Bar Crawling: Shifting Standards in Video Production

Seen any good videos lately? No, not Peaky Blinders, The Handmaid’s Tale or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – they’re good, but they’re TV shows. Rather, what have you seen on social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that’s caught your eye?

There’s plenty to see, for sure. According to the website

  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • 5 billion videos are viewed every single day.
  • YouTube has more than 30 million visitors per day.

And in September 2018, reported that Facebook video posts had increased by 94% within the past year.

Hobbyists post instructional videos on every conceivable topic. Businesses use video to reach customers with information and advertising. YouTubers have even made lucrative careers out of monetizing their content and are paid as “influencers” by cosmetic companies to automobile manufacturers to everything in between.

Some of this content looks pretty slick, too, and not just the videos made by Acura or Taylor Swift. Anybody with a camera smaller than a Twinkie can shoot amazing footage, load it onto their laptop and edit it together. You can even shoot with your phone, then edit on the phone and upload from the phone, and the technical quality can be very good. It’s a far cry from “back in the day,” when it took big crews with costly cameras to shoot, then hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment in a room like this just to edit a video:

This commoditization of video hardware and software means average people and companies (and less-savvy agency clients) can buy some gear and make some videos, and let’s face it, this can result in some downright mediocre content. But it gets posted anyway, because it didn’t cost very much and hey, it’s “good enough.”

Put out videos that fit your standards.

The bar has definitely moved. I blame “American’s Funniest Home Videos” (now in its 31st season, by the way), which brought VHS video to network television. People are now used to watching awful video, and while there’s definitely a place for it in the universe, that doesn’t mean it belongs in your company’s content stream.

Shameless plug: o2 has been producing video content for our clients since the days of “big iron” editing suites way back in 1994 (probably longer, but my database starts there), and we’re still at it today. While technical quality has gone through the roof, the cost has dropped significantly. And most importantly, the content is still king. That’s one bar we have definitely not moved.

Get the right people to produce your videos. Not every project is huge, but it doesn’t have to look small, either. Some things are worth putting resources into.

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A Conversation with Bill Todd, President of o2ideas

By the time you read this, there’s no telling where Bill Todd might be. He could be in another state leading a team on a workforce development project, or he might be down the street getting coffee with a recent grad looking to build a network. He could be at home with his family, and there’s a decent chance he’s in the conference room playing guitar through the PA system.

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Rookie Observations: Empathy at the Core of PR

When I was fresh out of college and on the job hunt, I had a few hurdles to jump before I could start a career. I wanted to go into communications, but I didn’t have any real-world experience outside of an internship writing stories for my college’s alumni newsletter.

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The Business of Social Media: Best Practices to Keep Brands Relevant

In the digital age, social media continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Today, it’s booming like never before, with more and more people joining social media sites and using them regularly and efficiently. To date, 3.2 billion people around the world use social media. Of these active users, 90.4% are Millennials, 77.5% are Gen Xers and 48.2% are Baby Boomers. The popularity of social media won’t be ending anytime soon, if ever, so businesses should take advantage of it if they want to thrive.

Leveraging social media channels is a great way for businesses to better connect with their customers and serve them at a higher level. According to GlobalWebIndex, 54% of social browsers are using social media to research products, and Ambassador says that 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if they have a positive experience with it on social media.

But not all industries are created equally when it comes to social media. The financial industry inspires less social engagement as a general rule. This may be one reason why only 34% of financial institutions consider themselves “very active” in social media channels. But for our banking client, BBVA, we see this as an opportunity to competitively embrace social media and use it as a means of connecting the brand to the daily lives of BBVA clients.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s ideal, even necessary, to have a system of best practices in place to maximize your social media efforts and campaigns. The goal is to be seen and trusted by your audience and to make genuine connections that endear your followers to your brand.

The following are some that we swear by …


Consistency is key when it comes to posting to social media. Build a structured calendar of posts that publish during the times you know that you’ll receive optimal engagement. Setting a regular, easy-to-follow cadence is how you rise above social media clutter.


With so much noise inundating the social media landscape, grabbing and keeping the attention of your audience is easier said than done. HubSpot found that visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Tweets with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.


Asking your audience questions is a great way to keep them engaged. Questions spark interest in your followers and invite them to share opinions, experiences and advice. It keeps them actively involved in the conversation, which is the beauty of social media.

  • Example: After sharing a post such as “5 Ways to Save Money for the Future,” consider asking, “How do you plan to save for your future?”


For the casual user, social media’s primary function is to provide bite-sized diversions from the more mundane moments in life. We understand the importance of businesses staying on brand and keeping a consistent tone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t entertain your audience at the same time. Quizzes and contests that are relevant to the products and services you offer are great interactive ways to connect with consumers on social media.


The worth of a social media post is determined in seconds. In a study by Columbia University, it found that 59% of all links shared on social networks aren’t clicked at all, which implies that many shared articles are never read. A compelling headline might be the difference to get users to interact with content.

  • Example: Instead of sharing “Homeownership Tips,” make “Rent or Buy: 5 Tips to Make This Decision Today” your headline. The latter’s “click-bait” tone creates urgency, giving the post more enticing appeal.


It takes two to engage. When you engage with your followers, they’ll likely engage with your brand. Fill your followers’ timelines with retweets, comments, likes and shares. Also, be sure to contribute to conversations related to your industry to present your brand as a bona fide thought leader.


Staying on top of trends is one of the most important things a business can do to be successful with social media. Adding to the conversation with content that informs or entertains will make your business seem relevant and in-the-know. The best part, you’ll be rewarded with increased audience engagement.

  • Example: Whole Foods noticed #FoodieBandNames was trending and immediately contributed to the conversation in a clever, brand-appropriate way that caught the attention of their social fans (they posted “The Rolling Scones”).




But engaging in real time isn’t always something that is born in the moment. Sometimes it takes careful planning and keen foresight. Read how we created a strategy in advance to help keep BBVA’s brand relevant during the 2017 NBA Playoffs.


The most powerful weapon in your digital marketing arsenal is the voice of your customer. People are much more likely to like, follow or buy a product if they see that their friends have good things to say about it. There are public social conversations going on 24/7 in every social channel. Harvest the good things people are saying about your brand and integrate them into your brand website or other owned media experiences.


Social media is well suited to show the human face of a brand. And it’s one of the best places that we can establish authenticity, transparency and trust with our audience and customers. Communication needs to come off as authentic and genuine, and not that of a corporate robot. Sounding like a real person who “gets it” is the best way to inspire interest and loyalty from your audience.


The best way to instill trust and respect in your audience is to be seen as an expert in your industry. Sharing valuable research and other relevant content from your industry category will do just that. Some things you might share:

  • Pertinent articles, best practice guides, as well as third-party materials your audience might find valuable.
  • Tips or creative ideas about how to use products and services.
  • Outside studies on industry trends.
  • Videos with key researchers, product designers and other subject matter experts.
  • Industry-related infographics.
  • Blogging.

There are myriad ways to be successful on social media, and every social media channel is unique, but by following and implementing these few simple practices, you can make your brand seen across them all. And before you know it, the likes, follows and shares will come rolling in.

Good luck, and happy communicating!

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Three Ways to Make Your Videos Pop in 2019

The other day I did something I’d never done before: I watched a pre-roll ad on YouTube in its entirety. I watched it voluntarily, without hovering the mouse in the bottom corner waiting for the “Skip Ad” option to appear. And I enjoyed all 96 seconds of it.

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Agency Highlights, Office Escapades and Reflections at the Halfway Point

After a long Independence Day weekend spent powering through the Alabama heat to celebrate with fireworks, cookouts and Season 3 of Stranger Things, it’s nice to be back in a climate-controlled office with an energized team. In the air conditioning.

The events of the weekend – the controlled chaos of Vulcan’s spectacular pyrotechnics, time spent with loved ones under the light of the blaze – come together as a perennial commencement ceremony for the second half of the year.

As we go full steam ahead into the rest of 2019, it’s also a good opportunity to look back at some of our favorite office highlights from the first half.

Mayor Woodfin Visits o2

Back in January, o2 had the honor of hosting Mayor Randall Woodfin and members of his administration for a cocktail hour at o2 HQ. The evening took shape as a mingling of ideas and opportunities. Mayor Woodfin shared his goals and plans for the year, and our own Bill Todd and Shelley Stewart spoke to the group of o2 family, friends and clients.

It was a special opportunity for Birmingham communicators to come together and share in the promise of a new year.




Alabama and Auburn Pro Days

Among the many perks of having awesome clients are the equally awesome events we get to take part in. In April, we sent teams to Auburn and Alabama for each university’s Pro Day. Since our client, BBVA, sponsored the event, o2 was right there on the sidelines to capture footage for social content and interview players like Quinnen Williams, the recent #3 overall draft pick for the New York Jets. (Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to capture a Quinnen Williams sneeze on camera.)

One highlight from Abby Zajac, account coordinator and noted Auburn fan: “While I was taking shots with the GoPro I looked to my right and Nick Saban was standing next to me, which was pretty cool. But I’m an Auburn fan, so War Eagle.”

Cheez-It Day

It started as an innocent discussion between two people about whether the “Extra Toasty” variety of Cheez-Its is better than the original (it is). The conversation turned into an office-wide debate, emotions flared and the general escalation of the matter resulted in a flavor sign-up sheet for the showdown. Together, we brought in one of every Cheez-It variety, and we settled the debate with a vote. Although we were hoping for a more dramatic ending than a tie between “Extra Toasty” and “Hot & Spicy,” everybody was a winner when we used leftover beers from Mayor Woodfin’s visit as palate cleansers.

o2University Roll-Out

Beginning in May, we launched o2University, an in-house, employee-led series of training sessions with only one goal in mind: growth. With all that we do to help our clients grow, we wanted to make the same kind of investment in our own people. The curriculum is ever-changing and based on our professional growth goals, and each session is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and collaborate in making them real. It’s the start of a new chapter in o2 history, which brings us to the next highlight…

Two Recent College Grads Join the o2 Family

Speaking of growth, o2 added two new rising stars to the team in the last six months. Abby Zajac, a 2018 graduate of Samford University, joined o2 in January and has long since proved her unmatched skills in account coordination. From organization to social media, Abby could write the book on keeping an office running smoothly while excelling in client services, account management and Netflix recommendations.

Aaron Kurz is a 2018 graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, and since joining us in May he has demonstrated some strong writing skills and some stronger opinions on Cheez-It flavors (Extra Toasty, always). He has been a key player in executing social media campaigns, and his background in English and rhetoric are manifested through his capacity for strategic storytelling.




Honda Live Build Factory Pop-Up

Seeing an SUV get built live on-stage is something you didn’t know you needed to see until you see it. We were lucky enough to see the action at the Honda Factory Pop-Up that our clients at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama hosted during the Honda Indy Grand Prix in April. The three-day event showcased the rewards of a career in manufacturing, and o2 was responsible for concepting, designing and producing the logo, signage, pre-recorded and live videos for the event.

Two New Dads of o2!

Nothing makes happy happen like a baby announcement. Except, of course, two October baby announcements! Our own Rob Hardison and his wife, Sara, as well as Cleve Smith and his wife, Brooke, will both be adding a new member to their families this October. We can’t wait to meet the little ones, and we’re already looking forward to the party.

Whether you’re revisiting goals you set at the beginning of the year or you just need to take a minute to reflect on the good things that have happened this year, there’s real value in taking a moment to appreciate the wins.

Take a look back to January (which feels way too long ago) and choose some of your greatest victories, both professional and personal. How did you achieve them? What can you do in the latter half of the year to improve upon them?

We’re just grateful to keep on doing what we love, which is helping people be better at doing what they love. Here’s to a great second half!


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o2 Initiation: A Story Worth Sharing

As a recent addition to the o2 team and a young man still in the early years of his career, I’m reminded each day that I have a lot to learn. It’s a fast-paced industry, and it’s both daunting and thrilling to realize that there’s no telling what might happen in a day at the agency; all I can do is my best impression of a sponge.

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3 Marketing Lessons from the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix

You might not think a Formula One auto race in the world’s richest country some 5,000 miles from America would have any practical lessons for marketing your business. But some interesting parallels can be drawn between cars barreling once a year through a timeless principality, and the race you are running to market your business or non-profit.

For starters, Monaco is generally regarded as Formula One’s most challenging circuit. It’s a little over two miles of hairpin curves with rising and falling elevations. Drivers of the world’s most magnificent racing machines have to rely on utter skill to navigate through narrow streets where it’s almost impossible to pass another driver.

There are all kinds of storylines coming out of 28-year-old Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo’s dramatic first-ever win at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. For me, at least three offer perspectives on long-term marketing success.

  1. To finish first, you must first finish. This was the advice given to winner Daniel Ricciardo before the race. His team was saying in effect “don’t focus too much on any single phase of the race. Focus instead on finishing. Keep that in the front of your mind.”

In marketing, there’s every temptation to make you divert your attention to enticing new tactics that really don’t pay off in the end. You can’t win if you don’t finish. Make your marketing investment, stick to your strategy and don’t panic when things go wrong. What will keep you going is the next lesson, which is to:

  1. Find your motivation. Ricciardo is a young driver but he’s not the youngest. He has had several major disappointments, and his win at Monaco in his own words felt like “redemption” from past failures at the Monaco GP. For instance, in 2016 a suboptimal pit stop cost him a Monaco win. A technicality robbed him of a pole position last year. He responded this year with a passion that blinded him to self-doubt, he used the failure as fuel, and it made him burn with determination to outlast everybody else.

If you don’t believe in your marketing, how do you expect anyone else to? If you aren’t happy with your marketing efforts, it’s often up to you alone to have the internal drive to push through and succeed. Find what it is that will make you burn inside with the will to win.

  1. You can win with what you have. Ricciardo had finished all three previous days of Monaco practice rounds as the fastest car on the track. But on lap 28 of the 78-lap race, the unthinkable happened. Formula One cars have 8 gears, but suddenly on that lap Ricciardo lost gears seven and eight, and never got them back. The three previous practice days meant nothing now. He finished well over half the race by gritty maneuvering through the narrow streets of Monaco with only six gears. He also depended on the advice of his expert team to radio him on the best times to shift the gears he had left.

Many times, you’re going to feel that you’ve lost power relative to your competitors. The race to tell your brand’s story is ever-challenging because you are competing with others for share of voice, mind and heart. That storytelling takes resources and it takes commitment. But it helps more than you know to have a trusted team around you who can see the bends and curves. You need to focus on finishing while they help to be your eyes, ears and hands.

You may not have the biggest advertising budget. But with a motivated focus on your vision, using past failures as fuel, and access to a great agency team to counsel and help you, you can be happy and win like Daniel Ricciardo did.

5 Powerful Productivity Tips

Ever feel overwhelmed at work? For me, it’s more of a surprise when I get through a workday without feeling totally stressed out. As an account executive, it’s my job to not only make sure my clients feel taken care of, but also to make sure my co-workers in the creative department feel like they have what they need to succeed. When your days are spent trying to keep both sides of the equation moving – and relatively happy – it can be easy to let stress overtake your productivity. When it really becomes crunch time, use these five tips to help you stay focused:

  1. Use a pen.
    I get it. When all anyone talks about is how “we’re living in the digital age now,” it might seem silly to rely on a pen and paper to help you maximize your production, but hear me out. It’s not productive to spend time searching through your email inbox for a due date/project number/detail/you name it. Things like attaching sticky notes to your computer monitor, writing down deadlines on a physical calendar or keeping a whiteboard with project numbers to reference all help you keep important details where they need to be – right in front of you.
  2. Make a to-do list.
    Every morning, no matter how busy or slow I am, I make a to-do list. As a non-coffee drinker, this is my version of a “morning routine.” I take my time and write down everything that I want to do that day. Big projects, briefings, lunch dates and even small tasks like “submit your timesheet” all go on the list. If I can get what I need to do in writing, then I don’t have to think as hard about what needs to be done throughout the day. Don’t worry about going in order, or knocking out tasks based on how hard they are. Just start with one and then tackle another. By the end of the day, you’ll likely have accomplished more than you thought you could. Bonus: being able to physically cross something off a to-do list is one of the greatest feelings ever.
  3. Don’t let email dictate your day.
    It can be easy to get sucked into the rhythm of responding to emails, but don’t let your desire to have a clean inbox derail your plans for the day. Get through the important emails, and then get to work.
  4. Limit how much time you spend on something.
    I once spent two hours trying to perfect an internal spreadsheet. Yes, it was a task that had been given to me by a superior, but my choosing to obsess over making it perfect wasn’t the best use of my time. My advice: Try to track and limit how much time you’re spending on any particular task. If you find that it’s taking you more than an hour to do a task, then take a break and start on something else. You can always come back later with fresh eyes.
  5. Take a break.
    Even on the busiest of days, everyone deserves at least some downtime. Don’t feel guilty for heading into the kitchen to make yourself a snack, or for spending 15 minutes scrolling through Instagram. Taking time to give your brain a break is essential to helping you make it through a long workday.
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