Monday, 5 October 2015

Keeping it Real?

Strap in folks, because this blog is a wild ride featuring Alan Turing, Artificial Intelligence, web chat and $100,000 (with a slight detour via Blade Runner)!
First, let us begin in 1950 with majestic British genius Alan Turing asking the question “can machines think?” In his brilliant paper on Computing Machinery and Intelligence (which is just light bedtime reading for us here at T&S), Turing postulated that when a computer could imitate a person well enough to fool a panel of judges, we would have true artificial intelligence.

Turing developed a series of tests to do just that. Now, we could totally explain the intricacies of this test to you, because we totally understand it all, but sadly there just isn’t enough time (drat!). Briefly, the test is a closed conversation based on questions and answers.

Uber sci-fi fans like us will remember a fictionalised version of the Turing Test cropping up in this famous scene from Ridley Scott’s film-noir-cum-sci-fi Blade Runner.
Now fast-forward some sixty-odd years to the present day (we told you to strap in) and there is an annual competition held by American inventor Hugh Loebner to try and find a computer program that can fool a panel of judges into thinking that it is, indeed, a human being.

This is done, very simply via, web chat. The judges engage in a series of web chats with both humans and computer programs, to see which computer is able to best imitate the language and behaviour of a real person. The computers try to achieve this by calling upon pre-programmed stock phrases and snippets of conversation.

But here’s the rub. With all the advances in computer programming, with all the advances in Artificial Intelligence, not one computer in the entire history of the competition has ever been able to fool the judges into thinking it was a real person. Not one.

Because real, true communication is not about stock phrases and clinical sentences approved by committee (sound familiar?). These things stick out like a sore thumb amongst human conversation and human dialogue. Because real, true communication is about intimacy, creativity and imagination. That is how real people really communicate with each other.

When companies try to imitate human language and communication without using intimacy, creativity and imagination, they end up sounding like computers. Funnily enough, we’ve made a fun little video about exactly this issue. Check it out! 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Roll up, roll up! Welcome to the new Twist and Shout website

It’s here, it’s finally here! It’s been many, many moons since we told the world that a brand-new Twist & Shout website was on its way. It was a simpler time back then, a time before the iPhone 6, a time when man had to rely on only his wits and his iPhone 5s. It was a hectic, tumultuous time, when we lost a Pope but then luckily found another one. And, of course, it was the golden age before the break-up of 1 Direction *sobs*.

Now we’re slap-bang in 2015 and we’re excited to welcome you to our sexy new website! If you already know us and have visited before; hi, how are you? You look great, have you lost weight? Well, whatever it is you’re doing, it is working, girlfriend!

If this is your very first time, let us introduce ourselves; We are Twist & Shout and we are storytellers for business. We’ve been creating powerful story-led communications for over twenty years. We strongly believe that intimacy is the key, and with recent advances in digital media creation techniques, there's never been a better time for the business-to-business marketer or internal communications manager to benefit from relatively inexpensive, yet compelling video based campaigns.

Now that the ice has been broken, let’s give you the tour! Over here you’ll find the T&S team, a scrappy bunch of go-getters (at least one of whom is a professionally trained ninja).

Through this door you’ll find all our lovely clients (we don’t mean to name-drop, but they’re all kind of a big deal).

Over this way you’ll find us getting all emotional and real and talking about “the cause”, which is the reason this website is here in the first place.

And then there’s our little entertainment centre. A place where you’ll find the Twist & Shout portfolio, featuring a whole bunch of the sexy, funny, exciting videos we’ve made for all manner of clients!

We sure are pleased to have you over to the new place, and we hope you’ll visit again soon to enjoy new updates and features that we’re making especially for you. We’ll have a brand new blog every couple of weeks here, taking you behind-the-scenes of Twist & Shout and hopefully bringing you on-set reports and interviews.

So thanks, so long, see you next time and … aw heck, we can’t let you leave without a party favour! We can’t let you go with a little gift! So just for you, here’s a fun movie we made about Internet Security - think, Spooks-meets-your-HR-department! See you next time!

Friday, 3 October 2014

WDS Blog Post #2 - Community Continued

Wow that was a big gap. I mean HUGE. Even for me. The last blog post I wrote was back in July. Embarrassingly, it was the first of a trilogy too.  Oops.

Moral?  Don’t start lists of things.  Just make it one thing. Do that. Then if another one happens after that – then great! But it’s still not a list, OK?

Anyway – we’re into a list – and I hope I can get the third one out before Christmas

 – but hey – there’s NO reason you should expect this, based on the last gap.  Anyhoo…

Community. Thinking back to WDS (WorldDomination Summit) the sense of community was palpable. Three thousand entrepreneurs in one room – wow!  The air was cracking with energy and expectation.  Another 2999 people like ME baby! Excellent. Like having the BEST family reunion EVER.

One thing I really learned was how giving a group of like-minded people can be. And the internet has made it easy to find our communities. At WDS there were a lot of unspoken rules. Not even rules – just assumptions. Everyone assumed that if you wanted or needed help, you’d get it.  So you did. Everyone assumed that you were who you said you were. A complete no-bullshit zone. No need to pretend – because wherever you were in the process of building your dream, someone was prepared to help and motivate you on to the next step.

So if there’s a takeaway for this (really really late) blog post it’s this:

Nurture and respect your community. Make sure you give as well as take, and be grateful that you live in a time where it’s possible to find a really, really specific community wrapped around what you are ALL about.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Ready to Dominate the World?

I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive when I booked the flights to Portland (OR) a few months ago. The more I read about the upcoming World Domination Summit, the more I realised that this was not a business event (well - not JUST a business event) and more of an event where an epiphany might happen.  In fact it was too tempting to default to subverting the event fort being just that little bit hippy-trippy. Organic Tofu? Comes in Bland and Extra-Bland…Only in Portlandia.  As a belligerent old duffer, was this a good fit for me at this time of rebirth in my own business plans?

You’re darn tootin!  (Our Dallas team would be proud of my Texas vernacular)

3000 Entrepreneurs - creative ones - descending on the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for a long weekend of inspirational sessions and interactive meet-ups, made the room crackle with excited energy as we waited for everything to begin. Even before this omen we’d all been sharing stories and smiling knowingly at each other like only WE knew the secrets to the future and were about to get validated on them.  Of course, we were just as ignorant as the next guy, but we FELT privileged.

Over the next three blog posts I will talk about the three values of the event. 

  1. Community
  2. Adventure
  3. Action

For more comprehensive notes on the vent, there are even now (just 5 days later) literally dozens of blogs ready to read as reviews and feelings about the event.   Take a look at Scott Berkun’s excellent notes (he spoke at the event on the last day) for a comprehensive and intelligent appraisal of the event and the speakers.

Part 1.     Community
This, for me, was the most powerful component of the event. This feeling that you were a part of a movement. A cause. The New World.  Based on giving / sharing / paying it forward. Doing that little thing you didn’t have to do. What’s that? - you don’t have time - well that’s about productivity - and there’s an app for that.  Or at least an attendee meet-up or academy session. 

The sense of community here was palpable. From getting your latte paid for by another person in line  with a green badge on cos you had no change on you, to joining in a 400-strong Bollywood dance lesson at the gig on Sunday night.  Walking around Portland’s beautiful downtown area, there was a sea of smiles and a wave of acknowledgement that you were part of a shared experience.  Apart from the main Concert Hall sessions, there were 30-40 more events put on by attendees, registered on the event site and approved by the organisers (usually within an hour or two).  Plus the “academy” sessions - practical advice and training on things like blogging or productivity.  All in all, the event had a feeling of being a festival, not a conference.

It was summer camp for business owners.  The friends I made last weekend will be with me for a long time. And the fact that I was able to contribute with my own meet up made me feel a part of an elite tribe of pioneers.  But there is a cost to all this comradeship. I also made a promise to do a big brave thing. I promised to attend next year and bring copies of my new book for everyone who was at my meet-up. This was my pledge, and I daren’t let them, or myself, down.

This is where inspiration people go to get inspired.  

Next episode? Adventure.

(Note to self - these people were the most consistently attractive and healthy looking crowd I'd ever seen. I need to lose weight and tone up so that I don't look like a Morlock amongst the Eloi)

Monday, 9 June 2014

All you need is love

In a recent blog post by the corporate video arm of ITN (UK News Network), Charlotte De Maria, (Account Manager at ITN Productions)  delivers 6 top tips informing B2B marketers how to make video more engaging using B2C video techniques. Whilst this is excellent advice, I can't help thinking that this is somewhat old news. 

Having said that, I guess that all marketing departments and professionals are on a curve, with early adopters already enjoying things like the DSLR revolution (a way to get that cinematic look at low cost), and realising that it's ideas, not information, that get the most attention.

This is all about falling in love. Really.  With corporate videos (and that term right there will kill any embers of an emotional engagement!) there's often lots of information - there might even be a story. But where is the love?

The most important thing is to let marketers realise that they need to find good partners to work with (this kind of production is a specialty after all) and TRUST THEM. Then look at objectives. 

For example: If you are a temp agency, the objective is not to make a video. The objective is to place more temps at a lower cost of sale. Too many marcomms people think that the act of making the video is the objective. Like you can just assume it'll do some good.

Whatever your thoughts on video - we are here to solve a business problem. And video (I like to still call it film - it's more storytelling-friendly) is better at presenting the emotional story rather then the information surrounding the argument for the sale.

My advice? Get them to fall in love first. 

Then add information until the prospect has nowhere to go but towards you. Do NOT lead with complexity.

We just do not have the time to engage with such detail until we've fallen for you.

If I love you, every little thing you do is magic

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Corporate Branding Videos - Don't you just love them?

I love that a firm who sells generic stock photos should create a parody of the type of video for which their footage is often used in the first place.

This is brave marketing. I suspect that what they are really saying, is that you, Mr Stock Footage Customer, should try to think of more original ways to use our stuff.

But for some - that will be a leap. And we just ridiculed them (with good cause I might add).

So by doing this, we may well be saying that we really want the right kind of customers. The cool guys pay the same as the squares, but we want the cool guys. I wonder why it matters?

The film is here. Enjoy!