Tag Archives: #public events

Five Life Lessons from Doc Martin

Entertainment Craftsmanship: What Missing from American Television

Entertainment Craftsmanship: What’s Missing from American Television

Although a similar-sounding name brings footwear to mind for most Americans, “Doc Martin” is a British television series that follows the fictional life of Dr. Martin Ellingham, a brilliant but extremely grumpy (dog-hating) vascular surgeon whose medical career is sidelined after he develops a fear of blood. This unfortunate turn of events takes him to the (fictional) Cornwall seaside village of Portwenn where, as a general practitioner, his gruff, short-tempered manner conflicts with the laid-back, folksy manner of the villagers.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, you’re missing several things that American television has long been lacking, including great scriptwriting and acting, sophisticated humor and genuinely interesting characters. Doc Martin is pure television craftsmanship and well worth your time to watch all of the episodes from the past 5 seasons on Netflix.

Worldwide followers of the series eagerly await Season 6, set to begin this fall, which is purportedly its last. Addicted fans are preparing themselves for withdrawal, as the show’s creators understand that it’s always better to leave fans hungry for more, than it is to jump the shark with sloppy scriptwriting and worn-out or ridiculous plot lines.

Because Doc Martin offers viewers simple but enduring life lessons, the show’s legacy is secure. Here are a few things this blogger will always remember:

It’s OK to say “No!”  There’s rarely any doubt regarding where Doc Martin stands on an issue. No long explanations regarding the motivation or feelings behind his decisions. No sugar-coating. The downside of this approach is that people can be put off by the lack of diplomacy. The upside is that when you do say “Yes!” people understand that your decision is genuine, and not simply intended to make them feel good.

Know Your Stuff.  Even people whose personalities clash with Doc Martin appreciate (eventually) that he’s a skilled practitioner who has their best interests at heart.  He has the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes, and encyclopedic knowledge of every disease and malady known to mankind. Importantly, despite his lowbrow patients (compared with his London practice) he continues to study his craft and works to improve it. People will forgive personality shortcomings if you can add value to their lives in meaningful ways.

Overcome Obstacles. Development of a mid-career blood phobia would have ended the professional life of most physicians, but Doc Martin simply shifted gears – moving from surgery to general practice. When he’s confronted with blood in his new role, Doc Martin pukes in a paper bag and addresses the medical crisis at hand without skipping a beat. Doc Martin is a dauntless spirit whose determination was shaped by a mother who did not want him and a father who had no time for him. “When life gives you lemons…make lemonade” is a cliché, but its underlying lesson helps to maintain one’s sanity in a world we often can’t control.

Set Clear Expectations. Although Doc Martin is not always effective in enforcement of his own rules, there’s never any question about what he expects from people. His receptionists (three of them, so far) understand what behavior he’s seeking and what will not be tolerated, which includes not serving hot tea to patients in the waiting room. Whether you’re managing an office staff, raising children (or lining up your putt on the 16th hole), it’s important to have a clear vision of the outcome you’re seeking, and to be very specific with people regarding how they can help you achieve it.

Find an Meaningful Outlet. Doc Martin is wound as tight as a clock, so perhaps the show’s creators intend for his hobby of clock repair to serve as a metaphor for self-examination.  Either way, it’s important to have an outlet for relaxation, expression or personal satisfaction; whether that activity be physical or intellectual, which is increasingly difficult in a world consisting of so many passive distractions…such as watching Doc Martin re-runs.

In advance of Season 6’s final 8 episodes, diehard Doc Martin fans can follow the latest series-related news and gossip on its official website / blog www.docmartinfan.com . In the meantime, readers of this blog post are invited to share a life lesson or two that they’ve learned from Doc Martin.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Augusta National Throws Women a Bone. Should Condi and Darla Return the Favor?

Darla and Condi Have No Reason to Celebrate

Augusta National Golf Club, long revered by the golfing world as the Sistine Chapel of their sport, announced with great pride (a “joyous occasion,” according to Augusta Chairman Billy Payne) that it had invited bureaucrat Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore to join the club as its first female members.

For decades, Augusta National has defiantly withstood public criticism and pressure to admit female members on the basis that as a private institution the club is under no obligation to accept anyone – regardless of sex, race, religion or sexual preference – who does not pass muster with the boys who hold the keys to the front door.

Ever since golfing legend and bona fide Southern gentleman Bobby Jones co-founded Augusta National some 80 years ago, the club has served as the stage for the Masters Tournament, considered by many as golf’s most important international competition, perhaps with exception of the Ryder Cup. And it’s Augusta National’s association with the history and tradition of the Masters that provides the club with a level of prestige (and arrogance) that exceeds St. Andrews and Pebble Beach combined.

During his days as Microsoft’s CEO, Bill Gates faced Augusta National’s arrogance first-hand when denied club membership for publicly stating that he wanted to be a member. As punishment, Augusta forced Gates to eat crow for several years before he was allowed to wear a member’s green jacket.

But Augusta National’s bullying isn’t limited to their admission process. A little known fact is that once admitted to the club, a member is not assured of continued membership and may be dropped at any time for any reason with no explanation. In fact, the only way Augusta National members know if they are still members is by the arrival of their annual dues invoice in Spring. No invoice means your invitation has been withdrawn.

Augusta National is not about golf; it’s about power. It features a golf course that’s closed for a good part of the year to protect the pristine fairways and sacred greens that its well-heeled members rarely play on.  Augusta National is not about golf; it’s about prestige. The club bestows membership to America’s corporate royalty the same way the Queen of England awards knighthoods and MBE titles…but with far less intelligence and transparency than the British monarchy.

The sad truth is that women have nothing to cheer over the “joyous occasion” at Augusta. This publicity stunt does not represent a meaningful change in the club’s policy of exclusion, and provides Augusta National with convenient and high profile validation that it will continue to exercise its right, as a private club, to do whatever it wants whenever it wants.

If Condi and Darla are serious about playing golf, there are scores of world-class private clubs that have been accepting women as members for many decades. And if Condi and Darla are serious about advancing the cause of women’s rights, they should decline Augusta National’s invitation. And they should make a lot of noise in the process.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BMW’s Storm Cooper: A Mini-Coup Rather than a PR Blunder?

Stormy Weather for BMW?

For a fee, Germany allows people or companies to sponsor the names of weather fronts. So last month, to promote the “wind and weatherproof” capabilities of its Mini Cooper line, BMW’s marketing agency purchased naming rights to a high pressure system that originated in Siberia.

But the Cooper storm turned out to be far more than weather forecasters and BMW expected. As the storm made its way through Eastern Europe, its sustained sub-zero temperatures were attributed to the deaths of more than 250 people.

PR industry pundits and critics have been quick to jump on BMW for its decision to associate its brand with what has turned out to be one of Europe’s most deadly winter storms on record. A headline in the Wall Street Journal announced: “Weather Deal Backfires for BMW’s Mini.”

But did it really?

Although BMW quickly and properly issued a statement saying that it regretted the weather front’s severity, and distancing itself from the deadly consequences of weather, the car company’s $400 investment in Storm Cooper may have been a PR bonanza rather than a black eye.

The Wall Street Journal’s position notwithstanding, few people are likely to blame BMW for the storm’s impact, or to associate the Mini Cooper brand with the casualties. However, if top-of-mind awareness is a beneficial marketing objective for a car company, then the exponentially greater, world-wide storm-related coverage for BMW’s Mini Cooper marque certainly won’t hurt showroom traffic or the company’s balance sheet.

In this case, the old saw, “All publicity is good publicity” may well be true. I’m confident that BMW’s marketing agency considers this a solid win, rather than a blunder.


Filed under Uncategorized

PETA’s SeaWorld Lawsuit: Do Publicity Stunts Make Sense?

Whale Abuse: Exhibit A for Shamu, the Plaintiff

In the first case of its kind, PETA, three marine-mammal experts, and two former orca trainers are filing a lawsuit asking a federal court to declare that “five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The filing—the first ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to animals—names the five orcas as plaintiffs and also seeks their release to natural habitats or seaside sanctuaries.

The announcement on the PETA website asks people to “help animals imprisoned by SeaWorld today,” and suggests they to write to The Blackstone Group—the company that owns SeaWorld—to request that “it immediately set in place a firm and rapid plan to release the animals to sanctuaries that can provide them with an appropriate and more natural environment.”

As I prepared to use this high profile law suit as a news hook for a blog post on publicity stunts (although PETA would likely deny the filing is a stunt), I ran across an excellent 2008 post by James L. Horton, entitled “Publicity Stunts. What Are They? Why Do Them?” which is the best explanation and counsel you will find on this topic. Jim Horton is a seasoned PR pro, and a partner at Robert Marston and Associates.

In Horton’s deep dive into publicity stunts, he says “the challenge of any publicity stunt is to preserve the message contained within it.” The acid test, he claim, is that, “Stunts can be elaborate or simple but their importance is the news interest and awareness they generate for the concept/ product/ service being marketed.”

On that basis, PETA’s lawsuit succeeds as a publicity stunt. Off the record, PETA would probably admit that it does not expect the SeaWorld lawsuit to make it to court, much less free the whales. But the massive publicity related to their filing, calling the public’s attention to the rights of animals, is not only consistent with PETA’s underlying mission, but also demonstrates the extent to which PETA is willing to defend those rights.

The flip side of the “Why Do Stunts?” argument is that all this PETA-generated noise may simply drive greater awareness and consumer interest in visiting SeaWorld, which would make Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman happy.  Another unknown involves the extent to which an organization damages its brand by doing something that’s viewed as crazy by the general populace. In this case, has PETA reinforced the notion that they are simply a bunch of “animal nuts,” and diminished its seriousness of purpose?

On that score, PETA decided long ago that having “crazy” associated with its brand is either a risk worth taking, or an attribute it’s seeking.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Way Smart B2B Marketers Work Backwards

B2B Marketing Needs Impressive Stuff Like This

Companies invest considerable time and effort in securing and preparing for public events, industry seminars, keynote addresses, webinars and roundtable discussions. But contrary to The B2B Marketer’s Bible, and regardless of the upfront investment, the intrinsic value and opportunities related to participation in in-person and virtual public forums do not lie within the event itself.

Consider this:

  • A public platform represents an implied endorsement from the sponsoring organization because of its vested interest in showcasing knowledgeable speakers. No organization will knowingly showcase a speaker who has no credibility or expertise in his or her respective field.
  • The audience attending the event represents a small fraction of those you are attempting to influence, and key decision makers often are not present at public events.
  • What’s done to promote the firm’s endorsement from the sponsoring organization—in advance of and following the event—can be more important than what occurs at the event itself. Simply issuing a press release, or posting the event’s slide presentation on a website, will not adequately address the opportunity.

Here’s how one professional services firm gained a tangible ROI from a single speaking opportunity:

The managing partner of a New York-based, eight-person CPA firm—following his presentation at a regional bar association’s seminar on law-practice-related tax, compliance and compensation issues—sent highlights of his remarks, with a brief cover note, to all the members of that regional bar association, whether they had attended the seminar or not.

This CPA firm’s follow-up marketing effort, which combined the bar association’s implied third-party endorsement with its managing partner’s thought leadership in practice management, resulted in new relationships with three law firms that had not attended the seminar.

Smart marketers work backwards. They have a specific plan to merchandise the credibility and thought leadership related to the marketplace exposure directly to target audiences in advance of seeking the speaking opportunity. That way, their ability to convert a public platform into bona fide business results is significantly enhanced.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized