Category Archives: public relations

It’s what I do

for your consideration: manchester by the sea.

manchester-by-the-seaManchester by the Sea (2016 Amazon Studios, Roadside Attractions, K Period Media, B Story, CMP, Pearl Street Films)
Starring Casey Afflect, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges.
Written and Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.
Producers: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin J. Walsh, Lauren Beck.
Cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes. Edited by Jennifer Lame
Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

Might as well call it Limbo by the Sea, because all its residences are living in limbo, for assorted reasons. Whether tragedy, addiction, bad health or whatever put them there, Manchester by the Sea is a town full of people who either can’t or won’t get out of their own way; a bunch of tortured souls that don’t know how to move on. Or, in Lee Chandler’s case, you refuse to move on.

Well, all but Joe. He moved on, whether he wanted to or not.

Yes, that’s a rather glib review of Manchester by the Sea, but it’s pretty much what we’re dealing with in this film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, but finding a takeaway to latch onto is difficult.

Casey Affleck, as Lee Chandler, gives a great performance in Manchester by the Sea, as does Lucas Hedges as his nephew, Patty. But if we’re to glean from the two of them some sort of chemistry, it’s hard to find. Then again, Lee’s M.O. throughout the story is to push everyone away as a means of punishment for his past.

For his part, Patty comes across as either spoiled or ungrateful for most of Manchester by the Sea. It’s difficult to tell if he’s grieving or just doesn’t care, so long as his life isn’t upturned too much by his father’s death.

It’s an interesting story about ordinary people muddling through their lives, trying to sort out their own issues while addressing the loss of a loved one. At times, it fees a bit like Ordinary People, set in a cold, gray, wintry city in New England.

Even though everyone’s going through some level of personal torture (or so it seems), writer/director Kenneth Lonergan maintains the story through Lee’s point of view, sometimes uncomfortably so. Even when he tries to loosen himself from his own guilt, he always finds a way back to it. And if Lee doesn’t fall back into his guilt, someone else drags him there. The one time someone tries to pull him out of it, to let him free himself from his sins, leads to one of the most wrenching scenes in the movie.

Manchester by the Sea is a slow burn and a good story. But don’t come here looking for some big payoff in the end or a triumph-of-the-human-spirit climax. To that end, Manchester by the Sea is like real life. In the movie, as in real life, sometimes you just have to do the best you can to get by.

***-1/2 stars (out of five)


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e-marketing 101: don’t give competitors free pub.

Even before I moved to Las Vegas, I was quite enamored with the travel and tourism out here. It’s big business and is plenty of fun to be a part of it. While most people know I’ve been a public relations professional since about 1997, what you may not know is I also have three years experience in the gaming industry. I was a dealer and supervisor in the MIdwest at a riverboat casino for about 2-1/2 years and capped it off by working about five months as a dice dealer at a major resort on The Strip. I’ve long since retired my dealing hands, but I still enjoy keeping in tune with the industry.

Being a PR/marketing/copywriting guy with a flair for the gaming industry, I like to pay attention to their marketing materials. It’s usually run-of-the-mill stuff. But on this occasion, a week ago, I received a mailer that stopped me dead in my tracks.

Before I continue, let me be clear of one thing: I am not being catty. I like to recognize good marketing as well as marketing that could be better. This is an example of marketing that could be better. I base my judgment on my 12 years of experience as well as being a consumer.

E-marketing Blunder
I recently received an email from the Venetian/Palazzo, advertising their pool.

11016075_10101529189858334_69310403391402350_nLooks pretty swanky, no? I’ve stayed at both the Venetian and Palazzo and have met people who work there. I have nothing but kind things to say about the people and love the properties. However, if I’m in charge of e-marketing for these properties, I never would’ve sent this email.

Can you guess why? Look again. What do you see in the middle of the image? The Wynn and Encore looming over the Palazzo’s pool. Wynn’s properties are neighboring competitors. Even though the logos were Photoshopped off the buildings, architecture is as much a part of the resort’s brand as its logo. In my mind, this is a huge no-no.

If I’m a marketing manager with the Venetian or Palazzo, that last thing I’m going to do is give potential customers any image that will make them think of a competitor. Here, Steve Wynn’s resorts are getting free exposure.

Am I being nitpicky? Perhaps. But if I’m a marketing manager, that’s my job. I’m going to use images that are 100 percent my property instead of handing over 30 percent of the visual real estate to a competitor. Whomever designed this mailer should’ve selected an image that shows Palazzo’s pool and nothing else.

For those who argue it’s no big deal, here’s why I say it is: would McDonald’s advertise its Big Mac with a Burger King restaurant visible in the background? No.

Here’s an image from an email I received from the Mirage in the same week.

10995817_10101529729506874_6352070003681187430_nSee what they did? They made the image all about the resort and no others. Even though Treasure Island and Caesars Palace sandwich the Mirage, you don’t see that in this image because they don’t want your attention diverted off their property for one second. Did they take artistic license? Of course, but that’s not a bad thing with advertising.

I’ll be curious to see the next round of e-marketing materials from Venetian/Palazzo. Hopefully they don’t give Steve Wynn more free advertising.

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a new spin.

I’m working on a new spin for an old vehicle: my resume. Here’s a more visual representation of my job duties over the years. By itself, it’s just a general overview. My goal is to incorporate other graphs and charts with this to paint a more complete picture.

My Career Graph02

Is this something? Does this help? Any thoughts? Anyone?

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a lesson in how not to issue a public statement.

Last week, I wrote a blog entry about Taylor Chapman and her vulgar, racist rant directed at a Dunkin Donuts employee. Thanks to the Internet, it was discovered she did some work for a Florida-based company called Power Sales Team.

From the company’s own website:

I created PowerSalesTeam as a solution for small to medium sized businesses to help develop and implement effective and affordable solutions for our clients to better market them selves on and off-line.

Got that? There are plenty more words on the “About Us” page, but I’ll spare you that carnage. It’s beyond poorly written. The rest of the website is…well, it’s not pretty. Oh sure, it’s fancy and informative…if this is 1995, but for a company trying to look and sound like a professional marketing firm, their own website says otherwise.

If it sounds like I’m picking on Power Sales Team—excuse me, PowerSalesTeam—I assure you I had no intent, initially. I found their website a week ago and realized it was a pretty amateurish attempt at pretending to be an agency, but so what? There are plenty of those in the world. No need to pick on them.

And then they did this: a really nasty video statement regarding Taylor Chapman (go see for yourself, I’m not posting the video here).

Issuing a statement announcing they do not condone her racist, vile rant and would no longer work with her is acceptable and necessary. That is PR101. But they had to take it one step further in the form of an awful, clumsy, classless video statement with only one purpose: to sarcastically pile on Taylor Chapman.

It is vindictive. It is juvenile. It is unprofessional. It is unacceptable.

Their actual product is reason enough to never hire them. I’m not a web designer and I think I could put out better websites. The hatchet job they did to Taylor Chapman merely cinches it. You’re not dealing with professionals.

If your options for online marketing firms are Power Sales Team and a chimp with a computer, go with the chimp. At least you know what to expect from the chimp and it won’t lie to you.

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i know that you know that i know. you know?

Hello, APCO Worldwide! Welcome to my blog. Talk to you soon. 🙂

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charlie sheen: winning.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Charlie Sheen’s tour got off to a clunker of a start at Detroit’s Fox Theater tonight. By show of hands, who’s surprised? Exactly. By all accounts Sheen was:
* Not funny
* Not interesting
* Not engaging
* Not worth the price of admission
* Not very warlock-esque

In fact, several people booed, heckled and walked out. The larger question for that audience remains: why did you walk in, in the first place?

I don’t dislike Charlie Sheen. I think his show, Two and a Half Men, is pretty funny. Sure, it’s a bit raunchy, but it’s still mindless, silly fun. But it sounds like Sheen wanted to leave the successful show for reasons only he knows. I can understand that. Many actors, musicians, artists have walked away from a fat payday to pursue other interests. I can respect that. But is this Charlie Sheen’s principled stand? A slew of Tweets followed by a bomb of a live show? This just in, Chuck: Conan O’Brien you ain’t.

On its surface, I think it’s great to see television performers step off the sound stage, out of the comfort of “recorded in front of a live audience” and onto theater stages across the country. But the reason Conan was so successful and Sheen is on a tenuous highwire comes down to one simple reality: Conan didn’t take his audience for granted.

Instead of scripting a tight live show with comedy, monologues and audience participation, Sheen winged it. Perhaps this is a condition of living with addiction (or living with “goddesses”), but Charlie Sheen miscalculated bigtime!

But it’s not too late to save it. He can continue his tour and even take pointed shots at his former (?) employers, but how about hiring a writer or two, Chuck? Script things out a bit or something. Instead of being your own ringleader, you need a comic on the road with you to help you work an audience. In other words, spend more time putting together an act than you do on Twitter.

If Sheen was looking only to get people talking about him, mission accomplished. If he was looking to leverage his notoriety into something more lucrative, I’m not seeing it. For the moment, it appears Charlie Sheen’s acting career is all but dead. He’s fallen down to Kardashian status: a camera whore with nothing to sell other than himself. And the prices are being slashed as we speak.

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In a 12-hour stretch from Saturday night to Sunday morning, there were four shootings in Indianapolis. Two downtown, one on the northwest side and another when a cop pulled someone over. A total of five people were shot, including an IMPD police officer during that stop. He was shot four times—twice in the face—and his clinging to life.

Four shootings. Five victims. Twelve hours.


The answer is not more guns, it’s less. The answer is not more laws, it’s smarter laws. How and where did these people get a hold of these weapons? How many more cops have to get shot? How many more innocent bystanders have to be put at risk? How many more bullets have to fly before we stop fetishizing the Second Amendment and get serious about stopping the violence.


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