Technology Versus Networking

ALERT! ALERT! Technology is going to kill networking! Or will it? To what extent is social media and our access to it squeezing the life out of the notion of Know, Like and Trust? What do you think? Here is what Frank Agin (AmSpirit Business Connections founder and president) thinks Technology versus Networking


Document Design 101: Imagine Manipulation No-No

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I just read this article, and quite honestly, the stoopidity (yes, I mispelled this on purpose) absolutely amazes me. Just when I thought I had seen everything in my industry, I read this article about a magazine called Outside taking extreme liberty with Lance Armstrong and photoshopping text onto his T-shirt. Here’s the article link:|aim|dl9|link3|

The stoopid part comes into play when the magazine’s editors try to defend their actions: “…it’s not Armstrong’s real T-shirt.” … “…[magazine] doesn’t typically consult cover subjects on all editorial decisions…”

This is the worst case of non-professionalism I have seen in my twelve years as a graphic artist. Granted, editors have the final say in how their magazine is represented, what articles to showcase, and final editorial edits/changes. That is a far cry from actually photoshopping something that isn’t there onto someone’s shirt and not telling them. I can see maybe doing this as a school project, but in this situation, Mr. Armstrong should have been asked for and [magazine] should have obtained his written permission first. It is not okay just because “it’s not his shirt”; it is not okay because they deliberately TAMPERED with Mr. Armstrong’s BRANDED IMAGE, period.

In a day and age when print advertising is suffering enough damage, there is now a rouge magazine basically giving viewers and potential models the impression, “hey, thanks for your advertisement / thanks for posing for our cover, but we’ve decided to change it up a bit and we can do that because we can. Thanks for playing our game!” Definitely NOT professional, and not a magazine I would recommend anyone paying any attention to now and in future issues.


To Proofread Or To Palliate

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Have you ever created a print job for a client, sent it to your print shop, then picked it up only to have the client find a typo? Unfortunately, this senario happens more often than you might think. Several months ago I was perusing my favorite magazine when I came across an advertisement for a new online company; the ad looked great – except for two glaring typos. Early spring 2010 I was visiting the vendor booths at our local Womens Expo, and an advertisement at a landscaper’s booth had a large typo – unfortunately after over 10K copies had been printed.

Typos are an unfortunate part of creating advertising, but it does not always have to be the case. A professional designer/proofreader can help you go through your copy through for both accuracy and readability. A professional designer/proofreader can help you shine above the rest of the competition by coming across to the consumer as highly professional rather than “I just threw this together at the last minute.”

Here’s a few tips to consider:

  1. Outside eyes. Always have another pair of eyes look your work over, preferably someone that is outside your company. You should still use the spell-checker option, but don’t trust the program or your own eyes to see everything. Having another pair of eyes unfamiliar with your work can save you time, money, and embarrassment.
  2. Read backwards. This might sound strange, but reading backwards does help catch typos or misused words. The human brain becomes accustomed to making adjustments visually, which can be applied to typos and misspellings. Remember the landscaper’s booth at the expo? The people in the booth told me they had at least 14 people read through the copy, yet no one caught the typo. Why? The human brain finished the word, so to most just glancing through, the typo would not stand out. I saw it by reading the copy backwards.
  3. Check dates and times. This might sound elementary, but after having working in a newspaper for over six years, it was surprising how many times people called in to complain about a wrong date or time for an event published in our newspaper. Always send in your event information typed out for ease of reading on the part of the editors/reporters; this also allows them to copy/paste the information so nothing has to be typed out. Before you hit the SEND button, however, read through for accuracy. If it does print wrong, go back through your copy before calling to complain.
  4. Turn on grammar/spell checks. You may have won the National Spelling Bee as an elementary student, but even the best of us make mistakes. Turning on the grammar and spell checks in your software will help keep those mistakes to a bare minimum.
  5. Copy/Paste your text into a word editor. This mostly applies to those of us who blog regularly. If you are not using a word editor to write your copy prior to posting, it is highly recommended this be done. This allows the spell check and grammar check to help you prepare your copy as error-free as possible.

Now it’s your turn! What steps do you take when proofreading? What works and what doesn’t?


What Makes A Great Networker?


Is great networking a function of great skills and techniques? Or is great networking a function of something else? Listen in to find out. What Makes A Great Networker

Space It Out!

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I am a graphic designer, so I get a little annoyed when I see an advertisement that looks like something my kindergartner drew, crayon or not. I not only like advertisements to look pretty; they also have to have that “wow!” factor. This advertisement is a representation of your business, right? So why would you not want that representation to be all that and a bag of chips?

Why not, indeed.

Over the last 14 years of my career I still see a particular violation in full force. It is almost as if either designers have decided they do not care because the client does not care (which I find hard to believe), or the client is creating their own advertising and is not aware of this violation. What I am not a fan of, and still see quite a lot of to this day, is the lack of consideration given to a graphic designer’s best friend: white space.

White space is a graphic designer’s best friend. Proper usage indicates balance between all the elements and allows for “breathing room” for the viewer so they do not feel cramped. Also, when used properly, white space can add a sense of urgency to the product or service you are advertising.

It is also important to note that, even if white space is being used correctly, do not butt the text right up to the border of the page or advert. The border creates two visuals: 1) an important place that contains very important information; 2) a stopping point for reading. Unfortunately, when text is jammed right up to the border, the latter occurs, and the rest of your advert may not be read.

The most notable use of white space I can remember is the magazine and billboard adverts for ING. It made a great teaser, as nobody could tell what is was, thereby making us wait impatiently to find out what ING was all about. The television commercials they soon adopted were a similar nature, but of the absence of information – again, thereby tugging us along until the full nature of ING was released.

Now it’s your turn! Please post a link to the best and worst uses of white space you have seen in the past decade. A snapshot of a website counts.


Document Design 101: Text Box

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Designing a document for print sounds pretty easy: you put some text together on a page, add a photo or some clipart, slip in a small call-out box and – whammo! Instant document design.

It can be this easy, but there’s a few simple steps to remember. I’ll explore these over the next couple of days. Today I’m going to talk about that call-out box in my example.

A call-out box is nothing more than a box shaded 20% with black text. Sometimes it is designed with a dark background and white text. The basic function is to call attention to specific information. A good example of this are the little boxes newspapers sometimes use when describing a new movie review: the box may contain information about the name of the movie, rating given by the movie industry, main cast of characters and a short synopsis. This information is treated in this manner so the viewer can easily find it. The call-out box can also be a light-shaded box following the long margin of a document with text inside. The size of the box doesn’t matter, but the visual appeal does.

In order to make this box visually effective, you have to leave some space between the edgs of the box and the edges of the text box. This can be done by either by increasing the paragraph margins by one-eighth of an inch on all four sides, or by adding some inset spacing to the text box on all four sides. The number isn’t hard and fast; you can add or subtract space to make it visually appealing, but do add some space. If the text butts up against the sides of the call-out box, the viewer’s eyes tend to stop reading. Adding space allows for continuity and flow, and helps the text look great in print.


Put Your Best Flier Forward

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Businesses need as much help as they can get in order to market themselves in this economy. A good flier can describe a special event and help drive traffic back to your store front. A bad flier can make a negative impact if the information isn’t clear or poorly designed. Below are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to make a better flier.

1. Define the purpose. Why do you need to make a flier? Are you just trying to advertise for new business? Are you letting people know you’ve moved to a new location? Do you have a special event coming up? Are you selling something for a limited time? Make sure you have a specific
purpose for your flier; otherwise, it will look like you threw spaghetti at a wall in the hopes something would stick.

2. Define the target market. Sometimes this can be accomplished by defining the purpose, as stated above. For example, say you are holding a roller-skating event from 8pm-midnight. You could target both the teenage crowd and adults, or just stay with the teens. You could break it down
further by the type of music the DJ will play and whether or not to offer something for paying admission, such as Silly Bandz or a glow-in-the-dark necklace.

3. Choose your words carefully. If you have a coupon that requires an expiration date, list it. If you are offering this event only on Friday nights, say so. Give enough information about the offer or event to make people want to come. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and paper. Be sure to list a special price if you have one, especially if it’s only for a certain timeframe; list the regular price either below the special or in a disclaimer. Be sure to include a “call to action” if applicable.

4. Use artwork as a visual aid. This is the one area some people aren’t sure what to do. Most do not err on the side of caution and tend to load up the flier with all kinds of clipart they think is cool. Two problems arise from this: first, it looks very cluttered and junky, losing the point of the message; second, many times the artwork used does not relate to the event. Back to our skating example. If you’re targeting teens, rather than using a schoolbus, you might use photos of teens on skates, or maybe a photo of a skate on the floor. If you decide to use clipart, you might use artwork that revolves around music, or maybe a grunge background with speakers. VERY IMPORTANT: include your company’s logo for branding and recognition.

5. Choose colors and paper wisely. Color makes an impressive statement but only if it isn’t overused. Black and white can make a striking impression, particularly on astro-bright paper, but drop shadows make give the flier a “dirty” look. The same goes for the paper: did you want to print this on 100 gloss book stock, 16pt. cardstock, or just regular copy paper? Always take into account your target market, not just your budget.

6. Putting the pieces together. Try to think of your flier as a physical collage rather than a “sheet” of paper on a screen. Everything on a flier is a separate element: the text, the paper, the artwork — all separate elements of a puzzle that, when put together, makes a straightforward and clear message. Don’t make the artwork so big it overtakes the text. You can use different typefaces, but no more than three should be used on any separate marketing piece. Determine what your most important points are and make those big enough to stand out. If using color, use on these important pieces to give more visual identity and help create a sense of urgency (depending on the text).

7. Please press PRINT. Who will be printing this masterpiece? If you are intending to print from your own inkjet or laserjet, choose paper that best works with your printer. If you are not sure what to use, consult your owner’s manual or search engine on the web. Determine how many fliers you will be printing and buy enough paper to cover that plus an extra twenty or so, in case some of the fliers don’t print exactly right. If choosing a print shop, be ready to ask some questions – and not just about cost! Please refer to my post “Ready…Set…Print?” for tips on taking your files to a print shop.

That’s it! You’re done and ready to show off your flier to the world!

Now it’s your turn! What were some of the challenges you faced when creating your own flier? How did you overcome these challenges?


Why Would You Not?

Within AmSpirit Business Connections, we empower and encourage our Chapters to follow a system. The meeting has a structure. Officers have defined roles and scripted text. There is well-established performance tracking and reporting of activity,

including referrals, guests brought and attendance.

Those Chapters that closely follow the system do much better than Chapters that tends to “wing it.” In plain English, members in Chapters that follow the system consistently generate more and better referrals and as a result, they make more money from their AmSpirit Business Connections experience as compared to members in Chapter that loosely follow the system.

Given this, why (why, why) would a Chapter not choose to do all it could to closely adhere to the system?

NOTE: A great test as to how closely a Chapter adheres to the system is the Outstanding Chapter program criteria.

Interested In FREE Rent in downtown Columbus?

kickstartCould your business use FREE office space in downtown Columbus? Do you have a client, vendor or business friend that could use FREE office space in downtown Columbus? Intrigued? Read on (or pass this on) …

In addition to being a knowledgeable business attorney in the Port Columbus Chapter of AmSpirit Business Connections, Eileen Paley is a member of City Council for the City of Columbus. Through this capacity as a city leader, she has helped create the Columbus KickStart program.

This program is more or less a contest where Columbus area businesses submit their business plan for consideration. Up to three will be selected and given free office space in downtown Columbus (281 S. Third Street) along with other prizes (including a free one-year membership in AmSpirit Business Connections). In addition the City of Columbus, Councilmember Paley has involved ECDI, Capitol South and Capital Crossroads SID.

For details, CLICK HERE.

columbus city council