CCE instructors dive deep into professional development offerings

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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Is something on your wishlist to learn, but you just don’t have hours upon hours free to get started?

Jump-start your learning with a one-session workshop through PCA&D’s Center for Creative Exploration. In the space of an evening, you’ll get tips and tactics you can use, and enough information to put that new knowledge into action.

You can find the remaining Fall Adult Professional class schedule here, with four single-session, kick-start workshops to move your knowledge into a higher gear:

Adobe Dimension Workshop with Ellie Cochran, Thursday, Oct. 7

Adobe Photoshop Automation Workshop with Ellie Cochran, Thursday, Oct. 21

Copywriting for Marketing Workshop with Justin Quinn, Thursday, Oct. 14

Social Media Marketing: Instagram 101 Workshop with Mia Aquino, Thursday, Nov. 18

Other semester-long professional development classes, such as Intro to Social Media Marketing with Aquino, and Intro to WordPress with Jonathan Ober, already have started up — but there’s still time to sign up for these highlighted workshops!

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what students will learn:

Adobe Dimension and Photoshop Automation workshops

Is prior Adobe knowledge helpful to have when working with Dimension software?

Ellie Cochran: Having knowledge of Photoshop is very helpful going in, as Dimension stores texture information and exported renders as Photoshop documents. Dimension’s interface is also designed to be similar in look and function to Photoshops, so it’s easy for a user who’s familiar with Photoshop to make the jump to Dimension. 

Can you give an example of how Dimension might be used? 

EC: In my work as a designer, I think of Dimension as a tool to help clients understand what a design concept looks like in context. Specifically, a package designer might use Dimension to show what a finished package looks like on the shelf, or an interior designer might use it to visualize branded furniture layouts in an unfurnished space. I’ve even used Dimension to help show a client what a painted piano would look like from every angle before the base coat was even applied.

How is this different from basic Photoshop?

EC: Since Dimension simulates how light bounces off of materials in physical space, and automatically matches a background image’s angle, focal length, and lighting, it makes it really quick and easy to get tricky details such as shadows, reflections, and refraction to look accurate. That accuracy goes a long way in making a piece appear realistic. In Photoshop, a designer could spend hours tweaking layers and blend modes to make a glass object placed in a photo reflect and refract light in the proper way, but in Dimension it’s a matter of tweaking a few sliders.

How does teaching feed your own creativity?

EC: Preparing new courses leads me to look into the latest developments in the subject’s field, and in so doing I learn even more about a topic I’m already interested in. I apply what I’ve learned from course preparation in new professional and personal projects, and this development and exploration leads me to brainstorm new course concepts. The cycle continues…

Copywriting for Marketing Workshop

When people hear “copywriting” they may think of journalists, or advertising folks, or people whose first priority in the job description is writing. But that job task really goes far beyond that group doesn’t it?

Justin Quinn: While a strong foundation in writing is necessary to be a successful copywriter, good copywriters must do much more than just write; they also have to be good marketers. I like to say that copywriting is part art, part science. Writing is the art, content marketing is the science. Content marketing involves storytelling that helps further the business goals of the brand, while also ensuring that keywords show up in all the right places and that the copy itself is “optimized” for search. 

Can you give an example of how a bit of copy may change, depending on your audience changing?

JQ: In all writing, not just copywriting, it’s important to establish voice and tone, and while the voice shifts depending on the audience reading the content, the general tone never does. Although there are different interpretations of the terms (and they’re often conflated), tone to me is the general approach taken to the copy. So, for a law firm, for example, the tone will be informative and knowledgeable. Within the tone, there can be multiple voices and these voices are dependent upon where the content is being consumed and by what audiences. Using our law firm example, the voice on the firm’s website will in all likelihood be reserved, formal, and geared toward general audiences. The voice on the firm’s social media accounts will be much more relatable and this will vary between being more or less formal, depending on the social media platform where it is being used. Instagram’s audience tends to skew younger, so the voice there might be more easy-going, cheerful, and conversational. LinkedIn, however, is geared toward professionals, so the voice there should be more straightforward and assertive, while still remaining authentic and helpful. The message is the same, but the method of delivery (in terms of voice) is different.

Can you briefly describe search engine optimization, or SEO,  and address how important it is? 

JQ: So all that tone and voice stuff is part of the art side of copywriting. The science side is almost all about SEO or search engine optimization. This means not only understanding what search platforms are looking for when they crawl a site, but also how to skillfully integrate that knowledge into the copy without it reading like a data sheet. This means understanding how often a keyword or phrase should appear in the copy based on its length (keyword density), where those keywords need to appear within the copy (keyword placement), meeting search engines’ minimum word count requirements (text length), and much more. This is what we mean when refer to optimized copy; making sure the optimal keywords or keyword phrases are being used and used appropriately. Google is the standard for most search engine optimization, since more than 80 percent of users claim it as their primary search engine. It’s tough to say whether writing ability or SEO knowledge is the more important characteristic for copywriting, because they are both highly valued by Google. Google’s goal in delivering search results is to find content that is not only authoritative in terms of the command of the subject, but also readable to the widest possible audience. To that end, its bots will score content on a host of parameters (internal and outbound links, meta information, sentence length, etc.) and promote content in its rankings that score high on these scales. 

Social Media Marketing: Instagram 101 workshop

These classes are designed as one-session workshops. Can you outline a little of what students can learn in this short timeframe? 

Mia Aquino: This workshop is great for social media managers, but it is made for anyone who wants to learn more about this platform. 

Instagram 101 is a new workshop this semester. I get so many questions from individuals, brands, and businesses on who they should tackle Instagram. Instagram is so much more than posting a photo to a grid now, there are so many elements and tactics (Stories, Reels, Live, and more). We are going to look at how you can manage your account and capture engagement. Instagram 101 is great for those who are new to the platform, as well as for others who would like a more in-depth look at strategies and tactics for growing an audience. There is also Q&A time always built in at the end. 

Where do you see the growth in social media today? Are there untapped audiences, or does that depend on your industry/business/audience sector? Are there recent changes in platforms (ie, Instagram emphasizing reels, etc.) that you’ll touch on in your class?
MA: One thing I really emphasize is understanding your brand, goals, and audience. This is taught in all my courses, and something I stress in my own business and work. I think many brands and businesses make the mistake of trying to be too many places at once. For example, your business can’t just expect to launch a TikTok and be successful there. How will it help you meet business goals? How will you reach your audience? What is your content plan? What does success even look like? There are so many questions to ask yourself. While I love launching new platforms, you need to take a step back and really think about how you are going to win there. In SM 101, we will look at social media platforms, discuss best practices, and help you determine which platforms and tactics make sense for your business.
Don’t forget: This fall semester still is offering 18 Adult Enrichment Classes, 3 Pre-College Classes for grades 9-12, and 10 Young Artist Classes for grades 1-9.

Image at top: As a demonstration of Dimension’s capability in a creative workflow, CCE instructor Ellie Cochran created and rendered the attached image in less than half an hour. This example shows how a designer could use Dimension to present a brand concept across a range of products and formats.