Support the ‘Lights.Camera.Help.’ Reel Change Film Frenzy!

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Greetings, friends! greenposter-662x1024

Earlier this Fall I took on a new project as the communications coordinator for the nonprofit ‘Lights. Camera. Help.’ – the Austin philanthropic organization which uses film to support and tell the stories of other deserving nonprofit groups. One of our key events of the year is the Reel Change Film Frenzy – where we pair 10 nonprofit organizations with 10 filmmakers to take part in a cause-driven film festival in February.

Supporting our film teams is crucial to the success of the festival, which is why I am encouraging you to join us and become a Producer of your very own cause-driven film with a small contribution.

We’re embarking on a huge endeavor with our goal of raising $10,000 between now and early January. Donations to our cause start at just $10. With your help, we can make a big impact in supporting these Central Texas nonprofits:

1.  Drive a Senior
2.  Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts
3.  Austin History Center Association
4.  Seedling Foundation
5.  VSA Texas
6.  Umlauf Sculpture Garden
7.  Truth Be Told
8.  Ecorise
9.  Mariposa Foundation
10.  Pug Rescue of Austin

Please take a moment to visit our event page to learn more about the Reel Change Film Frenzy and see how much you can help.

Thank you so much for your time and your help is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Alex

Another One For The Voiceover Reel – 2013-14 #TxStars Radio Intros

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slatetstarsAs we approach the eve of the Texas Stars 2013-2014 season, here’s a little appetizer for those Stars fans who enjoy tuning in to the internet radio broadcasts – the first two new radio intros for the broadcasts this year!

Enjoy!

 

 

Pregame Intro:

 

Opening Intro:

 

Voiceover Demo Reel, August 8, 2013

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For a happy career, experts say “Do what you love”, and I love voiceover. Over the last couple years I’ve enjoyed loaning my voice to projects to Texas Stars Hockey radio production and programs at my alma mater, Sam Houston State.
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So today I’m making a push to break into regular voiceover and production work.

To start, I’ve produced a quick demo reel, which you can listen to by clicking the player above.

If you or someone you know needs a voiceover talent for a project, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, or by leaving a comment below.

Hey “Sports Guy”, Twitter Was Not Made For You, Bro.

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Okay, let’s talk a little about sports culture and a little social networking site called Twitter.

It’s been roughly six years since the micro-blogging service hit mainstream status, and in that period of time we’ve witnessed huge strides in information advancement, developed crucial tools to get news to the public faster, and given a new voice to an immeasurable amount of people – some of whom prefer to use this new form of broadcasting as a way to instigate. And when it comes to hurling barbs at one another, there are two groups who do it better than anyone else. One is politicians, and the other is sports fans. Sports brands and teams kept things professional on their official Twitter accounts, basically tweeting news, promotions and live game updates to their fans. Meanwhile, die-hard sports fans on Twitter did their best to turn the medium into their own mass message board, blasting fans of rival teams with put downs and burns.

For a time, there was a separation between these two behaviors, but over the last year, the “sports guy” element started creeping into the Twitter streams of professional teams, and before long it seemed like the brands of some teams had been possessed by the drunk guy picking fights in the tailgate area outside the stadium. Last night, it came to a head when the official Twitter accounts of two Major League Baseball teams briefly went after each other like two rival fans sitting in the bleachers, for all the world to see. The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves “brands” were debating the actions of polarizing Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper after he hit a home run and the subsequent plunking of him next time he came to the plate.

This back and forth came just over a week after two other MLB teams, the Rays and Red Sox, fired snarky, yet clever missives at each other after Tampa Bay overtook Boston in the AL East standings, and the Sox reminded everyone that they can draw more fans than the home team in Tampa.

And of course, no one can forget the Los Angeles Kings’ official Twitter account, who started this trend during its Stanley Cup title run in 2012, giving its quick-thinking social media manager the swagger to playfully interact with the masses.

As someone who has commanded the Twitter account of a professional sports team, I know there is a lot of risk and reward with changing a brand’s online personality into that of a common die-hard fan. Maybe it’s a way to better relate to the core of the fan base. Instigative language and combative conversation draws attention, and marketing departments will tell you “That’s a good thing”. Up to today, there hasn’t been any major concern about this trend of pro teams reflecting their fans and hurling insults at each other, but sooner or later a line will be crossed.

Let’s not forget that some sports fans are the most vocal racists, homophobes, and chauvinists out there. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across a grossly inappropriate or offensive tweet from someone, and see their favorite team’s logo beaming within his profile picture. We’ve seen the stories about Wayne Simmonds, a black hockey player in Philadelphia, receiving the most brutal treatment online from fans, and an infamous racist gesture from a fan in Canada. In Europe, the racist and anti-gay element is so prevalent in the ranks of soccer/football fan culture that the leagues, federations and governing bodies have to install an intensive advertising campaign to dissuade people from falling in line with that behavior.

Sadly, that sort of culture stems from the locker rooms of sports teams all over the world, and it’s emulated by fans of those teams. If there is any channel in sports that could help curb that kind of abuse and vitriol on Twitter, it’s the sports teams and brands themselves.

Try to remember what Twitter was originally designed for. I’m sure in its development, the minds behind Twitter envisioned the sharing of helpful, constructive information to open minds and make the world a more productive enlightened place. But as it became more popular, the more it fell into the hands of malcontents. And no matter what kind of weapon it is, if you hand it out to enough people, pretty soon someone is going to use it against another person. Some sports fans thrive on that sort of thing, and that is not the sort of thing Twitter was meant for.

So, I implore all those digital media directors who have to answer to marketing directors, and all those up and coming minds who look to make a name for themselves by taking an online sports brand and turning it into a digital version of ‘The Jerky Boys’, DO NOT get sucked in by the influence of negative sports culture. Think before you tweet. Keep it simple, keep it snarky, keep it clever. Just don’t cross that line of inappropriateness to cater to that majority of dumb, abusive, and malicious conversation.

The rest of us sports fans will be glad you did.

 

 

Voiceover Test: Announcer #2

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microphone-in-studioOver the last few years I’ve loaned my voice to various promotional projects (many of which you can see on my Creative page). This past Spring I was excited to get a call from a friend of mine at Broken Records Austin – an up-and-coming ad agency and production house in South Austin. They were testing some new elements for potential spots in the future, and needed a “sports announcer-type” voice for a particular advert.

This was exciting for two reasons. One, this was the first time since my time as a news reporter that I recorded voiceover in a professional studio. Between then and now I performed in makeshift soundproof settings, including my homemade sound booth at my home. And two, this was the first time EVER recording with a second voiceover talent in the booth, a very different, but fun challenge.

Here are the results.
(NOTE: I’m the second announcer, or “Bob”. I also voice the tag at the end.)
(2nd NOTE: Password is “nba”. Shhh!)

Select –> Function –> Cable –> Off

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A few weeks ago I traveled to my hometown to visit my mother, who had a slew of chores for me to do. After a weekend of hanging pictures, organizing and consolidating boxes, and making things neat, I returned home to find that I was, in a way, still living out of boxes. So I spent the next couple weeks making efforts to simplify my surroundings. I took out a card table holding my printer and replaced it with a proper desk (from which I’m penning this blog post). Books came out of boxes and were placed on shelves. I tossed years’ worth of junk mail and small trinkets that once held a value of nostalgia, but not anymore. When it was all said and done I had a dozen empty boxes, and I enjoyed a huge sense of accomplishment breaking those boxes down and leaving them for recycling pickup.

But that sense of accomplishment was nowhere near the feeling of liberation I had today when I disposed of another box – my HD cable receiver and DVR.

As a bit of a TV sports junkie, the decision I made today was the equivalent of an alcoholic pouring his last handle of booze into the kitchen sink, or a habitual smoker crushing his last pack of cigarettes in his hand. Without even thinking, this morning I was suddenly moved to abandon my love of watching sports in crisp HD quality.

But what could cause me to do this?

Yes, price was a factor. I was growing frustrated that I was paying more money as I watched less TV. Sure, with the quality shows on AMC and ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Newsroom’ on HBO, it was worth the money. But I grew increasingly mad that even though I didn’t watch them, my monthly payment was going towards the production of shows like ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ and ‘What Would Ryan Lochte Do?’ So, when I paid my $171 online, I decided it would be the last time I would. But that wasn’t the main reason I cut the cord.

It was sports television.

Crazy, right? How does a sports nut like me get to the point to where he just throws his hands up and screams, “NO MORE!”? It’s unheard of. And at the risk of sounding like an old man, the answer is pretty simple:

In the eyes of the networks, the concept of team sports doesn’t exist anymore.

In the past, I would have been able to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of nearly every team in all four of the major pro leagues. Now, I couldn’t tell you who has the top defense in the NFL, because sports culture has drifted from ‘team’ and focused primarily on ‘player’, and we have ESPN, Fox Sports, and sports radio to thank for that.

The old sports formula was great. Show some highlights, maybe play a quick soundbyte, show some standings, and give fair coverage of sports across the board. That way, I knew what was going on with everything. Instead, we’re subjected to 20 minute blocks of coverage on Johnny Manziel and his antics, as if we’re supposed to be shocked that a 20-year-old college athlete is acting like a 20-year-old college athlete. The same goes for coverage on all the other polarizing figures in the three sports ESPN and Fox only seem to care about – A-Rod, Dwight Howard, Tim Tebow, Yasiel Puig, Lebron James and so on. It’s a sad state of affairs when I can’t tell you what else was on ESPN because, really, that’s all I can recall because that’s all they want to show.

Apart from the main point mentioned above, the source of my resentment towards sports television can also stem from the fact that I can’t see two of my favorite things in my TV market – Stars hockey and Astros baseball. Again, results from the decisions that sports networks have made.

And when I eventually fully realize what I’ve done today, I believe I will manage. I still have the internet, y’know. Plus, it’ll give me time and an opportunity to focus on writing and other activities. I’ll miss the shows on HBO and AMC, but thankfully I won’t have to see ‘SportsCenter’ go crazy about what Kobe Bryant posted on Twitter.

Now I have to go and explain to my girlfriend why my HBO Go password doesn’t work anymore.

Texas Stars 5 Year Anniversary Badge Sketch

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Next season the Texas Stars Hockey Club will be celebrating their 5th Anniversary and of course that means special branding. The Dallas Stars are currently celebrating their 20th Anniversary in Big D.

The patches that come from those celebrations are fun to look at, and collect. Probably as much fun as NASA enthusiasts collecting mission patches.

The likely requirements for a Texas Stars 5-year badge are:

  • Team logo
  • Team facility (in this case, the Cedar Park Center)
  • the ’5 Years’ word mark
  • the actual span in years

So I took the time to sketch out an idea that I’ve had and submitted it to the powers that be. Here’s hoping 5 months from now we’ll see it on a Stars jersey.

EPSON MFP image

 

How I feel when someone tweets a link, and I get a “404 Not Found” or an unavailable video when I click it.

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bad link

 

My first attempt at using MemeGenerator. Still waiting to gain some traction on reddit.

“It’s An Honor Just To Be Nominated…”

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A peculiar thing about this start to the year 2013: on several occasions I’ve woken up to surprising and outstanding news.

The first instance happened on the morning of January 6, when I woke up and blindly reached for my phone. Through blurry eyes I read a text message from my good friend alerting me to the fact that the NHL Lockout was over.

The most recent occurrence took place last Friday. I woke up and rolled over to open up my laptop and start my daily routine of checking email, reading news headlines, and of course, checking social media. What I discovered that morning was a tremendous surprise.

Tony (@Stars_Insider), a hockey writer from Dallas, TX, had submitted my name for nomination in the Statesman Social Media Awards, which recognizes the best of social media in and around Austin. Tony cited my activity on Twitter as a sharer of news involving the Texas Stars and Dallas Stars hockey clubs, and their affiliates, foundations and other hockey related causes.  It goes without saying that I was floored by the gesture.

I joined Twitter 4 yrs ago to share some stories, help causes, tell a few jokes & talk sports, and I’m happy to report that mission hasn’t changed. My contributions to social media could best be described as random, but all for the cause to keeping things creative, informative, and above all, interesting. I’ve also had the honor to help in several non-profit endeavors, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project and various charities like Communities in Schools.

So, if my random musings or shared articles about news, sports and various causes have helped in keeping your Facebook or Twitter experience from being boring, I humbly invite you to share your thoughts with the Statesman by visiting the nominations page, here: http://www.statesman.com/ssma/nomination/?NomID=725

Comments backing the nomination help the judges in making a final decision, and there’s no registration or email address requirement.

Your support would mean the world to me.

Now with it being awards season (Grammys, Golden Globes, Oscars, etc.) you’re likely to hear the phrase “It’s an honor just to be nominated” – a lot. With it being such a cliché phrase, one could view it as lip service or pablum. But in this case, it is with compete and genuine gratitude that I thank Tony and to all of you who took the time to contribute to this little campaign. It is indeed an honor just to be nominated.

That being said, it would be phenomenal if this campaign was selected as one of the ten nominees to be honored by the Statesman Social Media Awards. But if anything else, these developments are a reminder for me to always remain positive and that YOU (many of whom I haven’t had the pleasure to meet in person yet) mean so much.

And I again thank you for that.

 

Chirping for the Texas Stars

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slatetstars

*Disclaimer: This article is a personal blog post on behalf of only myself, and not the Texas Stars Hockey Club.*

My professional life hasn’t been a long one (7 years), but in that time I’ve worn many hats: a newsman, an ad man, a campaign manager for a run for Texas State Senate, a social media junkie, and a student of the ever-changing interactive marketing game.  Looking back on it, I realize that my resume has correctly reflected my enthusiasm for sharing stories and developing brands. I also have another passion: hockey. That’s why I find my position with the Texas Stars Hockey Club quite fitting, fortunate, and a wonderful outlet for all those aforementioned passions.

On paper, my job seems pretty simple: “The Media Relations Assistant shall assist the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations with all game day duties.” The ‘Essential Functions’ bullet-points on the job description also accurately describe all the specific tasks I am charged with on every game day, from preparing press row, distributing game notes and media kits, to conducting the post-game press conference and working with the media. But the great thing about this position, is that it has evolved into something much more than the job title describes as more responsibilities have been “bestowed” upon me. These days, I view the position as a “Fixer” role; that inconspicuous cog that turns, allowing all the big gears in the machine to function normally. Most game nights I act as a go-between for the numerous departments (marketing, broadcasting, officials, production, administration) that are essential to putting together one of the best gameday experiences the AHL has to offer. I was also able to lend my voice to Owen Newkirk’s radio broadcasts on the Texas Stars Hockey Network, producing bumper music and show intros.

What I am most proud of, however, is the task of commanding the @TexasStars Twitter account on game days. Social media is very important to minor league hockey clubs, as most teams do not have TV exposure and fans abroad can only get updates via internet radio, Facebook or Twitter. Added importance came with the NHL Lockout, which provided many more eyes on the activities of the Texas Stars, and a great opportunity to advance the brand with the greater exposure. And with Austin, TX being one of the most “connected” and social media savvy markets out there, combined with fans of the Dallas Stars (the Texas Stars’ parent club), there’s added pressure to doing things right on the social network. Once the puck dropped each game, it was up to me to be the most interactive, helpful, informative, and entertaining I can be to our followers, all while being careful not to flood their Twitter streams with too much information and risk being ‘Unfollowed’. Twitter is as much art as it is science.

Many things were learned throughout the season. For one, Texas Stars fans are some of the best in the hockey world. When the team encountered challenges during the first couple months of the season, the messages from fans were mostly supportive and encouraging. Also, when the NHL Lockout ended and many fans refocused their attention to Dallas, I had originally thought that our social media audience for Texas would shrink. In fact, the reappearance of the NHL season brought back more fans, and interactions increased. And with the help of one of our freelance photographers, I was able to include more visual media in our tweets during games, and the number of retweets increased dramatically, reaffirming the fact that our audience loves to “see” the game, and is more likely to share our messages with attached photos. (I’ve posted some of those pics below, courtesy of Josh Rasmussen, or @RasTwit)

One highlight came last week, when the team’s designated hashtag, #TxStars, became one of the top trending topics on Twitter in the Austin area during a Tuesday night game against Rockford.

trending

Through 49 games, the T-Stars lead the AHL with their 64 points, and it has been amazing to see their spectacular turnaround, all the while managing the players as they are called up to the big club in Dallas or being promoted from Idaho in the ECHL, or being signed to professional tryouts (PTOs). It’s been tremendous fun working for the voice of the Texas Stars, Owen Newkirk, as well as our interns Josh and Zach (clandestinely fist-pumping to the music during warm-ups comes to mind).

And while most people outside of the hockey world are excited for me having the opportunity to interact with professional hockey players and staff with the role I have (which I do enjoy), I’m most appreciative of the opportunity to interact with the fans through social media, and also to be a part of the organization. It’s also a goal of mine to recruit or convert as many hockey fans in the Austin area as I can. If posting a cleverly crafted tweet is as effective as personally dragging someone out to the Cedar Park Center (like I used to do), then I’m more than happy to do that.

And I hope to have the opportunity to keep doing that for seasons to come.

celebration pink chaisson fightreilly goal

caotain sceves smith 

 

 

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