Cell Phones Raising the Bar

By Dawn Marie

Your phone can do everything but drive, though it won’t be long until technology cracks that code too. We live in a technological wonderland where content is king and it just got better.

Cell phones have taken it to the next level with 2D barcode reader applications.

Imagine snapping a 2D barcode with your cell phone off a subway poster and being sent to a website that allows you to receive detailed maps, forecasts, and severe weather alerts targeted to your exact geographic location. Or  having the ability to click through movie trailers by scanning movie posters on the street. Or pointing your camera at a Nike ad and receiving an instant special offer. Or being in a bar and scanning the coaster your drink is on to receive a drink special.

Companies like Scanbury are leading the revolution with their application Scanlife, a 2D barcode reader that you can slap on virtually any hard surface. The barcode application has serious potential to revolutionize the way we consume ads, receive offers, interact with websites, and connect with our favorite brands.

Advertisers are turned on by the idea, seeing immense promise in the ability to deliver exactly what their target audience wants, when they want it, and in the format they want it in. While consumers aren’t fans of invasive ads proliferating their facebook profiles, if you give them the opportunity to seek out content an interesting format they just may bite.

Go technology.


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The Secret to Public Speaking

By Dawn Marie Fichera

When it comes to public speaking, most people become terrified and lose all confidence. Even the most successful business professional gulps at the idea of speaking in front of crowds. Public speaking doesn’t have to be a drag however. There are tricks of the trade to commanding an audience with poise, precision, and passion without sweating through your palms. If you are charged with facing the media, giving this year’s toast, or addressing your stakeholders, below are tried and true methods that will leave you bright and shiny after you are through. Relax, and be the twinkling star you are.

Develop your message points.What do you really want to convey? Have you had a Scooge-like year and need to relate that to your shareholders without coming off-like Ebenezer himself? Have you been one of the lucky few who saw an increase in business because of the tanking economy? Have you had an outstanding employee shine through this turbulent time and bring the company into new and greener pastures? Pinpoint three message points you want to get across to your audience. The trick is to keep these points short, simple, and concise, somewhere under 60 seconds. You can always elaborate more on each point later in your conversation.

Practice. Practice. Practice. No great speaker ever stepped in front of a crowd, an audience or a camera and just hail-mary-ied it. Find a willing participant to run your speech, presentation, or delivery by. The family pet, a mirror, a spouse, or trusted colleague. Ask for feedback. Is your speech too long? Irrelevant? Boring? Cold? Be willing to take the criticism and make changes. If you are in front of a mirror, tape-record or video-tape yourself and playback your recording. You will be able to pick out the duds and the winners once you review your tapes.

Start your speech, presentation or appearance off with an anecdote. Tell your audience a short story that they can relate to. Everyone wants to feel like the person they are listening to is human and can relate to them. Create a short anecdote that will engage your audience and lead into your message points.

Roadmap back to your message points. Feel like you are rambling? Take a breath and get back on track. It is perfectly fine to stop in the middle of a ramble and say, “you know, what I am really trying to say is, X, Y, and Z.” Then give your three message points succinctly, and under 60 seconds.

Check your audience for a pulse. From time to time it is easy to get wrapped up in the soothing sound of our own voice but make sure you stop every now and again to determine if the audience is still with you. Check in with them. Ask if what you are saying makes sense, is helpful, or is creating questions in their minds.

Listen and adapt but hold your ground. Be willing to address your listener’s concerns or questions and change your course of delivery for a split second. If you are asked a question you would rather avoid, deflect by saying something like, “That is an excellent question and deserves more attention than this moment can provide. I will be happy to get back you on that at a later time once I have carefully considered your concerns,” and then, get back to them with an answer or reply.

PowerPoint’s are visual helpers, not show stoppers. How many dreadful presentation have you sat through where you were chained to your chair and forced to watch your presenter’s PowerPoint’s? People have a horrible habit of hanging onto PowerPoint’s as their main attraction. You are the main focus, not the 25 slides crammed with information that cannot be processed by your audience. Keep slides short, preferably full of visuals not words, and, if you have to address a bunch of points, write a catch phrase that your audience can take with them and explain the concept thoroughly in-person. Your audience will thank you for it.

Look the part. When we were younger, we were all told to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Well, in the same vein, think about what you are going to wear for your public appearance. Going in front of a camera? Stay away from patterns, floral, stripes, white or beige. These are not camera friendly. In front of a live crowd, you can wear these colours and patterns as long as you are not being video-taped. Wear makeup—powder for the shine, blush or you will look like a vampire, and wear your eye-make-up a little heavier than usual. Don’t get drastic and change your colours, just apply a little thicker than usual. Women, save your six-inch hoops and gold chins for the club, not the camera.

Gesture. Somewhere along the lines, some corporate dunce said “don’t move around when you are on camera or in front of a crowd or you will look funny.” This is the furthest thing from the truth. You need to move around and gesture, speak with your hands, or do what comes naturally or you will look cold, unapproachable, and inhuman. I am not suggesting waving your arms around wildly and jumping up in down on stage, but I am saying get your blood flowing. If you talk with your body, you will generate a feeling of consistency with your message points. Keep your movements natural but within reason- I prefer the “gesture box” from shoulder to shoulder, and from chin to waist as my guideline.

Have fun. Seriously. Smile while you are in front of your audience. If you are delivering a serious presentation or press conference with somber news, still try and curl your lips in a slight smile to add life to your features. You won’t look sinister or heartless, but you will look alive. If you are giving a holiday speech, curb the over-indulgence of libations until after you speak. You don’t want to slur your words and leave a lifetime of memorable faux pas’. At the end of the day, no one remembers if you mispronounced a word, or knows if juggled your message points, or even skipped a section.

Don’t let the fear of crowds or presentation creep up in to your psyche. Go out there and take the audience by storm. Engage them. Entertain them. Educate them. Do all these with a deliberate style, bearing in mind people’s threshold for information exposure. You have something worthwhile to share with your audience, make them believe it.

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Digital Technology and Uncertainty Reduction: Does Media Richness affect Anticipated Future Interaction? Part Two

Digital Technology and Uncertainty Reduction: Does Media Richness affect Anticipated Future Interaction? Part Two

Dawn Marie Fichera

There are multiple reasons why people use social media sites, limited only by the imagination of the creator. Some users use these sites as gateways into interpersonal communication and relational development on a personal level. Others use the sites for networking or professional opportunities. Marketers and business savvy individuals use SMS to market their products and innovations.

As a result of the research I have conducted, social media and interactive marketers would do well to pay attention to what their audience is saying about the amount of tools (videos, blogs, photos, games, interactive text boxes) used on a social media site.

For instance, of the participants I studied who viewed two static mock-Facebook profiles varying in levels of media richness, the amount of social media site tools available, 75% said that there was too much clutter on the profile sites, and 74% said there were too many applications used on the mock-up profile sites.

Social media sites are a community; they are in essence, a conversation. As with every conversation, too much noise can adversely affect the communication process, and disrupt the cues necessary to communicate with one another effectively.

Results of my research also indicate that employing too many social media tools on one profile may ultimately circumvent marketer’s efforts to reach their audience if they are not listening to the needs of their intended audience. As with face-to-face communication, marketers and interactive communicators must determine how much information is too much. At what point does the mind numb to the cues being offered on a social media sites?

Social media sites illustrate the new ways people create, share, and collaborate with each other. Communicators use multi-media tools within SMS to disclose information by sharing pictures, videos, blogs, music, and to update their friends, families and strangers on their life, their preferences, hopes, dreams. Social media tools serve as the cues necessary to deliver information about the target to a user.

While use of these social media tools reduces uncertainty and increases anticipated future interaction, this disclosure online does not come without a hefty price. As an increasing number of communicators move their conversations online, issues of privacy abound. Future research should look at issues of privacy and communicator’s willingness to relinquish it in order to obtain social information.

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Digital Technology and Uncertainty Reduction: Does Media Richness affect Anticipated Future Interaction?

Digital Technology and Uncertainty Reduction: Does Media Richness affect Anticipated Future Interaction?

Dawn Marie Fichera

New Media and twenty-four hour connectivity to the world around us is quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception. From the classroom to the boardroom, technological innovations influence the way we communicate, collaborate, and share information with one another. Digital technology has made person-to-person accessibility an art form, while mobility, ease of use, and accessibility of emergent technological advancements in communication have created new strategies for relational development.

As communicators progressively move their interaction with each other to the online world, both users and targets of social media sites supply interpersonal information online, contributing to the reduction of uncertainty and have lasting and immediate effect on Anticipated Future Interaction (AFI), which is the desire to interact with another communicator in the near future as a result of initial exposure to their social media site. Social media tools like pictures, games, forums, blogs, and video contribute to the richness of the medium and have a significant effect on uncertainty reduction, leading to an increase in AFI.

New methods of looking at social interaction, such as the conceptual model proposed below depicting the framework with which to view the relationship between media richness, uncertainty, and anticipated interaction aid in the understanding of the complex relationship between communicators using social media sites.

Figure 1. Conceptual Model

Click here for model

As the model illustrates, use of multi-media tools affects the varying levels of media richness and is expected to have a profound affect on uncertainty levels and how communicators seek and process information about each other. The more users employ the tools available on a particular social media site, the more rich their communication will be, and the greater likelihood that future interaction will be sought between the person in the social media profile and the one viewing it.

As communicators engage with the social media site, they are exposed to varying degrees of media richness through the available contextual, aural, and textual cues. A media rich site on Social Media Sites (SMS) like Facebook allows for a greater amount of social information to exchange between communicators and reduced uncertainty resulting in positive AFI. Through use of information seeking strategies, the information acquired, processed, and evaluated within the confines of SMS contribute to a reduction in uncertainty and an increased desire for AFI.

These new models help us extend our knowledge of online communication and give us the ability to see the new communication world through fresh lenses. In order to accomplish this, scholars need to understand that users and targets become acquainted with each other online through social media tools, textual cues, and textually conveyed information, rather than relying on traditional face-to-face nonverbal cues.

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Burton Snowboards Cancel 2010 Asian Open Snowboarding Championships

By Dawn Marie Fichera

Just when you thought that Burton Snowboards couldn’t disappoint, they go and cancel the 2010 Asian Open Snowboarding Championships. Claiming scheduling conflicts for riders, Burton Snowboards cites busy schedules during an Olympic year as the reason why they are canceling. Oh, ok, so not everyone could have made the Asian event but apparently riders and event planners alike seemed to think canceling was the best option out there.

“Our first goal with any Global Open Series event is to provide riders with the best scenario possible,” said Burton Events Director Liam Griffin. “We had already made the decision to push the event into the first week in March instead of the normal dates the last week of February. This allowed a bit of time in the schedule after the Olympics, but made things pretty tight with the US Open. After talking to riders, we decided it was better to just take a year off with the Asian event, rather than risk burning people out after such a hectic early season.”

Ok, I get that athletes get tired, burnt-out, and over-scheduled but for those who were looking forward to the event  in Japan, this is letdown. The Burton Asian Open was scheduled to take place from March 2 – 7, 2010 at ALTS Bandai in Japan. While we all shake our heads in dismay, realize there is a silver-lining to the cloud however.

Not all is lost. With the cancellation of the Asian Open, the amount of results needed for riders to maximize their chance of winning the Burton Global Open Series title has been reduced from five to four.

This means that without the Asian Open, more riders will have a shot at the title despite the busy Olympic season. The top three men and women finishers in the BGOS will be awarded cash prizes, totaling $200,000.

The Burton European Open (BEO) is next event in the Burton Global Open Series. Taking place in LAAX, Switzerland from January 9-16, 2010, the European Open offers riders a prize purse of US $125,000, important points towards the male and female 2010 BGOS Championship titles, and points towards the Swatch TTR (Ticket to Ride) World Tour Ranking.


If you are looking for more information on the Burton Global Open Series, head to opensnowboarding.com.

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Win an (almost) All-Expenses Paid Ski Vacation at Killington and Pico Resorts


By Dawn Marie Fichera

I love sites that give you the opportunity to win stuff that rocks. Like  an all-expenses paid (excluding transportation and travel expenses, so if you live in Colorado you have to pay for your flight out) ski-vacation getaway for two at one of Vermont’s killer slopes. Yes, you have to sign-up for the newsletter but here’s the best part, if you don’t want the newsletter, which I totally understand, you can opt at any time out and still be registered to win the vacation. Pretty simple and cool.


You may say to yourself, why should I bother? Well, someone has to be a winner so you may as well give it a shot.  There are three ways to become eligible to win:


Log onto Discover Killington website, www.discoverkillington.com,  fill out their contact form, or sign up for the Discover Killington Community Email-newsletter.  If you sign- up for the email newsletter, you’ll receive their email newsletter with exclusive promotional offers.

Let’s discuss the facts, like what is included in this winning vacation. The Discover Killington Winter Getaway for Two includes, for two persons: two day-lift ticket valid at Killington and Pico Resorts, two nights of lodging, one dinner, and two breakfasts.  You get to pick your own lodging and restaurants based on participating vendors in the town of Killigton. The total value is around  a thousand bucks so give it a shot.

The winner will be drawn at random on January 11th, 2010 from registrations received through the DiscoverKillington.com website.  The winner will be notified by email  and then will only have two weeks to claim their prize or someone else is getting your vacation.

Good luck and get out there and ski! It is a killer season so self-indulge a day doing the stuff you love.

If you hear of any other great contests or opportunities, let me know!

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The Used releases new album, Artwork

The Used’s new fourth studio album Artwork is the equivalent of a forty-five year old entering a college bar looking for someone to talk to about his drab and meaningless life: everyone knows you don’t belong there but are too apathetic to tell you. If you are looking for an album that takes you back to being a struggling rebellious soul swimming in the depths of uncertainty, pain, and self-hatred, this album is it.

Artwork was produced by Panic at the Disco‘s producer Matt Squire, making this their first studio album not produced by John Feldmann.  According to previous interviews, the band wanted to stretch their musical finesse and achieve a sound that was very distinct, heavier,  and noisier than their previous releases. They seemed to achieve their goal.

The four-piece band comprised of Bert McCracken, lead vox, keyboard/piano, Quinn Allman, guitar, backing vocals, Jeph Howard, bass, backing vocals, and Dan Whitesides, drums., percussion, effortlessly blend “Emo”, “Screamo” and heavy metal without blinking  an eye. Having played in this configuration since 2006, The Used has acquired  more than a decent amount of mainstream success; they have managed to snag Gold and Platinum statuses in more than six countries worldwide.

“Blood on My Hands”, the album’s kick-start track, with guest vocals Joseph McCracken, Jed Blecker, and “Killer” Dayton Killian, is slightly reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails meets Limp Bisquit and a dash of Henry Rollins. “Empty With you” is a raw, energy-infused track with infectious vocals and driving guitar licks.”Kissing You Goodbye” is one of my favorite tracks lyrically, though it does battle “Come Undone”. “On the Cross”, “Sold my Soul”, and “Men are all the Same” carry the underlined self-deprecating theme under a post-hardcore sound.

In the early years of self-discovery, life seems impossibly difficult, insurmountable, and laden with indescribable meaning. The Used’s album “Artwork” captures this sensitive period in a young adults life,  unapologetically exposing the burns and bruises of loneliness, self-loathing, and self-pitying themes as exemplified on tracks like “Meant to Die”, “Come Undone”, and “Watered Down”.  Each  album track is heavy hearted, imploring, and searching as if there were no limit to analyzing the depths of ones soul. If there  is a better album that encapsulates the  emotionally numb, para-suicidal millennial generation, I can’t think of it.

Beneath all this pubescent-inspired anger lies a band that is incredibly talented displaying a wide range of vocal prowess and contagious hooks. You can’t help but to feel the intensity of the lyrics, of getting pulled into the darkness of the songs.

The Used’s new album  Artwork is one of the best albums I have listened to thus far this year. Packing a one-two punch in the visceral gut, Artwork redefines the rock genre, bridging the gap between hard-hitting heavy metal and modern emo pop.  Any angst ridden soul worth his salt will latch onto this album.

4 Stars

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