Friday, January 15, 2016

Coca-Cola Marketing Strategist Named New United States PR Laureate: Onin

I haven’t done a PR-related post in a while, so when I noticed this recently, I thought it was too good not to share. From The Onion:

WASHINGTON — In a ceremony at the White House this morning in which his work was praised for its unique contributions to the art of corporate communications, Coca-Cola marketing strategist Lawrence Shaffer was officially appointed as the new PR laureate of the United States, sources confirmed.

PR observers have hailed Shaffer’s series of Coca-Cola press statements in response to last year’s World Health Organization recommendation that individuals limit their sugar intake as “monumental” and “visionary.”

During a reception in the East Room, members of the PR laureate selection committee told reporters they spent weeks debating the merits of the nation’s most talented public relations professionals before deciding on Shaffer, whom they described as an “adroit and truly consummate” practitioner of brand messaging, one with a remarkable ability to push product and get people to connect emotionally with business entities.

“Lawrence Shaffer has a rare knack for both strategic brand partnerships and social media integration that makes him a modern-day master of corporate image management,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who commended Shaffer for mining the richness and diversity of the American experience in his work, citing in particular his oversight of the 2014 “Share a Coke” campaign. “As a young man, he burst onto the PR scene after leveraging his press relationships to help oil executives shape the narrative emerging in the public consciousness following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. The press conferences he orchestrated then were so deft and nuanced.”

“But it is at Coca-Cola that his marketing strategies have left their most indelible mark on the imagination of the American consumer,” Earnest continued. “For evidence of that, we need look no further than the company’s recent collaboration with cosmetics manufacturer OPI to create soft drink–inspired nail polish colors. It’s truly breathtaking.”

Officials confirmed that as PR laureate, Shaffer will be allowed to conduct market research using the federal government’s complete census records. He will also receive a yearly stipend of $600,000, which is intended to give recipients the freedom to pursue passion projects and push the boundaries of public relations as they experiment with innovative new approaches to brand messaging.

According to sources, Shaffer’s foremost duty as laureate will be to champion PR and inspire the American public to become enthusiastic about the practice of mediating the flow of information between corporate actors and the public. He also reportedly plans to visit the nation’s classrooms, where he will teach schoolchildren the importance of developing strong media contacts and learning to conduct damage control in the face of a potentially reputation-damaging crisis.

Those in attendance at the White House reception were reportedly treated to a live reading of Shaffer’s most effective and convincing press releases from the past 30 years.

“Perhaps no one in American marketing is as bold and elegant when it comes to dissecting demographics and pinpointing their vulnerabilities and deepest desires,” said Earnest, who praised Shaffer’s ability to meld disparate publicity techniques into a cohesive vision of brand identity. “With a few simple words, he pulls you into the world of wonder and contentment his clients can provide. His work lodges itself deeply within the psyche of the consumer, and it stays there—often for a lifetime.”

He added, “I know that I personally have had the ‘Always Coca-Cola’ song stuck in my head on and off for more than two decades, and I have no reason to believe that won’t continue to be the case until the day I die.”

The office of PR laureate was created in 1928 by President Calvin Coolidge, who appointed advertising executive Albert Lasker to the post for his pioneering work in sponsored entertainment with The Palmolive Hour radio show. More recent holders of the position include Reagan-era laureate Alan Hilburg, the critically acclaimed creator of Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” campaign, and marketing guru Tim Arnold, whose widely heralded decision to hire Lou Rawls as a celebrity spokesman for Budweiser allowed Anheuser-Busch to successfully target African Americans in the 1970s.

At press time, sources said the White House press secretary was asking the PR laureate if he knew the best way to spin a report that six foreign aid workers had been mistakenly killed by a U.S. airstrike in Syria.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lucid Dream, Incredible Music

I just had the most incredible lucid dream. And this is an extremely rare occurrence for me, as most of my dreams are nightmares, and are almost never, ever lucid.

I was playing guitar in a band who asked me to join them for this battle of the bands on a Thursday night. The drummer called me the evening before and spoke like he knew me, but I had no recollection of the group or the event. Still, it seemed like a fun time so I went with it.

I showed up at the gig with my gear (a really nice Sunburst Les Paul – hey, it’s my dream; may as well go big) and performed seamlessly with this otherworldly, spacey-sounding rock group. Female singer; bassist playing an upright, sometimes with a bow; friendly drummer from the phone call; and another guitarist.

Above: me on a Les Paul, the only time in my life. Dream source material?

What was amazing about the music, and particularly the lucidity part, is that these complete songs formed in my head while I was dreaming, while the imaginary musicians and I were executing them perfectly. It was beautiful and uplifting. And I knew it was lucid, because I remember having the thought in the dream, “it would be neat if the bass did this now,” or, “what if the other guitar player did this now?” And then they did, and it worked every time. Even the riffs and lines I was improvising meshed into place perfectly, in rhythm and melody. I would really like to hear this music again!

The closest thing I can think of right now to that music: Sigur Rós, “Dauðalogn”

The evening ended with me going to bed, ready to drift away under a thick layer of blankets. Except that a yellow jacket and a yellow dragonfly were buzzing above my head as I was trying to get to sleep. The yellow jacket got too close to my face, so I threw the covers off and shot straight up in bed.

Not only did that happen in the dream, but it happened as I did the same move consciously upon awakening at that exact second. Then I descended into awareness through that next 60 seconds or so which follows any realistically intense stupor, where you wonder, “Did that really happen? No? It was a dream? Wow.”

Image taken from page 191 of 'The Zoological Miscellany; being descriptions of new or interesting animals'

Photo: The British Library via Flickr.

What do you think? Ever experienced a lucid dream? Do you hear music in your dreams? What do you think it means? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Cruel fate, I laugh at you!
I have survived to live another day.
Damn the consequence.
Let our throats ache, screaming huzzah!
Savor the sweet nectar of survival.
Taste the reward of cavorting to excess.
I laugh in the face of peril,
the wind in my hair
Victory is mine!

This one day
I will survive the tragedy.
I will happily navigate these waters.

Will this craftsmanship fail?
Certainly. It will all unravel.
But not this day.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hey, You Were on TV! — And “The Tent-O’-Surrealism”

A local news crew was kind enough to interview me on camera at the Historic West End ARTSFest about my surrealist art. Check me out in this video from 2:20-4:55 (the first interview is with another artist):

Thanks, WFMY and Jessica for covering this event and chatting with me!
And for this mention on Twitter, too:

Many folks stopped by my setup and said, “hey, I saw you on tv!” I usually responded with “And you came anyway? Wow!” WAKA WAKA. One couple mentioned to me it was the above news segment that brought them to the show in search of unique art, which of course was very cool.

The weather was a drizzling soup, but not enough to keep visitors away altogether, so I was especially appreciative to have played a part in the PR that day. The visitors present were definitely the most interested, and I like to think if the sun were shining, there would have been even more of an already positive thing.

My takeaway: I had a great time, met many other cool artists, and sold several pieces to happy customers. And for me, that’s what it’s all about.

Behold, my Tent-O’-Surrealism:

Richard Smith - RSMITHINGS surreal art Richard Smith - RSMITHINGS surreal art

What do you think? Ever participated in an art or craft fair? Ever seen or discovered something happening locally that day then made the effort to visit in person? How do you enjoy local art? Let us hear from you in the comments.