Sometimes You Wonder

September 2, 2014

by Roger Pynn

We’ve had a long commitment to internships over our 30 years in business.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a young student working side-by-side with our team of professionals learning the real world application of what their professors were teaching in the classroom.

We’ve been fortunate to hire many of them.  But the vast majority, who must now number close to 100, have gone on to other things … many to very good careers where we have been able to watch them grow as professionals with other companies.  But you can’t help wonder, “Did we make an impact?”

Late last night one former intern took the time to send an email that made my day.  We had run into Jon Hanson last week where he now has a very promising job with one of our clients, Electronic Arts Tiburon.  He got his “dream job” working in the video game industry he loves.

“Great seeing you the other day,” he wrote.  “I shared a story with one of our new employees today of the lessons learned at Curley & Pynn.  Namely, taking complicated stories (I’m looking at you, Florida High Tech Corridor Council), and making it easy enough for an eighth grader to understand.  My time with your team has proved invaluable, and helped set me up for success at EA.”

In this improving economy, talent may be the most important issue facing employers.  Internships are a great way to pay back all those who gave you a chance … and have an impact on the quality of workers transitioning from college to career.  The key is to make sure you are giving them a meaningful experience that leaves them with a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge and with you the knowledge you’ve paid it forward.


Stand by for Robo News

July 23, 2014

by Roger Pynn

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Associated Press introduces automated news writing.  As if CNN (the Commentator News Network) hadn’t already reduced the business to moronic, now AP – the bastion of hard news – is basically using robot reporters.

You can mark this as the day journalism went to hell in a hand basket.  Said AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara, “What I’m trying to get out of is the data processing business.  I can’t have journalists spending a ton of time data processing stuff.  Instead I need them reporting.”

He can’t be serious.  How can a reporter report if he or she hasn’t first processed data?

Journalism is basically broken into two elements:  news gathering and news writing.  Back before any of us had ever heard the term big data, reporters had been processing data for years … sifting through facts and figures, truths and lies, old stories and new in order to know what they would then write about.

Ferrara has confused writing for reporting.


Anticipation

July 22, 2014

by Roger Pynn

I’ve kept a tiny crystal ball on my desk for 30 years … about the size of a large thimble.  And for all those years we’ve told our team, via Curley & Pynn’s Five Steps to Professional Success, to “Anticipate … Don’t Wait to Be Asked.”

So this LinkedIn post by futurist Daniel Burrus caught my eye today with this headline:  “Forget Lean and Agile – It’s Time to be Anticipatory.”  It is a good read, particularly for anyone who loves research and data.  Burrus talks about the difference between certainty and uncertainty, soft and hard trends … and the ability to know what’s next.

That fourth step in our statement of corporate culture is about the responsibility of our team to keep an eye on the horizon, and to look over it to see what could be coming next that might have an impact on our clients and the programs we develop for them.

Whether you’re concerned with the next big thing in your market or disruptive factors that may change your market altogether, a clear windshield is likely more important than a rear view mirror.

While a crystal ball would be even better, Burrus is spot on.  Monitoring trend data and knowing what you can count on is an essential skill.  As Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie urged us … don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.


The QR Code Debate

July 10, 2014

by Kim Taylor

We recently had a small debate in our office about the relevance of QR codes and whether there’s still a place for them in marketing.  I argued that they were “out” and that many marketing and PR people I follow mostly mock their usage.  But, who cares about mockery if they’re effective, right?

The ink was barely dry on my argument when Curley & Pynn Founder & President Roger Pynn handed me two recent pieces of direct mail with, you guessed it, QR codes.  The first mailer presented three options for requesting a copy of a long-term planning guide:  go online with a code, scan the code or complete the form and mail it back.  Scanning the code was easy enough and it pre-populated his information for ordering the guide book (keep a lookout in the mail for that one, Roger).

In this scenario, scanning the QR code was the easiest of the three options.  My only complaint was whether their target audience (a presumably older demographic) would know what a QR code was and how to scan it.

The second was a small postcard for a local cabinet maker.  Scanning the code launched their website, which sadly was not optimized for mobile … totally pointless use of a QR code.

The moral of the story is obvious, I think.  If you’re going to use QR codes, think about how you use them.  Make it worth it for the user to open their app and scan the code.  And, most importantly, don’t send them to a website not optimized for their phone—that’s the ultimate dead end.


The Good Times

July 2, 2014

by Roger Pynn

I had a delightful lunch yesterday with one of our first employees.  After marriage, she and her husband moved to Atlanta where she went on to a great corporate career (even became a client), then went on to raise two great kids and now that they are all but out the door, she’s started her own firm.

Talking about the good old days and about how much the business has changed, she stopped me and said, “No … it really hasn’t changed all that much.  It’s just that a lot of people are out there selling the things of public relations instead of the relationships.”

As an independent practitioner, Pat Check’s Latitude 34° Company Communications is built on the promise of “taking your message in the right direction.”  We always tell clients that first and foremost public relations is about their message, so it is nice to see one of our “alums” staying true to that philosophy.

But Pat said something else.  “I think of you all the time when I’m meeting new clients because I remember when we’d go visit a prospect you always started with a conversation … getting to know them and showing that you’re really interested in them.  It is still about that … relationships.”

Flattering, for sure … but Pat’s right.  It hasn’t changed.  For all the shiny balls of communications technology that roll around the table every day, this is still a business of, by and for relationships … and you can’t build them if you don’t get the message firmly in place from the outset.


No Words to Describe …

July 1, 2014

by Roger Pynn

Those who know me can attest that I have a pretty colorful vocabulary, and while I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that I have a tendency to swear perhaps a bit too often, I have no problem telling you that I have no words to describe how offended I was by an email that I received today with this bit of art embedded:

Lets do this

At the very least this is an exceptional example of not being familiar with your audience, but since this is just an email blast, it goes way beyond that.

If you don’t know your audience, you can’t tell whether they’d be offended by the kind of language we blacked out above because we didn’t want to offend anyone.

I sent this response to Elissa Jane Mastel, who lists herself as chief marketing officer of Chill Media North and uses the unique email address “empress@chillmedianorth.com”:

“Elissa Jane … I find your email highly offensive, socially unacceptable and downright stupid.”

Actually, it goes way beyond stupid … and, clearly, they didn’t care who they offended.


Paint a Target on My Back

June 19, 2014

by Roger Pynn

I’m probably going to get a lot of hateful commentary on this post, despite the fact it has nothing to do with what will likely inspire anger from those who have long wanted the Washington NFL franchise to change its name.  I won’t discuss how I feel about that issue, but I will warn you that some of the discussion may offend some readers.

I find what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office did yesterday to be a frightening signal from what appears to be an activist judicial body, the agency’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  I say that not because of the issue, but because of the precedent-setting nature of the case they agreed to hear and rule on.

And so, to all the overweight wine lovers out there who were born illegitimately, let me suggest that you consider class action before the same board, questioning why the agency has allowed Winebow Inc., a trademark for its FAT bastardTM wines.

Hopefully you get the point, but for more on this I offer here the results (about 6 million items) of a Google search for “offensive trademarks.”  This is a slippery slope that has implications far beyond the obvious issue driving this specific case.

Intellectual Property consultants KASS International offered an interesting view on this in a blog post that tells me this could be the next frontier for hungry law firms seeking new markets.  I’m one of those guys who is easily offended (despite my own proclivity for cursing) by people who wear T-shirts or sport bumper stickers that are clearly intended to shock.

Like many other debates in our society, I see those as first amendment arguments and I always come down on the side of protecting free speech and expression, and believe the real solution is better parenting.  The issue taken before the patent agency judicial body similarly seems to me a socio-economic one.

I don’t buy FAT bastardTM cabernet (I’m sure they miss my money because I buy a lot of wine), and I’ll bet the owners of that team in Washington would miss the money that would come from those who speak with their wallets when offended.


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