Friday, August 29, 2008

Mix a Little Creativity With Politics and You've Got My Attention

Never once have I been interested in politics or the presidential, state or local government elections (yes that's bad, I know). However, my interest in politics has done a complete 180 thanks to the most recent election coverage that has absorbed our nation. I've read articles and watched news reports here and there to obtain an understanding of what Barack Obama and John McCain plan to do if one or the other is elected president in November. thing that roped me in and caused me to actually take the time to watch and care about the Democratic National Convention is a creative initiative launched at the DNC: the American Voices Program. The program exactly reflects its title, wherein REAL Americans facing REAL problems take the stage to share their stories of struggle, heartache and desperation to millions of people watching worldwide. I give these people profound credit for standing in front of a crowd of more than 75,000 and eloquently sharing their life experiences, many without faltering or shedding a tear. These people have been to hell and back and are brave enough to tell their story to show America that (in Obama's words), we need change.

A few people participating in the American Voices Program are from Michigan (rightfully so since many tales of struggle can be found throughout our beloved state). Here's a speech from Roy Gross from Michigan, who fortunately hasn't lost his job, but has had to cope with watching many friends and co-workers faced with unemployment.

My name is Roy Gross. I’m a proud member of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit, Michigan. When I was a young man and wanted to start a family, I went to Detroit and landed a job as an automobile transporter. I delivered new cars from the assembly plants to dealerships around the country.It was a great job, a Teamsters union job. You worked hard and it paid good wages, plus health care and pension. I worked there for 18 years. Working class families were doing well in Detroit until the Bush Administration took office, then everything changed. Manufacturing jobs were exported by the hundreds of thousands and replaced with minimum-wage jobs in the so-called “New Economy.” I’m one of the lucky ones; I still have a job. But many of my friends and co-workers have lost their jobs and their homes.If you ask me, this so-called “New Economy” is not working. We need a renewed economy. That’s why I’m seeing so many of my friends in Michigan - Democrats, Republicans and Independents - putting aside their differences to join this campaign.Barack Obama will enact fair trade policies and work just as hard for us as we work for America. I will do everything I can, from now until Election Day, to put Michigan in the Obama column.

My favorite American Voices speech from Thursday night was delivered by Pamela Cash-Roper, a North Carolina resident who is without health care. Check out her powerful and moving speech here. Obama may want to think about adding this kick a** woman to his campaign!

Another speech that really touched me (OK I'll admit, I choked up) was from Barney Smith, a life-long Republican from Indiana who was let go from a job that he worked at for 31 years with only 90 days severance pay. Barney's speech is touching and 100 percent genuine..check it out.

OK, so why am I posting on all this political stuff? I commend whoever had the brilliant idea of integrating this American Voices Program with the DNC. I think it's insanely creative and definitely caught my attention. Sure I believe Obama when he says our nation is in crisis, millions are without health care and the worse is yet to come if we don't make a change. But it means SO MUCH more to hear the daunting truth straight from people whose lives are intertwined with our nation's crisis on a daily basis.

So for now, the creativity star goes to Obama. We'll see what McCain has up his sleeves at the Republican National Convention next week. And no, I DON'T give McCain creativity points for choosing a woman as his vice president!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Bit 'o Creative Humor to Explain the Different Communications Industries

Many professionals in communications industries can attest to the fact that the general public thinks of advertising, marketing and public relations as one in the same. True, these three industries directly correlate with each other, but at the same time they are distinctly different. This article actually gives a pretty good comparison between PR and advertising. Check it out if you're having trouble grasping the differences.

Friends/relatives always seem to ask me the same question: "So, what exactly do you do in public relations?" While sifting through some very old and random e-mails I saved (I knew they would come in handy one day!), I found this hilarious and very creative e-mail from my PR gal-pal and fellow CMU grad, Raychel. Maybe us PR pros should start rattling off these analogies the next time someone asks us to explain the differences between the below industries! If this serves for nothing more than a good laugh, then it serves a purpose after all :)

The buzzword in today's business world is MARKETING.
However, people often ask for a simple explanation of "Marketing."

Well, here it is:

You're a woman and you see a handsome guy at a
party. You go up to him and
say, "I'm fantastic in bed."

That's Direct Marketing.
You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a
handsome guy. One of
your friends goes up to him and pointing at you
says, "She's fantastic in bed."

That's Advertising.
You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him
and get his telephone
number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm
fantastic in bed."

That's Telemarketing.
You see a guy at a party, you straighten your
dress. You walk up to him and
pour him a drink. You say, "May I?" and reach up to
straighten his tie,
brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and
then say, "By the way, I'm fantastic in bed."

That's Public Relations.
You're at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks
up to you and says, "I
hear you're fantastic in bed."

That's Brand Recognition.
You're at a party and see a handsome guy. He
fancies you, but you talk him
into going home with your friend.

That's a Sales Rep.
Your friend can't satisfy him so he calls you.

That's Tech Support.
You're on your way to a party when you realize that
there could be handsome
men in all these houses you're passing. So you
climb onto the roof of one
situated towards the center and shout at the top of
your lungs, "I'm fantastic in bed!"

That's Junk Mail.
You are at a party, this well-built man walks up to
you and grabs your ass.

That's the Governor of California.
You like it, but 20 years later your attorney
decides you were offended.

That's America.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Selfless Love Knows No Limits

Most girls/women dream the same dream about what marriage holds in store for them and how their future love story will unfold. Normally, that dream includes finding a soul mate to experience life's treasures and pitfalls with, creating a family, growing old together and eventually leaving this earth together (ya know, taking your last breath next to the one you love like in the movie The Notebook).

OK -- so maybe that's my idea of timeless love and the picture I've painted for my future since way back when. But unfortunately, life is unpredictable and will surely throw many curve balls at each and every one of us. Such is the case for Deric Jacques, an 85-year-old man from Novi, Mich. who has selflessly been caring for the love of his life, Barbara, for the past few years. 

Susan Ager (who by the way has one final piece this week before she leaves the Detroit Free Press) wrote this amazingly heartfelt and gut-wrenching article that tells the story of Deric's love for Barbara. I wonder what it must have taken to listen to this man's story and hear firsthand what it's like to love someone as much as Deric loves Barbara. If she toughed it out without shedding a tear, I'd be impressed. 

Barbara is blind in one eye, has a low-level lymphoma that sucks the energy right out of her, is mobile only with the help of a walker and has vascular dementia. The sum of these conditions basically equates to Barbara not recognizing Deric or her surroundings on most days. Yet Barbara's conditions have no negative effect on the love and care Deric provides her on a daily basis. This couple has experienced many things throughout their lives together -- conquering love amidst a war, 22 homes throughout the world, five healthy children, 65 years of marriage and now Barbara's debilitating diseases. Deric's explanation for why he puts up with the struggle of caring for Barbara rather than taking the easy route and placing her in assisted living is as simple as this: "I know she would do this for me."

You must read the story to fully grasp what it's like to live in an 85-year-old man's shoes who has allowed his entire life to turn upside down and has given up his own wants and needs in order to care for the woman he loves. Yes it's a tear-jerker and yes it's sad to think this poor man will never have the woman he married back again. But I always love reading stories that exemplify what it means to care more about others than you do about yourself...and what it means to love. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thank You For Being a Friend

A couple side notes before I dive into this post:

1). I'm writing from a client's office in Pasadena, and Pasadena is gorgeous (if you ignore the hazy layer of smog that covers all of LA and surrounding cities!) It's my first trip to Cali, so yes I'm excited.

2). A big hip-hip-hooray to everyone who voted yes to pass the slight tax increase and keep the zoo (see post below).

OK -- on to the post. Back when I was a college student and had about 374842 less worries in my life, I had an amazing job as an advertising rep at CM Life, Central Michigan University's student-run, on-campus newspaper. I cannot express how much I loved this job and the creative people I collaborated with on a daily basis. Working with 40+ clients, learning how to thrive in a team environment and managing client's day-to-day expectations prepared me more for my job in public relations than I could have ever imagined when I initially accepted the ad sales position.

My experience at CM Life would not have been nearly as memorable if it weren't for the amazingly talented people that I worked with. Many of us keep in touch to this day and get together every so often to catch up on all the twists and turns we've experienced since departing our beloved campus. We just had a CM Life reunion last week at Kona Grill in Troy (uber cool after work atmosphere...I highly recommend it!). I will admit it now: I hate change and I hate losing contact with friends. That's why I find our get-togethers to be such a testament to how important it is to remain in contact with people and set aside time in your busy life to catch up with old friends. Seeing all those familiar faces from CM Life (as well as few new ones) and hearing what's new in everyone's world helped fizzle the tension we all felt in our respective lives and at our respective jobs.

I learned that many of my CM Life pals were blogging like myself and using social media to advance their own knowledge, as well as their clients'/employers' knowledge, of the rapidly changing world of Web 2.0. Check out some of their blogs:

I am so grateful to have amazing people in my world like my fellow CM Lifers to share experiences, ideas and life lessons. I love that we are all committed to remaining in contact with one another, and even if we only gather face-to-face once a year, at least we know there's always a reunion in our future.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Inner Child Made Me Vote

** Photo credited to the Detroit Free Press.

Today is a very significant day in my "I'm all grown up" world. Today, I voted at my local precinct for the very first time. Yes, I know it's sad that I'm nearly 24 and have just voted for the first time. But I wasn't persuaded to vote by the political signs and fliers splattered across my neighborhood, or the campaign ads running on TV. I was swayed by a billboard of a little girl standing on her tippy-toes trying to reach the voting booth. I was motivated by this billboard that simply read "Kids would keep the zoo if they could. Vote yes August 5th." And that's it -- that's all it took for me to figure out that I indeed registered to vote when I was back in college and to mosey on over to my local precinct. I proudly filled in that little oval next to the word "yes" to approve the passing of a property tax increase (about $10 per year on a house worth $200,000) to establish long-term, sustainable funding for the Detroit Zoo.

I have to give mad props to Doner Advertising, the company behind the zoo's creative and eye-catching advertisements that called out our inner child. Not to mention the fact that Doner has been doing pro bono work for the zoo for 26 years!! Now that's a true display of dedication and commitment. Check out this Free Press article about Doner's work on this most recent and previous zoo campaigns.

Maybe the catchy ads didn't phase everyone, but they sure reminded me about the significance of the zoo and what it means for metro Detroit -- and all the little kiddies who visit the zoo each year. I went to the zoo twice in the past year, once on a hot summer afternoon last year with MAL (it's always fun to go on dates to the zoo!) and once this summer for the Sunset at the Zoo event. Both times I was reminded of how I love the fact that Detroit has its own zoo that is pretty well renowned across the country. MAL and I have talked on several occasions about taking his niece on her first trip to the zoo. I can't imagine what it would be like if the zoo were no longer a part of metro Detroit. Not only would it be devastating to lose this historical gem, but considering that the zoo draws about 1.1 million visitors a year,
the loss of it would be another low blow that Detroit simply can't take.

I sincerely hope that voters took note of those clever billboards and TV ads that gave a voice to the ones who can't vote -- the ones who will truly miss out if the zoo can't afford to sustain operations in the future. I think Tom Walsh's closing words in the Free Press article I referenced above sums it all up: Here's hoping they pull it off, for the kid in all of us.