Wednesday, April 19

Introducing Hun Productions


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Here is the first design for our new creative line featuring modernized versions of vintage World War II posters. We decided to launch this line first because it's a fun and original product. It's also simple, something we could put up beyond Copywrite, Ink. logowear as a storefront place holder. You can also see the image and its "I'm Watching You" partner at Back Lot Projects

Tuesday, April 18

Adding Copywrite, Ink. Logowear

Before my Writing For Public Relations class ended in March, one of my students asked me if there were any crossover jobs for public relations professionals. I gave him the usual cross-industry answers, ranging from ad copywriter to event coordinator. There was another I forgot to mention.

A public relations professional, assuming they're a talented writer, could break into giftware industry. After all, someone has to write all those colorful quips and poems that decorate shirts, mugs, cards, and cups. I know they do because I worked on assignment for Stanley Papel Designs, one of the most recognized giftware manufactures in the world. It's a fun and competitive industry, especially if you can write messages that appeal to a broad audience.

I broke into the industry after sending a four-line resume that said nothing more than: "Experience: Great. Creative: Even Better." Stanley called me personally and said he's give me a shot, adding that out of all the resumes he received, mine was the only one short enough to fit on a mug. Go figure.

I was happy enough. It was a job and I needed jobs. I completed several projects for Stanley Papel before catering to more commercial clients. It was fun and I often missed it. Recently, I found out that I don't have to miss it anymore. Thanks to the advent of computer technology, I can test market giftware with Cafe Press and Zazzle.

Last week, we added Copywrite, Ink. logowear as a place holder to our new store at Cafe Press, but we already have some fun ideas and designs that we'll add in the months ahead. I'll preview a few here from time to time, but in the meantime, if you want to see what our logo looks like on coffee cups, T-shirts, and teddy bears, click on the links we've added on the right. Who knows? You just might like one for your very own.

Monday, February 13

Honoring Communication Excellence

Relatively few industries offer professionals as many peer review opportunities and recognition as the communication industry. In addition to international and national competitions, most major markets host several local or regional award programs, some of which provide the first tier of national competition.

In Las Vegas, there are several awards programs, each with its own criteria and judging principles. A few notables include: Las Vegas Advertising Federation's Addy Awards, Women In Communications' Electronic Media Awards, the Public Relations Society of America's Tri-State Pinnacle Awards, and the International Association of Business Communicators/Las Vegas (IABC/Las Vegas) Bronze Quill Awards. There are others, enough so that most agencies and firms can only participate in one or two every year.

While we enter some from time to time (and sometimes our clients enter, given that many are agencies), my personal favorite remains the IABC/Las Vegas Bronze Quill Awards, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is the longest continually-running awards program in Las Vegas.

What sets it apart from the other programs (even the Addys, which is generally considered the most prestigious agency awards program in Las Vegas), is that an accompanying work plan accounts for half of the judges' score. In other words, it is not enough to produce great-looking or creative work. The objectives, target audience, budget, and documented results all contribute to the judges' assessment of the piece. Further, each entry is recognized on its own merit, regardless of other entries in the same category. Most often, judges include feedback along with the entry's scores.

Last Thursday, we were pleased to learn that all three of our entries in this year's competition received recognition at the IABC/Las Vegas Bronze Quill Awards: two Bronze Quills and one Award of Excellence. The first piece to receive a Bronze Quill was a collaborative self-promotion piece with our friends at Colorado-based Aisle 9 Design (one panel is shown in our June 2005 archives). The piece also received an award of excellence at the Addys last year.

The second Bronze Quill was earned for work with Black Gaming, which owns three of the four resorts located in Mesquite, Nevada. I was especially pleased to see their direct mail letters recognized for two reasons. First, because the letters generated results: local active response was 57 percent (78 percent in certain segments); drive-in customer response was 19 percent (53 percent in certain segments); and fly-in customer response rates were 7 percent (24 percent in certain segments). In sum, the three properties increased their response rates by 200 percent from previous mailers (despite using the same offers), customer play increased by 60 percent; and the three properties collectively reclaimed 40 percent of their inactive customers with the first mailing, which cost 60 percent less to produce than their previous direct mail. The other reason I was pleased to see this piece recognized was because our client was credited. We cannot thank our contacts there enough; they give us great direction and then, even more importantly, the freedom to execute that direction based on our extensive direct mail experience. The results have reinforced their decision to do so. As the old saying goes, you're only as good as your clients allow you to be. Here, we have met and continue to work with the best.

Additional client kudos go to ACME Home Elevator for allowing us to add honest and human elements to their news release, written by Kim Becker, vice president of Copywrite, Ink. The release, which centered around ACME's participation on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, received an award of excellence, the highest award given in the news release category this year. Approved by ABC and distributed to a broad range of industry publications and local network affiliates, the release not only generated client exposure but also provided a role model case study for why companies need to get involved within their communities.

For students taking my Writing for Public Relations class at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, it also provides another example as to why the one-page news release concept is passe, assuming you have something worth writing about. Sure, one-page releases are still preferred, but in the case study above, the story demanded three pages. ABC and other media outlets agreed. Next week, I'm planning to expound more on this subject, citing an applicable concept from the least likely public relations resource: Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Until then, please keep in mind my other quip about awards: they should always be the sequel to great results, never the pilot. In other words, creativity for creativity's sake is best left to fine arts. In business communication, results come first.

Monday, January 23

Restoring Public Trust

MarketWatch correspondent Thomas Kostigen released his top ten ethics breaches for 2005 last month, demonstrating once again that public leaders and companies that use communication as a means to manipulate will eventually be unmasked.

Five highlights from his list include: former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay for the rationalization campaign that he is not the face of corporate corruption; former FEMA director Michael Brown for blaming Hurricane Katrina failures on New Orleans residents; president of J. Paul Getty Trust Barry Muntz for alleged abuses of nonprofit funds to enhance his lifestyle; Exxon for ignoring shareholders' resolutions calling for it to admit carbon emissions contribute to global warming; and the American Red Cross for making us skeptical of charitable giving after workers allegedly bilked money from Hurricane Katrina victims.

Regardless of any personal opinions that surround these examples, there is little doubt that all of them have contributed to the continued erosion of public trust among private and public organizations. As a result, they reinforce the need for the public and private sector to adopt action models that either restore or preserve trust in the minds and hearts of the public.

One such action model developed by the Public Relations Coalition (a partnership of 19 major organizations representing public relations, investor relations, public affairs, and related communication disciplines) in 2003 still serves as an effective roadmap for creating an environment of accountability. Key points within the document called on corporate leaders to:

• Articulate a set of ethical principles that are closely connected to their core values and business processes and are supported with deep management commitment and enterprise-wide discipline.

• Create a process for transparency and disclosure that is appropriate for their company and industry in both current and future operations, including oversight committees, culture audits, and consistent messaging.

• Make trust and ethics a board-level corporate governance issue and establish a formal system of measuring trust that touches all parts of the organization.

Simply put: establish standards and adhere to them; encourage open communication and timely disclosure; and develop the appropriate mechanism to measure progress. It makes sense. Most breakdowns in trust occur not because of true ethical breach within the company but rather when the organization or its leadership seem to be shrouded under a veil of secrecy or are responsible for inconsistent/inaccurate messaging. In other words, sometimes it is not what you are saying, but what you haven't said that will determine how well your organization preserves public trust every day and during times of crisis.

Monday, January 16

Speaking Of Dreams

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great thinker, writer, and speaker. He delivered these words with such intense clarity and emotion that they captivate people today as much as they did on the day he spoke them on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (August 28, 1963). It was following this speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. was credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation, prompting the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and solidifying his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He knew, as a few talented speech writers still know, that every speech must be written, rehearsed, and rewritten until it sounds exactly right to the ear. They always use everyday language that is easily understood and create mental pictures so they can better understand the words. They avoid an overuse of statistics and call listeners to take action. They are emotional, effectively using pauses and/or humor, as appropriate to drive key points home. And above all, great speeches demonstrate the power of communication and its ability to change behavior or shape the direction of a nation.

For more examples of great speeches delivered for the betterment of mankind as Martin Luther King, Jr. intended (as well as some speeches that had the opposite effect), visit Great Speeches of 20th Century.

Monday, January 9

Getting Back To Basics

When I originally started this blog in 2005, I intended it to provide supplemental information for the class I teach every spring for the Division of Educational Outreach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). With the 11-week course beginning again this Jan. 19 (7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays), I realized it was time to et back to basics and end my blog hiatus.

For anyone interested, the course, Writing for Public Relations, is a skills development class that emphasizes the application of practical writing and strategic communication skills to real-life case studies and experience. I also stress the importance of approaching public relations from a journalistic perspective. The class carries 1.80 continuing education credits. For more information or to register prior to Jan. 18, visit unlv.edu or call UNLV at 895-3076.

As for the hiatus, the only explanation I can offer up is that our company has had a very busy holiday season, which seems to be a promising precursor for our 15th anniversary. Right. Copywrite, Ink. turns 15 this year. Our new web site may still in development because I'm infusing an interesting proportion/composition concept into the design, we have been quietly nurturing some quality accounts and producing some results-oriented communication materials: print, electronic, and behind-the-scenes strategic. Some of these projects will be highlighted in our electronic portfolio upon its completion.
 

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