Monday, December 29, 2008

4,384...

Days since the Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 40-15 on December 28, 1996. The Cowboys' last win in the NFL playoffs.

Just over 12 years to the day since America's Team last tasted a postseason victory.

I have but one word, well, three letters: LOL!

I use this internet initialism maybe two to three times in any given year, but this is the most appropriate instance yet.

The Cowoys have blown it again. Jerry Jones' 'Boys are the example of fiscal futility in professional football. Money can buy winning talent; not the intangibles of a winner. Unless player contracts start including "team chemistry, composure and leadership" as bonus incentives, it will likely remain as such.

Lets do a quick dissection of some of Big D's biggest assets (or liabilities):

Dallas head coach, Wade Phillips (above right), is a defensive coordinator, not a head coach. He looked like Elmer Fudd on the sideline when Tony Romo made the call to go for it on 4th down Sunday night in Philly. Terrell Owens (left) is a one man circus complete with popcorn. Tony Romo is a good quarterback; not a great quarterback. Romo will never win a Super Bowl as a starter in Dallas. Adam "Pacman" Jones lacks common sense, has too much money and is a constant liability to any team.

Pacman should know it's difficult to win games and develop team chemistry on the field when you're in court off the field - he can ask Chris Henry, Plaxico Burress or Michael Vick.

New Year's resolution for Jerry and his Cowboys: Go back to the drawing board. Seriously. Shake that Etch-A-Sketch long and hard, then start over. The picture has become indistinguishable in Irving, Texas.


Bowl-derdash

The college football postseason has evolved quite a bit since the Rose Bowl was first played in 1902*. The "Granddaddy of Them All" should be preceded by "great" several times at this point.

To put things in perspective...

1938: Five major bowl games - the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sun Bowl

2008: Thirty-four college football bowl games (and counting...)

The more football the better. More opportunities to extend your favorite team's season, more excuses to eat greasy food and drink beer, more money for more college programs. Bring on the bowl bonanza!

Right?

Wrong.

Put the brakes on the bowls. While all of the above may be true to some degree, the state of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) bowls is an insult to the spirit of competition and to college football. It's rewarding mediocrity for money. Period.

With 68 teams receiving invitations to bowl games, more than half of NCAA FBS programs will play a postseason game in 2008. It means more to not play in a bowl game now then it does to compete in one.

Scenario: A 6-6 team loses four of its last five games, finishes tied for last in its conference, and the best team they beat all season was 5-7. They are then invited to a bowl. Wow. That really rewards excellence and encourages competition. By the way, it's a true story, look up Kentucky Wildcats football in 2008.

Even the most avid college football fan will find it difficult getting pumped to watch two unranked teams at or just above .500 play a game that means nothing on a national scale. It's a macro solution that's only effective on a micro level.

To elaborate, the NCAA says, "Give a bowl to every team and more college football fans will be happy (and more money will be made)!" Not really - to the first half.

I'm an East Carolina Univerity alumni and I know something of the new breed of bowls. Since 2000, ECU has played in the GalleryFurniture.com Bowl (now defunct), the GMAC Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl, and the Hawai'i Bowl respectively. If you don't have a personal relationship with East Carolina or their bowl opponents, these games meant nothing to you. Why would they?

I'll watch that one smaller bowl that my alma mater plays in, but I'm still not tuning in to the PetroSun Independence Bowl with Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech.

Bowl games used to mean something. All of them. With new sponsors/bowls like the Magic Jack St. Petersburg Bowl and Eagle Bank Bowl joining the list in the past few years, it's getting harder to keep up with - or care about - all of the bowls.

Ever wonder what happened to the Peach Bowl? It's now the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The Copper Bowl? Better known as the Insight Bowl. Did you even notice? Gotta love sponsorship.

Candus Thompson with BaltimoreSun.com writes of bowl sponsorship:

Major bowl sponsors include "Citi ($45 billion in taxpayer bailouts this year), GMAC ($38 billion in debt), [and] FedEx (5 percent salary cuts and elimination of the 401(k) match for workers). Glad they have their priorities in order."

Good point. Lord help us if we just had an Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl without a FedEx or Allstate sponsoring the game.

*The first "Rose Bowl Game," originally titled "The Tournament East-West football game," was played January 1, 1902 between Michigan and Stanford University. The Rose Bowl was not played continuously until 1916.
......................................................................................................

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Here are a few ideas to expand the field of bowls by 2010.
  • The AMF Gutter Bowl
  • The General Mills Cereal Bowl
  • The Pepto Bismol Bowl (movement) - annual tie-in with the ACC and Pac 10 (Duke-Stanford rivalry?)
  • The Disney Incredi-Bowls - ESPN and ABC develop a series of magical Christmas Day games featuring halftime shows by the cast of High School Musical and other favorites
  • The Arm & Hammer Toilet Bowl - if they don't want to add a bowl, A&H can just purchase naming rights to the Texas Bowl

Ridiculous? Take a look at what exists today.





Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Buh Bye "Bud?"

Former U.S.-based beer maker (they still make beer here, but now their Belgian) Anheuser-Busch InBev is struggling to acquire trademark rights to "Bud" in Europe. According to the Forbes article reporting the story, AB InBev is likely to win this battle in the courts. BUT. What if they didn't?

Marketing repurcussions of a "Bud"-less European Budweiser:
  • A European "Budweiser Light" is introduced. Weird.
  • Tagline: "The Difference is Drinkability. Seriously."
  • The baritone "Bud" frog joins the growing U.S. unemployment market.
  • European paparazzi snap pics of the Ferret at AB InBev headquarters in Leuven.
  • Google search for "Bud" returns 71+ million pages; more than half of them are marijuana related. Back to the marketing drawing board...
  • "This Beck's for you." Sadly it's a time of change. Remember "Anheuser World Select?" Exactly.

I'm young, professionally available and love your products - call me anytime, AB InBev. Anheuser-Busch.com.

In other related news: Europeans love Budwesier. AB InBev "announces workforce reductions in the U.S." (pdf)


The Networking Lunch

Having a difficult time finding employment around the holidays? Potential employers saying "thanks, but no thanks" to your resume (via email or phone)? One piece of advice: Request a networking lunch.

A networking lunch is just as it sounds. It's a lunch where you network with someone or someones in your field. It allows you to get in front of someone that (hopefully) is established and knowledgeable of the business environment in your area. They know people who know people. They work directly with your ideal future boss. They have contact info for folks you never knew would be interested in what you do. They may not have the answer, but they can help you ask the right questions.

The economy is down, unemployment and job scarcity are up, and businesses are stuck in the middle fielding an onslaught of resumes on a daily basis. That can't be easy. Think of it like newspaper advertisements (no offense ad agencies) and how the print ads often disappear when you're reading like invisible ink. Don't let that be your resume. Make it easier on potential employers by having a chicken salad pita with the head of PR and asking them what they need, how they prefer to receive it, whether they know anybody that can benefit from your skills, and drop off a resume or two to pass along. It can't hurt.

This networking lunch can be mutually beneficial as well. You have the opportunity to sell yourself in a casual setting (rather than an oak desk, perfectly parallel pens and dust-free pictures of family; think bar table, random poppy seed crumbs and ketchup stained menus). Just a wee bit easier to be yourself, right? The individual across the table is a human being too; they appreciate relaxed atmospheres as much as you. It's a chance for them to scout talent for colleagues and friends, establish a freelance contact, and/or promote the local business environment.

Not everyone is going to schedule a lunch with a stranger during their busy work week. However, if you put yourself out there as a professional, you might be surprised at how many people will carve out an hour to chat with you. I've had a couple of these network lunches over the past month. Many thanks to Gotham, LLC and X-Factor Marketing in Hickory, NC, Mark Brock of Wray Ward and Bert Woodard of Next Level Communications in Charlotte. No, I'm not hired yet; I'm hopefully making it on some "to consider in '09" lists though. It really is about who you know these days.

Best of luck, I know I need it too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Recession "PR"oof

The Berlin Wall falls. Five U.S. presidents in the Oval Office. U.S. national debt ratio more than doubles. Microwaves outsale range ovens. Heath Ledger is born and dies. Watergate scandal and fallout. Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's home run record. More than a billion people gain access to the world wide web.

What do all of these events have in common? They all have taken place since the last time U.S. unemployment claims were as high as they are today. The economic crisis worsened further this past month as employers cut more than 500,000 jobs in November, the largest one month decline since 1974. More than a million jobs have been lost since September. With a president-elect waiting to take the nation's reigns and the government acknowleding that the country has been in a recession since late 2007, hope may still be on the horizon.

One industry's gloom can be another's gold. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) held its 2008 Annual “Masters of Marketing” Conference in October, where attendees including client-side marketers, media and creative agencies and others were polled about their marketing and media budgets, plans and tactics going forward. The findings are encouraging for those in marketing communications. Following is a sample of the results:
  • 67 percent reported they "will spend more" or "spending will be constant/no changes"
  • Of that 67 percent, 26 percent plan to increase spending by more than 10 percent

Public relations in particular is and will continue to be an essential piece of the fiscal pie. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) estimates that the number of "public relations specialists" will increase to nearly 300,000 by 2016, an increase of roughly 18 percent. The forecast for public relations practitioners is mirrored internally.

  • Social media integration was selected as the "marketing discipline" most likely to promote growth, with 28 percent of respondents choosing it as their top choice
  • Next most important: Grassroots/viral public relations (19 percent)

Chuck Werle, an Asheville, NC-based public relations professional, gives a synopsis of the difference between advertising and public relations. "Advertising is what you tell others about yourself, your products or your services. Public relations is what others tell about you."

That definition in mind, it's easy to understand the pending marriage of social media and public relations. It's as natural and fitting a match as cereal and milk. One is seemingly incomplete without the other. Sure, businesses can still post online ads on Facebook or create pop up videos where you catch the monkey and win, but as with traditional media PR has always been superior in credibility.

The opportunity is ripe for public relations professionals to integrate with social media; post podcasts, build blogs, tweet on Twitter, mingle on MySpace. Create relationships and authenticity. Help others to tell about you, your products or your services (or your clients').

The reason social media still feels refreshing and new despite its age is that the message pipeline, although growing more narrow, is nowhere near as clogged in social media as with other media. For now it's "real," and a real opportunity for PR departments and businesses.

If your business hasn't caught the wave yet, it's not too late to grab a board and get your feet wet. Social media is growing. Approximately 25 percent of the Inc. 500 reported that "social media was very important to their business/marketing strategy" in 2007, reports The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. That number increased to 44 percent in 2008. The growth is staggering even on a global scale. According to Comscore, "social networking use grew 25 percent year over year worldwide."

Think social media like Facebook and MySpace are for teens and twenty-somethings? Think again. Rapleaf report on the gender and age of social media users.

- Justin Moore

...........................

The emergence of Web 3.0 ("Semantic Web"). The electric car is revived. U.S. economic debt eliminated. Abagail Breslin wins an Oscar. Carolina Panthers win the Super Bowl. U.S. national unemployment rate dips below 3 percent. First female U.S. President.

All events transpiring during the next 34 years(?)



Monday, December 8, 2008

Plugging the Portfolio


My professional experience and responsibilites in a communications capacity have included,

  • public relations
  • marketing
  • market research
  • brand positioning
  • relationship building with local and national clients from multiple industries.

I've regularly developed...

  • media relations strategies
  • key contact databases and execution plans
  • key messages
  • positioning strategies
  • online content (web editing)
  • creative client materials
  • internal communication documents
  • unique public relations campaigns and initiatives
  • wide variety of written materials, including editorials, press releases, newsletters, reports, training manuals, brochures, web copy and ad-based copy.

I've also supervised multiple interns while working on and leading professional and diverse account teams representing major brands.

Whew! Say that three times fast...

After all, career seeking is one giant self promotion, right?
(Try clicking on the drawing board looking icon at the bottom right of the presentation for a "full screen" view if your browser cuts off the right edge.)

"To establish oneself in the world, one does all one can to seem established there already." - Fran├žois, Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680), French writer, moralist

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Favorite Christmas Movies List!

Ah, 'tis the season! The season for daily "one day" sales, increased calorie intake, depleted accounts, overdone holiday lights (see KFC's "Festive Fanatics" contest from '07 - looks like an "Original Holiday Traditions" contest this year), and, last but by no means least, countless Christmas commercials that preach the "season of giving."

For example - many of us are broke and trying to save money, so to combat us penny pinchers, an unnamed jewelery company puts out a radio spot telling a heart wrenching story of a woman who gave a homeless man a coat years ago. Now, present day, she receives a package with the coat and a note that says to look in the side pocket. What does she find? (dramatic pause) A diamond watch. Riiiggggghhhht. I'm as much for karma as the next person, but you can bet your bottom I'm still not buying anyobdy a diamond watch this Christmas. Nice try though guys. Not really.

But alas, I'm no Ebenezer Scrooge (although he makes my movie list). These frivoulous Christmas promotions and commercials help me to appreciate the timeless traditions that I grew up with and will uphold for many Decembers to come...

Packing the family into the car on a cold evening in early December (it has to be cold and dark, otherwise you lose the effect) to stroll the Christmas tree lots, where the smell of wood burning in the barrels and pine needles will always make you feel six again, to pick out that perfect and most conveniently priced :) tree. Don't even get me started on decorating it...the star goes on last, people!

Putting on the Charlie Brown Christmas CD while spending time with loved ones making banana pudding, pigs in a blanket and other delightful and delicious treats that are high in fat but higher in satisfaction.

Then, once the tree is glowing, the snacks steaming and the children quiet (wishful thinking), it's time for one of the most revered and time honored Christmas traditions - watching the Christmas movie.

Following is a list of my Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies of All Time. Movies that really capture the feeling of the season for me and never get old year after year. On the contrary, the older I get the more I appreciate them!

Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies of All Time
1. A Christmas Story
2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (can't believe how this one barely squeaks into many lists - it's arguably #1)
3. Home Alone
4. Scrooged
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol
6. It's A Wonderful Life
7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
8. The Santa Clause
9. A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim - 1951)
10. A Charlie Brown Christmas (*Though not technically a "feature film," I wouldn't feel right not including this on my list)

I've seen many "best Christmas movie lists" (Moviefone's), but I stand by mine! Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sports Media

I'm a huge sports fan. Gargantuan even. During the annual sports drought (April-July) I follow hockey, soccer and baseball spring camps while counting down the days to the NFL preseason just to satisfy my year round need for sports. That's why the peak sports season (August-March) is so important to me. So when I turn on ESPN and all I see is news of suspensions, steroids and players' legal issues, it upsets me.

By now we all know of Plaxico Burress' situation. The New York Giants' star wideout is facing felony weapon charges after accidentally shooting himself in the leg with a concealed .40 Glock handgun in a Manhattan club last Friday night. If you don't know about this, you don't watch sports. Or TV. Or read.

If you haven't heard yet (you will), O.J. Simpson was sentenced to a minimum nine years (varying reports on the exact number) in federal prison this morning for armed robbery. Wait. Hold on...more breaking news from the sports media. This just in - O.J. Simpson hasn't played professional football since 1979! Let CNN cover it.

With that out of the way, it's time for some BCS debating or Tyler Hansbrough bashing, right? Nope. ESPN is broadcasting Sean Avery's comments that fellow NHL players, specifically Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, fall in love with his "sloppy seconds," referring to ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. It's a little odd, certainly timely and involves a sports star. OK. It can qualify as sports news. But do we need to hear about it at the top and bottom of each hour? I think not.

It would be one thing if we were experiencing a critical shortage of sports news. But we're not. On the contrary, we are saturated with sports news! The NFL season features some of the tightest playoff races we've seen in some time, and the perennial superpowers aren't at the top. The NFC South's top three teams, all in playoff contension, are a combined 26-10, equal to the top three teams in the preseason favorite NFC East (that's with the New York Giants at 11-1).

It's bowl season in college football for crying out loud! The BCS and national championship game are under scrutiny again with three Big 12 teams making claim to the conference championship game and ultimately the national title game. Lets not forget the ECU Pirates, this year's Boise State for the first month - then Boise State showed up. The Pirates and Tulsa play for the CUSA championship tomorrow at noon. Who knew? This weekend also features the SEC, ACC, MAC and Big 12 title games.

The NBA is off to a great start - the Lakers are 15-2 and the Celtics are 18-2. Feels like the 80's. This league is in the midst of a rebirth and yet it makes up (guesstimation) no more than 15 percent of ESPN's coverage. About as much as Plaxico Burress.

So why all the non-game related news? Is it a result of 24 hour sports news media like ESPN that there is a self-inflicted need for sports news material at all times? Hence that broken record feeling I get everytime I turn to channel 29 in the Charlotte market. Or could this be an extension of reality TV and our society's infatuation with celebrity status, which more and more athletes are reaching?

It could be all of the above. But in as much as the above factors contribute to non-sports related sports news, so does the modern day professional athlete. More and more we hear "projects to professional postseason" stories and the effects that youth, ridiculous amounts of money and near limitless freedom have on today's rising stars (Sports Illustrated gives great insight into "ghetto loyalty" as a result of Michael Vick's dog fighting charges). If this is what sports stars are engaging in, this is what sports media will cover.

I have a suggestion. This is for the sports media, agents, parents, sponsors, fans, coaches and yes, the players. Ready? Very simple. Three words that could return the sport into sports: Play. The. Game.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

'Tis the Season

At last my belated honeymoon has arrived! After a wedding, a major move and a job change (still in the works obviously) in one month, I'd say I've earned it :)

I leave you on a good note with news of a good deed in the sports world (and very, very good timing...hmmm).

First reported by the Dallas Morning News, "Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo shows heart of gold, treats homless man to evening at silver screen." I made that headline up. I also was being sarcastic. Seriously though, Romo took a homeless man to the movies and that's an admirable thing to do.

However, blame it on my Panthers roots to never trust a Cowboy or my skepticism with "feel good" media stories, but I still raise an eyebrow at the timing. Cowboys' cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, who usurped Terrell Owens as the team's largest liability this season, and his numerous off the field legal issues, along with the recent stumble of the Cowboys on the field (Dallas may or may not make the playoffs at this point) led to an onslaught of negative press and naysayers.

Then, like an angel descending upon the team, Romo restores faith in the down and out 'Boys and leads them to victory over the rival Redskins this past Sunday. Let the good news roll! Oh, wait, Romo paid for a homeless guy to go to the movies with him this week too? Man, that Romo's a great guy. And you know what? The Cowboys aren't so bad either. "Pacman" who?

"America's team" is back. The gutsy performance in Landover, MD should not be overlooked, but some well timed PR and image management works wonders. Next week: Jason Witten helps an elderly lady get her cat out of a tree on the way to play Santa Claus at an Arlington orphanage.

Ranting aside, everyone watch lots of football and have a great Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 7 - Rolling with a Routine

When I say Day 7, I mean the seventh "business day" of searching - I took off the weekend for an early Thanksgiving. I'll work weekends. Try me.

I've developed a routine out of this job hunt. Don't worry, no play by play of my mornings in this post. I feel more productive and on top of things having developed a new routine, albeit one I'm not planning on making permanent. The first few days of unemployment were uncomfortable and foreign having not dealt with this "condition" since first departing my alma mater, East Carolina University, more than two years ago.

This is not to imply that I'm growing complacent; I'm not. Not even close. But my most recent mini-luminal moment in my journey to employment is that a job hunt routine is essential. Essential not only to finding a job (yes, I'm unemployed, but convinced it's temporary) but also to retaining a sense of sanity and satisfaction with one's status. Alliteration not intended.

That said, I recommend using your email calendar/organizer (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or Outlook if you use it, mostly businesses I suspect) to the full extent - even if it's "Call Tim with VMS at 3 p.m." because he was out yesterday at 10 a.m.

Organize your day to include:
- Market research (not consumer surveys, but potential job markets and the businesses within)
- Company profiling (identify those businesses with which you would most like to work in a given market and learn about them!)
- New contacts (set a goal for a number of new companies/individuals to contact each day and meet it)
- Keep doing what you did - stay sharp (blog, watch the news, write, research, dance, draw, crunch numbers, build something, photograph, play basketball)
- Be your own brand ambassador (constantly update and target your resume, cover letter, portfolio samples, etc. to be most relevant to companies you're targeting)

Much of this is known, but it bears repeating. I'll always say that patience and perseverance are the two most underrated qualities an individual can posess - so try hard, and then try, try again. Best of luck to us all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gum Galore

Week after week as I stand in line at the grocery store to buy my milk, beer and bread (the essentials), perusing over the tabloids and Altoids, I'm struck by the countless number of confectionery treats that line the aisle. I think more gum and candy brands exist today than ever before (tempting to insert an aside here on America's obesity issues, but I'll pass).

The number of brands is matched only by the variety in which they're promoted at retail. By "at retail," I mean the packaging and branding that takes place in the store. This includes the pretty colors, fonts and designs they use to catch your eye in the aisle. Ever wonder why gum and candy are always in the check-out aisle? Look at me. Or your kids. Inundate the consumer with your eye-catching products at eye-level (or at least for someone a little shorter, um, like a kid) in a narrow passageway through which they must pass to exit the premises. It's effective. They know.

"Funny though," I always thought. "Gum is gum." Don't tell that to the manufacturers.

"Wrigley" could conjure up two images depending on where you're located geographically. Fabled Wrigley Field and the Cubbies, bless their hearts, or Wrigley gum. Chances are if you're in Chicago, you know them both.

Headquarterd in the famous, you guessed it, Wrigley Building in Chicago, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company is the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum, with global sales of $5.4 billion. That's a lot of gum. From Wrigley's Spearmint (I can't even say "Spearmint" alone, it has to be "Wrigley's Spearmint" - darn effective branding) to 5, there's seemingly a stick for everyone.

Some gum packages look like mini-laundry detergent tablets (health conscious, hard working middle-somethings?) while others look like iPhones (club-hopping hipsters with their fresh breath and, well, iPhones?).

Yes, it would appear that Wrigley has created (or acquired through major mergers and acquisitions) a bubble-gum brand for nerly every person and every occassion...

You know, like if you want to view an "Eclipse" (a phenomenon caused by the "Orbit" of the moon and Earth, not "Mars") in the "Winterfresh" air with your "Hubba Bubba" at "5" before you catch the "Big League Chew." Just make sure there's an "Extra" piece handy; it's a "LifeSaver." I tried.

Lest you think I'm jabbing the gum giant here; I'm not (hard). I raise Wrigley and the gum/confectionery marketing topic to demonstrate how a seemingly archaic industry has used effective marketing and public relations to earn more than $5 billion annually. It's not always who you are; it's who the consumer thinks you are.

For more examples, see Blue Rhino, Repreve and Vespa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Communicating on the Go

People love instant gratification.

Fast food. Instant messaging. Real-time updates. The fast lane. All-in-one phones. The world at our fingertips. That's how we live and we expect nothing less.

With a tech-savvy society that lives to communicate, why then, as a 2006 survey by Response Insurance suggests, do 57 percent of American drivers not signal when changing lanes? If that number doesn't jump off the page, try this one: 23,000 fatalities occur every year on U.S. roads because of unintended lane changes, e.g. people that don't use turn signals. Turn signals.

We're talking about one of the oldest (invented in 1929, although not standard until the 60's) and most widely available communication technologies that exists today. Not to mention one of the easiest and most practical to use technologies. You know, the little lights on either side of your automobile that let people know when you plan to turn?

It befuddles me how few people use turn signals!















My wife and I discuss this on a daily basis. How, in a society ruled by the "now" and the instant transfer of information (much of which is frivolous - "Sale at Coldstone on Wendover Ave!" - actual Twitter message I recently received), can we somehow fail to let each other know when we may collide and cause serious bodily damage at 65+ miles-per-hour?

The Chicago Sun-Times reports more findings from the Response Insurance survey:

  • "Men are less likely to signal than women, and drivers under 25 are less likely to signal than older drivers.
  • 42 percent said they didn't have time,
  • 23 percent said they were lazy,
  • 17 percent said they don't because they forget to turn it off,
  • 12 percent said they changed lanes too frequently to bother,
  • 11 percent said it was not important,
  • 8 percent said they don't because other drivers don't. And, most disturbing of all,
  • 7 percent skipped the signal to "add excitement" to their trip." Seriously?
I have an idea. Ford and Microsoft developed Sync technology (and did no small amount of promotion - Sync YouTube contest), which allows you to voice-activate music playlists, cell phones/Bluetooth, internet searches, GPS systems and the like. Now we can listen to music, talk to friends, text, order pizza and get directions simultaneously while driving - upon arrival we even have cars that park themselves!

So how about a voice-activated turn signal? A high-tech auto-option that actually contributes to driver safety etiquette. "Turn right." (Click, click, click, click...) Whoa.

I'm hoping to see auto-related communications, or better yet, common communications sense head that direction, but I've yet to see a turn signal.

Day 3 - Overnight Success is Overrated

Insurance companies are always hiring. It doesn't matter whether the economy is in recession or banks are lending or whether people even have jobs and money to purchase insurance. Nope. Doesn't matter. Insurance companies are always hiring.

But the glass is half full. Really. I've only drank half of my afternoon glass of milk. And I'm confident that my means of self promotion are effective (if done correctly). Covering the basics of job hunting:
  • I have my random ramblings on Blogger (you're looking at 'em) - I like the functionaility of this blogging site. Pretty straightforward "wysiwyg" (what you see is what you get) formatting, easy linking and image uploads, editable posts and posting options, and chances are you're already registered with Google: Picasa, iGoogle, Gmail, YouTube, Alerts, etc.
  • LinkedIn profile is updated and I'm requesting/receiving recommendations from past colleagues.
  • The 'ol resume is being planted on job search sites: Monster, Career Builder et.al.
  • I've updated my profile with PRSA (surprised to find how outdated certain aspects of this site are - job postings for one :)
  • And I'm networking, or trying to. Wanna go to lunch?

"Patience and perserverence have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You



Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 1 - Optimism

The morning is bright, the air is fresh and the carpet is vaccumed. Perfect start to my first day of nitty gritty job hunting! I've spent nearly two weeks just updating my resume/portfolio and getting samples and the like together - not to mention kicking off a certain blog. I highly recommend the occasional 30,000 foot view of your accomplishments. It's almost certainly better than you think. It's getting others to take notice that is the challenge!

So where does a public relations and marketing professional begin their job search? Perhaps through a previous work contact? Monster.com? A friend of their mother's neighbor's babysitter? Nope. Try Craig's List. I admit I have about as much experience with Craig's List as the Detroit Lions do with winning football games (oh! that's a good one). But I figure this could be my gold mine - I may spend hours panning for precious stones and end up with mud and rocks. BUT, I could hit it big. Don't know unless you try, right?

I'll give the 'ol Charlotte Chamber of Commerce site and the local business directories a good looking over as well - and here's to hoping there are plenty of potential businesses! I need all the odds on my side. And hey, if my career's yellow brick road doesn't inersect with Craig's List, well, there's always that friend of my mother's neighbor's babysitter :)

....................................

On a side note, I came across RealPeopleRealStuff.com earlier today (not a job site, but kinda cool). This site is meant to be a Craig's List/YouTube hybrid. At the very least it's another good example of how social media continues to merge and evolve. Admittedly I haven't gone through the site completely, but it has potential and relates to Craig's List - so there you have it.




Sunday, November 9, 2008

Help a Reporter Out

Prior to my current state of unemployment (not a big fan, feel free to rescue me :), I worked with Quixote Group, a PR, marketing and market research agency in Greensboro. The folks at QG can do great things, sort of like Ghostbusters - "no job is too big, no fee is too big!" ~ End ex-employer plug ~

During my time with QG, I did my fair share of media relations. You name it - email pitches, cold calls (hate that), mailings, desksides, gifts, tours and all the like while establishing relationships with more than a few media contacts along the way. The one gripe they all have with PR folks is that many of us spam the hell out of them with off-target pitches (in general, this obviously doesn't apply to everyone in the profession). "Why don't more of you take the time to learn about our publication and pitch the appropriate editor?" they would ask me. "Well, I thought that's what we did..." (Insert naivity comment)

As simple a concept as this may appear, I'm still surprised to hear how many PR people fail to pitch on-target and seemingly refuse to do so despite clear and concise feedback from the media. Alas, my griping about the obvious has a point to it today!

There is a young "CEO, Entrepreneur and Adventurist" named Peter Shankman who developed a newsletter (more of a service really), called Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Nuts and bolts: media from across the country send story requests to Shankman who then emails them to PR and marketing pros so that both parties can get what they want (you can sign up here). Media get expert sources and relevant story content, and PR people get their clients in front of media that actually want to cover their product, idea, story, etc. It's a win-win situation. The network is well over 30,000 strong now with regular inquiries from the likes of USA Today, NY Times and many regional, industry, consumer and other media across the country. Tip: Don't think you can sign up and then blast irrelevant pitches to these media - Shankman will out you in front of the entire group; I've seen it happen (pretty funny actually :)

So basic. So genius. So check it out!




Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adventures in Social Media

Free Social Media Tip of the Day: Including funny pictures of cats in your post/story helps lead to increased popularity on Digg. Seriously.

Having worked professionally in the public relations and marketing field over the past few years (and maintaining my own blog now - whoot!), I've witnessed first hand the rise of social media as both a means of personal expression and, well, socializing, as well as a business tool.

I think everyone involved with social media these days realizes its importance and that it has been around longer than most people think; some folks just didn't catch the early flight. But fret not, this is one delay that can work to your benefit. To continue with the airlines metaphor (hadn't planned to go that route, but it seems to be working); imagine going to the airport with no luggage, no tickets and no destination in hopes of embarking on a fantastic worry-free vacation. Riiiight.

Well social media is a bit like that too. There's so much out there now with sites like MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Slashdot, Flickr, Digg, Twitter, Youmeo, my blog, his blog, your dog's blog, etc. They all fit under the social media umbrella but with distinctly different services and personalities. That said, you can't expect your marketing campaigns, new product discussions, blog popularity and whathaveyou to "take off" unless you're on the right flight - this also means you need to pack accordingly and embark at the right time!
(Need a travel planner? I'm available :)

Here's an example: A major consumer product company, which will remain anonymous, wanted to increase their presence in the social media world during peak season, thus reaching their target audience on a deeper, more personal level. Their initial thinking was that by creating a page on MySpace and/or Facebook where they could bring their character logo to life and interact with potential customers they would increase brand awareness and reach more potential customers. Sounded plausible until I did some basic internet surfing research for them and discovered that the vast majority of popular branded characters (Ronald McDonald, Wendy, Mr. Clean, etc.) have dozens of imposter pages, most of which contain vulgar and otherwise non-brand friendly content. Needless to say, I helped them go in another, more relevant direction...

Moral of the story: Don't be the Clark Griswold of marketing, take time to plan your and/or your clients' social media trip(s) accordingly!

PA, WV, IN Oh MY!

Election night coverage is a love/hate relationship for me. As someone with a communications and market research background, I love watching how the different media cover the same general story in different ways - it's a presidential election; one guy wins and the other loses. At the same time, I hate how these media act like they have the Keebler Elves' secret formula for "calling" a candidate's victory in states where only one percent of the vote was reported. Yeah, I know, "exit polling" indicates voters' attitudes which are then translated into assumed votes with the help of mounds of other polling info, research, trends, etc. But if recent election history has shown us anything (2000 anybody? Bueller?), then skepticism is a logical manner in which to approach this media method.

Take two national news media stations - MSNBC and FOX News. The classic lefty versus righty matchup. I'm flipping back and forth between the two around 9:30 (don't quote me on the time) on Tuesday night and see the following "scores:" MSNBC - Obama: 103 McCain: 34 FOX News - Obama: 82 McCain: 39 (Again, could be off by a few, but you get the picture.)

Simple explanation for the scoring discrepancies, right? MSNBC had given PA to Obama and FOX News WV to McCain at the time of the aforementioned scores, but not vice versa. (This scenario was evident throughout the evening, with MSNBC calling many New England states for Obama well in advance of FOX News, which was busy calling southern states like GA and AL for McCain.) Here's my thing - MSNBC's and FOX News' respective calls for PA and WV at this point were not mirrored by one another until a good hour later. Am I to assume as a news consumer that these media could be confident enough in their data to call different states for different candidates at the same time, but not confirm the other's call? What, did FOX News have more folks on the ground in Charleston while MSNBC's pollers were in full force in Philly? Perhaps.

It's interesting to note that MSNBC, a reputed liberal-leaning media, had Obama ahead in electoral votes by a larger margin at all times than FOX News, a reputed conservative media, which had McCain losing by less electoral votes at all times. I'm not choosing sides or advocating for any cause, just stating the facts. Coincidence?

Bottom line - how can we as news consumers who for the most part are seeking objective accounts of the facts trust these "experts" when their data, sources, facts and news differ so greatly? We can't. Having watched another edition of election coverage, I'm further convinced of the need for discretion by today's news consumers. If you pay attention, some media even tell you: "We report, you decide."



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Allo, allo!

Good morning, good day and good night - in case you stop here. For those brave souls that care to venture on, my name is Justin Moore and I am an unemployed public relations and marketing professional living outside Charlotte, NC. Intriguing, I know. If you're reading this, I either referred you here to see what a diligent and skilled worker I am (how'm I doing?), or your search engine made a mistake :) I kid. Never can get enough of that Google juice though, that's part of what I do!

I've carved out this little knook of the internet as a place to show some of my work and offer more info about myself for those select businesses and individuals that may be in a position to hire someone with exemplary communications skills (it's my blog, I'll endulge if I want). Feel free to check out some work samples on the right menu bar or contact me for more specific stuff - I've worked in many areas of the biz and have tried to categorize on this blog for convenience and viewing sake, but I'm happy to oblige requests. But lest I appear too greedy or self serving with my online abode, I feel that there's potential for an interesting sub-plot here...

We all know of the country's economic woes and unemployment issues (look Ma, I'm a statistic!) So I wonder if my adventure, as I optimistically refer to it, could be a micro-case study of sorts. Charlotte is considered one of the few shining markets (even if faint) in a tarnished economy - so how hard could it be for a college grad with professional experience to get a job in the Queen City? We'll find out! And personally, I'm rooting for the guy... stay tuned.

But why should you care? You don't know me on a personal level and have no reason to feel for or relate to my situation. Lets fix that :) You can find out all all kinds of things "about me" to the right. The elevator speech version - I graduated from ECU (go Pirates!) with a Comm. degree and worked in Greensboro as an account executive at a public relations and marketing firm for a couple years. We were small in staff but big in clients. I did it all - media relations, market research, tours, brand positioning, corporate communications and writing, creative design, web editing, media training, event management - really, the list goes on. I'm a newlywed to my best friend of more than six years. We're such good friends that when she was offered a good paying job doing what she loves (textiles design, and lets face it, you can't be picky here), your's truly made the move with no resistance. We found out about the job/move just as we were getting married (mid-October) and had all of three weeks to get married, plan and execute a move and bravely enter the unemployment market during arguably the worst economic crisis of this lifetime (well, I did). Stress has no meaning to me anymore, throw me in the deep end!

I got a lot going for me though - I write (and actually enjoy it), I'm good with people in many different situations and environments, I'm resourceful (sounds basic, but some folks still can't attach files to emails) and I commit and see things through to completion - remember the 6+ years stat prior to my marriage? I get the job done. Whatcha got?

That's me in a 10-story ride to the lobby. Feel free to stick around, I think it'll get better. Oh, did I mention I'm open to criticism and actually learn from it? Drop me a line anytime. There is no set framework for this blog, only to plant myself out there in this crazy social media world and see what grows. Add water at will.