Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How those who have passed are still with us.

Yesterday was the Yahrtzeit of my beloved grandmother Muriel Garfinkel, may she rest in peace (a"h). Words cannot express how much I love (eternal tense) my Grandma. She was everything in one, beautiful, family, career, tough but empathetic and generous. She was fiercely loyal to my grandfather but didn't hesitate to speak her independent mind either. One from a special generation, just not found again today.

In any case, yesterday's blog. I was thinking to write about communication tips. However Rebecca Blumenthal said to me, I think you should drop the branding stuff and just write from the heart.

So it comes to me...something about Grandpa's (a"h) cap. I don't know where this comes from AT ALL and it has no connection to anything I can think of.

So I sit down and write and out comes the blog.

Last night my mother tells me it's Grandma's Yahrtzeit, the anniversary of her passing. The family memorializes her and she is closer to us in the material realm than usual.

I say to my mom, "Isn't that just like Grandma to 'speak up' for Grandpa and inspire a blog about his memory?" Because the immediate prior blog was about Zayde, my father's father (a"h).

Grandma was an extraordinarily beautiful woman and also extraordinarily modest. But modesty is not the same as silence. Grandma understood that we are required to speak when necessary, loudly if we have to, and she was also reserved when it was appropriate.

A lesson for life...sometimes we think that those who speak up about issues of concern are necessarily "bigmouths." But like Grandma would have said, "Dossy baby, for everything there is a time and a place."

Sunday, December 28, 2014


We've been in Santa Fe observing the rich. There they are, in packs of two or three or five. They wear $3,000 cowboy boots and ski pants and fur hats. The waiters and waitresses wait on them hand and foot and I can see them spitting contemptuously when nobody's looking.
I totally hate their vibe. Here's the type of thing they do: You show up at the hotel at midnight and they take half an hour checking in. You've patiently waited. Then they come back and while you're talking to the front desk clerk, they interrupt.
It's very aggravating.
There is another group down here, a loosely connected underground. They call each other by made-up first names. They live outside, sometimes. They spend a long time talking to you about local history and ways and culture and the Green movement and ancient battles between Spanish Catholics and the Native Americans they tried to convert.
This group doesn't care about the time. They are mountain men and personal assistants and healers. Art dealers and cabdrivers who just "happened to" find this place on the way to somewhere else and never left.
Some have more money than others, true. All of them seem unbelievably rich in contentment.
They leave retail merchandise unsupervised, a lot. Can you imagine owning a store and walking away and hanging a sign that says, "Please pay for your merchandise up front."
I can't process this.
Wealth and money are clearly two different things. You can be poor and rich, and poor and poor.
One man who is clearly not wealthy tries to sell us stuff. Blankets, carpets, masks, things like that. He keeps repeating, "I need to move the merchandise, it's a slow day, I'll give you a good deal. Here, $50 off."
It's over and over again, too high pressure.
I buy some time, because the family is enjoying browsing.
"What do the masks mean?" There are a bunch of them but they all look similar.
"Which masks?" He looks annoyed.
"All of them, what do the masks mean? What is their significance?"
"Just pick one," my husband says. "He doesn't know what you're talking about."
"OK that one," I point to one of the masks. "Is it some kind of religious protection for the home?"
"Yes."
"Is it meant to scare people off?"
"Yes."
"There, right there in the middle, is that an evil eye protector?"
"Yes."
Those masks were about making money. Whatever I would have said, the answer would have been "yes." That man was poor, or struggling, and poor.
Five minutes later we're on the street and there are Native American craftspeople selling jewelry under an awning, by a monument. The monument is a tribute to fierce battle in the 1800s and at one point the language (which has been scratched out) called Native Americans "savages," There is an apologetic plaque on one side of the monument saying that the language is unfortunate and insensitive and hopefully prejudice will end.
It does not escape me that we invaded this country, fought the people who were already living here and appropriated their land, and now they are forced to sit on the floor and sell jewelry off of rugs to me.
I stop in front of one man and point to a necklace.
"That's beautiful," I say. "What does the price tag say, $1,600?" I feel bad as I say the words, because that couldn't possibly be the price for street jewelry and I know in my heart I'm being an asshole and making fun.
"Yes, $1600," he says.
Now, look. I know good and goddamn well that the piece was maybe $16.00, but I can't tell where the decimal point is.
And I also know that if he can get me to pay $1600, good for him, because from his perspective I'm a rich White woman making fun of him and the jewelry he sells and I deserve to be cheated a little bit.
The person sitting next to him is watching me. I have to say something.
"Wow, $1600. It's beautiful, but I work for the government, so it's a little out of my league."
The man selling the jewelry gives me such a dirty look I can't even describe it to you. Suffice it to say I shouldn't have used the word "government" in an excuse.
Then he starts going. "Handcrafted, and...." I stop listening as he starts to argue.
Later we go into a jewelry store and look at a ring. It's very nice, and the owner wants $35,000 for it.
Yes, $35K and the diamond is only one carat. I try it on and have to stop myself from saying something, like I can't believe what complete thievery. Oh the salesman is all smiles.
Look. At the end of the day you can make a lot of money selling whatever you want. But the truth is, getting rich easily turns you bad. It's so easy, so plentiful, so tempting, so gorgeous. I can easily see how people start to think that they, themselves, in some kind of act of ultimate brilliance, actually generated all this cash and can run all over other people because of it.
The point though is to see this darkness for what it is...to turn it into light by giving as much away as you can. The point is that this life we're living, this very short life is nothing but an optical illusion, a movie we wrote before we were ever born, with turning points planned that would give us the opportunity to make better choices than in the past.
I love money as much as the next person. It's fun. But it's only there as a test for the passing.
__
All opinions my own. Public domain photo via Wikimedia by Godot13 / Smithsonian Institution. 

LinkedIn can grow in a few ways:

1. Partner with a freelance company to allow members to offer and obtain services through the LinkedIn brand itself

2. Create sub-brand platforms or portals where people from the same country can meet and network

3. Partner with training companies to offer online certificates and degrees, where you take courses socially and the activity becomes part of your network activity.

4. Partner with Skype/Google Hangouts to offer business calls, virtual meetings, webinars

5. Travel concierge services for business travelers, including connecting you with people in town.

All of the above should be managed with a point system, eg the more you participate the more points you earn, unlocking additional privileges. 

Points should not be something you can purchase. They can make money from the sponsors of the various platforms offering services (eg for example
 Elance).

----
Addendum to #1, in response to a comment: 

On #1 the idea would is to acquire a company (or companies) that already have the infrastructure for freelance. Elance, oDesk, People Per Hour come to mind. There is another company where you pay for a listening session by a CEO or equivalent but the name escapes me at the moment. TaskRabbit. Acquire, consolidate, brand under the LinkedIn umbrella, and actually allow people to buy and sell services at every price point.
_____

All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora.

Friday, December 26, 2014

So my daughter went on a college interview and they asked for her favorite book. She named this one and asked if she had screwed up. (Um, not as bad as her mother, who said she didn't even READ books, because "they're mostly a waste of time.")

Not knowing what it was I just laughed at the prospect of telling someone your favorite book is a Satan novel. (I thought it was young adult drama, like a vampire book.)

It's not. It's a seriously powerful book which I read on the plane. Could not stop taking screenshots of things to memorize and share.

Basically the book is written as if Satan were speaking directly to the human race about WHY suffering persists, HOW evil got here into G-d's realm, and most importantly WHAT to do in order to bring the final redemption.

I violently disagree with the author's repeated statement that organized religion is inherently bad, and that there is no such thing as Jews only "Israelites." That part is clearly an agenda. But otherwise the contents shook me and struck me to the core. Here are the main ideas.

1. Satan means adversary and this is an angel whose job is to ensure free will by tricking you at every turn into failing your various life tests.

2. Satan is inside your head and you can only fight him there. It is not a person or an entire group of people classed as "evil."

3. Satan's primary weapons include your ego, which is not actually you but Satan, and which controls you in so many ways you have to read the book to understand them.

4. The main thing to know is that Satan presents himself as rational thinking. Also guilt, shame, low self-esteem, and anxiety. You are acting from this place when you jump to react instead of being slow and thoughtful - coming from the real you.

5. The search for a soul mate (the right one) is essential and do not let Satan throw you off. You are entitled to love and happiness.

If you are scared at the thought of all this...remember you can win by looking inward and saying, I see you, Satan and I know you are up to your old tricks. Also pray to G-d, meditate on His name/s.

There is a lot more...a life changing book.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

There are times when you dislike a person on sight and this was one of those times.
Thin, tall, beautiful, irritable. Scowled when I asked for a bit more room on the bench, to accommodate family and coats.
"What a bitch," I thought. In quotes because so loudly it seemed out loud.
We shuffled and waited and did not look forward to the speech.
We did not know she was going to be the speaker.
"I want to tell you a personal story today," she began. "My mother was my advocate and champion."
She went on to tell us about her humble life. What it was like to be alone with a single mother, whose joy was to run up and down the hallways of their apartment building, telling everyone who would listen that her daughter got into a state school.
The young woman came down here alone and friendless. She fought her way forward for four years. They bonded over food and studied all night and forced each other to make it to their finals on time.
And then she did something she did not have to do. Which was to become a resident advisor for several years, mothering the other students who had come to school alone.
This young woman worked so hard and was so capable she got an internship at a large and reputable firm. Which kept her on and hired her, starting right away after graduation.
"Suddenly, last year, my mother died," she concluded her speech. "I was at the bottom. But my family at school held me through all the pain."
And then I looked at the girl again. I looked at her with different eyes, not the cold and hard eyes of a stranger. 
I looked at the girl through the eyes of a mother who was there to watch her own child graduate, who had taken that child for granted too many times.
Who had judged this child badly for no reason other than how she appeared briefly, from a glance or a couple of words.
And I sobbed, with my husband, for the victory and the pain that comes with growing up and seeing one's child grow up. And turned around to wish the people behind me, "Congratulations."
We ought to lead with love more, we ought to look at other people through the eyes of love. 
We don't know what they have suffered...the immense struggle it takes them just to show up at work in the morning. 
Or what it took to get them up in the first place.
_____
All opinions my own. Photo by WilB / Flickr.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Readers of the blog may recall my dad's visit to a Kabbalist. Who told me:

- your ancestors are pleading with you to return to the fold.
- start with Shabbos, keep kosher and go to a mostly observant shul with your family on Shabbos.

Given the frequency with which I was seeing 6:13 on the clock and elsewhere digitally (like on the computer, a search result would be dated 6/13/13) I took it seriously.

Also I was seeing the number combination 11:11 on my phone and you can Google the numerous results on that.

Spiritually there is a doorway between this realm and the Heavenly realm and something was pushing that doorway open in my life.

After hearing from the Kabbalist I made some strides in the kosher department but didn't do as great on Shabbos. For example, I wrote a blog on Friday night after sundown.

Immediately (this after a respite of a few days) the 6:13 message appeared again - I saved a screenshot for the post and it was marked with that time.

It happened again in the morning at 6:13 when again I was breaking the Sabbath. I looked at my iPhone and there, 6:13.

I want to emphasize that did not feel attacked by this but rather like it was a parent gently pleading with me not to harm myself by disobeying. I also understood (and the Kabbalist said this explicitly) to take small, starting steps and not do everything at once.

So next week I will not blog on Sabbath.

* * * 

There is something else to share. I have permission to relay it.

It is a about a loved one, recently passed. The timing was significant.

The dreamer dreamt she was sitting on the couch of this loved one as they had many times.

But it was as if they were on the Other Side, not here in the material realm.

The loved one reassured the dreamer. "It's peaceful in Heaven."

The loved one also said, "G-d separates people (in Heaven) based on their actions (on Earth)."

Finally, "Earth is suffering." 

At that point "as if to show me what that meant," the dreamer said - "lightning flashed and big black bugs were crawling up the window trying to get in."

My understanding of the dream was that life is eternal, the natural state of life is Oneness with the Divine and peace, but that the purpose of the human condition is to refine our souls so as to merit that rest in unity.

We can't go there until we suffer here.

So the purpose of life is not happiness. It is meaning.

Meaning is found in the service of G-d and people.

___

All opinions my own.







Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why you build a brand: to add value to your company.
How you build a brand: advertising, marketing, PR, events, social media, publications, web, mobile, apps, sales, email, conferences customer service, internal communications...you name it.
A top-priority, critical intersection you're likely overlooking: the connection between PR and social media.
The connections between your disparate activities generally.
Why you should focus on PR and social media specifically: because the one has an exponential force multiplier effect on the other. Almost nuclear.
Just to review for a second.
1) Why you do PR:
  • Short-term proactive: Get the word out among influencers, who then tell the rest of the world
  • Long-term insurance: Build your reputation for current and prospective investors, and in case of a future crisis
  • Reactive: Minimize damage in case of a crisis
2) Social media's rationale:
  • Community-building, channel - agnostic - i.e. a content portal or a unique social media brand across distinct tools
  • Community-building narrow-targeted by channel - i.e. reach the audience that consumes a particular type of tool, i.e. Twitter
Now consider how coordinating PR and social media multiples your opportunities for positive exposure and awareness:
  • PR folks get "influencer" media coverage - social media professionals drive that coverage online. They drive traffic from that precious interview elsewhere, multiplying your audience, attracting new customers for your business.
  • Social media professionals know how to talk to particular online communities - translating influencer impact across digital cultures. That article in a technical publication may impress other technical professionals, but imagine the possibilities if you establish a presence on platforms that reach either a broader or a completely different audience. 
  • Cross-pollination of print and digital; audio, video, visual, experiential and living projects. So much time, effort and money goes into the focus on one particular event, publication, medium or channel strategy. The PR expert can zero in on the most important print and online channels for a particular audience, and the social media professional has both the technical skill and pop-culture sensibility to work across stovepipes, appeal to the commercial mindset and turn on a dime while doing so.
If you're going to focus on any two areas to promote your brand right now, I would urge you to integrate PR and social media.
_____
Photo credit: U.S. Marines via Flickr. All opinions my own. Check out my author page on Amazon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"He wants to hold my hand. But I'm short."
"So walk side by side."
"He wants to hold my hand. So I said to him, 'I'm short. I can hold your arm though.'"
"What did he say to that?"
"Once I put it that way, then he calmed down."
* * *
Paradox:
  • We seek to grow and evolve as individuals.
  • We live to walk arm in arm with our significant other.
* * * 
"OK, you're in voice change mode."
"Good morning."
"So is it really true that 1 in 3 women keep their ex's phone number in their phone, and are even still secretly in love? Because I think about my wife, and frankly that scares me."
DC's Hot 99.5 was holding its daily morning discussion of relationships. Around the microphone: Kane, Danni and Intern John.
"Absolutely, Kane. I'm getting married on Sunday. But if Brandon were to call, I'd leave my fiancee in a heartbeat." 
"You're kidding."
"Absolutely. And he cheated on me."
"He cheated on you? And you still love him? We don't judge, we just observe. But that's crazy."
"I love him though."
"Can I tell you something please? Please don't get married. Why are you marrying him?"
I can't remember the response.
* * * 
I work in a startup. We have our own office space. Yet much of the time, we operate by posse.
Meet, hash it out, read the draft, knock it out, rehearse the presentation and comment before things go out the door.
  • Yes, it's quality control.
  • Yes, it's time-efficient.
  • Yes, it's engagement, culture, and morale.

But there's something else at work too. We are flying out there on the high wire.
We need each other there for moral support.
Because we will screw up, but we still have to go on.
We need to know we can fall and get back up without losing face.
* * * 
The other day I had to give a branding presentation, and I didn't know the crowd at all. And I was scared. Throat locked up. Legs shaking. Sweaty.
I looked out at the audience. Tight-lipped. Expressionless. No read.
So I imagined them sitting there in their underwear.
But the visual was fairly distasteful. I couldn't see it through.
"They're a tough crowd, aren't they? You'll be alright though."
There, a member of my team. I must have looked really bad.
"Yeah," I cranked the corners of my mouth up, even though I couldn't smile. "I'll survive." 
* * *

They called me up. It started out badly.
"I'm the one standing between you and lunch, hahaha. Not a great place to be."
You could have heard a feather flying in the air, the air was so dead. Not a sound.
I am dead. I'm sure of it.
And then, out of nowhere. An invisible hand pushed me out of the podium area and toward the u-shaped table in the middle of the room. 
Now, out of nowhere I was Liza Minnelli.
"Who here likes McDonald's coffee?" 
Some startled expressions. Hands went up.
Hey, this is fun!
"Who here likes Starbucks?" 
A wave of energy blew through the room.
"NEITHER!" somebody hooted.
"BUDWEISER!" a third.
And then the room went wild. 
The monologue became a dialogue, a tri-alogue, a multi-athlon.
My guardian angel had given me a tip:
"My child, you're not alone. Bring them into the circle with you."
For that half an hour, we had a posse of our own. Unbreakable.
What I learned that day:
  • On your own, you are undoubtedly an ass.
  • But in a group that accepts you, you're an ass with class.
There is no presentation without a frame. That frame comes from the context, from the culture. But you don't know the natives till the natives let you in. 
So change the way you approach your business - your brand.
Don't think of it as you on your own, the isolated one who has all the ideas.
Instead ask your stakeholders how.
How can we move together in unison?
How can we become a small, tightly knit team?
* * * 
We are each of us aspects of the Divine.
What I lack, you have. What you need, I can supply you.
We work better in small teams. Humans are a series of concentric circles - overlapping circles - together.
A great relationship is one where you stand on your own two feet, but can finish your partner's sentences.
In the end, the strong brand is co-produced. It is branches, roots and wings. 
_______
All opinions my own. Check out my author page on Amazon. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I asked my dad to consult a Kabbalist because I kept seeing "6:13" on my iPhone and other clocks. 

This happened at least 8 times by the time I called my dad. It wasn't my imagination - noticed it enough to take screenshots.

Also note: Normally I don't even notice the time. Only recently bought a watch! 

Still, I wasn't going to call or consult anyone.

My family worried. They thought it might be a warning, as I am less religiously observant than them. (Significance: There are 613 commandments in the Torah.)

Initially I brushed them off. Then one night I picked up the phone. Because many years ago my life was in grave danger and I survived after some very intense prayer on my behalf.

So. A few weeks later, last night, my dad visited with the Kabbalist. I am going to share some of what I was told - the part that is relevant to a wider audience. It is a spiritual message, and spiritual messages need to be shared. 

A I do this I understand some of you will be cynical. But I think I am supposed to write it down. You can do what you want with the information.

1. "Your ancestors are pleading with you to return to the fold." My ancestry goes back to Rabbi Yosef Caro, a Kabbalist and the author of the Shulchan Aruch. This confirms to me that our souls are immortal and connected.

2.  "Do not let the prayers said over you be in vain." I almost died back then. Something was said that kept me alive. The merit was invoked for me somehow.

3. "You don't have to do everything at once." Specifically I should keep kosher, Sabbath and go to a mostly observant synagogue with the family Sabbath morning.

I didn't feel I was being attacked with these comments. Rather I understood that although some things I am doing may be positive, others are not. Specifically the commandments between humans and G-d. Been arrogant, spiteful and rebellious.

There is no scientific way to prove that the Kabbalist's words are accurate advice for me. But they feel accurate. I am going to listen.

Give the honor to the Creator.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Remember the good old days of building a brand? The days of "Mad Men."
You took the client out for steak and wine. You wrote up a creative brief. 
You gave it to the client, who signed it. And then you delivered Choices A, B, and C.
They chose one, and you did advertising.
A brand was born.
* * * 
Times have changed a lot since those magical days, if ever they really existed.
Now, people "get in the way" of the "perfectly architected" brand. Routinely.
We live in the age of chaos. A different logic determines the social order. And brands are not determined in advance. 
Social media has made the pecking order. Even if you don't see your stakeholders doing it, they are there and "interfering" with your plans.
* * * 
You don't understand how their efforts are helpful. You want to direct the energy and flow of the brand - you imagine perfect consistency.
But they are doing the work for you, you see. They're not just telling you what they want to see. They're jumping in and creating great energy for you.
The grace of the modern brand master has very little to do with logos, with graphic art.
No, this person is much closer to the anonymous puppet master. 
They draw the group together, then release it in fits and starts, weaving the loom and kneading the dough until it has a loose consistency.
And then releasing it, like opening one's hands and letting the air out.
A brand resides in the collective mind.
It beats in the hearts of people.
______
All opinions my own. Photo via Wikimedia.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"I'm telling you, it's good publicity," I was arguing. In my excitement I almost knocked over the plant.
"I suspected that you would say that," was the reply. "As long as they spell your name right, it's good PR."
"You said it, not me."
I went back to my desk and turned the lights off. The glow of the screen beckoned. Headphones on head, white noise on, I soon became lost in the task.
And then, a note.
"Are you going to make it to the meeting? I'll be here till 1:00." 
Late again, but it was a good walk. I should leave my office more; I work in an interesting place, full of labs where you can walk in and see the work of science in progress. Animated conversation, amazing exhibits, portraits of Nobel Prize winners line the walls.
Antti Korhonen, the entrepreneur in residence at NIST, waved me in. He looked like you would imagine a CEO looks. Impatient, intelligent, eager to get things done. There was nothing on the desk save for a couple of pieces of paper. I could imagine paying $250 an hour for a consult.
"What can I do for you?"
Many questions later, this computer scientist turned CEO turned adviser to scientists and prospective entrepreneurs left me with these key takeaways:
1) Professional credibility requires publication, but to make commercial impact, you have to sell. No matter how smart or decorated you are, the customer won't find you.
2) Focus on the motive of helping people. Scientists are motivated by the prospect of making the world a better place. That's a stepping stone in the right direction. To have an impact, you have to get out there and discover how your work can make a difference in the world.
3) Take a guess at your value proposition. Commercialization starts with a value proposition, but most scientists don't think that way. It feels overwhelming. So start small. Hypothesize, refine, and iterate till you hit the mark. 
4) Forge relationships first and foremost. Business is a human endeavor. Think of it as meeting people and expanding your mutual base of knowledge. 
5) You don't have to give up your secrets to have a conversation. The main idea is to get out there and make a connection. Keep confidential things confidential, but more knowledge ultimately benefits everyone. We live in a sharing economy.
Copyright 2014 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions my own. "Snooty Cat" photo via Stuart Pearce / Flickr. Visit my author page on Amazon.

Monday, December 15, 2014


It happened one day while I was Googling myself.

"She is a sociopath," or something like that. "Good luck if you have to deal with her."

A comment, online, that referred to me.

You are thinking I brushed that comment off, right? Like I'm so cool, and practiced, and nothing bothers me.

Hell no!

It was a personal attack, and I complained because of the very specific nature of the phrasing - hatred, and it could harm me on the job.

Later I surmised that the writer did not intend to make those comments public. Unfortunately, Google (and I) found them anyway.

On another note it seems the hackers have been busy lately...among other things setting up spam impersonations of other people's Twitter accounts, including me.

It made me so upset the first time, I thought someone who knew me did it. Until further research showed this is relatively common and seemingly almost random.

And who can forget the spoofing debacle, ten years ago? A global essay contest I created, that generated thousands of entries from everyplace.

The problem was, hackers spoofed the contact address - my email address - which was open rather than embedded in code.

I didn't know much about cyber security. I was not a programmer.

So I got these weird replies to things I hadn't sent. And realized that someone had made it seem I was sending emails elsewhere.

When you wake up at 4 a.m. to get your work done - and these creepy replies are the first thing to confront you - that is pretty scary right there.

You worry, of course, what the recipients of those emails must think of you.

All of that stuff is bad - but only minor league.

What is worse: You don't want to be Bill Cosby right now. At the center of questions a lawyer might advise you not to answer.

At the center of a slow, spinning tornado.

Also bad: if you know you've done something bad, something unforgivable, something which has really hurt or ticked off somebody else. And you don't control those others.

Here is what is not bad, but it's the stuff people unnecessarily worry about. It's bad PR that is actually good, and most of the time people squander the opportunity:

1. A mainstream news outlet covers you in depth and doesn't squash you. Ask for a dialogue! Share that!

2. A high-profile person or outlet has noticed you enough to call you an idiot. That's great - any response is clickbait!

3. Some important metric on your part has declined. You are the worst at something. It's a turnaround opportunity!

4. An executive on your team has a major meltdown. Can you spell "makeover machine?"

5. Someone on your staff screws up in a major way, with a customer. Apologize, publicly, please on social media!

It's hard to get attention nowadays. Turn your bad PR - within reason - to good advantage.

__

Copyright 2014 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions my own. Microphone photo via Wikipedia. Visit my author page on Amazon.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

I pick up the phone and dial.
"Hey Ma." 
"What?"
This is literally how we start every single conversation.
"I keep having this dream that I am a baby, I am crying and nobody's coming for me."
"That's not a dream."
"What?"
"When you were a baby we followed Dr. Spock. When it was bedtime, we put you in the crib and that was it."
* * *
"Can you believe that? What kid of childrearing is that?"
It is later that night and I am ranting and raving in the kitchen.
"No wonder you're so screwed up," my husband says.
"Very funny."
I cannot believe they abandoned me in the crib to scream my head off all night because of some stupid self-proclaimed expert.
"Well, you always argued they should cry it out," my husband says to me, referring to our kids. "Now you're on your high horse about your mother?"
* * * 
Having a kid is one tough job, just like running a business is. No matter what the experts say, there's no one way to do it right.
But there's one mistake both parents and managers commonly make, with the best of intentions.
They ignore what they see as "people problems" and focus entirely instead on operational matters - facilities, IT, finance and so on - anything that sounds like "paying the bills."
What stewards of people ought to be doing is focusing on those under their care. 
They should be nurturing them from seeds of excellence into trees of greatness.
But they do not take that role seriously. They do not see that role as important. They do not trust their children or employees to grow, or maybe they're intimidated at the thought of it.
Great brands are only a collection of people, serving customers, together and in the same way every day.
Everything else is decoration and it can be copied or replaced.
Lousy parents and lousy managers only want to see their people when it's convenient, such as when something has to be done. 
And the more accolades they get, the better they like it.
The great ones are emotionally there, centered and centering, gently nurturing their children and their staffs toward productivity. They aren't in it for the awkward family photos at all.
Why is this so hard for people to understand?
You build brands the same way that you grow children, nurturing people until they flower. And you focus on creating that same relationship with your customers, until they passionately want you and nobody else.  
Love isn't just for cult brands. It's for every great brand. And it is only passion that makes them come alive. 
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** Sponsored Message **
As a professional courtesy, I'm sharing a link to the following event, which I will not be able to attend and so the promotional code they gave me to share is somewhat useless. I also don't know exactly what makes any of these brands "cult" offerings exactly, but the Cult Collective tells me they've been through a rigorous test. Plus the venue is gorgeous, and I like their online magazine too, possibly enough to write for it.
Here's the link: http://www.cultgathering.com/ 
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Copyright 2014 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions my own. Visit my author page on Amazon. Photo by Tom Blackwell via Flickr. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Because you're so clueless, you use words like "engaging" just because they're the latest buzzword.
Because you look away from me when I'm talking to you, like that "how fast can I get out of here" kind of look.
You check your goddamn PHONE! YOU DON'T HAVE ANY EMAILS!
Because you don't listen to a single word I say. Not one. You're too busy waiting for a turn to talk.
Because you're so full of yourself. YOUR ideas, your methodologies. G-d, I can tell you are so FULL OF CRAP!
Because you insist that you are right and I am wrong. When I know you're wrong! And you know it, too.
Because you haven't got a single clue about what tasks are "on task" versus which are "off." You call yourself an innovator, but you think like an Army drill sergeant. 
Because you never really read anything. I can tell. You have nothing to say. That's boring.
Because your staff meetings are filled - just FILLED - with dead air. Plus fear. The lousy, stinking stench of the death of great thoughts.
Because you always talk at people, even in the copy we write for online. Who wants to read your piles and piles of drivel? 
BECAUSE YOU HAVE NEVER MET A BULLET POINT WITHOUT MURDERING IT.
Because you insist on approving all my Tweets. 
Because you're just so, so shallow and egotistical and self-promoting and...you know what? You're just plain BAD.
You're not engaging because you don't like people. Someone hit you over the head when you were a kid, or they dropped you on your head or you somehow fell down a flight of stairs, and now it's the fault of the rest of the world.
So no matter how shiny your bright smile is, I can see your evil filthy soul beneath.
Truly engaging people are humble and inherently good.
You, unfortunately are not one of them.
Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo by Adam Jones / Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This one's a little different than the social media trends prediction I did a short time ago. These are the big ones, the major marketing trends, clear moneymakers.
1. Decadent healthy: Anyone can make a sugarfree chocolate bar. I'm talking about luscious, gorgeous, voluptuous packaging for water, that comes from the purest streams in the most distant places on Earth.
2. Expensive DIY: We will refuse to pay for anything, but we'll splurge on the "ingredients" to make everything.
3. Inner circle economics: I work with my friends and they work with me. Trust and camaraderie go beyond any specific skill. Currency is how far you go back with each other.
4. Forgiveness coaches: Experts, some trained but mostly not, will abound who can help you to "release" the wounds of your past.
5. No currency allowed: People will get away from money, away from bitcoin, away from the grid and simply find ways to help each other.  
Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo by Victoria Pickering / Flickr.

"I wish that I could be like the cool kids, / 'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in." - Echosmith, "Cool Kids"
I believe "American Horror Story(Season 1 free to watch online if you have Amazon Prime) has solved the bullying problem in America's high schools. 
All you have to do is go up to the lead bully, offer her cocaine in exchange for some peace of mind, lure her to your home, then have a friend induce the demons that live in your basement to attack her and gnaw off a piece of her cheek.
Now that's cool....right?
Because as the young bullying victim states, "I'm not afraid of anything" - not even the things that would scare the bejeezus out of a healthy normal adult.
A little bit of fear is normal. A little bit of normal is normal. Maybe startup businesses make millions this way, but ordinary people should not live life always pushing the envelope.
Everyone is talking about the horrific rape claim that recently emerged from UVA. While some claim it's a hoax (?!) the general cultural climate is a problem, as other students tell the media. And we know that campus rape is epidemic.
Who would voluntarily walk toward an attacker? Either somebody at gunpoint, or somebody who's been sold a false bill of goods - i.e., that going to frat parties is super cool, fun and won't get you in a bit of trouble.
Oh, man.
Parents fall prey to the cool craze themselves. What father or mother would send their daughter away knowing that she had a 1 in 5 chance of being raped? And that only 1 out of every 100 attackers would be punished?
But they might be worn down, and they might look away from the obvious concerns, if their daughter begged them enough, and invoked "what everyone else is doing":
  • Going away to college - "because you have to"
  • Getting drunk at dinner, at parties, in her room with friends -  "everybody does that"
  • Frat parties -  "it's the only place you can drink on campus" 
  • "Hookup culture" - "get with it, not a big deal" 
That elusive, desperate quest to be cool. It's fine for a Sunday at the mall - not so fine for most of the rest of our lives.
Imagine you're a CEO, of a Fortune 500 company. The staff wants a gigantic swimming pool in the lobby. Uh, that would be a No. 
You love your kids, and you want your employees to be engaged as well - but managing by peer pressure is crazy.
Let's hear it for the Squares.
"Mom, can we go out to the party tonight?"
"It depends, when will you be back?"
"It's a party, we don't know."
"Then the answer is No."
"Aw, Mom."
There is nothing uncool about setting limits. 
 is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This blog, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr (Creative Commons).