Keep it Simple

There’s a lot to keep up with these days– in politics, across the country, and around the world.

Striving to keep it simple.

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Remembering the Lofgrens

Seven years ago, two days after Thanksgiving, on a gray Saturday like today, I received a phone call with the news of a terrible, senseless tragedy. Today, I remember the Lofgrens.

Please install, use, and check CO detectors.

Lofgren-download-002 (1)While driving home from a morning appointment, I saw a sign for an estate sale. I don’t know what was I thinking because I don’t do estate sales—maybe a yard sale every five years or so. But before I knew it I was in auto mode, following arrows and a succession of turns. I couldn’t help but notice there were no other cars on the road. I started to wonder whether I’d misread the sign and if it was an upcoming weekend event. By the time I followed the last arrow and pulled up to the house where only one car was parked, I questioned myself momentarily. Should I go in?

The front door was open. There was a woman in an apron standing at the kitchen counter reading a newspaper, blowing smoke rings. “Come on in,” she called in a raspy voice. “Everything’s for sale.” The house was filled with furniture, plates, clothing, and appliances. Every room turned upside down. I walked down the hall passed the master bedroom and the rooms with Disney motif bedding, the blue room with an over-the-door basketball hoop, the pink one with a dollhouse whose miniature people and furniture looked like they’d been through a cyclone. I suddenly had an eerie feeling that the occupants of the house had every intention of returning. But couldn’t. There was an older man in the basement, also aproned and reeking like an overflowing ashtray of snuffed-out cigarettes. I avoided walking past him and exited through the open garage door. I didn’t look back until I reached my car. Jostling the keys to unlock the door, I climbed into the driver’s seat and not being able to wait another moment, burst into tears.

Back at my house I sat and looked more carefully at a large hand-painted Majolica plate, a treasured gift from my friend’s family. The plate was part of their sister, Caroline and brother-in-law, Parker’s, estate—given to me following the senseless tragedy on Thanksgiving, 2008 that had taken their lives along with their two children, Owen, age ten and Sophie age eight. The family died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a rented house in Aspen, Colorado that they’d won in a raffle at the “Life is Sweet” benefit, a fundraiser for the children’s school.

An investigation at the house had revealed multiple malfunctionings—disconnected vents, defective boiler, and an improperly installed heating and air conditioning system. As in the case of so many of these senseless tragedies we hear about, there weren’t any carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Not one within the sprawling 3200 square foot, bar-none luxury house on 10 Popcorn Lane, Aspen, Colorado—an inexpensive device that could have alerted the family and saved their lives.

Caroline’s family travelled back and forth to Colorado in the years that followed attending to one heart-wrenching matter after another. The task of breaking down the house before it could be put on the market took many months. They had to make decisions about everything in it. Furniture was split-up amongst many members, trucked and delivered miles away. Their personal items were discussed and shared with a wide circle of family and friends—even the children’s stuffed animals. I’d heard about the process of going through the Lofgren house, closets and every last drawer, but the Lexington estate sale was a startling wake-up call that I didn’t know the half of it.

I still look at the beautiful photo of the family poised on a hiking trail in Colorado taken only months before, that accompanied every newspaper article and TV news story shown hundreds of times over the years, at every juncture along the way: The Lofgren Family Carbon Monoxide Initiative, Estates of Parker Lofgren and Family Versus Marlin Brown, Et Al, The Lofgren and Johnson Families Carbon Monoxide Safety Act. The iconic photo freezes the parents and children in time and place, forever beautiful and young—a somber reminder of the lives they should have been living.

Sophie would have been fifteen.  Her brother Owen, a high school junior, applying to colleges.  And, undoubtedly, Caroline and Parker would have still been making life better for everyone whose lives they touched.

As of January 2015, only 29 states in the U.S. have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors. National Conference of State Legislatures          

 

 

How to: Create Engaging Content

Is all content created equal?  I think not. There’s some that is clearly more engaging than other types of content.  The art of course is to know what will engage your target audience and once you’re confident–do more of it. Regularly.

Today in my new article on Social Media Examiner, I discuss 26 Ways, an A-Z guide, for creating engaging content.  Read the full post.

If you’ve found your way to my blog as a result of the article, welcome and thanks for stopping by. You may want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below or via the contact form.

ways to create engaging content

Why 26?

I’ve come to see over the years that in an increasingly crowded social media content space it’s an added benefit to create and stay with a signature post. That is, if it continues to speak to readers.

small__4789649582For the past few years I’ve been writing articles about social media and developed a personal style, 26 Tips: An A-Z Guide, that has become my signature post on Social Media Examiner.

Last week while at Social Media Marketing World, #SMMW13, a woman introduced me to her colleague as Social Media Examiner’s “26 person.” The woman graciously shook my hand and immediately inquired, “Why 26?” Hmm, good question!

I’ve been writing these posts for so long that I had to stop and think a moment.

I realize this: blogging, like other types of writing, needs to have an organizing principle. Something that helps the writer structure the material in a meaningful way. Helps determine what to include and what to omit. What the writer wants to introduce, reinforce and help the reader take-away specific messages. And, a way to catch the reader’s attention from the get-go.

The way “26 Tips”works is that I come up with a topic for the article, one that I believe (and hope too to some degree) will be of relevance to a marketing audience, interested in learning more about various aspects of social media. (Some posts have been titled a variation e.g., 26 ways, elements– but the structure is always the same)

Then I make a list of words, from A-Z, that help categorize the tips I want to explore in the article. Some letters are tricker than others, e.g. X, Z, and that becomes part of the extra challenge, too.

I have to make a number of choices a long the way. For instance, in my last article, 26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing, the letter “V” would have been a perfect opportunity to discuss video but instead I chose, Visual Content Types, so that I could include comics and memes.

The 26 Tips articles have been well received and are one of my favorite articles to write. I’ve come to see over the years that in an increasingly crowded social media content space it’s an added benefit to create and stay with a signature post. That is, if it continues to speak to readers.

Do you have a signature article type? Or, a particular preference for one over another? Share your comments in the space below.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

Visuals and Social Media Marketing

Perhaps you’ve been told pictures are worth a thousand words. And, how visuals are favored on social networking platforms. At times you may feel at a loss for how to use them or the myriad of ways they can be incorporated into your social media marketing efforts.

Today, I have a new article on Social Media Examiner, 26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing. You can read the full post there.

If you’ve found your way to my blog as a result of the article, welcome and thanks for stopping by. You may want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below or via the contact form.

social_media_examiner

Social Media Marketing: An A-Z Guide

I started the 26 Tips Series on SME back in October of 2010, as a curated content post where I incorporate materials from many writers in the field. While researching and writing, there’s always a great amount of discovery and surprises along the way.

I have a new article published today on Social Media Examiner (SME), 26 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media Marketing, an A-Z Guide. You can read the full post on SME.

I started the 26 Tips Series on SME back in October of 2010, as a curated content post where I incorporate materials from many writers in the field. While researching and writing, there’s always a great amount of discovery and surprises along the way.

I for one, learn a lot while working on the articles, which in my opinion, is one of the added benefits of writing!

If you’re new here and visiting my blog as a result of seeing the article on Social Media Examiner, welcome and thanks for stopping by.

social media examiner 26 tips