August 29, 2008

I am now proud member number 2017 of PROpenMic, a social network for PR students, faculty and practitioners.

PROpenMic was founded a couple months ago by Robert French, who teaches public relations at Auburn University.

I was invited to join by Dr. Astrid Sheil, who’s now a professor at Cal State University in San Bernardino after teaching at Northern Arizona University for a couple years.

The idea is for the site to help prepare future PR professionals by providing a forum for interaction with peers, instructors and those already out there in the big bad world. 

PROpenMic appears to have captured some early momentum, with members from nearly 150 different colleges in 40 countries.

Maybe I’ll get smarter by osmosis.


Cronkiting Downtown

August 28, 2008

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists were treated to a tour of Arizona State University’s new Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication building in downtown Phoenix.

Dean Christopher Callahan and Assistant Dean Kristin Gilger served as tour guides.

It is cutting-edge to say the least.

The building is the home of the largest television in Arizona.  Even better – on Saturdays it will be tuned to college football and on Sundays, you can watch NFL games.  Students will vote during the week for which games will be shown.

ASU is also hosting a movie night every Wednesday, showcasing a journalism-themed flick.

The students and faculty have brought a new vibe to downtown Phoenix.  The energy is contagious – almost to the point where I wish I were a student again.

“And that’s the way it is.”

P.I.P.E, the Piping Industry Progress and Education Trust Fund, along with U.A. Local 469, will host the largest group in Arizona Diamondbacks history at its Labor Day event at Chase Field on Monday, Sept. 1.  The group will include 2,000 participants from the plumbing and pipefitting industry, who will watch the Diamondbacks take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The great thing about this event is that folks from P.I.P.E. actually did all of the HVAC and plumbing for the stadium so they are going to be reaping the fruits of their labor on Labor Day.  It’s a great day to thank the people who worked hard for us to enjoy a national pastime in a wonderful (climate-controlled) ballpark. 

Go D-Backs!

Our friend and local freelance reporter, Christia Gibbons has a new blog she calls “Waste Management Woman” in which she gives some great, concise advice on using words wisely.  Her mission: In a world so flooded with poor writing and confusing communication I want to help. I want to be part of fixing the problem. I want to offer solutions.

It’s just a few posts young so far, but a good read for those of us who may be prone to adjective-addiction (and you know who you are). 

Anyone know of any other local media looking to make the online world a better place through blogging?

AZIGG August

August 25, 2008

The Arizona International Growth Group (AZIGG) is an interesting organization promoting international business leadership in Arizona.  AZIGG meets monthly to discuss international business topics that benefit Arizona-based companies.  There is certainly plenty of synergy and collaboration.

The August event featured a panel consisting of Gunnar Light, executive vice president, For the Record, Melbourne IT; Joe Gold, global sales internationalist; and Oystein Donsmo, chief financial officer and chief operating officer for The Yorke Group.

Each had tremendous insight on expanding businesses internationally.

There were a couple of great quotes:

Light humorously said the key to succeeding in international business was “being able to eat the local food.”

Donsmo commented on many businesses’ “Cousin Vinnie Approach” to getting things done:  “He knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone…”

I think I may actually know Vinnie.

AZIGG’s next event is Oct. 6.

Arizona, Then and Now

August 22, 2008

Photographer Allen Dutton traveled across the state of Arizona to recapture archival images from their exact original location. Our friends at Eight, KAET TV on the campus at Arizona State University present this great stuff as part of their Arizona Stories series.  Click on the link below and then roll your cursor over the THEN image to reveal the exact location as it is NOW.  Enjoy.

Who’s the sucker now?

August 21, 2008

The Consumerist recently called out Circuit City  and their lack of sense of humor when a high-level executive, unbeknownst to the in-house PR guy, ordered all copies of the latest issue of Mad Magazine be removed from store shelves.  Apparently he got wind that it contained an (all too true) spoof on a typical Circuit City ad, changing the name to Sucker City and featuring specials for item such as the Nintendo Wii with the tagline “guaranteed in stock… if you’re friends with an employee who hid it in the back for you. Otherwise, ooh, sorry, all sold out.” 

The best part about the whole situation was that once this got back to Jim Babb in Sucker, I mean Circuit City’s communications department, he issued this response which turned the whole situation around:

Hi, Ben,

I spotted the article about Circuit City and MAD Magazine on your site.

fyi, I became aware of this “situation” only this morning, and I have sent a note today to the Editors of MAD Magazine.

Speaking as “an embarrassed corporate PR Guy,” I apologized for the fact that some overly-sensitive souls at our corporate headquarters ordered the removal of the August issue of MAD Magazine from our stores. Please keep in mind that only 40 of our 700 stores sell magazines at all.

The parody of our newspaper ad in the August MAD was very clever. Most of us at Circuit City share a rich sense of humor and irony…but there are occasional temporary lapses.

We apologize for the knee-jerk reaction, and have issued a retraction order; the affected stores are being directed to put the magazines back on sale.

As a gesture of our apology and deep respect for the folks at MAD Magazine, we are creating a cross-departmental task force to study the importance of humor in the corporate workplace and expect the resulting Powerpoint presentation to top out at least 300 pages, chock full of charts, graphs and company action plans.

In addition I have offered to send the MAD Magazine Editor a $20.00 Circuit City Gift Card, toward the purchase of a Nintendo Wii….if he can find one!

All the best,

Jim Babb
Corporate Communications
Circuit City Stores, Inc.
Richmond, VA

So, the person who initially ordered the magazine removed still looks like a sucker but at least we can all learn a little about the benefits of being able to laugh at ourselves occasionally.

A tip of the promotional hat to Tony the Tiger’s bosses over at Kellogg’s for quite the promotional coup – landing Michael Phelps for the cover of their cereal brand over Wheaties!

I don’t remember anyone landing major athletes for their cereal boxes over Wheaties – except for Flutie Flakes a couple decades ago.

And, as an added bonus, the PR team at Wheaties hit pay dirt in promoting the coup – another tip of the hat.

Grappling Gold

August 20, 2008

Congratulations to 21-year-old freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo of Maryvale, who captured Olympic gold in the 55 kilogram freestyle wrestling tournament in Beijing.  It is the 125th Olympic wrestling medal for the United States and its 50th gold. Only swimming and track and field, with far more events, have produced more American golds.

This comes on the heels of the Arizona State University wrestling program rising from the dead after it was cancelled for fiscal reasons a couple months ago.

Let’s hope the “oro” brings good things to wrestling in the Valley and to Cejudo, as it did years ago for another local athlete, Michael Carbajal, a silver medal-winning boxer at the Seoul games.

Let’s also hope Cejudo can hang on to it, unlike his predecessor.

This isn’t “big-time wrestling,” but it’s big time, for sure.

Lots of golf these days.

The Arizona Association for Economic Development will hold its 13th Annual Golf Classic on Friday, Sep. 12, 2008 at The Raven Golf Course, 3636 E. Baseline Road in Phoenix. This year’s theme will be “Bahama Beach Blast.”

The cost is $550 for a foursome and $150 for a single golfer if registered by Sept. 1.  After Sept. 1, registration increases to $575 and $175 respectively.

Registration begins at 11 a.m. with box lunch included.  Shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m. with a four-person scramble format. A raffle, awards and selection of appetizers dinner will follow the tournament.  Non-golfers may join the group for post-tournament festivities.

Various sponsorship opportunities are available.  For information on sponsorships contact Dee Dee Bark at (602) 291-5756 or  For more information about the tournament, please visit or call (602) 240-2333.

AAED always does a great job with its events and this one will be no different.