Rubbing Elbows…

January 31, 2008

dan-obrien.jpgThe FBR Open is known for its people-watching and business networking opportunities, as well as some outstanding golf.

The Arizona Chapter of EO, of which I am a member, utilizes its tent in corporate village in brilliant fashion:  the tent serves as a venue to bring in speakers that provide an educational component for its members and guests as part of the EO experience.

This year, 1996 Olympic and 1998 Pan Am Games gold medal decathlete Dan O’Brien visited the EO tent to speak to the organization’s members.  O’Brien is the current world record-holder in the decathlon – track and field’s most demanding competition.

O’Brien shared his mental approach to success.  In his quest to become the world’s greatest athlete, he said he had to accomplish it in his mind first, before he could do it on the field.  He stressed that such a philosophy applies to athletics, business and personal lives.

He said there are three levels of champions:  non-champions, which is self-explanatory; champions, who prepare for success and attain it; and true champions, what we should all strive to be in all facets of our lives.

O’Brien had several other key points.   “You must think like a champion,” he said.  “When I expected success, I got it.” 

Nice to be able to mix in some professional development with the golf, socializing, etc. 

Oh, and can you name the 10 events that comprise the decathlon?

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Congrats to our client, the Town of Queen Creek, as its first fire department has officially taken charge of fire safety and emergency services for the Town’s more than 23,000 residents. In the past few weeks, the Town has named its first fire chief, Van Summers, and swore-in 28 of its own firefighters. The Town is also acquiring its own water services and plans to open nearly $1 million square feet of retail this Spring.

2008-logo.jpgSing like an angel? Rock like Hendrix?If so, the Circle K Tempe Music Festival is looking for you! This very rockin’ client of ours is searching for the best garage band in Arizona and is giving the winner a chance to open for this year’s headliners. In order to be eligible, at least 50 percent of the bands’ members must be currently enrolled in an Arizona high school and or an accredited state, community or private college. All bands must submit a demo CD with a minimum of two tracks along with data CD and hard copies of the following:

Send all materials to the following address no later than Feb. 5, 2008:

Entertainment Solutions

7542 E. Camelback Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

ATTN:  Carolyn Reyes

480-663-0700

And rock on! 

Shame

January 30, 2008

debra1.jpgI really didn’t want to write about these foolish teen “role models” gone astray but I just have one little question:  Where has all the shame gone?It’s hard to ignore the latest mega-headlines about the infamous Britster - another chapter in her chaotic and dramatic life.  And it’s not only her but her soon to be equally infamous little sister, Jamie Lynn; and the countless other celebutantes with a hard-earned DUI on their resumes.

This leads me to ponder the whole concept of infamy… is there even such a thing any more?  When did we start taking the saying of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” so literally?  It doesn’t seem like any of the should-be embarrassing situations have any effect on the behavior of our young starlets.  Heck, half of them are only famous for embarrassing themselves.  Ever heard of Keeping Up with the Kardashians?  And Lindsey… you can try to take the girl out of the party but I guess you can’t party out of the girl. 

I bring this up because, from a PR perspective, these situations should be five-alarm disasters, right?  Imagine if Audrey Hepburn or Rita Hayworth had scarred their reputations in such a way.  How would fans have reacted to them?

We have seen little in the way of public apologies for the behavior of today’s young Hollywood or the ridiculous way in which they’re setting examples for our teens, who, unfortunately, want to emulate them. 

Paris did say she was enlightened to the error of  her ways in an appearance on Larry King shortly after being released from jail – but alas, it appears she was back up to it this past New Year’s Eve.  Her post-jail damage control stint was hilarious because she claimed she wanted to be seen a serious business woman.  Right. And what is that new movie she’s starring in – and I think even produced?  Yeah, that begs the world to take you seriously, Ms. Hilton.

So, how would you clean up the disastrous reputations of these girls?  Can they be saved?  Perhaps their all-knowing publicists (assuming they are all paying them a salary and actually want their advice) should suggest they all just lay low for a year or so.  Pledge a new start, do something productive to help the community – and be genuine about it.  And if you’re going to relapse, at least have the common sense to do it in the privacy of your own multi-million dollar mansion.

But then again, is all this chatter about them just adding fuel to the fire?   When you’re famous just for being famous, who are you if nobody’s talking about you? 

Edible Promotions

January 29, 2008

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In high school, I worked in the mall food court offering shoppers free cookie samples all day long.

In college, I spent my winter breaks back in that same mall, this time offering shoppers beef stick and cheese samples for a seasonal edible gift vendor.

During my first internship, I drove themed cookies and candies on behalf of movie studios to local TV stations to help get the word out on air about a new film.

It is safe to say that I am a professional at hawking free samples. Often, I would ask my bosses “why all the free stuff?”

 It wasn’t until my first year in the PR industry when a local news anchor told me “If we can eat it, it gets our attention” that I started to understand certain promotions can greatly benefit by a little sustenance. 

For example, when we were promoting our client Subway’s new Scrabble buy-and-win game, our broadcast story pitches were accompanied by sandwiches, cookies and Scrabble Boards (both in English and Spanish). And when our client Cachet Homes was offering free Lexuses to its new homebuyers as part of its “Live and Drive in Luxury” event, our broadcast story pitches were accompanied by cakes in the shape of cars.

We gave our broadcast targets something to chew on while reading our story ideas. In both cases, and in many more, the results were astounding.  

 So, any good stories of how you were able to use food in a fun way to help any of your promotions? Comment below.

January 25, 2008

alison2.jpgJustin Long is adorable. Seriously, he is just the right mix of funny, ironic and nerdy to make me melt. Not familiar with him?

He is “Mac” in those funny Mac vs. PC commercials. As a side note, he is also Drew “I am loveable but can’t act my way out of a paper bag” Barrymore’s boyfriend and was a scene-stealer on NBC’s now-defunct “Ed” and in Ben Stiller’s Dodgeball.

But, as much as I love Mr. Long, I am about ready to throw my PC at him in a recent commercial. Go to http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/ and click on “PR Lady” to see what I mean.

Mac (Long) is standing around waiting to be funny and ironic at “PC’s” expense, per usual. However, this time PC (played by a not adorable middle- aged stick in the mud) is not alone. He has brought in his “PR lady” to help him through a crisis communications issue focusing on problems with PC’s new Vista program.

On no, here we go again…

Female power suit – CHECK

Putting words in PC’s mouth – CHECK

“No Comment” – CHECK

Any PR folks out there who have really helped a client through a crisis situation, as my firm (http://www.hmapr.com/) has, have to cringe at this commercial. Some of the best work we have done has been in crisis mode, but on TV, PR professionals are still nothing more than spin doctors and evil word wizards in fancy clothes. Or worse – on a rerun of Law & Order: Criminal Intent last week guess who the killer was…the PR rep! So, now we are killers, too.

While most of this anti-PR sentiment makes me laugh, I have to wonder how we got here? And is there a PR plan out there to help us garner a little respect in the future? Probably not, we’re too busy helping our clients to worry about ourselves. Tell me about your experiences with the PR stereotype. Comment below.

Intern’s View

January 23, 2008

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Hi everyone, I’m Beth, the new I-N-T-E-R-N for HMA.  Let’s just keep that between the two of us though.

Last week, I was e-mailing a source for an article I was writing when one of my co-workers offered me this bit of advice: “Don’t tell her you’re an intern.”  Turns out the source wasn’t too keen on change and was apt to take me less seriously.  Me?  The almost-college-graduate?  The studious (yet fun-loving) honors student?

Why do interns get a bad rap?  Do people think we’re around to run to Starbucks, make copies and perform all the menial tasks no one else wants to take care of?

Truth be told, I like my internship.  Check back in a few weeks, and I may say “love.”  In my nearly three weeks here, I feel like I’ve learned so much, and that I’m actually being taken seriously and being trusted with actual responsibilities.

So when you get a news release from my e-mail address, beware…it may be written by me, or it may not.   Just try and give the interns in your life some credit; we just want to be treated like the professionals we’re training to be.

That said, did you want cream or sugar with your coffee?

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I subscribe to Harvey Mackay’s online newsletter, I have for about a year now.  I’m a big fan of his business books and his weekly column in the Arizona Republic.  What a pleasant surprise that his column this past week was on going from low tech to high tech.  He and I have a lot in common.  Seems we were both taking the plunge at about the same time.  It’s also fair to mention the fact that Harvey and I are cousins on my dad’s side of the family.

He talks about how small businesses can benefit from the advances in technology – that blogs and podcasts are simple and inexpensive ways for businesses to increase their presence to potential target audiences.  But, he says “there is no substitute for the product itself.”  No matter how tech-savvy you become if you can’t back it up with hard-work and results, your key business initiatives will mean nothing.

So as we all continue to venture into this space and try out the latest and greatest gadgets, its important to remember that there are people at the heart of it, clients who need to appreciate it, and customers to buy it.

Let’s Hear It…

January 22, 2008

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Tim Dorn, Gilbert’s police chief, has had a terrible family circumstance dragged into the public eye. Last month, his 25-year-old daughter, Brandi Dorn, was sentenced to six years for aggravated assault and four months for DUI. She was also sentenced to four years of probation for the DUI charge and a second aggravated assault charge.

Chief Dorn was not present at the sentencing but said that he did not condone his daughter’s actions and expected the criminal justice system to hold her accountable.

This has to be a difficult spot for any police officer to be in, especially someone in the position of leadership in upholding the law. I have personally heard comments from the general public that all come back to, “How in the world can we look to him to keep control of the law if he can’t even control his own daughter?”

What moves can Chief Dorn and the Gilbert Police Department make to smooth over this shameful display? How can Chief Dorn save his reputation? Do you think his absence from the sentencing was a good idea?

Let’s hear it!

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We are pleased to announce that our client Administaff’s Phoenix employees collected approximately 275 pounds of food and contributed $500 to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.  The Food Bank is committed to providing food to needy Arizonans through more than 900 partner agencies across the state serving a wide range of clients, the majority of which are families with children and seniors. 

Administaff employees pictured from left to right are:  Sean McLucas, sales consultant; Jason Poling, sales consultant; Pete Goodwin, sales consultant; Carol Maxine Johnson, district administrator; Melissa Groff, district administrator; Joan Jolly, senior human resources specialist; Vicky Kulicke, EEO compliance specialist; Keith Jennings, human resources representative; Brian Koontz, sales consultant; and Vince Conforte, sales consultant.