Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Green Streak

This week has given me the opportunity to reflect privately and publicly about all things ecological and not so logical. I sent a note to some clients and prospects right around Earth Day, and have been pondering how in less than a year, that became a borderline faux pas. Ad Age published my reaction and plenty of others to their article about marketers glomming on to the event like a materialistic Christmas grinch. I'm a little optimistic about good green intentions, despite the "road to hell" and all that. But it did give me pause.

I'm constantly "checking in" and running through a mental check list about my own eco-actions. They say it takes three weeks of doing something consistently to start to form a habit. I know my reasons for not eating meat started from reading "Diet for a Small Planet" (still a great book) back in the '70s, but I sometimes think now it's more a habit than anything; I'm just USED to skipping to the vegetables and fish on a menu and not even considering any other options. But that's a 30 year old "habit" by now!

I've always loved antiques and the concept of "repurposing" perfectly good items (influenced that childhood favorite book,
"The Boxcar Children," from even longer ago, perhaps?) And I have pangs of guilt if I toss so much as an envelope into the garbage instead of the recycle bin, so I guess that's a habit.

Motivated by saving green and going green, I tried to break an unconscious shopping habit by forming a new NON-shopping habit. I forswore buying anything other than replacing necessities, except for dinners out, etc. That meant I passed by ALL the January post-holiday sales (except for one shirt I got with an expiring gift certificate) and even worked to work my way through the old travel size shampoos I'd stored up like a squirrel before allowing myself to indulge in a new full sized bottle.

Then spring happened. And conspiring with that like the perfect storm was a big going out of business sale at my favorite store. Four dirt-cheap but fabulous skirts and shirts later I felt like a glutton after a midnight snack. Truth be told, I'm still pretty proud of myself. I was on the wagon for for 15 weeks of purchasing only necessities, and intend to get right back on.

Lots of people have done this, and done it better; there are plenty of blogs and books describing the experience in different levels.
It's astonishing to look around at all I have, and see all I don't need more of. And it was (make that is) a big deal for me, a recovering shopaholic, and was an important habit to FORM, just like recycling or buying local.

I may fall off the wagon again, but I believe I'm officially in the conscious consumer camp now...daycamp perhaps, but

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Note to Tendo...and self

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to address High School students in the Children's Aid Society Corporate Advisory Committee's Career Panel.

(Major thanks to Nicole at WE and other marketing folks for supplying the kids with network-branded gifts. Another blog about that later.)

One of the students sent me a follow up note asking for recommendations in pursuing a marketing career or deciding on a career path in general.

In writing back, I realize that the thoughts I shared with her are good reminders to MYSELF:

Hello Tendo:
Thank you for the nice note. I'm glad you found the panel discussion helpful; and your courteous response is very impressive!

With regard to your questions:

"What would you suggest as a high school some things that i should look out for now to better prepare myself for the future?" (sic)
  • For any of the areas you mentioned, I believe keeping on top of new technology will be very helpful. Try to learn about new media areas -- from interactive advertising to broadband video. If there is a student media group, whether it is a radio station, Web site, or TV station you can get involved with, that would be great. Explore volunteering in many areas for them, such as writing or production.
  • Go online and read as much as you can from media publications that are posted for free, such as or maybe A lot will be over your head, but some will sink in here and there, and you'll either be "in the know" or at least be able to recognize some terminology when you need it.
  • Intern in whatever media company or ad agency you can, too.
  • Take classes in typing if you haven't already (and SPELL CHECK everything you send out professionally.)
  • Keep trying to be as well-rounded and exposed to new ideas and professionals you admire as much as possible.
  • Keep a journal! (I still have mine that I started when I was 16!) Picture yourself succeeding. :-) Make a note about the jobs you think are cool, and WHY you think you are drawn to them. Make a note about the people you admire and WHY you admire them, or may want to emulate them. (Was there an air-traffic controller who showed confidence under pressure, and you would like to have more of that quality? Was there a TV executive you saw on the news with a great sense of humor and you think you would like the opportunity to come up with creative entertainment ideas?) You don't have to decide anything right now except to decide to stay open and observing and interested in gaining experience. All the rest will come to you.
"can you please describe for me what exactly it is that you do at your job such as responsibilities and etc. ? "
I invite you to visit my Web site ( and look at my bio, and some of the work I've done. I started as a radio copywriter and a newspaper reporter at the same time, while I was a senior in college. I was pretty busy, but I learned a lot about two different areas of media at once. I still use my writing skills today, but I also discovered that I am a good "project manager" -- overseeing all the steps needed to make a project come to life. I oversee designers and other (better) writers, Web masters and printers. I speak with clients about what their OBJECTIVES are (see the first paragraph of my home page), then I try to come up with a creative way to help them meet those objectives.

"also do you enjoy it?"
I am self-employed, which means I am always having to land the next assignment or win the next project. It keeps me on my toes! But you can't beat it for creativity. I do miss having a team around me all the time to bounce ideas off of, and am looking to work with others on a more regular basis. It also allows me the flexibility to also do work that is important to me, like helping produce environmental marketing messages for companies trying to do the right thing!

I hope you'll drop me a note here and there and keep me posted on your progress and the path you choose.

Best regards,

E.B. Moss

Friday, April 4, 2008

pre-Fatigue Fatigue

I'm worried. The more we see and hear the green message, the greater the chance for the planet-killjoys to circle the wagons with cries of "it's a trend!"

Last night I attended a mainstream networking event. Instead of the usual pats on back and looks of intrigue from most people who hear I have Moss Appeal Green, a couple of clearly conservative fellows in the finance and real estate worlds actually challenged me to a little eco-duel. ("Come on, E.B. ...Isn't "green marketing" just trying to get companies to look like they're doing stuff?" or "This won't make any difference," "it's a passing phase," etc.)

I believe I won. I think a "trend" or "fad" is based on sizzle, not meat or merit. We have no choice but to embrace this and get used to the need for substantive change.

But they are getting tired of hearing eco-this and sustainable that. I think that is the good news and the bad news. Per my previous comments, I think when we get tired of hearing the message is when it may finally be sinking in. But miles to go before we sleep.

Green doyenne, Jacquie Ottman, fought back a little in today's Sustainable Brands Weekly newsletter in a blurb on "green fatigue." See that, and my supporting comment, below it.
And don't give up on us yet!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

MT Writng?

A marketing peer once told me my blog was too well written (!) -- as in seeming too well-crafted vs. the more stream-of-consciousness style typical of the genre. I can understand this, but that happens to be how my writing gene manifests itself; even my emails to pals get infused with, well, "turns of phrases." (Ugh! Listen to me!) Anyway, numbers and math are not my friends, but I did start my career as a journalist and copywriter.

When I got my first Treo, my drug of choice in the PDA arena, I tried obsessively to correct thumb-driven typos. Then I received a message launched from a friend's Blackberry that included the line, "Sent from my Blackberry, if typos." I loved that! I quickly modified that line for my Treo sign-offs and exhaled in relief: there was nothing worse for an anal English major than replying to a client and belatedly seeing tons of unintentional errors.

Then I got a new device which is more of a pocket PC, whatever the heck that means. I'm still trying to figure it out, but it has this bigger keyboard and can actually let me create Word documents. I feel like I have less of an excuse for typos, but also haven't figured out how to insert a custom excuse in the signature line yet either. ("Sorry for typos. Can't figure out how the heck to type on this VX6800 thing.")

Anyway, at a recent seminar for business owners, a speaker admonished the audience, saying that while it's great to be able to respond to issues in email from almost anywhere at almost any time, putting your best brand forward requires that you take the time to write cleanly and professionally and NOT ask forgiveness for typos even from a PDA! I have to agree.

Your friends will forgive you. Your clients may judge you.

The trouble with txting and PDAs is that they go hand in shrthnd with poor writing skills these days. We get so used to dashing off quick messages, expecting that we'll be forgiven our typos in deference to expedience, that we are losing the QC (quality control, that is) that should go in to professional correspondence at the very least.

This really struck me when I was browsing some Q&As on the Web site of a professional trade publication. Kind of like in LinkedIn, people often ask or answer questions on forums like these as a form of network self-promotion. So why, for pete's sake, would someone clearly not make ANY effort to look smarter and professional?

Check out these verbatim (except for deleting identifying names, since I can't believe they want THIS kind of PR) questions, posed to a promotion marketing expert:

do the people at dr. pepper believe in marketing the product in area;s other than sports events .. the goal in marketing is to associate and familiarize one with the beverage..there are certain ways to associate the product with movement as in action the primciple tool for promotion. there are techniques for specific economies

Here is the very next question (yes, question, but neither had a "?") posted by someone else:

I don’t know where to go with a fan appreciation series if competition events that tie in witjh the sport and sponsor. It is a vehicle that can be on tv, sota like a reality sow, but note extreme as whats on tv now.

Could be there were typos or poor grammar in this post. If so, sorry. Only my sister -- an expert copy-editor -- will probably know (or say so.) But as to the above examples, that were signed by the submitters? All I have to say is: OMG.