Here’s the source code view of my web site (if you click on the image you can see it larger)  at www.strategicmoves.ca. Note the underlined elements:
– Description and Keyword meta tags
– Title tag
– Image alt tags
These tags exist in code only and should support your actual content. They are useful in ensuring search engines interpret your site correctly.

Consider this question: how do you make keyword thinking an integral part of web development?

For instance, do you task your creative writing team and technical web team with creating these tags as each new page is written? Who writes your description, keyword, image tags- your writer or the developer? Who determines the title tag – and are they in tune with your brand strategy?

I always recommend that the writing and web teams work closely together from the outset and involve the client to ensure the best results for the users. I say for the user because SEO is about users and positioning yourself effectively in the content of search engines.