Blog

May 2012 - PS Insights

ACRONYMS

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We’re receiving an increasing number of texts and e-mails with more and more inscrutable abbreviations. You may not know what certain acronyms stand for-SNAFU (“Situation Normal: All F***’d Up”) but at least you know what the expression means. We’re seeing some “private codes” being used in written discourse that send us fleeing to the Acronym Dictionary. What abbreviations have you encountered lately that have you scratching your head? If acronyms are supposed to be shorthand communication, shouldn’t they shorthand communication rather than not communicate at all?

BEST PRACTICES

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When you look at other industries and companies for “best practices,” don’t restrict yourself just to your work environment. Steve always likes to say that the secret to raising his sons was that one day he came across a horse training manual. “I took away two key lessons that I used while the boys were young. 1: If you don’t run them twice a day, they’ll kick the barn down and 2: The secret is in how tight (they buck) or loose (you lose control) you hold the reins.” What best practices have you discovered?

PESTER POWER

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Paul was quoted by the BBC recently on advertising and pester power. The old belief is that advertising has created or has fostered nagging children. In truth, bad parenting enables pestering kids. Set limits and kids will respect them. Sure, they’ll push back from time to time, but they don’t learn that bad behavior just from watching television.

QUICK SERVE RESTAURANTS

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What would you rather be? Junk Food, Fast Food or a Quick Serve Restaurant? How you refer to yourself-and how your customers refer to you-can make all the difference in world. The Republican think tanks figured that out years ago and have been highly successful shaping public opinion with neologisms such as “Obamacare” and “Death Tax.” How are you using language to spin what you do into the most persuasive or positive light?

THE NEW ME GENERATION

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Around the country we’ve spoken to lots of groups and organizations who are hiring Millennials. Many of these 40-something employers are completely perplexed and frustrated by their new Gen-Y workers (also called the ME generation). To manage them properly, you’ve got to give them enough rope to hang themselves-without hanging yourself. You’ll survive. They’ll learn from it. And your business will be better for it.

PARENTING CRISIS

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Where’s the parent in the family these days? Research shows that parents are eager to be their childrens’ best friends. The problem is they’ve abdicated the fundamental job of a parent: Providing guidance and guidelines. It’s called “discipline,” (as in “disciple,” not as in “punishment”). Kids need it, want it and respect it. Without it, the household becomes anarchy. We all need discipline to perform at our very best.

RETAIL?

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More and more, consumers are using retail stores to do some free sampling before going home, going on line and ordering the item on the Internet. It started with big box electronic stores, then bookstores-and pretty soon it will be every kind of retail store. If you’re in the retail business, you’d better start thinking about a different business model for the digital age. You need to be selling “reason to appear” rather than “sample showroom for online selling.” As Satchel Paige used to say, “Don’t look back-something might be gaining.”

AMERICAN SERVICE

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Whenever Steve calls a company’s customer service line, he asks, “Am I speaking to someone in the United States?” If the person says, “No,” (which is most of the time), Steve says, “Please connect me to someone in the United States.” They try to distract him with other questions, but he calmly repeats the request until they do. The resulting conversation is always faster, smoother and easier. (And maybe helps keep some jobs in this country from going overseas.)

REVENGE OF THE ART DIRECTOR

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Our partner, Norman Siegel, is an award-winning art director with over a half-dozen commercials in the Paley Center collection (and his aviation art continuing to win awards). His edgy sense of humor constantly reminds us what he thinks of our “edits.” The other day, we asked him to “remove the hyphen at the end of a line and don’t break the word.” Sure enough, we got back a layout with “market-ing” (on two lines) replaced with “market ing” (on two lines). Remember, art directors care most about how good the work looks, not how perfectly detailed the spelling and punctuation are. How good are you at giving clear and complete direction to visual people?

QUALIFICATIONS

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You wouldn’t hire an Internist to examine your torn ACL. (“Hey, they’re both doctors, aren’t they?”) You wouldn’t hire a pastry chef to cook your dinner (“Hey, they’re both chefs, aren’t they?”) We’re continually amazed that companies hire television executives to run movie studios. (“Hey, they’re both media executives, aren’t they?”) Television and film are two different media with two different skill set requirements. Every platform requires a special level of expertise. Do you know what you do best and do it better than anyone else?