Archive for January, 2009

My Hero

January 27, 2009 1 comment
Lots of cool Sully tees at
Image via

Like many of you, I belong to a motley assortment of Facebook groups.  I am a fan of this and a fan of that and I always oblige friends who invite me to join their causes (is it any skin of my back?  Of course not) — but other than the group I started up this week to rally my former high school classmates for our 25th year reunion (go lions!!!), I’m really not an active Facebook Groupie.

However, I proudly joined the “Fans of Captain C. B. Sully Sullenberger” group right after the heroic US Airways water landing because, could I not? The man is a genuine hero, and I want to be his Friend.  It’s a very intimate group, there are only  539,000 of us.  And guess what?  Sully sent us a note this morning!! Well…sort of.  This via a “family spokesperson” — 

Captain Sullenberger asked me to pass along this message to you and all his Facebook fans: “While I don’t use Facebook, my daughters do, and they showed me this page. Thank you so much for your amazing outpouring of support. I’ll be in touch again soon. – Sully”

Sully will be in touch soon!  I can’t wait!  And how sweet and touching and Dad-esque that he needed his daughters to show him how to work this Facebook thing.  And how sweet and touching (pathetic?) it is how little it takes to keep FB group members engaged and excited, provided of course they are part of a community that actually means something to them.

Back in Business!

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Blog Confessional.  I’ve been in a rut.  Since the holiday– Xmas, by the way, not Martin Luther King Day.  Practically a month, in other words. I don’t mean to say I haven’t been getting work done, of course I have.  But until this morning, there’s been no…creative mojo.  No inspiration.

Meanwhile, the January to-do list was rapidly expanding. Lots on the plate — Big Brain stuff — from new business to current client work to agency leadership matters (billing philosophy, recessionary strategies, global capabilities…stuff like that.)  No amount of group brainstorming, blog-wandering or competition-scanning could shake me out of my doldrums.  Not even go-to inspiration sources like Communication Arts and Monocle were doing the trick.

So finding this post at the Duarte blog today was good timing. (I’ve posted previously about Nancy Duarte’s slide: ology; great book about presentation creation, equally great blog.)  So the blog post is a three-parter on how to craft a presentation “story” with humble tools like index cards and Sharpies.   Maybe because I have a Sharpie fetish (fine point), maybe because I scaled academic heights in college using an index card-based research methodology (really)…whatever the reason, a light switched on and suddenly I was back in business (cue jazz hands!)

We loves it! The Precious!

We loves it! The Precious!

(Image Via)

If you need me, you’ll find me hunched at my desk behind stacks of index cards covered with manic phrases and sketches, scribbling with my beloved Sharpie about parenting and snack crackers, the difference between leading and producing in a professional service firm, or the true meaning of fresh breath.

Smooth. Energizing. Satisfying.

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh how I’m sweatin’ Chimes Ginger Chews.  I love ginger candy but somehow never found my way to these delicious, spicy, chewy treats until a month ago — just look at this tin.  I love everything about it — old-timey yet modern, familiar in an apothecary sort of way yet exotic dare I say mysterious (note the Buddha-like face peering out from behind the brand logo).  I have it sitting on my desk and it never fails to elicit praise.

Beautiful! And tasty. Buy them at

Beautiful! And tasty. Buy them at

Good scoop on the strategy behind the package design here.

I also love the three-word tagline (see post title.)  Was admiring another three-word tag earlier today from these guys:


Taste. Luxury. Humor.

Perfection. The essence of the Barneys brand.  Perhaps we need one for DeVries.  Let’s see…we could focus on what our output is…

DeVries Public Relations/Buzz. Opinion. Conversations.

Or how we do what we do…

DeVries Public Relations/Creativity. Insight. Strategy.

Or just toss all relevance to the wind, take a DaDa approach, and sneak in the Chimes Ginger Chews tagline:

DeVries Public Relations/Smooth. Energizing. Satisfying.

I’ll go with option #3.

Beefin’ in the Blogosphere: POST SCRIPT

January 22, 2009 3 comments

Speaking of blurring professional and personal lines — please do read this account at David Henderson’s blog of a Twitter post that recently caused major tension between Ketchum and client FedEx.  It’s a cautionary tale for all of us and something I won’t even snark about because frankly, there but for the grace of God go I … etc.

Thanks to my colleague Craig for bringing the story to my attention.

Beefin’ in the Blogosphere

January 22, 2009 1 comment
I’m so interested in all the different ways people are voicing their beefs (pun intended) with Crispin Porter + Bogusky Co-Chair Alex Bogusky’s Nine Inch Diet. 

If I were less sophisticated and mature, I'd point our the double entendre.  Heh.
If I were less mature, I’d point out the double entendre.

For those of you out of the kerfluffle loop, go here or here to catch up.  Sample gripes from the blogosphere:  Blogusky is hypocritical to write a diet book condemning the “supersizing” of America when his agency represents Burger King and Dominos.  He should stick to advertising. Mainstream media (i.e. People and NY Post) covering the release of the book are not doing their jobs unless they fully disclose Bogusky’s ties to BK and Dominos

And so on. 

As a novice blogger,  I admire those who manage to successfully navigate the murky lines between professional and personal expression — be it online or in a controversy-spawning diet book.  Bogusky seems to have mastered this — but then again, he’s Bogusky, master of the advertising universe.  As for me, well,  I can call this my personal blog, but as the “PR” in “PR Mama” would suggest, I am blogging about professional stuff too. Work Me and Private Me thus merge, demanding I use good judgement before I go spouting off about this or that (something I haven’t always gotten right, unfortunately.)

Back to the Bogusky brouhaha.  So he’s a healthy eater whose agency happens to represent fast food clients.  Not ideal, but stranger things have happened.  Sometimes we put personal preferences or even beliefs aside to create campaigns for our clients (go ahead, judge us).  I don’t need to consume every product my clients produce in order to find something about their brands to love — which in turn fuels the work I do. 

But I don’t think that’s the sticky wicket.  Was it really a good idea to use BK arch-rival McDonalds as the book’s visual example of the dramatic expansion in portion sizes over the years?  C’mon now.  That’s where IMHO Bogusky teeters on (tips over?) the ethical precipice.  Wouldn’t a shot of a generic extra-large serving of fast-food fries made the “supersizing=bad” point sufficiently?

(BTW, it’s a good thing a Whopper fits on a nine-inch plate because I’ll tell you what, this topic makes me hungry.)

Genius Virgin Atlantic Ad

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment


UK spot celebrating my favorite airline’s 25th anniversary. I can’t even begin to count the reasons I love this spot — but top of the list would be, it nails 1984. And captures the way I felt the first time I flew Virgin — that I now belonged to some madcap, sexy Cool Kids club in the sky, and that flying would never be the same again.

Categories: Inspiration, Marketing Tags:

(Up)State of Grace

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Scandinavian Grace is a beautiful design gallery/cafe specializing in all things Scandinavian (as the name would suggest.)  Their first location was in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn; last fall they dramatically upped the cool quotient of Ulster County, NY with their new location in Shokan.  We’ve driven past it a dozen times on our way to our place just north in West Kill and finally made time to drop in over this past weekend.   Why we waited so long, I don’t know.  The 4500 sq foot former garage is filled with light, the wonderful smell of brewing coffee, and a lovingly curated selection of Scandinavian textiles, glassware, foods, toys and mid-century furniture.   I was sorely tempted to load up on the following:

Bicycle basket but how cool to hold magazines or even plants?

Bicycle basket but how cool to hold magazines or even plants?

These remind me of coffee mugs that would've been kicking around our house in the '70s.

These remind me of coffee mugs that would've been kicking around our house in the '70s.

Coupla these would look fine on my blue-ticking sofa from IKEA

Coupla these would look fine on my blue-ticking sofa from IKEA

As it turns out, THIS is what we bought.  My husband will eat these, not me.  I do not eat fiskeboller — fish balls to you and me — no matter how retro-fabulous the packaging.

Russians, like Scandinavians, luvvv that stinky fish.

Russians, like Scandinavians, luvvv that stinky fish.

Best thing about Scandinavian Grace is not the stuff (which is spectacular) but the proprietors.  Fredrik Larsson, one of the two owners, welcomed us in out of the frigid Catskills afternoon with a booming hello,  interrupted a guy repairing his coffee maker to brew us our lattes, and gave my son candy and a pencil (trust me — you’d want this pencil.  Pencils are cooler in Scandinavia.) 

Fredrik and his partner James Anthony say on their site, “We love objects of artistic form and practical function that become a vital enrichment to daily living rather than mere status symbols.” Their shop and cafe are vivid demonstrations of this passion.  In a time when lots of businesses have shut down on that stretch of Ulster County highway, I fervently hope the northern outpost of Scandinavian Grace makes it.  

For more pictures, check out Kelley Hoffman’s great post at The Pipeline.

Categories: Culture, Inspiration Tags:

Blog Crush Alert

January 20, 2009 1 comment

It’s Inauguration Day and I’m finding it close to impossible to concentrate on work. (Sorry, Boss and clients…I promise I’ll be much more focused tomorrow.)  But did want to share my latest blog crush, advergirl. I love it for many reasons — smart, candid, insightful and often laugh-out-loud posts and just as important,  a peek behind the curtain at that mysterious world I like to call The Other Side. 

Advertising agencies, that is. Those of you in the PR business have no doubt at one time or another declared that PR has a rightful place “at the table” — put less metaphorically, a rightful place as trusted strategic counsel to the clients we serve.  Returning to the metaphor (with a holiday spin) — if marketing communications is a Thanksgiving get-together, with clients and advertising agencies at the big table, you will often find the PR people hunched together at the kid’s table (perhaps alongside the interactive agencies.)

You know it’s true.  Marketers tend to spend lots more on advertising and lots less on PR and interactive, so just settle down.  Sure, there are plenty of examples of PR people (both in-house and agency-side) who earn their way to the Table thanks to intelligence, vision, credibility and charisma.  I’m sure there are lots of you out there.  But I bet there of some of you who — like me — suffer ever-so-slightly from ad agency envy.  It would be nice to have our work honored in glamorous venues like, oh, I don’t know — Cannes.  Or immortalized in pop culture a la Mad Men (let’s face it, PR in pop culture = publicist.  Think Kim Cattrall in Sex and the City  or God help me, Lindsay Lohen in Just My Luck. )

OK, I’m not quite as obsessive about this as perhaps it seems.  And in the spirit of today, let me declare that we marketing communications types are in fact One…which advergirl’s blog illuminates.  Same issues, same concerns, same frustrations (check out this post, you’ll see what I mean.  Tell me you haven’t been in that meeting.)

The budgets are different, of course, but hey — maybe it’s okay in this environment that PR is sometimes dubbed “the poor man’s advertising.”

Yes They Did

January 16, 2009 1 comment

As we all know by now, yesterday’s emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 has been dubbed “Miracle on the Hudson.”  Which was bugging me, and I couldn’t put it into words until I saw it perfectly expressed in a comment on the NY Times “City Room” blog (thank you, person posting as “Vidiot”): 

“Miracle? I don’t know about that. The successful outcome was due to skill, practice, training, experience, and education, not supernatural forces. If you want to chalk it up to luck or Providence or what-have-you, fine, but an experienced, skillful pilot saved the day.”

Absolutely.  Not to mention what I assume must have been the calm, selflessness and teamwork of everyone on that plane — the rest of the crew, the passengers (including a woman holding an infant!) and of course, the amazing response of the ferry operators, Circle Line tour boats, NYPD and Coast Guard.

I told my (almost) 6-year old son about what had happened, being careful not to say anything that would instill in him a lifelong fear of flying, rivers or Canadian geese…tried to use it as a teaching opportunity about teamwork and cooperation.  Which didn’t quite penetrate, but what did make an impression was the image of Coast Guard helicopters coming to the rescue…which will now undoubtedly be re-enacted with the aid of any number of Lego toys in our TV room for the next few weeks.

Miracle or whatever we call it…my faith in humanity is restored (for the moment.)  Yes we can…and yes they did!

Speaking of which…happy holiday weekend and happy Inauguration Day to one and all.

Girls Drink Beer, Too

January 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m an infographic junkie and eagerly await information aesthetics blog updates from My Yahoo reader — a recent post showcases the Goldstar beer  “Thank God You’re a Man” campaign that doesn’t resemble any beer advertising I’ve ever seen.  It’s visually stunning and makes me laugh despite myself.  Move over, Mars and Venus, there’s a new “love it or hate it” view on gender differences in town.


via infosthetics. Also check out adsoftheworld for more campaign images.

The only thing I remotely object to here is the assumption that girls only drink green apple martinis.  (Swap that out for the beer icon and you’ve just mapped my 20s and early 30s.)  I pride myself on knowing a little something about beer but confess, I’ve never had a Goldstar.  So I have no idea how well they compete on flavor or if they even care.  Am guessing not.  What they’ve certainly succeeded at doing is putting an inventive spin on the “babes and brew” conversation Big Beer has been having for decades.

Categories: Clients, Work Tags: