2017 Ford Super Duty Launch

As the Social Publisher for Ford Trucks at GTB (formerly Team Detroit) I worked on one of the most important vehicle launches in the Ford portfolio – the 2017 Ford Super Duty. The campaign followed in the footsteps of the 2015 F-150 launch where the world was introduced to high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy, and we were tasked by the client and strategy to show exactly why it was time for Super Duty to do the same.

PRELAUNCH

For the pre-launch campaign I worked closely with the creative and strategic teams to inform best practices for digital video on YouTube and Facebook. Our approach was to take the testing that Ford performs on all it’s trucks and bring real Super Duty customers behind-the-scenes to vet just how much better the new truck would be. I worked with Internet Brands Forum teams to do out reach to forum users as well as our social community on Facebook and Twitter. We released a multi-part video series detailing all of the features of the new Super Duty along with the candid reactions of the customers who were never paid or compensated. Overall we saw a vastly improved awareness and consideration for the truck thanks to our efforts ahead of the launch.

LAUNCH

Click to read full case study

For the launch campaign in the fall of 2016, we were able  test with our partners at Facebook and launched a reach and frequency media buy that garnered such success that it was featured as a case study in the automotive vertical. You can read the full write up by clicking the image. In short, we created videos, carousels, canvas units, all based on different users target, interests and at scale. I worked directly with the creative team and wrote copy for the social posts while also continously monitoring conversations in the community through response management. After the 4 month campaign we saw an 18ppt lift in ad recall and a 7ppt lift in favorability, previously unmatched numbers for Ford on launch campaigns.

Detroit Connections Map

As part of my hunt for a job in Detroit I worked with my class on nonprofits at Michigan State University to create a map of Detroit connections I had and ones I wanted to make. Through personal connections, emails, social media, and introductions with my professors I was able to meet or interview 10 different individuals involved in different avenues of Detroit communications. I interviewed Richard Feldman with the Boggs Center and Adriel Thornton with Allied Media Projects during the 2012 Detroit Design Festival. I interviewed via email Joel Heeres, Deborah Schumack, and Catherine Jun. I personally knew Issac Miller, Sam Molnar, Ben Alfaro, and Carlos Garcia from previous work and friendships. I was introduced to Joshua Breitbart through my interview with Adriel Thornton and was able to speak with him while he worked in Washington D.C. on behalf of digital initiatives here in Detroit.

Detroit-Connections-Map

Detroit Thought Leader Map

Each interview and meeting created a new branch on my connection tree in the city. I knew I had leads with many different organizations but it took an assignment for me to design the map. Each placement is intentional as are the color ways. For example Carlos Garcia is a secondary connection I was able to make, reaching out to my former friend, who at the time was living Downtown.

I was able to use my newly developed skills in Photoshop and Illustrator to create this map based off of an old transit map. This project wonderfully put together my interests in music, nonprofits, Detroit, communications, and design.

 

 

TEDxDetroit

TEDxDetroit photo

So there was this gathering a couple weeks ago called TEDxDetroit and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I debated back and forth about blogging about the event but decided to write this after talking to enough people who wanted to hear about it, so here are my highlights and lowlights from TEDxDetroit 2013.

TEDxDetroit photo

Highlights: There were a number of great presentations and talks. These are just a taste of what I thought went extremely well, but please check the videos as they come out to hear some great talks that don’t get mentioned here.

Detroiters speaking on the real Detroit – The ceremony opened up with the video for Blair’s poem, “Detroit (While I Was Away)” and you can check it out here, RIP Blair you are missed. The next Detroiter who spoke some real honesty was Jackie Victor. Full disclosure I used to work for Jackie, but honestly she brought up the Grace Lee Boggs school, bringing eastsiders together with the members of the Detroit synagogue, and even calling out the organizers to have a more representative diversity of speakers for next year. Matthew Naimi from Recycle Here was awesome, and Amy Kaherl from Detroit Soup always does a great job. Lastly, the Inside Out Literary Project brought youth poets to the event and there were just too many awesome moments. The youth of Detroit have some serious courage to rip their poems in front of a few hundred folks and it was incredible.

Jason Hall from Detroit Bike City

Alternative transportation – There was two very exciting speakers that discussed how the Motor City is steadily becoming a Motor-less City. Jason Hall (pictured) from Slow Roll and Detroit Bike City gave a wonderful talk on how Slow Roll has grown from the community and how going after something you like to do can actually work if you make genuine connections. A touching moment was when Jason dedicated his talk to Hal Williams, who passed away the week prior due to injuries from a hit-and-run with a car while biking. Along with Jason, Norman Witte from Crain Communications spoke on what it is like to be a bike commuter in Detroit. He brought up very good points about making your workplace accommodating to bicycle commuters as well as how to ride through the winter. Both speakers made me really proud to be a bicyclist in the city.

Cobo Hall – Nearly half completed the $300 million renovation of Cobo Hall looks gorgeous. The updated 3-story atrium with the view of the river is breathtaking and where we took the above TEDx photo. The ballroom was sectioned off for our event and still felt open and exciting while simultaneously intimate enough for speakers and attendees. Definitely will make for a great space when the renovation is finished in 2015.

Lowlights: I’m not going to address the issue of access, diversity, or inclusion here; it has already been addressed by better people to discuss these things, this blog from Naomi Scheinerman does a good job in talking about some of the issues.  I’ll just talk about my personal lowlights.

Charlie LeDuff with the unneeded security detail

Charlie LeDuff – Ridiculous, foul-mouthed, strung-out, might be just three words you could use to describe LeDuff’s talk. He was clearly not prepared to give the talk, walked out with a fake security detail, and berated people about the idiocracies of government. I did agree with a few things he said but the man was totally inappropriate for the mixed age group and offered little substance to the conference. If you are unfamiliar with his particular ‘brand’ of journalism, this video is a good preview.

Les Gold – My biggest issue with the entire conference was Gold speaking as the keynote closer. It felt like a warped motivational speech that guys in their mid-life crisis would listen to in a Motel 6, nothing like a TED talk or even something to be memorable. Just an old guy yelling, “Do you want it ENOUGH?” and reminding everyone he makes money off of the media narrative of poor and broke Detroit on a trash reality show.

“Entrepreneurs” – This last one is a shout out to all the entrepreneurs who basically gave their investment pitches about their business to the crowd. There were a number of great businesses that I support personally, but as TED speakers they flopped. Extreme overuse of buzzwords and phrases like “saving Detroit,” “blank slate” and other tasteless terms the entrepreneurial community has decided to describe Detroit. I’d rather you talk to me about how you and your business is different, or how you engage the community you’re supposedly serving, and please stop thinking you’re fixing Detroit. I’m all for building businesses through hard work and the tribulations of small business are immense, so stop talking about it and do it – let the results speak for itself.

Okay so let’s recap – beautiful venue, wide range of speakers, solid showcase of Detroit businesses and people, and fairly well organized from registration to the after-party.

Overall – 4/5 with the recommendation to check it out for yourself and that I’ll most likely attend 2014.

(Photos Courtesy of TEDxDetroit)

New Chapter in Detroit

Skyline of Detroit City

So as far as good news goes, this goes right up there with catching a game-winning homerun – I’ve got a new job in Detroit as the web and digital media manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)! I will be working with their incredibly talented staff to manage their digital communications, social media, and eventually a website overhaul. I am truly honored that the staff at MOCAD want me to join their team and will be starting with them starting in September.

MOCAD exterior
MOCAD’s exterior: Barry McGee, Untitled, 2006. Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

I can’t say enough thanks to the people who helped me get to this point – a special shout out to Leto for the help with the interview, John Kinch and Hank Love for trusting me with this type of work at MEO for the past 6 months, and of course all my amazing professors, mentors, and friends through these past few years at Michigan State. My family has been incredible for me and have let me find my own path through this crazy world while assisting me and trusting me to make something of myself, and for that I cannot thank them enough. I am still taking on freelance work as well for those of you that might need some digital communications work or have someone you know that might benefit from some professional advice, please feel free to share my information.

Garden Court Apartments

In addition to the great news of a job I can now share I’ve found an amazing apartment in Detroit at the historic Garden Court Apartments. Built by the “architect of Detroit” Albert Kahn in 1915 the building is a nationally registered historic place, and was also the setting for the TV show Martin. With roof access and a view of the Detroit river along with access to the riverwalk, this was the place for me from the beginning. I’m happy to say I’ll be living with my girlfriend as we both embark on these first post-college chapters.

I can’t explain how happy I am to be getting back to Detroit and for those thinking this bankruptcy deal is set to doom the city, I remind you of a great song by the famous Gil Scott-Heron updated with today’s scene in Detroit from the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. It’s now time to build and grow and I am beyond excited to start this new chapter of my life.

 

 

Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability Launch

MMPGS logo

MMPGS logo

Working for Michigan Energy Options through the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability, a HUD/DOE/EPA federally funded grant, we launched the portal site hosting the information regarding the nine projects in the MMPGS. MEO runs the lead on two projects, one being an energy audit of buildings in the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue corridor, and the other to create an online portal to engage Mid-Michigan citizens. After competitive bids to build the site my supervisors chose Gravity Works Design and Development and we worked with them over the past 6 months to create the portal site. In combination with the web service MindMixer were we launched the community forum last year we are proud that on May 1st 2013 we launched the MMPGS site. Below are some of the finer points from the project along with photos from the respective pages.

Note the photos are a gallery and you may peruse through all of them, links to the respective pages are provided in the descriptions

MMPGS HomepageThe process working with Gravity Works, my supervisors, and the partners within the MMPGS critically taught me how to manage many opinions with the technologies and time available. I worked closely with the Gravity Works team through the information architecture phase by mapping the site and its purposes. I insisted upon creating a fully responsive site to allow for numerous access points for the Mid-Michigan residents and if you visit the site on any browser and any device you will see it properly works with some small adjustments to allow for load times and size of display.

I worked together with the graphic designer to create the official logo set and worked with the wire framing of the site with the lead designer to make sure Gravity Works understood the feel, flow, and depth of what we hoped to get from the site. Over three months time they built out the back-end and they utilize the DotNetNuke content management system. During that three month window I learned the behaviors and best practices for DNN, thankfully after my work with WordPress and Joomla the learning curve wasn’t too bad.

MMPGS-mapMy main work after the back-end was built before launch was to create and manage the appropriate content for every page on the site. I was tasked with finding and mapping all points on the Interactive Map. We created sorting features and I chose the logos, color schemes, and then hand imported geo-tagged locations with the pop-out information and the proper links to all the places mapped. We also included and events category that automatically fills in as the community calendar is filled.

MMPGS NewsAdditionally the site needed a catalog of content that users can explore when they visit the site. Namely I post related news articles on the News page and worked with Gravity Works to create categories for users to filter the news. Once the site went live I have focused on creating traffic to these news articles via our social media strategy utilizing Facebook and Twitter for the most part. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the growth of our social media and web traffic since we launched just over a month ago.

MMPGS Timeline

One of my favorite projects was creating the Timeline content for the interactive timeline. Using the Timeline JS open source scripting I was able to easily import new content and create interactive content for users to learn where the program came from and where we’re going. The timeline is another great example of how we wanted users to be able to interact with the site and also allowed us to be able to continuously import new content and create a more dynamic experience for the users once they’re into the site.

MMPGS Partners

Our Partners page was highly important to make sure we properly highlighted the MMPGS partner organizations, supporters, and of course recognize the work of the entire program. After working with Gravity Works to create custom responsive columns I was able to fit in all the logos that reworked the secondary level partners into equal sized logos, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission as the main fiduciary partner at the top, and then the supporters of the project along the bottom. It is always a tough call to create some sort of space for the partners to be highlighted and as you’ll notice on the homepage and in certain sidebars we have a great rotating image gallery showing each logo briefly so that users know who is involved with the project, even if they never visit the Partners specific page.

This project was so large in scale it really taught me how my studies prepared me for large scale projects. Setting out with a clear vision, working though wire frames, user experience testing throughout the process, and making creating all the original content has me appreciate full on launches so much more. With the State News redesign we were fortunate that the content was consistently being created and we just had to lay over the new design, with this project I can now say I’ve worked through a launch from start to finish and for that I am very grateful.

Challenge Detroit Finalist

Doyle Marsh

This past weekend was a whirlwind of excitement for the future for me. Professionally at Michigan Energy Options we had a great week and weekend, individually I had one of the most intense interviews days of my life with Challenge Detroit so let’s get into it.

To recap the professional pieces the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability website is now live! I worked with Gravity Works Design & Development in Old Town, Lansing on the content creation and front-end development of the site. Integrating into the site the interactive map, events calendar, and posting news articles are just a couple pieces I was tasked with completing before launch. There will be a more detailed professional piece in my portfolio shortcoming but I’d like to talk about the really exciting portion of the weekend.

Challenge Detroit Finalist

Doyle Marsh This weekend I had the extreme privilege to be a finalist for the Challenge Detroit program. After numerous efforts to get votes and a rigourous application process the 75 finalists gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Detroit for a 2-day interview and networking session. Thursday May 1st we had lunch and were introduced to the founder Doyle Marsh (pictured) before we embarked on a marathon of interview sessions. I had the privilege to interview with ePrize, United Way Southeastern Michigan, Macro Connect, and Marketplace Homes. All of the interviews went extremely well thanks to my efforts in bringing questions, notes, and my resume (printed on fancy paper) to each different company. I tried to make an impression for all my interviews so that I was memorable because each company met with 5-8 finalists and each finalist had 4-5 interviews. The nonprofit sector was represented very well with many people excitedly speaking about United Way and the 8 Mile Boulevard Association interviews.

After the stress and excitement of interviewing four times in 6 hours the finalists were treated to a wonderful dinner and presentation from Veronika Scott who has developed an incredible model for manufacturing winter jackets that double as sleeping bags for Detroit’s homeless community while also employing Detroit women as seamstresses to empower them to change their place from homeless shelter to home owner. You can check out more of her story here. After a much needed night of rest (and a quick drink at Anchor Bar) we had an early wake up call for an incredible bus tour of the city from D:Hive.

Heidelberg  House Fire Oddly enough for timing after the requisite trip to the River-walk and photo by the Renaissance Center we traveled to the Heidelberg Project. Over the night previous, somewhere between 3-4am the ‘knick-knack’ house suffered a major fire. We arrived as the firetrucks were pulling away from the scene and the back of the building was still smoldering. A very poignant quote our tour guide brought up was the Detroit flag emblem sayings, Speramus Meliora and Resurget Cineribus – “We hope for better things” and “It will rise from the ashes.”  Most people on the tour were immediately struck with sadness and I know I was brought near tears as I took the photo you see to the left.

But as every exciting period comes a hard-laden truth, the weekend was a place where young people built, learned, and participated in a mini-challenge with the current year 1 Challenge Detroit Fellows. I know I gave out more than 40 businesses cards to other finalists and of course my interview companies and immediately joined the networking group built for the finalists to stay in touch. It is exciting to see the amount of work and dedication that Millenials like myself share about Detroit and to finally be in a space where everyone wants to see Detroit thrive instead of nay-sayers or business elites looking for their prize I knew that with-out-a-doubt Detroit will be my home for the next decade and I cannot wait to begin my building and work there. I hope it is with Challenge Detroit, but I know that I will be there regardless of how the last round of decisions and hosting shake out.

I’m grateful for the opportunity and cannot thank my friends and family for supporting me through these past 2 months as I have worked to become one of the finalists for Challenge Detroit, and hopefully one of the fellows for 2013.

StateNews.com Website Redesign

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked for The State News web team, SN Works, for the past year.  From the earlier post on The Cavalier Daily redesign I have worked on two major site redesigns, the main and most impressive being this past summer when we redesigned The State News.  The site gets about 200,000 views a month and is one of the top rated collegiate websites and newspapers in the nation.  When we began the site was a well designed site from 2008 that had gotten a few updates and been fairly well maintained, but when you redesign a site of such stature, it has to be on a huge scale.  The main challenge was getting a responsive design that would work all the way from wide computer screens down to smart phone browsing windows.  I was made project manager at the beginning of the summer and between myself, Matt Bush, Rod Dennis, and our manager Mike Joseph we entirely rebuilt the site from the ground up using Bootstrap as our responsive framework.

We worked together as a team but the pieces that I worked specifically on were the navigation, footer, sidebar, and multimedia.  The “C” of the navigation, sidebar, and footer needed to be fully responsive and at the same time able to let the main content of the specific page take precedence over the pieces that are in the “C.”  This was a momentous task for me because it involved working with Twig PHP languages as well as the Bootstrap responsive pieces.  I feel very proud though every time I visit the site and know that the first things people see and how they navigate through the site depended on the consistent pieces I created.  Secondly, and as you can see in the gallery below, the multimedia page took a full revamp.  We went with a darkened background to enhance the media that State News is known for and made it easier to navigate through more pieces.  Lastly, on the homepage we utilized another open source program, Isotope, which allowed us to make a very dynamic photo area that was still responsive.  Between myself and Mike Joseph coding away we were able to make a very cool piece that our editor in chief gushes about at trade shows right on the homepage.  This was by  far the largest and most impressive web design project I’ve undertaken and has had such a rewarding feeling once it was all finished that I will continuously work on web design from here on out.

I’ve included below a full gallery of the process from beginning to end, how the site used to look followed by the wireframes and design documents and finally the finished product which is still live.

TSN-Homepage

TSN-SportsFrontTSN-ArticleDetailHome Page Final Wireframe Multimedia Browse WireframeThe State News :: MultimediaMultimedia Page Redesign


Article Browse Wire Fram

The State News Homepage

 

Michigan Energy Options Newsletter

During my internship for Michigan Energy Options the communications team was tasked in creating the quarterly newsletter.  The organization had previously sent out one other E-Newsletter and had created an account with MailChimp.  Being unfamiliar with the program I immersed myself in the forums and learned just how tough it can be to work with newsletter clients.  In the previous newsletter they had had issues with delivery and content.  That is to say they had written articles and delivered it exculsively in email format and for my opinion I do not read full articles in my email, let alone 5-6 articles.

Therefore I came up with a plan proposal for Executive Director John Kinch and the rest of the communications team to reinvent how we send the newsletter.  I offered up to create a new template in MailChimp which would give snippets of information and then link over to a PDF full text document.  Initially it was rejected but after convincing them that users don’t read past the first two articles with some impromptu user testing I was allowed to continue.  With that I did just what the plan prescribed.  I took the content we had after it was finally edited down and built out a full PDF with relevant images, formatting, and newsletter look and feel in adobe Acrobat.  I then took those articles and edited them down for the email version that would be sent out to people on our list serve. You can click the image for a full sized version.  I redesigned how layout of the article by putting the “call-to-action” buttons along the top of content and then used images and a slightly altered color scheme to have a “Read More” button that would then direct users to that article’s page in the PDF hosted on the Michigan Energy Options site.

View Full PDF 

 

 

 

Michigan Energy Options Communications Management

During the fall of 2012 I was brought on as an intern for the non-profit Michigan Energy Options (MEO).  The primary goal was to work in communications and development for the organization as a whole and for the new project, Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability.  These two projects have been the focus of my internship course as well during my last semester at Michigan State.  I joined the communications team of Tim Nester, Becky Jo Farrington and Katey Joe Desantis at the beginning of September.  Since that point I have worked with the social media (links below) and helped to manage the official site. (Linked above.)  MEO uses the Joomla content management system which has been extremely helpful to learn since many non-profits work with that CMS.  Additionally we have created a comprehensive media plan and social media strategy for the organization which has slowly been rolled out at the end of this year.

Official Facebook

@MiEnergyOptions

As a social media coordinator I have helped facilitate an fairly impressive amount of growth over the past four months. We have consistently posted related articles and news to energy, sustainability, Michigan current topics, and of course our own original content.

This internship and working for the communications team has taught me that you have to be on your toes at all times and ready to work.  That means meetings, web site updates, quick take-downs of spam posts, and  to have consistent messaging.  It has been a very rewarding internship and I will transition into a full-time employee after graduation with MEO.

 

 

Writers’ Bloc Social Media Management

The student board for Professional Writing is known as Writers’ Bloc and as any student group needs a fairly involved social media manager to convey messages to fellow students, organize media, and continuously post.  I was elected into the student board during the 2011-2012 school year as a representative for the Digital and Technical field with the Professional Writing program.  Following a good year learning the structure of the Board I was promoted to social media coordinator for the 2012 school year.  Since taking over the Facebook page I have been able to greatly improve the audience and reach of Writers’ Bloc through the metrics provided by Facebook. (See Below)

Along with Facebook I also have managed the Twitter account which unlike Facebook doesn’t have consistent metrics.  Managing both has taught me that there are numerous messages and voices even from the same organization.  Twitter constrains the abilities of people’s posts on purpose to force users to be as terse as possible while Facebook allows for great deal of information with links and events.  This has been a valuable learning experience since I have learned how to utilize HootSuite an online service meant for managing multiple social media accounts.  Also valuable has been learning how posts and regularity are key to growing audience, even if it isn’t necessarily original content. Reposts and Retweets for other organizations can result in very strong links with those organizations that will become your megaphone when you post your own content.  I will continue to grow this skill and plan on being a social media coordinator for whichever company I work for in the immediate future.