Final Blog Genia Boustany

“When we look into a mirror, we do not “see” the surface, we see only our reflection.” Jonathan Miller’s On Reflection, draws on studies of cognitive perception and explains how we come to understand the difference between a reflection and “the real thing,” and how vital reflections are in defining our own sense of identity. 8 months into this experience and “reflection” is what we are constantly asked to do, every little detail is a subject for questioning and deserves to be thought of. Nothing should be taken for granted and there’s a reason for every little thing, there’s a reason behind every act, a reason behind every emotion and a reason behind every absence of emotion. While trying to make sense of what is around you, you slowly start making sense of what is inside you…reflection helped in making me understand my own sense of identity.

Let me try to put some order to my reflections and start with a mind map. It is known to be a highly effective way of getting information in and out of your brain in a creative yet logical way (Buzan Tony, 2011).


I will be proceeding thematically:

– Starting from the very beginning, when asked to introduce ourselves in a sentence, and then have our words, descriptions and parts of ourselves crossed out by our neighbors. This incident triggered 2 things:

First it triggered a fear I have always had, and always searched for ways to avoid “putting yourself out there and marketing yourself”… this fear of mine was once again faced in an entrepreneurship experience at Penrhyn Road on the 27th October 2011 in ”Have you got the drive to be an Entrepreneur”. What touched me the most during that experience was the way in which Brad Burton kept emphasizing on the fact that one has to put himself out there in whatever way ”Five years ago, I was going nowhere fast. But something changed. I got off my arse” (Burton, 2010). His way of talking and his enthusiasm and aggressiveness hit me… at that moment I knew that I had a long way to go if I wanted to be an entrepreneur…

The second thing was you have to either stand out or fade away. This pattern of thought kept coming back all through the course, and it inspired my post “Be distinctive or fade away”. In my post I emphasize on the need of having guts and starting off with a crazy idea in order to create a new value and position your idea or product or service in a realm of it’s own. I used the case study of Swatch, which provided customers with an emotional added value; in order to be distinctive in an over crowded market.


– “Thinking outside the box”, is an expression that kept popping up all through the module. The expression first sparkled intolife in the toilet experiment, where we are asked to perform a task that we do numerous times every single day but in a different way. This experiment not only gave me a different perspective to look at things, but it also made me appreciate the utility of my senses and more importantly it made me realize how these senses are inter-connected. It made me use my remaining senses in a more creative way as well, in the attempt of covering up for my missing sense. The Museum of Everything complemented this experiment, because it exhibited art made by people with disabilities…theses artist were missing something and turned that handicap into an advantage. The museum of Everything also draws my attention on the importance of Space.  Because this is an interpreted space–a place with assigned meanings–we may also be challenged to see things in a new way: to find our own way, figuratively, at least (Lord Gail Dexter, 2005). The Space represented a world of it’s own, it was intimate and warm…but what I loved the most was the amount of thought and heart that were put in building the place and creating the entire atmosphere to the very last and smallest detail. There, at that moment…I felt empathy!

– Sharing empathy through storytelling and personas could be done in a large number of ways: through animation, graphs, trailers, event mapping and documentaries. Alan Cooper talks about Personas and not Users in his book “The Inmates are Running the Asylum”. He stresses on the idea of creating a persona and developing a precise description of what he wishes to accomplish and then incorporating it in a Scenario, a story.

In my post Empathizing with fictional characters, I tackled the question of: “Why do we care about what happens to fictional characters?” I came to the conclusion that 2 elements are needed to come up with empathy: 1- A well studied, analyzed, built, polished character/persona 2- A spectator who is ready to give in to the illusion and get carried away by the character.

– Storytelling is the theme that intrigued me the most, during the entire process, and I related everything to storytelling. It all started in a conference I attended at Kings College by Professor Clemens Sedmak entitled “Leadership as the art of telling meaningful stories”. Right there and then, something clicked…I knew that that’s the subject I would like to do my research on for my thesis.

Storytelling in Advertising, Storytelling in Business, Storytelling in Politics, Storytelling in Journalism…we are being told stories, everywhere, anywhere and all the time. “In recent years, storytelling has been promoted in surprising places”, writes the American sociologist Francesca Poletta and Christian Salmon opens up in the preface of his book “Storytelling: Bewitching the modern mind” with the following statement “the injunction to tell stories has swollen to become a popular obsession, an ideology and even a slogan –The slogan for a whole era.”

We tried to implement Personas and storytelling in our AD for our product. We created 3 different personas (which are our 3 users basically) and integrated them in a narration. We showed the process of how our product was being made and how it was being transferred to the personas. We played on emotions and tried to create empathy through storytelling and music. The WID AD was a success, and it’s at this point that I dove even deeper behind the power of storytelling and the manipulation it exercises on its listeners. Actually people are using storytelling as a tool to convey massages, manipulate people and attract customers. I quote myself in my post “Once Upon A Time…” “We are living in a world, which offers many things, presumably desirable goals. This is what we ought to do, this is what we ought to buy, this is who we are suppose to vote for, this is what we are, this is the role we are suppose to play and these are the characters that we are. Is everyone aware of the manipulation and persuasion that they are being exposed to through storytelling?”

In his political Campaign for Presidency in 2004, George W. Bush used the “Ashley Story”. The French writer, Christian Salmon criticized the campaigns story and it’s concept he compared it to  “Stage craft instead of state Craft”. The 60-second commercial shows Bush embracing Ashley at a campaign rally during May of 2004, the father of Ashley captured an emotional, unscripted moment that set in motion perhaps the most widely seen, and effective, television commercial of the 2004 campaign. The commercial, with its heartfelt 9/11 connection, turned out to be an exception: a memorable, motivating, feel-good ad…the ad was effective, it showed Bush as a protective, compassionate father figure…and the people felt empathy.

Advertising people have mastered the art of storytelling when creating iconic brand identities and brand stories. As Holt stated: “Iconic brands, by creating an identity for themselves, provide identity to the whole society (Holt, 2004). Just as literature or film create or popularize myths, popular brands can serve as the foundation for creating new myths. The brand myth provides consumers (you and me) perspective in which to enter the illusion to help “make sense” of everyday life (Woodside et al., 2008).

And finally media and journalism have also entered the world of storytelling. Nowadays to stand out, journalists have been changing their modes of communication. Each mode of communication offers different communicative intentions, which each involves a different type of audience based on 3 different needs among viewers (Harms Larsen, 1990). Among the most common modes is storytelling. In the storytelling mode, the journalist becomes a Storyteller; the audience becomes a Listener and the third party a Character.

The second big title I took out of this module is the importance of social media and the different ways in which it could be used in order to reach your goal. Social Media as a tool and platform for marketing yourself, for communication, for creating your own network, for promotion…however social media can either make you or break you. It is a risky tool; the content that you put out will determine your success or failure. Despite the risk, you just have to be there, you have to have an online presence. With the digital revolution and the power of the Internets ability to reach a vast number of people the importance of building an online presence is undeniable. Showcasing ones product or oneself through the Internet so that viewers and potential clients would recognize you, could be considered as a different form of storytelling through the medium of social media.

Individuals and businesses alike should take advantage of social media, promote their stories and put themselves out there because it is the growing trend in the business world today, and the exposure received from online presence would mean securing and edge amidst growing competition.

Lastly and most importantly, the practical part of the course and the entire process of coming up with an idea, doing market research, setting a budget, using our resources, creating a product, designing making and marketing it, standing by it and selling it. Going through the entire chain of production, from coming up with a raw idea to actually selling a polished product was a very informative experience. Working with a team of strangers was not an easy task especially at the beginning. But once our energy was focused on a same goal, on a product everyone brought his best to the table and things ran smoothly.

The process of trial and error was in my opinion the most important part of the process. We were given some guiding lines at the beginning and occasionally got some feedback along the way but we mostly had to do it on our own.

To sum it all up, it was a big Mix of everything and anything, which in the end came altogether to somehow make sense. It just takes some reflection and time to absorb it all and channel the information in the right direction.

The two lines I take with me:

-Think differently and use things in a different and creative way.

-The importance is not only to write a story, but how it spreads, in which network.

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“A FREEtown of Mine”

For my final blog, I decided to share some of the pictures of a project I was working on prior my coming to the UK and starting my Masters Degree in KU.

Hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish my project…for now it is on hold.

It’s a book entitled “ A FREEtown of Mine”, and it starts like this:

Authors’ Note

 

Sierra Leone, a word heard….

Freetown, a capital in headlines…

 

For over a decade, Sierra Leone and its’ Capital “Freetown” have governed

the headlines of the media. People all over the world have limited the “Republic

of Sierra Leone” to its’ capital “Freetown”; have reduced its’ nation’s history to

10 years of civil war; have overlooked its’ natural riches and concentrated on its’

poor conditions of life…

 

The war is over; Sierra Leone and Freetown are out of the media…The world

has forgotten Sierra Leone. Should we wait for the next war, for our memory

to remember a land which’s’ name has always been assimilated with violence,

conflict, crime, poverty, etc…?!

 

I visited Freetown and fell in love with it. I came back with pictures, and left many

more there waiting to be snapped, to be frozen in time, to be lived and felt, to be

made a memory and to one day become part of history…


Lebanon…3rd best Easter destination? best place to Party?

 

According to “Cheapflights”, an internet site, Lebanon is the 3rd  best country in the world to celebrate easter. In “Cheapflights” TOP TEN EASTER CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD, which is a list published by Reuters, the top 10 countries are listed as followed: 1-Argentina , 2-Greece, 3-Lebanon, 4-Scotland, 5-Spain, 6-Sweden, 7-France, 8-Germany, 9-USA, 10-Canada.

 

“Cheapflights” explains the importance of Easter celebrations in Lebanon. It talks about the ornately decorated streets, shops and restaurants filled with bunnies and chocolate, painted eggs and live colored chicks.

However the entire explanation starts with a false statement “Lebanon’s Christians not only make up almost half of the country’s population, but are also very fervent in their beliefs.” It is true that Christians in Lebanon are very fervent in their beliefs and that they are free to express and practice their religion, but the Christians in Lebanon, who once were the majority of the population no longer form half of the population. Pulling aside the credibility of the statement, why start with such a sentence in the first place? Is it because it is more appealing? It suits the religious celebration in question more? Or does it sell more tickets?

 

Anyway going back to Easter in Lebanon. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are two very important days for the Lebanese. On both days, families go to church. On Friday a mass that symbolizes the crucifixion of the Christ, and on Sunday everyone celebrates and takes communion. Christians in Lebanon fast a strictly vegan diet for 40-days, on Sunday they break it on a family feast. In general, celebrations in Lebanon are all about family and reunion, everyone comes together, and in most cases immigrants come from abroad to celebrate with their families.

“Maamoul” is the Lebanese Easter sweet, these are little cookies made with a mixture of semolina and butter then stuffed with either dates or ground sugared nuts and dusted with icing sugar.

 

Lebanon a country to visit…

However it is not the first time that international sites and media flaunt about the Lebanese characteristics and touristic appeals.

In October 2011, Time magazine lists the top 5 reasons that make Lebanon a country worth visiting, and the Frommer’s travel guide listed Lebanon one of the top ten countries to discover in 2012.

In August 2011, Richard Quest in his program “Future Cities” on CNN, promoted Beirut as a must see destination, and a month before that also on CNN, Lebanon was declared as one of the best places in the world to Party!

And finally in 2009, the New York Times listed Lebanon among the 44 top countries to visit during the year…


Presentation tips for the Big Event!

In a world of faxes, memos, e-mails, newsletters and junk mail, most business people are forced to focus their attention on the written word and, as a result, neglect the development of their spoken communication and presentation skills.  However, Storytelling and Presentation Skills are not only important to individual career development, but are also increasingly valued by companies now a days, as a means of delivering real benefits. Face-to-face communication is a powerful business tool that can inspire, motivate, persuade, impress and reassure.

With our group presentations coming up soon, I thought I’d share some insights on public speaking and presentation skills.Some of the important things we need to take into consideration, which are directly related to giving a presentation:

-Delivery: Talk in a loud and audible voice. Add a change of tone when needed in order not to bore the audience. Change in the pace of talk and add pauses at key moments of the speech.

-Pronunciation: While talking one can easily lose track of sentence structure and punctuation. Make sure to have short and clear-cut sentences.

-Body language: Research shows that 60 per cent of all communication is non-verbal. Meaning can be conveyed through pace, pitch, timing and body language. Gestures can achieve great impact when employed correctly.

-Eye contact: Eye contact is vital as it sends a message to the audience that you want to communicate with them, rather than just relate a list of facts or opinions.

The second important part of oral communication is preparation. In fact it is one of the most important factors in determining communication successes. It is clear that not all communications can be scheduled, but our upcoming presentation date was well fixed in advance and we have more than a month to prepare for it.

There are a few questions which one should ask himself before starting any kind of communication: Who? What? How? When? Where? And Why?

So these are the questions we should answer:

  • –       Who are we talking to? What are their values, pre-judgments and expectations?
  • –       What do we wish to communicate?
  • –       How can we communicate our message successfully? (Choose correct words and have a clear structure)
  • –       When do we need to move from 1 point to the other? When do we introduce what Idea? (Develop a sense of timing)
  • –       Where are we going to be presenting? (It is important for us to know our surroundings in advance, the room we are presenting in etc…)
  • –       Why should they listen to us? Why is it important? (Implicate them in our presentations)

Good luck to all of the teams! And prepare well 🙂


TV is going completely Digital in the UK…But WHY? the real Reasons!

 

The real reasons behind the switch from Analog to Digital TV

 

1.What it is:

Between 2008- 2012, television services in the UK will go completely digital, TV region by TV region. The old analogue television signal will be switched off and viewers will need to convert or upgrade their TV equipment to receive digital signals, whether through their aerial, by satellite, cable or broadband.

 

2. The first side of the “why”

Digital TV uses less broadcast space, this means that there will be more room for new services such as wireless broadband and HDTV. So is it merely a space saving move? This might be a benefit for the producers and manufacturers of information…but for the people, what does it change?

Some of the benefits for consumer are:

–       Greater choice of TV channels

–       New features: interactivity, audio description and subtitling for people with visual and audio impairments

 

 

That is 1 side of “why go digital” and its benefits. But it seems far to holistic for me…could there be any other hidden benefits behind the switch?

In the age of technology and digital information, any story can be made up and backed up with images and words. A photograph, a video and any sound can be digitally manipulated to show something that is not really there.

 

3. The second side of the “why”

– 1 of the reasons behind the switch could be the ease of manipulation of live images. Meaning: they can show us a “terrorist act” taking place that really never took place and then use the images as proof of why we must retaliate and go to war with a particular nation.

The second reason is far fetched, and I personally don’t know if I do believe it, but it is a valid assumption worth exploring: “A Spying tool”

–       Undisclosed sources, experts on reverse technology have informed that any television set manufacture after 1995 has the capability not only to receive a broadcast signal, but to also send one. In other words, any television manufactured after 1995 already has a built in feature to send a broadcast signal from your living room of live images of what’s happening in your home.

Since they know that they won’t be able to spy and monitor people through an older television set model, their solution is ingenious. You simply won’t be able to watch any television programming until you either, buy a newer set which already comes equipped to monitor you, or until you buy their TV box converters in which will come equipped with the same technology implanted on the newer TV models that will facilitate their monitoring of you by watching you in your own home!

 

 

The explanations are quite scary, however asking “why” always comes with a risk!


Journalism: Information or Storytelling?

Some of the questions I will be tackling:

  1. Is journalism really purely a project of information?
  2. How is it possible for a Journalist to stand out when all of his competitors have the same information?

The market of journalism, which is a combination of news, images and stories has tremendously changed over the past 10 years. The change is driven by economical and financial reasons. The competition among various news agencies and journalists has sharpened, and the competition for the attention of potential audiences has also increased. The switch in the drivers from delivering reliable to delivering appealing news has become an increasingly important aspect of television production. Mats Ekstörm (2000) explored the three methods (information, storytelling and attraction) of TV Journalism. He illustrated journalism as a market of communication: a market of news, images and stories.

 So in Journalism and more precisely in TV Journalism the problem that arises is the need to stand out from the competition in order to attract and capture a larger number of audience. The main issue is that most of the time, all the journalists have the same information, they follow the same leads and have to communicate the exact same news to their audience…how is it possible for any of them to stand out?

Change in Journalism:

In the past, when journalism was perceived as a project of information it was also considered as an antipole to entertainment. However, now a days, journalism sometimes attains legitimacy in the eyes of its audiences by providing pleasure and diversion. Similarly to stories, every teller of stories needs a listener to complete his equation and give meaning to his words and narrations, journalists need an audience to capture the provided information.

To stand out there, Journalists are changing the modes of communication. There are several modes of communication such as information, storytelling, attraction and many more…Each mode of communication offers different communicative intentions, which each involve a different type of audience based on 3 different needs among viewers (Harm Larsen, 1990).

In the information mode of communication the journalist is an Informant, the audience is a Knowledge seeker and the third party is a Source.

In the storytelling mode, the journalist becomes a Storyteller, the audience becomes a Listener and the third party a Character.

In the attraction mode, the journalist is perceived as being an Arranger or Exhibitor, the audience as a Spectator and the third part as a Performer or Exhibit.

It is according to these tendencies and roles that news and current events journalism is developing today. A good example will be the coverage of the “Arab Spring”, or the war against terrorism.


The making of our Commercial…

 

In order to insert our task into a wider context, it is important to mention that in 2010, spending on advertising was estimated at more than $300 billion in the United States and $500 billion worldwide. For our task, we were asked to create and produce a video commercial for our products…The WID team proceeded as following:

The nature of our product set the mood of our commercial; WID products “Inspiration & Aspiration” required a poetic and inspirational mood.Words Images and Dates are the main themes behind our Product and we wanted to emphasize on these elements. The idea of having a “Photographer” taking the actual pictures of our product from 1 hand and reading in books to extract the quotes from the other hand, perfectly represented the concepts of Images and Words.Mixing between black and white from 1 side and color from the other side was a vital point to stay faithful to the image of our brand, because the WID product is in black and white and has pictures in black and white.

On a more practical level, we wanted to:

–       Show the process of the making of the product

–       Clearly show the product and how it can be used

–       Show the target market using it

 

The idea we came up with:

The Mix between the making of the WID product in a mysterious Studio in black and white and the actual use of the product by 3 target customers in the colorful outdoors. By showing the procedure of the making of the product, we could play on the emotions of our viewer and bring added value to the product. We could show that it was hand made & thought about. We can emphasize on the fact that the product is the outcome of a creative process and could give more authenticity to the product by showing the various stages it goes through. The next step was identifying key moments in our target market’s lives. the WID  product is all about sharing moments and emotions. So we decided to highlight key moments in 3 different kinds of relationships:

–       WID, the beginning of a new relationships

–       WID, enjoying existing relationships

–       WID, breaching the gap between relationships

 

The final step was connecting between the world of the artist that is making the product and the 3 different situations where WID is being used. We decided to have the person who is being photographed by the artist, to transform into color and jump out of the picture, reach out to the target market and hand them the product.By using this technique, we could show that the pictures taken are of real people, that these captured moments are alive and that sharing and communication are key parts of the concepts behind WID.

Link to our AD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC8mDDw8VSA