Thursday, November 8, 2012

Have you lost control of your website? 5 tips to safeguard your website

The client's eyes glazed over as the web programmer emitted what sounded like a foreign language. Spatterings of references to HTML, FTP, CMS, DNS and dozens of other unrecognizable terms swirled around our heads, leaving everyone but the programmer dizzy with webaleze.

When the techn-babble finally ceased, the client turned to us. "So, I'm screwed, right?"

"Yes," we replied, "you're screwed."

What the programmer was saying in his own special way was that the client had failed to maintain control of his website and we were now going to have to start from scratch and build him a new site. He wasn't the first client we've had this unfortunate conversation with. Sadly, lots of companies have lost control of their websites.

Now lest you think that there is a rampant epidemic of websites wreaking havoc in the online world, losing control of a website doesn't mean the site is akin to a rebellious teenager. These sites aren't staying out past curfew smoking and drinking. Their owners, however, are unable to control them.

On the surface they look like nice websites. They're live. You can click on them, look at pretty pictures and read some interesting information. Try to update one of those pictures or a bit of that information and the owner quickly realizes he has lost control of his website.

Losing control of your website is easy to do, but luckily, maintaining control of your website is just as easy with our 5 Tips for Keeping Your Website Safe.

  1. Make sure that your domain name is registered to you. Many times a web programmer, IT person or another third party may have registered your domain name for you. If this is the case, make sure they register you as the Owner of the domain. Not sure how your domain is registered? Look it up on
  2. Know who hosts your site. The web company that built your site may host it for you... or you may only think they host it for you. They may be outsourcing your hosting to someone else. When the web company goes out of business, you have no idea where to find your site. Not sure who hosts your site? This information is available at
  3. Insist on always having the logins for your website. Even if you do not know what to do with them, make sure you know what codes you need to access the files for your website. Your files are stored by the company that hosts your site. Insist that they give you access to the files.
  4. Ask your web company for you website files. It's always a good idea to keep a backup of your web files. In the event that your website is corrupted or you cannot gain control of the live site, you have another copy of the files on hand.
  5. Avoid building a site that cannot be moved. Web companies often build websites using technology that they own such as a proprietary database or e-commerce solutions. If you wish to move the site to another hosting company, you will not be able to as your current web host owns the technology your site is built on.
Put in these safeguards and, unlike your teenagers, you'll never have to worry about losing control of your website.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oops! Did I really say that on Facebook?

“Whoever invented peanut butter… bless his heart.”

The Facebook post was just a random thought posted by a RWA staffer who keeps an extra large jar of Super Chunky in her bottom desk drawer. Mixed in with helpful advertising tips, news of new campaigns and clients, and step-by-step instructionals on successful marketing tactics, a peanut butter post looked starkly out of place, but fans of RWA disagreed.

“Eat it by the spoonful and love it.”

“Right next to the chocolate in desk drawer. Yum!”

“Who says it was a ‘him’?”

The posts kept coming, more comments than any other Facebook post. Apparently peanut butter is much more engaging than Tips on Writing a Strong Headline. Who knew?

Getting engagement with customers through Facebook and other social media channels is a bit like a science experiment. Mix a little of this with a little of that and you’ll either blow up the lab or discover the cure for cancer. Unlike science, though, there is no scientific process for getting results out of your social media. You have to try a whole lot of things to discover what works.

In 2011, Slim Jim committed to Facebook as an integral piece of their marketing. The brand is now up to Facebook 1 million fans collected though what Social Media Manager Dan Skinner describes as “a willingness to make mistakes and evolve.” Not everything has been a resounding success, but Slim Jim now counts on its legions of fans for valuable feedback on new products and brand changes.

So don’t be afraid to get out there and socialize. Throw enough peanut butter against your Facebook wall and something is bound to stick.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Political Advertising: Run the Other Way

RWA staffers spend a fair amount of time reading (especially the copywriters who aspire to writing their own great American novel some day). While perusing the Barnes and Noble bookshelves looking for inspiration, one of our staffers ran across an unlikely choice for a little light, spring break reading. Nonetheless, Bill Hillsman's book "Run the Other Way" in hand, she proudly marched to the checkout counter and then home to pack her selection in her carry-on bag.

Hillsman, an advertising veteran, is the creative force behind many memorable and winning political campaigns including Jesse Ventura's successful run for Governor of Minnesota in the late '80's. Hillsman takes a different approach to political advertising, one that is proven successful, but one that most politicians will never use.

An hour into flight and completely caught up on People and In Style, she delved into the pages of "Run the Other Way" and, surprise, surprise, was enthralled. She will never look at political advertising the same.

In a posting on one of our favorite blogs - HeyWhipple - advertising legend Luke Sullivan agrees. "Can you imagine what would happen to cola sales if Pepsi and Coke engaged in these horrible, groin-kicking antics?" he writes. “Pepsi says it doesn’t have venereal dog turds floating in its carbonation tanks, … but what do the facts say?”

As for RWA, we vote for better ads this election year.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super game, but not so super ads

Once a year, we local ad folks look forward to the Super Game (yeah, we know, can't use the real term... copyright laws and all). Sure we like the football part of things, but we're most excited about the commercial breaks and seeing what the world's top creatives have come up with this time. No pressure. You're just paying, oh, like a couple mil for your 30 seconds of fame.

This year's crop of ads was, well, not so bountiful. Doritos was a standout, as they have been in the past few years. The snack favorite's "Man's Best Friend" spot where a dog bribes a man with Doritos so he won't nark about the missing cat was gut bustingly funny as was "Sling Baby." Regular contender E-Trade's baby cleverly incorporated speed dating into a hospital nursery scene and Budweiser, as always, showcased stunning production with elaborate spots about the end of prohibition and war. Watching the Coca Cola polar bears back on screen was enjoyable too.

The succession of car ads blurred a bit although Volkswagen's "The Dog Strikes Back" ad was entertaining and Chevy's "Stunt" ad for the new Sonic intrigued although perhaps not in the best way.

Unfortunately the disappointments were many. Go Daddy's sex fantasy ads were less shocking that just mundane as the domain register sinks further and further into juvenile territory. Careerbuilder's monkey antics are similarly getting a little old; the company's ad about monkeys playing practical jokes on their fellow business traveler was barely funny. And, the shrunken head emerging from the shoulder of a shopper? Disturbing in an Alien Returns sort of way.

Missed a few spots? Check 'em all out and vote for your favorites online.