Category Archives: PR

The Ug and Angst of “You Should …”

I’m flawed. I must be.

This weekend I sat in my church seat and found my posture turning stiff and defensive. Was I gritting my teeth?

The “should” message was being shared by the speaker, a good man who really does speak truth anIMG_8715fd wisdom. My bone-rattling spasms in the dark sanctuary had to do with the following:

  • I should be positive
  • I shouldn’t watch the news
  • I shouldn’t watch those shows spewing sexual innuendos and crude jokes (Oh hell, there goes Seinfeld …)

The “I should” and “ should nots” rest on the simple principle of “trash in, trash out,” and that each of us can take captive the thoughts roaring through our brains, mouths and actions. It’s reported that we have 60-80 thoughts per minute bouncing between our ears. Most of them are, well, negative.

The message was on point and didn’t come from a critical or harsh speaker. He admitted his own journey in trying to attract vs. detract – to see the best vs. the worst. Making matters worse, my 12-year-old son is sitting next to me, glaring and grinning at me. He knows. I have opinions—and share them freely *cough*. Let’s just say they’re often not aspiring and full of joy.

I know, I know. I believe, I believe. Positive energy and attitudes are more healthy, or is that healthful? We build more friends and relationships when we build up vs. tearing down.

Here’s The Big But …

What’s the rub? I see “being positive” as “being Pollyana.” Let’s just all pretend everything’s great and perfect. Let’s all smile on the outside while we’re screaming on the inside. Who likes these kind of people, be it at work, at home or at church? Nada.

I believe in “shoulds” and “should-nots,” rules and regs, and dos and donts. Any unit, group or society must have them to remain successful and civil. But … Yes, I always find myself on the precipice of the big BUT. Regardless, I return to lessons I’ve learned before (and over and over and over). Going positive can start with these four things. I need to post these on my bathroom mirror (again).

  1. Don’t fret over all the should and should-nots. Avoid a microscopic analysis of all things done wrong. That breeds indigestion and ulcers. Wake up wanting to be your best. And forgive yourself for screwing up. And others.
  1. Be real. Don’t be who you are not. Be authentic and transparent. Think of others as you journey through authenticity. But be yourself. Too much conformity and Pollyana-type living are foolish and fruitless. Be kind.
  1. Be informed. We can’t deny the bad stuff in our world and lives. Be aware and be active, even if that requires unpopular viewpoints and positions. Sometimes it requires watching TV or reading the news.
  1. Moderate your life. No matter what you are, who you are and whether you’re positive or negative, virtually all things, actions and attitudes must operate within moderation. Extremes may lead to unnecessary troubles.

Sometimes it’s a matter of cleaning house and getting rid of the clutter inside our heads and hearts. A re-boot of sorts.

Maybe we can all do a little cleaning up inside.

Yes we should. Ug, there’s that word again.

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Taboos in PR, What the Biz Exec Needs to Know

Every profession has taboos and things that tarnish reputations and business efforts. Public relations is no different. By knowing the taboos, business executives can do a better job finding the PR team that fits their needs, budget and culture.

7 PR Taboos Revealed, Attention Business Executives

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  1. A Press Release Is Not PR. No matter what anyone tries to sell you, one press release is not a business-changing event—or a public relations (PR) program. It is one component that is usually overused and sometimes useless. Effective PR requires a PR person—someone adept, experienced, creative and comfortable walking the tight rope between client needs and reporter needs. And pricing? NEVER pay more than a $500-$1,000 for someone to write a press release. Ever.
  2. No Value. If you don’t value PR, don’t do PR. Often, PR is perceived as a necessary evil – and a drain on the marketing budget. If the executive team doesn’t believe it can add value, allocate dollars elsewhere. Better yet, have someone explain its value—and how it compares to other communications efforts.
  3. Trust or Bust. If you can’t trust ‘em, fire ‘em. There are quality PR agencies and people who know the rules and boundaries—and have the news noses that matter. Sadly, there are many who don’t.
  4. Play Fair, Play Baseball. Not every news release or PR story idea will be a home run. And nobody hits home runs all the time. Expect PR to be like a baseball game. Sometimes there are first-base hits. Sometimes there are strike-outs. Clarify and manage expectations starting from day one. Be specific. Be real.
  5. Avoid Long Legs. I hate to admit what I’ve seen in my career. I know agencies who strut in the young account ladies to woo the prospects – most of whom were all-male Boomers who lapped up the extravagant beauty in the room. Sexism in galactic proportion. Don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Good PR is not sex, sizzle, short skirts and long legs. It’s about news smarts, big ideas, hard work and persistent outreach—and usually works best when involving energetic, personable men and women, no matter there age or body type.
  6. Know What You Pay For. So what should you pay for PR? It depends on scope and breadth, and monthly deliverables, all of which should be in a written plan. I’ve seen consistently successful PR programs for $1,500 per month (a small business client). I also recognize that PR programs can be $10K to $20K/month BUT know what you’re paying for, and avoid nickel-and-dimers.
  7. Madness Over Metrics. It’s the PR Achilles Heel. How the hell do you measure the value of a story in The Dallas Morning News? Is the story all about you? Are you one of several sources quoted in the article? Is your key message embodied in the story? Do you measure by number of “news hits” or rank stories in terms of message, or both? It’s a nightmare. Business executives rarely care to see anything except “tonnage”—the number of articles that includes the company name or an executive quote. There are tools for PR measurement. They cost a lot. In 25-plus years, I’ve had two clients willing to pay for such services. Work with your PR agency on the metrics. Stick to them and revise, as needed. Without metrics, there is no way to ascertain success.

This is not intended to assume that the PR industry or its people are largely flacks and quacks willing to cheat companies and clients. Not. Most PR people are hard-working, family-loving professionals doing a job. With integrity.

Now, share YOUR experience working with PR professionals.

Keep it PRactical.

-R

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S is for …

Let’s see, S is for … sunshine, sharing, softness, silliness, sex, sailing, Sagittarius, sales, saints and Saltines. Those flow straight from my brain to the fingertips. No wisecracks please.

For all of us, S is ultimately about Success. How that’s defined may vary but I’ve found four S imperatives.

 The 4 S’ For Biz Owners & Communicators

 #1 Survive.  Darwin was right in at least one respect.  Survival is inherent during our struggles to maintain life, be it personally or professionally. I’ve seen agencies wiped off the planet since beginning my own firm in 2007. Good people and good work, gone. Cash flow means everything, say the agency owners I know. But they temper that with a spirit of generosity. They don’t hire and fire at will based on the balance sheet (like many do). They hire wisely. They stay fiscally conservative even when they land a “big fish.” They realize People matter, and act accordingly.  They also use outsourced resources (um, like me). These translate into #2: Satisfaction.IMG_8715f

#2 Satisfaction.  Years ago, there was a high-flying agency growing faster than beanstalks in Jack’s world. It almost seemed supernatural. Then it imploded. Word on the street: an explosive, toxic and exhausting work environment. Tyranny. And clients who expected what was promised, which didn’t happen. It was all “churn and burn.” Satisfying the client is the best antidote for tough times. I’ve had bosses who preached and practiced giving “extras” to the client vs. the “nickel and dime” approach. Give. It always comes back. The same goes for employees. Treat them well, they will champion you. Treat them like dogs and they’ll bite in you in the butt. And you’ll deserve it.

#3 Keep it Simple. Sorry for the cliché. One successful agency principal recently shared this with finesse: “I had an employee who, in essence, worked slowly and systematically to build a five-star restaurant PR approach for a client.  This client didn’t want a 5-star restaurant, the client wanted quick action and fast food.” Lessons learned: Don’t oversell and overthink (don’t knee-jerk either). Keep it simple and get it done. Also, always discuss expectations with the client before you start.

#4. SALES is everyone’s job. Throw out the typical agency model in which you “woo and wow a prospect with big ideas, promises and executives with big titles” then throw the junior team on the account. Selling is relational—and about discovering what fieldguidea client really needs, not what you sell. Teach and help your entire organization to sell, not by being “Mr. or Mrs. Call Now!” but through conversation, inquiring questions and sincerity.  Need help to get started? I recommend Debbie Mrazek. Incredible. Phenomenal. Practical.

When it’s about your business, it’s easy to look inward only. Survival and success is really outwardly focused, mostly on employees and clients. Both will either drive your business sky high or drill it into the dirt.

Stay strong, believe, affirm and aspire. And they’ll follow. Ah, sweet success.

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When “Contact Us” Translates into “We Don’t Care”

It’s the simple stuff that kills us.

As communicators, we dive into the details of how to best communicate to key audiences. What’s more titillating than a comprehensive audience analysis, psychographics included? Our brains explode with ideas and tactics that integrate and initiate action and interest.

IMG_8715fThen we get slapped with the big hand of Stupid. The simple things that kill our ideas, energy … and workplace respect. Even when it’s not our fault. Hello.

I found this out during the last few weeks not as a communicator but as an everyday consumer. Actually, I was interested in getting more involved in something beyond my “self.” Volunteering for a non-profit was of interest so I outlined the organizations of interest, went to their websites and looked for key contacts. Most didn’t offer what seemed to be relevant contacts for volunteer opportunities, just a basic Contact Us online form. So I filled them out.

Tick, tock. Tick tock … tick …

It’s been weeks. And now? While I still respect the mission of the organizations I queried, I certainly don’t think as highly of them. As for volunteering for them, not likely. So what’s the issue here?

  • Option 1: Messages go into some black hole and are never checked.
  • Option 2: Messages go to a specific person who ignores the inbound correspondence (intentional or not)
  • Option 3: Messages go to several people so that “someone can handle it,” with each person assuming someone else will respond – or no one does.

Regardless, the system is flawed. And the organization is screwed. Volunteers get miffed. Donors get miffed. Anyone and everyone gets miffed. Guess what happens during the annual fundraising event? People remember.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself about Your “Contact Us”

  • What is my company saying when key contacts are not listed online—and only offers an impersonal form?
  • Have I filled out the Contact Us form to test the process in which responses are received and resolved?
  • Do I know who is solely responsible for receiving and responding to incoming inquiries, and are they shared with personnel that need to know, i.e., sales, product development, customer support, etc.?
  • What is the cost per sales lead at my company? Assuming one of three “contact us” inquiries are sales related, how much money is being lost when a response is not provided? Ouch.

Enough said. Go to your company website. Fill out the form. See what happens.

And make changes fast. It’s just good communications.

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You Matter, Even If You’re “Wrong”

Oh my, the things we do—and have done—to fit in.

As a kid, I can remember roaming the neighborhood with boys that were older than me. Yeah, which means I discovered cigarettes as a 10-year-old, saw my first Playboy by age 11 and found my next-door neighbor’s face stuck to what I thought was a glass vase. A bong.

boy4We all want to fit in, be accepted and be with the “in crowd.” So when we’re rejected, criticized, attacked or set apart—physically, relationally or emotionally—there’s great angst and irritation. Fear. Yet fitting in often conflicts with what is right, what is good, our values, beliefs and professional standards. So therein lies the struggle. So at what price do we choose to fit in? How willing are we to stand up for what we believe is true, good, just or unjust? Can we deal with scorn, rejection, disdain? Hate?

The Burden of Conviction

Professionally, PR folks have a code of ethics. In addition, we each have a personal code of conduct. So are we operating our lives, attitudes and actions in concert with the code, or have we become ambivalent or hardened by what we see and hear every day? I’m guilty. You are too. Yet increasingly, I find myself saying no more. Not now. I can’t allow this or that. I won’t tolerate this action or that inaction. I am re-discovering my personal conviction. It is this burden of conviction that we’ve lost somewhere along the way.

5 Challenges for You & Me

  1.  Be alert. Gulliver should have never taken a nap. Don’t sleep through your life. Awaken the heart and spirit. And mind. Live to effect change.
  2. Be informed. Know your stuff. Read. Read. Read. Study what’s being said, by whom. Ask questions, ask why. Today, information is rarely objective or “simple fact.” Example, if you agree with global warming, know why. If you don’t, know why.
  3. Be active. Knowledge without action is empty air and wasted time. Act. Do. Figure out “your part” at work, at home, in your neighborhood or nonprofit. It is the silent doers in the back that make the most impact. The famous and rich? Rarely.
  4. Be outspoken. There is so much clamoring that it’s often difficult to get a word in edge-wise. Share your convictions. Share what you believe is good and right. Agree to disagree, but enter into discourse and debate.
  5. Be you. Most importantly, you must remain true to who you are, what you believe and what is required of you. You matter. Your opinions are valid, whether I agree or not.

Whether we’re talking about our role in the workplace or as a parent – or as an American citizen tuned into the issues of the nation and world—we must respond to the burden of conviction. It’s about being true to one’s self. Thinking for yourself. And acting.

The time is now.

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Do Small Businesses Need a Marketing Communications Intervention?

Among small businesses, (500 employees or less), I find it rare that they much in the way of communicating with customers, prospects, suppliers, influencers, and even employees. Why? There are three primary reasons:

  1. Marketing is perceived as mysterious, and seems complicated.
  2. Sales is familiar and seems easy (I hire a sales guy, use Salesforce and dial for dollars).
  3. I’m too busy to think about it or do it (We’re developing products, ensuring service, hiring people, keeping people happy, fighting fires and meeting payroll, etc.).

When they meet communicators, they’re usually interested in what we have to say. We’re excited and more than willing to rattle off exactly what their business needs: “Social media is critical, public relations is essential and your website, sales materials and trade show stuff must be new, fresh, and compelling. And, of course, there’s the issue of your corporate brand and how all of this fits into an overall marketing communications strategy. So, let’s get started.”

The business owner is now catatonic. Eyes are glazed over. Is he or she breathing? Their business brains have gone straight to “oh my god”  and “there’s no way I can do all this—no time, no money, no people.”  We just assassinated our prospect.

Here’s how to slow down and showcase the role of marketing communications for small businesses in 7 simple steps:

  1. Break it down. No company can do everything all the time. Through a simple yet comprehensive planning session with the sales and executive team, we discover the business goals and efforts that are already planned. We align marketing efforts with business efforts. Business goals with marketing goals.
  2. Start small. If the business owner and the team are historically sales focused vs. marketing savvy, it’s critical to start small and get them comfortable with how marketing works—vs. sales. Starting small may mean implementing something as simple as a customer letter that is written, printed and mailed every quarterly. An easy First Step is a brief yet consistent e-mail “newsletter” to customers and prospects.
  3. Budget the basics. The same principle applies here. Don’t scope the marketing program so they have to put a lien on their building. Give them some practical perspectives, share a brief strategy/goals statement, and then break out the steps and tactics with hard numbers. Be precise and specific.
  4. Stay nearby and navigate with care. I find that entrepreneurs thrive amid chaos so keeping efforts focused, synced and timely are often the most difficult parts of the project. Pre-scheduled status meetings per week serve to remind everyone “who’s on first.” Keeping everyone committed, aware and engaged is 95 percent of the success factor.
  5. Make it easy. Do everything you can to eliminate redundancy, delays and to-dos. If it gets you what you need to accomplish the task, meet your client for a drink after hours or do a phone call after they tuck in their kids for bed. Accommodate them.
  6. Show progress. Don’t go silent and not correspond with the client for a week. Tune in, communicate and let them know something’s happening. I add calendar reminders called “Quick Touch/Client A” just so I reach out—even if there’s not a lot to say. Quick and easy.
  7. Step back. In our quest to act and generate results, we may forget the most important action required with clients: to listen. They are the experts in their business. We need to leverage that so we can improve and advance their cause—and ours.

When clients and communicators combine their competencies, long term, the outcome is extraordinary. There is strength in relationships and results.

Please follow me at http://www.twitter.com/practicalpr.

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F is for … (It’s not what you think)

My kids, they’re all adults now. Since the days when my oldest thought I was The Great Oz, I’ve preached a strong message: There is No Use of the F Word in This House.

My youngest and I were playing hoops one afternoon when I blocked a shot. His brow furrowed and he began complaining. “Dad, you can’t do that, it’s not F—.” He stopped. “Dad, it’s not F-A-I-R.” He spelled the one F word I have never allowed. “I didn’t say it Dad, I spelled it,” he said with a grin. A proud moment, I must admit. Regarding fairness, nothing is and nothing ever will be.  So let’s get over it.

IMG_8715fFor business owners and communicators, there is one F word we never discuss. It’s too personal, invites vulnerability and rattles our confidence.

Failure.  It’s hard to admit. In my life? Oh my, let’s see:

  • Dadhood. My greatest desire in life was to be a great husband and father. FAIL. I just wrapped up a divorce. My kids are wounded as a result. I’m engaged, available, interested and active in their lives. I love them more than life itself. But I made mistakes. And we all pay the price.
  • Perfect PR. I am ambitious, creative and have the temperament that makes me “unique” and “quirky,” per a couple of clients. They qualified the statements, “in a good way …” Yeah. Ha. I strived for perfection for a long time. FYI, if you think you can achieve perfection, find the closest mirror, look at yourself and slap yourself. It ain’t gonna happen on this side of the universe.
  • Money. I had a Dad who was extremely smart and wise about finances. He paid for most of my college. I had a car when I was legal to drive. I had more than I even knew. I haven’t been that wise or savvy so my family’s in a different situation, to my chagrin.

And you? Can you admit failure, and learn from it? I can and can’t. Sometimes I avoid the issue. I deny. I dive into work or other things that distract me and keep me away from reality, recognition and admission. It’s like those 12-Steppers and that first step: Admission begins the road to recovery.

I’m sure not excited about failure in my life. And I offer no Pollyanna advice or happy endings. But I do know that without it, I wouldn’t appreciate the triumphs and victories. And yes, I do feel better knowing that success is often bred from failure (thank God). These folks prove it.

  • Lincoln failed at politics initially. FYI, he became president.
  • Thomas Edison failed – his teachers called him stupid–an idiot who wouldn’t amount to anything.
  • Oprah failed. She was fired from her first TV job.
  • Walt Disney was called “unimaginative” with no good ideas.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC Cinematic Arts program. Several times.
  • Sanders couldn’t get anyone to buy his chicken. And then… yeah.
  • Fred Astaire, initially, was told he couldn’t sing or act. No talent.

See more …

What’s the point? Failing isn’t always the end of something. It can be the beginning. Usually painful, yes. Life changing? Often. But wholly destructive? Not usually.

So go ahead. Fail. Fall. Mourn. Admit.

And then try again.

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What’s Newsworthy? Execs, listen up

it’s IHOP and a 1:1 coffee break with a colleague–a company founder and executive–and he’s excited. His $5 million tech company has secured three new clients in the last two weeks. And the new website and partner portal are one pinch from being launched.

“I want us to announce it big–do a news release. Let everyone know that our website is spiffed up. It’s sweet.”

I fight back a yawn while remaining intensely focused on my colleague. How many times have  I sat face to face with a company leader who wants to announce a website re-launch. Dozens of times.

ImageSo my executive friends and business colleagues, please know that your communications consultant isn’t being cynical or superior when he or she resists your suggestion–or dictate–to do a news release about websites or version 3.4256758 of your software.

They’re doing their job. They’re making you look smart while advancing their reputation. Reporters receiving useless “news” go Pavlov when consistently receiving junk from a specific PR person or company. The more crap you send, the louder that Pavlovian “bell” rings and they react: Delete. Deny. Junk it. The DANGER: When you do have real news–real news–that bell will dispel your coverage opportunity.

Newsworthiness matters. It takes diligence, questioning, examining, pushing for validation and key points, identifying what are newsworthy elements–and what will the reporter/writer consider news? A Dallas Morning News reporter wants local relevance; A reporter at Supermarket News wants industry relevance. Your PR person knows the story angle, hooks, and what individual reporters really want.

What did my news radar target when meeting at IHOP with my CEO friend? Not “news release about our website.” I heard New Customers. That’s the news, especially if it’s in a niche industry, the customer offers innovation or is a top brand or publicly held company.

Executives, listen to your PR rep. Leverage their expertise.

PR friends, don’t crank a release out just because the boss “expects it.” Do your best to be strategic, to advise–even politely resist. Let your boss–and his or her boss–know there are other ways and better ways to Tell The Story.

Discover the real news. It matters.

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How to Cheat Clients and The Value of Your Company

We were told we needed to brainstorm ideas for a client. Can we stop what we’re doing and go to the conference room. We all piled into the room, sat in our chairs and waited for the company pariah to enter. And share his ideas. We’d pretend to brainstorm, then parrot the incredibly creative ideas from Mr. Pariah. His ideas were the best, so the ideas were written down, and we all moved on. Another wasted hour sitting in a room and sucking up.

Now let’s move to a different time and place. The agency needs to quickly create a leave-behind for a client. One agency employee—a writer—suggests brainstorming ideas. He’s told he’s a writer in a different group. Ideas and concepts are the job of the creative design team. Uh. OK.

Another shot across the career spectrum. There’s a call for a brainstorming session. This time, the room is outfitted for comfort. There’s food, drinks, a whiteboard, notepads on easels, markers, paper. Even crayons. The focus: What ideas can we muster up for the agency itself? How can we best showcase the agency strengths and communicate them consistently. Ideas were shared, no matter how crazy. And were written down. No idea evaluation or criticisms. Just ideas.

I can’t think of a word or exercise that is more overused and misused than “brainstorming.”  The sad reality is that those who should know the value of collective creativity—putting crazy creative types in a room together—can yield brilliance, clarity and wham-bang ideas (and some craziness too). It’s all good. As professional communicators, it’s our jobs to collaboratively develop the best ideas for our clients–and to foster an environment for brainstorming.

The best ideas come from best practices. Yep, one best practice is brainstorming, working together and seeing value in every individual, no matter their title, department or perceived strengths or weaknesses. Anything short of this is is milk toast and gray matter, and certainly far from excellence.

So why is it so hard for creative types – usually graphic designers, copywriters and marketing strategists – to hole up in a room and share ideas? Smart ideas. Stupid ones. Funny ones. Why?

Based on my experience, here are the top 5 reasons why
brainstorming is busted
:

1. The Temperaments. Sometimes personalities clash. So we avoid contact. A designer once told me, “The only people who are more temperamental than writers are designers.” I’ve been in sessions where both types gather and the duel for control begins. It ruins all the creative energy and fuels more battles. I’ve been there and learned myself. Guilty as charged.

2. The Territories. I’ve heard these statements from real people: “I’m creative, you are not.”I’m in the Creative Arts department, are you?”  and “Why do we need a copywriter to sit in on a ;graphic design’ concept meeting?” Wow. Wrong mentality, attitude and approach. If someone thinks they’re more creative—or the only creative—that’s a problem.

3. The Threat & Inferiority. A creative director or team that feels threatened by others—and other ideas—struggle with inferiority. They feel threatened and fear  others who may be  “more creative than me.” I’ve learned that great creative comes from great people, and to recognize them for their talent. There’s enough glory to go around.

4. The Time.  Who’s got time for another freakin’ meeting? Let me do my real job. No wonder that’s the prevalent attitude. Brainstorming is too often a torturous exercise in futility.

5. The Working Wounded. If someone absolutely runs from a brainstorming session, it’s likely they’ve been wounded at some point. They were embarrassed or criticized. Or both. Great brainstorming includes NO evaluation or opinions about others’ ideas.

Here’s the bottom line: Improper, impotent brainstorming yields nothing. Worse, it’s the best way to cheat our clients and the valuable services we offer as communicators. Shame on us.

What is your opinion or war story? Please share.

Our next post offers advice for effective brainstorming.

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*Pang* *Flash* G is For ….

Anyone who knows me will immediately think of one G word … “Go.” Yeah, high speed and lots of curves. I thrive at full throttle with steep climbs and sharp curves.

That’s not the G word that matters.IMG_8715f

Others will say it’s got to be God. Well, that’s a big one. Capital G. Still not there though. Perhaps it’s greatness or goodness, or the flip side: grumpy, goofy, gauche … Regardless, these attributes, relevant or not, aren’t that important.

The G word that keeps flashing through my dreams and thoughts is sobering. And a struggle.

Grace.

Is it a noun or a verb? Growing up Christian, I heard it and learned it frequently: man is inherently sinful. God freely gives me grace and erases all the gunk, gook, idiocy, mouthiness and moments of madness from my life. Through Christ his son.
But I can’t help but think that grace extends beyond pulpits and prayer clubs. Grace is act of individual will. It extends unmerited favor from one to another.

The flashes and pangs of grace-mindedness are daily for me. They hit like a combo punch from Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang, usually when I:

  • Drive behind a moron driving 55 mph in the fast lane on Central Expressway
  • Stand in the grocery line behind a lady oblivious to the rest of the galaxy, slowing reading and debating the value of the 25 coupons she just handed the cashier
  • Work with others who deliver little more than excuses or blame, yet lord over others with self-importance and arrogance
  • Perceive an issue as “petty” while another may not, and continues to chatter, chant, rave and rant, ad nauseum

In each of these real-life cases, I felt a very real pang at the moment I begin my criticism and judgment. “…What about grace, Roy, remember?”

And so I breathe and realize that it’s OK. The slow driver may be new and nervous; the lady in line may be facing the financial crisis of a lifetime; the worker may be ill equipped or in the midst of some crisis that is fragmenting their work performance. And yes, what’s petty to me is irrelevant. If it’s important, then it’s important.

Now blow this up. The world is increasingly anti-grace. We have a conservative pundit attacking an American doctor for being a Christian and a missionary; we have zero-tolerance rules that put teenagers in prison for life—for weed in their cars. We have grandmas and granddads being beaten to death for food, cars and money.

And in the PR profession?Helloooo. We have prima donnas treating junior employees like dogs, interns not being paid for their work and a workplace that’s often cold, harsh and impersonal.

Where is the grace? Where is my grace? The flashes and pangs are reminding me. Helping me. Even encouraging me. They actually rattle me into remembering the countless times I’ve experienced unmerited favor from parents, friends, bosses, colleagues, neighbors and strangers. And God. I can think of at least three times in my life when I did not deserve unmerited favor from someone. If they had chosen zero tolerance, I could have lost everything. Everything.

Grace. Can you find it, face it and pay it forward?

Even now, there’s a circumstance where I’m resisting grace. “They deserve my contempt and wrath …” Yeah. *Pang* *Flash*

OK.

Let’s go to work. See the faces. Think grace.

Go home. See the wife. See the kids. Think grace.

Drive to the store. Think grace.

Then do it.

Grace is a verb.

 

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