Oct 31

When the spirit moves you

There’s a new poll just in time for Halloween that says Catholics and those who never attend religious services are most likely to report ghost sightings. That’s bad news for those of us who are NPCs (or, non-practicing Catholics).

I’ll bet if I am visited by a ghost tonight, it’ll be nasty, old, boy-bashing Sister Catherine Imelda. She scared the bejesus out of me when she was alive, and I’ll bet the afterlife hasn’t mellowed her any.

Getting back to the survey, it quizzed more than 1,000 Americans on everything from spirits and superstition to magic and UFOs.

It turns out that women are more superstitious than men about believing in the charm of four-leaf clovers, Democrats more than Republicans over opening umbrellas indoors and liberals more than conservatives when it came to a groom seeing his bride before a wedding.

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Oct 30

Talk about a ‘class’ distinction

Uber rich parents are paying a consultant as much as $40,000 to get their kids into an elite school.College
Michele Hernandez, who was a Dartmouth admissions person before becoming a gun for hire, literally schools rich kids on how to beat the college admissions system. She’ll help draft essays, suggest after-school activities and dry teary eyes. She even begins working with some Ivy League wannabe’s as early as the eighth grade.

Excuse me, but this is the stuff that could lead to class warfare. Affirmative action notwithstanding, affluent Americans already enough advantages without further tipping the scales. We have 30 million or more Americans living below the poverty line and yet a person like Hernandez can earn $1 million helping privileged kids become even more so. What’s wrong with that picture?

I’m not sure if this travesty reflects more poorly on the parents who shell out the big bucks for the college admissions coach, the elite schools who turn a blind eye to such skullduggery or Ms. Hernandez herself. Regardless, I’d give all three a big, fat ‘F.’

Oct 29

Miriam Bell’s a real ding dong

I wish I had a dollar for every e-mail Executive Recruiter Miriam Bell has sent informing me I’d be ideal
for ‘…one or more positions recently posted by our corporate clients in New York City.’

While I’m always flattered to be considered for any job, I’ve decided to stay away from the corporate side.Spam As a result, I’ve politely responded to Ms. Bell’s entreaties with such brief rejoinders as:

– ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’
– ‘Not interested in corporate gigs, Miriam.’

– ‘Take me off your stupid distribution list.’

And, most recently:

– ‘Back off, already!’

And, yet, Miriam happily ignores my pleas and continues to send her spam my way. ‘Remove yourself from her list,’ you say? Oh, I have, I have. Many times, as a matter of fact.

But, like a deeply-rooted STD, Miriam and her e-mails just won’t go away. And, to rub salt in the wound, she always begins her salutations to me with ‘Hi Eric…’

I surrender, Miriam Bell, HR manager of careers-for-07.net. You’ve succeeded where so many others have failed (i.e. ‘With Clue,’ ‘Med supply executive,’ etc.). Your Chinese water torture approach to executive recruiting has worn me out. Bring on the ‘…one or more positions posted…" by your corporate clients.

If it means you’ll finally leave me alone, I’ll go on the damn interviews.

Oct 29

What a helluva way to find out

How’d you like to find out you didn’t win a new business pitch by reading about it the trade press? Nice,Rejection

That’s only happened a few times in 12 years of business: once with a major car maker, another time with a dotcom and, just now, with a telecommunications company.

We’d met with the telco two or three times in august and then submitted a written proposal. We repeatedly followed up, only to receive radio silence from them.

And, then, voila, there it was: another firm announcing the telco as its newest client.

So, I ask: is this sort of boorish behavior indicative of businesspeople who are just too busy to pick up the phone or hit the send button? Or, as is more likely the case, does it show they just lack the requisite social graces?

Either way, this reflects poorly on the telco and its image, and goes a long way towards building a negative impression. Life is too short and the business world too small to treat others in such a shabby way.

Oct 25

I don’t like Green Meanies

Everywhere I turn, I see, hear and read about ‘going green.’ Whether it’s my neighbors buying hybrid cars,Gogreen
major Fortune 500 companies announcing huge sustainability efforts or big PR firms declaring their workplaces will be carbon neutral by 2009, it seems like everyone’s jumping on the environmental sensitivity bandwagon.

And, that’s cool. It’s a noble effort to be sure. But, is it a futile one as well? Auden Schendler, who Time Magazine anointed just last year as a ‘climate crusader’ thinks so. He laments in a current BusinessWeek profile, "How do you really green your company? It’s almost f***ing impossible."

It seems that no matter what any of us do, it will have very little, if any, meaningful impact on reducing global carbon emissions. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Or course not.  But, the ‘doing well by doing right’ corporate mantra du jour, is apparently just that in many cases: a mantra du jour.

According to BusinessWeek, some companies are already abandoning their green efforts because they don’t provide an immediate return. CEOs, pressured by Wall Street to produce quarter-to-quarter results, simply can’t wait seven years to show an ROI (which is understandable).

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Oct 24

New business is about them, not us

Four of us are sitting in the reception area of a new business prospect’s headquarters. We’re one of fourBored_2
agencies to be invited to present today and, as you might expect, we’re filled with nervous excitement.

Deb’s rehearsing her lines. Marya is wondering what questions we’ll be asked and Caryn’s re-reading background information.

While we’re all focused on what we want to say and how, we’re also mindful of what really makes the difference in new business. Despite this being a combination credentials/creative ideas pitch, the prospect really doesn’t want to hear that much about us.

As Millie Olson of Amazon Advertising says, ‘Forget about credentials presentations.’ Prospects really don’t want to know arcane facts and figures about your firm or its work.

Instead, prospects want to tell you about their pain. They want you to know what’s keeping them up at night. They want to know how you’ve solved similar challenges and, critically, how you’d partner with them to solve their issues.

The more prospects talk, the more likely you’ll be hired. It sounds simple. But, many of us forget to ask questions and listen to the answers. Instead, we rush pell-mell through our slides. And lose the opportunity as a result.

How will today go? It’s hard to say. But, we’ll be sure to stop and ask questions as we go. Because it’s about them, not us.

Oct 23

I’m just about ready to link out of Linked In

I must receive five or more ‘Linked In" requests every day. In case you’ve somehow escaped this pesky,Linked_in
but prevalent pestilence, Linked In positions itself as the ‘Facebook’ or ‘MySpace’ of the adult business world.

Like the hot social networking sites, Linked In asks participants to create a home page that provides their name, title and affiliation. Users then send e-mail notices to anyone and everyone they’ve ever ‘touched’ in their business or personal lives.

The result is a steady stream of ‘invitations’ from the vaguely familiar to the complete stranger. The sender asks you to click on the invite bar and become Linked in. Ok. But why?

Some people have 350 or more Linked In friends. Others, like me, have far fewer.

Some herald Linked In as the next great rainmaking and networking tool. Our firm’s crack strategy consultant, for example, proselytizes on the technology’s capability at every opportunity. He believes, because of its ‘six degrees of separation’ Linked In enables us to create ‘personal’ connections with even the largest or most remote prospective client (i.e. Just plug in the name of the prospect organization, do a Linked In search, and you’ll see that John who knows Jane once worked with Abdul who dated Akbar who sits two cubes away from Nadia, the prospective client decision-maker).

Maybe. But who has the time to play those games? And, just because I know someone who knows someone, will that give me any real advantage?

I’m a big proponent of the Web 2.0 world. But, so far, Linked In has done absolutely nothing except cost me precious time responding to people who’ve asked me to be their Linked In friends.

Unless I can figure out a tangible benefit soon, this blogger will be linked out of Linked In.

Oct 22

There was no sense of entitlement in Philly

Many young people in the PR industry possess a serious sense of entitlement. Or, so many of us in thePrssa
profession’s upper ranks seem to think.

And, while I’ve experienced firsthand examples of account executives with a seriously inflated sense of self-worth, I’m also pleased to report I’ve just met scores of young industry professionals who are the polar opposite.

The occasion was the PRSSA’s annual conference in Philadelphia. I was invited to address a large group on the subject of writing. I told them the overall quality of writing has fallen faster than the New York Jets post-season chances. I told them to forget about attending other workshops on subjects like media relations, strategy and account management if they didn’t first master writing. I also told them text messaging shorthand was undermining their credibility with bosses, clients and the media.

I’m happy to say the audience was overwhelmingly receptive. They not only peppered me with smart and insightful questions, they also lined up afterwards for one-on-one advice. Each and every student was smartly dressed in business attire. Each handed me a business card, resume and, in some cases, feature articles they’d authored.

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Oct 19

You can’t keep a good man down

Well, those oh-so-randy Catholic priests are at it again. Word from Italy has it that a high-ranking VaticanPriest_2
priest was caught on video romancing a boy he’d met on a homosexual web site. Oh dear.

The priest, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, denied any culpability. Instead, he claims to have been conducting research into ‘…people who are involved in a Satanic plot to discredit the Church by seducing priests into homosexuality.’ Oh baby. Talk about straining credulity.

The Catholic Church has huge image and reputation problems because:

A) It covers up incidents like this one (which broke on an Italian television network) and…

B) Their basic model is broken. As many others have said, celibacy isn’t natural and tends to attract men who prefer the company of other men (and young boys).

It really is sad to see yet another Church meltdown. But, until the Vatican powers that be wake up to the realities of the modern world and their own bankrupt system, we’ll continue to see more and more instances of lecherous guys like Monsignor Tommaso being ousted.

Thanks to Tommy Powers for the idea.

Oct 18

Who’s next? Librarians?

It’s so sad to see our nation’s police caught up in the steroid abuse scandal.Steroids

According to reports, the fuzz who are ingesting and injecting are doing so to become bigger, stronger and more nimble in their never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

I guess that makes some sort of schizophrenic sense, but how can the coppers be so ignorant about the long-term dangers of roids? I understand why athletes dope: they have a limited period of time in which to perform, and the monetary rewards can be enormous.

But, what’s with policemen who pop? Not only are they endangering their health, they’re breaking the law. Talk about not walking the walk.

The real losers in this latest scandal are, once again, our nation’s kids. The role models I grew up with have systematically disgraced themselves and their professions (think priests, teachers, entertainers, cops, politicians, and athletes, to name just a few). There’s literally no one left to look up to.

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