I Have a Dream…


Martin Luther King Jr

It could be the greatest speech of all time.

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech – truly a perfect oration if there ever was one – delivered on the National Mall as part of the “March for Jobs and Freedom” Rally in 1963.

This was a turbulent time in America. And this was a dangerous speech to have delivered. King does it not only with style, but with a linguistic grace that few have ever been able to replicate.

When I listen to King’s words, I am in awe – not just for what he says – but in the knowledge that he sat down and wrote this out, crafting messages and phrases that would resonate long after his untimely assassination and continue to inspire people whose parents had yet to be born.

I talk a lot about great writing on this blog, and how important it is to be able to coalesce ideas into language that moves people to action and fundamentally changes the way people see an issue.

It’s too easy to just watch the 15 second clip of the end of this speech that every news program is going to play tonight. Watch the whole thing through.

Wow.

Find Me On.. Where?!?!


Social Networks

Maybe we have too many social networks.

I mean, think about it. Facebook and twitter. Instagram and Vine. Quora and Google+. Yelp and Foodspotting. And on and on and on.

You need a scorecard just to keep up, and an entire afternoon just to be remotely relevant on any more than one on two.

I’ve read more than one article this week about younger people rejecting Facebook.

And Peter Shankman this week opened up a storm of controversy when he predicted Yelp! would be out of business in two years.*

I think it’s just a matter of time before more people are migrating to something else. Who knows what that is. But if I’m feeling that way, I can promise you, it’s already happening.

I must have more than 100 apps on my iPhone. Truth is, I don’t think I use half of them. And I have no plans to.

So I’m opening this up for discussion, because I am really interested in what you think: which social networks/apps are becoming less relevant? Which should I close out or delete, and which should I keep? Which do you use on a regular basis and why?

I don’t want to hear any brand-bashing. This is not meant to take jabs at anyone. I’m just really interested in what others are thinking.

Leave a comment below!

*This post has been amended to accurately reflect Shankman’s prediction on Yelp. Thanks Peter!

Imitation Friday ShareDay


Imitation

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So for Friday ShareDay I’d like to share this post, that I would like to think was an extension of something I wrote earlier this week.

HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes takes the “Innovate or Die” concept and puts a positive spin on it that is some amazing food for thought. There are some killer ideas in here.

Happy Weekend!

Evolve or Die


Evolution

Last week I was on vacation, so this is going to seem dated.

But I swear I wrote this on Tuesday, August 6 at 6:40 a.m. sitting in the kitchen of the house we rented in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Here’s what was on my mind:

“As we wake up to the news this morning that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has purchased the Washington Post, the storied and steadfast paper of record for our nation’s capital, I am struck by the number of comments online treating this as though something terrible has happened. “Sad” is a word that even the great journalistic icon Bob Woodward has used.

“While change may be a challenge, it strikes me as odd that anyone would mourn a shift in leadership that hasn’t even stated its future plans: as of this writing, Bezos hasn’t talked about a single layoff, a reduction in distribution or a shift in any aspect of the newsroom or editorial page. What we do know about the paper that brought down Nixon is that its circulation is hardly enviable, its staff has been repeatedly reduced and its margins are ridiculously low. On paper, the revered paper looks more like it should follow in the footsteps of too many other much needed dailies that have gone the way of the dodo.

“Seems to me that WaPo is ready for an evolutionary shift – something Bezos knows a thing or two about.

“Evolution is part of life on planet Earth: organisms large and small all evolve over time, or they die out. And while the evolution of an organism can take generations, each individual plays its own small part in the larger process.

“On a smaller scale, we need to evolve over the course of our lifetimes too. We must learn new things, explore new subject areas and develop new skills. All this will make us better professionals and better people, allowing us to offer more to the world in which we live and the people whom we know and love.

“Take a cue from the organisms that have walked the planet before us: evolve or die.”

Creativity is King, but Planning is the Queen


LEGO

LEGOs are awesome.

My son has just made the jump from the Duplo sets to what he calls “little LEGOs” and I have been sucked in as well.

With a pile of multicolored bricks of every shape and size strewn across his playroom, we begin shaping creations only limited by our imaginations.

But as the constructs become more complicated, daddy realizes the most amazing builds need to be guided: with a plan.

Same goes in the business world. You can’t possibly accomplish something without thinking it through and devising a plan first.

So here’s what building LEGOs has taught me:

1. Understand what you want to accomplish. What are you trying to create and why? What should the finished product look like and how much room do you want/need to leave for spontaneous creativity? In my world, balancing planning and unforseen opportunities for creativity is a good mix.

2. Have the raw materials and the time you need to do the job. Do you have what you need to make your vision come to life? Can you create what you need to in the time allotted? Do you need to make changes based on either of these criteria, and will the changes negatively affect the final product?

3. Sketch out the final product and the steps needed to get there. Before you put the roof on the house (or the satellite dish on the moon base) you need walls, doors and windows in place first. Those walls need to be strong enough to support what’s being piled on top of it, and they need to stand up straight.

4. Execute with joy. Get to doin’ and make your thing. Keep moving ahead; don’t get stuck on a detail or you will never get to the end. Quality check every step. Have fun as you go, otherwise you will rush to the end and make mistakes along the way.

5. Share and make them happy. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving your creation to your little construction buddy for him to play with. Similarly, deliver the fruits of your labor to your client. Savor the smile.

How do you balance creativity and planning?

(P.S. Why is Planning not the King? Because everyone knows the Queen is the one who is really in charge.)

“So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star…”


SEO

I find myself engaged in a lot of SEO work recently, and it’s pretty interesting.

Watching how what you do online changes how search engines find you is fascinating to me. And I think it’s legitimate for us PR folks – along with marketers, managers and personal assistants – to want to engage in a sincere degree of positive online postings and placements to help boost someone’s reputation, including online. After all, we are paid to promote people.

Of course, there’s a dark side to this, as there can be to just about anything in life. And I’m not endorsing anything that’s disingenuous or an outright lie. But honest, positive promotion is what any of us who live in the public sphere (and who work with others who want the same) are after.

So it’s serendipitous that I ran across this from our friends at Social Media Examiner, about “Three Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader in Your Industry” and thought it would be perfect for this Friday ShareDay.

Happy Weekend!

Ask, and Ye May Receive. But Stay Silent And…


Handing Out Literature 2

I don’t understand the evangelists who stand at my train station every morning.

That’s not to say I don’t like them. They seem like sincere, polite people, attempting to spread their faith in their particular religion. But in the seven years I have seen them standing there with their reading materials, whether they are wearing brightly-colored sun bonnets or skull caps and down coats, they have never once offered me a pamphlet or even tried to engage me in conversation.

Now granted, perhaps I am not their target demo. In fact, my physical presentation makes me quite sure of that. And if they did ask me a question or hand me a pamphlet, I would politely decline and wish them a good day.

But here’s the thing: they’ve never even tried. And by not engaging with me, they don’t even know whether I would be receptive to what they are offering.

The same holds true for business: if you don’t ask, you are certain to not get. And no business can survive on that strategy.

Damn, I Wish I Had Said That


PR Disaster

So much of what we do as PR people isn’t about message – it’s about good advice.

And good counsel shouldn’t be relegated to press releases and placements. We need to help people think through challenges and problems and help them find their way to their goals.

When clients make bad decisions – and worse, when they make those bad decisions because we didn’t help them make a better one – is when the ground falls out from under them. And from you. And pulling things back together can be very, very messy.

So for Friday ShareDay, here’s a great article – that frankly, I wish I had written myself – about “When PR overshadows the problem” by Phil Rosenthal.

Happy Weekend!

Stop, Look, Listen and Enjoy


StopLookAndListen

It’s been quite a work week for me.

I had the privilege of organizing two very important media events that I know you have heard, seen and read about by today. My team did an amazing job with each assignment and I am very proud of the work we produced. The reporters, producers, photographers and cameramen we worked with gave (for the most part) wonderful and smart coverage. They are the best in the business and were an absolute pleasure every step of the way. (Hey, this is New York City; you don’t get here with second rate skills).

So as I stare out the window of my morning train to work, I reflect on the amazing experiences that I – and indeed, that all of us – have, not just today but every day. And I think about how so much of it can just pass us by if we don’t stop, stand back, look at it and take it all in.

So for this Friday ShareDay, rather than give you someone else’s content, I share with you my own thoughts:

“We each have an amazing story to tell, people with whom to share the journey, and much to contribute before we get to the end of our run on this planet. Don’t waste a minute.”

Happy Weekend!

Mandatory Can Be Good For You


Compost

Reading a story this morning about Mayor Bloomberg’s new composting initiative, which right now is voluntary and encouraged, but some media opinion writers suspect may become mandatory, and that the motives aren’t entirely, shall we say, “selfless.”

The piece rightly points out that there were similar (though not identical) efforts to ban smoking, trans-fats and even sugary drinks – all of which have run into criticism and roadblocks. (Opinion: I like all these ideas, because they make us healthier and cut into problems that are draining our public resources and putting us in early graves.)

And it got me thinking that, while mandates are often unpopular (and can even be unfair), sometimes they are needed.

Take exercise: I should probably mandate getting my flabby butt out of bed and going to the gym.

Take blogging: I don’t like that my posts here can be infrequent, and I should probably mandate at least two hours a week where I shut everything off and just write for this site.

Take work: we could probably all use a little more mandated time spent on important projects each week. Time to think and plan for projects that are down the road. Time to devote some energy to housekeeping, whether building our contacts, organizing files or updating our own social media profiles and offering counsel to clients about a theirs.

All this in the pursuit of something that’s good for us, even though it might be hard to find that initial motivation.

Mandate: it may not a bad word after all.