Thursday, January 31, 2008

Driving (Green) Responsibly

I had an inspiring call with a prospective "green" client today. A couple of reminders and came out of it.

First: In the green scheme, no one (or business) is perfect.
What is perfect is being on the path to making a difference.
I remember when I attended a green marketing seminar last year, speakers from a really worthy company called ICESTONE apologized to the audience for not have a ZERO carbon footprint. Maybe they were, like, a "one" -- or a "two." This company recycles glass into a more eco-friendly countertop material that is BEAUTIFUL. They hire and manufacture locally, encourage employees to bike to work, they are Cradle to Cradle certified ...and on and on. They are doing almost everything right, and what isn't perfect they are aiming to improve.

But they were apologetic. And that was when I realized our potential as a society for throwing stones at glass espousers. C'mon! If only we were all as close to a zero footprint as them! So, I think, if you're not on the path, get on it. If you're on it, take another step, or hopefully three!

Second: There's more to doing right as a company than being green(er).
My prospective client has gotten on the green path; eliminating plastic from the cafeteria, changing their lightbulbs, using post-consumer waste paper...the boss drives a Prius, etc. They've even started an employee green committee to start evangelizing more eco-conscious behavior. They are on the way, and looking to Moss Appeal Green to help them head further down the green brick road. GREAT!

So, in researching some of their stakeholders I discovered that their corporate parent has put extensive support behind supporting economically disadvantaged children and community programs. That's really their calling card. Not a lot of bucks behind environmental causes. But that's okay. (See above.)

Just as PR is one area of marketing, green is one area of social responsibility. And customers are looking to companies to demonstrate corporate social responsibility overall.

This reminded me of something I did some years back in a promotion created for IKEA. It was a cause-related promotion with a green element:

We tied a consumer promotion in to the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. The theme was Improve Your World. We'd help “improve the world” through donations and matching contributions to the national program. We'd help improve the consumer's local world by awarding a dining room set to a winner from each store location and make a contribution in their name to an area food shelter. Finally, we did it all around Earth Day, and held in-store events that taught kids to “Plant an extra row” to help fight hunger.

So, my prospective client can start to impact change in their own back yard by first creating programs that are consistent with its owner's goal of giving back to the community, even if they are only tinted with green...Maybe a coat drive, to recycle for the benefit of area kids, for example.

The point is, any socially responsible program contributes to the greater good, and if honoring the "brand" of the corporate parents will help them get buy-in from the top down for more support, it will lead to respect from the very ground on up.

Friday, January 25, 2008

MT Talk

Multi-tasking, like I wrote about last time, used to be primarily limited to the work environment and soccer moms. Now, with the already well-worn discussions and doth-protesting-too-much chatter by and about crackberries and sidekicks disrupting life as we knew it, MT Talk - conversations taking place while multi-tasking - has made its way into the home, apparent on weekends and evening hours – and is prevalent among freelancers and social butterflies. In our time-starved society this syndrome is more and more apparent and is not only responsible for curtailing relationships but to actually putting our very lives at risk!

I am ashamed to say I first recognized the symptoms in myself. As an independent marketer, I am joined at the hip to my Treo and a high-speed connected laptop. (My addiction to e-mail and breaking news online is something to be analyzed in another forum – probably with a couch involved.) I admit having tapped into my old acting skills when a phone call has come in at the same time as an intriguing email, and attempted to portray an active listener with well-placed “Uh-huhs” and “Oh!”s. Though I may not have always been the most convincing, especially when having to ask the caller to repeat themselves after I was shocked back to attention by my sub-conscious picking up on something like, oh, how their toddler backed the car out of the driveway alone, or “so I was hoping you were free to attend the Oscars with me.” (Okay, maybe I didn’t exactly ever hear something like that, but since my blog topic is about being snapped back to reality I'm allowed to dream. And in my dream, the writers' strike has been amicably settled in time, too.)

But when you catch your friends doing it right back to you, it’s pretty clear how no one is fooling anyone when involved in MTTalk. It’s the extra beat or two it takes to hear the standard conversational responses or niceties. It’s the same as hearing the supposed ex-smoker take an inhale that clearly was a drag on a cigarette not an innocent breath. Busted.

To be fair, there’s a lot of pressure on us in this find a job, a boyfriend, or sell your car (usually all done online). And do it all...yesterday. Plus, there are so many incoming messages across so many platforms that it can be hard to prioritize. Just a little over five years ago, it was newsworthy, and an Ad Age headline screamed: MORE CONSUME MULTIPLE MEDIA SIMULTANEOUSLY. "People are actually involved on a regular and occasional basis with as many as two or sometimes three different media at any given time," ( – 10/8/02)

But now, you could literally be online while on the phone with your BFF, with a YouTube video playing, when your IM pops open and an email comes in...just for starters.

I’ve got lots of ideas for still getting a marketing message through in that kind of environment, but socially, before conversation skills go the way of the hand-written thank you note, we should all try to pledge against MT Talk and practice solo-tasking on the phone.

Or you just might miss that invitation to the Oscars.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MT Brains

With the year still young, my motivation is still high to put new systems in place -- and THIS year really be organized. That’s a challenge for a Multi-Tasker like me. But since I’ve been acting obnoxiously motivated this month – participating in tele-classes on positive thinking and seminars that discuss proper file labeling (free tip: the experts prefer Dymo for their label-making), I’ve become shamed into making SOLO-Tasking part of the plan.

Here’s why: who knew multi-tasking was less efficient!?

Some darn research study showed that it actually slows you down! That’s just not acceptable in NYC or for a juggler like me. It’s the ramp up time required when your brain has to shift from one activity to the other and back again. But I don’t know. That’s kind of like the MTA’s 1999 decision to stop having the train conductors say “PLEASE stand clear of the closing doors" because it takes an additional 1.2 second or something like that to mind your Ps & Qs and could slow down the oh-so-on-time NY subways.

But I digress. My point is not about the MTA so much as MTB – that is, MT Brain. (Get it?)

Turns out there’s another reason to minimize multi-tasking: It can make you, well, stoopid. Since I’m trying to live the solotasking advice, I downloaded a time tracker for my projects. I start the clock when I’m working on one thing, then switch the clock to track the next. It’s amazing how time doesn’t fly sometimes.

Now, I’m a really good project manager, used to having a lot of balls in the air at once; it’s the nature of overseeing multiple projects like sweepstakes or email campaigns. But I realized there were times I was stopping the clock on one program and starting it on another in, like, 43-second a hummingbird on pollen. And since the program won’t let you run the clock on two projects at once, my resolution is to minimize those under-a-minute increments per task, and really dedicate myself to one project for longer chunks...or at least for however long my Starbucks stays hot, because then I have to hop up and zap it, and while I’m up I might as well check the headlines and before I settle back down to my project at hand, I’ll just sneak a peak at that email that just came in even though I really should wait for the dedicated hour each morning I’m supposed to carve out for responding to emails according to that Organization Therapist who prefers the Dymo.

But it seems I once again digress. And my email alert just rang and my fingers are itching to check my inbox, and that means I have to stop the darn clock to shift tasks. So I’ll have to use my next entry to explain why I’m recommending some solo-tasking for others, too. Not just for your brain’s sake, but for the good of humanity. Or at least your close circle of friends. It’s the MTT factor....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The blog that keeps on blogging...

As if I didn't milk it enough, CSRWire has featured me today and that blog I wrote for NY Times Small Biz Summit section! Gotta love new media. And CSRWire.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blog, Sweet Blog.

A month or two ago, after attending the New York Times Small Business Summit, I was asked to contribute to their new Web page -- an adjunct to the NY Times online. I dusted off my journalist chops and wrote my first blog entry! What a blast. I had to finally commit on paper just one of the thoughts that had been swirling around my brain; take a point-of-view and get it out there! Personally, I think it's a pretty smart piece of writing (even if it was a little long...) and a catchy title: Using Social Media to Market Social Responsibility.

But it was for someone else's site. Yeah, okay, not bad that your first entry is associated in some way with the New York Times, for pete's sake...and you know I emailed everyone in my address book about that little piece of exposure. I was even a "featured entrepreneur" with a Q&A, picture, and everything.

It started to dawn on me that people might be interested in what I had to say when another blogger asked if he could interview me about Pixman, one of the very cool experiential tactics I rep. It was one of his first entries, and Kris' blog has really taken off. I'd like to think I helped the kick-starting...but I think he's just really motivated.

THEN, I landed a great new client -- a software-as-a-service product (I'll explain that another time) and to help their launch we created a whole social media campaign, including setting up the CEO with his own blog.

It was time to do it for myself...and Moss Appeal...and Moss Appeal Green.

There have been times in the past few years where I've had some darn good ideas and perspectives about the state of my industry (primarily media/entertainment), from how to overcome issues of advertising in a DVR world, and some less, well, erudite ones. Like, once I run low on plastic bags from refusing them at the grocery store, what am I going to put my garbage in? And there have been some just plain funny thoughts that should be shared, in my humble opinion.
Sometimes hysterical, sometimes hysteria, they all swirl around in my head, with no home to go to.

Until now. Now there is my own little blog, sweet blog.

Look out.