More to Come

Be Our Valentine!

hearWhile Valentine’s Day is still a week away, this blog post is a love letter. It’s not just to one person though; it’s actually to several. And they’re not all in one place either. They’re all over the U.S. and the world.

My love letter is to my partners and friends in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. Business today is more competitive than ever before and in this age of specialization, it’s no longer good business to be a generalist. That’s why having a network of outstanding public relations and marketing communication specialists to call on makes so much sense.

Within Worldcom, we can pull on firms with deep category and industry experience, geography knowledge and relationships and specific skill sets and talents. Worldcom has become a valuable resource for me and my True team members. We work with our Worldcom partners every week as we help our clients in North America and around the world.

So why am I writing a love letter to our Worldcom partners? True Digital Communications turned five years old on February 1. We have come a long way. This is a milestone and is very important to me. We wouldn’t have reached this point if we didn’t have such a great team and clients. I also owe a good deal of support to the other agency principals and management teams at our Worldcom partners who provide me with so much support and assistance as I’ve put together my team and processes at True.

So my Valentine’s wishes go to my Worldcom friends. They have been an important part of our growth and I know we’ll continue to work together into the future. I encourage you to learn more about their firms, or give us a call and we can tell you more about them and why they could be a great asset for your public relations and marketing communications needs.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Stefan, Will and Noemi at the Pollack PR & Marketing Group in Los Angeles; Jill, Craig, Pamela, Johnathon, Grant and the team at Public Communications Inc. in Chicago; Jon at McGrath Power in San Jose; Bill at Nuffer Smith Tucker in San Diego; Melissa at Standing Partnership in St. Louis; Dawn and Sharon at Linhart PR in Denver; John and Chris at Deveney in New Orleans; Amy and Greg at Corporateink in Boston; Hal at Cerrell in Los Angeles; Stephanie and Helen at Phillips Group in Brisbane, Australia; Elizabeth at Bliss Integrated Communications in New York; Scott, Gary and Dave at Dix & Eaton in Cleveland; Scott and Sean at Dick Jones Communications in Pittsburgh; Lisa at Simon PR in Philadelphia; Tim at MorganMyers in Milwaukee; Patrik at PRAM Consulting in Prague, Czech Republic; and Todd and Terry at Worldcom’s HQ.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!


3 Simple Steps to Up Your Insta Game

Aquicon-InstagramOf all the social media channels, Instagram is hands down my favorite. I’ve used it personally since 2012 and it’s been my go-to app since. This is probably because photos make me really happy- but it’s also a great marketing tool that our clients are starting to add into the mix. Below are three of my Instagram 101 tips to start your account off on the right foot.

1. Take great photos: This may sound like a no-brainer- but it’s crucial! Whether you’re using a professional camera or simply using your phone, picking a great backdrop that’s clean and visually appealing will go a long way. And if you don’t know what type of photos you should take, spend some time thinking about your audience on Instagram and what your brand should look like in photos. What would your audience want to see? Once you have that squared away, you can start taking photos that will resonate with your audience.

2. Use hashtags to your advantage: Hashtags will be your new best friend, but only if you use them appropriately. One thing I’m telling you to NOT do is randomly hashtag words that will provide you with little return. #Some #words #should #never #be #hashtags. Get my drift? Instead, do your research like you would for any other client account. While you’re searching for the most-used hashtags, make sure you check the related hashtags as well. You never know what hashtags you aren’t thinking of!

Tip: For the hashtags you use on a regular basis, make a note in you phone and simply copy and paste them into the first comment under your photo. Not only will the note trick save you time, but putting the list of hashtags in the first comment will make your feed look more clean and will be hidden after you receive several comments!

3. Be social!: Like any social network, don’t just post your own content– engage with others! I try to comment on at least 5-10 photos a day. This will help you build your following and allows you to connect with other accounts that are similar to yours. Also, take the time to respond if one of your followers comments on your photo.

With these three tips, you’ll be an Instagram expert in no time!

Social Media Tips in Time for the Holidays

With the holiday season well underway, social media becomes the vehicle for displaying holiday spirit. In a perfect world, there would be enough social content to avoid cross posting on social networks, however, more often than not my content cache leaves a lot to be desired. Posting the same image across social networks doesn’t always have to result in criticism and unfollows, if you tailor your post to the platform accordingly.

Like many dog moms during the holidays, I took Guinness to get his picture taken with Santa and wanted to share the experience with my friends and family online. Even though engagement metrics only serve as bragging rights on most personal social accounts, I still wanted to practice what I preach as a digital marketer, while posting the same image to three different mediums. To maximize your online efforts, it’s important to adapt your post to the medium. While similar in some respects, each social medium utilizes different features that enhance the platform appropriately.

The biggest criticism of cross posting between networks is the lazy impression it gives to your audience. It’s important to tailor your message to the appropriate channel to not only demonstrate you’re making the effort, but also to prevent using inappropriate jargon on the wrong medium. You wouldn’t tweet a full-length PR story 140 characters at a time or use “favorite” and “retweet” jargon on Facebook, so do not share your content to inapplicable mediums. Instead, speak to the network’s inherent purpose and adapt your content to the proper medium.

So how do you adapt one image to three social platforms?


Facebook: At first Guinness was clearly a little apprehensive about meeting a big, bearded man in a red suit (can’t image why), but he eventually warmed up to the holiday spirit. Merry Christmas, family and friends!

Twitter: Meeting Santa for the first time: the genuine photo vs. the Christmas card. #HappyHolidays #Christmas2015

Instagram: #MRW meeting a complete stranger in a big, red suit…until that stranger bribes me with dog treats and squeaky toys. #Christmas2015 #DogsofInstagram

As you can see, the same message was executed three different ways, based on the platform the image was posted to. Posting your image on different social channels increases the reach of your post and adapting the execution of the image to the channel, increases the likelihood of better post engagement. As much as I love my dog, I’m aware that no one wants to see the same image of Guinness with the same post copy three different times. Switch it up and get creative!

Happy holiday posting everyone!

True –ly Thankful

The older I get the more I appreciate and realize how much I love Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season that follows. It’s not about the physical gifts we give and receive on Christmas and Hanukkah. It’s about the gifts that people give of themselves, their skills, their time and their experience every day.

Personally, giving is very important to me. A kind word, a helping hand and yes, financial support can make all of the difference. It is also part of our culture at True Digital Communications. It’s how we work together and with our clients. It’s also why one of our core areas of expertise is working with not-for-profits. We help them embrace and understand digital communications so they can be successful in supporting their missions. We celebrate in their success too.

I have so much to be thankful for when I look at our team and the success we have enjoyed over the past 12 months and the previous five years. I firmly believe success doesn’t happen by accident and that you often create your own luck. I am very thankful to be surrounded by a team of talented, like-minded individuals who make me a better person and leader every day. I couldn’t do it without them.

Rarely are you lucky enough to work with a great team. It is even rarer to work with a partnership of people found all over the world. I am very thankful for our bigger team of partners in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. This partnership of 143 independent agencies, in 115 cities with more than 2,000 communications professionals working around the world is a big part of our success today and tomorrow. Through Worldcom, we help our clients and support them with services and intelligence we wouldn’t have otherwise. In return, we get to work with topnotch individuals who love what they do as much as we do. I don’t know of another business organization where everyone is so willing to pitch in and help one another or as appreciative for the help we give each other.

My goal for today and to every one who reads my thoughts is to make every day Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for the friends and family in your life. It’s these relationships that truly define who you are and if you’re truly lucky, they will be just as thankful for you and you are for them.




The Season of Giving

Lifebanc_8k8days_FINAL29November is here and so is the season of giving! And with so many wonderful organizations to choose from,  it’s hard to pick where your charitable dollars should go.

This year, the True team has had the pleasure to help one of our clients, Lifebanc, with their year-end campaign. Lifebanc is located right in Northeast Ohio, only several minutes from our office to be exact, and is the non-profit responsible for raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation. We feel so grateful to work with a client where we get to help make a difference in the community we live and work!

Last year alone, Lifebanc saved and healed more than 9,372 lives and provided grief support services to 1,374 families in NEO who experienced the loss of a loved one.  Lifebanc also facilitates approximately 589 correspondences between donor families and recipients each year, which offers many amazing stories! Not to mention that Lifebanc staff and volunteers educate nearly 100,000 students and adults each year to help them make an informed decision when asked if they would like to be an organ donor.

Right now, we are halfway through the $8K in 8 Days campaign we created for Lifebanc. With multiple videos and branded graphics to compliment our social posts, we are hoping to receive $8,000 to help Lifebanc continue to serve the community in the best way possible.

So, no matter which organization you decide to donate your money to this year, know that you too can make a difference with even the smallest amount!

Click here to find out more about Lifebanc and the $8K in 8 Days campaign!

Google Adwords Features Make Ads A Bit More Personal

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The search and display advertising landscape is evolving. Simply connecting users to ads with keywords is a start. But as you learn more about your audience, the search landscape becomes more valuable. Google knows this too. Beyond the Swiss-army knife of tools already available in Adwords, there are a few new features to better connect segments of your audience to your message.

Customer Match

Your current customers and leads are often your most valuable assets as a marketer. Google’s customer match is devoted to helping you leverage those groups.

Advertisers can now display ads to Gmail users viewing sites within the Google Display Network (GDN). Facebook’s similar Custom Audience feature has been around for a while now, but Google’s new version comes with a few advantages and limitations compared to the social giant’s offering:


  • You need a big list. Google won’t display ads until you have 100 Gmail users. Even then, once you start applying other targeting (demographics, placements, interests – see benefit below) and factor in click-through rate, your audience can shrink quickly.
  • Google Display Network is big, but it’s not everything. Google claims it covers 90 percent of Internet users, but that doesn’t mean every site they use. So if you want to display on a specific domain, do your homework first.


  • You can reach 90 percent of Internet users! Maybe Facebook isn’t the best way to reach your audience. Maybe you can’t connect ads to a Facebook page to utilize the newsfeed. Customer Match ads won’t cover the whole Internet, but they extend beyond the confines of social media. Think trade media, medical industry, manufacturing. These subjects can be tough to address on social. GDN give much more flexibility in creating relevancy.
  • Similar to Facebook, you can combine your emails with a whole host of other targeting parameters. These parameters aren’t necessarily better than Facebook’s, just different. For example, on Facebook you know a user is interested in a topic, but on GDN you can combine that information with placement management that keeps your ads on highly relevant pages when you’re top of mind.

Remarketing for Search and Shopping

Remarketing for search has been around for a while, but remarketing for shopping users recently came out of Adwords beta test. These search-based tools are a silver-bullet if you understand your audience.

Marketing funnel insight

Users search multiple terms in multiple sessions over a long or short span of time. We’ve always known consistent visibility across the process is important, but we never had much ability to control it on an individual basis.

Full creative control

With search and shopping remarketing, we can apply the same marketing funnel rules from traditional remarketing. A user who added items to a cart should see different ads than a user who only viewed a features page. But there’s one additional layer of control that’s always escaped traditional remarketing: keyword control. With full insight into searcher intent, we call pull individuals through the marketing funnel in a couple new ways:

  • Review-based searches – Connect individuals with pages devoted to customer reviews when they want testimonials.
  • Comparative searches – When users are evaluating your solution against competitors, connect them to a side-by-side comparison. A lot of users will still look for a third-party opinion, but you can remain a part of the conversion.
  • Focus on margin – Specifically for shopping ads, we can now be picky about the users and products that use ad budget. Products with lower margins might receive less remarketing dollars so you can focus on areas with more potential.

You Know What I “Meme?”

You know those funny images your friends are sharing on Facebook and Instagram, that everybody is re-pinning on Pinterest, the ones circulating around Reddit and Tumblr and Imagur… What do you call those?

The common and most simple answer is probably a “meme.” But did you know that what you’re looking at is actually an image macro? Now, I’m not saying that it’s not also a meme, because an image macro can certainly be a meme, but “meme” refers to the concept, and not the physical photo with a catchy quote over it that you are seeing. A meme can actually be any medium. Text, audio, video, really anything that can spread virally across the Internet, therefore inserting itself into pop culture or even transcending across multimedia platforms like television or music. The criteria being that they are generally funny, and they must be viral, spreading from one user to the next and compelling people to put their own unique spin on it via parody, remix or complete recreation. Take this image for example: trueohoto

What you’re actually looking at is an image macro. However the concept of the “most interesting man in the world” speaking about what he doesn’t always do- and leaving it open for users to switch out with something they may find humorous or clever- that is a meme. The base image is familiar, but the caption can be customized to your liking.

The “Harlem Shake” is an example of a video meme. Everyone from the Victoria’s Secret supermodels, to the Miami Heat showed the world their version of dressing up in the wildest costumes available and dancing as outrageously as possible to the song. Work places everywhere were scheduling a piece of their day to making a video to show the world just how fun and goofy they could be. Thousands of these videos were being uploaded. And people were watching. And talking. And sharing with their friends. These videos went viral, and a meme was born.

So, the next time you’re trying to find a word to call the post your friend left on your timeline, or Googling the perfect image to leave in response to a friend’s post- remember that unless the concept is viral, it’s an image macro, not a meme.








Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Facebook’s New “Dislike” Button?

If a group of friends get together for drinks and laughs and never post a picture of themselves on Facebook, did it actually ever happen? In its relatively short existence Facebook has redefined social norms, privacy and even the term “friend.”

Facebook is at it again. Or at least Mark Zuckerberg is. He confirmed that Facebook is finally working on a “dislike” button. While marketers and brands are assessing the treasure trove of analytics and insights this will produce, as a society, I don’t believe we are ready for it. While Facebook is a wonderful channel for connecting with old and new friends, I’m not sure we’re ready for the responsibility a “dislike” button will bring.

When I was a young boy, I remember my father telling me not to ask others about religion, money, politics or even sex because, “That was too personal.” That advice has always stuck with me but what was once private and not discussed openly among friends is now common posts on Facebook and other social networks.

There used to be topics that were off limits for discussion, but not anymore.

And what started as a Facebook friend purge during election years because of hate speech and political rhetoric, now happens weekly for me. I no longer can keep quiet as friends draw their social and political battle lines.

So what happens now as Facebook introduces an actual button to “dislike” something? I pray they don’t actually call it that. By giving us a tool to publically tell someone we don’t like a comment, picture, news story or other post, are we prepared to talk about our differences in a civil manner? I doubt it.

Furthermore, at True Digital Communication we counsel brands and companies on how to engage and connect via social media. Add a “dislike” button and it will add another dimension to online customer service. I’m not sure most brands are ready for this.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

My Top 10 Takeaways from #CMWorld

image2 (1)After two fantastic days at Content Marketing World 2015, my brain is swirling with thoughts and new ideas. Both days of the main conference were filled with great topics, wonderful speakers and networking with marketers from all over the world. (53 countries to be exact!) Here are my top 10 takeaways from this conference!

1. Andrew Davis is the best presenter I’ve ever seen. I thought this at last year’s CMWorld when he was one of the keynote speakers, and the same goes for this year. I went to his session on Social Momentum, and I can say that this was my favorite session of the conference. Main takeaway: Stop making noise and instead build social momentum. Stop vomiting your content on every channel and instead distribute your content when your audience needs it, not where.

2. Jay Baer had the best one liner of the conference that really stuck with me: “Are you creating content, or are you making a difference?” I won’t elaborate more on this, because I believe this statement says it all.

3. Saying “no” is a powerful thing. Kristina Halvorson, one of the opening keynote speakers mentioned we always want to say “yes” but when we say yes to everything we do a lot of little things and overlook the big things and the talents of others. Main takeaway: You always have to start out with “Why?” Why are we doing this in the first place?

4. Does your content pass the “mom test”? Jay Baer’s keynote was awesome. His key point: Your mom will always tell you the truth, no matter if you want to hear it or not. So, would your content pass the mom test? Main takeaways: If your mom doesn’t like it, no one will. Content is having a transformative impact on the world- so don’t give up! You’re under a lot of pressure to me a “marketing machine”– but don’t forget we are lucky to do this. Creating content is an honor and an opportunity to help people and improve lives.

5. Ann Hadley’s breakout session on “Good Content vs. Good Enough Content- a fight for sore eyes” had great tips for creating bigger stories, bolder marketing and braver tone of voice. Main takeaway: 51 percent of B2B companies will spend more money on content marketing in 2016, but only 30 percent know if their content marketing is effective.

6. “Hug your Haters” session with Jay Baer: Customer feedback= a petri dish for content marketing. A place where ideas can flourish! Main takeaway: Embrace the complaints of your customers- if will make you a better marketer. Complaints and questions of your customers= your content marketing ideas!

7. Juntae Delane’s session “Smart Content: Using Big Data to Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy” had great points. My main takeaway: We create content first and then analyze the numbers. We need to flip it around and analyze the numbers first and create your content from there.

8. Orange snacks are everywhere! Main takeaway: Who knew there were so many orange snacks?

9. John Cleese was hilarious! I was in tears at some points from laughing so hard. Main takeaway: John can’t believe people live in Cleveland. (Hopefully his opinion changed after walking around!)

10. Our learning as marketers never stops. I think that was my favorite part about the conference; being surrounded by 3,500 like-minded professionals who face the same struggles and challenges. Main takeaway: If you can make it next year, I highly recommend going to this conference in 2016. Save the date- Content Marketing World will be back September 6-9!

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The CMW Food and Drink Guide to Cleveland

If you’re anything like me, the first step in planning a trip is deciding where to eat. So if you haven’t already developed your Content Marketing World eating agenda, you’re already behind schedule. But it’s ok. I’m here to help.

When Cleveland started to shake off its worn-out rest belt ruins image a few years ago, food was a big part of the transition. In fact, one of our best restaurant neighborhoods only happened because it was a place where chefs could get cheap rent in the early 2000s.

Our restaurant scene rivals any city out there and we have Iron Chef Michael Simon and recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer to prove it.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about some of True’s favorite spots. Let me start by saying, just because something isn’t on the list doesn’t mean we don’t like it. We can only cover so much, so these are just our favorites by proximity to the Convention Center. From near to far, wherever you are – whether you want 4-stars or a cozy bar:

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Downtown/Gateway/Civic Center District – 5 minutes walk south of convention center

This is the heart of downtown. This is where you will see people coming to/from Indians games, shopping, headed to concerts. Make sure you walk around a little bit. See the casino. Check out Tower City.

Nice dinner | East 4th

There are a several great restaurants on East 4th St. This short pedestrian street is as far as a lot of tourists dive into Cleveland’s food scene. All great spots, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’re eating here, my favorites are:

  • Chinato – Outstanding Italian – Far beyond meatballs and red sauce. See what I mean . Chef Zach Bruell is among the best in the city. Of his eight restaurants in Cleveland, this is definitely my favorite.
  • Butcher and the Brewer – Unique setting, great brewery, lots of meat. Think bone marrow apps, lamb ribs and dry-aged beef.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Barrio

Barrio started as a little taco shop a couple years ago. Now, they have three shops across the city with the recent addition of a downtown location. The big idea: tacos your way. You choose the meats, toppings and sauces on a tear-off ticket and turn it over to the waitress. The only possible mistake is a burst shell due to overstuffing. Recommendation: Opt for the stoner shell. It’s a hard shell fastened to a soft shell with chorizo and queso.

Dessert | Colossal Cupcakes

There are cupcakeries all over this city, but this one stands out. For two reasons: One, amazing cupcakes inventions like s’mores and strawberry french toast. Two, it’s in the 5th St. Arcades – a historic hotel/shopping center hybrid you have to see to believe.

Downtown/Flats – 5 minutes walk west of convention center

Full-disclosure. This is the part of town I eat the least often. There’s a lot of new stuff going in to this part of town right now. There’s also a certain amount of construction. More stuff is constantly opening up so I’m not fully up to date on what’s good here. Please… don’t hold it against me.

Nice Dinner | The Willeyville

This place has a really unique menu. Something for everyone – from a burger to ramen bowls with house-made noodles. They describe their food as “handcrafted” and they mean it. If it can be made in-house, it is.

Drinks | Portside Distillery

This place is becoming one of my favorite breweries in Cleveland. You can find a few of their beers throughout the city, but the pub-exclusives are top-notch. Not the type of place to rage until 2 a.m., but a great place for a quiet beer.

Ohio City – $5 Uber West

This is still Cleveland. I only state this because the question always comes up. Ohio City is a little walkable neighborhood just west of downtown with some of the best bars and nightlife in the city. If that’s not enough, there are three breweries less than a 5-minute stumble apart. But on the food side, there are a few standouts.

Nice dinner | Black Pig

Expertly prepared French-inspired food. I have never had a bad meal at the place. From daily pastas to short ribs to some of the most adventurous charcuterie in the city. As one of the better seasonal menus in the city, you can pretty much shut your eyes and point and end up with an amazing meal.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | ABC the Tavern

Don’t be alarmed by The Misfits playing on the jukebox. This is some of Cleveland’s best food served out of paper boats. Daily specials, lamb quesadillas and atomic dogs (split hotdog, stuffed with jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, finished with Sriracha aioli – enough said).

Drinks | Nano Brew

Originally it was a pretty small space, but “Nano” brew has taken over adjoining real estate. They still specialize in nano (smaller than micro) batches of beer. Beyond house beers, there’s a great selection of crafts. Also, the rooftop patio has an unbeatable view of downtown.

Dessert | Mitchell’s

The word’s “Mitchell’s” and “ice cream” are synonymous to a lot of Clevelanders. Great seasonal flavors. Plus, the Ohio City shop has a full view of their state-of-the-art kitchen so you can see where the magic happens.

Tremont | $5 Uber South

Remember that thing I mentioned about the food neighborhood with the cheap rent? This is it. It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Tremont. In its rise to Cleveland food stardom, the cheap rent thing is no longer true, but it is chalk full of great restaurants.

Nice dinner | Lolita

A lot of people would disapprove of leaving Iron Chef Micheal Simon’s Lola out of the Downtown East 4th section, but I’m a big fan of his original place in Tremont. Much more intimate and laid back. All great food, but he has the best prosciutto in the city and his fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd pleaser.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Edison’s Pub and Pizza

Cleveland is not a city known for its pizza. That said, this place makes the meanest, greasiest, tastiest slice of pizza in the city. Sometimes I go out to dinner in Tremont and end up at Edison’s having pizza and a beer for dessert. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Drinks | The Spotted Owl

I’m not a huge fan of craft cocktails, but this place does it right. It’s in the basement of an old university turned swanky apartments. We’re talking exposed brick, stained glass and a classic lounge feel. A craft cocktail is mandatory in a place like this. These guys go far beyond your standard sazerac and old fashioned for some truly unique cocktails.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above choices. And as always, if you have any questions, or need more recommendations of what to do during your time in Cleveland, tweet us @TrueDigitalCom and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!