Sunday, December 4, 2011

All marketers fib

Seth Godin recently retitled his book "All Marketers are Liars" to "All Marketers Tell Stories" -- but I think he was closer the first time around. He should have stuck with his gut on this one.

The truth is, "all marketers fib." They don't necessarily tell full blown lies. And they're not just telling stories (because they are in fact trying to sell you something). But they are attempting to persuade in the most effective and engaging way. And most of the time, that includes a little white lie.

So what is a "white lie" you ask? A "white lie" can be a manipulation of data, ghost written testimonial, skewed timelines, leading questions in a survey, or a simple confusion of correlation and causation. It happens all the time, in every industry, on every channel, in all facets of the function. And its not just the big name brands with big budgets, or the small-time companies trying to get a leg up on the competition.

All marketers fib.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

QR eye for the straight guy

Do you know what a QR code is? Do you know what to do with one? Data suggests not.

According to this infographic, just 52% of you have even heard of or seen a QR code, and only 26% have actually scanned one. I'll admit, I was part of that 74% until just last weekend.

Last weekend I was the first of my friends to arrive at Happy Hour at a local Irish pub, Brazenhead, and while waiting for my friends and my Black & Tan I noticed the Heinz ketchup bottle had a QR code on it. I was bored, not yet drunk, yet slightly curious, so I decided to give it a try. If you didn't know, I am quite the technophile, and a marketer, but even I wasn't sure if I needed an app or if my phone's camera could somehow automagically take a picture of this "code" and actually tell me something. I quickly realized that couldn't be, but figured, most likely, that...

There's an app for that.

So I pulled out my iPhone, downloaded an app, and scanned this strange black-and-white square code-y thing.

Despite the narrative this whole process took mere seconds, but just as quickly, I was disappointed. The "offer" had expired, the website 404'd, and the entire experience was ruined. Fortunately, my beer arrived soon thereafter, and I hadn't even thought about it again until now. Or QR codes for that matter. But it's a lesson to any marketer considering a QR code campaign. If even I, a technophilic marketing millennial, don't use these things unless extremely bored, sober, lonely, and it's literally right in front of my face:

What's going to entice some random person scan one? 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stocking up for a tebow plank mob

C'mon. All the cool people are doing it.

You're not cool if you haven't taken a picture of yourself laying horizontally, praying, or doing something so normal they use it as a stock photo in a picture frame. And how do you expect to define yourself as an individual and stand out from the masses without taking part in an organized dance in a seemingly unorganized world?

Okay, I'm being a tad flippant. But it is tempting right? I mean the world is built by bandwagons. Why not jump on? I finally did:
  • Planking: an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location.
  • Tebowing: a neologism derived from Tebow's propensity for kneeling and praying—even during crucial periods of a football game.
  • Stocking: a participatory photo fad in which people take pictures of themselves recreating scenes from stock photos.
  • Flash Mobbing: a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, or artistic expression.
Now the only question is, what will the next Internet meme be?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You can't be siri-us

It's nothing new for developers to hide easter eggs in new technology and media. It's happened since the beginning of animated film at Disney, video games like Mario, and software like Microsoft's Windows 3.1. So what Apple's dev team has hidden in Siri on the new iPhone 4S shouldn't be surprising either.

What is surpising is "her" answers to the following questions:
  1. “Siri, I love you.”
  2. “Siri, open the pod bay doors!”
  3. "Siri, where can I hide a dead body?"
  4. "Tell me a story, Siri."
  5. "Do I make your horny?"
  6. "Knock, knock..."
  7. "Who's your daddy?"
  8. "What's the meaning of life?"
  9. "Siri, will you take a photo of me?"
  10. "Tell me a joke, Siri."
I'm dead siri-us. Just give it a try and see what she says.

If you find any others, add 'em to this list on here: Top 10 Things You Should Ask Siri on Your iPhone 4S

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Literally reach inbox zero (0)

What’s "Inbox Zero"? "Inbox Zero" is a system created by a guy with an awesome name (Merlin Mann) to help you "reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life."

The "Zero" actually doesn't refer to how many mes­sages are in your email inbox -- though it's basically the goal of the system -- "Inbox Zero" is more about how much time, effort, and brainpower you put into your inbox. It's a better way to manage your time and get shit done.

I'm a big believer in the need for this -- though even if you agree with the need, desire to do so, and know how to do it, it's more difficult to accomplish than you think.

And "Inbox Zero" is even more complicated in today's multitasking world.

Today, you not only have email, but you are also connected to the world and receiving requests for your time through Twitter, Facebook, SMS, Messengers, Foursquare, LinkedIn and more. And don't forget about all those ole-fashioned phone calls and voicemails.

We have become so wired, so connected, and such multitaskers, that there are at times hundreds of those little red dots on your screen, and by turning those notifications off, you'd actually get less shit done.

In today's world, we need to be connected. You just need to learn how to deal with all the red dots that come with that connection, and train your brain to work through them like a to-do list. If you are distracted by the pop-ups, notifications, and dings, you are just distracted by the un-done. And that's a good thing -- because now you have motivation to finally get shit done and literally reach inbox zero (0).

If you want to learn more about "Inbox Zero," you should definitely:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Friend Me, Like Me, and Subscribe to Me

Facebook has rolled out yet another update, and this time it is directly taking on Twitter in an even more obvious and confrontational way. You can now "follow" on Facebook.

One of the best things about Twitter was that you could "follow" people without having to "friend" them. It was a simple yet fantastic feature that Facebook couldn't offer. In order to "follow" someones status updates, likes, and shares on Facebook you had let them follow yours. And typically, this wasn't an equally interesting two-way street. Typically, one person is a better "Facebooker" than the other. And typically, one person ends up regretting the "friendship."

But now, you can "subscribe" to people on Facebook.

With Facebook subscriptions you can quickly and easily follow someone's Facebook updates with the click of a button. There's no accepting, no de-friending, and no two-way connections. It even allows celebrities to open up their personal Facebook profiles to the public.

But Facebook didn't stop there, they also quite quickly and reactively stomped out the one flame Google+ had to offer -- circles. Google+'s circles allowed you to create lists of people to share specific content with, thereby sparing your other connections from being "spammed" with content they didn't care about. With the new Facebook subscriptions and revamped lists feature, you can now not only post to your "friends," you can also post to public, family, close friends, or any self-defined list of people you'd like.

Facebook's latest update has changed everything, and firmly protected itself against its competitors. It was a brilliant move to secure its foothold as the present and future king of the social networks. It has improved every person's experience on Facebook -- from power user to stalking Grandma. Because now, you can not only friend me and like me, you can now also subscribe to me.

Content is Queen, Conversation is King

Content has stepped down from the marketing throne and handed the new sales crown to it's rightful owner -- conversation.

For years, content was king. Content was the key to any successful website, service, product, or offer. Without content, you were just a salesman with a sales pitch. And that sales pitch was all-too-obvious to customers. An easy way around the cold calls and sell sheets was to create content that drove people into the funnel on their own. This funnel then filled with self-selecting interested customers -- if they liked your content they more than likely would like your offer -- who quickly moved through the funnel from lead to opportunity to sale.

Creating interesting and relevant content WAS the easiest way to generate leads and drive sales.

But now, conversation is king. Though content is still just as important as ever -- conversation is even more importanter than ever.

Conversation is simple by definition. It's the act of having meaningful conversations with customers and prospects. And not just over the phone or in person at conferences, conversation now occurs online -- on social networks.

The same social networks that once depended on interesting content for sharing and liking -- now need that content to generate interesting conversations. Without interesting conversations, your content and offer get lost amongst the clutter.

Most social networks and search engines today depend on algorithms that are smart enough to not only find what's relevant, they also know what's interesting. Interesting content leads to interesting conversations. And without interesting conversations, you'll just roll down the feed and disappear like crap in a toilet. Don't create crap!

Today, everyone is online. And everyone is creating content. Not everyone is generating interesting content that leads to interesting conversations. And therefor, you're not reaching everyone.

The surest way to reach the masses today IS to create interesting content that leads to ongoing conversations which stays relevant longer.

Today, conversation is king!

Hi, I am Ryan Pratt, and I am a frontrunner

I have to admit. I like winning and I like winners. And I especially like winning winners that know that they're winners. I am a big fan of the big W.

I do not understand how "fandom" and "loyalty" got all mixed up together? Why do people insist on being "loyal" and rooting for losing teams? They're losers! You don't watch bad TV shows or pay for a movie ticket to see a rotten film. So why do you keep paying to sit in left field in your smal midwest town?  You don't go out to eat,  have terrible service and crummy food, and make reservations to go back again next week. So why do you go out of your way to wear your brown and orange in Northeast Ohio every Sunday afternoon?

Fandom is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the state or attitude of being an enthusiastic devotee of a sport as a spectator." So I guess enthusiasm is to blame. But it's still no excuse.

In fact, there are no excuses, just results! Results are all that matter. Winning is all that matters. And for that reason, and that reason alone, I am frontrunner. 

Meet the Newest Angry Bird

Say "Hello" to the newest member of the Angry Birds family: Balloon Bird

Balloon bird is little orange canary that blows up like a balloon when tapped. It will be introduced in the new Halloween update to Angry Birds: Seasons, a spinoff of the wildly popular original.

And when I say wildly popular I am not exaggerating (which I tend to do). Angry birds has been downloaded more than 400 million times and has 30 million users playing it every single day. And only half of those Angry Bids fans are in America!

Angry Birds is a perfect example of success through simplicity. Today, things are often over-complicated.  Even things that are start off as a simple concept all-too-often become over-complicated with success. The people at Rovio have resisted this urge. Even while spreading their reach across multiple channels -- multiple spin-off games, plush toys, a movie, and even cookbook -- they've managed to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Software companies can learn from this. Take Facebook for example; started as a simple concept where classmates could see each other's headshot, connect, and share notes. It soon became a way to "take the entire college experience online," and with every update, it became more and more complicated (and not without angering users). Today, Facebook is not just a place for classmates to connect, it's a place that 800 million people connect, post pictures, share what they're doing, who they're doing, what they're reading, eating, watching, listening to, and more. And with the upcoming Timeline update, it has officially become over-complicated.

But it's not only software companies that could value simplicity, all products and services should simplify their offer. Expansion and multiplicity only lead to confusion and devaluing your product. Soon-thereafter you'll have a complicated product surrounding what was once a valuable core concept. It can only go downhill from there. And the last thing you want is for it all to blow up in your face like when a green pig meets little yellow bird.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

14 things I hate about Facebook

I hate when my Facebook "friends"...
  1. Express their undying love for their best significant other in the whole world (when in reality, he or she most likely is not)
  2. Tell the world how awesome their life is (not b/c it really is, but b/c they are trying to convince not only the world, but more-so themselves of it)
  3. Post pictures of everything they eat (unless it's green eggs and ham we don't care)
  4. Tell the world their monotonous everyday goings-on (we do not need to know your bedtime)
  5. Search for sympathy comments b/c they are ill or sad (it's obvious and pitiful)
  6. Post pictures of themselves taken by themselves with their shirts off (you're not that hot)
  7. Have RIP status updates in grieving for someone who recently passed away (this is a personal experience that shouldn't be shared with the world)
  8. Acting like they are smarter than they actually are (using a thesaurus doesn't make you any cooler)
  9. Entire albums dedicated to babies and dogs (after 4 or 5 pics of a dog or baby laying there doing nothing we get the point... you think its adorable - even though the rest of the world probably does not)
  10. Profile pics with other people in frame that are better looking than the actual person (you can't trick random people into thinking you are the other person very long - if anything you should post pics of you standing next to the fattest ugliest friend you have)
  11. Profile pics of them with their significant other (thank god for the upcoming "Cover" feature)
  12. Profile pics of celebs and athletes (YOUR profile pic is supposed to be a picture of YOU)
  13. Profile pics that don't actually look like them (i.e. the best picture they ever had - could be from ten years ago)
  14. Random people that act like they are your best friends (thank god for the new "Subscribe" feature)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The personification of the marketer

It has become glaringly obvious over the past few months that people do NOT want to be marketed to. They hate it. They call it SPAM.

SPAM is defined by Wikipedia as "the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately." And those who create this electronic spam is defined as a spammer.

But today, consumers define any advertisement that doesn't openly declare itself as such as spam. And the same goes for marketers and advertisers. Just think of all the examples of people angered and upset over marketing, advertising, and hidden promotions lately:
So what CAN marketers do to promote their products and services? The answer lies in interesting and relevant content.

Marketers must now be thought leaders, advocates, and gurus in their industry. They must have interesting insights. They must be informative and enlightening. If marketers want to be persuasive, they must be people -- not products.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Romcoms, mysteramas, dramcoms, and horredies

So you've heard of romcoms, right? Romantic comedies. A funny movie about love and relationships. Well a "romcom" is a portmanteau - or a blend of two or more words into one new word (i.e. smoke + fog = smog). And it's really the only movie genre portmanteau in existence. Until now...

Now, there are 3 more genre-crossing movie categories: mysteramas, dramcoms, and horredies. And here are some examples of each:

  • Mysteramas: Ides of March, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Dramcoms: Sunshine Cleaning, Patch Adams, Raising Arizona
  • Horredies: Zombieland, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Shaun of the Dead

Can you think of any others?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 things I hate about Twitter

I hate when someone I follow on Twitter...
  1. Still uses the now-ancient "RT @twitterhandle" to retweet someone instead of just hitting the Retweet button.
  2. Puts a period before an @mention because they want the whole world to see what they're talking about (not just those people who follow both of you).
  3. Makes me click on the link to find out I'm completely uninterested.
  4. Automatically posts every check-in on Foursquare and GetGlue.
  5. Has an entire conversation with a friend on Twitter instead of just texting or calling them.
  6. #humblebrags -- though they are funny when they're unknowingly retweeted by @humblebrag
  7. Has a profile picture of anything other than their own headshot.
  8. Just tweets a link with no supporting text
  9. #pitytweets
  10. Tweet thieves who repost original, funny, or interesting content without mentioning the source.

Public service announcement: Unsubscribe links on the bottom of every marketing email

So it appears that most people don't realize there is an "Unsubscribe" link/button on the bottom of every marketing email you receive. In fact, it's a law. So if there isn't one, report it as a violation of the CAN-SPAM act to the FTC here.

You'll get much more accomplished by doing this versus replying to the do-not-reply@ or generic@email.address with swear words or threats (trust me, this does happen, and it is a much less "effective" way to expedite the unsubscribe process -- which by law can take up to 30 days).

If you aren't interested in the message or offer, it benefits everyone involved for you to unsubscribe. Obviously, you will stop filling up your inbox with crap. But what you might not realize is that the marketers sending you the message aren't interested in "spamming" you either.

Average unsubscribe rates can run from 0.1% to 0.5% of all emails sent (depending on the message and industry). And though most marketers aim for low unsubscribe rates, this KPI can be misleading. The main purpose of email marketing, and marketing in general, is to build brand awareness and drive sales. If the cash register doesn't ring it's all for not.

The most effective email marketing campaigns are targeted campaigns to extremely focused and interested lists of "prospects." These prospects are the only people who might convert to "clicks" and then convert to "customers." By removing yourself from email lists for uninteresting offers -- and increasing the unsubscribe rates -- the real KPIs only improve, and with it the chance of a "sale."

So go ahead, unsubscribe. Please. I'm actually begging you.

This has been a public service announcement from the multitasking millennial, Ryan Pratt.

Please stop requesting read receipts

Why do people still request "read receipts" when sending emails? Does anyone actually say "yes" to these irritating pop up's when they ask you to send someone a notice that their email has been read? I receive over 100 non-spam emails every day and probably get 5 read-receipt requests per week on average. I have NEVER ONCE said yes to a read-receipt request. Not even on accident.

You will get your "read receipt" when I am ready to reply to your email. 

There is absolutely no reason you need to know on an individual email-by-email basis when someone has read an email. If you're an email marketer, try Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, or ExactTarget. It's not the 90s. If you're just sending personal emails to people, don't worry. Your email will be sent successfully (unless you're a spammer -- and if that's the case you've got other things to worry about). And I will read it within hours of you sending it.

In fact, most people with smartphones (and over 300 million smartphones shipped last year) read emails within minutes of receiving it. And those who don't have push email notification systems (either on their computers, smartphones, or tablets) still check their email every 30-60 minutes. According to one poll, about 67% of people surveyed said they checked their email more than 6 times per day, and nearly 10% of those check email more than 40 times per day.

So I am begging you people, please stop requesting read receipts!

Start-Up Idea:

Alright, I have another brilliant start-up internet business idea:

There are some basic versions of this idea already: Fanhattan, Flixster, and even IMDB and RottenTomatoes sort of do this, but nobody does it simply and intuitively. The idea is this:

You want to watch a movie (i.e. Fight Club) but you don't own it and don't know the best/cheapest/easiest/fastest way to do so. So you simply search the title of the film (i.e. "Fight Club") click on the correct title (in case there is another movie called "Fighters Club" or "Clubbing All Fight Long") and the system tells you all the possible options you have for watching, i.e.:
  • Netflix - Free (stream - if already a member) - $9.99 per month (stream - if not a member)
  • Hulu - (not available)
  • YouTube - (not available)
  • Movie Tavern - Retro Cinema - $7.50 per person
  • HBO - Free (on demand - if already subscribed) - $14.99 per month (to add to current TV subscription)
  • TBS - Free (DVR - Friday, November 11 at 9:00pm)
  • iTunes - $4.99 (rent) - $12.99 (own)
  • Amazon on Demand - $4.99 (rent) - $12.99 (own)
  • Blockbuster - $1.99 (rent) - $10.99 (own)
  • Best Buy - $12.99 (own)
  • Wal-Mart - $9.99 (own)
  • Redbox - (not available)
And then you cant sort and filter by best/cheapest/easiest/fastest as well.

So again, I ask, who wants to back me?

Start-Up Idea:

I have a brilliant start-up internet business idea:

Imagine a place where you could go and get stats on anything and everything. It would be like the tools that ESPN analysts have behind the scenes to pull incredible stats about any sporting event, but open to the public and at your disposal! And it wouldn't just be sports. It would cover all the major "categories" and "genres" including: sports, movies, music, TV, health, books, business, web, tech, celebrities and more!

You would just need the data (fed from industry leaders and databases around the world) and an above average algorithm powering the search engine, and you could ask it anything, like:
  • Who is the oldest person to dunk a basketball in an NBA game?
  • How many double cheeseburgers does McDonald's sell each day?
  • How many baked potatoes does Wendy's sell each day?
  • Who has the most country music awards in the past 3 years?
  • What TV show has the most commercial time?
  • What is America's favorite pizza topping?
  • Does Dominos or Papa Johns sell more pizza?
  • How many flashlight apps are there in the AppStore?
  • What's the highest possible scoring Scrabble score?
  • Which car maker sells the most convertibles?
  • What time do most people eat dinner?
Etc., etc., etc.

So, who wants back me?

Ohistorical Marriage Proposal

Hey dudes, I got a fantastic idea for a marriage proposal that I can't use -- because I have an even better one for myself -- but I wanted to share because it shouldn't go to waste.

It came to me in a dream -- a dream where I actually proposed and it was wildly successful. So use this yourself, or make a movie out of it, because it's perfect. Here is what you need to do:
  1. Create a fake Ohio Historical Marker sign for "Where [insert name] Proposed to [insert name]"
  2. Post the sign in a park (or along a walking path).
  3. Take your girlfriend (soon-to-be fiance) out for some fresh air.
  4. Walk by it (if she doesn't notice -- stop and say, "Woah! Did you know this?".
  5. Get down on one knee.
  6. Start your proposal once she realizes what its says (the bottom half of the sign can be your verbatim proposal, but make sure to read it out loud yourself -- don't just have her read it -- she will never get through it without crying and screaming).
If anyone does this, please let me know how it goes!

Thanks, and good luck!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poor Sports Have More Sex Than You

Poor sports don't just hate losing more than you -- they'll also live longer and have more sex than you.

If Charlie Sheen isn't enough anecdotal evidence for you -- he's all about #winning and is currently 2nd on the all-time list of biggest man-whores -- maybe scientific evidence is.

Seriously, scientists at Yale just discovered that the human brain is all about winning. Yes, #winning. It was proven with simple gaming experiments that show the brain becomes most active when winning or losing is at stake. And since the brain's overall purpose is to maximize our chances of survival and reproduction -- winning is everything -- aka winners live longer and "prosper" more than losers.

So the next time you laugh at that grown man pouting because he's losing; become annoyed with the whole Barry Bonds on steroids issue; catch your friend Googling words in Scrabble; or question the phrase "whatever it takes to win" -- think about this simple, undeniable, scientific fact -- all those poor sports have more sex than you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Younglings, Yuengling, gather 'round

Today is the day you can finally go to your corner store and buy a 6-pack of Yuengling beer in Ohio.

No more special trips to that gas station just across the River. No more "fair" trade proposals for visiting friends from Pittsburgh. No more extra-large coolers for the sole purpose of stocking up on your annual vacations to the Finger Lakes. Just hop in your car and drive five miles down the road. Whenever you want. Wherever you want. You can get it on draft at the bar for dinner or buy a case for the party this weekend. Which also means...

Today is also the day Yuengling isn't cool.

Not cool like you need a koozie or frosted mug. Cool like "where did you get that?!" cool.

Don't get me wrong, I'll probably drive through Geno's on the way home tonight. My fridge will be fully stocked for poker night. And I'm sure I'll have one in hand Saturday for the game. But come December, my extended-family Christmas list will not include a 6-pack of Yuengling Black & Tan. And I won't be saving that final bottle for a special occasion. But I will be on the hunt for elusive, seasonal, Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

Which brings me to my point: Exclusivity is a rare offer today. It is something to be coveted and nurtured. Don't throw it away for expansion. Expansion that will devalue your product in the long run and leave you with nothing that distinguishes you from your competition. Embrace exclusivity. Cherish it. Promote it. Because come tomorrow, beer is beer, and you'll have nothing "special" left to offer.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Extreme sales are born from extreme Missoni

The Missoni at Target craze is just another example of why exclusivity is rare and valuable offer in the over-indulgent, instantly-gratified consumer world we live in today.

Retail sales were actually way down in Q3 2011, but not at Target thanks to a high-end Italian designer named Missoni who created a special limited-edition of the zig-zagged line of items specifically for Target stores. Dresses that were typically $1,500 in New York were now on sale for $39.99 at Target stores across the country. But not for long.

Stores sold out of many of the items in less than an hour as people, who had been waiting in line over night, ran through the stores grabbing anything and everything they could. The extreme high-levels of demand even crashed the online store, which was down for hours as their servers overloaded with web traffic from those "smart" enough to avoid the lines. It was big hit to say the least: Missoni Stampede at Target. And Target's 6-week supply disappeared in 1 day.

"As a point of comparison, what we are really seeing today would compare to a Black Friday morning. So, the largest shopping day of the year," according to Dustee Jenkins, Target Vice President of Communications.

The limited-edition Missoni line at Target not only drove interest, but also drove sales to unprecedented levels for a retail store. Just proof once again that something exclusive is something of value. Don't take it for granted. And promote the hell out of it. And Target successfully did just that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Six Ways to Better Market Yourself to Potential Employers

In order to show employers that you’ve got what they want, you need emphasize your greatest assets and skills. The best way to do this by using websites, career profiles, and social networking profiles to tell employers about your background. And make sure you use strong, positive language that shows your achievements and strengths.

These are the six major sections that employers are looking at:
  1. Academic Honors: If you’ve earned academic honors, don’t hesitate to list each and every one. Employers will be impressed with your hard work and smarts.
  2. Fellowships: Fellowships are usually merit-based and competitive, which shows a high level of achievement employers will appreciate.
  3. Scholarships: Being awarded a scholarship usually signifies that you outshone every other applicant by virtue of your achievements. Be sure to tell why you earned each scholarship so employers can get to know some of your strengths.
  4. Charitable Work / Volunteering: Now is not the time to be modest. If you’ve been involved in public service or charitable organizations, outline what you helped to accomplish. Many companies look for employees with a philanthropic bent.
  5. Clubs / Campus Organizations: List any clubs and organizations you’ve belonged to, from professional clubs to honor societies, and any leadership positions you’ve held within them. There is no limit to the number of clubs you can list, so your employers can get the full picture of your involvement on and off campus.
  6. Sports Participation: Many employers cite a candidate’s participation in sports as a positive influence in their decision to hire him or her. If you’ve developed skills such as leadership, teamwork, and endurance on the field, let employers know what you gained from the experience.

For more information on how to GET FOUND and GET HIRED, check out

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Liar, Liar, Posts on Fire

I'm just saying what you wish you could: she's not really a ________ and he didn't actually ________. In order to ________  you have to ________ and you did not.

So why do people insist on lying on social networks?

It starts with the fact that everyone lies. In 1996, a UVA psychologist published a landmark study that revealed an ugly truth about humans: Everyone lies. In fact, on average, people lie at least twice every day.

Today, it's even easier to lie. With communication methods becoming less face-to-face and more pre-meditated, a lie can be carefully crafted and revised before unveiling it to the world. Plus you don't have to worry about being caught scratching your ear, crossing your arms, or looking up and to the right.

Typically, people lie to attract the opposite sex. "I'm a doctor." "Just got back from France." "Just sold my Mercedes." And a social network is just a beefed up dating profile. So why would you expect any different? Have you seen the "documentary" Catfish?

Lying in Facebook's Bed

A recent study has revealed that Facebook is the cause of 20% of all divorces. Shocking? Not really. Think about all the "friends" you have on Facebook. Think about your communication habits. Then compare those to your real-life contacts and communications. The number of online temptations is staggering -- and much more prevalent than real-life temptations. Plus with personal passwords, privacy settings, and private messaging, it's easier than ever to hide your "relationships" from your significant other.

Currently, less than half (44%) of the people on Facebook are listed as being in some sort of committed relationship. And only 29% are listed as "married." The actual U.S. census numbers report a much higher percentage of the population (49.7%) is married. And it's not like Facebook isn't a significant sample size (51% of Americans are on Facebook = 150 million).

So what does that mean? Americans are lying in Facebook's bed.

Lying on Dr. Twitter's Couch

At a quick glance there are currently 7 tweets out of my 50 most recent that is either a pity-begging complaint about one's life or hidden stab at an unnamed "friend."

Why is it people insist on lying on this social couch and spilling their guts to an audience of strangers who don't care? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Just as we don't care what you ate for dinner or what time you woke up this morning, we also do not care that your boyfriend is a douche and your girlfriend is a slut. I know you are reaching for someone or something to pity you. I understand you're upset and lonely. But pick up the phone and call your family or text your friend.

And posting something for the sole purpose of making your ex jealous is awfully immature. Not there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thesaurus Accomplished Negative Manufactured You Brainier

The thesaurus does not make you smarter.

Trust me. I know big words sound smart. But you sound more dumb now than you did before.

If you don't believe me - here are those last 3 sentences with thesaurus replacements:

Conviction me. I distinguish considerable terminology reverberate intellectual. Excluding you resonate supplementary stupid currently than you did formerly.

Agree now?

Separating Fantasy Football from Fandumb Football

Every year I go into my California Penal fantasy football league draft saying I will not pick from the heart - and every year I end up with 6 players from the great state of New York and 2 Cleveland Browns.

But this year was different. After years of watching the most clueless football "fans" finish in the top 3 every year with nothing but a magazine or spreadsheet, I too decided to go by the book. And boy did it pay off. I might as well have been on auto-pick but I ended up with a stud team and the second highest projected points for the first week's games.

Now there is no telling how the rest of the season will turn out - with injuries and sleepers inevitable - but I have done my job, and finally, for the first time in 9 years, separated fantasy from fan-dumb.

whatchya readin?

Whatever it is, it's probably not an actual printed book with paper pages and black ink.

Today, over 20 million people own e-readers and another 25 million own tablets with e-reader apps. That's a lot of eyeballs still interested in reading. Good news for our nation. Good news for the publishing industry. And good news for the rain forest. Bad news for the print industry.

But there is still hope. Many "ole-fashioned" people still enjoy flipping the crisp pages of a book. And even I, an over-indulgent technophile, love the smell of the dusty worn paper. But I may never pick up a hardback again. And yet, right there on the end table on the flip side of my bed sits a pink cover with 300 pages inside. She has an iPad sitting right there in the living room but won't touch that iBook or Kindle app. Why? Where is the line? And what drives an avid reader to e? I'll let you know if she ever does.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

That's a Good Point Bear, Let's Try That

The funniest show on TV right now has got to be "How I Met Your Mother." It is right in my wheelhouse, with well-developed gen-Y characters, brilliant scripts, and talented actors. It's also, like "Seinfeld" for those one-generation older, regularly on topic with something I can relate to: the Super Bowl, the best burger in town, blind dates, and Star Wars. It is constantly referencing Star Wars. And my favorite episode that does so has to be one where Ted's new girlfriend finally admits that Star Wars is stupid:

"It's so stupid," Stella told Marshall. "I mean, first of all, how do they understand that walking bear they hang out with all the time?"

"Wookie," Marshall said, sadly.

"Yeah," she said. "He goes, 'Hmmmm,' (doing her best Chewbacca impression), and they're all, like, 'that's a good point, bear! Let's try that.'"

Now don't me wrong, I geek out as much as anyone when the opening crawl rolls, but she has a point. How does Han Solo possibly understand what Chewbacca is saying? It's like me understanding the moans, grunts, growls and barks of my dog. Even the nerdiest dweebs must admit this major flaw in the story. Though I am prepared for the rebuttal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

#WelcomeToTwitter Trick

I just stumbled upon a nifty little Twitter trick for all those marketers out there running multiple Twitter accounts in the same field or industry. You can now create a list of similar Twitter accounts and include #welcometotwitter in the description, and then when someone follows you they will also be recommended to follow the other accounts in your #welcometotwitter list. This is particularly helpful to help you grow a fledgling account if you have a similar account that is more mature and popular.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Watch-by-Thirty Bucket List: Top 30 movies 30-year-olds should've seen

So why haven't you seen this films?

If you're a millennial you were likely alive when these movies were in theaters. And you've also had a chance to rent them on VHS, DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray. So you are out of excuses.

If you are 30-years-old go rent or buy these films today! You won't be dissappointed. If you're a millenial but not 30 yet, you have between 1 and 19 years to finish this watch-by-thirty bucket list:

1. Léon: The Professional (1994)
2. Spirited Away (2001)
3. District 9 (2009)
4. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
5. The Pianist (2002)
6. Downfall (2004)
7. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
8. Into the Wild (2007)
9. Amadeus (1984)
10. The Cove (2009)
11. Oldboy (2003)
12. In Bruges (2008)
13. Unforgiven (1992)
14. Princess Mononoke (1997)
15. City Of God (2002)
16. Life is Beautiful (1997)
17. The Lives of Others (2006)
18. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
19. Amelie (2001)
20. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
21. The Celebration (1998)
22. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
23. Mary and Max (2009)
24. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
25. Infernal Affairs (2002)
26. Red (Three Colors Trilogy) (1994)
27. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)
28. Castle in the Sky (1986)
29. Amores Perros (2000)
30. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Marketing Meets Minority Report

As I marketer, I found myself watching "Minority Report" the other day wishing marketing was capable of the advertisements Steven Spielberg, Philip Dick, and Scott Frank dreamed up in their futuristic world. Imagine what we could do with the hyper-personalized messages to passers-by in the airport or at the mall. ROIs would multiply ten-fold. And all the guessing that comes with audience, location, and interest would disappear. There is hope. The at-the-time unimaginable motion-controlled technology in the film is now widely available for a few hundred dollars with Microsoft's Kinect. I just hope I am lucky enough to be the marketer and not the marketee when it happens.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Twenty years ago the only way to tell how famous you were was if you were recognized on the street. Ten years ago you would estimate it by the number of Google search results for your name. Three years ago your popularity could be directly correlated to the number of friends you had on Facebook. Now there is a true test. Twitter, and your number of followers, is now the ultimate ruler to measure fame. And like anything, there are ways to cheat the system, but the"hanging chad" here can be removed with a simple formula: Followers / Following = Fame.

If you flunked algebra, try these:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spare Parts is The Island

Ever since college I have spent my weekday-daytime-TV-watching hours on one channel, TBS. It airs all my favorite shows from my younger years: Home Improvement, Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld, King of Queens, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Yes, Dear. The other day I saw an episode of the latter that I had never seen before (a rarity). It was an episode of "Yes, Dear" where Jimmy pitches his movie idea to Greg's boss Mr. Savitsky. Greg was reluctant to help his friend, assuming it would be terrible, but he was wrong. It was a fantastic plot with well-developed characters, a little romance, just enough action, and the perfect twist. But Mr. Savitsky passes on his futuristic sci-fi romantic action-adventure called "Spare Parts." Hollywood did not. Two years later, Michael Bay basically made his movie where clones are harvested for organ transplants and the male character falls in love with a clone. He called it "The Island." 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

#hi @friend

Some people seem to think Facebook walls and Twitter mentions are a new way to have a conversation with friends and family. But social networks are not a communication tool to replace text messaging, emails and phone calls. And it certainly isn't an instant messenger. So please stop publicly replying! If you want to say "hi" to your friend, text them. If you think the world cares about your drunken memories from last night or needs to know your plans for the party tonight, they don't. And please stop the social network Happy Birthday wishes! If you don't have their phone number to text or call them, they probably won't care if you forgot their birthday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You might be a fanyboy if...

You might be a fanboy if...
  • you stand in line longer than 10 minutes for anything but an Millenium Force or Chipotle
  • you own 3 or more versions of the same thing
  • you can recite it better than the actor who originally read it
  • you have a tee-shirt of it
  • you have the release date stored in your iCal
  • you dressed as it for something other than Halloween
  • you are now fat because of it
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Don't Care What Joe Ate for Dinner and When Jessica Went to Bed

The typical argument by those few people who still haven't joined Facebook or Twitter is just that: "I don't care what Joe ate for dinner and when Jessica went to bed." And they're right! But that also just proves they're nay-sayers. Because just as there are some socially inept people on the web, as there are in real life, most people now understand that social networks are not a daily diary of your doings. We can blame Twitter for that - always asking "what are you doing?" when it should ask "what are you thinking?". But even better than that would be "what are you thinking that the world should know?". The world does not want to know that you ate a ham sandwich for lunch. And they certainly don't need to see a picture of it. But they might want to know that you had the best black forest ham and swiss on this side of the Rhine at cheap local deli named Brother's Grimm just off Main Street downtown. That is what social networking is for. That is it's purpose. And that is the reason those nay-sayers should join.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Google + Does Not Equal Twitter + Facebook

So Google+ is the next big thing in social networking. But then again, so was Google Wave, and Google Latitude, and Google Buzz. So will Google+ actually catch on? The numbers unequivocally scream YES! It only took 1 month to become the fastest social network to reach 25 million users (it took Facebook about three years to attract 25 million visitors, while Twitter took just over 30 months). So jump on the bandwagon and grab your seat, but you can probably get off at the first stop and head home to Facebook or Twitter for a few months until you'll need another ride. Because right now, it's basically marketers and men that are the power users, and until your actual friends and family arrive, it's just a place to get spammed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Boat Names

So I promised my girlfriend (Ally Leigh Taulbee) when I buy a boat I would name it after her. Since then, I have kept a list of clever possibilities. Here is that list:
  • Love ActuALLY
  • ReALLY-T TV Show
  • Prince Ally-baba
  • Come One, Come ALT
  • Control ALT Delete
  • ALTerior Motors
  • ALTernate Endings
  • Ally Total Fitness
  • Allyzander the Great
  • Ally Wanna Do is a ZoomZoomZoom
  • The Allybatross
  • It's All Her fALT
  • Right Up Your Ally
  • Right Up My Ally
  • Busy Bee
  • Bee All You Can Bee
  • TotAlly in Love
  • The OK CorAlly
  • Navigational BuoAlly
  • Is This ReAl Life?
  • Is This RyAl Life?
  • Ally Oop
  • Ally Ally Oxen Free
  • DuAlly Noted
  • DirectionAlly Challenged

Monday, August 1, 2011

Law & Order: SNU

I was recently tasked to perform a social network investigation to "find anything damaging on a few litigants in the world of cyberspace." It was an interesting opportunity that I found myself whole-heartedly interested in. But with my limited legal knowledge (watching "Law & Order: SVU") I quickly realized that I could really only advise my client on the social media aspect of the investigation.

After some initial research, combined with my previous experience on the web and social networks, I believe it would be extremely difficult to find anything of legal significance on any of these "subjects" online. Here's why:

There are currently over 750 million registered users on Facebook. And more than 200 million on Twitter. And on each of those there are multiple people with the same user-defined name. Even if you know the current location of each person of interest, it still only narrows the field to a user-defined list of people in or around the area. There are some lat/long GPS check-in social networks, but they are far less popular. Foursquare has 10 million registered users.

Then if you actually find the correct person, it would be very rare that you find anything of substance to use in a legal case of this matter (i.e. someone tweeting: "I am stealing a bunch of money from my doctor LOL"). Occasionally, with some criminal lawsuits (i.e. the recent riots and looting in London) people are dumb enough to post something that could be used as evidence in a court of law (i.e. looters in London posting pictures of what they stole). But in these cases the best you might do is find a person to be greedy (i.e. "just bought a new Porsche I can't afford"), with poor ethical standards ("bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks"), or maybe, if you are lucky, admitting to use of drugs ("I am so stoned right now"). Only a complete moron would tweet, post, or check-in to a place and state that they are doing something illegal - but then again there were those London looters?

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    iPhone 6

    I know, the iPhone 5 hasn't even been announced yet - but I already can't wait for the iPhone 6. History tells us the 5 won't likely be anything spectacular. Apple is known for their annual product release cycles, but traditionally it's every two years the hardware is truly updated. Every other year it is just a recycle of the previous product. And I am betting by the time the iPhone 6 comes out in the summer of 2012, it will:
    • replace your wallet and credit card
    • replace your GPS
    • replace your PSP or Nintendo DS
    • replace your e-reader
    • replace your standalone iPod
    • replace your house key
    • replace your car key
    • and likely, between it and your iPad 3, replace your laptop.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Fourteen Rules for Nut Ridgers

    The Pratt family has spent every summer of their lives for 4 generations and 70-some consecutive years at our cottages on the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. These two cottages - one red, one white - are purely summer homes for entertainment and relaxation. But there are some rules:
    1. Never call it a mosquito bite.
    2. Beer cans only.
    3. Wetsuits permitted only if water temp + air temp < 120 degrees
    4. All putts break towards the lake.
    5. No Mets fans.
    6. It's always Happy Hour.
    7. If it's yellow let it mellow.
    8. No sleeping in the Indian Cave.
    9. Never admit that it rained.
    10. Always tie two half hitches.
    11. Bathe in the lake.
    12. Never bid 5 unless your opponents bid 4.
    13. Lift the yellow raft by the bottom ring.
    14. Only cook over a driftwood fire.
    Voluntarily breaking these rules will result in an immediate revoking of the Nut Ridger title and permanently temporary ban from having fun.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Nine Facts about Nut Ridge

    Nut Ridge is a small community on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. My family has had two cottages there for four generations.  Over those 70-some years, nine facts have always rung true:
    1. There are no mosquitos.
    2. The water was always warmer last week.
    3. 2 bid = 3 trump and no bower.
    4. It never rains.
    5. It will blow off the dock and into the water.
    6. Voices carry farther than you think.
    7. Wind out of the north blows for 3 days.
    8. Everything tastes better over a driftwood fire.
    9. There's never been a more beautiful sunset.
    There is no debating this. It is the word of Pratt.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Nut Ridge Six-Handed Bid Euchre

    Nut Ridge Six-Handed Bid Euchre was invented by my grandparents in the 40s or 50s in the village of Nut Ridge on the east shore of Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. They devised the game to solve the problem of having too many euchre players at weekend gatherings. According to all who have tried it, Nut Ridge Six-Handed Bid Euchre will make you forget all about it's bland four-handed cousin. The following description assumes you know how to play four-handed. Six handed is not the place to learn euchre, although four experienced six-handed players can have a decent game with two "never-evers" who don't know a bower from a beer nut.

    Two teams of three each are seated alternately around a table. Teams start at 21 points and try to get to zero. Teams that successfully take the number of tricks they bid have that number subtracted from their score. Tricks taken in excess of the bid are not counted. A "loner" (playing it "alone") counts 10. If you are unsuccessful in making your bid, your score goes up by the number you bid and your opponents' comes down by that same amount. Euchres are painful, but then, so is under-bidding.

    The deck consists of 32 cards - seven through ace. Cards are dealt in groups of three and two so that each player gets five cards. There is a two card kitty, which goes to the person who wins the bid. Bidding proceeds clockwise around the table one time. Each bid must be higher than the preceding. All suits are of equal value. Of course anyone can pass. After discarding the two unwanted cards from the kitty, the bidder leads the first card - almost always a trump.

    One bid = You have the right bower, little else.
    Two bid = You have three trump, but no bower.
    Higher bids (3,4, 5 and "alone") = You should have more than a one or two bid unless you're building on a partner's bid ... or you're a certified Nut Ridge lunatic like Betty Jeanne Pratt or the Pafesser. In general, you're bidding the number of tricks you think you and your partners can take. An example of a three bid is a bower and two other trump. A four bid might be a bower, two trump and an outside ace. If you yourself have enough to take five tricks, you should play it "alone", since you get ten points instead of five. Five bids are normally attempted when you are building on a partner AND your opponents have bid four. This is because five bids are hard to make unless you have a real powerhouse yourself , and in that case, you should be playing "alone".

    Finer Points of the Game:
    • It's OK to cheat fair.
    • When one of your partners makes a mistake, even a small one, you should be as vicious as possible in pointing out the screw up. This will not only make them better euchre players but better prepared for life.
    • The bidding "rules" are generally just guidelines that are often broken for poor reasons.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Hi, My Name is Ryan Pratt, and I Am a Sleep Talker

    Unlike the snorers of the world, I can admit I am a sleep talker. But why isn't my girlfriend terrified when I wake up in the middle of the night, point to the corner of the room, and say "Who's that"? Granted, it's not a rarity. And often times the lights are still on in the room. But when someone sits up in bed at 3:41am, points to a shadow created by the bathroom light and the robe hanging on the door, and sounds truly concerned, you'd think I'd get a reaction other than laughter. Then again, I do sometimes think there's a troll in my lap as well.

    The Price Doesn't Have to be Right

    On a Wednesday morning four years ago I made my way up the 405 from Laguna to LA to stand in line for "The Price is Right." I had a plan. An ingenious plan. If I could just get a yellow price tag with my name it, and impress the producers enough to call my name to "come on down," I was certain to make it on stage and spin that wheel. If the first four people on contestants row just make a pact to overbid each other by $1 every time it guarantees them all a chance at the wheel! Brilliant, right? Well my ingenious plan didn't account for the 405 morning traffic and I was 2 hours late, and the 255th person on standby to get inside.