Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thanks, Rob Schwartz.

Through the years, through the magic of social media, and the confidence that seems to come with age, Rob Schwartz, currently Chief Executive Officer of TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York and I have become friends.

You can tell how much I like and respect Rob. I took the time and effort to get the virgules in his agency's name pointing in the right direction.

At a time where it seems that very little care and attention to detail is paid to communications--to people like Rob, and people like me, those little things are important. My grown daughters often admonish me 'not to be judgy and hatey,' but our humanity rests, at least somewhat on reading the cues people and brands give us.

A person who is semantically, grammatically, or visually sloppy (like, say, the president of the United States) is asking for a stern judgment. The same goes for a brand--whether it shouts at you in a commercial, uses a god-awful stock photograph in an ad, or utters yet another lazy cliche like, "we are living in unprecedented times."

Most relationships are like equations. If you give of yourself, whether that giving consists of time, effort, love or money, you aren't entirely unjustified in expecting some sort of recompense. The political imbroglio about quid pro quos aside, that's how most relationships work.

Rob and I seem to exchange texts or emails, or LinkedIn or Twitter comments at least once a week. For me, they're nice little visits every day from someone intelligent, witty and whom I like and respect. 

They make me smile.

Last week in this space, without permission or attribution, I posted a bit of wisdom I saw on Twitter from Lee Clow's Beard--the brainchild of Jason Fox, a freelance writer and Creative Director based in Omaha, Nebraska, which I think is somewhere in America.

The faux and the hair.

Quickly, Rob, sent me an email with this article in it and this video that Rob helped produce. It's well-worth watching. Later, Rob sent me this note: 

I traipsed up to the agency last week and found an extra copy of the LCB book we made.
I’d be delighted to send it your way. 
Send me an address and I’ll ship it out this week.

I received the book just hours ago. You can order yours here. I haven't spent a lot of time with it as yet, but it took me just minutes to realize how wonderful it is.

But all this blathering on about Clow's eponymous facial hair is not the point of today's post. The point is more Faulkner, in fact, than Clow. No offense, Mr. Clow.

In "Requiem for a Nun," a sequel to Faulkner's "Sanctuary," Faulkner famously wrote "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Tucked inside the beautiful volume, was a high-linen-count envelope with a handwritten note inside on an engraved notecard.

There are those, I'm sure, who would be astonished. It's 2020. People don't have stationery anymore. They don't hand-write notes. The fact is, most people don't even have handwriting anymore.

It's passe. Old-fashioned.

Except it's not.

One of our jobs as communications practitioners is to show we care, to show that little things matter, to show that so much depends upon showing respect and kindness. In fact, an old Ogilvism stated, "clients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." The same holds true, I believe for the people we send communications to. I believe the same holds true when it comes to how you treat your employees.

In our business today we send out email "blasts." We "blitz" the market. We have take-overs and roadblocks and dominate the airwaves. We have war-rooms and wage campaigns to steal marketshare.

All that may be important.

I believe in campaigns, I do.

But more, I believe in care-paigns

Little things that are big. 

Thanks, Rob.

That was more than a book; it was a lesson.

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