A smile can help build a company

I know a man who communicates so well with his engaging smile and a lively twinkling in his eye.  He views the world as a place filled with goodness and love. Despite a recent, deep personal loss and a life-threatening medical condition, his positive life force shines on all those around him.

What does this special man possess that most of us seemingly do not? A true love of people. Faith in the providence of God. The willingness to find good in others. And the unwillingness to focus on the bad.

What does this have to do with marketing, you say? Everything, I reply.

We have to express the joy in our hearts for the people, products and services we represent and sell. We should view our clients and their prospects with respect; talk to them honestly, with a genuine interest and concern in honestly meeting their needs; and always welcome those we serve with a smile that reflects their importance in our lives.

Whether in your personal or business life, a positive, cheerful outlook is contagious. A consistent, positive attitude wins friends and bodes well for the building of true, long-lasting relationships.

A happy man, a happy customer, a happy worker. Yes, I can tell you happiness does make the world go round.

Thanks, Dad. You may have just helped to launch a successful company.

Inside the head of a communicator

The Character of communications
There is an old Irish proverb, “The work praises the man.”
I love this because it is so obvious. When you do good work, when it hits the mark, you don’t have to talk about it. Your work is recognized by others. This external praise is real….and it is a high. When this happens, it makes you want to keep on smiling, and keep on turning out a level of work worthy of such accolades.

I like to take this proverb in a different direction, “The work reveals the man.”
It is the integrity of your work that communicates to the world who you are. It is the subjects you choose to talk about, how you present them and how you respect your audience. Once again, you don’t have to brag about your work, it will stand on its own for others to judge not just your talent, but also the person reflected in the work.

Communications is my passion
No matter where I am or what I am doing, I always find myself observing the details of all forms of communications – an ad, a book jacket, a menu design, company collateral, a movie, a road sign. Anything with a graphic design and text. I mentally review, analyze, often redesign or edit the message, applaud the outstanding ones, and file them in my head for possible future applications. I love to keep abreast of  the trends in design and evaluate the marketing campaigns of successful companies in the marketplace.

I’ve worked in the field of communications for over 25 years, both as a marketing manager and as a consultant. I’ve started up marketing functions, headed up departments and acted as a full-service agency in the fields of manufacturing, professional services, education and consumer goods. My goal was to become a vice president of corporate communications for a manufacturing company. But when I came to CT from NY, the tide was on its way out for these firms with production going overseas and the building compounds of once proud names of American industry giving way to shopping centers, condominiums and parking lots.

So, rather than fight the times, I chose to work in high tech industries, service firms and education. While it wasn’t my original plan to acquire a wide range of experience in different fields, I can honestly say now it was worth the ups and downs. There is no other way to see firsthand how so many industries promote their products and services.

Interactive communications is my master
I am by nature, a tactile person, and so I love the print media. Creating a compelling and cohesive company story on paper from business cards to data sheets to brochures to annual reports is deeply rewarding. From the initial comps to the first sheet off the press, I find the process exhilarating.

However, even more exciting today is the new challenge of digital interactive communications. Using the computer, which I have considered a trusted companion since the early eighties, to communicate with and involve others in the process not only levels the playing field but opens it up to almost endless possibilities. And with today’s ever expanding portable devices and the digital clouds, my office is everywhere, and always ready, to service the needs of my clients.

Seeing is believing

Video

Tower Generator of Canton, CT was looking for a sales tool that would showcase their turnkey installation of a large, commercial generator. They wanted it to demonstrate their company’s extensive capabilities to expertly handle every step of a highly complicated, labor intensive installation.

A glossy brochure (too static) or a half-hour movie (too long) wouldn’t do the trick. But thousands of photos with plenty of action and foot-tapping music would drive home the point – we’re the company you can trust to do the job. How to show 27 days in just 3-1/2 minutes? Why, a time-lapse of course.

So I spent my summer days shooting; my nights editing, and delivered an effective sales tool that both Tower Generator, my client, and Cummins Power Generation, a leading manufacturer, wanted to show to their prospective customers.

Time lapse of installation of large generator to protect corporate assets
Four weeks of on-site shooting for a client, Tower Generator, shows the work progression of installing a powerhouse of a generator designed to protect the people and assets of large businesses. The commercial building was a 55,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters.

To learn more, read the case study (with my photos).
[Yes, we also produced a written sales tool to explain all the details. It really makes you appreciate the well-tuned choreography of such a big installation. It appears on both websites as a pdf for easy sharing and printing.]

It’s good to be back!

The glory of the sky

It’s been a while since my last entry, so I need to play a little catch-up.

I began my blog for a class when I was attending school for my master’s degree in interactive communications at Quinnipiac University. It was personally & professionally rewarding to learn new technologies and create multimedia projects that enhanced my skills. And all the while, working full time. Hectic…sometimes just plain crazy…but well worth my time and effort.

I guess the professors thought I was doing a good job, too, because they awarded me their prestigious “Faculty Award for Academic Excellence, Masters in Interactive Communications”. It was an unexpected honor because this is my passion – it is part of me and something that I love to do…maybe even have to do.

Being recognized by industry professionals made me blush as well as wear a big grin. But while awards are appreciated, creating programs to help businesses meet marcom (marketing communications) challenges is what keeps me smiling. It’s so good to be back!

[Photo by Colleen B. Reilly]

Technology: tool or master?

tech-tool-or-master-wMUSINGS ON TECHNOLOGY
#1 – The evolution of man as a thinking individual capable of acting as one of many for the common good is not readily obvious or easily discerned. Because we, as a species, have been here on planet earth a mere spec in time as compared to, say the dinosaurs, our evolutionary progress is harder to recognize. I wonder if time is the only factor, or are we as good as it gets?

#2 – No matter how advanced technologies become, we still seek the basic human component – companionship, friendship…It’s obvious Adam still needs Eve.

#3 Technology is the great equalizer. It brings information, once unavailable, to your fingertips. With information comes power and control. It’s no wonder so many people in high places wish to place restrictions upon its use.

#4 – Mobile technology mixes space and place. You can be physically located in a particular place, but can simultaneously occupy many different spaces (depending on how many other people you are talking with) at the same time. Numerous virtual realities. It’s rather a god-like experience.

#5 – People are considered connected to an event, even if not physically present. For this behavior, you used to be marked absent.

#6 – Users always find new ways to apply technology unthought of by their designers. No matter what technologies are emerging, users will tailor them to fit their specific needs.

#7 – Do we really need all of this information inundation 24/7? When do we sleep? Don’t you sometimes want to shut down, sneak away to be alone, if not just for a little while?

#8 – I like writing in longhand, running a sharpened pencil with soft, flowing lead across the clean, smooth feel of paper. You lose the tactile feel with the hardened plastic of a keyboard. You get one step further from natural materials, one step closer to becoming one with the machine, with the tools of technology.

#9 – It’s a seductive trap technologists set up for us. Give us your money, we have a device you can use without too much thinking involved. We are expecting machines to shoulder much of our responsibility for simple, everyday tasks. I fear technology will replace man’s using his brain. It will make him braizy (brain lazy).

#10 – I don’t believe technology has made, or will make us better people, or collectively a better society. However, the computer and the internet have exponentially expanded our abilities to communicate with anyone, and seemingly everyone, around the globe. So, with an open, two-way, interactive system to talk to each other, to easily discuss any topic, to promote acceptance of different ideas and points of view, perhaps faith in a positive use and outcome for technology is worth serious consideration.

P is for personal

private_bw-w

Your zip code, m’am?
A few years ago on a sunny, summer day I was shopping at Linens and Things where at the checkout, a young girl was training to be a cashier. As I moved up closer to the cash register, I was determined to make a stand for my rights. And so when the young cashier asked for my zip code, I happily replied “90210” (the 5-digit mark of the U.S. Post Office for Beverly Hills, CA and also the name of a hit television series about beautiful, young Californians.)

The young girl looked at me in awe, assuming I must be one of the chosen few to live in such a celebrated paradise (I was flattered). A smile crossed my face as she started to enter the prized numerals into her machine, that is until the stern-looking, older woman standing behind her flashed me a dirty look and said in a rather condescending tone, “She’s not from Beverly Hills.”

No, no I’m not. Not even close. But that’s not the point. At the time of checkout, it should not matter where I live. That’s personal… and I’d like to keep it that way.

A personal crusade
The battle for my personal information is one in which I have become a daily warrior, fighting off annoying but persistent invaders for another piece of me. Linens and Things was just another skirmish. I won the battle, lost the joke. They never did get my right zip code, but it’s the war ahead that frightens me.

It wasn’t always like this. Although Radio Shack was one of the first retailers to require your phone number before you could purchase a 99-cent battery, it is only in the last few years that just about every store attempts this for at least one extended period during its annual business cycle. If a company wants to ask me to participate in market research, and not appear as a demanding, intrusive bully, then I might consider it. But this is not how it is done. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why.

When first asked for my zip code or phone number during visits to other stores, I would answer no, I don’t care to participate. The result, and this is the truth, was one of the following: a) a dumbfounded look because the cashier didn’t know what buttons to press, b) a noticeable downward shift in attitude toward me, or c) just plain rudeness. I noticed that if you played the game with their rules – they ask, you respond– then you were treated with respect. Tired of rude behavior, I decided to answer….but incorrectly. I gave up on 90210, too obvious. Instead I choose the farthest state and area code from their store and felt a bit of satisfaction with throwing off their database. I also felt sad.

I shake my head every time I hear people complacently respond to these unnecessary questions. When did we start sharing our personal information with strangers? Why have we become so complacent that we tell anyone who asks exactly what they want to know? Where can we hide when everyone knows where we live? Who wants to be a lemming anyway? We all know where that leads.

When did we lose the right to our privacy?
In Orwell’s classic tale, 1984, and in 2006, big brother is watching over us at all times. There is no safe place anyone can be. There is nowhere to turn, because we’ve turned ourselves inside out for all to view. It seems that those in charge – government, university researchers, corporations – can always find some professional reason why their inappropriate behavior is acceptable. For example, looking into the private lives of people using the internet through research queries. Their research of unsuspecting, unconsenting subjects (those benignly using internet search engines) to further enhance their academic reputations, company marketing efforts, etc. with no concern for the privacy of others is just one more reason why people don’t trust those in charge.

It’s the same about the question of ethics in the media. Why such a discussion carries on baffles me. Either you have morals, values, ethics or you don’t. They are not like a coat you take off when you enter a building. It is something you carry inside of you that you apply to your entire day – in personal encounters and in the work environment. It’s not something you can pick and choose.

It seems that once again, man is subservient to the machine. Professor Etzioni said that “we build technology that answers questions, so we want to test it on actual questions people are asking.” Well rather than acting like Cortes when he invaded the Aztecs, maybe researchers should ask their subjects if they want to be willing participants. African slaves were not asked. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now. You can’t take what is not yours and profit from it, even if you believe it is for the common good.

Respect for privacy
Respecting the privacy of the individual, being honest and factual in reporting the news, having respect for the personal, intellectual property of others – what do all these have in common? They represent ways in which a good society conducts itself with regard to its relations with one another. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s the golden rule. It’s the two stone tablets of Moses. It’s the social contract we have with each other to keep order and the peace.

Yet, media outlets, both online and traditional print, radio and television, can make a million excuses why they can let rumor and innuendo pervade their airwaves and pages, why sloppy research becomes fact, why political agenda, a publicist’s propaganda morph into news, why secret invasions into the personal lives and habits of others become justified by those who like to study humans as bugs under a microscope. Why? It comes down to no respect for your fellow man and his privacy.

References
Glaser, M. (2004). On the wild, woolly internet, old ethics rules do apply. Online journalism review. August 8.

Shapiro, A.L. (1999). Privacy for sale (pp. 158-165). The control revolution. New York: Perseus.

Hafner, K. (2006, August 23). Researchers yearn to use AOL logs, but they hesitate. New York Times.