June 2014 - CRAFT Media Digital - PR News 2017 Digital Agency of the year

Can You Hear Me Now?

Vanity = lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness.

Vanity Metrics = See above.

Unfortunately, Vanity Metrics—Likes, Opens, and Follows—are exactly what associations, campaigns and companies use to determine success with regard to social and email campaigns.

Make no mistake, building these communities is incredibly important, but that is only the beginning of the process. You must make sure you are reaching these audiences and they are engaging with your content. This is becoming increasingly difficult as recent changes to Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail have the potential to marginalize a Like, Follow, or Open, at least with regard to messaging and direct response campaigns.

The changing landscape began with Facebook adjusting their algorithm that reduced organic reach from 15% to 1% or less. Now simply producing and sharing content does not ensure you will reach even a minimal amount of your supporters.

Next, Gmail announced it would cache images—including pixels used to track opens—making it harder to accurately track the total amount of opens for each of your emails. Even before this change, the value of an opened email was already artificially inflated. Emails are a delivery platform, not a destination. Opening an email is valuable, only if the user is then compelled to click-through to your site to learn more and take a specific action.

Finally, Twitter announced the addition of a “mute” button to its platform. Now users can elect to follow a brand/campaign, but can mute their tweets, which means the brand/campaign has a new follower, but one who does not receive any tweets and therefore unable to help spread your message.

These changes reinforce the need for email and social media managers to shift their focus to stats that measure actual engagement such as shares, email click-throughs, and retweets when determining the success of campaigns.

CRAFT always has put a premium on engagement, and we’ve refocused our clients’ efforts on shares, retweets and email click-throughs in anticipation of these changes by Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail.  We work with clients to target qualified audiences with digital advertising to build online communities, with success determined by engaging these communities.

Our clients are building large online communities with engaged audiences where message drives actions such as purchase, donation, retweet, or share.

Focus your efforts on driving up engagement rates and you will know for sure if your communities can hear you.



O-F-F-E-N-S-E   offense for our victory

As mentioned, defense wins games, and breakdowns are heart breaking [cough.. cough.. USA vs. Portugal]. Attacking, making plays, and controlling the tempo are all products of offense in soccer. You can see these same offensive tactics and maneuvers in the execution stage of CRAFT campaigns.

Once we have the strategy, the marketing plan, and established goals and objectives, our team hits the ground running on execution and fulfillment. During this stage in the game our teams are inspired, working together, passing ideas back-and-forth, and finally after careful precision and management the campaign goes live……..AND THE CLIENT GOES WILD!!!!!!!!!


The Perfect Pitch


Soccer — Futbol — The Beautiful Game.

World Cup 2014 has kicked off and believers, brands, and band-wagoners are getting in on the action.

Much of what it takes to be the best of the best on the pitch also goes on in agencies with creative teams as they put themselves through the same wringer.

Practice –> Every day thinking through the strategy, execution, and campaign creative. Eat, sleep, breathing the concept.
Conditioning –> Researching, going to conferences, participating in Hack-a-thons, etc. The creative industry is a constant meet-up, always ideating, always creating.
Scrimmage –> Team unity and fine tuning to understand what’s working, and what part of the campaign needs optimizing.
Game Day –> Pitching the perfect campaign to your client, winning that coveted business, or exceeding expectations on ROI. IT’S ALL ABOUT DELIVERING.

Just like the final 23 roster, agencies rely on specific team members to deliver on unique responsibilities. When it comes down to performance, soccer players aren’t that different from agency professionals:

They say defense wins games, and when you think about it, it truly wins campaigns too.

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G.O.P.: Getting Out Paced?

Recently, I had the honor to deliver the keynote at the first Tech Roanoke Conference.*

Winning politics in the digital space is a matter of hot debate. Some say the Left dominates while the GOP is playing catch up. But we’re not playing anymore. While there is always more to learn, the fact is that the tools, tactics, and technology of modern digital politics have leveled the playing field.

To prove this I presented a case study of a candidate who had one of the most effective digital campaigns in politics. When people make this evaluation, they usually focus on one particular candidate and one particular story, don’t they? Let’s take a look, see if you can guess who I’m talking about…

This candidate started out as a little known force in politics, focused on leading at the community level. This candidate represented a new look and a new direction for their party. Once the campaign got going though, this candidate became a household name, raising $5 for every $1 spent on their digital campaign and raking in boatloads of cash on money bombs and other digital campaigns, but really rising to prominence with a speaking opportunity at the national convention.

I think you all know who I’m talking about, and that candidate is…

…not Barack Obama.

This is actually the story of Mia Love, who became a darling of the Republican party and a national star, raised over $1 Million online from every state in the union, and actually won on election night. The final tally put her behind by several hundred votes, but Love will likely coast to election this cycle based in large part on the success of her last campaign.


My message then to the Roanoke Conference was this: you don’t have to be Barack Obama to be successful online, Democrats don’t own the Internet, and frankly I’m tired of people trying to convince all of us that we’re behind and constantly playing catch up.

This is just one example of a CRAFT campaign that leveraged readily available tactics, tools and technology to wage an effective digital campaign. Catching up should not be our focus. Our focus should be moving messages that appeal to emotion and resonate with voters. Our focus should be cultivating a culture of designers, coders, and communicators that understand and embrace digital channels. Our focus should be seamless integration that brings digital, media, and traditional channels together to multiply the effects of each.

Understanding and using technology levels the playing field. Big campaigns can come from small budgets. Stop worrying about who has done it better. Go out there and do it better.


*Tech Roanoke is a newly formed organization that brings together individuals passionate about politics and technology. In a partnership with the Roanoke Conference the organization launched its first training and networking event where attendees can learn about and share their insights on the next wave of political and technological change.

So you want to be the next Spielberg?

Since the inception of YouTube and the camera phone the ability to call oneself a filmmaker has been as easy as pressing a button. Setting yourself apart from other amateur auteurs has become paramount, and the recipe for success is minding the fundamentals.

The following list outlines the fundamental steps necessary to get the most out of your video project:


As with most multi-step projects, the most important part of completing a project is in the preparation. It is important to shoot in the order you are going to edit, but details such as time of day and weather can have a major affect on a shoot.

In cooking, the French word for this type of preparation is called Mise en place or “putting into place”. By preparing everything beforehand, it is much easier to overcome any hurdles that might come your way, or avoid them entirely.

Begin with a brainstorming session to determine what the message of the video is. It helps to do this with a team, if applicable, since you may not think of every little detail and sometimes hearing an idea out loud can change your perspective. Begin writing a script that will not only assist you in the actual shoot, but it will give the editor the framework for how it is to be pieced together. If necessary, create a storyboard to help you develop a timeline for how the piece is going to fit together and what shots will be needed to make it complete.

Do you want to see the effects of proper planning? The video below is the perfect example of how planning ahead relieves future problems. Because we did our research, we knew that the day of this shoot was going to be in the low teens temperature-wise. Had we not planned ahead for this, there was a real chance our equipment would have failed due to the cold and our talent could have gone the way of the wooly mammoth.


Once you’re prepared, it’s time to go out and film. There are a million tips that one could give depending on the situation, but there are some that remain consistent throughout any shoot.

Use a tripod whenever possible

Unless you are a world-renowned surgeon, there is a good chance your hand is not as steady as you think. A camera can pick up the slightest movement, so it is important for the benefit of the editor and final product that each shot is still, so that none goes to waste.

Less may be more, but not in production

Just because you think you might have gotten the shot you need does not mean it’s time to start packing away the gear. By getting at least 3 or 4 takes of the same shot, you allow your editor the ease of finding the perfect mixture that will allow for a greater final product.

Once you pack up and call it a day it makes it harder, not to mention more costly, to have to go back and re-film.


Now that you have all your shots (along with second and third takes of those shots) it is time to edit.

Organization is priority number one

Depending on the length of the video you are producing; there is a chance you may have hours of footage or a large number of different shots. Before you even begin thinking about how you are going to piece it all together, you need to organize everything.

By creating a system of organization, it will be easy to find any clip at any given moment, be it an hour or three months after the project has been completed. This is very important when working within a team, as the editor may not always be around to assist whoever needs to find a certain shot.

It might be a visual medium, but the audio makes or breaks your piece

Especially with projects that need background music to help add an emotional flare, it is just as important to make sure the audio is balanced. The point is not to deafen your audience, but you definitely do not want to overshadow the action/discussion in your project. Using instrumentals is the easiest way to avoid having the lyrics or vocals clash with whoever is speaking on-camera.


Knowing your audience should be your first priority. This will point you in the direction of how you are going to create your piece. But now that there is a completed project, it is time to decide how you are going to get this out to them.

Whether it be Youtube, Vimeo, or any number of social platforms, make sure you can get the most out of your video project, as it would be a shame for all your time and effort to be for naught. Correctly titling and tagging your video can increase the chances of your project coming up in a variety of searches.

There are also a number of paid options that, if you have the money in your budget, will assist in promoting your piece to the audience you want.

With these helpful tips, you are more than on your way to winning that Academy Award.

Before They Were CRAFTers…


“Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Caesar

At CRAFT, the diversity of our team members’ experiences contributes to how we approach our work… every day.

On the political battlefront, it’s easy to forget where you came from. So we asked our team to remind us, or in many cases, to tell us for the first time:

What was your first job, or a job you’ve had that you wouldn’t find on your resume, and what was one thing you took away from that experience?

So see for yourself. We think you’ll raise an eyebrow or two.

Brian Donahue, Partner

  • Job: Valet Car Attendant
  • Takeaway: Hustle. The more you hustled the more tips you got. Hustling says a lot about how you approach your career.

Matthew Dybwad, Partner

  • Job: Summer Camp Garbage Man
  • Takeaway: Do your job on time every time and then enjoy the time you have left, free from worry about what you still have left to do.

John Randall, Director of Digital

  • Job: Prison Guard
  • Takeaway: Keep control of difficult situations and maintain a steady outward facing persona.

Lana Tsimberg, Director of Human Resources

  • Job: Babies R’ Us
  • Takeaway: When you need a job, you can’t be picky. The opportunities in front of you are meant to be taken.

Alex Finland, Director of Media Booking

  • Job: Window Manufacturer
  • Takeaway: Driving my boss (who was also my grandfather) home from the office provided me with many useful real world insights.

Buck Cram, Director of Political Accounts

  • Job: Landscape Architect (a.k.a. “Hole Digger”)
  • Takeaway: Never underestimate the misery of northern Virginia summers.

Chelsie Paulson, Director of Social Media

  • Job: Babysitter
  • Takeaway: Have patience with all things, but first, with yourself.

Lee Doren, Director of Research and Outreach

  • Job: Restaurant Waiter
  • Takeaway: Keep cool under pressure and hit deadlines.

Joe Greeley, Director of Production

  • Job: Lifeguard
  • Takeaway: Treat all customers, clients, or guests with respect.

Evan Gassman, Manager of Business Development

  • Job: Game Associate at GameStop
  • Takeaway: Build relationships with your customers to understand their tastes and preferences, and encourage them to keep coming back.

Sinead Casey, Administrative Coordinator

  • Job: Little League Umpire
  • Takeaway: Be fair, lead by example, and know the value of a hard day’s work… And don’t use your cell phone while umpiring a baseball game.

Travis Holler, Account Manager

  • Job: Coldstone Creamery “Ice Cream Maker”
  • Takeaway: Good customer service is the most important part of retaining clients and customers.

Cory Maran, Account Executive

  • Job: Pizza Delivery
  • Takeaway: Small order or big order, a client is still a client. Treat them all equally. And resist the temptation to eat the chicken off their pizza.

Joe Richards, Account Executive

  • Job: Lifeguard
  • Takeaway: Even when a workday seems light, you must be prepared for surprise situations and know how to handle them.

Sri Shankar, Digital Production Manager

  • Job: Bookkeeper
  • Takeaway: People skills are just as important as hard work. Also, doing jobs not in your ideal field can still help shape your career.

Danielle Theroux, Graphic Designer

  • Job: Selling caramel popcorn on the boardwalk
  • Takeaway: Peanut allergies are no joke.

Catie Weckenman, Social Media Manager

  • Job: Camp Counselor
  • Takeaway: Children remind you to take notice of the little things in life and be the first to see/kill the bug.

Chelsea Hurley, Account Executive

  • Job: Babysitter
  • Takeaway: Get CPR certified. Preparedness and understanding have a huge influence on how you work… And you can help in life-threatening situations.

Jess Matsumoto, Associate Creative Director

  • Job: Coldstone Creamery “Ice Cream Scooper and Cake Designer”
  • Takeaway: Camaraderie is important when working in high stress situations.

Matt Atkinson, Digital Advertising and Marketing Manager

  • Job: Carpenter/Painter
  • Takeaway: Helping to build a house provides an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Alice Ly, Front End Website Developer

  • Job: Dim Sum Cart Pusher
  • Takeaway: It’s important to manage stress in a fast-paced environment, when you have to provide great customer service in both English and Cantonese.

Jerry Stephens, Front End Website Developer

  • Job: Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HazWOpEr)
  • Takeaway: If the job doesn’t seem to meet legal guidelines, make sure you question it.

Bradley Heinz, Content Analyst

  • Job: Caddying
  • Takeaway: Early bird gets the worm, angry golfers are scary people, master small talk, and wear sunblock.

Louisa Tavlas, Communications and Content Manager

  • Job: PR Intern | Bank of Greece
  • Takeaway: It’s important to maintain focus and productivity amidst distractions and chaos.

Ashley Carter, Political Manager

  • Job: Pet Shop Sales Associate
  • Takeaway: Working in a small business teaches you the importance of hard work among the entire team, but also the importance of listening.

Evan Ross, Digital Data Analyst

  • Job: Camp Counselor
  • Takeaway: You have to be assertive, but not aggressive when dealing with others if you want positive results.

Bryan Levine, Production Fellow

  • Job: Lobstertrician, Clam Bar Manager
  • Takeaway: As a manager, keeping your employees happy ensures you can trust them to get the job done correctly, without having to constantly look over their shoulders.

Morgan Farenthold, Political Intern

  • Job: Camp Counselor
  • Takeaway: Hand-writing a note is a lost skill. Taking five minutes to say thank you leaves a small but everlasting impression.

Liberty Riggs, Design Intern

  • Job: Pottery Barn Kids
  • Takeaway: The importance of treating every customer like an individual: commission.

Tyler Klink, Intern

  • Job: Canvasser, MoveOn.org
  • Takeaway: You can literally pay your bills with “hope” and “change.”

Nicole Drummond, Booking Intern

  • Job: Hostess, Carrabba’s
  • Takeaway: Hungry people are always angry.

The Creativity Behind the CRAFT

Thirteen milliseconds. According to MIT, that is how long it takes the human brain to process visual content. This statistic is not lost on marketers who aim to immediately engage consumers. Suddenly overwhelmed with visuals, good design is what helps consumers sort through the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the rush to meet deadlines, creativity often takes a backseat. However, smart companies know creativity and good design cannot be compromised in the interest of time. In fact, adopting a design-centric marketing strategy can significantly improve a company’s bottom line. Research shows that companies who invest in design, like Apple and Coca-Cola, have a clear advantage. After all, promotion and brand recognition are built on images. Overall, when companies emphasize creativity to create visual content they can control how consumers perceive the brand and increase engagement.

In a tightly controlled industry like politics, embracing creativity is what makes CRAFT’s campaigns unique. We believe in the power of storytelling and images to stun, persuade and capture the audience’s imagination. This is why CRAFT harnesses the power of creativity to deliver messages and inspire action. In politics, this translates to votes and engagement. Similarly, in public affairs this means controlling the message to build reputation, recognition, and manage crises. Take this creative-centric strategy with our integrated channels approach to media and you have a well-CRAFTed campaign.

CRAFT’s Media Portfolio

CRAFT’s Digital Portfolio