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Single frame stories

The current buzzword in marketing and communication is storytelling.  Don’t sell to someone. Make them remember and care by telling them a story.  Telling a good story is hard. Telling a good story in a single frame is epic.  Masters of the craft can tell a complete story with no words.

Two of the most powerful examples of this story telling have been born of telling the story of heroism amongst tragedy.  First is from Sacramento’s own late Rex Babin who told the story of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” in graceful lines:

Bruce MacKinnon told the story of the bravery of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who lost his life earlier this year while saving others in Ottawa:

I’d like to add another piece of single frame storytelling to my favorites.  It’s not as much emotional as educational, when we could all use a little more good information.  This one isn’t by a political cartoonist or artist. It’s by a chemist telling the story of how small a portion of Africa is currently under a state of emergency from Ebola.

Thank you Rex. Thank you Bruce. And thank you Anthony for using your talent to tell great stories, simply and effectively.

Chevy Moving Fast…and stuff

If you saw the trophy presentation following the World Series you would have seen a Chevy spokesman who had too many points to get across while in the presence of the greatness of Madison Bumgarner.

While trying to explain all the features of the Chevy truck that the Giants pitcher would be receiving along with his World Series MVP trophy he referred to “technology and stuff.”  Chevy didn’t miss a beat and today put the below on their site for Chevy Trucks:

Well played.


Cranky Old Man Advice

Last week I was invited to speak with a public relations class at my alma mater. The course is focused on social media for PR majors.  The majority of my time was spent talking about community, engagement and content and the cool work done by my colleagues at Edelman.

I wrapped up with a slide I titled, “Cranky Old Man Advice.”  This advice was a few of the recent LinkedIn statuses I’ve posted over the last few weeks that are basic truths about working in PR.  Now, that I’m about 20 years in, it’s cranky old man advice. Enjoy and let me know if you have your own or disagree with any of the below:


  • Leave behind terms like “reach out” in your correspondence or communication with your clients. say what you actually did. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Handwritten notes go a long way.
  • Please ask yourself, “Who in their right mind would want to watch that video” you just recommended to the client.
  • Tim Cook on Charlie Rose after pointing out that Apple will do $180 billion in sales this year from a product line that could fit on his famous round table, “It’s easy to add. It’s hard to edit.“
  • When in a business meeting don’t refer to clients as ‘you guys.’

Creating art from something everyone sees…David Imus and maps

Every once in awhile an artist is rewarded for something that others may view as mundane.  It’s the combination of utility and craft that together creates beautiful art.

Maps are all around us.  When you look past their ubiquity, you can see art.  One of the most famous examples of this is the NY Subway map, and the beauty and perspective provided by maps was the subject of one of my favorite episodes of “The West Wing.”

I have a large map of England from 1814 in the foyer of our home that always serves as a great conversation starter:



This evening I read an article about a new map that covers the seemingly mundane in a beautiful way. The Essential Geography of The United States of America by Imus Geographics was recently awarded one of mapmaking’s highest prizes for how he represented cities, states, attractions and geographic features.  Imus Geographics is one man in Eugene, Oregon who through hard work, 6,000 hours over two years, bested National Geographic, Rand McNally and all the others.

Just because others may look past what you want to create, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best.

The Essential Geography of The United States of America (image from ImusGeographics.com



I work at a PR agency.  We work with a lot of clients.  Some of the clients are the type that warm your heart, and some aren’t. They aren’t “bad,” they just don’t provide the extra satisfaction of the “social good.”  (Yes, at this point one can make the case that as long as companies don’t hurt people they are doing a social good by providing a service, creating jobs, creating wealth that can be used for good etc., but that’s secondary here.)

So, by day, yes I do get the chance to sometimes work on things that are truly good, and other times I’m just helping sell stuff. For balance, I give back with what I know how to do, that’s marketing and writing.  This weekend, I spent some time helping write the opening remarks for a run to raise money to help stop sex trafficking in our area.

Find your balance, give back with what you know how to do, and feel good.

Do you want to connect on LinkedIn?



Then that shouldn’t be our first interaction.  Going back through my old posts, I started writing about LinkedIn first in 2007. I’ve written about my first comparisons between how I was using LinkedIn and Facebook, how as a small business owner I used LinkedIn to land a client, and many times how the people at LinkedIn are masters at using their own data to tell stories.

This is about how I use LinkedIn and some advice for students.  I use the network as a way to keep up with people I know professionally.  This means it’s someone I’ve worked with, or met in a professional capacity. I don’t use the network to find new people.  Now, not all people do it this way, but I do.

Over the last few months I’ve noticed an uptick in requests to connect on LinkedIn from university students, usually PR or marketing students. Now, if I’ve spoken to their class and talked with them, I usually accept the invitation, but if I never have, I usually respond with, “Thank you for the invitation to connect.  I’m happy to chat any time. Feel free to send me an email at…..”  Funny thing. I rarely get a response.

It seems like LinkedIn is something that college seniors are told they have to do now, or that they are supposed to do, but unfortunately they’re missing the point, at least in my eyes, of actually connecting with people before they “connect” with them.

So, yes I’m happy to connect with you on LinkedIn, but it’s going to cost you…a conversation


Everything You Tweet is Fair Game

I often remind executives that when they Tweet something, they are every time providing a quote for a reporter and need to take that into consideration that the contents of the tweet could show up again.

I was reminded of this myself in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee, in the Travel Column by Sam McManis when confronted with a Tweet I had sent nearly a month earlier while waiting for a plane:


From Josh Morgan (@joshdmorg): “Dear all airport PA announcer script writers, can you stop saying ‘due to increased security.’ It’s been increased for 13 years now.”

— Compiled by Sam McManis, smcmanis@sacbee.com






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