Nov 07

Anything but heartwarming

It’s the first really cold Fall morning and, sure enough, they’re back. ‘They’ in this case refers to the
asinine men who, for reasons best known only to them, refuse to wear topcoats in cold weather. And, sad to say, it is always men who violate ‘change of season’ dress codes.

As I write this, it’s a brisk and bracing 37 degrees at the Middletown train station. The women commuters are bundled up (some to excess, it must be said). And most guys seem warm, if not happy, in their jackets, coats and hats.

But, then there’s the guy who comes sauntering along in his buttondown, longsleeve Brooks Brothers shirt acting as if it’s the Fourth of July. And, there’s another guy wearing a t-shirt, sportsjacket and, in his only acknowledgement of the frigid temps, a dashing scarf wrapped around his neck.

Tough guys who don’t feel the cold always have their hands shoved into their pant pockets, walk at breakneck speed and have a grimace permanently planted on their kissers.

What are they trying to prove: that they’re impervious to chills? That they’re throwbacks to John Wayne, Dick Butkus and other ‘real’ men?

Give me a break. The ‘I’m a tough guy in cold weather image’ is totally bogus. And, it sends the wrong message to kids who, almost universally, now seem to disdain outerwear in Winter. So, what’s with these thick-skinned macho nuts? They may think they’re cool, but the only image they’re projecting to me is one of stupidity.

Oct 15

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

There’s a fascinating cover story in the latest issue of HR Magazine entitled, ‘Are you too family friendly?Baby_2

The article asks if, in light of political correctness, employers have gone overboard in granting too many perks and privileges to employees with children. According to the article, a growing number of childless workers are saying flex schedules and other concessions made to working moms and dads are unfair, if not, discriminatory.

It’s a slippery slope since publications like Fortune routinely include such benefits as a prerequisite to being named to their ‘Most Admired’ list. In our own industry, The Holmes Report in particular lavishes praise on family-friendly workplaces in its annual survey.

HR Magazine says the childless perks pushback is only going to grow. One in four American households now consist of a single, childless person (and there are now 92 million single or childless citizens 18 years of age and older).

So, what’s an employer to do? One HR expert suggests a cafeteria-type benefits offering from which employees can choose to best meet their personal needs. That sounds fair to me.

It’s a genuine image and reputation conundrum for every organization. In our rush to meet the needs of employees with children, we’ve unconsciously overlooked the single/childless workforce. However enlightened such organizations may seem, the fact is, they’re not.

It’s time that Fortune, The Holmes Report and other publications wake up to this new trend and factor a ‘balanced’ benefits program into their annual rankings.

Jul 05

The ugly European

As Ed ‘Measuring Up’ Moed and I made our way through the Amalfi Coast of Italy on a
way cool NationalSmoking_4
Lampoon-like European Vacation, we
were struck by the obvious and fundamental ways in which to distinguish our fellow tourists:

– The Japanese all wore Hidecki Matsui-autographed New York Yankees gear and videotaped anything and everything in sight.

– The Czechs all wore baseball hats that read ‘Czech.’ I kid you not.

– The Americans all looked lost and harried (or, at least Ed and I did after I bottomed out his car on the Spanish Steps).

– The Europeans all smoked cigarettes.

The latter was absolutely stunning in its totality and, in fact, strained credulity.

What do our European friends not understand about the dangers of nicotine and tobacco? How can they visit scenic and physically-challenging locations like Capri, and climb up and down mountains with a ciggy clinging out of their lips?

I’m sure there are many examples of the stereotypical ‘ugly American’ tourist. But, for my money (Euros, or otherwise), the tobacco-crazed Euros are the ugly ones.

May 22

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Just once, I wish I knew for certain which foods, drinks, and lifestyle choices are, and will remain, healthy for at least a short amount of time.

One day, bread is bad. Then it’s good. Another day, aspirin is found to thin blood but raise blood pressure. Red meat is bad. No, it’s good. And, don’t get started on the incredible, edible egg.

In the midst of the turmoil created by certain foodstuffs being heralded as good one day and bad the Coffee_pouring next comes the remarkable news that a Brooklyn College study shows drinking four or more six-ounce cups of coffee a day reduces your risk of dying of heart disease by 53 percent! Holy cow. The same ‘Joe’ that makes your heart bounce around like a basketball in the hands of Steve Nash may actually be heart healthy? What’s next? A report that smoking two packs of cigarettes a day will not only clean and strengthen one’s lungs, but forestall certain types of cancer?

BC’s counter-intuitive finding has to be huge news for Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and other purveyors of the powerful, little caffeine bean. But, the whole thing leaves me scratching my head. I know when I’ve reached my caffeine limit. And four is two too many.

Put four cups down my hatch and you’re looking at a category five hurricane, a 9.0 earthquake on the Richter Scale and a world-class Nor’easter all rolled into one.

Continue reading

Apr 27

Why should Alec Baldwin have to apologize?

Alec Baldwin’s decision to publicly apologize for a cell phone rant allegedly leaked by his estranged former wife, Kim Basinger, is another example of formulaic PRApologies_2
having run amuck.

Hollywood has a proven crisis model in place that includes an apology, an outreach to the ‘offended’ person or persons and some sort of rehabilitation program to ensure that the offending remarks or actions will never happen again. Mel Gibson and his anti-Semitic crisis outreach is now the classic response (as compared to that of Don Imus and his much-too-little, much-too-late post ‘nappy haired hos’ push). But, why is the ‘model’ trotted out each and every time a crisis, now matter how mundane, erupts?

Why should Baldwin have to apologize to anyone? What a parent says to his or her child is private (even if it is leaked publicly). I think it’s time for a Baldwin, a Richard Gere or some other Hollywood buffoon to step up and say, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.’ I’m not going to listen to my handlers and I’m not going to cave to ‘conventional wisdom.’

The PC police and their ‘pound of flesh’ mentality have dictated that image and reputation management must include a carefully orchestrated program of apology, contrition, reflection and reincarnation. That’s BS. If the ‘crisis’ in question, like Baldwin’s, is private, it should stay private.

Apr 10

Political correctness rides again

NBC’s decision to suspend Don Imus is yet another nail in the coffin of free speech, hipness and edgy humor.

Imus, like other shock jocks, rose to fame and fortune because he was willing to say and do what others wouldn’t. What set Imus apart, however, was his intellectual bent, his politically incorrect view on life and his A-level guest list. For me, Imus was the thinking man’s Howard Stern.

Now, though, Imus has been shut down for a fortnight because of a racially insensitive slur. As Imus was quick to point out, he’s offended every possible race, religion and creed. Yet, this time, he apparently went too far.

I don’t condone his bizarre ways, but I do support Imus in his free-thinking and free speech. Political correctness may have won with the Imus suspension. But, we all lose when a true original like the I-man is shut down.

I hope advertisers don’t follow NBCs lead and pull their spots from the I-man’s show. After all, he was merely living up to an image and reputation he’d carefully crafted for years.

Here’s hoping the I-man rests up and comes back from his forced hiatus bigger and badder than ever.

Jan 18

Who’s to blame when programming goes too far?

We’ve seen two extreme examples of reality programming go awry in the past few weeks. In one, a San Francisco radio station held a promotion offering a Ninendo Wii to the person who could drink the most water and wait the longest before having to relieve him/herself (Hold your Wee for a Wii). Sadly, a woman died as a direct result of the stunt.

In London, a top reality show has caused an international stir and strained relations because of the portrayal and treatment of an Indian woman on the program.

In the radio station case, three morning disc jockeys and a raft of other staff members involved in the ill-conceived promotion were sacked. In London, the events are still playing themselves out, but top politicians in India have said the show has ‘strained relations’ between their country and Britain. With all the uncertainty in the world, who needs TV to further fan the flames?

Both programs reflect poorly on the producers and the networks. But, in their defense, aren’t they just following popular trends and pushing the envelope ever further? Aren’t viewers flocking to shock shows that elevate outrage to the next level?

And, aren’t advertisers pouring their money into sponsoring such fare?

So, who should be held accountable for allowing this sordid stuff on the air in the first place? The individuals who came up with the original programming/idea? The networks? Advertisers? The FCC? Or, is this all about looking in the mirror and, quoting the Bard of Avon, admitting that, "the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Whatever the cause, the effect is scary. With more and more reality programs popping up, I’m afraid we’ll only be seeing more and more examples of bigotry, boorish behavior, inexcusable stunts and, sadly, fatalities. Taking a big picture view, such fare also goes a long way towards reinforcing radical Islam’s views of our "decadent" society. It’s time for someone or some institution to put down the remote control, step up to the podium and say enough is enough.

Dec 04

In today’s society, everyone is an opportunist

No_whining_1 It came as no surprise to read that the four African-American patrons of the LA comedy club where Michael Richards went on what the media now refer to as a ‘racial rant,’ are now being represented by legal counsel. What did surprise me, though, was that Richards has not only agreed to an ‘arbitration’ meeting with the four in front of a retired judge, but that the judge might decide to award a monetary settlement.

I can understand why Richards wants to meet and extend a personal apology to the men. Even if he is a racist deep down, he’s following smart PR advice in seeking out the victims of his tirade and asking for forgiveness. But, a monetary settlement for the ‘L.A. 4’? Gimme a break. Talk about taking advantage of the situation. Why do these guys deserve any money? Emotional distress? Public humiliation? Depression brought on by post-traumatic stress syndrome?

In our ‘victims rights’ society, everyone and their brother is looking to cash-in from his or her moment of distress. And, make no mistake, if the judge so rules, I’m sure Richards will gladly fork over the moolah, hoping against hope it will pave the way for a career overhaul.

Sadly, this sort of nonsense is becoming more and more commonplace. And, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to join the party. So, note to Medguy: Get ready, I-man, I’ve decided to ask for an arbitration hearing before a retired judge and will not only expect an apology for some of your nasty posts, but monetary compensation and a year’s worth or surgical gloves as well. So there.

Oct 17

Happy birthday, little Mr./Ms. 300 millionth American

At 7:46am today, the 300 millionth American was "born." And, depending upon whether you view life’s cup as being half-full or half-empty, the tiny tot will surely be growing up in interesting times.

On the upside of things, he/she will benefit from breathtaking advances in technology, healthcare,Uspop_3   nutrition and other fields that will enrich communications while prolonging the quantity and quality of life. And, being born in the greatest country on earth, he/she will be able to go as far as his/her entrepreneurial drive, energy and creativity will permit.

On the flip side of things, there’s the "unpleasant truth" of global warming, mixed in with the death and destruction that is splashed across our TV sets and desktop monitors every day. And, while the optimist in me keeps thinking that things will get better, the realist in me says maybe not.

Looking at things from an image and reputation standpoint, today’s tiny tot will be growing up in a country that is simultaneously envied, mistrusted and even hated by much of the world, not to mention being a pre-eminent terrorist target. And, yet, despite all this, many, many Americans continue to roll up their sleeves and volunteer their services to help the poor and needy around the world. It’s a dichotomy to be sure.

So, here’s hoping for a long, happy and healthy life for the 300 millionth American. And, here’s also hoping that when the 400 millionth American is born, "Baby 300" will be writing a welcoming blog in a country that has re-established its place among the most admired, respected and safest nations in the world.