Lots of agencies offer pro-bono services for causes they believe in. Sometimes we do it as a way to promote our businesses by aligning with high profile charities. And I think that’s ultimately a legitimate connection, just so long as the supporter is really doing something for the cause and not just using them. A few years ago we started supporting charity:water. The people who ran/run our luxury business were very clued in to what this charity was doing—supplying clean water to people who had none—and really wanted to help. We are a growing company and the use of our resources is somewhat limited at times. Certainly, limited to paying clients. But the team was ADAMANT that we support this cause. So, I agreed. Well, guess what? Our involvement hasn’t affected our workflow AND it’s made everyone feel a bit better about their day.
It’s an amazing thing what giving back can do. It can give back to YOU. The team is energized around the work they are doing and feel that the contribution is making a difference. We all like the idea of giving money, but giving valuable time (that can ultimately help raise money for the cause) is just as important. So if you are contemplating using your business for a cause, go for it. It’s worth the effort and it might just help change the world (just a little…)
I just returned from a conference that wasn’t business related BUT when you own your own business it feels like EVERYTHING is related to business. I remember when we were kids in the 1960’s, flying then was a bit of a privilege. The food was served on real china (and tasted a lot like real food). You were expected to dress nicely (suits and hats) and if you were a little one, you were expected to behave yourself without any exception. My grandparents lived in Miami so we were often on an airplane. I have great photos of my mother with the three of us (a brother and a sister) deplaning by stairway. There was my mother, beautiful in a big brimmed hat and gloves with three little kids in matching sailor outfits (she was a MAJOR stickler for appearances). It was thrilling. I loved it.
Now, with an office in New York and LA I still spend a lot of time on airplanes, but oh how things have changed (no china and tracksuits reign as the uniform of the upper-class). American Airlines is my preferred mode of transportation. Preferred because they fly the most between my major destinations. And, they have pretty nice lounges. Because I fly quite a bit I have platinum status, which gets you upgraded fairly often. BUT, I tend to just buy the business-class ticket because you don’t want to get stuck in economy if you don’t have to. Now, I know I sound bratty, but flying is a bitch. So, I’m going to do what needs to get done to get there in comfort. And that’s really the point of the blog. Just how important is it to fly business if you are in business? Pretty darned important. But honestly, it wouldn’t be so important if air travel was just a bit more civilized. So I say bring back the good old days (everyone says that, right?). But forget the outdoor stairs, the jet way is much better in bad weather!
It is pretty obvious that business is business and when it comes right down to it, we all work to maintain a certain lifestyle outside of our jobs—whether that means great clothes, relaxing vacations, fabulous dinners, fancy hobbies or keeping our kids equipped with the latest and greatest toys. But why do we do what we do at Brand Building Communications?
I am speaking for myself here, but I can assume that the general population in the office would agree with me. We work here because we get to work with really great people and on really great business.
I have had the pleasure of working in several other industries before finding a happy home in communications. And while my overall experiences have been good, the people haven’t always gone out of their way to be nice, authentic, and service-oriented. That is what you find at Brand Building Communications — really talented, smart people that you would actually like to hang out with after office hours — which we frequently do!
The other perk of working at BBC—interesting, cool and exciting clients. There isn’t one in the bunch that doesn’t get our creative juices flowing and that we aren’t energized to promote. Some of the newest additions to our portfolio are Fancast.com and Here’s Life Inner City New York. Fancast.com is TV ONLINE: anytime, any place for FREE! So all of your favorite new and classic(!) shows at your finger tips. Added bonus — GREAT EDITORIAL coverage of the TV business and BTS access to show stars. What isn’t to love? And on the other end of the spectrum we have HLICNY—a grass roots, urban ministry that empowers inner city churches to help raise the quality of life for their communities. We are supporting their Thanksgiving Fundraiser and are excited that they are going to be able to reach a much wider group of people in need this year with our help.
That is just the tip of the iceberg... We also have amazing chocolate, gorgeous diamonds and the best beauty products in the world, but that is for another blog. It is this kind of work that keeps me energized and happy while I wait to go and experience my outside of work life.
For most of us in the communications/pr world, Cision is THE go-to destination for insider info, great media lists and a wealth of archival press placements. Look, someone had to do it, and Cision did. They have their own blog dedicated to helping communications professionals navigate the evolving media landscape. Honestly, this might feel a bit “insidery” (not a word, I know), but this blog is GOOD. Great writers, great insight, and great cross-section of viable references and resources. If you’re in my business, or anything vaguely related I strongly suggest that you check it out!
I’m not sure, actually. I haven’t been on a real one for so long. Even when I was the VP of another firm I just couldn’t break away. I think it’s my fault for a number of reasons—the most important one being that I am addicted to my work on some deep level (and that’s probably not good). Also, there is a lingering sense of guilt when I go away, that somehow I am leaving people in the lurch (I’m not, my top management has things in hand and my absence only gives them an opportunity to stretch).
So, how can I get rid of this sinking feeling when I haven’t checked my blackberry for an hour, or see that I have a missed call from the office? Is this just an inflated sense of self worth? Not sure. But I do know this is something I’m going to need to work out, especially as we grow. Just like anyone else who is expanding a career, we business owners need to recognize when our role is shifting. It’s a bit of a struggle since we’re so used to being “in the mix,” but re-engineering our focus is critical for any kind of growth. So, vacations. Hmmm… Maybe I’ll actually have one, one day.
It is well known among my very good friends that I am a Lord of the Rings (LOTR fanatic). And now, it’s known in a slightly larger circle, which I hope does not prejudice you against me. I’ve spent some time over the years trying to figure out why I love those books so much. What has held my interest for so many years? And then a few weeks ago something happened in business and I realized one of the main reasons. Basically, the books are centered on ordinary characters doing extraordinary things. Over the course of the books these unlikely heroes set off for locales unknown, into crazy danger, with no real hope of success. Nice. Why bother? Gosh maybe the whole fate of Middle-Earth rests on their “making it happen.” But they don’t have the tools, the experience or the “big time” connections… Yep, LOTR, just like real life. Well, not really. In our business we have incredible connections and tons of experience, but it’s an interesting time out there and no matter how good you are, you can definitely feel out of your element. I’ll tell you, Frodo had NO hope of success, but that didn’t stop him from trying. He just kept at it. And that’s why I love these books so much. They are about hope in the face of defeat. They are about the little guy sticking to his principals and going for it, even when all the odds are against him. Hmmm, that reminds me of another book. Well, I love LOTR and when we hit a wall a few months ago I felt a little like Frodo, and that made me feel just a little bit better.
I used to represent a man that I personally feel is one of the most creative, most intelligent individuals in the advertising and branding business. He had this incredible handle on popular culture and historical references. He could connect past movements in film, photography and art with current trends and bring them to life in advertising campaigns that would resonate without you ever really understanding why.
I always enjoyed talking to him because I knew I would learn something new, and because he inevitably validated things I was sensing but felt were too far “out there” to matter, at least at that time. Good trend watching keeps an eye on the near-ish future. Too far out, and you lose people. He was always super far out (while he was reaching back), but he was also able to keep a finger on that emerging trend that was just about ready to bubble into the collective consciousness.
Anyway, what’s the point? In our business it’s critical that we are able to put our ideas and concepts into cultural context. I remember back in the late ‘80s on Miami Beach when a heady mix of visual artists, poets and performance artists populated the seaside town. My friends and I did an event every Thursday night at a theater on Washington to promote artists. When I told my quite a bit older boyfriend at the time what we were doing he smiled that sweet, slightly condescending smile that I find I smile these days as I’ve grown older, and informed me that our event was known as a “happening” circa 1968. Okay, nothing new under the sun. But it reminded me that what you don’t know can hurt you… In our business that’s a fact, so if you’re in communications do your homework. My mother always teased me when I was young because I was enamored with old movies, the Beatles, Che Guevara, the Civil War (not to mention the Etruscans and The Lord of The Rings). But I’m glad I spent time looking back, it’s helped me to be a better communicator today.
It’s an unfortunate fact that I have a bit of a temper. People who don’t know me well often say how “nice” I am and that’s true a lot of the time. But for those that know me (and that includes longtime clients) my temper isn’t a surprise. An old boss used to call her temper ‘passion,’ and I suppose there is some truth to that, but overall I think it’s just an example of not being able to control your frustration. And in this business you can get frustrated a lot. One of our oldest clients (whom I LOVE!) has said at least 3 times in our relationship, “Val, don’t say something you’re going to regret.” We’ve been together for years, so I guess I haven’t—but just by the skin of my teeth.
I do have a team of LEVEL-HEADED VPs who always control their temper, and these days I am more concerned with actually running the business (I provide strategic counsel and creative concepts regularly) so my “passionate” personality doesn’t affect things as much. But here’s what I’ve learned about “losing it.” Say you’re sorry, mean you’re sorry and don’t do it again (if you can help it). Sorry doesn’t mean much if the behavior doesn’t change. And pride will KILL you in business. It’s totally fine to stand by your convictions, but not because of pride. As a communications agency it’s critical that we “protect” our client’s reputations, so we must make “strong” recommendations, especially if there is a crisis looming. But there’s a fine line between pride and being right. So, don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry, and mean it when you do!
We all know that social media marketing is on the rise, but by how much exactly?
Last week, Forrester Research released their Interactive Marketing Forecast for the next five years that estimated social media marketing to grow at an astonishing annual rate of 34 percent – faster than any other form of online marketing – to hit 3.1 billion by 2014.
Of course, social media is still an infant – compared to other segments of online marketing, like display advertising and search marketing — but an infant that’s growing really fast. In just five years, this kid will be making more money than both email and mobile marketing. Quite a promising forecast, isn’t it? Can we get a portable time machine already (say, in the form of another iPhone application and fast-forward to 2014?!
However, it looks like 2009 is not a bad year either, despite the mostly cloudy economic climate. The experimental phase of social media marketing is coming to an end. eMarketer.com called 2009 “the year of building social media strategy.” Indeed, it seems like everybody is finally realizing the importance of social media, and companies all over the world are busy developing best practices and implementing first social media strategies.
Still very young and under-developed, social media is like a kid who is only getting ready to start school this fall. And gosh, aren’t we anxious for this kid to study well, grow up strong and healthy, and start making a lot of money – as soon as possible?
My agency recently did a presentation for a potential client and it was a new experience for me. Generally, we are in the business of selling. If we aren’t selling ideas to clients we are selling stories to journalists or bloggers. That’s just the deal and if you don’t like it, then you’re definitely in the wrong business. Now understanding how best to sell is an art unto itself. I recently had someone tell me I needed to study up on this, and “they knew what they were talking about because they had been trained by Martha Stewart.” She has been selling her concepts quite successfully for years so they probably do know a thing or two about selling. Guess I’d better brush up.
But that’s what was so interesting about this meeting we recently had. Three of my top VPs were leading the presentation and I have to say, there wasn’t a lot of selling going on. I’d never experienced this before because I tend to be verbose and a bit loud (I’m Italian, though you wouldn’t know it, everyone thinks I’m Swedish). Yet here they were, quietly making a point, a good one, and everyone was really connecting with the presentation. I’m sure this sounds like a “duh” moment. Yes, Val, you don’t have to be loud to make a point. But it was an eye opener. So, I’m going to try it. Speak softly but carry a big stick. Where there’s a “calm” will there’s a way. Ok, enough. But you get the point. Keep it real and keep it relaxed…