Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Hate The Beach

I loathe the advertising/public relations/marketing/feces & graffiti sodality and I further despise how often I complain about it. Throughout The Beach, as we saw just recently, it's a writhing pit of salacious serpents bent on eating itself in an ouroboros orgy.
Give thanks that none of the snotty-nosed "new wizards" of the industry around the SouthCoast even know what any of that means.
As everyone knows, a bad environment is the result of poor stewardship. The "stewards" of the SouthCoast have so neglected their own business that there is nothing to suggest to its next generation of attendants. This next generation -- with its inability to operate spellcheck or grasp the subtler distinctions of "plural" or "possessive" with respect to apostrophes -- should be busing tables. So that someone with some sense of institutional integrity and responsible authority will clap them sharply on the back of the head when they deposit plates upside down or put the fork on the right because they "think it would be cute" or it's the way that they "want to do it."
Without any guidance, benevolent or otherwise, they will go on, oblivious to standards and increasingly resentful of criticism.
Not that I blame them that their mentors suck.
As a youth last century I was advised, by a well-known figure in South Eastern Massachusetts marketing, "I wanted to illustrate children's books. I had to find out all this (gesturing at wooden filing cabinet and small Rolodex) by myself. You're smart. You'll figure it out. (patronizing pat on shoulder directing me toward door)"
That was the extent of mentoring I received and luckily I came to no good in the end. I can't imagine not wanting to pass along helpful advice. It's why I write in this Journal. So that perhaps, when it all collapses around us, we can look upon this electronic record and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
One person I'll always laugh at is a certain "marketingadvertisinggraphicdesign and publicrelations consultant." Who is not, nor ever has been, a nurturing guardian of the SouthCoast's imaging scene. When I was unemployed a "freelance copywriter" -- who thought very highly of his own copywriting skills and portfolio -- the Sovereign Overseer (who had eaten all other contenders, I guess) informed me that "any monkey can write copy."
But it takes a very special kind of monkey to edit themselves, I should have added at the time.
I have since -- cleverly and very lucratively -- been employed in situations where I was asked to cull a few lively or pithy quotations from a speech delivered by a President or CEO and create a concise letter to send to stockholders or absent (*sigh*) board members. I was assured that this was a common practice in the public relations realm, and I enjoyed the opportunity to share the company's leaders' wisdom while helping him (or her) seem just a little more wise.
But such onerous conventions are not the concern of they who decide to e-mail all ten paragraphs of AT THE HELM The Strategic Vision for the Future of the ODHS/NBWM, adapted from a speech given by President James Russell at the Annual Meeting held on May 29, 2009.
As delivered live by the author to its intended audience, I'm sure that it's a charming and pragmatic portrayal of the currently well-matched museum's fiscal and fiduciary state. Oddly though, the full text is unavailable on the museum's website, which is overseen by the same outfit that sent said big-e-mail. I dunno. I maybe would have summarized it a tad, linking to it directly from a teaser e-mail, thereby ensuring piqued interest and at least a few more site visitors. And why not put some text-heavy current leadership position statements on your own website? Unless the lack of linkage depicts a subconscious discomfort with the cluttered and clunky layout of the museum's website. I'm pretty sure that there's some way to communicate its message with much less hand-wringing:

I would like to talk with you about a new direction for the Museum in the coming years. I do not want to dwell on the hard economic impact of the past nine months other than to make the occasional reference. However it should be noted that our relatively strong financial position at year-end is a clear demonstration of how blest we are to have a remarkable board, staff, and membership who are devoted to this museum's mission and cherish its place in our community. From board and committee level guidance and policy setting, to the tactical and hands-on support of docents, the heart of this institution is stronger than ever...(and this goes on for nine more paragraphs. Actually, it's a nice brief speech, but is it necessary to e-mail this to me in toto? They do, however, handle their Twitter and Facebook accounts inhouse very very well. Shout out to Bob!)
Here's my Tweet attempt:
Looking good during bad times. Great board, great staff, great mission, fundraising good. In the black. Crisp boat metaphors, not belabored.
140 characters.


Carol said...

I also received it, although I'm no longer a whaling museum member. Seeing the "At the Helm" letter in my in-box with the ad agency's email address as the source first had me thinking this must be bad news. But no. So I then wondered if the ad agency head who sent this from her own email address was grandstanding a bit, since really this should have come from the whaling museum, even a "no-reply"
On a related topic, I'm impressed by the new director's efforts to make the museum more visible. He gets it.
On another related topic, do you have any idea who City Hall/NBEDC hired to get media mentions for New Bedford? The NY Times article was a non-story and also inaccurate, but someone got it in there---score.

ThirdMate said...

The word on the wharf is that a "well-established" name lends "much-needed credibility" to the new guy. Who is "suffering" among "certain" sectors because he has a foreign accent.

I know who is "officially" supposed to be handling media visibility, but without supreme efforts at coordinating the various personalities who "think" that they're supposed to be doing it, it's damned cat herding.

Any NYTimes piece (was that the "missing teeth" one or the "Big Dan's is so 1983, we have a hotel coming!" one?), like the Chronicle thing, is just one step up from "not-so-great news is good news because it's news." Genuine, positive media relationships take consistent, patient, subtle cultivation and development. That's why they call it "public RELATIONS."