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When you see talent, education and compassion come together in young people, the world seems like it has a chance. That was the feeling that several hundred students, faculty and friends at the Loyola University, Chicago School of Communications shared last night, when I had the honor of presenting the Ebeling PR-ize for excellence in cause-related communications to several outstanding student teams, for the 7th year.
The winning team, of the 11 groups competing for the 2013 PR-ize, created the campaign, “Make the Connection. Paint a Brighter Future” innovating social media and creative collateral materials and expanded outreach through art stores in support of an art therapy program that benefits inner city at-risk students.
Honorable mentions went to teams that developed communications campaigns to benefit Chicago Canine Rescue and a program to aid teachers and community organizations to integrate music into the curriculum.
Here are opening thoughts I shared with the students last night:
There are never enough opportunities to celebrate successes in life, and for all of us here tonight, this is one such opportunity. Mahatma Gandhi, if I may be so bold to invoke his name, said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”
This is an occasion when we celebrate what has been done for the community by several student groups, and what they have communicated to others to assist these not-for-profit organizations. Thanks to their individual skills, their professional teamwork, and bolstered by the communications strategies and technologies they have studied here at Loyola, they have made a positive difference.
Today we also celebrate Earth Day, when we take notice of an environment that still sustains our lives, despite many challenges. It’s an environment that sustains our health and physical freedoms as human beings. Whether we are running in the race of our lives, or just cheering on others from the sidelines, we are one people on one earth, and to some extent, what affects each of us affects us all. The events of the past week certainly underline that.
So let me tie this together by observing that there are people watching and learning from what you think, what you say and what you do. The efforts of all the student teams here tonight point toward the reasons that we can remain hopeful.
And what do we think about their efforts? We think they and their results are terrific. So, to paraphrase Gandhi, what they have done and said, and what we all think about them, are in harmony, and we are happy about that. Very happy, indeed.
Cell phones are celebrating their 40th anniversary today. While today there are some 5 billion in use worldwide, in 1987, when I got my first one, a Radio Shack “brick” like the one pictured, there were at best a million in use. My company wouldn’t get me one (I was responsible for corporate communications for McDonald’s), so I bought mine at Radio Shack for $1499, plus a few hundred dollars for accessories, such as a roof-top antenna for my company car.
I recall that my wife, Vicki, would not walk with me in downtown Chicago if I was using the cell phone, as she thought it looked pretentious. I do recall using it after a press conference at the Ford Museum in Detroit. All the media people were on land line phones calling in their stories in the press room, and I stepped out into a patio and used my cell. As I looked back into the press room, several reporters were staring out the window in wonder at this revolutionary communications tool.
A few years later, all the officers and directors in the communications department had company phones installed. I had been the first with a cell, just as I had become the first company executive outside the information services department to have a personal computer at my desk in 1985. That had required an exemption from the U.S. McDonald’s president. Up to that point, only secretaries were authorized to have personal computers.
In the early 90s, I became the3 first company executive, other than the treasurer, to have a Bloomberg terminal at my desk, allowing 24/7 monitoring of news and market activity. The then-enormous fee for the terminal had to be authorized by McDonald’s CEO. Using the Bloomberg tool, we were able to counter the effect on our stock price of news events perceived as impacting the company from around the world, justifying its cost many times over.
While I admit I’ve enjoyed the novelty of being an early adopter of new technologies, I’ve found that their strategic use often provide a beneficial business edge.
These lunches and dinners with Republicans President Obama is having are a shallow, cynical ploy to garner points for crossing the political divide. It is a transparent bit of public relations crisis management, obviously designed to make the White House look convivial with “reasonable” Republicans.
Such meetings need not have been publicized, if substance trumped image, and they clearly could have been held before the sequester disaster. It’s unfortunate that White House communications operatives are sinking to the same level of insincerity as Congress has become so well known for to date.
As a retired public relationships professional, I’m embarrassed to see such amateur and transparent communications tactics taking the place of real substantial political dialog and a sprit of patriotic cooperation between the White House and Congress.
In 1993, the innovative former Chicago theatre executive credited with being the first to put butter on movie popcorn, passed away. David Wallerstein, who by then was the longest-serving board member at McDonald’s, had become a good friend. It was his idea to offer large fries at McDonald’s — I remember buying bag after tiny bag of 15-cent fries at McDonald’s as a kid. Dave never missed a McDonald’s marketing or communications meeting, and was always sharing his wise perspective and counsel on what might click with customers. The insights he brought to enliven the movie theatre business carried forward to enhance the world’s largest restaurant company. Here’s his obit from The New York
David Wallerstein; Theater Innovator In Midwest Was 87
David B. Wallerstein, an innovator in the movie theater business, died Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 87.
Mr. Wallerstein died of cancer, said Chuck Ebeling, a spokesman for the McDonald’s Corporation, which Mr. Wallerstein had served as a board member since 1968.
Mr. Wallerstein retired in 1965 from the presidency of the Balaban & Katz Corporation, a Chicago-based entertainment company that during his tenure was the largest movie theater chain in the Midwest. He joined the company in 1926 when he was 21, after graduating from the Harvard Business School, and quickly became one of the leading showmen in the country.
His innovations included adding live shows to the movie screenings. Such stars as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Mary Martin and Judy Garland sang before audiences in the company’s showpiece, the Chicago Theater, from the 1930′s to the 1950′s.
Other innovations were putting butter on popcorn, ice in drinks and caramel on apples at theater concession stands.
In 1946, he was involved in the purchase of Chicago’s first television station, WBKB, whose successor station is WBBM, the CBS-owned affiliate. He was also one of those responsible for putting the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” children’s show on television in the 1950′s. A native of Richmond, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1924. In his 80′s, he was still an active hiker, downhill skier and traveler. Last year he journeyed to the Antarctic and had planned to travel to the North Pole until health problems interfered.
Mr. Wallerstein’s wife, Caroline, died in 1982. A son, Michael R. Wallerstein, died in 1974.
He is survived by two sons, David L. Wallerstein of Washington and John M. Rau of Orange County, Calif., and one grandson.
Apparently, Ackerman McQueen of Tulsa is the long-time PR agency for the National Rifle Assn. Their new video, suggesting that the Secret Service protection given the President’s children justifies similar armed protection for all children in schools, seems to me to reflect how out of touch the NRA is with reality, or else that they have No Respect for America!
The Promised Land is not a place you reach. It’s a place you build.
– Allan Goldstein, San Francisco
Anyone watching the media or live election events must by now be aware the advertising and Public relations industries run the national elections. They frame the messages, train the candidates on how to present effectively, create and produce ads, media appearances, special events, election materials, and on and on. With billions of dollars available, their reach and penetration into the political process is immeasurable.
Candidates are “packaged” like cereal and celebrities, movies and TV shows.
Yes, Presidential candidates deserve professional communications advice and support, but the outsized funding now pouring into the campaigns, this “packaging” pf the candidates has become abusive of truth and credibility, in my view. If we had election funding controls, the abuse of ad/PR capabilities in national elections could be put back into proper perspective.
Let’s put the marketing genie back into the political bottle!
Bob Lutz, ex of GM, has written an interesting book called “Car Guys Vs. Bean Counters,” that talks about why it makes sense to let people with a passion for a given business run it, rather than turn it all over to the accountants and finance guys. That’s the way McDonald’s, my alumni group, has been run for most of its nearing 60 years.
My own early experience as a budding “car guy: for Toyota, largely peopled by really frustrated ex-US car guys, in the years when Detroit had lost its way, helps make Lutz’s point. My essay on that period — Acceleration — can be found by searching for that title at http://www.chilit.org.
Here’s Amazon’s summary of Lutz’s new book:
When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s, CEOs knew that if you captured the public’s imagination with innovative car design and top quality craftsmanship, the money would follow. The “car guys” held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.
But then GM’s leadership began to put their faith in numbers and spreadsheets. Determined to eliminate the “waste” and “personality worship” of the bygone creative leaders, and maximize profitability, management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers, and much of American industry, lost their single-minded focus on product excellence and their competitive advantage. Decline soon followed.
In 2001, General Motors hired Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. As vice chairman, he launched a war against the penny-pinching number-crunchers who ran the company by the bottom line, and reinstated a focus on creativity, design, and cars and trucks that would satisfy GM customers.
After emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, GM is finally back on track thanks in part to its embrace of Lutz’s philosophy, with acclaimed new models like the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Equinox, and Buick LaCrosse.
Lutz’s common-sense lessons, combined with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes, will inspire readers in any industry. As he writes:
“It applies in any business. Shoe makers should be run by shoe guys, and software firms by software guys, and supermarkets by supermarket guys. With the advice and support of their bean counters, absolutely, but with the final word going to those who live and breathe the customer experience. Passion and drive for excellence will win over the computer-like, dispassionate, analysis- driven philosophy every time.”
This morning, I read a wonderful story about how McDonald’s ad agency in Columbus, Ohio, has coined the word “Nocturnavores” in reference to those customers seeking out “Breakfast After Midnight”. McDonald’s now has some 127 restaurants in northern Ohio serving customers 24 hours a day, and offering breakfast after midnight, instead of after 5am. Thus, the breakfast “day part” is extended to 10 hours (midnight to 10am) at McDonald’s, reflecting and anticipating dining trends, especially among younger people. http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2012/07/31/mcdonalds-launches-breakfast-after.html.
The term “locavores” was coined several years ago to refer to people who choose to buy locally-grown food. The 2012 spring Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related public relations at Bradley University was won by a team that created a campaign called “The Peoria Locavores,” promoting locally-produced food in the Peoria, Illinois market.
2011 Top 10 Largest Chains (by latest-year sales)
|1. McDonald’s - $34.17B
2. Subway - $11.43B
3. Starbucks Coffee - $8.49B
4. Burger King - $8.13B
5. Wendy‘s - $8.11B
|6. Taco Bell - $7.00B
7. Dunkin’ Donuts - $5.93B
8. Pizza Hut - $5.50B
9. KFC - $4.60B
10. Applebee’s - $4.43B