I came across a remarkable essay the other day that demonstrates both the power of unchallenged perceptions and the potential to combat a negative narrative with facts.
The real test will be whether the argument put forth by the writer sticks in the public conscious. More to the point, how effective advocates are in taking his message and driving it home.
Preston Williams, a sports reporter for the Washington Post, argues that West Virginia, his home state, has allowed itself to become a national punch line because it has done a poor job of heralding its proud heritage of courage, strength and independence.
The piece is brilliant because, rather than simply dismiss the critics as shallow and ignorant — a habit the state’s boosters often fall back on — he asserts an affirmative, factual argument that suggests West Virginia deserves far better treatment than it has received outside its borders.
(Full disclosure: Like Williams, I graduated from West Virginia University, though I am not from the state).
The lesson is clear: Facts can’t speak for themselves. And when the facts are allowed to sit silently, falsehood flourishes.
If you’re at all interested in how misinformed perceptions can shape destiny, take the 10 minutes you’ll need to read the Williams piece. Then ask yourself if there are story lines about you, your business or your community that do not conform with what you know to be reality.
If you’ve got a good story to tell, tell it.
Our good friend Roger Dziengeleski, a VP and senior forester at Finch Paper and Finch Forest Management in Glens Falls and the president of the Society of American Foresters, shares this insightful column from The Wall Street Journal. No one thinks paper or any other resource should be used wastefully. But to suggest that the use of paper is at odds with retaining healthy, growing forests is just plain wrong.
There’s been no shortage of news about unethical business practices, but is it as widespread as media reports might suggest?
Doing good often translates into a business doing well, as its reputation and referrals (particularly in the age of social media) can be invaluable. Following ethical standards benefits the employees and the clients, and therefore a company’s bottom line.
Locally, the Adirondack Samaritan Counseling Center is hosting the region’s first-ever “Ethics in Business” awards. The center, which provides counseling services to children and adults, “recognizes the connections of ethical behavior to the physical, psychological and spiritual health of the community.”
If you know of an ethical local business, nominate them for an honor here.
He gave a kidney to a co-worker.
That tells you the kind of guy Ray Agnew is.
For the past 13 years, our team at Behan Communications has been fortunate to work closely with Ray in his roles as VP of Community Relations at Glens Falls Hospital and Executive Director of the Glens Falls Hospital Foundation.
During that time, Ray built the Foundation virtually from scratch, leading a team that raised more than $37 million for the Hospital, including $14 million for the spectacular Northwest Tower addition.
But with Ray, it’s the person, not the professional accomplishments, that stand out most.
Ray is one of those people with the ability to make someone he just met feel like they’d known each other for years. He wears his passion for Glens Falls Hospital on his sleeve, and was just as likely to be found strumming the guitar at a gathering of patients as he was to be meeting with corporate leaders and major donors.
Ray somehow found time to lead the Glens Falls Rotary club, and serve on the boards of directors of LARAC, the Lake George Opera Festival, The Charles R. Wood Theater, and the Prospect Child and Family Center, and as director of contemporary music ministry at Christ Church United Methodist in Glens Falls.
Most memorably — and meaningfully — Ray stepped forward three years ago and successfully donated a kidney to co-worker Donna Davison-Smith as she faced a life on dialysis. “Wow” is the only word that comes to mind.
This week, Ray says goodbye to the Hospital for a new career opportunity at Paul Smith’s College in the heart of the Adirondacks. We wish him the very best, and thank him for all he has done for our community.
A few years back we worked with Ray on a video about Cindy’s Comfort Camp, a heartwarming program the Hospital runs for children who have experienced the death or serious illness of a parent or sibling. Ray leant his musical talents to the production with an original song, the refrain of which now echoes the thoughts of a great many Glens Falls-area people as Ray prepares to head up the Northway this weekend:
“Friends forever. Friends indeed.”
What’s in a name? Well apparently more then one might think. BYU and Glens Falls High standout Jimmer Fredette has announced to the Easter Bunny that he no longer would like to be called Jimmer.
Behan Communications’ Officer of Basketball Scouting Santa Claus weighs in;
“It’s a great move. James seems to have a nice ring to it. I expect to see his draft status rise like a balloon at the Adirondack Balloon festival. Changing his name should improve his game tenfold. Jamesmania is going to be the new catchphrase of 2011! From a marketing standpoint, his name change is gold.”
Happy April Fools everybody!
We love helping our longtime client Glens Falls Hospital launch its Annual Fund campaign each year. This year, they’re seeking to raise $2 million for the new Harry M. “Mac” DePan Surgical Care Unit.
The unit will feature 27 private rooms for enhanced patient care and comfort. They’re what the Hospital calls your “Back to Living Rooms!”
Our total team effort this year included the creation of the campaign video, brochure and logo, and the choreography of today’s campaign launch event and news conference. A capacity crowd of Hospital staff, supporters and the news media was on hand for the announcement.
As always, it’s a pleasure to work with our friends at GFH and the GFH Foundation.
The OR was prepped, and the surgical team assembled. A long metal arm swung slowly around the perimeter of the room, then hovered just above the operating table.
Not a high-tech medical device. A high-definition camera.
“Scalpel, suction, clamp” were not the orders of the day. It was “Lights. Camera. Action!”
A Behan Communications video production team led by myself as the producer and Mik Bondy as the director/editor was shooting the latest in the series of “Big-City Medicine, Hometown Care Promise” TV commercials for our longtime client Glens Falls Hospital.
Great commercials tell great stories. Our preparations began weeks before as we worked with Hospital VP of Community Relations Ray Agnew and Dr. Steven Scalia of Baywood Surgical Associates to identify a surgery story that captured the Big-City Medicine part of the Promise. We chose to spotlight a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows some women with breast cancer to complete their radiation therapy at the Hospital’s nationally accredited C. R. Wood Cancer Center in just five days instead of six weeks.
Next came the selection of surgical nurse Andrea Eichler to represent the Hospital team. Her veteran nurse’s confidence, calming manner and warm smile made her an ideal choice for personalizing Hometown Care.
Then we went to work on the script and pulled in our friends at Golden Lamb Productions for videography and lighting help.
A high-def camera brings you into the OR with crystal clarity. Mounting the camera at the end of a seesaw-like device called a jib gives our shots the subtle but entrancing movements that ease your eyes through each scene without detracting from the most important part of the commercial — the message.
From the OR it was back to the Behan Communications editing suite where we pored over the footage, choosing just the right shots and melding in the graphics and distinctive musical score that, together, bring the Hospital’s Big-City Medicine, Hometown Care Promise to life on television screens across the Capital Region.
The doctors at Glens Falls Hospital save lives in innovative ways every day. We’ve been privileged to tell this story for more than a decade now. And every day that story grows more inspiring.
In case there was any doubt about Jimmer’s pop culture status…
If this were an exam, George Philip aced it.
Philip, the University at Albany president, was handed a PR nightmare when images surfaced of hooligan students who can’t hold their beer trashing an off-campus neighborhood in what’s known locally as a “kegs and eggs” celebration, as if that word fits.
Philip hasn’t dithered. Within a few days, he announced that spring break next year would be moved closer to St. Patrick’s Day, which is when the kegs and eggs vandalism takes place, in an effort to get the troublemakers out of town. And Sunday, he canceled the university’s annual Fountain Day celebration, which for many had become just another excuse to get boozed up and act stupid.
Is it “fair” to the thousands of good young men and women at UAlbany that the actions of a relative few have ruined a campus tradition for everyone? Probably not. But if that’s what it takes to rescue the school’s image — and perhaps nudge the well-behaved students to exert pressure on the knuckleheads — then it’s worth it.
As Philip wrote in his letter to students announcing the cancellation of Fountain Day, “The need to proactively respond and to uphold our reputation has never been greater.”
A lot of handwringing happens at colleges that wear the “party school” label, but the truth is, little is done about it. Philip wisely saw that UAlbany had reached a tipping point, where failure to act would have left the perception that UAlbany was a place without adult supervision. By acting decisively, Philip is making it clear that such a perception would be inaccurate.
Recent stories in the media about the growth and use of QR codes are telling illustrations that smartphones are becoming ubiquitous and consumers are using them to get on-demand information and data. As part of your strategic communications plan, they can be an effective tool and present important opportunities.
QR codes are those bar-code-looking squares (like the one at right) that are actually links to information for marketing, promotional or informational purposes: A web page, a video, a coupon, an advertisement, a review.
Smartphone growth is averaging 17-20 percent a year, and will continue to grow at that rate for the next few years. It’s a growth area in the economy, and it’s smart strategy to take advantage of any tool that reaches smartphone users.
The benefits for companies are endless: Instant information for people waiting in line, in advertisements for more information on a product, more details about an upcoming event. You know who is visiting and what they are interested in seeing.
But they are much more than just links. They can provide a message to the user in a contest; link to a telephone number for sales or information or updates; create a vCard with all of your contact information (imagine how that would go over at a conference); link to an RSS feed …. just about any information you can share could be gotten using a QR code.
QR codes are one part of a much larger communication strategy – your overall strategy – that should be much broader than just using the latest tools. It should fit in to your strategic brand marketing; your daily and monthly messaging and blogging; communications with customers, clients and media; and, naturally, any social media campaigns.
Scan the QR code above if you want help with that – or you can just call a strategic communications firm that you trust already.
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