Ben Miller is a writer, designer and producer of web, media and marketing-type things. In college, he trained in graphic design and advertising; he developed his writing and marketing skills while cranking out proposals for a Minneapolis experiential marketing agency. He'd love to help your organization pump up its written and designed communication.
Ben lives for all things online, especially web culture, interactive design and web media (and he's actually composing this in an HTML editor right now). When he's not obsessively refreshing his Tumblr dashboard, you might find him singing in a country rock band or hustling local electronic bar trivia games (the "Nice work, Cliff Clavin" insults are getting a little tiresome, though).
Skills & Specialties
Web content specialist
- Creating unique and effective content, especially for online media
- Shaping content to align with audience and medium
- Building relationships with internal and external teams
- Identifying and evaluating emerging communication trends and strategies
- Online media and content
- Graphic design for web and print
- XHTML/CSS web coding, Adobe Design Suite, Microsoft Office, multiple CMS
- Video editing
- Audio editing
- Writing, editing and researching
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
B.S. — Graphic Design
Minor — Mass Communications: Advertising
Prairie Home Productions / American Public Media
- Maintained program sites and online archives
- Shot and edited APHC web videos
- Launched and produced APHC's live video streaming from the Fitzgerald Theater
- Launched the APHC Facebook page and Twitter account
- Launched the Writer's Almanac Facebook page and Twitter account
- Produced a variety of videos, photos, and sites for APHC's 40th anniversary weekend, broadcast, and season
- Produced APHC's first online "joke drive" to coincide with the 2014 Joke Show
- Managed the responsive redesign of the APHC and TWA sites
- Launched APHC's HTML5 audio player
- Designed ads, posters, playbills and other marketing materials
Senior Manager, Marketing Services
November 2005 – March 2011
Led the development of marketing communications strategies for an experiential marketing agency serving Fortune 500 brands
- Wrote and designed sales proposals and agency marketing materials — from executive presentations and decks to press releases, websites and awards submissions
- Created and managed "The Instigators," a proprietary campaign designed to merge face-to-face marketing and social media tactics
- Developed campaign creative, including brand personality briefs and sampling interactions
- Managed total redesign of agency website — wrote and edited new site content, managed external vendor, gathered internal requirements and feedback
- Educated internal teams on company marketing and business communications policies
- Designed and managed production of program elements, including microsites, branded signage and tents and vehicle graphics
November 2009 – February 2010
Wrote posts covering online culture for a blog that served over 500,000 monthly visitors
University of Minnesota
Office of International Programs
October 2003 – September 2005
Maintained main department website and several associated sites; designed, coded and tested new site layouts
Planned and created a proprietary graphic library for use in 3D business emulation
Samples — Video
A Prairie Home Companion
Weekly web videos shot during rehearsals and broadcasts, and behind the scenes
"Farewell to Aoife O'Donovan"
"Travel to Spokane"
"Red & White & Blue & Gold" — Aoife O'Donovan
"Wherever You Are" — Ellis
"B.M.O.C." — The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band
"Ask the Actors" — Sue Scott and Tim Russell
Samples — Corporate Writing
The Naked Grouse — Brand Personality
This copy helped develop the brand personality and sampling strategy for a new Scotch whisky.
Expose The Naked Truth
At The Naked Grouse we believe in The Naked Truth—in taste, in advertising, and in life. Join us, pledge to end The Little White Lie and expose The Naked Truth once and for all.
Are you ready for The Naked Truth?
When you meet The Naked Grouse team, we'll put your ability and willingness to expose The Naked Truth to the test:
- We'll give you three tidbits of information—headlines, fun facts and statistics—and you'll have to figure out which one's completely false and which two are actually The Naked Truth. Choose wisely and you'll earn Naked Grouse drinks, branded premiums and high-fives from everyone in the bar.
- We'll give you a topic and you have to decide: The Naked Truth... or Dare? Who was your first kiss? Have you ever cheated on your taxes? Did you cry at the end of Titanic? Give us the truth or complete our dare and you'll earn Naked Grouse drinks and branded premiums (not to mention our eternal respect).
Spreading The Naked Truth
Give bartenders and consumers reasons to preach The Naked Truth, even when The Naked Grouse team isn't around!
- The Naked Truth Cocktail — A good bartender can size you up before you say a word. Visit select bars, ask for The Naked Truth and taste a custom cocktail made just for your tastes—without even hinting at what you want included.
- The Naked Truth: Bartender Confessions — Confident enough to reveal The Naked Truth to a stranger? Spill a secret to bartenders at select bars, finish with "...that's The Naked Truth" and earn Naked Grouse drink specials.
- Bet it All On The Naked Truth — Think you've mastered an unreadable bluff? Prove it. Challenge your buddies and the bartender to a game of Naked Truth Liar's Poker, bluff your way to victory and earn Naked Grouse drinks.
For three years, I've covered US Youth Soccer's Giant Jersey Tour as their mascot Stickley.
The Giant Jersey in the Windy City
My tour with the Giant Jersey keeps getting more exciting! Last weekend, I visited the first MLS game of the tour—more on that a little later.
After leaving Atlanta last week, I drove north and stopped in Nashville, Tennessee to do some sightseeing. One of Nashville's most unique attractions is the Parthenon. This building serves as an art museum and is a full-size replica of a famous building in Athens, Greece. The original building is about 2,500 years old! After a visit to Buckner, Kentucky, I continued to Chicago, Illinois for the next tour event.
On Saturday, I brought the Giant Jersey to Toyota Park, the home of Chicago's MLS team, the Chicago Fire. The Fire played the New York Red Bulls and the team hosted a special "Youth Soccer Night" at the stadium. I got to hang out at the "Firefest" activity area and I met hundreds of really talented kids! Everyone checked out the Giant Jersey, played a cool 'goal kick' game and prepared to cheer on the Fire. All their energy paid off and the Fire beat the Red Bulls 1-0! This was the team's 10th shutout of the season and it moved them into a tie for second place in their conference. I want to thank the team and all the fans—I had a lot of fun!
After the game, I packed up again and headed east. Tomorrow I'll be in Hartford, Connecticut at the University of Hartford and this weekend I'll be in Washington D.C.
I hope you're enjoying Youth Soccer Month and the Giant Jersey tour! Have a great week and check back soon for more stories and pictures!
INNOVA Marketing — Directory Listings
Agency directory listing descriptions all sound the same. Oh, and they're really boring. We decided to try something a little different.
Promo Magazine — Sourcebook
We bring your brand to life. Here's how:
- Event marketing. Sigh. Sick of sterile RVs and lackluster brand ambassadors? Us too. Let's give it some soul.
- Our PR stunts make P.T. Barnum throw down his top hat, shake his fist and scream, "Why didn't I think of that?!"
- Think street sampling is dead? It's not—you just have to do it right. (We do it right.)
- The Instigators: Social media meets the real world. Trust us, it's cool.
- Retail activation that goes way beyond just a blue-haired lady in stores—unless it’s Betty White doing some shopping on her way to the Warped Tour. We'll totally make that happen.
- Salesforce support strategies that make your salesforce happier than they are on "International Don't Interrupt Anyone from Sales Day
- Our annual holiday sampling program puts your brand closer to Santa than Mrs. Claus—and she can't win over moms and kids like we can.
Ready to learn more? Give us a call.
Event Marketer Magazine — Superbook (section headings)
- Intro — Read This Section for the Chance to Learn About Us and Win $100 Worth of... Eternal Gratitude
- Contact — Fun People You Should Find on LinkedIn
- Case studies — Our Case Studies Briefly Explain the Meaning of Life
- Angie's Kettle Corn case study results — The 2010 Census revealed that 100% of children born in Chicago last year were named "Angie."
- Mentos case study results — A new Prince song called "2 Fresh 4 U (Love Geyser)" hit stores two weeks later. Coincidence? We think not.
Wahl — Let It Grow Tour
These lists added flavor to a proposal for a national PR tour encouraging guys to grow out their beards and moustaches.
5 Reasons to "Let It Grow"
- It's superstition. Don't mess with karma.
- Dude, ZZ Top—those guys rock.
- Save money on sandpaper (and shaving cream)
- Convenient storage of small velcro items
- Who needs a reason? Just see what it's like to Let It Grow!
5 Things to do at "Let It Grow Tour" Appearances
- Grab an "I'm letting it Grow" pin or wristband to make sure nobody hassles you about the scruff. Back off, it's for charity!
- Test new looks with portable beard and moustache mirrors
- Learn the best ways to encourage growth
- Sign up to join the Wahl Nation
- Learn about beards and moustaches throughout history
Samples — Blogging
I dug up the internet's favorite weather-predicting rodents for Urlesque's Groundhog Day celebration.
For better or worse, you can't be a newsworthy public figure these days without a presence on Twitter and Facebook. The groundhog stars of February 2nd are no exception.
Question their prognostication skills all you want, but do not question how cute it would be to see a groundhog updating its status. Just imagine those furry little paws tapping away on a laptop or those adorable noses poking a smartphone! Awwww! I'm writing an animated movie called "Hog With A Blog" just thinking about it.
After the break, learn how some of the most well-known groundhogs are using the web to keep you updated on their yearly predictions...
When Minneapolis blogger Greg Swan noticed that Pennsylvania's most famous rodent doesn't broadcast his prediction on Twitter, he set up the GroundhogPhil account to help the little guy out. Greg's since learned that despite a cushy life, Phil is a bit of a curmudgeon:
Lots of folks think Phil is a cuddly, happy woodland creature, but in actuality, he's a grumpy, sarcastic little woodchuck who doesn't appreciate humans pestering him out of his warm burrow. As @groundhogphil's tweets indicate, life isn't all grasshoppers and grubs up on Gobbler's Knob. And that Al Roker better stop talking smack, or he's going to find himself a Groundhog Day's surprise.
If you feel the need to "poke" the real Phil, he has a Facebook page complete with a picture of his friend Moustache Guy in a top hat.
General Beauregard Lee
Unlike his Yankee counterpart, Urlesque fave Gen. Beau Lee of Georgia is a Twitter natural. Need proof? He used a few tweets on last year's big morning to describe his breakfast.
Ontario's Wiarton Willie is the star of a weeklong festival but also might be addicted to FarmVille and personality quizzes -- his Twitter account is a little lonely and he seems to spend most of his time on Facebook.
Staten Island Chuck
While most of the Groundhog Day 'hogs are content to simply predict the weather, Staten Island Chuck uses his day in the sun (HA HA. SORRY.) to advance a political agenda. After biting New York mayor Michael Bloomberg last year, he showed up on Facebook to taunt the mayor and prep for today's rematch.
I help track the web's hottest trends and coolest bits at Urlesque.
So you want to record a novelty cover of a popular song but you don't have an accordion, ukulele or mariachi band handy? No problem! We recommend you pick up a harp and get to pluckin'. No longer just found in mall rotundas and movies about the 17th Century, the harp is on its way back, my friend.
The harp craze got a major boost a few months ago when the internet discovered a young lad playing an amazing version of the Star Wars Cantina theme. Now other harpers (or, if you're classically inclined, harpists) are popping up with soft, beautiful versions of their favorite modern songs.
Led Zeppelin -- 'Stairway to Heaven'
Harpers seem to love covering heavy metal. It makes sense: guitar solos sound fantastic on only six strings so they'll probably sound even better on a harp, which has 46 or 47. So, why not use all those extra strings to cover the most famous heavy metal song of all time?
Journey -- 'Don't Stop Believin'
Just when you thought the Journey revival was over, Fox's 'Glee' busted out 'Don't Stop Believin' and inspired this masterful harp tribute. Is there an instrument on which this song doesn't sound awesome? (There is not.)
Iron Maiden -- 'The Trooper'
We weren't kidding about all the heavy metal. This version of an early-'80s Iron Maiden song is one of the most popular harp covers out there and it's easy to see why. Trust us, the finale is the best part.
Harptallica -- 'The Unforgiven'
The ladies of Harptallica kick out wicked dueling harp licks that make us want to bang our heads while running through a sunny meadow. They've even released a whole album of Metallica harp covers.
Lenny Kravitz -- 'Are You Gonna Go My Way'
TheSillyHarpist has actually created a series of harp karaoke videos so you can sing along with her mesmerizing tributes. Bonus points: This video features a curious guinea pig who looks like he wants to start an "animals playing harps" craze.
I helped curate a three-day blog-ebration of Faces, England's premiere boogie-rock band. This post wrapped up all the action.
We've had a lot of fun here this weekend.
We wondered why our heroes have been overlooked by rock'n'roll’s "governing body." We uncovered some Minneapolis connections. We celebrated the heart and soul of Faces. We forced strangers to join us. We listened to a lot of music. We only made a little fun of Rod Stewart.
Unfortunately, all good things gotta come to an end. We hope these three days of bleary-eyed tall tales, booze-drenched mischief and endless I-IV-V progressions opened your eyes to or gave you a new appreciation for the rollicking boogie circus that was Faces. We hope you keep this rock'n'roll spirit alive for days, months, years.
But, we don't want to send you back to the dull work week on a melancholy note—Cheerio! Turn off the lights! Tuck in early! Enjoy the old grind! No, we want to leave you with one last piece of Faces glory and a bit of hope to whet your rock'n'roll exploration appetite.
We've decided to host another "All _____ Weekend" sometime in the near future and hopefully many after that. We have a few new ideas simmering that we think will be pretty cool. Now, we've already picked our next subject (hint ahead!) but what other artists should we dig into?
Andy at SouthTwelfth asked: Why does New York City get to hog all the romantic-comedy action?
First: They could just take the "finding love in the stars" theme further, change the title to Adams and rewrite this as a sci-fi-NYC-rom-com about a sweet indie girl and a handsome but emotionally-unavailable space alien with two heads, three arms, olive oil saliva and the galaxy's most popular pizza review blog. That I would watch.
Second: My pitch for a Denver rom com (industry abbrev!) is this:
Backcountry. Cute townie snowboarder Summer (Kristen Bell, in unusally earnest form) is one class away from her teaching degree but would rather hang out with her slacker friends on the slopes or at a grungy rock club. LA transplant Nathan (Ryan Reynolds delivers a comfortably familiar performance) is a young, up-and-coming real estate developer who has a secret taste for underground rock'n'roll and plans to take his career to the next level by turning the sleepy local resort into pricey condos. Will Nathan convince Summer to grow up and leave her friends behind? Will Summer convince Nathan to preserve her beloved mountain's natural beauty? Will Summer's friend Bodie (Justin Long convincingly phones it in) ever tell her how he really feels? Will Summer and Nathan scrap the condos and open a snowboarding school for inner-city youth? Find out this winter!
Multi-million dollar offers should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All other offers should be directed to whatever talentless hack you can dredge up BECAUSE YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
A Case for Censorship — No longer available online
Once upon a time, I wrote a weekly column about cultural artifacts that don't deserve First Amendment protection. (And, yes, I can write things other than fake movie pitches.)
Jumanji notwithstanding, I can't see any good coming of the recently-announced partnership between Hasbro and Universal Pictures. This unsavory link will spit out a slate of movies based on classic Hasbro properties like 'Monopoly,' 'Candy Land,' 'Clue' and 'Battleship.'
I'm shaking this trend for all it's worth with a few adaptations of my own. See you in the weeklies!
- Connect Four — In what could be a Tron for the 2000s, virtuous Rhed (Jake Gyllenhaal) fights the evil warlord Noire (Kevin Spacey) while attempting to win the heart of the lovely and mysterious Rojo (Lindsay Lohan, turning in a captivating comeback performance).
- Hi Ho Cherry-O — The Wire's David Simon finally jumps to the big screen with this socially-conscious day-in-the-life drama. Reimagined as a gritty urban struggle, HHC-O presents the unvarnished journey of a New Orleans corner man (Bow Wow, with a surprisingly well-researched persona) who returns with big plans after a year of Katrina exile. Standing in his way is the old school kingpin (Ving Rhames) who mentored him, but discovered his treachery just as the hurricane hit. "You gotta learn to tip the basket that ain't gon' tip back."
- Guess Who? — This generally plotless animated mystery is initially ignored and critically panned, but becomes an instant cult hit as marijuana enthusiasts embrace its quirky look, seemingly unscripted dialogue and minimally-rehearsed acting. Classic non-sequitirs like, "The person is wearing a hat!" and voice turns from stars Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Sam Jackson and Frankie Muniz leave stoners across the country rolling.
With Us / Against Us — No longer available online
A weekly roundup of wins and losses in the battle for Intellectual Freedom
Drug dealers are also all music pirates. I'm sure the RIAA has "correlation=causation" tattooed on employee eyelids during indoctrination, so you plain ol' music pirates may soon be pinched as reefer fiends. Personally, I won't be able to get through my pirated copy of E=MC² (sure to be featured in a future edition of A Case for Censorship!) without a heaping helping of delicious crack. Daddy needs his medicine!
NASCAR penalizes 10 teams after Daytona! This is an outrage! Rise up with me, people! Altered rear spoiler? That spoiler was altered when I found it! This is completely irregul...oh, nevermind.
OK, what about this? Vicki Iseman's employer pulled her bio from their site after the New York Times suggested she may have been improperly linked with John McCain (ha!). I don't think they get the internet. What I find most concerning is this: why couldn't the Times come up with a more salacious picture for such a potentially ruinous, gossipy story? That would have put it over the late-nighter, tabloidy top! I demand a foxed-up photo illustration of the two of them together, pronto!
I know you all could really give a crap about type decisions and other design nerdery, but this is my column, so strap in and shut it. Among the many, many things that most politicians seem to ignore (almost gleefully, I think) is the anguished cry that millions of forever put-upon graphic designers stifle when they see a campaign logo that looks like it's hawking a dental cream. Actually, the general population probably ignores that as well. But perhaps it's not a stretch that at least someone believes in the transformative power of a certain font's idealist pedigree.
Set Your Style is a "blogazine" (I'll forgive the awkward combination—they're Italian) that whittles the internet into an impressive slice flavored just with the design, art, music and fashion that you need to know about. Only the coolest culture here, folks. As deliciously obscure icing, if your computer is so equipped, the site is intended to be set in the gorgeous and multifaceted Myriad Pro.
Minnesota bar owners are luring smokers back in from the cold by holding "theater nights" that exploit a loophole in the state's smoking ban. Because smoking is allowed during artistic performances, owners simply claim that the entire bar is putting on an all-night play. MPR reported that one bar called their exhibition Before the Ban—the avant-garde-ness of which almost makes me overlook how completely specious this tactic actually is. I picture a giant dimly-lit room full of people in black turtlenecks silently smoking and sipping Stellas, though I'm 100-percent sure that this is not what actually occurred. I think if we can get a John Cage karaoke night going, we'll be set.
Lined & Unlined is just Rob Giampietro's "filing cabinet on the internet," but what a filing cabinet! From the various published-elsewhere writings of Rob and design partner Kevin Smith (not that one), to reading recommendations, to random thoughts that'll get you thinking, L&UL fills a long-ignored need for intelligent design-influenced commentary.