It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

There are only 20 days left until the new year. It’s hard to believe that 2011 has almost passed us by.

As I excitedly prepare to fly home to see my larger-than-life family for the holidays a quote that keeps coming to mind is one by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

There are so many positives associated with Christmas and New Year’s Day. So try to focus on them through all of the other noise and minutia.

Happy Holidays!

Those Were the Days

About a week ago my little niece, who is four and lives next door to us, was coming home from school and excitedly jumped out of their car to run across the lawn to greet me as I stood in our driveway. She had a picture of a princess she’d drawn that she said would be her Halloween costume.

She went on and on explaining what color it was going to be and where she was going to wear it. As she was talking I looked over her shoulder at my sister-in-law and mouthed, “Really? She’s serious?”

My sister-in-law replied, “I know. Sad isn’t it? She doesn’t even know.”

I couldn’t help but be caught up in her excitement, but I was also wise enough to know that Oct. 31 had come and gone. But Kelise was none the wiser. In her mind, it was right around the corner. Her parents hadn’t bothered to inform her becasue I’m guessing they didn’t want her to get caught up in all the hoopla of this particular holiday.

Since that afternoon I keep coming back to the realization that there’s a wounderful freedom in being so young and unaware. In all the rush, commotion and focus on “adult” priorities, one can sometimes forget what it’s like to live in the unencumbered world of a 4-year-old.

R.I.P Mr. Jobs

In the wake of Steve Jobs death, I want to share this excerpt from the keynote speech  he delivered at the Stanford University spring commencement ceremony on June 12, 2005. 

It resonates with me completely and is one of my favorite speeches, period.

His words at this time I think are a fitting reflection of his legacy.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”                Steve Jobs   (1955 – 2011)

The full text of the speech can be found at

Their Shiny, Bright Futures?

Recently I attended a summer college graduation at a historically black university, as well as listened to a forum of high school journalism students from around the nation talk about the state of journalism today. Because of my background, I particularly paid attention to those students graduating from Florida A & M University’s journalism and communications school. There were about 8 or 9 of them. With the high school forum in D.C., I watched the students wax fairly eloquently about their hopes and dreams for a career, for instance, as a columnist, sports writer or international news correspondent.

What struck me as I watched both of these events is that I felt a twinge of sadness for the students. I wondered, ‘Are these kids excitedly stepping into an industry that’s dying? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel still left for them becauase of today’s economy and the advent of technology? Or will their frequent, almost second-nature use of social media and online journalism be their saving grace?’

Who knows. I didn’t arrive at any resolute answer because I remember being in their place so many years ago full of optimism, confidence and a sense of purpose as a writer. So then I started to feel bad. I had no right to rain on their parade with my doubt. Instead, I hope all of their individual futures are unbelievably bright and satisfying. Despite what the future holds for the industry, they can still have fulfulling careers since they believe it.

Use Recent Census Data to Attract New Audiences

The 2010 Census data the U.S. government has released can be used as a laser-like tool to better focus your public relations, communications and branding efforts to gain new audiences if you know how to properly analyze the statistics. There is no better place to get information that is free and from a trusted source than from the Census Bureau. For instance, the Bureau is releasing demographic profiles this month. 

Also, if you believe time is money then mining, analyzing and categorizing this information now can save you time in the future when you’re quickly working on things such as a media pitches or grant proposals.

Don’t be afraid of the pages of tables, rows of numbers or the many lists and subsets you’ll find. Just dig in with a focus on unearthing nuggets of information that speak to the audiences you work so hard to connect with every day.

An article that piqued my interest and launched my own research efforts is by Ron Fournier in the National Journal, “The Next America.”

For instance, it is very clear in my home state of Georgia that its ethnic demographics are changing, and have changed. In the past 10 years there have been an increasing number of Latinos moving into Georgia.

Nationally, the number of people of color increased in all 50 states, particularly young people. If your company or nonprofit’s mission is to target either one, or both, of these groups, then you thankfully have your work cut out for you. As business people in this economy, isn’t this what we want? 

So here are a few interesting links to help you get started. Some of them will have links to other helpful, relevant sites:





Finally, once you do the hard work you should share your information with your clients and partners so that together, you can better collaborate on projects and initiatives that need a precise focus.

Domino’s Life-Saving Brand Boost

It’s wonderful how much a good deed can still garner free press – and positive press at that because a good deed can just as easily turn into bad press. Remember the KFC roasted chicken meal giveaway in 2009 that Oprah announced? People had trouble printing and redeeming the coupons and KFC couldn’t keep up with demand, prompting chaos and shouting matches at some restaurants.

A few weeks ago Domino’s Pizza had their hands full with good, free press after one of its delivery drivers in Memphis, TN, Susan Guy, became concerned when she didn’t get her daily order call from a local elderly woman, Jean Wilson. In fact, the Domino’s driver rushed to Ms. Wilson’s home, did some investigating and called 911 after discovering that the pizza shop’s most loyal customer of three years had fallen and laid there for three days.

So now the talk is that the Domino’s driver saved Ms. Wilson’s life, which in turn adds to the resuscitation of Domino’s brand. Pretty big jump, but ok. Once the woman was on the way to the hospital, the delivery driver even joked that she’d probably still take Ms. Wilson her daily large pepperoni pizza and two diet Cokes.

Now, at this point, I began to wonder if anyone else besides me thought it was not good for an 82-year-old woman to eat pizza every day. I theorized that perhaps she was sharing it with someone else, or hoped that maybe she had some pets she was giving some of it too. I know, not good either.

In all the coverage of the incident that I saw or read, the state of Ms. Wilson’s health surprisingly did not come up.

Yet, I digress. The point is how some now claim this unique incident is boosting Domino’s brand and image in the public’s eye. I highly doubt one could tie the driver’s actions to any particular Domino’s training or job requirement. Or that Domino’s encourages what Ms. Guy did in its employee handbook.

Instead, I’d wager it’s just someone who’s been raised right doing something heroic for another human being. Plain and simple.

Still, it doesn’t surprise me that Domino is taking advantage of the opportunity to ride the good publicity wave, especially considering how much money and energy they’ve recently put into rebranding themselves after years of sagging sales and a tarnished reputation.

In the meantime, I just hope Ms. Wilson is healthy.

From a Spark to a Flame

Now that the smoke has cleared, Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak has stepped down and the protestors in Cairo have dispersed, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes by slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass. On Aug. 3, 1857 he spoke in New York at a celebration commemorating the West Indie’s emancipation. He emphatically emphasized the importance of the people rising up on their own behalf to push for change, along with the efforts by British government.  

Douglass stated:

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

There’s nothing like a clear, consistent message to make a crucial, key impact. For 18 days the protestors never wavered from their message – Mubarak step down. No matter the pro-Mubarak threats and accusations; no matter the ever-present global media with their own various agendas; no matter the scattered, often unreliable communication lines the protestors had to use, they never wavered from their message.

Staying on message really is a simple concept that has proven itself a thousand times over.