Tom Garrity

Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Counselors Academy

In Education on May 31, 2009 at 11:03 am

Counselors%20AcademyToday’s Meet the Press provided a good backdrop for discussions that took place at the PRSA Counselors Academy in La Quinta California.

Back East, the “change” words that were prominent in the Meet The Press discussion from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange included investment, downsizing, competitiveness, opportunity and innovation.

Out here in the West, those words resonated throughout Steve McKee’s keynote address.  Reflecting on themes from his successful book When Growth Stalls, McKee drove home the point that understanding the causes of failure is the key to eventual success.  He identified ways to identify reasons why growth stalls, they include: Lack of Consensus, Loss of Focus, Loss of Nerve, and Lack of Consistency.  He finished by encouraging CEOs and business owners to take a confidential self-assessment at  As a side note, The Garrity Group was (and still is) a proud sponsor of Steve McKee’s address to the Counselors Academy.

The last two “classroom sessions” of the day were in the form of roundtables.  The two roundtables I attended included Lean Public Relation and (a session on how to provide effective new media strategies. 

Lean PR was of particular interest because of my familiarity with Lean Manufacturing approaches through our client New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership.  Michael Greece APR of Padilla Speer Beardsley moderated a lively discussion.  While I was anticipating a few more ideas on how to streamline processes and eliminate waste (trademarks of Lean approaches), the discussion about developing a “War Room” approach to address new business and client opportunities was particularly interesting.  There was also a lot of great discussion about how to change client perceptions.  Specifically, PR firms send mixed messages when touting results-focused activities but invoicing by the hour.  PR firms are not about selling time, we are focused on generating specific outcomes.

The discussion was led by David Anderson of Off Madison Avenue and Jason Baer of Convince & Convert.  Expectedly there was a lot of Twitter traffic on this topic.  Here are some of the Tweets that were posted during the roundtable discussion:

@Scott_Farrell: Looking to get your CEO engaged with social media? There is no silver bullet. Start small and build from there. @mmcclennan
Other great social media insights from twitter during the first day include:

@Thornley: @mcclennan companies should listen to social media discussions and ACT on what they hear before joinng the conversation

@prsachicago: Soon everything PR will be digital and everything digital will be PR. Everyone in company needs to understand it.

@Thornley Making Websites is not a great business. Revenue fluctuates. Good developers are hard to find. @jaybaer says grow other services.

@PRSAChicago The first level of social media is monitoring the conversation – Google is not enough.

@thornley: “If you’re a PR firm principal and you believe soc media is the future why would you delegate it to a kid?” @Jaybaer

@Thornley “Eventually digital and public relations will be interchangeable. Digital will be baked into everything PR.” @jaybaer

@PRSAChicago “What’s our Twitter or Facebook strategy” is the wrong question. How do you use the technologies to have better relationships?

Next up, a reception and dinner… darn, started seven minutes ago… gotta go!

When Growth Stalls

In Life on May 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

WhenGrowthStallsI am a magazine kind of person.  I will thumb through and read business and hobby magazines more readily than I do books.  It is how I am made.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good book or novel, they just don’t end up on my reading list for various reasons.
Now, before you suggest that I read this book with rose colored glasses on let me provide you a quick background of how Steve and I know each other. 

One of the books I just finished, a few hours ago, is written by a good friend Steve McKee.  It is called When Growth Stalls.

Professionally, we met when I was a television news reporter for Albuquerque’s ABC affiliate.  We’d meet occasionally at a local Pizza Hut and share our views on the world. After a series of mutual job transitions, we both started our respective advertising and public relation firms at the same time.  I later sold my PR firm to one of Steve’s competitors.  As I worked out a non-compete and later rebuilding the company, Steve continued to move forward.

Personally, our wives, long before either of us were on their respective radar, grew up next door to each other.  Not that they remained close friends, more familiar friends.  We had a chance to all connect socially and spiritually though our worship at a local fellowship.  I’d like to think that our conversations are always transparent, and reflecting on a few of them… they are!

Taking into account of what I know of Steve personally and professionally, his book When Growth Stalls leaves everything on the table.  He brings his “A” game.  Parts of the book conversation sound like personal conversations we’d have over coffee or during an occasional telephone call.  What I am telling you, this book is genuine.

As I read through it, I was thinking of how my clients could benefit from his insight.  But then it hit me, in a “shoemakers children have no shoes” kind of way, I need this, my firm needs this.  To me, When Growth Stalls is an extended conversation with my friend Steve about what works and what doesn’t work.

Successful CEOs and leaders will “get” this book.  Those who miss its many applications will soon wander aimlessly to their next job.

Indy o’ Indy were art Thou?

In Reputation on May 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

Memorial Day weekend use to be one of those “iconic” weekends for auto racing, featuring its “Super Bowl”, the Indianapolis 500.

Growing up in Houston, I was a fan of AJ Foyt.  When I moved to Albuquerque I added the Unser family to the list of drivers I’d follow.  Memorial Day weekend was a time I looked forward to seeing how my favorites would do against the likes of Mears, Rahal, Sullivan, Rutherford, and Fittipaldi.  It was a great time for the auto racing industry.

Then it became 1994.  The Indy Racing League (IRL) was created.

In 1996, the All but a few slots in the Indy 500 were reserved exclusively for members of the IRL.  That year, all hell broke loose on the track (literally) prompting a number of changes and marketing gimmicks for all future events. 

A competing event called the US 500 failed and the owners of the Indianapolis track through it would be a good idea to break its brand of being an “open wheel” (Indy Car) track by inviting NASCAR to the table.  As a result of those and other events, Indy Car racing found itself in a death spiral and it couldn’t pull out.

Recently, the best thing to happen to Indy Car racing was the addition of Danica Patrick.  She is a solid driver with attitude… it doesn’t hurt that she is also easy on the eyes.  Indy Car fans thought this was the spark to reignite interest in their sport.  Interest was a short lived.  It was only successful in temporarily attracting NASCAR viewers (not fans) who were drawn-in by the hype.

Now, Indy Car racing didn’t implode on its own.  NASCAR did a great job of capturing the disgruntled Indy Car racing fans.  NASCAR knows its brand and they have promoted and leveraged it better than any other sports league, on par with the National Football League.

Indy Car racing let greed and ego get in the way of its brand and it never recovered.

This weekend I’ll probably watch the Indy 500 for curiosity sake, to see if Danica can get it done and win the race.  But, if I end up having to tend to the ribs on the barbeque smoker, I’ll rely on DVR because Indy Car racing lost me as a fan a long time ago.