Category Archives: Media

ReThink: Awareness

If you are reading this, you have probably been elsewhere on the Internet, which means you have most likely heard about the human rights campaign known as KONY2012. While the seriousness of the campaign and its potential ramifications (both positive and negative) are not to be taken lightly, UnConventional has decided to feature Invisible Children’s latest push to make a difference in Central Africa for one reason. What is unconventional is not the campaign; what is unconventional is the way the campaign is being promoted. It was designed to be spread by word-of-mouth, which in our digital age means via social networks. This it has done exceedingly well: the KONY2012 has been viewed 14.1 million times since it was posted two weeks ago on Vimeo and over 55 million times since it was posted four days ago on YouTube, literally creating an overnight sensation (if you just crawled out from under a rock and haven’t seen the video, you can find it here or here – we are refraining from jumping on the blogwagon and embedding it in the midst of our commentary). By using Twitter hashtags such as #KONY2012 and posting links on Facebook, the word spread faster than wildfire, bringing back memories of Arab Spring revolutions powered (and tracked) by social media. Whether the campaign ultimately succeeds remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it has proven that awareness is finding new and powerful vehicles that are reshaping the way we interact with our world.


ReThink: Publishing

Writing is not an easy profession. After months and even years of hard work, writer’s block, and no income, the final product (and ultimate success) is often at the mercy of the publisher. However, not all publishers are alike, and one example is rethinking the publishing paradigm. Splattered Ink Press not only allows writers to self-publish, but offers coaching, editing, formatting assistance, design help, and ebook conversions, among other services, to help authors get their writing onto the page. Focusing on fledgling authors, Splattered Ink helps new writers establish themselves in their local bookstores and works with local publishers to print books, helping authors to develop relationships that can carry them forward as they continue to write. One book at a time, Splattered Ink is putting new thought into an old industry.

ReThink: Branding

No business can grow and prosper without an identifiable brand. However, branding is an expensive and time-consuming process, something that small companies cannot afford to do well, if at all. Now, thanks to Brands for the People, branding is simple, inexpensive, and attractive, making branding a snap. Focusing primarily on startups, Brands for the People allow clients to submit their product or business to multiple brand designers, who then propose different brand ideas. Clients simply select the branding they like best, and presto! the brand is created. And because Brands for the People requires their clients to be companies dedicated to doing good, the brands created do anything but add to the noise of modern, invasive, degrading branding. No fluff, no fat, no nonsense; it’s branding the way it should be.

(Note: Despite the high-quality video on their homepage, Brands for the People has decided to limit its exposure by not allowing it to be embedded in other websites. Hence, the above, dated, lower-quality video will have to suffice.)

ReThink: Local News

Most of us get our news from either a profit-driven major news outlet or from a local source that is more sensationalistic than realistic. Either way, quality, meaningful content is hard to come by, which has opened the door to a new type of news reporting: citizen journalism. Hyper-local news organizations such as The Rapidian in Grand Rapids publish content produced by the very people who know the most about local happenings: the citizens themselves. Citizen journalists post content concerning whatever concerns them, which most often happens to coincide with what concerns the community at large. Using local, information-driven, everyday people, citizen journalism engages communities with the events, changes, and updates that are most relevant to their everyday lives. The Rapidian and other similar organizations have great potential to reshape the way we collect, analyze, and share the latest in hometown happenings.

The Rapidian from George Wietor on Vimeo.

ReThink: Censorship

UnConventional will be joining the online movement to stop the passage of SOPA and PIPA in Congress and will therefore suspend normal posting for today. UnConventional believes this legislation stands in direct opposition to what makes the Internet useful and beneficial: the collaboration on and sharing of ideas. More information on this issue, as well as ways to get involved, can be found here.

ReThink: Art

Good morning Grand Rapids! In celebration of the launch of our official Facebook page and Twitter feed, we are serving up our hometown’s signature UnConvention: ArtPrize! If you’re an ArtPrize veteran, you can skip the paragraph below, but be sure to check out the video as well as the ArtPrize blog for a look at what’s to come for ArtPrize 2012!

If you have been around West Michigan in the autumn during the past three years and haven’t been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the art sensation that has swept Grand Rapids. If you aren’t from the area, welcome to ArtPrize: “Part arts festival, part social experiment.” Designed to engage the audience directly, the community votes on the best art from over 1,700 artists, with nearly half a million dollars of prize money on the line. For three weeks in the fall, the city of Grand Rapids is transformed into an enormous art gallery, with venues ranging from museums to coffee shops to offices to sidewalks to bridges across the Grand River, all encouraging the community to come out and experience art as cultural communication. It’s art with impact: in 2011, ArtPrize brought $15.4 million and over 200,000 visitors into the local economy, making it one of the area’s premier events. In the current state of society, art has never been more relevant.

ReThink: Email Campaigns

Sending out professional mass emails to mailing lists used to involve either significant graphics design experience or a third party marketing group. MailChimp is changing that game. Not only is the design of the email simple to create and beautiful to behold, but integration into any number of social networks, web tools, and office management systems is seamless. Plus, each campaign can be evaluated using detailed reports to track usage statistics. Did we mention that, for all but the heaviest users, MailChimp is free?

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