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This Week On This Writing Life – 11/10/17

You can keep up with my Medium posts on my personal writing thoughts and experiences by following This Writing Life

Measuring Performance Comes Later: I truly believe how well a piece, whether it’s a 300-word blog post or a 40,000-word novel performs is any indicator of the quality of what’s produced or a signal of the value or health of the writer behind the keyboard.

 

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Dr. Formattinglove: …getting over my own stubborn adherence to the old way of doing things and embracing the same best practices I apply for other work is part of putting my best foot forward. It’s not enough to be a talented writer.

computer writing

Steadfastly Ignoring Advice: The problem I’ve always had with such advice is that it all seems to be geared toward creating a monoculture. Everyone’s output is basically the same because it all comes from the same foundation of ideas and practices.

lego stormtroopers

One Long Post or Several Little Posts?: Do what feels good for you and fits into your schedule and balance it with what goes over well with your audience and moves you closer to achieving the goals you have for your content.

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Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Fearless Women Rattling Hollywood

My latest post at Adweek deals with just some of the issues of sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct that have shaken the foundations of Hollywood – and upset many marketing plans – and other industries.

It’s been an … eventful … couple of days for Hollywood.

Two days ago, Sony TriStar shocked the entertainment world when it announced that, per the decision of director Ridley Scott, Kevin Spacey was being replaced as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World—with the scenes being reshot with Christopher Plummer. This followed a growing number of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and others by Spacey, and was all the more notable for coming just six weeks before the movie was scheduled to be released, a date that (at least for the time being) remains intact.

Then, yesterday, I Love You, Daddy, written, directed and starring comedian Louis C.K., was suddenly pulled by distributor The Orchard from its planned debut in New York City. That announcement cited a then-upcoming New York Times story that hit just hours later with stories of sexual misconduct by Louis C.K. related by five women. Then, on Friday, The Orchard pulled the movie from its release calendar entirely.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/9/17

Instagram has made its branded content tagging tools available to more creators with high levels of engagement to make sure everyone is complying with required disclosure around paid relationships. Making that disclosure easier also has the benefit of encouraging more people to use Instagram for their content.

Brand marketers are beginning to work with influential and popular account creators on Musical.ly, something the company’s management is encouraging and facilitating.

Website owners can now embed Facebook Messenger chat functionality on their sites to encourage everyone to use that platform for customer services conversations.

So cool that it seems the future of business depends on how friendly any given company is to the current administration. That’s exactly how both free-market capitalism and democracy are supposed to work, right?

Slow clap for Sen. Al Franken for calling out the closed-system monopolies being created by the big social technology companies like Google and Facebook, which are acting recklessly and irresponsibly given the influence they have over the information presented to the electorate.

Oh, and the fact that Facebook and other companies collect metric tons of data you may not even be aware of to build a profile of you and make various forms of recommendations to you.

If Instagram thought it was going to avoid conversations about how its platform is used to spread political disinformation, nah.

I love this example of The Washington Post participating in conversations on Reddit in helpful and non-promotional ways that are authentic to the platform, not ham-handed and terrible.

One of the cooler product integrations I’ve seen of late, as LinkedIn and Microsoft (which owns LinkedIn) have created Resume Assistant to quickly and easily create resumes based on your profile and keep it updated.

Millennials don’t have a ton of disposable income, even during the years when other generations have been at the peak of their spending power and most susceptible to marketing messages. Crushing student debt and a poor job market will do that. They’re more choosy with where they spend what money they have, focusing on both bargains and companies they view as responsible and ethical socially.

Revenue sharing is the hot new way social networks are buying the loyalty of top creators.

Twitter has launched Promote Mode, a simple system that costs a flat fee of $99 a month for small business and individual brands to promote their profiles without jumping through a lot of hoops.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

How Will 280 Characters Change Your Content Program?

What changes are you making to account for 280 characters?

As you’ve no doubt read by now, Twitter has raised its default character limit for everyone (more or less) from 140 to a whopping 280. The change has raised some serious questions about whether or not Twitter understands its unique value proposition in the online world and also lead to countless jokes involving the character count.

twitter app iconAs with most things, this is a tempest in a teapot, something that people are shocked and amused by for a while before it becomes the norm and we all move on with our lives. Yes, there was value in having a tight character limit, which includes any links added to the update, but we’ll all move on. The appearance of longer updates in our timelines, now somewhat off and anachronistic, will soon be commonplace.

Brand publishers have long been among those pushing most fervently for more room in updates because, well, they have important messaging points to be pushing out. I can vouch for how hard it can be to summarize certain complicated issues, particularly those involving partner companies, sensitive talent and other factors, into 115 characters (again, leaving room for the link). Only slightly more problematic is needing to explain to others after the fact why you couldn’t do so.

Change In Features = Change in Behavior

One consistent in social media over the years is that each changed or added feature on a network leads to changes in the behavior of those using it. Every tweak Facebook makes to its user experience results in something new. Twitter’s shift from stars to hearts as a form of engagement was roundly criticized by almost everyone but resulted in increased usage of the feature, despite its drawbacks.

While outside commentators (including myself) love to wag our fingers and believe our own usage habits are nearly universal, deriding every change that’s introduced, it’s rare these companies aren’t careful and deliberate in rolling out new features. They’re using their own data and guidance to figure out what to offer more of or change to lean into current behavior or nudge people in the direction that’s good for the company. They know what they’re doing.

(Notably, the one area where tech companies often wind up reversing course after introducing something new is in the areas of privacy and safety. They know what users want, with that glaring exception. There’s more to say about how these companies are so driven by data that they lack empathy, but that’s another topic for another time.)

Changes In Behavior = Changes In Measurement

measurement-1476913_960_720Because of the widespread use of social media in marketing, both organic and paid, all these changes in feature offerings result in changes in some aspect of program management. The use of images on Twitter became a lot more pervasive as native uploads were offered and later expanded to a four-picture gallery. Offering that functionality to third-party platforms like Hootsuite and others did so even more. Facebook has done everything it can to encourage companies to do adopt new features like photo or video posts, usually by punishing posts not in line with its priorities by sinking them in the News Feed.

Whatever the case, a change in user behavior necessitates adjustments in program tracking. Most third-party analytics services such as SimplyMeasured break out types of updates on different platforms so you can see how your photo posts did compared to how your video posts performed. If you’re truly dedicated, you can divide your Facebook engagement reporting by the different Reactions emojis, though that’s a manual process and not one facilitated through native Insights reporting.

All of these changes in audience behavior contain potential insights for the content marketing manager that can help guide the program going forward. It’s important to track what’s important both to you and the audience and make the necessary adjustments.

Tracking 280

The smart content program manager spent much of the last two days doing two things:

  1. Benchmarking current Twitter engagement stats so you know what current state looks like
  2. Rolling out the plans for 280-character updates you put together last month when Twitter announced it was toying around with the change. (Because you did do that, right?)

November, then, should be a time of experimentation. Updates should be a mix of those under and over 140 and include the usual mix of media. So do some 137 character updates with a photo and some with just a link. Do some with 215 characters with a gallery and some with a video. Mix and match all the potential elements. Ignore your metrics for now. Don’t look at any numbers. Just be tracking all these combinations in your editorial calendar.

Then when you’re compiling your November program metrics in the first week of December, break this out in your reporting. Show what worked and what didn’t. Where did engagement fall below your benchmark and where did it exceed that number? Where is there ambiguity that requires further testing and adjustment?

Use Your Numbers, Not Hysteria

There are likely a fair number of social media consultants and pundits who are screeching at the top of their lungs that every company needs to show how savvy it is by publishing nothing but 280-character updates right now. But what if that’s not what your audience wants or will react well to? What if, in six months, we find that industry-wide shorter updates continue to see higher engagement rates?

It’s totally cool to have a bit of fun with the expanded freedom now available. But remember that these are probably going to be fake numbers. What now gets 2,000 likes because it’s funny and unique might only garner 400 in a couple months when this is all commonplace. Always use the reactions and preferences of your audience, not the squealing of consultants, to find your way forward.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Snap Scrambles To Keep Momentum

Snapchat has to start delivering if it wants to continue being seen as hot tech.

Yesterday was a rough day for Snap, the parent company of Snapchat. For the third quarter in a row it reported it failed to meet analyst expectations on a number of fronts. User growth was the slowest it’s been since early 2012, with just 4.5 million people joining the messaging service. And the introduction of automated, auction-based advertising is driving prices down, especially when compared to the fixed pricing that is in place when a company works through Snap’s own sales team. To add insult to injury, it admitted that Spectacles, rolled out earlier this year to much fanfare and sold exclusively through pop-up vending machines, were a dud and that it’s cost almost $40 million to store devices that were either never sold or which have had their orders canceled.

In response CEO Evan Spiegel said the company was making a number of adjustments:

First, it’s going to begin opening its wallet for creators who are using the platform to incentivize continued usage and would add more monetization options in the near future. Additional production features may also be forthcoming. That could be helpful since a recent study found influencers were cooling on the platform and going where there’s more money.

Second, it’s going to undertake a redesign effort to make the app easier to understand and use. Details on what that might entail were not offered – and may not yet be decided – but any substantive change runs the risk of being more generally acceptable while alienating the core user base.

Shades of Twitter

If this all seems vaguely reminiscent of the conversations we’ve had around Twitter in the last few years, you’re not wrong. Twitter has struggled for a while to define its unique value proposition and answer the core question of “Now what?” that’s asked by new users. It’s balanced the need to smooth out the on-ramp with not upsetting the power users of the network.

Those efforts have been hit and miss. Changes to the app navigation, the introduction of Moments, the shift to an engagement-driven Timeline, even yesterday’s roll-out of 280-character updates, have been greeted warmly by some and derided by others. Only in this most recent quarter does their story seem to be turning around as daily active user growth, ad revenue and other numbers all begin to solidly move in the right direction.

What’s At Stake

Snap reported Snapchat has 178 million total daily users at the end of last quarter. While it might not be as high as investors and others would hope for, it’s not insubstantial. Even more than the sheer numbers, it’s the app’s popularity among teens and young adults that makes it so popular. 47% of teens told Piper Jaffray it was their favorite app. Almost 60% percent of those who use it are under 25 years old. It’s used these stats to attract the attention of media companies, encouraging them to create original productions as well as buy Sponsored Lenses and other ad products.

Snapchat has also firmly positioned itself as the chief innovator in the social tech industry. The Stories format it introduced years ago has gone on to be copied or mimicked by almost all competitors, sometimes with unintended consequences. Likewise for face filters and other photo manipulation tools. It’s experimented with AR and other boundary-pushing features.

What’s Next?

Yes, Snap has to prove it not only has appeal for those over 25 – and that it’s easy to use without needing to bring in a Millennial consultant for assistance – but that it’s viable as a long-term business. Even Silicon Valley will only tolerate so much experimentation, no matter how cool it is, before a company has to produce tangible results.

That reported redesign will be a major test, not just for users’ tolerance for change but for how much investors feel they were sold a bill of goods when the company IPOd back in February, though it’s not as if the numbers were all that great at that point either.

In short, so far Snapchat has been attractive to investors, advertisers and media producers because of the promise of what it could be, not necessarily because of what it is. Eventually, we’re going to have to get to the point where it delivers on that promise.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

What Is User-Inspired Content?

Brands helping tell people’s story for them

A couple weeks ago I came across a phrase I’d previously been unfamiliar with: User-inspired content.

I was kind of shocked at the phrase. “User-generated content” has been in usage for over a decade in the online marketing world to describe the material that’s produced by everyday people online, those unaffiliated with brands or agencies. This material was held up by marketers as very important because it showed the talent of the people actually buying products, talent that grew over time as the tools of creation were improved. A whole cottage industry was born as agencies and others integrated UGC into official marketing campaigns and brands were advised to respond to blog posts, social media comments and more feedback.

Eventually everyone figured out (some far later than others) that you couldn’t just grab photos from Flickr and put it in your national print ad campaign without consent. At least not without being sued for doing so. The emergence early on of the Creative Commons license helped with this, allowing creators to clearly signal whether their work could be used for commercial purposes and what credits had to be included if it was. Even so, brands would occasionally have their hand slapped by a photographer, video creator or other individuals who showed they had essentially stolen their work for their marketing.

In other words, even if some marketer didn’t actually reappropriate an actual photo, video or other bits of content outright, they were still on the hook if they had clearly copied what someone had already done.

Enter Inspiration

User-inspired content, then, seems to be not on using content other people have produced but telling marketing stories that are centered around the actual users of a product or service. So instead of asking Stacy if you can use her video in your campaign you can use Stacy and tell her story yourself.

That shift in tactics means the marketer herself is in control of the process and not subject to whatever Stacy (or whomever) has created already. Tamper with the UGC too much and you lose the authenticity. Create your own ad and you have to claim to authenticity. But use your official platform to tell Stacy’s story and you get to still retain some semblance of the rough-and-tumble UGC world while still exercising oversight over the content. The presumption seems to be that it’s the best of both worlds.

Aside from one or two mentions from several years ago the most recent conversations around user-inspired content comes from Expertcity, an agency that matches brands with experts and influencers to help guide their decisions and choices. CEO Kevin Knight spoke on the topic at a recent WOMMA event and wrote a sponsored post on Digiday on the topic.

The Next Evolution of Influencers

The industry’s current fascination with “influencers,” either macro– or micro-, was the direct result of the attention paid to user-generated content. Eventually those who were best at producing such material amassed sizable followings, aided by their presence on the radars of marketing managers who fed them products to review and news to break. That market is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

Facebook and other platforms have made it easier for brands to get the maximum value out of those campaigns, letting them pay to boost an influencer’s own post without having to create one of their own, while also putting more structures in place to clearly identify which influencer posts come as a result of a paid relationship.

User-inspired marketing seems to cut out the middleman in that equation. Influencers, or something close to that definition, are still important but instead of working with brands to create their own content, they are co-opted by the brand into corporately-managed messages.

Here’s the evolutionary track laid out more clearly:

  1. User-generated marketing: Cool picture, Tim, can we use it on our website?
  2. Influencer marketing: Here’s a brief and a review unit, Tim, you create your own video.
  3. User-inspired marketing: We love your story, Tim, and would like to use it in our campaign.

The through-line in that history is that corporate and other marketers are looking to regain some of the control in the messaging. UGC was often messy and came with a lot of complications. Influencer marketing means your message is secondary to the talent staying on-brand for their audience. UIC, though puts the brand marketer back in the driver’s seat.

What’s Old Is New Again

This isn’t so much an evolution to something wholly new but a return to something that’s been in regular use by the marketing and advertising industries for decades: The testimonial. Through that tactic, user stories have been used on TV, in print and in other media as part of the marketing mix for almost as long as there’s been an industry.

That people were more likely to believe someone’s personal story is the reason traveling salesman, both legitimate and otherwise, would put a cohort in the crowd to “spontaneously” begin sharing their experience. They were the “shill.”

Right now this concept seems to be fairly limited in its reach. I’m anticipating hearing more about it if it catches on as a way for brand marketers to once more own the production and distribution of the consumer message, particularly if it comes without the hefty price tag often attached to influencer marketing campaigns.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/7/18

Interesting findings here that longer headlines on branded content have higher click-through rates. Perhaps because they’re more effective at quickly drawing the reader into the story?

Google is deprecating old RSS feeds from Google News next month, taking a convoluted approach that involves discarding the old but offering new feeds without setting up redirects or other accommodations for those subscribed.

Polls are the new big thing as Facebook follows Instagram with a feature allowing people to post polls using GIFs across desktop and mobile platforms.

Twitter has responded to the constant calls for better enforcement of its terms of service by clarifying the rules around what will get your account suspended or banned. Actual application of those guidelines continues to be spotty, though.

Hard to argue with the conclusion that the DNAinfo/Gothamist situation show that not only will local news not scale to the level needed for large companies to view it as successful (even if it is in the black financially) but it’s also too vital to leave in the hands of profit-motivated individuals or entities. Even national news is under fire from advertisers who are considered coverage of unpleasant issues hurts ratings and are threatening to pull their ads if it doesn’t change.

All brands will have access to Sponsored Messages on Facebook Messenger later this year. Yay?

More people are worried any regulations of tech companies resulting from the current focus on foreign manipulation of democracy through social media will go too far. I have to laugh at the comment about needing to expand our worldview beyond the self-selected media bubble it’s easy to create given our president almost daily reacts to one cable almost exclusively.

It’s kind of hard to fathom the implications of a potential Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Putting aside the control over IP, the consolidation of control over a bigger percentage of media production and distribution – specifically news dissemination – is frightening, especially given the recent example noted above.

Even beyond what it produces itself, such a combined entity has potential repercussions for the press. Disney reportedly shut out the Los Angeles Times from press screenings as punishment for a negative report on its theme park business, a dangerous stifling of the free press. In response four critics associations announced Disney films would not be eligible for their annual awards as long as the policy is in place, seemingly creating enough public pressure that just today Disney relented and lifted the ban.

Twitter has rolled out 280-character updates to its entire user base, meaning…well…nothing, really.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Pew: How People Use One or More Social Networks For News

Pew last week released the results of a new study on which social media sites Americans were getting their news from. Those numbers are not only insightful in and of themselves but also in regards to the ongoing conversation about what responsibility the companies operating those sites have to their role as news sources.

Facebook Dominates

Not only is Facebook the most widely-used social network, but half of the people who get their news on that site do so exclusively, meaning they don’t turn to any other social media site for additional information or context.

That stat needs to be used the next time Facebook is called to account for the influence it wields and who may be using it as a disinformation platform. That includes not only foreign but domestic actors. If 45% of U.S. adults use Facebook for news and half do so exclusively, that means it is the only source of news for roughly 23% of U.S. adults. The fact that the company does not seem to take that role seriously is breathtaking.

Messaging App Users Stay In That Lane

In general, the number of people who get news from messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp are small – 5 and 2% respectively – but if they do they tend to stay in that category. So WhatsApp users also turn to Snapchat for news, as well as Instagram.

Twitter and YouTube Numbers Are Surprising

It was surprising to see that only 11% of respondents said they turn to Twitter for news, especially given its role in the conversation around breaking news events. That came into stark relief a few years ago when Twitter was filled with updates of the protests and other events in Ferguson, MO while Facebook dominated by the Ice Bucket Challenge. That contrast lead some to refer to Facebook’s as the “Ice Bucket Feed.”

Just as unexpected is the appearance of YouTube as the second most used site for news, with 18% of people turning there, 21% exclusively. Just last year there was a report that YouTube had fallen out of favor with media companies who were being lured by pitches from Facebook, Snapchat and others that focused on how they reach vital demographics and encourage viral sharing. YouTube apparently wants to lean into this role as just a few months ago it introduced a “Breaking News” section on the desktop and mobile app front pages.

[pilatevoice] What Is News? [/pilatevoice]

What’s left unaddressed in the Pew report is what the definition of “news” being used is. While all these platforms certainly deal in what might be called “hard” news, they also feature more than a little “softer” news, as well as content that can only be termed news through a significant stretching of definitions. Are people using these sites to stay in tune with politics and government?

A 2013 Pew study found that “Entertainment” accounted for 73% of the news people saw on Facebook while “National government and politics” was just 55% and “International” just 39%. So when people are going to YouTube or anywhere else for news, what does that mean? It can’t be assumed it’s the kind of news that would make the lead on a local TV broadcast or the front page of The New York Times.

Not only that, but the study doesn’t address what sources are providing that news. As Facebook seeks to increasingly marginalize the role of the traditional news publisher – at least those who don’t either pay for promoted posts or adopt whichever native format is preferred that week – it can’t be assumed that the news people are seeing is going through any sort of vetting or editorial review to determine veracity.

That’s exactly what the hearings Facebook, Twitter and Google took part in last week in Washington, D.C. were all about. If you’re getting your news not from a source that, whatever its editorial bias might be at least ascribes to traditional journalistic principles but from YourRightDaily or whatever that is designed to inflame passions through the spread of “emotional” content that plays into prejudices, the “facts” you’re getting are very different.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

What’s Driving the “Broadcast With Friends” Social Trend?

For as much press as face filters and 3D augmented reality 360-degree videos posts get in the tech press there’s one trend that seems largely undercovered but which is no less real in the social media world.

Broadcasting with friends.

This past May, Facebook added the ability to add friends to a live broadcast, essentially enabling two-person video. In August Instagram followed suit by adding a feature where you can bring a viewer of your broadcast into your video. Then just last week Anchor enabled a feature where up to seven additional people can be added to a broadcast.

What’s behind this rush to make social media a group activity? There are two major points that seem prominent in the rollout of these co-hosting features.

It’s About Market Saturation

Between 2005 and 2010, the period of social media’s infancy and ascendency, adoption rose from just 5% to 47%. But since then it’s grown to just 69% of U.S. internet users, and much of that growth is coming from older demographics. Younger social users are more interested in messaging apps which have group activity (such as the much-copied “Stories” feature that’s now pervasive) baked in.

So there’s a push to get the existing user base to do more within the apps since growth can’t necessarily be depended on. Facebook counts 80% of the U.S. population as members, so it’s hard to see where any growth is going to come from unless it starts signing up infants. 76% of U.S. teens are on Instagram, though that’s growing while Facebook’s teen hip quotient is flattening in recent years.

It’s About Influencers

Everyone who’s not already considered an influencer wants to be an influencer. They want the prestige, the stardom, the paycheck from marketing agencies, the potential book or TV deals. So they are polishing their broadcasting chops, and interacting with a cohost in a way that’s not constrained by geography is a great way to do that.

Adding the ability to bring in a cohost offers more opportunities for conversations and the product mentions those conversations often include. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that adding in additional hosts was a top-requested feature by the influencers social networks often court and turn to for guidance regarding their product roadmaps.

There are surely plenty of other reasons social media companies are adding similar features to their apps and sites. Whatever the rationale, there’s a desire to make these apps and sites stickier, even if it means blatantly copying functionality from competitors.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant – 11/6/17

Last Flag Flying – Marketing Recap: Everything about the campaign wants you to feel Larry’s conviction, determination and stubbornness deeply, mostly be experiencing them through the filter of Sal and Richard. Linklater has underscored this in interviews, but there really isn’t anything political in the campaign.

There’s a Real Problem With Many Suburbicon Reviews: This isn’t a Coen Brothers movie. Yes, it was written by them originally but Clooney and Grant Heslov are also credited as writers, having taken a fresh pass on it as it moved into production. Shouldn’t that have some weight in evaluation?

Bad Moms Christmas – Marketing Recap: Not a single one of the actresses here isn’t extremely talented and likable, so it comes down to whether you’re interested in the story and tone, which is more a question of individual taste.

Upcoming Film Adaptations, November 2017: What’s the story behind some of the movies hitting theaters this month?

Can The Audience Possibly Support Netflix’s Release Plans?: While no studio would dream of releasing 80 films a year, Netflix enjoys a few advantages that make it well-suited to succeed by doing just that.

Thor: Ragnarok – Marketing Recap: It’s hard to overstate just how fun this whole enterprise is. I really feel like Marvel Studios made the conscious decision to let Waititi have more say in the marketing of the movie than it usually hands over to directors, who are often simply workhorses in service of the corporate machine.

Cool Hand Luke – 50th Anniversary Flashback Marketing: You can see how the campaign as a whole leaned into a counter-culture message that surely was timely and impactful among moviegoers in the last 1960s. Luke is an outsider who won’t conform, a message and feeling that was pervasive in the culture at that time.

Lady Bird – Marketing Recap: It’s obvious that A24 has let Gerwig take the lead in the publicity and press aspect of the campaign, likely because she’s almost completely absent from the official marketing elements. That’s a strong decision because of her charm and respect among filmgoers.

Making Moviegoing an Elite Experience: Since reading the news I’ve been struggling to come up with an idea that would do more to introduce even more class differentiation into the moviegoing experience and hasten the demise of theatrical distribution. I’ve been unable to come up with anything.

LBJ – Marketing Recap: The trailer isn’t bad, but it’s also not fiery or distinctive enough to really make an impression. It seems more like a Baby Boomer trying to exorcise his own demons and relive a relatively unexplored moment of their own youth on film.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.