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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Update on Press Kits and News Releases



Online press kits take too much time to review and print.

CDs are easier to use than online kits, but take time to load, click through and print. Many people send printed kits with a CD version enclosed.

Printed kits are still popular and always good, but keep them short and to the point. Plain vanilla will do just fine. Editors and reporters don’t want to buy anything, they simply want to cover what is newsworthy about your company or organization. That should be the focus of your kit’s contents.

If you have the budget, produce kits in all three versions, print, CD and online. That way you’ll reach everyone.

You can’t go wrong asking the media what they prefer and provide them with it.

One Editor’s Comments – “At a trade show, for example, I can pick up 20 printed press kits and go through them in 15-20 minutes to pull out the information I need, toss what I don’t. If I had to go through 20 online kits, I would need several hours. So, I prefer printed kits, although I do like the stuff to be available online, as well, especially if I need to find something I forgot or I didn’t see in my manual review.”


Content, not graphic appeal is what counts for editors and reporters. And page one is still the important document.

Double space is the standard for traditional news releases; single space for e-mail is easier to work with editing and cut and paste functions.

Get to the point, give the facts, no editorializing. Editors and reporters want news.

Don’t suffer over your text. Reporters and editors are unlikely to use it as is. They will write it in their own style.

Don’t sweat the lead sentence or paragraph, give them the facts and information, they’ll do the rest.

Minimize the use of adjectives, adverbs, and connectives. These “fillers” make your copy longer and interfere with the news.

Avoid hyperbole. Editors and reporters can tell whether your company or product or issue is newsworthy. Exaggeration is a turnoff!

Press releases sent as attachments are universally disliked. They can be hard to open in some cases and sometimes can close down the system.

Don’t use throw-away quotes such as “We are pleased to release our new product” or “We are delighted to welcome Mr. Jones to the management team”. Instead say “Our new product will reduce retail costs, etc.” or “Mr. Jones’s 20 years of experience with Wal-Mart will fuel our launch into the retail market”.


The Buying Power of PR-- How to Get the Two I's

Hire a PR Firm to Get the Two I’s – Ink and Intelligence


* One PR agency compared advertising to “air cover” (bombs) which “soften up” a target while PR is “the Marines” who go in and occupy the territory.

* “Above all, make the PR firm part of your company. Too often, it’s an adversarial relationship. A company hires a firm and says, ‘Okay let’s see the SOB’s do it.’ Don’t dare them to do things. Trust them.”

* “Clients foolishly equate size with intelligence – the bigger the agency the better. What counts is the ability of the person or team on your account.”

* A New York PR counselor with more than 25 years experience said that for $20,000 a month the PR firm should be able to come up with four or five major placements a year – besides counseling and the day-in and day-out product, personnel and other routine announcements.


The Buying Power of PR


In a recent Public Relations survey, 28% of those surveyed said a magazine feature article would impact their buying decisions, while only 8% indicated the same for magazine ads.

In terms of believability, newspaper articles are believed by 95% of those surveyed; magazines are a believable information source for 89%; TV talk shows placed 71% in believability, and direct mail pieces and a celebrity endorsement rated 63% and 45%, respectively, in believability.

R.H. MACY & CO., New York valued an editorial placement at 10 times the value of the same size ad.


PR Provides New Business Opportunities

How Public Relations Provides New Business Opportunities by Creating/Increasing Demand and Other Benefits


Boston, Mass. – Public Relations can be a very effective tool in providing new business opportunities for your company. Getting your company’s message before the public will increase sales by creating demand for your product or service, augmenting the value of company stock (for public companies) and helping recruit more qualified employees.

“Visibility in the news media not only enhances your advertising, it also makes it more believable,” says C. Paul Luongo, President, C. PAUL LUONGO COMPANY, Public Relations & Marketing, Boston. “It is the most efficient form of communication, reaching more people, per cost, than any other vehicle.”

Keeping the company name before the public builds a strong customer base and wide recognition. In the process, it helps the public see you as a leading expert and spokesperson for your profession or industry.

Public Relations Agencies also see things in a company that go unnoticed by employees, things that then become newsworthy items are reported by the press to give you valuable corporate exposure.

A professional public relations agency can easily find something exciting and innovating about your company to report to the media on a local, regional or national level.

And the price is right. For example, a four minute interview on the NBC-TODAY SHOW is worth $240,000 if you were to pay the current advertising cost of $30,000 per 30-second commercial. And of course, an editorial endorsement has 10 times more credibility than a paid commercial.

Caveat Emptor: Having a positive public image today can also help avert bad publicity if a future disaster strikes!

Public Relations and Sex


Boston – Someone once said that Public Relations is a little like sex: most people think they’re good at it, few really are.
For any company tight on a budget, a successful Public Relations campaign can work wonders by raising company visibility, boosting sales and customer loyalty and helping to introduce a new product. While Public Relations doesn’t displace advertising, it is a lot cheaper and far more effective in generating favorable consumer opinion because it involves a third-party media endorsement.
If you are tapping into your own market research, conducting an exclusive survey, or staging an event, you can use PR to issue newsworthy stories about these activities to the media. Making charitable donations or volunteer efforts are also valuable news topics. Even an executive’s appearance at a seminar on a panel or a seemingly run-of-the-mill speech shouldn’t be overlooked as ways to generate important company news.
A company which employs a PR firm will find that the agency provides the expertise, resources and press contacts necessary for any successful PR campaign, thus saving valuable time – time that is better spent conducting company business.
C. PAUL LUONGO COMPANY, Public Relations & Marketing, Boston, offers SPECIAL NEWS PROGRAMS that begin at only $25,000, plus expenses for 4 Local – Regional Features and $50,000, plus expenses for 4 National News Features. And they’re guaranteed!

Press Releases


Press Releases can be an important ingredient of a company’s communications program.

Press Releases can offer the following news -

* Company Product or Service information.
* Executive Announcements
* Financial Reports
* New Business/Contracts
* Mergers or Acquisitions
* Stock Market Performance
* New Stock Issues
* Social Marketing Programs
* Employee Benefits or Labor News

According to JACK O’DWYER’S NEWSLETTER, “financial and computer editors receive about 500 news releases per week and that two-thirds of the releases are so weak that they go directly into the wastebasket.”

A good PR person must also be a good reporter to present information that is of interest to the news media, of benefit to the company and to the reader. If it doesn’t serve all three, it doesn’t work.

Matching the news outlet with the information to be imparted is important, otherwise it is a waste of time, expense and energy to send something to an inappropriate news outlet.

Lastly, always call the news outlets to reconfirm their address, telephone and name of the person to whom the news release is directed. Often, you will find that the person on your press list is no longer employed, has moved on to another responsibility or worse, you have an incorrect spelling of the person’s name.

You will achieve professional communications success if you follow these rules.

PR Outranks Ads



New York – Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter, New York, reports that PR outranks advertising in terms of “strategic importance,” according to a survey for the American Advertising Federation, Washington, D. C.

The survey asked 3,000 senior managers of U.S. companies to rank the “strategic importance” of seven departments in meeting sales and marketing goals.

PR ranked third behind product development and strategic marketing while advertising ranked sixth, ahead of the legal department.

PR ranked seventh and advertising fourth when companies with ad budgets of $25 million+ were asked how they would use a large amount of extra funds that became available. Half of the respondents agreed that ad campaigns should use PR.


PR Contributes Business Results

Public Relations Contributes Business Results Through Sales Generation
A $6 ROI

Boston—C. Paul Luongo, President, C. PAUL LUONGO COMPANY, Public Relations and Marketing, Boston, reports that “PR consistently contributes meaningful business results through sales generation.”

“It delivers a better ROI (return on investment) than any other form of marketing,” continues Mr. Luongo.

One dollar invested in mass-market TV advertising yields about $1.25. Price promotions might return only $.75, but one dollar invested in PR will return an average of $6.

“Marketing and innovation produce results, all the rest are costs,” reports an industry analyst.

Public Relations merchandizes the advertising and makes it more believable.

PR is more than media relations and more than a marketing tool, PR is a powerful sales driver.

PR is a Good Marketing Tool


By C. Paul Luongo

Boston, Mass. – Of all the tools at the disposal of marketing people, one of the least used, especially among smaller businesses, is public relations, or PR.

Yet the proper use of PR can have an invigorating effect on a company’s entire promotional efforts for a relatively small expenditure compared to paid advertising.

Traditional advertising and marketing materials, even when effective, carry the taint of biased information serving the self-interest of the company that produces it. Few people like the idea of being “sold”.

When prospects rely on their own positive opinion of a company or product, no matter what engendered this opinion, they are well on the way to selling themselves.

PR is the art of creating, or sustaining, a positive opinion among the public.

Marketing and PR professionals help create positive opinions through every contact a company has with the public including –

· Stories by print and broadcast media
· Customer Relations
· Community Relations
· Event Sponsorships
· Charitable Contributions

Treatment of customers is important and the easiest to monitor. Customer satisfaction studies show that happy customers inform between five and seven people about their experiences while unhappy customers tell nine to fifteen.

At C. PAUL LUONGO COMPANY, Boston, we provide these services for small business budgets beginning at only $25,000 plus expenses for a local-Regional Special News Program that guarantees maximum exposure at minimum cost.

Press Conferences


1. Select a large room without a sunny window that will cause glare for photographers and camera crews assigned to cover the story.

2. Don’t start before 10AM, and if the news is slightly soft, the earlier in the week, the better. Weekends are bad with only skeleton media crews available.

3. Time your announcement so that it coincides with a major event.

4. Select on-sight locations rather than stuffy hotel conference rooms.

5. Brief the press in advance and provide background information so that they can ask intelligent questions.

6. Measure the success by outcomes and not by numbers.

Large vs. Small PR Agency?

Large vs. Small PR Agency?
By C. Paul Luongo

Once upon a time, when large agencies were pitching accounts, small agencies stood still. Nowadays, however, the best way for a small agency to win an account is to come in right after a larger agency has made their presentation.

Why? Economics, 2004. Most clients now know that small agencies offer the same service at 25-30% less than a large agency plus personal service from the top!

Small agencies offer executive experience that will actually be used on the account, i.e. the people you see in the new business pitch are those you’ll have on your account. Big agencies send high-salaried executives to pitch the account and then relegate it to their junior staff once the contract is signed.

In fact, Virtual PR agencies are now offering lower cost service with high priced executives formerly at large agencies now employed by small PR firms.

After all, you can be in a farmhouse in Maine with a computer, modem, fax, instant messaging and e-mail and service clients very well without the high rents and overhead of big city locations. Up until 10 years ago if you weren’t in New York you weren’t important. That’s all changed.

My agency has always solicited clients throughout the United States and Canada since our founding in 1964 without a problem of location. In fact, Boston has always had a positive image for us in dealing with out-of-town clients. Invariably they had a Harvard or other educational connection not to mention the medical services offered at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Clients want results however accomplished. Media coverage and communications counsel can be attained without excessive overhead and fancy offices.

“Larger agencies are still living in a Lexus dream, while clients are driving in a Ford Escort world” reports a small PR Agency counselor.

Executives at large agencies have usually not pitched a news story since being elevated to senior positions requiring time spent on budgets, new business and other administrative tasks. They don’t know what’s going on out there!

Small agencies can expend more of their monies offering senior level salaries and reduce many lower level service personnel as executives do more of the “hands on” work themselves. Retainers have also fallen. $30,000 a month fees are not now offered as easily as before and agencies are scrambling for the minimal $5,000 a month client.

Welcome to the New PR World!

How to Successfully Deal with the News Media

How To Successfully Deal With The News Media
By C. Paul Luongo

* Be sure you are contacting the correct news person at the media. If not, find out before you make contact.

* Extend a helping hand – become a resource, beyond the client (company). Let them know of industry news they cover, apart from your company or client.

* Provide the media with background material and debriefings. The more you act like a clearinghouse for information the better your relationship will be.

* Network with journalists as often as possible at various charity events, sports activities or political receptions.

* Know your company and industry. Supply good accurate information. Always pitch your products and company in a way that’s realistic.

* Press releases don’t equal a media relations strategy. A release is only a tool. PR’s value is strategy, not mass mailings.

* Don’t lean on technology, pick up the phone! Develop the relationship. People like to buy lists and email everybody. You will get better results by targeting and meeting people firsthand! Email is a poor substitute for real PR strategy and targeted relationship building.

* However, if you are requested to email a story idea, here are some tips –

1. Don’t use more than one screen of copy.
2. Present clear, cogent subject lines.
3. Don’t use industry lingo or technical terms.
4. Be sure that it is addressed to the correct person.
5. Eliminate v-cards which appear as attachments.
6. Tell your media contact why the story is right for their audience.

How to Hire and Get the Most From Outside PR Counsel

Excerpts From
By Jack O’Dwyer, New York

New York – “The PR Firm’s job is to convince the media of something,” reports Jack O’Dwyer, Publisher of the leading eponymous Public Relations Weekly Newsletter.

“Unless you have a huge budget, the impact of ads, direct mail, graphics, etc., is going to be small potatoes compared to what is said of you in the media.”

As a client, you can seek to build relationships with reporters and can order your PR firm to do so. Only one PR pro in a hundred attempts to strike up an ongoing relationship with editors, the opposite of previous practices. One corporate PR executive says that “they experience a call from the press as drive-by shooting. PR pros are spending no time in the ‘hood’ (neighborhood) building ties.

One executive states that CEOs are willing to pay “almost anything” for a good media relations person. He advises CEOs not to hire anyone who “expresses an aversion to the media.”

PR is influencing how you appear in the media, not how you are treated by the media. PR people who mostly know methodology rather than subject matter cannot be effective in such a venue.

Prospective PR clients must realize that unlike the past, large numbers of people working in PR now have had no experience in the media and are uncomfortable in dealing with reporters. Media relations experience of people on your account should be checked.

PR cannot exist on its own – it has to be part of a mix of communications methods that delivers a “consistent” message to “target” audiences.

Most clients oppose integration of AD/PR on the agency side; clients want competition among their various agencies – not coordination. They find that agencies are not apt to be equally talented in advertising and PR.

PR closes the sale. While advertising creates excitement and interest in products and services, almost no one buys anything anymore just on the basis of ads. The consumer wants more info and seeks it via general and specialized publications, friends and the Internet.
PR can have an immense effect in a short period of time and at a comparatively low cost. But the CEO of a company must be personally involved in the PR effort, including press relations. Advertising and sales can be well-handled by various company units, but not PR. What you want from your PR firm are the two “I’s” - Intelligence and Ink.

The worst form of PR that can be practiced for you is the junior PR firm account executive who calls up reporters and asks, “Did you get the release on (your) company?” The best type of PR is when the reporter calls you with a story idea and asks you for advice. You want a PR firm that knows all of the major analysts and writers in your field and can broaden your range of press contacts.

A lawyer who worked for a large PR firm once commented it was his impression that most PR was practiced “on” clients and not “for” clients. You don’t want that happening to you.

You want a maximum of up-to-the minute business intelligence and stories or just mentions of your company name or its products in the media and a minimum amount of intellectualizing over what PR is or isn’t.

You especially don’t want grandiose future plans and strategies described in glowing terms. Beware of such buzz words as “strategy,” “management,” “integrated” and “marketing” or any combination of them. PR people are well aware such talk just gets to be “bafflegab” after a while. And people who tell you PR isn’t press relations are like restaurant owners telling you there’s more to their restaurants than food.

The best use of a PR firm is when they supply useful information to influential reporters and analysts who have large audiences. You get third-party endorsement and wide readership or viewership at comparatively low cost. The ad campaign will create the desire and PR will move in with the information.

One PR agency president compared advertising to “air cover” (bombs) to “soften up” a target while PR is “the Marines” who go in and occupy the territory.

Many PR firms say that if they don’t place stories, they are apt to lose an account, no matter how much advice and strategy has been given to the client.

The PR firm is one part of a four-member team that is needed for good PR. . . .the CEO; a close aide that is always on tap to handle press calls; your outside PR counsel and the press/security analysts themselves.

PR firms work best when there is a staffer at the company who knows PR and can act as both a buffer and liaison with company executives. The staffer
can be helpful to the press and analysts by always being available (nights and weekends). A big problem in the PR counseling industry these days is that it often takes days for a reporter to reach an A/E or executive. Faced with this unavailability, reporters stop calling the PR firm.

Media relations is the hardest thing to do for a PR firm and it may not be the most profitable. It’s up to clients to keep the noses of their PR firms to this grindstone. Yet, the PR industry practice for many years has been to depreciate press relations.

If a PR firm pitches your account and makes all sorts of promises, even for marketing PR, without pointing out the need for CEO availability, new corporate policies, marketing data, access to line executives, willingness to take lumps in print as well as kudos, etc., then you should be highly suspicious.

One definition of PR is that it is “doing good and getting credit for it.” Another is that PR is “winning goodwill.” Our definition of PR is that it helps the client in appearing in the public forum, it’s the business of explaining.

The new business pitch for one New York firm for many years consisted merely of giving the prospective clients a complete list of its accounts, contacts and phone numbers and urging the clients to call all of them. The agency usually got the business – even when other firms made full presentations.

You can’t expect too many press placements or other results in the first three months. During that time, you educate them on your business and the business of your competitors. “Above all, make the PR firm part of your company. Too often, it’s an adversarial relationship. A company hires a firm and says, ‘Okay, let’s see the SOBs do it.’ Don’t dare them to do things. Trust them.”

The most common mistake clients make is hiring an agency in a hurry to fight fires that have been burning for years. The clients want the fires put out fast – preferably overnight.

One corporate PR executive reports that people who hire agencies often don’t know anything about PR and the people pitching the account often don’t work on it. Almost invariably, the PR committee sees too many agencies in too little time and winds up choosing the winner in a blur of fatigue.

Clients don’t know how much a solid PR program costs. They expect too much, too soon, for too little. Clients foolishly equate size with excellence – the bigger the agency the better. What counts is the ability of the person or team on your account.

Companies continue to confuse advertising with PR and they evaluate PR firms by ad agency criteria. Clients are generally unaware that a PR budget can often be as effective as an ad budget four or five times as large.

Some of the smaller PR firms keep all of their employees up-to-date on all of their accounts as much as possible. A client who calls can always expect some kind of help or at least knowledgeable interest in his or her problem.

A New York PR counselor with more than 25 years experience said that for $20,000 a month, the PR firm should be able to come up with four or five major placements a year – besides counseling and the day-in and day-out product, personnel and other routine announcements.

These are the ‘home-runs’ of the business; solid features in the NEW YORK TIMES, NEWSWEEK, TIME, etc. This is the most efficient way to reach big audiences. Stories in the trade press don’t count that much. They’re too easy to get into.

Do Reporters Read E-Mail Releases?

Do Reporters Read E-mail Releases?

More than half (52%) of the 50 reporters, who responded to a recent survey, said they look at some of the press releases they get by e-mail.

Only 8% of the reporters said they actually open and read between 90% to 100% of the releases, while the largest number (26%) look at less than half of the releases they get.

The poll was conducted by Ben Silverman, who is director of development and contributing editor for FindProfit.com. He said all of the respondents are beat reporters at daily papers, with circulations ranging from under 100,000 to over 500,000. The reporters polled cover business, politics, sports, local affairs, crime, travel, technology and the arts.

Twenty-two percent of the reporters said they get releases via snail mail, but only 2% of the reporters said they read them.

Thirty-six percent get releases via fax, which are not read by 64% of the respondents.

When releases arrived via an eFax number, 56% of the journalists said they read them; 44% do not.

Silverman said faxing appears to be the best way to get someone to read a press release.

Seventy percent of the journalists said they monitor press release wires such as Business Wire and PR Newswire, and 76% find information contained in press releases on the wire are useful.

Sixty-two percent feel the majority of press releases incorrectly target their beat.

Corporate PR Priorities


Boston – A leading CEO recently stated that there are four groups a business executive must address. They are: shareholders, employees, customers and communities. An effective professional Public Relations Program can be instrumental in assuring that these key groups are properly dealt with and informed.

Shareholders must receive critical financial information as soon as it is known. Dissemination information on a regular basis directly to shareholders as well as to the mainstream financial media is an important part of any Public Relations Program.

Employees must be informed about corporate programs and issues that are important long before they read about them in the press or hear rumors. Proper communication with employees promotes a sense of loyalty and camaraderie, which in turn, motivates them to offer products or services of a higher quality on the market for consumers.

Customers need to know everything about a company’s products or services in order to build brand loyalty – the more informed they are, the more likely they will decide on your company’s product. As a popular company slogan says, “An educated consumer is our best customer!”

Communities must be assured that the company is working to benefit them, in addition to maintaining a profitable margin to satisfy shareholders, employees and customers. An effective PR program, designed to meet these objectives, can assure continued growth and profitability for all concerned.

Biotechnology PR Today

Biotechnology PR Today
By C. Paul Luongo

Public Relations, first used by our third President, Thomas Jefferson, is now being utilized successfully by Biotechnology Companies to give them the recognition they require and seek for the following reasons –

Public Companies require information to be disseminated about its product and financial status.
Communicating corporate, scientific and financial developments maintains shareholders and attracts investors.

Biotech companies are dependent on their business potential, research and development activity to be known by investors to reduce perceived risk.

Visibility, which results from sustained and effective communications, paves the way for trust which in turn translates into greater demand for the stock and higher share prices.

Key tools of a good investor relations program include presentations and telephone calls to brokers and investors, e-mails, mailings, conference calls and reporting of events on the Internet.

What attracts potential investors is managements’ credibility, financial health and business outlook plus technology merits.

Press releases announcing a major event should be followed by a conference call and then made available on the company’s website. Follow-up with major shareholders and brokers, analysts and reporters helps foster solid and durable business relationships. This integrated approach optimizes a company’s visibility, its trust and demand for stock.

Here’s a list of things to do for a small capitalization biotechnology company to get the news coverage it requires –

Develop a network of reporters interested in your company. If possible, build relationships with them before releasing your news.
Prepare a Press Kit on your company and send it to reporters by mail or e-mail including a short summary of the company, the news and context.
Highlight aspects of the story of interest to their readers. The easier you make their work the better and greater the chance of it being used.
Allow time for the media to become familiar with your information and call to stress highlights of the story for that particular news outlet.
Have your President available for reporters at all times with immediate access to direct telephone, cell phone and home phone available, in addition to e-mail address and fax number.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What's In a Name? The Cost of a Name? The Cost of History and Memories?

What’s In a Name? The Cost of a Name? The Cost of History and Memories?
By C. Paul Luongo

The Ritz-Carlton Jumper Classic. The Fleet Jumper Classic. The Fidelity Jumper Classic. Blah. Blah. Blah.

These days names of events, prestigious buildings, stadiums, yes even subway stops are all up for sale.

How’s this? Copley McSquare? Perdue’s Park Square? Datek’s Downtown Crossing? Armani’s Logan Airport? Schwab’s Sumner Tunnel?

But do we want it? All of these names are evanescent. Next year there will be another new name for the same venue depending on who’s paying for it.

Is there no sense of history or sentimentality?

You go to a ball and it’s The Tiffany Ball, The Saks Soiree, The Hilton Classic, The American Airlines Theatre? American Airlines? Whoa. Yes, give me a break. In Times Square, no less. Since when has American Airlines been known as an Impresario on the Big, White Way?

At a Ball all the Corporate Fat Cats sit together ringside and the peons are next to the kitchen. Does this say something about the “greening of America?” and America’s Greed?

How will our grandchildren recognize a place if the names keep changing depending on who paid for it last? Will it be the FTD Cemetery this year and the Allstate Gate of Heaven next year?

And how ‘bout the CMGI Stadium? Awful. The Tweeter Center, oh-my-God. The Staples Stadium. Stupid. Bad taste, bad karma.

Its even infiltrated our prestigious institutions. Get this. The Murata Dean of the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. Why can’t we just have the Babson College Graduate School of Business? Isn’t that more appropriate and prestigious?

What’s next? Will the Pope rename it Alitalia’s Vatican City? Domino’s Leaning Tower of Pisa? Verizon’s Venice?

The Wal-Mart White House? AARP’s Viagra Vitamin Pills?

Good grief! Enough already. Please, I need my Bank of America Buffered Aspirin. And Good Night, Mr. Greenback!

Wealth In America: The 6th Star


Ah Luxury! How sweet it is. Nowadays, there’s been an inflation of stars given to luxury hotels. 6 Stars! 5 Stars is not enough. The reason? During the first half of 2004, gross operating profits at high-end hotels rose nearly 9% compared with only 5% for mid-scale hotels. As a result, some hoteliers are attempting to create a new top tier for travelers with an appetite for more coddling. The idea is to focus on highly individualized services such as personal butlers, chefs, drivers and concierges, as well as unique architectural designs and experiences. Some even offer dog massages and butlers-on-call to handle difficult tasks like filling the bathtub!

Interestingly, much of the spending is coming from people in their 30’s and even 20’s as Americans continue to accumulate more wealth at a younger age. Younger people are more willing to blow a few thousand dollars on a posh weekend than their parents were at the same age.

There are now 2.3 million millionaires in the U.S. (7.7 worldwide) and their wealth is expected to grow at 7% a year through 2008. Villas now renting for $5500 and $6600 per night come with their own butler and chef and even a preferred room temperature!

Paul Allen, Microsoft billionaire (at just 52 years old) has a new 400 ft. pleasure boat, “The Octopus”, complete with basketball court, music studio and personal submarine! Also, a 72 ft. sailboat, 59 ft. speedboat, music studio, costing more than $250 million and $10 million a year to run.

Today’s biggest yachts are loaded with new technology and toys which anticipate the rocking movements of a boat and offset them with underwater fins or gyroscopes, making mega yachts perfectly still even when anchored. High-tech security systems, stereos, theaters and swimming pools have become standard. Most come even with garages to house jet skis, motorcycles, small motorboats and other vehicles.

The rich are now finding it harder to set themselves apart. Mega yachts have grown in size from a typical length of 110 ft. in the mid-1990’s to well over 150 ft. today, and the market for luxury yachts has more than tripled since 1997. Some boats cost well over $100 million! The most expensive Mercedes used to be the CL600 about $100,000 in the 1990’s. Last year, the Mercedes group introduced the Maybach 62 for $350,000 and this year started selling the SLR for over $450,000 with a long waiting list!

Volkswagen AG’s Bugatti is about to introduce a sports car priced at more than $1 million.

Patek Philippe, Rolex and Breguet are now selling watches priced at more than $200,000.

The inflation rate for luxury goods reached 7% last year, more than twice the overall U.S. inflation rate. The wealth held by millionaires world-wide rose to $28.8 trillion at the end of 2003, up 11% from $26 trillion in 2001. That’s more than the annual gross domestic products of the U.S., Japan, German, France and England! The wealth controlled by individuals in North America with more than $30 million in financial assets jumped 45% to $3.04 trillion from $2.1 trillion in 2002.

Today’s instant multimillionaires tend to be younger than the rich of the past and more likely to splurge on lifestyle goods to differentiate themselves from hoi polloi affluent people.

As Oscar Wilde said “Living well is the best revenge!”

Voice Mael (Strom)

Voice Mael (Strom)
By C. Paul Luongo

Telephone robots. That’s what we’ve become. Corporations today are forcing us to deal with voice mail that is at once exasperating, time-consuming and in many cases an insult to our intelligence. Where was it written that we be forced into being the virtual corporate telephone employee for the very businesses that we are trying to reach? Business that heretofore would have humans manning the phones to help, assist and control the flow of communications which nowadays is the WORST in modern history.

Take for example, this voice mail of the Holmes Group in Milford, Massachusetts (508-634-8050) makers of home appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, fans, air purifiers and lighting. This is an exact transcript.

“You have reached the Corporate Headquarters of the Holmes Group. If you know your party’s four-digit extension number, please enter it now.
For company directory, press 1.
For all other calls, please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.
If you are a retail business, requiring a return authorization, please press 2.
If you are a retail business with any other questions, please press 3.
For Consumer Services, please press 4.
For address and directions to this location, please press 5.
For the Travel Office, press 6.
If we haven’t covered your choices, please listen carefully.
To reach the General Voice Mailbox, for Sales, press 4260.
Marketing Home Environment, 4271.
Marketing Kitchen, 4272.
Marketing & Creative Services, 4261.
Purchasing, 4262.
Finance, 4263.
Human Resources, 4264.
Supply Chain, 4265.
Engineering, 4266.
Information Technology, 4267.
The Executive Office, 4269.
To repeat this menu, please press 9.
For all other calls, please press 7.”

I hung up. How rude to expect anyone to follow these time-consuming pronouncements!

Another winner is at Conexant Systems, Inc. Newport Beach, California. Here’s the voice mail for 949-483-4600.

“Hello and welcome to Conexant.
If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach, press 1.
If you know the name of the person you wish to reach, press 2.
For all sales pricing, technical support and sales literature, press 3.
Please note if you select option 3 you may experience a delay of up to 30 seconds before your selection is processed.
For general information, including address and employment verification, press 4.
For Investor Relations, press 5.
If you would like personal assistance, please press 1, then dial extension 5300 when prompted.
To repeat this menu press 9.”

Even here in Boston, a place we like to think of as more sophisticated and cultured, the MaidPro Franchise Corporation (617-742-8080) voice mail boggles the mind, and they’re in the SERVICE Business! Here’s how it goes.

“Hello and thank you for calling MaidPro.
Your call may be monitored to assure quality customer service.
If you have never used our services and would like to gain information or receive an estimate, please press 1 now.
If you are a current MaidPro client and wish to make a schedule change or have a question, please press 2 now.
If you know your party’s extension you may dial it at any time.
For the company directory press the # key.
If you wait on the phone a person will answer and ask you your name, company, and reason for your call. If the company has not originally contacted you, then you are told to call back and dial extension 349.
Extension 349:
Hello and thank you in advance for offering your products and services to our organization.
Please follow these instructions very carefully, as we will not deal with venders that don’t.
Please fax a single page document to 617-720-0700 outlining exactly what products and services you are offering.
And we will pass it along to the appropriate party.
They will respond to you. Please do not follow up with phone calls.
This applies to all cold calls, and unsolicited calls.
Thank you very much … we appreciate it.”

Lastly, CIS-US, Inc. in Bedford, Massachusetts greets you with these insults at 781-275-7120.

An automated system says press 0 to speak to the operator.
The receptionist answers and I ask to speak to the company president. (They won’t give out the president’s name).
Receptionist asks who this is and from what company?
They then say they’re directing your call.
Phone rings and another automated systems answers and states -
We appreciate your interest in our company, but we are not accepting any solicitation calls for we don’t have the time nor resources to properly answer every call that we receive.
Please leave your name, company, number and purpose of your call. We will pass the information on to the appropriate party. If we feel there is a need for your service then we will be in contact with you.
After the tone leave your message.

Help! Where’s my pain-killer. Where did we go wrong? Ma Bell, where are you when we need you? Come Back Lily Tomlin!


By C. Paul Luongo

Tipping habits differ widely between cultures. Any traveler knows that the U.S. is the most tip-happy country in the world!

In Europe, they tip 10% to taxi drivers and 10-12% to waiters unless there is a service charge in which case you don’t tip. (Some people leave some loose change in that case).

In the U.S. 15-20% is the acceptable gratuity in restaurants depending on the quality of the service.

Bartenders, Doormen, Restaurant Musicians, Swimming Pool Attendants (even if they don’t pull you out of the water) receive tips.

But why not Plumbers, Bus Drivers or Teachers?

It makes sense to tip those we expect to serve us again and tipping generously at a restaurant you use weekly provides a possible guarantee of good service and a table away from the kitchen on your next visit.

But why do people tip taxi drivers they’re not going to see again or leave gratuities in restaurants in cities they rarely visit?

Somewhere, people are tipping drivers and waiters in a city they will never visit again but you will benefit from their generosity as someone will benefit from yours.

Tipping is more prevalent in countries with a culture of individualism than those with a more collective spirit.

Service providers like tipping, of course, because they can offer lower prices and pay their employees less.

Most of us wish they would incorporate service into their prices and pay their staff higher wages and eliminate their customers’ uncertainty about whom and how much to tip.

A recent survey found that 34% of Americans wish they were not expected to tip!

Until it is outlawed, however, most of us will continue to tip, never quite sure whether we are tipping the right people or offering too much or too little.

Most people will continue doing it unless they cannot face the embarrassment or antagonistic atmosphere that follows a failure to tip or because it seems mean to deny people who earn less money than others.

I will continue to tip, generously when provided with excellent service and be sparing of generosity when service is substandard or non-existent.

The Rules, Does Anyone Pay Attention?

The Rules.
Does Anyone Pay Attention?
By C. Paul Luongo

The other day at the gym a young man was running the wrong way on the track and I politely asked him three times to please go the other way. He just ignored me.

I therefore asked the attendant, who was in the basketball court below, to do something.

The attendant said, “Is it bothering you?” I responded, “Yes.”

The staffer came up to the track, looked at the runner, said absolutely nothing and then, without a word, the young man left the gym.

I explained to the staff attendant, “I asked him three times to run the other way and he didn’t respond.” Whereupon the attendant said to me, “Well, everyone is not the same. Not robots.”


The huge sign posted on the gym wall stipulates the direction of the track for users each day. Why bother having rules if it doesn’t matter. Robots indeed!

Something is wrong here.

In California, the law allows officials to fine automobile drivers for making a turn on red in certain intersections. High tech cameras are installed to catch violators. Yet some people are up in arms and appealing this issue. Why?

The law is very clear: you don’t turn on red. The miscreants caught ought to be open game, right? No, not with Californians.

In Connecticut, a similar camera technology fines speedsters doing over 65 and automatically issues fines for drivers.

I wonder, why are residents of Connecticut more law abiding than those in California?

And how about the person who gets in the express checkout line at the grocery store clearly designated for only three items when the customer has twelve? And the grocery clerk allows it? What do you say or do?

Do cell phone users realize that when they are not in their homes or offices that no one else cares or wants to hear their conversations? Why do they always talk at a high volume? And usually about nonsense, such as: “I’m just a block away; I’ll be there in five.” Shouldn’t we establish a “cell phone voice” to soften the attack for ambient listeners? Why do you think our forefathers installed doors on telephone booths? Now

we are a community of “open booths” with total disregard for our involuntary eavesdropping!

Let’s play by the rules, guys, please! Gals, too.

Maybe if the airlines had sensible rules about knives and box cutters and those who examine the contents of carryon luggage had followed the rules, the events of September 11 would not have occurred.

The Cardinal, Julia Child, Ozawa & Enron

The Cardinal, Julia Child, Ozawa & Enron
By C. Paul Luongo


So long, Seiji. Screams the headline in The Boston Herald.

Catholic leaders hit coverage, reports The Boston Globe.

Julia Child attends umpteenth farewell dinners, before “retiring” to Santa Barbara but threatens to return. Enron collapses.

Enough already. All of these stories in the news media are so hyped up, endless, rewritten, copied versions of what we just read the day before over and over again. On Radio, TV, Magazines and Newspapers.

When the news media grabs hold of a story they don’t let go. Why didn’t the media report the Catholic sex scandals when they occurred 30 years ago? And why is it so fashionable to do so now? Ad nauseam.

Two cardinals have suggested that the clergy sexual abuse crisis is a relatively minor phenomenon that is being turned into a major scandal by the media and others with an ax to grind.

To be sure, most sophisticated Catholics knew all along that 50% of the clergy are gay (including pedophiles and ephebophillies) but accepted it without question ‘til pedophillia and ephebophillia surfaced. And multi-million dollar settlements became known.

Even Jack Welch, Jr., former Chairman of GE told a group of journalists that the collapse of Enron was being overblown by the press. And why didn’t the media report it earlier?

Last year a music critic at The New York Times questioned Ozawa’s talent, but Bostonians have embraced the maestro as one of their own despite the fact that after living here for 29 years, he still struggles with the language.

And who would have ever thought that an Asian native would some day head our prestigious symphony orchestra? But in his remaining days as Conductor, the media frenzy has been wild with adoration and God-like praise. Oftentimes with three or four stories in a single publication not to mention broadcast coverage.

With Julia Child, it got to be a joke to attend “another farewell party” and each time it was religiously covered by the media as newsworthy as if it was for the very first time. One columnist in The Boston Globe even facetiously asked the question “is Julia Child leaving?”.

Trying to get a legitimate story published in the media is difficult without “an exotic news angle” and it’s easy for the media to state that “if its already been published in another news outlet” no matter how obscure that news outlet is, they’re not interested. Excuses. But when there’s a “name” involved or “sex” then it doesn’t matter that everyone else has reported the story. It’s news. Every time. Over and Over again.

Have I made my point clear?

September 11, 2001, An International Day of Remembrance

September 11, 2001
An International Holiday Day of Remembrance

By C. Paul Luongo

Yes. And here’s why.
1. It has changed the way we travel.
2. The way we work.
3. The way we enter buildings.
4. The lives of almost 3,000 families.
5. Reassessment of life’s priorities.
6. Where we eat.
7. Lifestyle changes.
8. War with terrorists.
9. American troops in Afghanistan.
10. How business is conducted.
11. Airport security.
12. Airplane safety measures.
13. Protection of U.S. military bases.
14. Immigration policies.
15. Canadian border crossings.
16. Where we park cars.
17. Observation towers.
18. Protection of U.S. Harbors.
19. The Statue of Liberty.

20. The White House.
21. Historical Monuments.
22. The Pentagon.
23. The Armed Forces.
24. Anthrax.
25. Identification Requirements.
26. Unemployment.
27. Bankruptcies.
28. Destruction of New York Real Estate.
29. Tourism.
30. Firemen.
31. Policemen.
32. Safety Regulations.
33. Skyscrapers.
34. Patriotism.
35. Presidential Leadership.

Pearl Harbor did not have the same impact on America. 9/11 did.
An International Day of Mourning is required.

Seniors As Co-Eds on College Campuses

A Million people now turn sixty every month which means that older people will outnumber the young for the first time in history!

They’re even enrolling in college classes joining young students on campuses throughout America.

The number of people over sixty will rise to two Billion in 2050 from six hundred Million today, with the oldest (those eighty and over) increasing to three-hundred and fifty million from seventy Million. By then people over sixty will outnumber children up to fourteen years old. More retirees are taking advantage of programs that allow them to audit college courses. Colleges are also now courting seniors as students for good community relations and alas…even with an eye to bequests!

How do young students feel about this? We surveyed students in the greater Boston area and here’s what they had to say –

“Having the input of senior citizens allows colleges to maintain a sense of tradition but simultaneously courses must always be changing with the times, constantly revolutionizing, and I feel like if they are controlled by seniors, colleges may be held back a bit.” –Chris Charron, 22 of North Attleboro, MA

“I think that students no matter what age have the right to participate in education. I feel that as long as colleges are not taking away the options and flexibility for their younger students, gearing certain aspects of their curriculum to an older generation is acceptable”-Amy Stevens, 20 of Wellesley, MA

Some students complain that it creates hassles in that seniors ask questions that are not appropriate such as the issues of euthanasia. “However, it helps to have a role model who is older and helps facilitates the class.”, says one student.

Interference by enthusiastic auditors can be disruptive and sometimes professors will ignore the raised hand of eager retirees.

Some colleges charge a fee lower than younger students and others ask no fee at all.

Certain developers of retirement communities even boast the “education opportunities of universities close by” and even feature pictures of residents and lists of courses they’ve taken. Also, seniors who have a positive experience may encourage their grandchildren to attend. Barnard College even uses audit classes as a way to connect with alumnae, who can return later in life to add to their education.

However, Harvard University doesn’t allow them because “Our program is designed for undergraduate degree candidates”.

Other Universities have created special retirement learning institutes, with customized classes, concerts and field trips and group seniors together in classes instead of with undergrads.

Certain professors say the more senior auditors, the merrier. Some colleges even pair undergrads with auditors in an “Adopt-a-Senior” program, assigning them books to read and discuss together.

At the University of South Florida, the class popular with undergrads is “Life after Death” and the class popular with auditors is “The Dead Sea Scrolls”.

Scott Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson

Scott Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson
By C. Paul Luongo

Now, do I have your attention? What do these five have in common?

They keep popping up in the news daily and have for some time.

Why should we care about Scott Peterson? Every day deranged citizens mame, kill, and murder for no reason, or reasons that don’t validate the crime.

So why is the media obsessed with Scott Peterson? Do Americans really care or is it the fault of the media looking to fill newspapers, magazines and television shows with titillating subjects that will amuse and entertain their audience while positive news begs for an audience? Why is he singled out? Does he have a PR agent flogging his crime? If so, what does he have to gain? After all, in most cases, monies derived from criminal acts are forfeited legally to the government.

Recently a Catholic priest stated that the media is quick to print bad news about the church but the good work they do often goes unreported. Once again, bad news sells, good news goes unnoticed. I repeat. Good news doesn’t sell as well as bad!

Did the world know Kobe Bryant before his alleged sexual encounter with a hotel concierge? Perhaps the sports journalists and special sports audiences knew, but not the general public. His new found fame, ironically, is now responsible for multi-million dollar endorsement contract cancellations. Not nice, but the media frenzy continues.

And Britney Spears’ “wedding”? Is she not a smart cookie to think of some outrageous plot to help sell her next album due out soon? Is she taking lessons from Madonna, her new found “padrone”? It’s well worth the $560,000 she gave her paramour to dissolve the marriage with multi-million dollar worldwide publicity and coverage in major pop magazines.

Unlike Britney, Paris Hilton is a totally unattractive, untalented bimbo who became an icon only because of her genes and esteemed hotel name. Why she needs to have the world view her having sex with two or three males other than for prurient reasons is astounding. And despite these ignoble acts, she has been offered $3 Million and a contract at Fox-TV. Sex sells!

Lastly, Michael Jackson. Sigh. The fact that he is gay (which according to his mother is against his religion) is not news. That he is a pedophile is. Before the revelation of sexual encounters with adolescents did we hear of Michael Jackson’s life in Neverland? Not unless he was entertaining Elizabeth Taylor, whom he is desperately trying to resemble, or filming Neverland for huge sums of money for the TV networks.

Recently I announced the 40th anniversary of our Public Relations Agency, but because the media looks for more than plain vanilla items, I have to add more facts than just the anniversary itself. I need a “hook,” so to speak. Perhaps a Paris Hilton escapade?

Therefore, dear readers, be sure that the next time you contact the media you bring lots of titillating news to move the press enough to print or broadcast the subject. Your chances will be better than submitting a pleasant news story about the plight of those living in rural America.

RSVP Column #2

RSVP Column II
By C. Paul Luongo


1. Don’t say Black Tie Optional. It’s confusing. Make it Black Tie or Business

2. Don’t say Semi-Formal. Either it is or it isn’t. Make it Business Attire or Sports Jacket.

3. Don’t say Creative Black Tie. It usually isn’t and puts pressure on non-creative

4. Always list a telephone number with a person’s name who is knowledgeable about
the event and can answer questions politely and intelligently, for reservations,
questions, etc.

5. Use simple invitations. Don’t have a book to read to find out the basic
questions…where, when and what time.

6. Always send handwritten envelopes. No typewriter or computer generated labels.

7. Place seating cards at the table so that there is no doubt as to where guests sit.

8. Mail invitations as far ahead as possible; you’ll increase attendance.

9. Always include the coat check in the price of admission.

10. Don’t charge for soft drinks.

11. Don’t have speeches before dinner.

12. Plan for guests who cannot eat meat, fish, cheese, and spices. Let guests reserve a plain (chicken/vegetable) dish. Even scrambled eggs will do!

13. Beef is a problem. Some like it rare, others well done, and some are in-between.
Chicken, lamb, or veal is better.

14. Also think about having fast-food delivered….Kentuckey Fried Chicken, Pizza (with
various toppings), Hot Dogs, Hamburgers…..you may even get those companies
to underwrite some of the costs!

15. Chinese food can be less expensive, delectable and more exotic.

16. Always accept credit card payments.

17. If possible, offer complimentary parking or necessary parking information.

18. For an outdoor event, plan ahead and either have a tent or a rain date immediately

19. Select a location reachable by public transportation to avoid problems with certain
guests without private cars.

20. Plan for people who cannot attend at the last minute and how they can donate their
tickets to someone known by the committee.



Throughout the year, I attend many social events in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Toronto. This year, in addition, I also attended a special event given by Prince Charles in London.

I will be writing this monthly column to enlighten you about these social events so that you can attend vicariously through these columns, without charge, and know the best from the worst. Use them as a future social guide and for helpful hints on how to deal with various social situations that may occur.

The best party by far was given by The Prince of Wales Foundation in London this June to benefit the Prince’s charities. Everyone was there. The King of Greece, Sting, Joan Rivers, Lauren Bacall, Valentino, Donatella Versace, Camilla Parker Bowles (her coming out party), Marylou Whitney, Suzy (New York W Social Scribe), the Forbes Family, Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, Robert Trump and a dozen or more Park Avenue and California socialites among others.

All the food came from Prince Charles’s Highgrove farm, and the setting was in an old tramshed in the East End. The music and entertainment was also wonderful. Although it
was a mere trailer, the men’s room even had chandeliers and fresh cut flowers….a royal flush, indeed!

Back in Boston, we’ve had several disasters. The first was a few weeks ago at The Seaport Hotel when World Boston decided to honor Pat Moscaritolo, the widely over-publicized head of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

I am a very active supporter of World Boston activities and entertain their foreign visitors on a regular basis. Therefore, I was shocked when told that my table assignment had been changed from number 21 to 42, way at the back of the room because “a board member needed my seats.”

At table 42, a rude guest told my client (who was with me) that he had reserved the whole table and that we had to leave. We did. In addition to my chagrin, I was doubly embarrassed because I had a client in tow. Nonetheless, we left promptly, registered our complaint with a World Boston representative, demanded and got a quick refund and instead had a more civilized and I’m sure delectable, if not less expensive, dinner at Aura, the hotel’s main dining room.

Later, I was told that there was some dreadful mistake and that our two original assigned seats at table 21 were vacant all night. Go figure. However, we did miss seeing Pat Moscaritolo lionized for the umpteenth time.

Another disaster occurred recently when I attended the black-tie Pan Mass Challenge (aptly named). Indeed it was a challenge for me in several ways.

The dinner benefits The Dana Farber Cancer Clinic. I had never been before. Being that it was in the ‘hood’ at the Copley Marriott cost only $75, and was for a good cause, I decided to try it.

About 800 guests were packed into the hotel during the cocktail hour, it was difficult to get a sense of this affair. I didn’t recognize a soul, which after living in Copley Square since 1962, is almost impossible to have happen to the Mayor of Copley Square. But it did.

By the time I got to my dinner table, some 350 pound football player had already eaten my salad--he even admitted the fact! And others at the table were questioning why I was there! Indeed! Speeches were going on at this time and without waiting to sample the Chilean Sea Bass listed on the menu, I decided to abruptly end my debut at the Pan Mass Challenge and repair to a nearby seafood restaurant and familiar watering hole.

A much more pleasant experience was at The Eye Ball at the Copley Plaza where Rosalie Cohen, who has a fine sense of style, arranged for crispy Peking duck served with oriental pancakes and hoisin sauce with scallions and Baby Lamb Chops as hors d’oeuvres (I’m a sucker for lamb chops). The beef entrée was returned upon request well done. The gracious waiter even got a 7UP when asked….imagine that!

We also received gifts of chocolate truffles and an attractive sterling silver covered photo album. After dinner, we were entertained by a vocalist imported from New York who sang Gershwin songs, and while no Lena Horne, she evoked memories of when the Oval
Room (where the dinner was held) was a supper club in the 40’s and 50’s with the likes of Vic Damone, Hildegarde and Lena on stage! (though it’s before my time).

The guest list was “uninspired” except for Betty & Frank Avruch (the voice of Channel 5) and being seated near the door (hint?), I took my leave at 9:45PM without notice before the dancing began.

The American Ireland Fund Dinner, held every year at The Copley Marriott, is unwieldy; 1600 fat cats, mainly Irish, pay a minimum of $750 a person for the privilege of eating awful food (the lamb chops this year were an exception). It was much too crowded for either social or business networking. A suggestion: Why not have a series of three dinners in one week with about 500 guests at each event? A much more enjoyable and comfortable setting in which you could actually hear conversations.

Another bit of advice (and this pertains to many other events as well) is to have the dinner speeches, films, entertainment begin when the dessert is being served. The message will be sweeter and the guests will not be held hostage for a serving of overpriced food.

My next report will be later this year, at which time I’ll report my social peregrinations in the New Year!

J. Walter Thompson Drops Its Name, Reputation

J. Walter Thompson Drops Its Name, Reputation

What’s going on out there? Established names in business are changing names to stay in tune. I ask, in tune for what? And why fix it if it ain’t broke? What does this change of name solve? J. Walter Thomson, legendary Madison Avenue Advertising Agency established in 1878 recently announced a change in the name to JWT. Is this going to make the agency better? No. But the agency reports that “James Walter Thomson is so far in the past, he doesn’t buy us anything anymore.” What? The agency wouldn’t be in business today without Mr. Thomson.
Agencies seeking to reinvent themselves are shifting focus to permission-based marketing tactics that get consumers to receive ad messages. Mr. Jeffrey, CEO, admits the name change likely won’t be enough by itself to turn around the massive entity of 315 offices, but they’re doing it anyway.
Would you buy more cars from GENERAL MOTORS if the name is changed to GM? FORD to FM? CHARLES SCHWAB to CS?
It’s Crazy.
When I first started in the Public Relations business I couldn’t wait to be 5 or 10 years old. Now after 41 years it’s working against me. People ask, “What, you’ve been in business 41 years?” With some sort of negative connotation.
I ask you, if you went to see a doctor who had been in business 41 years wouldn’t that mean something to you as opposed to a young intern who’s been practicing for only a few years?

If you hear of a baked bean company in business for 100 years you think they must know something about baking beans, and that seems to be important somehow. And it’s true it should mean that they know about baking beans. Just as someone in the Advertising, Public Relations, or Marketing business.
A while ago a restaurateur on Boylston Street changed its name for the third time in 10 years. I asked why despite the fact the business was profitable. He said, “Show me a restaurant on the street that has kept its name for 10 years.
Who’s dictating these rules and why? Are kids responsible for this? And if so, what do they know?
Established names are an important anchor to our economic system. If names are changing constantly, their history or economic well-being are not being served.
Should McDonald’s now be just BIG MAC? And if so, wouldn’t you want to know who’s behind BIG MAC? Do you accept a name without challenge just because it’s a new name?
Should the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA now be known only as USA? Should the POPE now be known as Mr. P?
Maybe P. Diddy and Lil’ Kim know something we don’t.

Holiday Birthdays

Holiday Birthdays!

Unfortunately I was born at 10PM on New Year’s Eve … and I’ve never had a proper Birthday Party.

Why? Because it’s always New Year’s Eve … and O yeah, it’s also my Birthday. It always takes second place.

Even when I lived in New York and flew home on New Year’s Eve, my family would say … “Oh, we’ll celebrate it tomorrow.”

Sounds just like the Queen of England whose birthday is in April but is celebrated in June when the weather is better.

Now let’s face facts. The worst time to be born is Christmas Eve. Next, Christmas Day. Third, is New Year’s Eve.

Let’s form a Club, because I know we all have the same sad horror stories, and we can console ourselves by sharing these miserable forgettable birthdays.

You never get a Birthday gift, it’s always a “Birthday & Christmas Gift.”

When I’m out on New Year’s Eve, with friends, it’s embarrassing to say … “Oh, it’s my birthday tonight!” Right away a certain feeling is expressed and I know what they’re thinking. “Oh, do I have to pay for his bill tonight?” or “O God, I don’t have a gift for him.”

On New Year’s Eve, at 10PM, I always want to drink a toast to me, as that is the precise hour of my birth and it gets in the way of the New Year’s Celebration.

I’ve been thinking that like the Queen of England, I should possibly celebrate my birthday in the summer months when I think everyone should be born and the weather is nicer, warmer and sunnier. But I’ve yet to try it.

I remember only a few Birthday Cakes in my life! Think how many bakers have been cheated out of baking my cake and are poorer for it.

Famous people born on December-January holidays include – (my business birthday is even January 8th)

December 24th-- Ava Gardner, Ricky Martin, Howard Hughes
December 25th-- Humphrey Bogart, Cab Calloway, Conrad Hilton
December 31st-- John Denver, Donna Summer, C. Paul Luongo
January 8th-- Shirley Bassey, David Bowie, Elvis Presley

Can you just imagine how their birthdays were celebrated? Was Ava Gardner with Frank Sinatra? Did Ricky Martin celebrate La Vida Loca? Was Humphrey Bogart with Lauren Bacall? Did Cab Calloway Hi De Ho on that night? Did John Denver have a Rocky Mountain High? Did Shirley Bassey sing Goldfinger? And I’m sure Elvis celebrated with toasted Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches, right? Did Conrad Hilton check into the Waldorf? Donna Summer sings She Works Hard for Her Money?

We are Capricorns and very industrious, hard-working, intelligent people who like the fact that the goat is our symbol for our astrological sign, climbs the mountain one sure-footed step at a time and earns his wings every day.

Capricornians are conservative in social and business environments and always tell the truth. We don’t like miscreants, indolent or dishonest people.

Traditional Capricorn Traits also include practical, prudent, ambitious, disciplined, patient, careful, humorous and reserved. Also pessimistic and fatalistic, miserly and grudging, over conventional and rigid.

We are also one of the most stable and serious of the zodiacal types.

It’s been said that when practical ability allied with the drive of ambition are required in employees to make a project succeed, Capricornians are the people to hire.

Other famous Capricornians include Richard Nixon (January 9th), Sir Isaac Newton (December 25th) and Louis Pasteur (December 27th).

Write and let me know if you were born on a major holiday and we’ll celebrate together on a special night in the year. How ‘bout Bastille Day in July?

50 Things That Annoy Me

50 Things That Annoy Me

Cellphone use in public places

Voice mail without human options

Automobile commercials

Furniture commercials

Boys with baseball hats backwards

Flip-Flops on men and women

Complex telephone systems

Rap, Rock and Hip-Hop

P. Diddy

Suze Orman

Britney Spears

Supermarket checkout lines

Sports programs

Homeless door openers at retail stores

Homeless pandering

Parades through the city

The circus

Red Sox fans

The Red Sox

Hugh Heffner

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

All of the Wahlbergs

Airline security

Jeans with holes

Ariana Huffington

Body odors

Menstrual odors

Misdirected mail

Rude and inept cab drivers

Heavy petting in public

Credit Card foreign outsourcing

Childproof medicine bottles meant for adults

National TV meteorologists

Unnatural blonds

Old women as bleach blonds

Dr. Phil


Body piercings


Hillary Clinton

Males wearing earrings

Ubiquitous tipping containers


Excessive air conditioning

Undercooked foods

Youth oriented media

White stretch limousines

Athletic shoes worn with business attire

People who don’t return telephone calls or emails.

50 Things I Like

50 Things I Like

1. Fried clams at the ATLANTIC FISH COMPANY

2. Hot dogs and fried chicken at the SUMMER SHACK.

3. XM Radio

4. Barbra Streisand

5. Horseback riding

6. Yachting

7. The beach

8. The LIMOLINER to New York

9. Toronto and Washington, D.C.

10. Boston in the fall

11. Sex

12. More sex

13. Australia


15. Melon Martinis at BRASSERIE JO

16. Pasta

17. Pizza without cheese

18. Concierges and Doormen at the FAIRMONT COPLEY PLAZA

19. Hand written notes

20. Chicken nuggets and baked potatoes at WENDY’S

21. COORS LIGHT draft beer

22. Tripe

23. Lamb kidneys for breakfast

24. Breakfast at the FOUR SEASONS with Adam

25. Chicken lollypops at the TOP OF THE HUB

26. IGGYS Bread

27. Fireplaces

28. Very ripe plum tomatoes

29. Brownies at the farmers market

30. BRIGHAM’S ice cream

31. Anything at REDBONES


33. Optimistic people

34. Millionaires

35. Coconut mocha frappuccinos at STARBUCKS


37. Polite people

38. FEDEX and FEDEX people

39. Jonathan Schwartz on XM Radio

40. Clambakes

41. Asian work ethics

42. Subway popcorn

43. Homemade potato chips at the RITZ

44. Anything chocolate

45. Real Christmas trees

46. Keith Lockhart and the BOSTON POPS

47. Boston’s medical facilities

48. Boston’s public transportation facilities

49. The North End

50. NEW GOLDEN GATE CAFÉ in Chinatown

Furniture Store Commercials

Furniture Commercials

And then there are those “two boring brothers” one with a “hippie hairdo”, both with the worst Boston accents. They’re attempting to become media celebrities because they own a few furniture stores recently purchased by billionaire Warren Buffet.

Do we really need this kind of harassment, hawking furniture night and day on TV and Radio ad nauseam? They are the Taliban of the furniture industry, striking terror in the minds and hearts of unsuspecting, innocent Radio-TV listeners. They come on, without warning, interrupting my classical music station and forcing me to find safe haven in my CD’s and Tapes.

And how ‘bout the other one who constantly shouts, “I Doubt It!” as if he’s still a first grade retarded soul and the other who professes “comfort, quality and price, that’s nice, by jove, I think they’ve got it!” To add insult to injury, his wife is in the scenario as well. What a price to pay for marriage!

Indeed, a headache is all we all get from this and other loud, annoying phrases. And thwack goes my TV Zapper. Good riddance to this banality!

Since when did it become mandatory for unqualified improper Bostonians to show their worst speech and acting ability in TV-Radio commercials? It’s an assault on our intelligence. At least, in print ads, their dreary elocution and mindless, cheap Hollywood antics disguised to sell bargain furniture are hidden.

Are Bostonians so dumb as to reward these furniture B-players and encourage them with actually visiting their lairs and buying their stuff? My God, I think so; otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford the media bills.

Then there’s the Indian who qualifies for dispensing embalming services to the needy with the drone of his funereal-accented voice attempting to encourage listeners to visit his “furniture or lighting store?” I don’t know which because as soon as he comes on I tune out. Again another abrupt interruption in my day of listening to beautiful music.

Shouldn’t broadcast executives be more sensitive to their listeners’ comfort? Don’t they know, we simply tune out and turn off?

Whatever happened to the Paine Furniture Company ads or other classic, elegant purveyors of fine furniture who better represented the furniture industry? They did it without gimmicks and made certain that their ads were honest, straightforward, direct, no-nonsense and intelligent, not tasteless gimmicks.

Oh, Mr. Sloane, where are you now that we need you?

F*#@ The Eff Factor

F*#@ The Eff Factor

Effing, freakin’, frigging, freaking, alas the f-word is becoming mainstream!

(The F-word comes from the German word “fliechen,” which means to strike).

Thanks to TV Personalities like Howard Stern, a classless but rich idiot, x-rated words are creeping into the news media with regularity.

Recently, Dan Rather interviewed Dolly Parton on CBS-TV SUNDAY MORNING and was visibly embarrassed to mention that she was just as famous for a “certain part of her anatomy, as she was for her other talents.” At which point Dolly quickly responded about her “boobs” being enhanced for her personal desire and appearance.

I’m amused now that the FCC is pondering whether the F-word is approved if used as an “intensifier” rather than in a sexual sense. This is ridiculous; we all know what’s going on here, don’t we?

Let’s face it, businessmen, lawyers, accountants, teachers and yes even the clergy are using x-rated words as never before so that one day soon, the shock of the words will be morphed into commonly acceptable language. And then we’ll go inventing other words to titillate people.

Let’s create some new x-rated ones like bladderful? Crapescent? Or how ‘bout diggery dung? Will Americans be more accepting of these terms? Dunno.

But what difference does it make? What’s going on here is the ability of people to communicate effectively (with or without swear words) and using them only when necessary. Maybe we should have a new icon in our computers to substitute for a four letter word like F*#@! pronounced (fstarnumbersign) and we will all be happier. No insult to anyone, and used in every day writing and speaking.

Can you just imagine the Queen of England uttering her annual message to say that it has been a real F*@#ing Year? Or President Bush referring to his Democratic opponents as “those F*@#ing Bastards?” Bastards, now there’s another words in common usage today where it was verboten until recent times by accepted English language.

Unless you’re referring to the “bastard son,” the use of bastard has not been popularly accepted.

Balls, butt or tits? Balls as referred to testicles, is not popular, in print; butt is in popular usage instead of ass and tits, except as used in the song “Tits and Ass” from the Broadway play CHORUS LINE is vulgar (and I still believe it’s vulgar in the play).

Another term in common verbal usage is “s—t happens.” Recently opponents of our Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney used the slogan “Mitt Happens” and we all got the campaign message, however we never spell s—t in accepted media.

FCUK (French Connection United Kingdom) is a British retail store wishing to attract attention, but I believe, in poor taste. Anyone can determine what the message is.

And ballbuster? Only when used as an intensifier! Ha.

Bottom line, use your own judgment and standards in your written and oral communications. Also, know your audience.

There are times when F*@# is acceptable and other times not.

When in doubt, there is a dictionary entitled THE FUCKING CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY! Believe it or not.

Distressed Casual Dress and More

Distressed Casual Dress and More

Body Piercing. Male Earrings. Tattoos.

“Up your nose” used to be a very vulgar statement. Nowadays it refers to ring placed there and elsewhere.

How awful.

Many of today’s young people seem to lack standards, a sense of style, a sense of self-respect.

Unfortunately, it even extends to their music and movies.

They’re accepting frivolous entertainers who dazzle them very little talent but lots of skin.

Casual dress consisting of a sport shirt and jacket may be acceptable but T-shirts, cut offs and torn jeans are not – except in your own backyard.

But we can’t pin the blame on kids. Unfortunately, there are no adults making the rules – parents all too often opt out of setting standards.

But change is blowing in the wind. An important step in the right direction is that more and more schools are requiring uniforms for grade school students. This will inspire them and help develop better taste and style later in life.

The Boston Sunday Globe on September 23rd reported that Phillips Exeter Academy students voted unanimously for a new dress code which requires boys to wear collared shirts and ties and prohibits girls from wearing a list of revealing fashions, including spaghetti strap and midriff-bearing tops. Imagine! A class act. A move in the right direction.

At the other end of the spectrum at England’s Eton, formal clothes are worn to the classrooms. Prince William is a classic example of this upbringing. A bit overdone, but far better than the alternative.

America needs more youth role models other than Lil’ Kim, P. Diddy and Eminem. They set the worst examples in America for our kids. JFK, Jr. set a wonderful example when he was alive.
Sean Jean Clothing? A joke. Yet it sells because it’s considered “hip” not because it’s correct. Hip to me often means horrible. Jeans with holes and oversize trousers not only look unattractive, they also hide the fact that many teens are overweight because they gorge on greasy Big Macs – a move that guarantees Big Sizes. Not an attractive look. Not a healthy lifestyle.

Michael Jordan with his golden earrings does not help. Michael Jackson with his “shin pads” worn during his live 30th Anniversary Performance a Madison Square Garden does not make sense. Performers at this level belong in a tux not threadbare clothing.

What’s next? Tank tops and Speedos at graduation ceremonies? Minis as wedding dresses with track shoes for the long trek down the aisle?

"People took the concept of business casual, which started out as an innocent little perk allowing workers to ditch their blazers and skirts for a more comfortable look, and turned it into amateur night at the fashion improv," reports Gina Shaw in an article for Arrive magazine published by Amtrak.

Business casual was considered an employee benefit, and used by a lot of corporations to attract new graduates because of a manpower shortage. Companies did everything to recruit people.

Now, there’s a very conservative feel in America at the moment and with the economy not quite as good as before, details matter more and people are more careful. In fact, several menswear manufacturers recently launched "Dress Up Thursday," a campaign aimed at bringing high style back to the workplace.

J. P. Morgan recently adopted a business casual dress code and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter even inked an employee discount deal with J. Crew after it got on board with business casual.

55% of companies recently surveyed reported casual dress in the workplace every day of the week, but companies are being more specific about what they mean and when they expect people to wear professional attire. Before it was looser. Now it’s casual chic, as opposed to casual sloppy. Remember what you wear to work reflects your professional style.

The less skin you show, the more powerful you look!

Corporate Names

Corporate Names

Avaya. Verizon. USX. NStar. And now Altria.

What’s going on here? Corporate names are being changed to “reflect their true meaning”.

Really? Let’s take a look.

Does Avaya spell Telephones to you? And furthermore if Avaya is in the communications business why is it that when you call the company headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey at (908) 953-6000 and ask for Donald K. Peterson, President, they will not connect you to him or even take a message. Imagine that?

Is Verizon better than New England Telephone?

And does USX mean U.S. Steel? “X” has come to stand for X-rated not steel. Or how ‘bout Nstar for Boston Edison. It sounds much more like the name of a constellation than a utility company. Is Noveon the best one for that all-American name, B.F. Goodrich?

Corporations are paying millions of dollars to “communications experts” for coming up with names allegedly more suitable and better representative of what the company’s activities really are.

I daresay that if I took a street survey and mentioned any of the above names, most people wouldn’t recognize them for what they are.

Our world has changed since September 11th and we need a sense of stability and reassurance. Our firefighters, policeman and EMS people, along with the rest of the country, like our old fashioned, familiar, American names and take comfort from the fact that they are still around. Names like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Campbell Soup, Sara Lee, Wrigley, Smuckers and Tootsie Roll are all publicly traded companies and doing well, thank you very much.

Recently I received a letter from Geoffrey C. Bible, Chairman of and Chief Executive Officer of Philip Morris Companies Inc. and he explains the name change to Altria:

· “The name change is designed to achieve clarity. Currently, Philip Morris is part of the name of our parent company as well as our two tobacco operating companies – Philip Morris U.S.A. and Philip Morris International Inc. As a result, people often refer to the wrong company when talking about “Philip Morris.” We regularly see examples of this in the media and in conversations with numerous stockholders. A new name for the parent company should help clarify our corporate identity, and make it clearer when reference is made to each of our tobacco operating companies.

· This is a good time in the company’s evolution to adopt a new name. The Nabisco acquisition and the Kraft initial public offering provide the most recent evidence of our growth and evolution. The acquisition of numerous global consumer packaged goods brands over the past decade provides an additional example of how we have changed. We are evolving culturally, too, as we work diligently on a variety of responsibility initiatives, both at the corporate level and within each of the operating companies.

· The proposed name fits our mission. Altria Group, Inc. - the new parent company name we will be proposing to you – embraces innovation, growth and new opportunities. Altria, derived from the Latin word altus, meaning high, symbolizes for us a company that is already great, but reaching ever higher. The name was chosen to reflect our aspiration to be a financially strong global family of consumer products companies that delivers peak performance, shareholder value and growth through operational excellence, consumer brand expertise and commitment to responsible business practices.”

Blah, Blah, Blah.

“The corporate practice of adopting vague, faux-Latinate names can help companies shed their image problems,” said one communications expert recently. “Philip Morris had been wounded in the tobacco wars, and had to erect a ‘fire wall’ between its cigarettes and its food and beverage products. You don’t want any carcinogenic associated with your macaroni and cheese.”

Fine, now can I have a pack of filtered Altria’s please?

Cell Phones

Cell Phones

Yesterday, while walking to work, I heard the most peculiar sound of music coming from someone nearby. I then realized it was the new Britney Spears song, "Toxic." The gentlemen, yes that’s right, gentlemen in the nine hundred dollar suit, felt the need to have this tune play over and over again from his cell phone. It wasn’t simply someone calling him on this ridiculous ring; it seemed this man felt the need to have his own theme music on his morning commute to work. Hasn’t this cell phone nonsense gone on long enough?

Recently a man on the track at the YMCA dialed friends for an hour while running. Were these calls so vital that they had to be made during a workout? Another man was at the urinal at the Marriot Copley Place and talking on his cell phone with business papers under his arm. He looked at me and said that he was multi-tasking. Multi-tasking indeed!

It seems these days cell phones are as common as the telephone. Today, no one uses just a land phone. They need to page, text message, IM, email, or call while they are driving in their SUV.

To these people, I have one thing to say. Do cell phone users in public realize that they are not in a private phone booth or at home in a private environment when using their cell phone to others annoyance?

Should we now have to initiate laws about cell phone use in public as they have in autos? I wonder, do people talk on their cell phones during sex for technique instruction? Do you now bury a corpse with a cell phone to call from the beyond?

Because I am a man of action, I have a solution -- I believe that we should instill some classic Victorian etiquette for cell phone use. Primarily when one is on the phone in a public place, one should remember one rule – consideration!

Nancy Dunnan, author of Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette (Harper/Collins), suggests these seven cell phone rules of etiquette –

Use your cell phone only when really necessary and keep your conversations brief.
Restrain yourself. You don’t need to tell your nearest and dearest that –
You’re pulling into the driveway
You’re just a block away
You’re heading for the restroom
Be wise. You should use your cell (or any other phone) if you –
Need to change plans at the last minute
Are stuck in a traffic jam
Will be late picking up your child
Forgot something truly important
Discover your train or plane has been canceled or delayed
Understand the technology. Cell phones are sophisticated. You don’t need to shout into yours. A normal voice level, even a very low level voice will reach the person at the other end.
Don’t try to compete with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Steven Speilberg. Turn off your cell as soon as you enter a theater. The same holds true for the opera, ballet, philharmonic and museum.
Respect fellow diners. People reading the newspaper at breakfast want peace and quiet. Couples having dinner at Locke-Ober want privacy. Jumping on your cell phone and yakking away could ruin a well-planned marriage proposal.
Move it. When you need to make a call, remove yourself from the center of things. Make your calls away from your fellow travelers, diners, friends and strangers.
And, a word to the rest of the world… Don’t be shy about asking someone on a cell phone to lower their voice. But do it nicely. Suggest that they speak more quietly, move to another area and keep it brief. You have as much right to request quiet as the cell phone use has to make a call.

Remember that no one but you is interested in your conversation but you and the person you are talking to, so for the sanity of humanity follow these steps –

Never use your phone in these places –
Train, Amtrak or the T-the commute is bad enough, don’t make it worse
Waiting Rooms
Dressing Rooms – no one needs to know everything that you buy
Anywhere waiting in line – entertain yourself doing something else
Classrooms - text messaging during a class is simply immoral
g. Church – confessions are meant for your priest, not your mother, brother, boyfriend, credit-card Company, etc.

Don’t make calls in public places out of sheer boredom, or not multi-tasking enough. With all the chaos in our world today, there is something to be said for some silence to think, to reflect or simply to daydream. By being on your phone when it isn’t necessary, you are not only ruining that small moment of serenity for yourself, but anyone who has the unfortunate place of being near you.

No one ever needs to have a special ringer so that they feel like an individual. If you want to be original, state your opinions on things, don’t believe that “Toxic” will truly reflect your personality

Finally, if in doubt, turn it off!

Are You a VIP?

Are You a VIP?

Today’s VIPs, are not really.

Ever notice that when you go to a “VIP Party” you hardly recognize anyone?

Who are these people? Where do they come from?

Well, let’s take a look.

Friends of the person giving the party. Friends of the Publicist. Friends of the caterer. Buskers. Shills. Street venders. Friends of friends.

But are they important? Are they truly VIPs?

One local freeloader was widely exposed in the Boston Globe no less because he “crashes parties”. Imagine! A few years ago you could be arrested for that. Now he’s accepted as a celebrity.

Friends of mine are on every opening “VIP List” even though they are not important. In fact, they even admitted to me recently that they go to the ‘burbs for a cheap dinner and never spend a penny in the invited establishments.

Another gentlemen who is retired and living in Boston is at all the parties. Totally unimportant to anyone except himself and his ability to be on lists that offer free food and booze.

A few years ago, a Toronto hotel publicist telephoned to ask why I should continue to be given VIP status, despite the fact that I had been staying at the hotel for some time as a VIP guest. I hung up immediately and stopped staying there.

How do you answer a dumb question like that when they have my Press Kit to indicate that I am president of a Boston PR firm, Author of the book, AMERICA’S BEST 100, a Journalist who has written countless articles ranging from Public Relations to Travel, Restaurants and Social Critiques for varied publications, and have made appearances on TV-Radio Shows in the US and Canada including regular appearances on the NBC-TV Today Show.

My God, what else should I have to do to qualify as a VIP? Go naked with earrings, tattoos, body piercings and green hair? Give me a break.

The club scene is another eyesore. Ever notice that it is the Big Burley Muscled males with big pecs guarding the door, who probably haven’t graduated beyond grammar school, who decide who get in or not? While being paid $9.50 per hour! They know VIP’s? Hardly. What they look for are outrageous demeanor, clothing, a sleeve of tattoos, body piercing (the weirder the better) the new age qualifications for VIP.

Show up in a Brooks Brothers suit and tie and you are relegated to the back of the line.

My, how things have changed. Standards? There are none. It’s all who you know no matter how important or not you happened to be.

Then there are those of us who attend many social, civic and charitable events during the year in Boston and contribute to many worthy causes, and yet their names are rarely listed nor does their photo appear in social columns. This despite the fact that certain “Social Editors” list VIPs in attendance that includes lovers, miscreants and assorted hoit polloi. Even an obnoxious decorator couple. Go figure.

It’s the Golden Rule. He who has the gold (on their bodies and around their neck) rules.

Background? History? Achievement? Doesn’t count. Gone. No one cares.

Used to be that in Boston, background or accomplishment mattered. Not anymore. New York had the title of “everything for sale”. Now it’s universal, except Europe where the only bastion of standards can be found today. So get on a gondola and sail on to a better more qualified “social, VIP climate” that is representative of an educated cultured history and background, which in the old days were the qualifications for VIP status in America.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action in education shows rising support in America (56% vs 49% in 1995). Yet quality often suffers because of equality. Furthermore, it stamps all minorities with a badge of inferiority. Why should educators lower the grade expectations of students just because of their race? That’s prejudice in reverse.

Why should a student be denied admission to an academic institution to make room for a minority student not as qualified? (Or vice versa). Education is a gateway to success in American society and should not be denied those qualified.

When Americans are applying for jobs, employers don’t consider race (it’s illegal) and therefore the fact that the minority student didn’t do as well as its counterpart is not considered. Just intelligence and ability. Isn’t that what really matters?

When I was entering the advertising business on Madison Avenue, I was only 1 of 4 Italian Account Executives with a blue-chip 4-A Advertising Agency (Young & Rubicam).

Italians were O.K. to be in the Art or Creative Departments but not good enough to be in client contact with Anglo-Saxon, Protestant clients such as Proctor & Gamble, General Foods, Chrysler Corporation. But I didn’t let this interfere with my goals.

Blacks weren’t even allowed in the mailrooms. Women were only hired on “female accounts” such as the Personal Products division of Johnson & Johnson. Rich “connected” kids form Ivy League schools where hired for the mailroom at $60 a week and it was considered a “prestigious job” to be on Madison Avenue with a blue chip advertising agency. Jews were not allowed and therefore started their own agencies with Anglo-Saxon types to front for them.

I persevered and finally remained in the business and here I am 38 years later in the Public Relations business … one I never thought of entering in my youth.

My, we’ve come a long way since then. When I opened my Advertising, Marketing, Sales Promotion & Public Relations Agency in 1964 I never toyed with the idea of calling my agency by any other name, which as you can see is of Italian origin. C. Paul Luongo Company, Public Relations & Marketing, Boston.

I didn’t run to the ACLU, Italian-American Leagues, or any other ethnic support group. I did it on my own, on my own terms, and while difficult, (and it still is) I accomplished my objectives without having to rely on affirmation action rules which I think are harmful for people to deal with and expect special consideration in life because of their race, creed or color. It spoils them. Then they expect special treatment in life which is ephemeral.
Success is a 4-letter word spelled w-o-r-k and without it you won’t get ahead. There are no short cuts to success. Regardless of race, color or gender. If you’ve got it … by God, flaunt it with careful style and intelligence. Don’t depend on others to do your dirty work. Don’t run to racial or religious groups for help. Be independent.

Don’t think of yourself as an African-American or Asian American or Spanish-American. I never did. I am an American. Period. Forget labels. Forget everything but your intelligence, fortitude, persistence, ambition, goals and dedication to a standard of principles to move you forward for a speedy, successful life. Labels are for loafers. Be smart. Start today to overcome any liabilities you may have and remember the refrain from that old song ... you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.