Open For Business: The Other Side of Holiday Commerce



With the holiday season in full swing, I see an unusually vocal opposition this year to the decision by many businesses to open their doors during the “family time” of the holidays. This is an unfortunate stance taken by those who are so fortunate that they are unable to see the other side of the coin.

American holidays are heavily centered on family, food and relaxing down-time. We pride ourselves on our tradition of taking time off, gathering in big family get-togethers, cooking magnificent meals and sharing the day with football and pies of many varieties. What we often fail to see, however, is that this is not how a great multitude of Americans spend the holidays. 21st century America is populated with record numbers of single parents, folks with little or no immediate family, and families and individuals who are living paycheck to paycheck and working hard for every dollar they earn. For these workers, the opportunity to earn wages on any day is a blessing. If a company offers holiday pay plus overtime for working during the holiday, well that’s even better. For them, the opportunity to work, provide services to customers and earn the money that keeps food on their table is a welcome gift. Although some may feel strongly that it is just “wrong” for a business to be open on a holiday, who are they to so vocally decry the right of an individual to provide for themselves and their family?

From another perspective, many holiday workers are folks who simply have nothing better to do. Maybe they have no immediate family. Perhaps they have simply made the decision not to travel to see family this year. Or they are single parents whose children are with the other parent for the holiday. There are a multitude of legitimate reasons why people voluntarily choose to accept holiday working hours if they are so offered.

At some point, we as a society are going to have to accept the fact that America has changed. Pining for the traditions of old will not bring those traditions back. Many young folks do not return home for holidays and welcome the hours of wage-earning that are offered by their employers. Additionally, the economy is in trouble. People are hungry. Bills must be paid. And, frankly, spending money to travel, buy tons of food or host a big gathering is simply not in the cards for those who need every dollar they earn just to survive.

In short, the next time you feel compelled to rage against businesses who open their doors on a holiday with the assistance of voluntary staff, take a moment to look around, be thankful for what you have, and consider that you are blessed in a way that those who choose to work on a holiday may not be.

Facebook rolls out Pages Feed. How will it help businesses?

Another month, another Facebook Pages flop….

As anyone who has been on Facebook for more than a day will know, many, many business pages are re-posting that viral statement about how “only 10% of our audience is seeing our posts”, etc, etc. Following a heavy dose of negative press on the issue from some of the more influential social media bloggers out there, Facebook appears to have come up with a solution. Or, shall we say, a convolution?

Introducing Facebook Pages Feed. On the left-hand side of your News Feed, buried amongst all the other links you never look at – below your Favorites, perhaps above your Groups, somewhere near your Apps – there is a new link titled “Pages Feed”. Clicking this link will bring you to a news feed that is dedicated to all the Pages that you follow. Unfortunately, this page is not organized chronologically and the jury is still out about the completeness of the posting history of your Liked Pages that is represented here.

I’m guessing that Facebook probably views this option as an olive branch to business page owners who have been negatively affected by the mass reduction in views of their posts. But, in reality, this is more like the branch that your hiking partner pushes out of the way only to let it snap back and slap you in the face. Does anybody at Facebook HQ not remember “Interest Lists” and the mass success failure of that little initiative?

There are several points to make about this whole Facebook conundrum:

    1. If you are using Facebook as your primary content delivery system, you are putting yourself at the mercy of the social media giant’s whims and fancies.

    2. Due to the recent changes, you are already missing out on a ton of potential user engagement due to Facebook’s ever-changing EdgeRank algorithm and the myriad variables involved in optimizing your position within your fans’ News Feeds.

    3. Speaking of EdgeRank…Google it. Learn it. Make it work for you or risk sinking into the News Feed abyss.

    4. For those fans who made the effort to select your page to view in their normal News Feed, this will not affect their ability to still do so.

    5. EdgeRank continues to be a fluid, evolving algorithm that, like it or not, you are going to have to figure out how to work with. That means tracking your key indicators, making notes of what types of posts track well with your audience and altering your posting habits to make the most out of these factors.

Facebook is an excellent example of evolutionary formatting from a service-provider standpoint. Unfortunately, they tend to light fires before making sure there’s enough water to put them out and their response to obvious formatting mistakes has been historically slow. This puts Facebook business users in the position of needing to really spend more time on page management which potentially detracts from other essential business time. After all, which is more likely? That you will spend more time trying to get your content in front of your fans or that they will spend more time trying to reach your content amidst the plethora of other posts, comments, likes, photos and sponsored posts that are also being tossed at them every minute of the day?

About the Author: Jeremy Jones is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his nine-year-old son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.

Best brand advocates? Your own employees!

Walmart has an image problem. I know that’s not much of a newsflash but the point remains. Lately, the most vocal group of Walmart haters has not been the anti-China crowd or the anti-shuttering of Mom and Pop stores crowd or any of the myriad other normal detractors. No. Lately, it is Walmart’s own employees who are slamming the mega-chain’s mere existence. So united are they in their negative feelings of the company that thousands of employees are threatening a national strike on Black Friday.

In the marketing world, we talk often and loudly about “brand advocates” – that is, those happy customers who are so smitten with your product or service that they tell everyone they meet about you and your organization. We court them, we cater to them, we bribe them with baubles (admit it, you do) and we pray that they will speak on our behalf to all who will listen.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to an old friend about his work. He never really talks much about what he does. His Facebook profile isn’t saturated with each minute detail of his exciting days at work as so many of my other “friends”‘ pages are, and his eyebrows get this particular furrow whenever the subject comes up. On this particular day, however, I pressed him on the issue.

“Man,” he said, “I hate that company. They suck. I wouldn’t wish that place on my worst enemy. Don’t ever buy from them.”

I was shocked. I always thought he loved his job. Was the product bad? Nope. Were the services sub-par? Never. Were shipments to customers routinely delayed? Not at all. Well, what was it that made this company so bad that his strongest advice to me was to not ever buy from them?

He didn’t like the way he was treated.

Word of mouth from customers is vital to growing brand awareness, to be sure. But in your search for advocates, don’t forget the one group of people who can be particularly powerful in both positive and negative ways – your employees.

I’ve had service personnel come out to manufacturing facilities where I’ve worked to repair equipment. These are workers who are sent out into the field to represent their company to their clients and yet, for some reason, as soon as they have an ear to bend, they unload about how awful their employer is, how little their engineering department knows, etc. Always kinda’ leaves me scratching my head wondering why I’m hiring this company and its personnel if they’re really as inept as their own employee says they are….

On the other hand, I’ve had site visits from personnel who can’t talk enough about their employer – in good ways! Now, I consider myself to be pretty in tune with the particularly odiferous presence of a fresh load of you-know-what. So I can usually tell when someone is blowing sunshine just to keep me happy or is genuinely in love with their work. And when you have someone in front of you who is elbows-deep in ink and grease repairing a busted drive union on a 30-year-old printing press while raving about his company and the work he does, well…that’s just bomber (as my 9-year-old would say). And, the next time an employee puts a wrench through a pair of impressed cylinders, I’ll be darn sure to call that same company back to repair the damage.

Not every organization needs to worry about their employees’ personal feelings making the headline news. However, understanding that sometimes employees are just stuck in the whole “grass is greener” mindset, it still cannot be denied that your workers are your first line of ambassadors when it comes to your organization’s image, brand and reputation. Court them. Cater to them. Find a culture that respects their efforts, rewards their successes and fosters personal investment in the organization and you’ll have your own personal team of brand advocates doing your marketing work for you. Win-win for all!

About the Author: Jeremy Jones is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his nine-year-old son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.

Copyrights – No Big Deal?

One of the biggest problems the advent of technology and the fully-integrated, networked and inter-linked world has created is a tremendous misunderstanding of copyright laws. Through simple “Select All > Copy > Paste” functions, the bodies of work created by one person become the un-paid-for expressions of another. To some, this cavalier use of intellectual property is no big deal. After all, they figure, if you’re putting it out on the web, you must be okay with it being used, right? Wrong.

Photography, especially, has fallen severe victim to this dilemma. Most photographers want to be able to put their work on their online portfolio for all to see without the distraction of watermarks or logos branded into the image. Right-click disabling software is not effective either as those who know how can easily bypass such measures. But it is not the photographs or the method of acquiring them that are the real problem in today’s technologically evolved world – it is the mindset of the general populace that is to blame.

The ease of capturing and re-using digital images or text has fostered a general impression in our society that it’s simply okay to do so. As professional photographers, we have seen this in so many different areas over the years. We have had people see a photo of ours on Facebook that they like and state publicly that they are printing it out and blowing it up for their walls with never a thought of compensation to the owner of the photo (us). We have had commercial clients balk at the “Usage Rights” fee in our commercial contracts because they don’t understand that they are not purchasing a photo – they are purchasing the rights to USE that photo. It becomes difficult sometimes to explain that this is not a new concept. Usage rights have been around since the birth of copyright law.

Perhaps the worst offense we have endured, though, is the taking of photos from our public profiles for use in news publications – either digital or print. You would think that a news organization, in particular, would understand the value of copyright. Surprisingly, some do not. Perhaps the cause of this is the very sneaky brainchild of organizations like CNN who, several years ago, realized they could get their news photography for free by simply offering photo credit to the photographer. Suddenly, every Joe and Jane with a camera who just wanted to see their name in print was offering up all their photos to the news outlets for nothing. As a result, some news organizations now expect you to provide photography for free.

I am aware how much of a rant all of this must sound like. Maybe even a bit whiny. I get it. But, to those of us whose income relies heavily on our craft, it is no small matter. Architects get paid. Caterers get paid. Seamstresses get paid. Photographers have every right to expect the same. So the next time you see something really wonderful and you have the urge to press that right-side mouse button, please stop for a moment and consider what you do for a living…and ask if you would be okay with me copying and using your work for free.

About the Author: is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his nine-year-old son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.

Humanize Your Brand!

When marketing their products or services, one of the biggest mistakes many companies make is focusing their catalog or web site collateral on visual depictions of just their offerings.

Including close-up, stand-alone photos of your product is important but, if that is all you rely on, it can also lead to a very dull marketing presence. Introducing the human element into your web site, catalog and advertising material makes your offering much more dynamic and helps draw the buyer in. Potential customers more easily relate to images of the product they’re interested in shown in actual use – especially if the person in the image is someone they can relate to.

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So how do you know who your buyer will relate to? Well, this is where the phrase “target audience” comes in. Before you can start to build an effective marketing strategy, it is vital that you understand WHO you’re trying to reach and what message you’re trying to send them. Gender, age group, income…knowing the demographics that make up the majority of your client base will help you put your best foot forward when selecting models for your ad campaigns. You will never be able to avoid alienating some of your client base with your decisions but, let’s face it, conversions are your ultimate goal and the best way to do that is to reach those most likely to buy from you.

A poorly thought out ad campaign can be as damaging to your marketing efforts as no ad campaign at all so strategize, strategize, strategize.

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About the Author: is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his nine-year-old son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.

Full-time and a new direction!

Well, it’s been a long time coming but 603 Media Group is finally a full-time venture. Scary, exciting, busy, nail-biting…these are all words that have been at the forefront of our minds for the past few weeks. How will the business fare? Can we develop a client base that will not only sustain us but help our business grow? Where will the community events we routinely cover for free fit into our new business model? Questions, questions, questions!

From the moment we filed our tradename paperwork with the State back in 2009, we knew we had a really great idea. Unfortunately, like all “great” ideas, it took time and failure to help morph that original thought process into a linear plan that makes sense. Now, over two and a half years later, we are finally beginning to feel like we know who we are.

The photographic services that we had originally planned on being the bread and butter of our service offerings have been reduced to an ancillary service. Truth is, the mass flooding of the marketplace with inexpensive camera technology and digital imaging software has turned everybody and their sister into a “photographer”. We had to recognize that the market just wasn’t going to pay the old prices for the services that we perform even though we perform them better than most. This was a tough realization for us to make. To compensate for that loss of potential revenue, we have altered our business model to focus more on marketing, design and social media services – all offerings that companies are still actively seeking and actively budgeting for.

With a new web presence, expanded social media activity thanks to our new Twitter and Google+ accounts, and a growing list of satisfied clients who are utilizing our new expanse of services, we are proudly surging forward in our quest to build this business into something truly special. Our involvement in community events will not dwindle in any way – we remain committed to staying involved in the amazing activities and charity events that happen in this great state.

Thank you to all of our loyal clients, family and friends who have stuck by us over the last couple years – we look forward to being your media services provider for many more years to come!

Front-row seat to a beat-down!!!

On January 27, 2012, 603 Media Group was hired to cover the Combat Zone 40 mixed martial arts event held at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire. What a great event! The crowd was pumped, the fighters were doing what they do best and Rock 101 afternoon DJ, tv host and all-around cool guy, Scorch, handled the master of ceremonies duties.

In my experience covering fight events, it is always a tough call to determine which lens I want to use. So many fight photographers in the amateur scene use a shorter lens that gives a very wide view of the environment with the fighters as more of a foot-note in the scene. I’m not particularly a fan of that approach. Generally, I prefer to use the 70-200mm so that I can get right in close on the fighters and make the viewer really FEEL the brutality of what they’re engaging in. When I do choose to use wide-angle, though, I like to go REALLY wide to give a more artistic and exciting look to the captures; this was the approach I brought to Combat Zone 40. Here are some samples of my low-close-and-wide approach:

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Fight photography is something that I really love doing and I hope to be able to cover many more events in and around the greater New England area this year!

Looking Back on 2011

2011 was a really good year for 603 Media Group. From portraits to weddings to private parties, sporting events, charity events, corporate product shoots and our own personal photo trips to various parts of New Hampshire and beyond, we met so many wonderful folks and were reminded of why we love doing what we do.

We covered the fantastic efforts of Upper Valley radio personality Chris Garrett’s “Tornado Relief 2011”. This event saw the community of the Upper Valley join together to fill a truck with food and goods that Chris then personally delivered to Joplin, Missouri residents affected by the worst tornado their area had seen in memory.

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Coverage of the annual “Ride For The Fallen” charity motorcycle run is always a highlight for us. Skip and Rhonda Rollins of Newport host this event each year in honor of their son, Spc. Justin A. Rollins, who lost his life in Iraq in 2007.

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Every September, we see pro boxing come to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. We have covered this event for the past two years in recognition of our friends from the Claremont Boxing Club who have had some very successful showings at this event.

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The warmer months of each year see the start of all the great classic car meets in New Hampshire. This beauty is a regular with the Car Nutz in Newport:

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The installation of New Hampshire sculptor Ernest Montenegro’s amazing piece, “Crosswalk”, was a real treat for us to cover. With home offices in both Claremont and the Manchester area, it was nice to see both regions represented in one amazing project!

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The annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene is always great fun but the day after brings a lot of work that most event-goers don’t even consider. This gentleman was one of many volunteers and city workers helping to clean up the mess left by thousands of pumpkins and thousands of people!

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Covering and supporting local music has long been an important part of what we do. This region is rich in musical talent and, if you haven’t taken the time to catch some of these acts performing, you’re missing a great time!

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We won’t revisit every single photo shoot we did in 2011 here (the blog would be wayyy too long!), but suffice it to say that it’s been a fun year and we’re looking forward to even more great stuff in 2012! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/603media !

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Backstage Pass is a hit at the Currier Museum of Art!

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Yesterday, I decided to surprise my partner in crime with a trip over to the Currier Museum of Art. See, the Currier is having a special exhibition this Autumn that showcases never-before-seen photos of pretty much every legend of rock and roll since Carl Perkins. Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, REM, Arethra Franklin, Kris Kristofferson, The Byrds…the list goes on and on!

As photographers, we always love to look upon the work that inspires us. Jesse, in particular, is a really great concert photographer so I knew she would enjoy this display. I was right.

Featuring over 175 photos – most of them poster-sized -, this exhibit features out-takes from staged photo shoots, previously unused tour photos and many candid moments. Take for example a powerful photo of Kurt Cobain sitting against a tub sobbing his heart out over who knows what. Or David Bowie eating lunch in a diner in England. Or Iggy Pop seated in a chair under a framed painting of Jesus – who Iggy eerily resembles in the photo.

Several pictures of Debbie Harry (think Blondie) adorn the walls and reflect her relationships with various rockers over the years. Grace Jones looks out from one photo as powerful as ever while Courtney Love applies her make-up over a rundown bathroom’s sink in another photo. In yet another display, a young James Brown shows off his trademark split in one photo while, in another photo, a slightly older Brown plays a grand piano in a large room singing an obviously soulful tune.

I won’t even try to describe every great photo in this blog – there’s just too many and my words won’t do them justice. If you have some time to kill and you find yourself in the Manchester area between now and January 15, 2012, be sure to stop in to the Currier and take in this magnificent photographic journey through rock and roll history!

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http://www.currier.org/nowonview.aspx

For 603 Media Group,
Jeremy Jones
jeremy@603mediagroup.com

Wonderful day for photos and fun!

Sunday was a great day for 603 Media Group. Not great as in “We just won the lottery!” or “We just had a photo on the cover of National Geographic!” No, it was great because it was one of those days when it seems like you are really just living life the way it’s supposed to be lived.

We started off the day with a senior photo shoot in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The subject was a very lovely young lady named Tori and we accompanied her and her wonderful mom, Mary, to the local drinking water reservoir where Tori thought the lake and foliage might make for a nice backdrop for her photos. Boy, was she right! The water was as calm as glass, the colors were just right and she worked with Jesse as if she had a lifetime of professional modeling behind her! After the lake portion of the shoot, we decided to bring Tori and her mom into downtown Bellows Falls for some more “urban” shots (if Bellows Falls could ever be called urban!). The results, as seen below, were just fantastic and we ended the shoot knowing that we had yet another happy client in the books.

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On the way home from Vermont, we decided to stop into Keene, New Hampshire and see what was going on in my old stomping grounds. Turns out, it was the day after the annual Pumpkin Festival and the downtown area was a jumble of people, cars, litter and smashed pumpkins. What fun! (Well, from a photographer’s point of view, anyways!) Despite it being a Sunday, several workers were busy cleaning up the streets to restore the downtown area to the quaint and lovely little town that Keene is known for being.

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When we left Keene, I surprised Jesse by taking her through the village of Roxbury and up onto the top of Otter Brook Dam. The sun was low in the sky and the colors of the leaves were simply beautiful. While I puttered around getting some nice landscape shots, Jesse found a place to rest and take a breather from all the bustle of the day’s activities:

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The combination of the clouds, low sun and Autumn colors made for some perfect shooting and I think I got a keeper or two from the day. What do you think?

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On the way home, as we headed across Route 101 towards Manchester, we rounded the western edge of Dublin Lake and, looking back, realized we had been handed an amazing stroke of luck with the sun literally just about to sink below the hills. I whipped the car into a private beach on the eastern edge of the lake, got out the tripod and barely had time to catch the last rays of the setting sun. Simply amazing luck and an impressive light show from the heavens!!!

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All in all, it was a great day! Did I say that, already? ;o)