I Quit! (Thanks, AMA.)

A funny thing happened to me on the way to quitting my job of 17 years and embarking on a freelancing career. I determined that it was time for words and me to rekindle our romance, hands-on PR and marketing to welcome me back into the fold, and journalism to once again take my hand and lead me through the golden meadow. Copy has been in need of a bracing massage and I had allowed my masseur license to lapse.

I’d dotted a handful of t’s and crossed a couple of i’s in advance of this Rubicon leap. I’d named my new work (Write Stuff Communications), purchased a website domain (writestuffcomm.com – not yet active), considered my scope of work (PR/marketing soup-to-nuts; scribe) and ordered business cards.

And I’d lined up some assignments from those lost souls who, in their finite wisdom, have misplaced faith in my talents. As we Charlestonians say, bless their hearts.

I can produce strategic communication with my cerebellum tied behind my back, but selling myself, hmmm. That’s not so much on my Meyers Briggs profile. I’m an E-S-T-NO SELLING!

That “S stands for “schmoozer,” and it’s not capitalized accidentally. These years of dipping into the American Marketing well have filled my networking jug at least as much as my pitcher of knowledge. (Or perhaps it’s a teaspoon.) And now all that good AMA karma has begun to flow back to me.

Even before I decided to take the wheel of the jalopy that is my career, a whip-smart real estate agent whom I’ve befriended through AMA helped me determine that I needed to buy a house close to downtown and rent out my old place. That fine gentleman has saved me from hundreds of hours of idling in traffic and fattened my otherwise-skeletal retirement savings like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Immediately after I announced my new intentions, another member in good standing floated my name to a marketing firm for some copywriting. They reached out to me, which has got to be as rare as a championship in Cleveland. It’s a pairing worthy of Yenta the Matchmaker: the liaison at the company is a former student. Thank you, Patron Saint of Freelancers, and thank you Mr. incoming AMA President. My future genuflections to you will not solely reflect my respect for the office.

Simultaneously, an offhand conversation at an AMA event lead me to a copy writing assignment. The chat began as all pleasure and no business – my affection for particular staff members of a sharp local agency prompted it – and led to what appeared to be a mutual need.

All that, and they haven’t even rid themselves of me at the old job yet.

The point, and alert the media because I do actually have one*, is that it’s amazing how and how much AMA participation has been paying off, even though, as noted above, I’m allergic to tooting my own horn. It’s not like this wasn’t already apparent: I’ve hired photographers and graphic artists whom I’ve met through the group. I’ve paired dozens of students with internships sponsored by AMA members. I’ve witnessed people hired for positions that never saw the light of day – but reverberated through the AMA grapevine.

And now I’ve experienced it myself. Thank you AMA; thank you friends. Keep the referrals flowing. Because I need to save up and get my cerebellum out from behind my back.

barry waldman

*this time.

Surf’s Up: Time to Join the AMA

Ride the AMA Wave

Are you riding the wave to marketing success or just floating aimlessly?

If you’re looking to connect with local marketing professionals, grow in your knowledge of best marketing practices and succeed with amazing marketing campaigns, then it’s time to ride the AMA wave.

Join Charleston AMA now through May 29 and save!

During this spring membership drive, the new member fee of $30 is waived. Plus, you have the chance to win local prizes. There’s never been a better time to put your professional development first!

Head to www.jointheama.com | Promo Code: SPRING30

Connect with other Charleston AMA members or just come learn more at our Spring Happy Hour at 5:30 p.m. May 20 at The Islander, 160 Fairchild St. on Daniel Island. Just $15 for members; $20 for non-members. Get your ticket.

Already a member of the AMA? Then share this news with a colleague in the Charleston area marketing, public relations or creative field who’s looking to connect, grow and succeed.

 

Sister-Kissing At The Spark Awards

Last week, before the assembled multitudes at the Spark Awards, I kissed my sister three times.

Now, my little sister is a playfully rambunctious wit with a smile in her soul who looks 15 years her own junior, and I joyfully plant a smooch on her cheek or head when the opportunity arises, which is episodic at best given her lack of proximity (700 miles) and allergy to felines, like the one who rules my home.

So I kiss her. But these kisses are not the romantic glottal engagements that fire up the machinery of arousal in men’s and women’s hearts. They are but a peck.

All of which is academic because my sister wasn’t actually in attendance at the Spark Awards. The kiss was metaphorical, conjured by Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty, who left behind his mortal coil in 1987.

Daugherty, asked about the feeling of fulfillment from earning neither a win nor a loss, but a tie, compared it to kissing your sister. It’s a kiss…but it’s your sister.

Hall of Fame baseball player George Brett added that losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out. What experiences exactly he employed to set this benchmark is a question I’d prefer not to consider.

Anyway, I didn’t actually, metaphorically kiss my sister, because I didn’t tie. I finished second. What is finishing second like? Where’s Duffy Daugherty when you need him?

The communications department at Trident United Way entered three categories in the Spark Awards, the annual “best of” in the Charleston marketing arena. Each of our submissions earned a place in the finals, which is some small level of validation, no? I mean, we made the tournament, won a few games and earned a spot in the Final Four.

Each of our submissions garnered oral recognition, a certificate and a photo with our local AMA’s lovely and talented president. It was nice, like a kiss. But it was second place.

And three second place finishes, well, now it’s getting close to grandmother territory. It’s less kiss than kiss off.

The great philosopher, Ricky Bobby, from that cinematic classic Talladega Nights, offers no comfort. He said “second place is first loser.”

So thank you, The Brandon Agency, for relegating our spectacular campaign video, produced by the amazing video firm Lunch & Recess, to first loser.*

And a big fish face to you, South Carolina Aquarium, for dropping our social media campaign to sister-kissing territory.*

And Gina Ellis-Strother, a most worthy 2015 Marketer of the Year, your grace and dignity, your professionalism, your evident aptitude and accomplishments, to all of that I say, thhhhhppppp. Our nominee Peter Wertimer, president of advertising at Chernoff Newman and an icon of local marketing communications, may have finished second, but he remains our prince of marketing.*

Still, just to be safe, if he ever meets my sister, he should just shake her hand.

barry waldman

* Truth is, while we’re really proud of our work, and of our ad agency and video firm, we have a Marxist view of these awards. Groucho Marx, that is. I’m not sure we’d want to win any award whose standards are so low that we could win one. Besides, have you seen the work of Brandon, the Aquarium and Gina at Charleston County Parks?

Charleston AMA Honors Outstanding Local Marketing Professionals

Holly Fisher and Marketer of the Year Gina Ellis-Strother

Holly Fisher and Marketer of the Year Gina Ellis-Strother

The Charleston American Marketing Association honored outstanding local marketers, public relations professionals and industry creatives at its 2015 Spark! Awards on March 11. Taking home the top honor of Marketer of the Year was Gina Ellis-Strother of the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission.

Charleston areas marketers were invited to submit their work in a variety of categories during January. Board members from the Reno Tahoe AMA chapter judged the entries. Charleston AMA received almost 90 submissions — a record number of entries for its annual awards program.

“This is a chance to recognize the incredible marketing, PR and creative talents here in our Charleston community,” said Holly Fisher of H.A.F. Creative and president of the Charleston AMA chapter. “So many marketing professionals work behind the scenes creating logos, ads, websites and social media campaigns. It’s rewarding for our chapter to be able to put the spotlight on their efforts and give them much-deserved credit for their work in promoting so many of our local businesses and organizations.”

Ellis-Strother joined Charleston County Parks in 2013 where she lead the marketing team in developing the organization’s first marketing plan, launched a rebranding effort for the parks system, created a new website and developed and directed five TV commercials and several radio commercials. Additional promotions and PR creativity lead to record-breaking attendance and revenue at the parks along with extensive media coverage for the 25th anniversary Holiday Festival of Lights.

Runners-up for Marketer of the Year were Mary Roberts with the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and Peter Wertimer of Chernoff Newman.

Winners of the 2015 Spark! Awards

Winners of the 2015 Spark! Awards

The 2015 Spark! Award winners are:

Best Commercial Photography

Jason Bennett for Firefly Moonshine & Patrick Davis

Best Book Cover

Advantage Media Group for “Out of the Question”

Runner-Up

Bob Durand for “What am I to do now, Mama?”

Best Copywriting

Town of Mount Pleasant for “Day in the Life”

Runner-Up

South Carolina Aquarium for “Show Us Your #FishFace”

Best Corporate Blog

Holly Fisher for Traveler of Charleston

Runner-Up

Holly Fisher for Allegiance Staffing

Best Direct Mail

The Brandon Agency for HTC chocolate mailer

Runner-Up

MWV for Summers Corner

Best Illustration

Andrew Barton Design for DryFins Clothing

Runner-Up

Advantage Media Group for Advantage Magazine

Best Inbound Marketing

Kiz Studios for Might & Mayhem

Best Logo Design

Bob Durand for Purple Pig Designs

Runner-Up

The Brandon Agency for Myrtle Beach Mutiny

Best Outdoor Signage

Holy City Hospitality for Hutson Alley

Best Package Design

BBIG Marketing for Feedstuff Sales

Best Print Ad

Town of Mount Pleasant

Runner-Up

Holy City Hospitality for Rue de Jean Savannah

Best Promotional Video

The Brandon Agency for CresCom

Runner-Up

Trident United Way, Chernoff Newman, Lunch & Recess for Trident United Way 2014 Campaign

Runner-Up

Adam Boozer for Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB

Best Website

Obviouslee Marketing for Charleston Wine + Food

Runner-Up

The Brandon Agency for Williams Knife Co.

Runner-Up

Obviouslee Marketing for EventHaus Rentals

Best Re-Branding / Branding Campaign

Obviouslee Marketing for EventHaus Rentals

Runner-Up

South Carolina Aquarium for Good Catch

Best Event Promotion

Lowcountry Local First for Buy Local Block Party

Runner-Up

Town of Mount Pleasant for 2014 Holiday

Best Non-Traditional / Guerrilla Campaign

The Brandon Agency for Myrtle Beach Mutiny

Runner-Up

Lowcountry Local First for Buy Local

Best Public Relations Campaign

Touchpoint Communications for GotchaRide

Runner-Up

ByrdHouse PR for Zero George

Best Social Media Campaign

South Carolina Aquarium for “Show Us Your #FishFace”

Runner-Up

Trident United Way for “What Makes My Site Coordinator Experience Sweet”

Check out all the photos from the 2015 Spark! Awards. Thank you, Stan Foxworthy of Foxworthy Studios, for being our event photographer!

2015 Spark! Awards Finalists Announced

Spark AwardsWe are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2015 Spark! Awards. We received a record number of entries this year, which demonstrates just how talented Charleston area marketers are. The judging was done by board members from the Reno Tahoe Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

The finalists in each category are listed below in alphabetical order. The winner in each category will be announced at the Spark! Awards presentation on Wednesday, March 11 at Rue de Jean in downtown Charleston. The event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Please join us as we honor the best among Charleston’s creative, marketing and PR industries. Tickets are $25 for Charleston AMA members; $40 for non-members. Purchase Spark! tickets online.

Marketer of the Year

Gina Ellis-Strother, Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission

Mary Roberts, Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

Peter Wertimer, Chernoff Newman

 

Best Commercial Photography

Jason Bennett
Firefly Moonshine & Patrick Davis

 

Best Book Cover

Advantage Media Group
“Out of the Question”

Bob Durand
“What am I to do now, Mama?”

 

Best Copywriting

South Carolina Aquarium
“Show Us Your #FishFace”

Town of Mount Pleasant
“Day in the Life”

 

Best Corporate Blog

Holly Fisher
Allegiance Staffing

Holly Fisher
Traveler of Charleston

 

Best Direct Mail

MWV
Summers Corner

The Brandon Agency
HTC Chocolate Mailer

 

Best Illustration 

Advantage Media Group
Advantage Magazine

Andrew Barton Design
DryFins Clothing

 

Best Inbound Marketing

Kiz Studios
Might & Mayhem

 

Best Logo Design

Bob Durand
Purple Pig Designs

The Brandon Agency
Myrtle Beach Mutiny

 

Best Outdoor Signage

Holy City Hospitality
Hutson Alley

 

Best Package Design

BBIG Marketing
Feedstuff Sales

 

Best Print Ad

Holy City Hospitality
Rue de Jean Savannah

Town of Mount Pleasant

 

Best Promotional Video

Adam Boozer
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB

The Brandon Agency
CresCom

Trident United Way, Chernoff Newman, Lunch & Recess
Trident United Way 2014 Campaign

 

Best Website

Obviouslee Marketing
Charleston Wine + Food

Obviouslee Marketing
EventHaus Rentals

The Brandon Agency
Williams Knife Co.

 

Best Re-Branding / Branding Campaign

Obviouslee Marketing
EventHaus Rentals

South Carolina Aquarium
Good Catch

 

Best Event Promotion

Lowcountry Local First
Buy Local Block Party

Town of Mount Pleasant
2014 Holiday

 

Best Non-Traditional / Guerrilla Campaign

Lowcountry Local First
Buy Local

The Brandon Agency
Myrtle Beach Mutiny

 

Best Public Relations Campaign

ByrdHouse PR
Zero George

Touchpoint Communications
GotchaRide

 

Best Social Media Campaign

South Carolina Aquarium
“Show Us Your #FishFace”

Trident United Way
“What Makes My Site Coordinator Experience Sweet”

Digging the Pig Wasn’t Enough

In a dramatic break with tradition, I am about to embark on an exploration of concepts tenuously connected to marketing. I apologize in advance for this transgression.

I’ve been thinking about Piggly Wiggly lately and the limits of positive branding. I loved The Pig. Didn’t everyone? I love my Piggly Wiggly shirt and my Pig tumbler, from which I drink my favorite libations (primarily chocolate milk.) (No, really.) I love my purple Piggly Wiggly winter hat, which features my favorite local mascot, The Pig. I’m big on him.

I like to show visitors Buzzy Newton’s house on The Battery, the one guarded by a pair of stone-carved pig sentinels. David Schools, the last Pig CEO (and provider of all my Pig swag) is a funny and humble guy. When people would ask him his vocation, the CEO of a beloved supermarket chain would say, “I work at The Pig.” I wish him and his family nothing but the best.

I loved Piggly Wiggly’s advertising campaigns too. They were local since forever. That struck a chord, even though I’m not local since forever. The campaign reminded us that The Pig is authentic South. The Pig was there for us – or you, anyway – long before Charleston was fashionable, winning awards and all la-de-da about itself. Back then Piggly Wiggly was providing your blocks of ice, your collard greens, your sweet tea and your lard-encrusted bacon fat sandwiches lathered in pork grease. The advertising campaign almost made us feel obligated to buy groceries there.

That so many Charlestonians feel warmly towards the Pig is a testament to their exquisite branding. Companies spend billions of dollars attempting to coax from consumers a sliver of the affection that Piggly Wiggly generated, mostly by not taking themselves too seriously.

But here’s the thing: my family rarely shopped at Piggly Wiggly.

There wasn’t a Pig near where I lived or worked, but more importantly, Piggly Wiggly stores were too lowbrow for my family. We eat tofu and hummus and free range turkeys in my house. We drink almond milk and munch on carrots that first had to be cut and scraped by someone else, who then rounds the edges to prevent any unfortunate carrot stabbing incidents. That’s not lowbrow. (It is pathetic, but that’s another story.)

Evidently, we weren’t alone, because Piggly Wiggly was forced to sell off most of its properties. It was too small to compete on price with Walmart and just when it tried to pivot to higher ground in the supermarket hierarchy the mortgage brokers and financial services companies generously provided us all with the worst economic crash of our lifetimes.

When Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company began to contract, I could have switched my purchases their way in an effort to help rescue our beloved stores. But I did not, and neither did you.

Because the truth about the marketplace is that it’s all about us, the consumer, not them, the vendor. We buy where it’s convenient and inexpensive, and the experience is positive; how we feel about the company is largely irrelevant. Dan Cathy’s narrow-minded views about my gay friends don’t exactly split my infinitives, but I like the way he Fil-A’s his Chik’n, so that boycott will have to wait until after lunch. Conversely, though I admire Publix’s spectacular culture of philanthropy, there’s a Harris Teeter around the corner from my house. Walking distance, one; admiration, nothing.

So we all respected and esteemed Piggly Wiggly, and sighed with melancholy when it disassembled. But when it came right down to it, price, service and proximity meant a lot more to us than brand love.

 

–barry waldman

Share Your Expertise for Good!

Do you know how to make the generations take notice – and take action?

Are you a pro at integrating multi-channel communications to amp up results?

Do you have the magic formula for effective cause marketing?

Are you a master at storytelling that commands attention?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, now’s your chance to spread the word! Build your business, your résumé, and your marketing industry cred as a session leader at the AMA’s highly rated national Nonprofit Marketing Conference this July in Washington, DC.

Even if you’re not a do-gooder by title, this is your chance to educate and inspire the nonprofit marketers who strive to make a difference in our communities every day. The conference attracts marketers from around the country in organizations, foundations, and associations both big and small. You’ll find names you recognize, like past attendees from the Red Cross and the USO, as well as community-level nonprofits with equally impactful missions.

The AMA is accepting speaker proposals for this annual conference in the following tracks, which reflect some of today’s hottest marketing topics:

  • Motivating the Generations
  • Amping Up Integrated Communications
  • Making Cause Marketing Work
  • Getting Personal with Storytelling

Learn more about the conference and read the full Call for Entries – including downloading the entry form – at www.ama.org/nonprofit. All proposals must be submitted by February 6.

Questions? Contact the AMA’s Quinn Meyer by email to 2015NonprofitCFP@ama.org or at AMA’s Chicago headquarters directly at (312) 542-9018.

A Brilliant Marketing Scheme

Congratulate me: I’m about to be fabulously wealthy.

I have this foolproof idea to make millions of dollars. It involves a bad movie and some brilliant marketing. I mean evil genius marketing. Check it out.

First, I’ll hire some dopes to make a juvenile flick about . . . whatever – who cares? Humor based on metabolic methane production will abound, as will lower-body sphincters, the modular employment of a 17-word vocabulary and potshots at a Dark Ages dictatorship. Hijinks will ensue even in the absence of a coherent script. (Money-saving device!)

We’ll make sure to blow up some things to quench the reptilian brains of adolescents. Unfortunately, our target audience is prohibited from seeing movie depictions of female lactation producers – a surefire revenue doubler – so we will substitute the southward-facing end of an over-sized northbound male. It’s a pale imitation, but it’s worth some coin.

Okay, whatever whatever. The premise is secondary. Here comes the marketing ploy.

Our ad agency will fabricate a controversy about some element or other in the movie. Something petty and gratuitous. Something that would ordinarily elude the grasp of the mouth-breathers upon whom we depend for ticket sales. (And by mouth-breathers we mean, males.)

On cue, some discredited outfit will protest the movie loudly, organize a boycott, demand an apology in the name of some oppressed, if hardly defined, subset of humanity. We’ll goad them into bomb threats at theaters and the like to spook the suits in corporate into ditching the project.

You see where I’m going? Suddenly, this low-budget celluloid tripe will become a cause célèbre. Intellectuals will rise to defend free speech. Joe and Jane Backporch will rebel against anyone telling them what to watch. Americans of all stripes will link arms to support this beacon of hope in the visual arts.

So, okay, we’ll release it on a limited basis, you know, to keep the demand outpacing the supply. Scarcity will whip the nation into a frenzy. And then the rest of the developed world will hop on board. The Dutch and Danish don’t like being told what free expression to consume, even if it’s fart jokes. Nor do Norwegians, Lithuanians or Sri Lankans. (Maybe Sri Lankans do; I need to brush up on them.)

The free world will beg us to release the film. It’s a film now, you notice? They will demand the right to pay real American cash monies (or Kroners or Litas or Rupee) for a ticket. Take that, ostensible censors! Vanquished by the unquenchable thirst for freedom!

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton will smile upon us. Better yet, so will Salmon P. Chase and Woodrow Wilson, their denominations being larger. We will transform everyone involved in our project into hero defenders of free expression! And, far more importantly, one-percenters.

God Bless America! And other countries with paying customers.

I’m assembling the detailed plan this weekend and then I’m going to pitch it to…wait, what?

Oh.

Nevermind.

 

barry waldman

Things I’ve Learned From Retail Marketers:

Things I’ve learned about Christmas gift-giving from retail marketers:

shaving system1. Nothing says “I love you” to the man in your life like a device that scrapes the hairs off his face in a unique high-tech manner. Bonus points if the “shaving system” involves multiple blades, each of which, according to the advertising claims, defies the laws of physics, so that the first blade bends his hair, the second reasons with it to leave, the third starts his car and the fourth cuts the hair below the surface of his skin without in any way harming his epidermis. And the fifth through eighth blades watch and applaud.

2. A reasonable gift option, rather than a sweater or a nice pair of earrings, is a luxury car. Your personal savior particularly appreciates when you mark his joyous birth by obtaining $50,000 of debt. Particularly if it comes with a giant red ribbon. Amen.

3. Your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and smart phone all have lifespans of exactly one year, which runs from December 25 last year to December 24 this year. Isn’t that convenient?

4. The must-have item for this Christmas season is – well, there are actually 23 must-have items, all of which require batteries, which are not included. They’re not even included when you buy the batteries.

5. Women are raccoons. They love shiny things and react irrationally towards them, particularly when placed in a box. (The shiny thing, not the women. Though you never know.) You know what you fellas should do to atone for all your boneheadedness? You should purchase and present to the woman in your life, or to the woman whom you aspire to cajole to join your life, a big shiny geometric shape worth a minimum of Mozambique’s GDP. Special bonus: she’ll cry!

seth rogen6. Seth Rogen stars in a new movie aimed at people with sixth grade educations (most notably, seventh graders).

7. Another actor, occupying similar cubic footage as Seth Rogen but distributed quite differently, stars in a different new movie in which 237 people — nearly all bad guys — die quick but painful deaths. The two movies in question contain roughly equal comedic content.

8. For men, football and red corpuscles occupy places of equal importance with respect to the sustenance of life. Men must watch football at every moment, including a) at their own wedding, b) on the toilet, c) at Uncle Ralph’s funeral, d) at the birth of their children (breathe!) e) and at all other times. Consequently, they must own a phone that can deliver football on demand, which would be always, and a television roughly the dimensions of Ladson.

9. Irrespective of the season, there’s always erectile dysfunction.

–barry waldman

RE Marketing Pros Gather for First Event

One of the goals for the 2014-15 chapter board term was to create a “special interest group” or SIG as they are known in AMA chapter circles. The idea is to create smaller, niches programs that are industry specific. The CAMA board has talked about this concept for awhile and this year decided to try it out. We partnered with AMA members at BoomTown and hosted the first program on Nov. 11. A group of BoomTown employees talked about how to reach your target audience through personas and more than 15 people came out to hear their insights.

We’re excited to announce our first RE Marketing Coffee Talk was a success and we’re planning to continue this series quarterly. Thank you, BoomTown, for working with us. And look for additional industry-specific programs to be added in the future.

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