Beautiful Websites, Capulet Approved

Digital strategists pay a lot of attention to social media tools, digital tricks and marketing tips. But, we don't always keep tabs on website design trends and evolution. Today we're celebrating some of our favourite websites of 2013 and letting you in on why we think they're so good. Knock To Unlock Knock is a smartphone app that lets you lock and unlock your phone, computer, or tablet by knocking on it, just like you would a door or tabletop. The website has almost no text and depends primarily on video, which reflects the app's simple but clever concept. This is an example of a website that's prioritized video over text and has integrated it seamlessly into the overall design concept in an original way. The downside? Depending on your internet connection all that streaming video may slow down the site's load time.

Waterlife It's hard to click away from a website that plays an inspired musical composition by auteur Brian Eno. Greeted with Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)," an instrumental piece that evokes the feeling of floating, visitors move through gripping storytelling of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on earth. The National Film Board's digital projects often hit it out of the park and this is no exception. WaterLife is a beautiful site that delights visitors while staying true to its advocacy mission.


Bear71 Another NFB project, Bear 71 is an award-winning website/documentary that elegantly marries digital advocacy, video storytelling and user interaction. Using sound, video and game-inspired features, visitors follow a grizzly bear in Banff National Park as she navigates a landscape that borders wild and urban areas. In 2012, Bear 71 won the Gold Cyber Lion Award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Two years on, it's still a compelling example of how to inspire an audience to action with online storytelling.

Rolling Jubiliee The Rolling Jubilee is an infographic inspired website that packs a truckload of information--videos, graphics and copy--into a clearly presented scrolly site. The Rolling Jubilee raises money to purchase debt at pennies on the dollar and has already relieved nearly $15 million worth of debt. Though visually it's quite a subdued website, it does a fine job of making complicated ideas and information bite-sized and digestible.

Slavery Footprint This is a scrolly site that hits home. Slavery Footprint invites visitors to test connections they might have to modern-day slavery, based on current lifestyle and purchasing decisions. Take the survey and then move through the question tree by scrolling up, down and side-to-side. The site user interface design is intuitive and fun to use.

The New York Times "Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek" The New York Times continues to experiment with digital long-form journalism and succeeded with this spellbinding website that gracefully integrates text, graphics and video. This project even spawned a verb: "to snowfall".

The Roaring Twenties This site does a remarkable job of exploring the soundscape of New York City in the roaring 1920's. It uses an archive of documents from the period and snippets of early film to send the visitor back in time. It's a great inspiration for any organization with access to interesting archival materials.

For these websites and more, check out Darren's Pinterest collection of digital "Remarkables."

Movement Marketing on the High Seas

We first met Lifeboat founders, Tim and Alia, at Web of Change, a small and intimate annual web conference in British Columbia. It's not the likeliest of places you’d expect to meet, connect with and eventually befriend people who work in the digital space. Picture an island community that takes three ferries to get to and that often finds itself without power during storm season. Ours is a friendship that began on ferryboats and was nurtured on a windy west coast beach. That was several years ago. Fast forward to the present. Tim and Alia invited Capulet to join the crew of Lifeboat to help steer the digital marketing efforts behind their new project. It was a no-brainer for us, not just because they are friends, but because we were excited to be part of something we think matters in our personal and professional world—how we connect with one another. At Capulet, we work with companies and organizations to help them identify what's remarkable about their work, and then we help them tell their stories. It's what we call creating "remarkables" and it’s part of a larger approach to movement marketing, or building an engaged community around an organization or product. We think Lifeboat is shaping up to be a big remarkable.

Since coming on board this project, we've encouraged Tim and Alia to do what comes naturally to them: honest storytelling, finding the funny, and being the first to identify and mobilize a movement around the friendship crisis. Here’s what we mean:

Stories float our boat Often, what's remarkable about a cause or organization can be expressed in a very simple story. It's why marketers love to talk about myth (read Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs, you won’t regret it.) Time and again, we draw from the archetypes that make up our oral and written history and apply it to marketing. As aptly stated in one of Alia's blog posts, every story has an antagonist or bad guy. Lifeboat's is the friendship crisis. A narrative is beginning to emerge from all of the work and research Tim and Alia have done on the science of friendship. It's been our job to help them craft this narrative and share it with a wider audience.

Find the funny (or, at the very least, sound human) Tim and Alia have an unwavering ability to speak from the heart. Their voices and personalities are infused in Lifeboat’s messaging. The ability to make people laugh is a worthy gift and when it comes to your own project or organization, the more you do to celebrate the funny/absurd/ridiculous/human aspects of what you do or the cause you represent, the easier it is to connect with your audience. You can see Tim and Alia’s personalities in full flight in this video.

Be the first Lifeboat isn’t the first to argue that deeper personal connections can lead to a fuller life. It is, however, the first to build momentum and a community of practice for becoming better friends. When you're the first to the mark, you typically get more attention.

Working with Tim, Alia and the rest of the Lifeboat crew reminds us of how much we love to do what we do: craft stories for the web. Not only are we lucky to be surrounded by good friends, we're honoured to participate in their remarkable movements, like Lifeboat.


How To Ask A Customer for a Press Review

Photo courtesy Jon S, flickr user.

Sharing your customers' success stories with the press can be a great way to highlight your work and to help bring attention to your customers. However, getting customers to participate in joint PR isn't always easy. Here are some of the ways we prepare business PR stories and get customers excited about coming along for the ride.

1. Tell a Winning Story

Select winning stories to share with the press to improve chances of success. If your story is weak, or even mediocre, sit tight until you've got a winner. That way your customer isn't disappointed, and you don't overwork your press contacts.

2. Timeliness Is Key

If your customer is keen to participate, clearly articulate expectations and deadlines early on. Don't get stalled waiting on an indecisive partner. If you need customer feedback, prepare content in advance for quick and easy approval.

3. Align PR Goals

If your customer has their own PR team, get to know them and the kinds of stories they're trying to tell and who they're trying to reach. Develop story ideas that align with their internal goals and you'll find they're keen to work with you.

4. Show, Don't Tell

Show customers examples of successful PR. This is tough if you're just starting out so, instead, point to examples from other companies of what you're trying to achieve.

5. Build Joint PR into the Contract

An easy way to ensure that customer success stories are at your fingertips to pitch to press is to build that activity into contracts. That way, your customers are prepared for PR right out of the gate.

Now, you're ready to start pitching customer stories. Here are a few examples of the kinds of customer success stories Capulet has helped to land: A Technology Switch Bears Mobile Commerce Fruit; Deepening Engagement, One Drawing at a Time; and Open Sourcing May be Worth the Risk.

Social Media Master Class Series

After much planning, several trans-Atlantic Skype calls, and countless calendar updates, Capulet is pleased to announce a new workshop series that we call the social media marketing strategy master class series (now that's a mouthful.) Time and again, we find ourselves commending training opportunities and conferences that deliver tangible advice and real direction while criticizing those workshops and conference sessions that fall short of experience and new learnings in the field of social media.

We've taken the best of what we've seen and combined it with what we know to bring you five separate workshops. Each one is designed for senior marketing professionals in distinct industry sectors. Strategy discussion, examples and best practices are customized for each workshop and will be led by Capulet staff as well as individual instructors from our network of web marketing experts.

The calendar is up and, if you're game, we look forward to meeting and working with you to rethink and/or refine how you acquire customers and build online community using promotional techniques and smart digital strategy that resonates with a web savvy audience.

All workshops run from 9:30am to 4:30pm and are based in Vancouver in the Tides Canada building at 163 W Hastings Street. See "Upcoming Workshops" below for the complete list of sessions.

The following is a list of our upcoming workshops:

September 13, 2012 Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses
October 26, 2012 Social Media Strategy for Online Community Managers
November 23, 2012 Social Media Strategy for Healthcare
February 22, 2013 Social Media Strategy for Educational Institutions and Organizations
April 26, 2013 Online Movement Building Strategy for Not-for-Profits and NGOs


(This awesome photo is courtesy Christopher Sessums, a generous flickr user.)

Copyright and Doing It Right

Something you may not know about the Eiffel Tower is that a night time photo of the structure costs more than a day time photo. That's because there are not one but two copyrights to consider at night: the tower and the lighting design that's only featured after dark. This was the introduction Martha Rans made during her session on Canadian copyright and Creative Commons at the 2012 Northern Voice Conference. Nothing beats a piece of cultural trivia at the top of a session designed to navigate and translate the Canadian copyright system.

The Northern Voice conference brings together bloggers and web enthusiasts to talk shop and, every year, Martha -- a copyright lawyer and director of the Vancouver-based Artists' Legal Outreach -- is invited to share what she knows about Canadian copyright. And, trust me, copyright is everywhere. To quote Martha: " it doesn’t matter if it’s high art, low art, pop art, bad art or not art at all."

Artists Legal Outreach is a group that provides legal advice to artists in Canada. On their website, Martha and her team explain how Creative Commons licensing works, the six different licenses available, and the four different conditions that make up each license. All of the content on is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada license and is best referenced by looking at the website, directly.

One of the four conditions of a Creative Commons license is "Noncommercial." According to Martha and Artists Legal Outreach, if you want to use someone’s work licensed under the Noncommercial condition and if your work or organizations makes money in any way, you can’t. As an online community manager and someone who deals in online content on behalf of non-profit organizations, I'm often faced with the question of what's considered commercial* content. The obvious answer is anything that generates a profit on behalf of a business or company. But when you actually consider what's considered "commercial" under Canadian copyright, it's not necessarily cut and dry. For example, I use a tool called to search for photos on flickr licensed under Creative Commons. I'm careful to search under "commercial" conditions because money still changes hands when it comes to fundraising initiatives. When I asked Martha about this, she explained to the audience how we need to "unpack what we mean by commercial."

Upacking Canada's copyright system and all the things we don't understand about it is a huge challenge. To complicate things, the US system is very different from Canada's copyright laws which makes things particularly interesting when you consider the domains and content we share on a day-to-day basis. That's why Artists' Legal Outreach is so valuable to Canadians trying to navigate their own copyright system. Martha and her team work to break down the rules legislation by piece of legislation.

As an individual or organization who uses content from the web, the best thing you can do for yourself is knowledge-up on Creative Commons, use your common sense and always take care to attribute the work you use. And maybe stay away from posting night shots of the Eiffel Tower.

*See Martha's note, below.

This photo is by flickr user Darren Barefoot and it's licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license or CC BY-NC 2.0. Of course, you can see for yourself.

Video Stories

It's been an incredible year for the Capulet team. In 2011 we unveiled a long-awaited new website which you see before your very eyes; spoke at conferences across the continent; launched a Movement Marketing Program with partners Biro Creative; and generated more Canadian content than anyone thought possible thanks to Darren's One Year, One Canadian project. We've put the highlights into this short video for you. Here's to a memorable and motivating New Year in 2012!