Short videos: Use Vine to build your brand

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samsung's vineVine’s looping six-second videos can help marketers spread their messages across social media in innovative ways says author Bob Cargill, who offers 10 ways to use Vine in your own campaign.

“If you really want to make a splash in the social media waters, you should try making videos with the mobile app Vine,” says Cargill, who is director of social media at Overdrive Interactive. “Sure, with more than 1 billion unique users visiting the site each month, your potential audience on YouTube is going to be gargantuan. And with more than 150 million monthly active users on Instagram, you’d be hard-pressed not to experiment there as well, even if your videos can only be up to 15 seconds in length. If you want to socialize with all the cool kids, however, you can’t overlook Vine, where more than 40 million registered users, are telling their stories in short, continuously looping six-second videos.”

Among his 10 tips are:
1. It’s Easy to Use.
2. It’s Quick to Digest.
3. It’s Spur of the Moment.
4. It’s Convenient.
5. It’s Instructional.

Read details on all 10 here — with example videos.

 

In memoriam: George Champagne Sr.

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obit_photoGeorge Champagne passed away June 6 at the age of 89. He was owner, with his wife Irene, of Champagne Studios in Pawtucket, R.I. for 22 years, and co-owner of Abar Color Labs of Providence, R.I., for 32 years. He served the industry in many capacities all throughout his career, including as president of the Association of Professional Color Labs (APCL), the precursor of the Association of Imaging Executives (AIE), in 1988-1989. He also received the PMA  Distinguished Service Award in 1998.

He is survived by his children, George R. Champagne (Nancy); David G. Champagne (Linda); Diane Neligon (Thomas); Jean Kruzan (Bradley); Jacqueline Schlageter (William); and the late Suzanne Padien (Richard); 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Get your events in front of photo enthusiasts — for free — in The Big Photo Show community

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TheBigPhotoShow_verticalAs you’ve all heard, The Big Photo Show in Los Angeles was a huge success, drawing thousands of people to photo shoots, demos, workshops, and exhibits.

Luckily, millions of photo enthusiasts around the globe don’t have to wait for a local PMA consumer event or even live near one. They can visit www.thebigphotoshow.com 24/7 year round, and share their passion for photography, enter contests featuring great prizes, and enjoy videos and articles from photography experts like Erin Manning, Mark Comon and Duane Cassone.

They’re also looking for photo events, classes, and manufacturer demo/shoots: add yours to the Event Calendar so photo enthusiasts can see what’s happening near them.

It’s easy – just create a free basic account and then add your details to the Calendar of Events while logged in.

We’re delighted to provide The Big Photo Show website as one of our many member benefits, connecting our PMA members with photo enthusiasts and promoting the photo-imaging industry worldwide. Be sure to spread the word to all your customers!

Microsoft and Canon cross-license patents

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Canon logoMicrosoft and Canon say their “broad patent cross-licensing agreement” shows a “collaborative approach …to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world.”

The agreement covers “a broad range of products and services each company offers, including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products.”

Microsoft adds that since it launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, “the company has entered into more than 1,100 licensing agreements.”

The full announcement is here.

Shutterfly service for sale?

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shutterfly logoReportedly, leading online photofinishing service Shutterfly is seeking buyers.

Bloomberg reports Shutterfly “is working with boutique investment bank Qatalyst Partners to find buyers for the company, according to people familiar with the matter… Potential acquirers include private-equity firms as well as e-commerce and Web storage companies, they said.”

Shutterfly’s shares rose on the news: The Redwood City, California-based company is now valued at about $1.9 billion, the report adds.

Shutterfly “has been boosting sales at the expense of profits,” Bloomberg notes. “First-quarter revenue climbed 17 percent to $137 million from a year earlier, while the net loss widened to $34.2 million from $12.4 million. This year, the company may post the first annual net loss since its 2006 initial public offering, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.”

Here is the full story.

 

The July/August issue of PMA magazine is now available

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Magazine_issue072014_700x454The July/August issue of PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities is live and online.

In this issue, discover the excitement of The Big Photo Show LA 2014! Read about all the opportunities this event, held in May, brought to photo enthusiasts and imaging businesses; check out interviews with attendees; and read (and even watch) interviews with exhibitors.

In addition, this issue revisits retailers we interviewed a year ago about getting consumers to make prints and photo products from mobile images. Discover what a huge difference a year has made in technology, ease of use, and big profits.

Also in this issue:

  • Hans Hartman of Suite 48 Analytics reveals trends in mobile photography and output
  • LifePics is betting on 3D printing
  • The 2014 AIE Future Imaging Summit panel on output explains current trends
  • Panasonic’s Darin Pepple explains how 4K and hybrid photography are changing the game
  • How the Tran family escaped terrors in Cambodia – then built one of the most successful imaging businesses in Australia
  • In the U.K., The Photography Show picks up where Focus on Imaging left off

Business success: Yeah, whatever

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Business Success LogoI knew the day was going to come, and recently, it arrived.

I said something to my kids — I don’t recall what, but it really doesn’t matter — and my darling daughter, usually the epitome of sweetness, rolled her eyes at me and said, “Whatever.”

She’s only 9, and not yet surfing the choppy waters of adolescence; I’m confident she was merely mimicking someone she saw on TV, perhaps trying on a bit of teenage defiance to see whether or not it will eventually fit.

In any case, I was having none of it. I am not the kind of mom who would tolerate that little show of disrespect, and I think my strong response to her rudeness has convinced her not to do that again. But handling snarky behavior as a parent is quite different than handling it as a business operator. What if it’s your employees who are cynical or mocking? What does that indicate, and how can you change the behavior?

This week, Rich Karlgaard, author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, sheds light on this difficult situation.

Is Employee Cynicism Killing Your Culture?

In an age of cynicism and irony, Northwestern Mutual is a throwback to a more innocent time. The company is the antithesis of “cool.” It has the kind of culture in which people embrace plain suits and sincere handshakes, take pride in wearing achievement ribbons, kick off conferences with patriotic music. It’s the very portrait of wholesomeness and earnestness—the Boy Scout of the insurance and financial services industry. There’s no place for hipster lingo, inside jokes about customers, snarky tweets.

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Rich Karlgaard

Oh, and Northwestern Mutual has been in business for over 157 years and is worth $25 billion in sales. It might not be hip to be square, but it’s very good for business.

Mocking irony, snark, and cynicism are very much in vogue, but they are also toxic to your company’s culture. Once cynicism gets a foothold in your culture, it spreads—just like an ill-advised tweet or blog post. You need to proactively fight it.

Most of us can agree that cynicism is ugly. It trivializes the gravity of bad behavior and normalizes superior attitudes toward customers and, often, coworkers. But that widespread cynicism is also a red flag that something is seriously awry in your company.  And that “something” centers on trust.

Cynicism is the defense mechanism of people who feel unsafe and powerless. It’s an expression of the uncertainty that comes from working in an environment where ethics are lax, employees don’t feel valued, and information is withheld. When it thrives in an organization, it signals a lack of employee trust—a problem that’s gotten significantly worse over the last generation.

The example of Northwestern Mutual makes it clear: Building trust is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a strategic thing to do.

Trust underlies successful working relationships. It improves group effectiveness and performance. It underpins organizational credibility and resilience. All of these factors contribute to creating a sustainable competitive advantage, because trust attracts talent, strengthens partnerships, and retains customers.

The good news is you can tap into the strategic power of trust by consciously shifting your company’s culture. Here’s how:

Know that trust has two dimensions: external and internal. First, there’s the external trust between an organization and its customers: Will a company stand behind its products? If something goes wrong, will they do the right thing? The second dimension is the internal trust between employees, managers, and top-level management. Do leaders keep their promises? Can employees speak up without censure? Do people have each other’s back (or stab them in it)?  Generally, what’s true externally is also true internally.

When employees can trust leaders and each other, customers can trust employees. And vice versa, of course. Cynicism cannot be eradicated if trust doesn’t extend in all directions. But know that you need to start internally, with the employees on whose commitment and engagement your success depends. If they don’t feel that they can trust your company with their careers, you’re in trouble.

Get clear on what a culture of trust and earnestness looks like. No doubt your employees have (probably very strong) opinions on trust within your company and where they’d like to see improvements. Hold a company-wide summit where everyone can share those opinions and include an anonymous component like a suggestion box or survey. Get everyone’s input, from the C-suite to the custodian. Your goal should be to pin down exactly how a culture of trust translates to leader and employee behaviors.

Ask, “Who do we want to be?” Identify the ways cynicism manifests—for instance, through snarky comments, manipulating customers, talking behind coworkers’ backs, and so forth. Then, together, establish some ground rules aimed at dissolving cynicism and promoting old-fashioned values.

Then, get the “rules” in writing. Put the results of your trust summit in writing and ask all employees to sign this document. It should spell out actions like, “I will not badmouth customers,” or, “If I have something to say to an employee, I’ll say it to their face.” Some companies have even gone so far as to prohibit blind cc’ing in order to promote a culture of trust.

Of course you can’t simply outlaw cynicism and snark or talking behind someone’s back. Trust can thrive only when employees are treated like the self-respecting adults that they are. However, you can “formalize” values and ask people to abide by them. That’s the need these contracts serve.

Creating an official “standards of behavior” document helps crystallize the attitude you’re hoping to cultivate. Just saying “let’s all be trustworthy now” means nothing. Creating the document shows that your organization is willing to go beyond mere lip service. Plus, people are just more likely to abide by an agreement if they’ve signed their name to it.

Let only “Boy Scouts” lead. (And Girl Scouts too, of course!) People will emulate leader behavior, whether it’s good or bad. It’s just human nature. Leaders who roll their eyes when a certain customer calls are giving permission for employees to be similarly disrespectful.  Complain about your boss in the break room and you can expect to overhear your own team making fun of you as you approach the water cooler. The key is to hire and promote leaders who truly do live the values your company espouses.

It doesn’t matter how intelligent, charming, or technically capable leaders are if they don’t uphold the agreed-upon values. The negative impact they have on your culture will more than offset any talents and skills they bring to the table.

Never lie or hide the truth. There are many things you’re thrilled to share with your employees. “Our customer satisfaction scores are 15 percent higher this year!” Or, “Our first quarter profits exceeded our goal!” Yet there are other things you might not be so eager to share, like, “We’re going to have to downsize,” or, “There aren’t going to be any raises this year…and by the way, we may have to reduce your benefits.” Tell them anyway.

Even when the news is bad, people should never feel they’re being kept in the dark. Transparency and trust must coexist.

Show employees that you care. When people don’t believe their leaders care about them, not just as workers but as human beings, of course trust can’t thrive. And while it’s true that fake or contrived caring only increases cynicism, genuine caring dissolves it. This means leaders must be “people persons” who stand up for their employees’ best interests and don’t mind showing (appropriate) affection.

NetApp is a company that truly gets this. Consider the following quote from its vice chairman, excerpted from The Soft Edge:

“I believe in leadership rather than management,” Tom Mendoza of NetApp explained. “You can be loud, you can be quiet, but leadership is what you are, not what you say. So my overriding principle of leadership is people don’t care what you know unless they know that you care. All industries have one thing in common, which is people come through for their leaders not because they’re afraid, not because they’re intimidated, but because they just don’t want to let them down.”

Aspire to predictability. It sounds a little dull, doesn’t it? Most of us want to be known as creative, outside-the-box thinkers. We don’t want to be bound by routine or limited by “the way everyone else does it.” And that’s fine—embrace innovation to your heart’s content in areas like product development and marketing campaigns. Just don’t be unpredictable in your behavior, priorities, and values.

Unpredictability destroys trust. The couches of psychotherapists are filled with people whose parents were unpredictable. As a leader, your team should have total confidence that you’ll do what you say you will. They should have no doubt that you’ll keep your promises, act with integrity, and look out for their best interests.

By the way, predictability in the matter of trust is different from predictability in tactics. Good leaders and coaches will shake things up. Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson once held a Chicago Bulls practice in the dark. He wanted to see how well his players really knew the plays he was teaching!

Make it safe to speak up. When your employees make an honest mistake, can they admit it without being scolded and belittled? What about input and ideas? Can they share those things and expect to be taken seriously? Hopefully, the answers to both questions is “yes.” Everyone should feel confident that they can participate in meetings and projects, say what’s on their mind, be respected for their opinions and ideas, and admit mistakes.

Either trust rules your organization, or fear rules it—you have to choose. A fear-based culture kills employee curiosity. It quells exploration, dulls creativity, and stunts growth. In a climate of fear, people are afraid to make mistakes. Fear saps performance, synergy, teamwork, and morale. It makes people feel powerless—and if you have no power over your own work life, of course you’ll be cynical.

Celebrate grit and gumption. If you want employees to be worker bees—performing the tasks you designate, on a timeline you set—compensate them with paychecks only. But if you want your employees to be partners, you’ve got to reinforce them when they act like partners. In other words, take notice when they display passion and motivation (grit) and initiative and guts (gumption).

When employees do the things you want them to do—persevering through tough tasks, innovating, taking calculated risks—reward them. A simple thank-you can go a long way. So can public recognition at a meeting or through a company-wide email. And of course perks like “free” vacation time or bonuses are always welcome. The point is, notice and celebrate the behaviors you want more of.

When people are truly engaged, they can’t be cynical. Engagement and cynicism can’t coexist in the same moment.

Constantly drive home the “meaning” of the work people do. One of the best methods to increase trust is to identify your greater purpose, your “true north.” Why do you exist? What meaningful value do you offer to employees, customers, or society? A great purpose should be aspirational, not merely financial. It should create a common cause and promote a collective effort. It should answer all the tough questions of why: Why commit? Why persist? And, most important, why trust?

At Northwestern Mutual, employees with whom I’ve spoken say they aren’t driven by dollar signs. They truly feel that their life’s work is helping people. When clients call and ask, “Am I going to be okay?” they take pride in being able to say “yes.” They’ve found a meaning in selling insurance that goes much, much deeper than balance sheets and profits. And, ironically, that’s why so many Northwestern field reps are the millionaires next door.

My point? Figure out what meaningful things your company provides customers, whether that’s peace of mind, easier lives, reliable support, or something else, and look for ways to convey that purpose at your company. It’s hard to be cynical about your work and your customers when you actually do believe in what you’re doing.

The next time you’re considering how to make your organization a better place to work, think beyond an in-house masseuse, climbing walls, and free fresh-baked cookies. While employees will certainly appreciate “fun” perks like these, they don’t mean anything if your culture isn’t grounded in trust. Trust is, and always will be, the foundation of creating an award-winning environment and culture that leads to high performance and success.

Don’t hit “Send”: Sweeping anti-spam law goes into effect in Canada

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On July 1, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) goes into effect — and trust me, you do NOT want to violate it. The law prevents businesses from sending commercial messages, via email, text or social media, to Canadians without their consent — and carries penalties up to $1 million for individual violators and as much as $10 million for a company. Learn more about this new law at the Govenment of Canada website.

Camera bags and more: Gura Gear acquires Tamrac

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tamrac-logoUtah-based Gura Gear acquired camera bag maker Tamrac, which had been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since January.

GuraGear announced last week it “agreed to acquire the brand and assets of Tamrac,” and noted that company’s “37 year history of developing affordable carrying solutions for photographers.”

Gura Gear says it will now “build upon a brand with a legacy of designing solutions for photographers and a dedicated customer following while leveraging worldwide distribution.”

Gura Gear began in 2008; Tamrac in 1977.

By the way, the company has very interesting articles and photos on its blog here.

 

Sony CEO apologizes…

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Sony Make.Believe Logo…Well, not to you: to shareholders.

Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai “apologized to investors today after the maker of PlayStation consoles and Xperia smartphones projected a sixth loss in seven years,” BusinessWeek reports. “Sorry that we failed to meet shareholders’ expectations,” Hirai said at the company’s annual meeting in Tokyo. “We will bear responsibility to complete restructuring in fiscal 2014, with a strong sense of crisis and without further delay.”

Sony has lost $831 million since Hirai became CEO in 2012 and predicts another 50 billion-yen loss this year as he struggles to revive the television business.

The full article here focuses on the TV, movie-making, game console, phones, and other large Sony divisions. Cameras doesn’t get a mention, apart from noting, “When Hirai took over, he said Sony’s revival would be driven by mobile devices, games and imaging products.”