Category Archives: Branding

Bait & Switch President: Mr. Public Relations (PR) Obama

Well America, you wanted him, and now you’ve got him. The only question is, what are your going to do with him? A professional media maven that has the popularity of a JFK and the agenda of a Clinton. Great…that’s going to make him tough to get rid of come election time.

He’s charismatic, he’s smart, and he’s popular. Yet, with 199 days logged in office, his approval rate is plummeting. But, none of the networks have reported that story because that would mean tarnishing their “Golden Boy.” According to the latest poll, Pro-Bama’s approval rating has dropped 7% since inauguration.

Today, the US Marines made a push to secure cities in Afghanistan prior to next week’s elections in the war-torn country. The attacks were launched in response to threats from the Taliban that they would “disrupt the elections“.  Yet, Pro-Bama has not been linked to this news item either. It’s almost as if it’s happening without his knowledge as he celebrates the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic female Supreme Court justice. Whereas President Bush would have announced, and taken responsibility for the Marine’s push to secure Afghanistan, Obama has been distant from anything to do with the military, or the two wars currently being fought. Following suit, the media has kept the President’s name and the fighting separate, in no way connecting it to Pro-Bama. Instead, the media interviews have been conducted with soldiers, low-level diplomats, and Afghani political figures.

[U.S. soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade take position next to Sari Ghundi village as they patrol near the Pakistani border in Afghanistan.]

Far away from the fighting, the cameras flashed and Pro-Bama gave out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk, Ted Kennedy, Billie Jean King, and Stephen Hawking (among many others); afterward he made a joke about the health care Town Hall meetings that have been erupting into violence, stating; “Can’t we all just get along…”

Well, it would seem that when the government is threatening our current crappy health care system with something worse, we aren’t even close to getting along. However, my real question is why do these four deserve the Presidential Medal of  Freedom? First of all, this is the highest civilian medal given out. Secondly, it is designed to recognize individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Show me where any of these four have done a thing for this country without first serving themselves. Is it because two of them are/were homosexuals, one has brain cancer, and the final one is confined to a wheel chair? In comparison to past honorees, these four are a joke; previous Medal of Freedom recipients include Mohammed Ali, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John F. Kennedy, Roberto Clemente, Nelson Mandela, etc. Pro-Bama should have given the award to Michael Jackson…then the entire “slight of hand” magic trick would have been complete. After all, this is just the Pro-Bama Rope-a-Dope; a diversion from the real things that are going on…(There were some on the list that deserved the award, but not the four mentioned.)

For example, while Pro-Bama and Joe Biden (who?) took a photo op with the black Harvard Professor and the white Policeman who arrested him, sipping beer in a White House Garden as suited staffers ran beer to and from the table, the Nation was slipping into near double-digit employment. (Obama’s former stomping ground, Illinois, has surpassed double digit unemployment, which doesn’t say much for past management.) The graph, below, shows the US, Illinois, and Cook County (Chicago) Unemployment. While the US hovers at 9%, Illinois is at 10.5% and and Cook County’s coming in at 11.6%…

Does anyone realize how many people are in Cook County? Try 5.3 million, which means that over 500,000 are unemployed in the Chicago area alone. That’s more people than most US cities can even claim.

UNEMPLOYMENT

I certainly hope that there’s an App for that….

But, there’s no application, and there’s no respite. At least in the near future. So, the US will just have to hold on while the Pro-Bama staffers try to figure out where all the “Cash for Clunkers” money went, where all the money they loaned to the banks went, and where the money to bail out the auto industry went. Hopefully while they figure out that accounting error, they’ll be able to figure out that the new deal health care reform plan is a stinker, and they will back down. Face it: If they can’t forecast how well a junker car trade-in program is going to perform, they don’t have a shot at figuring out something like health care…it’s uber-confusing already.

Public Relations is definitely Pro-Bama’s (PR OBAMA) strong suit; I am waiting for him to tell us “Don’t worry about it…I’ll take care of it.” I am sure that these same words were used by Bernie Madhoff when he was still Mr. Popular…

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Filed under Branding, Change, Ethics, Morality, Morals, State of the Nation, State of The World, Truth

The Final Spotlight: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson died of a heart attack on June 25th, 2009, and it’s with mixed feelings that I finally mike-jacksonsuccumbed to mention him. His loss, musically, is a profound tragedy. However, the last thing we heard from the “The King of Pop” was in 2001, when Invincible was released. Thus, his loss to the music industry in the present is, really, of no consequence; it is not as if he was in the studio for the past eight years recording new material. Quite honestly, although many are sad he passed away, my compassion’s withheld and my emotions are blank. I was more affected by Neda’s murder than Michael Jackson’s heart attack.

The words are harsh… Yet, right or wrong, when I think of Michael Jackson, one ugly thought comes to mind: Child Molester. Although unproven, there were too many allegations, too many unanswered questions, and too many “out of court” offers & secret settlements. Too many shenanigans. I understand ‘presumption of innocence,’ but after someone is called into question for the same thing numerous times, opinions tend to change. And I’m sure that mine won’t be a solitary voice. Thus, I will recognize his passing, but I will not mourn it.

The investigative reporter that originally broke the story that Jackson was being investigated for Child Molestation was LA Times’ Don Ray. He wrote of Michael Jackson’s death in a blog yesterday:

Was Michael Jackson a child molester? Was he a pedophile? Nobody ever proved it in criminal court and a secret, out-of-court settlement prevented the civil trial from ever happening.
The veteran detective investigating Michael Jackson was convinced that he was a pedophile. If there was ever someone who fit the FBI’s profile of pedophiles, it was Michael Jackson.

The fact that I mention his accomplishments is tribute enough; his loss to the music industry historically is a tragedy; Thriller, released in 1982, remains the world’s top-selling album of all time. Jackson’s talent, showmanship and creativity may never be rivaled. He was a giving philanthropist, at one time estimated to support at least 39 charities, donating millions of dollars in aid. The list of World Records, awards, and achievements is daunting: MjAccomplishments

A cultural phenomenon Jackson was the first African American to successfully cross the boundaries of race, gender, and generation. As a direct result of this mass appeal, he was named Entertainer of The Year, The Decade, The Generation, and The Century.

He also had the uncanny ability to stay out of view for years and then step back into the world, once again, a star. After a couple years of visibility, he would go silent. Each time he “came out,” there would be a top selling album or a record-breaking tour launched. At other times, an arrest or a trial.

For the past eight years he was relatively silent, with the exception of his 2005 trial, subsequent acquittal, and out-of-court “secret” payment.

Like Elvis, this King may be dead, but he won’t soon be forgotten.

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Filed under Branding, Change, Creativity, Morality, Morals, State of the Nation, Truth

Brand Yourself Before the Lay-Off

Let me tell you that it’s humbling and life-altering; one day a contributor, the next, not so much. In between panhandling, emailing resumes that no one sees, calling people that can’t help you, and begging those that won’t, there is some time to actually think. What could I have done better, how should I have positioned myself, and why did’t I take that job last year at that other agency?
I’ve also started reading more. Occasionally, a book will come along and floor me with it’s brilliance, shake me out of my stupor. Like icy water. Well, guess what? That book hasn’t come yet.
However, I did read a fantastic article on how to brand yourself so as to not get let go (too late, obviously).
The article is short; the writer part of my LinkedIn “circle.” From brief “run-ins” with him via email or in seedy chatrooms, he seems to walk the walk. His name is Dan Scwabel, and you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, VisualCV and JobFox (I am actually proud of myself—I am on all four, although only two are complete.)
Here are Dan’s Top Ten Suggestions:
<blockquote>1. Become an invaluable asset to your colleagues, professional network & clients
2. Position yourself as the go-to-person for a specific skill
3. Gain self-confidence and rise to the occasion
4. Focus on social equity, not just monetary equity
5. Build contact lists before you need them
6. Go on a branding spree by advertising it everywhere
7. Make your brand so visible that people can’t avoid seeing you
8. Become so remarkable that complete strangers talk about you my favorite
9. Be a content producer, not just a consumer
10. Have an “endorsement mindset”
Last but not least, and possibly one of the most important things to keep in mind, is the power of positive endorsements. Collect endorsements throughout your life like you would collect baseball cards. You are the chief marketing officer for the brand called you, but what others say about your brand is more impactful than what you say about yourself. </blockquote>
Now I am going to pester him every week…
<strong>Jeff Louis</strong> is a Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Coordinator. His passion is writing, contributing to BMA as well as freelancing. He’d love to hear from you: linkedin.com/in/jefflouis or twitter.com/jlo0312.

WhereAmIGoing

I’ve beome part of a great movement, a swelling tide of humanity that suddenly, and without warning,  find they arejobless, struggling to survive.

This is not a complaint, and I am not going to bitch; rather, I’m explaining an “awakening.” Several, actually. One realization I’ve come to is that it’s not likely that I’ll work in my chosen profession again (Advertising). At least not in my area of knowledge, which is media planning.

It’s humbling, life-altering and depressing; one day a contributor, the next, locked out of a job, responsibilities, and a sense of being. In between networking, emailing resumes to nameless people that don’t ever return phone calls or emails, calling people that want to help but can’t, and trying to make a break any way possible, there are times when the brain meanders on to subjects of what did go wrong.

The second realization is this; People that are vital to a company don’t seem to get laid off. Period. Deep in my heart, I feel somehow that there’s a kernel of truth in this, and although I asked for reasons and answers before being ushered out the door…to the point of their exasperation…I was never going to find out if there was a reason behind it all.

Unknowing, I move on.

personal-branding1-300x225

“How could I have positioned myself better?” is one question that runs through my head, closely followed by a second, “Why didn’t I take another job?” I knew in my bones that my previous job was not the place for me, and had spoken at length about that very subject with my fiancée. I  had been interviewing for over a year, though sporadically, but I had a couple offers. Yet, I wasn’t committed, and never followed through…mainly out of loyalty to a company that did not deserve it. And that, too, is the sad truth.

(If you know that you’re in the wrong place, take the leap of faith.)

So, I am learning to listen more. And I write more. I’ve done some freelancing, which pays well. I read a lot, and have learned more than any job could teach, taking advantage of every work-related seminar or webinar that’s offered. I’ve been gaining certifications as well as insight. I’ve also realized that there others out of work who are much more qualified, smarter, and more personable.

In a negative light, I’ve begun to second-guess myself, my capabilities, and my life. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

(In a weird sense, I am happier now than I was working for my former bossess. Not the underlings, the big dogs.)

A couple weeks ago, I read a fantastic article on self-branding. It was a guide on  “How to Not Get Let Go” …obviously a bit late in my case, but hopefully you’ll benefit from it.

The article is short; the author is Dan Scwabel, and you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, VisualCV, and JobFox, among others. Without reproducing his entire work, here is the meat of the article:

1. Become an invaluable asset to colleagues,  networks & clients

2. Position yourself as the go-to-person for a specific skill

3. Gain self-confidence and rise to the occasion

4. Focus on social equity, not just monetary equity

5. Build contact lists before you need them

6. Go on a branding spree by advertising it everywhere

7. Make your brand so visible that people can’t avoid seeing you

8. Become so remarkable that strangers talk about you

9. Be a content producer, not just a consumer

10. Have an “endorsement mindset”

Last but not least, and possibly one of the most important things to keep in mind, is the power of positive endorsements. Collect endorsements throughout your life like you would collect baseball cards. You are the chief marketing officer for the brand called you, but what others say about your brand is more impactful than what you say about yourself.

It’s simple and straight-forward. Succinct, yet speaks volumes. Read it. Tape it to your computer. Carry it in your purse. Lap it up, soak it in, and use it. It may save your job.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to comment or ask a question, please do so here or on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jeff Louis is an advertising professional whose background covers Strategic Media Planning, Brand Building, and New Business Account Coordination. His passion is writing, contributing to Beyond Madison Avenue and Digital Pivot, as well as other freelance assignments as a media planner and writer.

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