09 November 2013

"Past-Perfect Storm" on the Mississippi River

"I crawled back down to the water's edge because I was afraid to stand with the wind roaring so hard. Then I immersed myself in the river like a scared possum."
Prepping for a Cub Scouts campout, I was looking up John Ruskey's recipe for "Raft Potatoes" that I included in a 2000 Memphis Flyer article about his Mississippi River canoe guide service, Quapaw Canoe Co. When I turned in the article to Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden, he asked for two additions: The recipe (since I mentioned it in the story) and an account of danger on the river. I emailed John, and he promptly sent me a thousand-word paragraph describing a storm he kayaked through four years earlier. I added line breaks and moved the paragraph order around where it made sense. The raft-potatoes recipe is at the bottom of this post.

07 November 2013

Don't let Stanley Kubrick design your web content!

"So, I went to that company's site," the business reporter told me. "What do they do?"
I was embarrassed by that question about my PR client and frustrated that I had little or no input on their site's content. All key pages on the niche BPO provider's site were dominated by slogans, vision statements, mission statements, graphics of world maps, etc., but no clear description of what specialized services they provided.

To put it in terms of science fiction movies, the reporter needed to see a web site that read like Star Wars, but her  experience was more akin to watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I'm a fan of Stanley Kubrick's movies and Arthur C. Clarke's novels, but I thought the famous 1968 collaboration between the two suffered from serious gaps in story-telling. Kubrick meant to take a non-verbal approach to the movie, reaching the viewer at a visual or visceral level rather than through conventional narrative.