By Joy A. Kennelly
It's always interesting to find out who actually reads my blog. They may not realize I know, but I can tell. So that's why it's fun to gear blogs towards subjects I know will cause a reaction because that's why people blog right? What fun is it if no one reads what you have to say?
Plus, I think I do interesting activities and meet interesting people that are beyond their norm and that makes it fun too, to expose people to new thoughts, activities and philosophies. We don't all think alike which is why we're all unique and special. Aint that special?
That said, last night was another of my entertainment publicity classes with my 90-year old PR teacher, Julian Myers, who says: "Just find something to achieve that will take you till you're a hundred--hopefully something of social or civic value --and, ordinarily, your health will be there for you to attain it. And if you jog slowly for three miles outdoors each morning, as I like to, you'll feel better all along the way."
This from a man who runs in marathons and all kinds of competitions against people his age and younger. He wears coke bottle glasses, has a hearing aid that he had to turn up so loud last night to hear the speakers that it was whistling, and he shuffles a little when he walks, but he's still as sharp as a tack and the warmest, smartest, most well-respected man in Hollywood.
Almost every speaker who has come through this class to share their wisdom has nothing but good things to say about him, and/or professes to taking his class 10, 20 years prior! What a legacy he has created. Just last night we heard the President Domestic Marketing, Warner Bros., Dawn McElwaine Taubin, speak and she had taken his class!
I think last night was my favorite group of speakers to date which is why I feel compelled to blog about it. I love hearing powerful women in Hollywood share their knowledge. Especially women as accomplished as Julian always manages to bring in.
I know a lot of the other speakers from other nights because I've been involved in the Entertainment Professional Publicist Society, EPPS, for a long time and have networked at various functions with numerous people over the years. It's the organization to join if you are interested in connecting with a large spectrum of the entertainment industry from a publicity standpoint.
I've also worked at almost all the studios over the course of my career as a temp when I was first starting out and know people through that experience too. The other night, Producer, A.C. Lyles, one of the oldest living Republicans and the Ambassador of Good Will for Paramount Pictures came to speak.
He actually remembered me from the lot which totally surprised me. First, because it had been so long ago that I worked there, and second, because he meets thousands of people every year. I was flattered to say the least. He's quite the charmer.
That evening was cute since both he and Julian are both in their 90's it was like a convention of little old men. I took a picture with him for memory's sake. Everyone in Hollywood knows A.C. too and he's another legend. I guess doing what you love really keeps you going! Plus, he confessed he liked the ladies - which totally cracked me up because I know it's true.
Not for me, but I'm sure many a young starlet has seen him as their ticket to meeting the power players they want to move their career ahead. I just always get flashes of Samantha from Sex in the City having sex with an older wealthy gentleman who gave her tons of jewelry and attention, but in the long run was too wrinkly and old for her even. Saggy butt scene anyone?
Back to Dawn. She was extremely focused and informative on all the functions of her department. It was very interesting to learn how they all played out together and how much responsibility she bore for whether or not a film is a success or not (at least that's what I took away.) Very nice, down-to-earth, accomplished, powerful woman. If you click to the earlier Variety article link you'll learn more of her background. You'd never guess it from meeting her she's so normal. Very nice to meet and hear her speak.
It was very interesting to receive the strategic plan for No Reservations, one of their films and see how every aspect is broken down and analyzed. Also, how the film is determined whether to play it as a comedy or a drama. I always wondered about that because so often you think you're going to see a comedy based on the marketing when in actuality it's a drama.
She explained it's easier to get people to see a comedy, which I would tend to agree with. I want to laugh when I go to the movies to escape my reality sometimes. She also passed out Michael Clayton hats. Now I feel like I need to see the movie!
Apparently right now WB spends 10% of their marketing budget on internet whereas the average in the industry is 4%. Speaking of which, here's a very clever funny youtube video highlighting the reasons the WGA Writers are striking to receive payment for internet use of their content. Who knew writers were so funny, right? HA!
I hope they resolve their issues soon, but I'm with the writers. Why should they not make money while the big conglomerates do? Go underdogs! Maybe one day I'll be in the Guild too. Who knows? I do like writing. Now if I could get paid for writing blogs... ha!
Immediately following Dawn, Terry Curtin, the CEO and Creative Director of Intralink Film, spoke and took apart the making of the American Gangster trailer. It was very interesting to see the other versions her company had created and the reasoning behind why they went with the final version. That is one movie I absolutely must see.
I was supposed to go with a bunch of friends after my last house party, but we were all having too much fun to leave. I will probably go see it tonight. I like the concept of one honest man overturning such crime and the other man being above the mafia. Very cool battle of good and evil. Go good!
That's one thing my pastor, Jim Mackinga, spoke about last Sunday which has really resonated with me. He said that when you're doing God's will no man will stop you, although they may reject you. So, man's rejection, as the saying goes, is God's protection. I'd rather be rejected 100 x over than be outside God's will for my life right now.
It's amazing how crystal clear things become when you hold it up to God's standards rather than your own. My friend Deb was trying to set me up with this handsome black guy she'd met because she knows I have a propensity for the brothers, but when I saw his ego and attitude towards women I opted out of even bothering to meet him. No time or interest.
Although I normally really like men who are super built and very handsome, I'm beginning to appreciate other types of guys for qualities that aren't usually worn on their body, but are part of their souls. I like a good soul now more than a hard body. Big change for me, but hey, even shallow blondes can change. Lately, I've been meeting really good guys and it's nice.
Now to my favorite speaker of the entire evening. Every time I hear about the amazing cause marketing this company is doing I can't believe they can top themselves and every time they do. Last night was no exception.
Dawn Wilcox-Bloch of Allison & Partners, named by Inc as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the country, was the final speaker. I had missed hearing her speak in Jeff Duclos' class a few semesters back and was eager to hear what she had to say, although I thought I had heard it all before since I'd taken Scott Pansky, the founder's Cause Marketing course and heard him speak numerous times. I couldn't have been more wrong.
She was one of the first speakers to actually take an interest in who we were as students and what our backgrounds were. It was so refreshing to be considered in that way since so many teachers, (Robert Dowling, former Hollywood Reporter Publisher and Editor in Chief included) just assumed they knew we were all just starting out and totally green. Uh huh. Many of us have been doing this for a bit, although there are some newbies too.
I doubt even Julian bothered to take the time to understand the make up of his class which might explain why people dropped out, or leave before all the speakers have finished speaking. Who likes being spoken to in a way that doesn't really suit what you're there to gain? There's publicity and then there's marketing which I think needs to go hand-in-hand in order for something to be successful. You need to know who you're appealing to in order to properly publicize something.
My marketing efforts are targeted and with a purpose. I've just posted a party I'm throwing this Friday around my building. I know for a fact that the majority of the guys in my apartment complex won't participate in my treasure mapping party because it's not a guy thing to typically do.
However, the reason I invited my building, which I just learned is one of the oldest Hermosa Beach apartment buildings according to my wise neighbor, is because I want to stake a claim on the back patio and alert them to the fact I plan to have a group of people over who they're welcome to join. Whether they do or not, is entirely up to them. I hope so, but it doesn't affect me either way.
Does this make sense? It's way early because my allergies are keeping me up and rather than just toss and turn I decided to write my thoughts down in hopes if I write enough I'll feel tired to sleep through the misery. Oy!
I get the worst allergies this time of year and it's debilitating. Makes me cranky and irritable and difficult to speak my glands swell so much and my nose constantly runs. OY! Even Claritin doesn't seem to be having any effect. I may just have to break down and go to the doctor. It was exactly like this last year around this time. I'm beginning to wonder if the stresses of the holiday season make my immune system weak or something.
Enough on that though. Back to the second Dawn and her amazing case study. I just love seeing how a simple marketing idea has grown into this huge effort and changed the lives of everyone involved. I would love to see something like that happen in Hermosa Beach. If the group I'm meeting with next week has any say, maybe we will!
So, here's the amazing story Dawn shared. Hasbro/Playskool is one of Allison & Partners' clients. They decided to benefit Boundless Playgrounds. Here's a little blurb from the web site which explains the concept and reason why there's a need for such a thing:
than six million children in the U.S. have a disability that makes it
hard or impossible for them to join in the fun at a playground. All
children deserve to have a place where they can experience the joy and
discovery of play. Yet, most traditional playgrounds are not accessible
to children with disabilities.
Playgrounds is dedicated to helping communities create extraordinary
playgrounds where children of all abilities can play, explore and learn
together. These playgrounds eliminate barriers for children with
disabilities and offer fun, challenging and sensory-rich activities
that offer developmental advantages to all.
Now here's the amazing part that Hasbro and Playskool are involved with:
Hasbro & Boundless Playgrounds : Every Child Can Play
joint mission of Hasbro and Boundless Playgrounds is for every child to
have a BOUNDLESS playground within their reach. Hasbro is the first
national founding sponsor of Boundless Playgrounds, providing financial
gifts totaling over $1 million to date. Our PLAYSKOOL division has
pledged $250,000 to help Boundless Playgrounds continue its mission. As
a toy company, we believe in the importance of discovery and learning
through play, and we are dedicated to helping bring this joy to every
child in every community.
When I read of companies who are giving that much money back to the community at large it brings tears to my eyes. Especially listening to the story Dawn told last night. Apparently Hasbro decided to give one deserving community a $350,000 Boundless Playground as a gift as part of their marketing efforts. Here's another blurb from the web site:
You Can Make a Difference in Your Community!
National Center for Boundless Playgrounds is a nonprofit organization
that assists communities in creating barrier-free playgrounds, which
provide developmental advantages for children of all abilities. Let's ALL play...it matters!
You have the ability to make dreams come true! Visit the Boundless Playgrounds Web site for ideas on how to join PLAYSKOOL in helping kids of all abilities have fun, such as:
your community to build a BOUNDLESS playground by rallying other
parents, educators, civic groups, business leaders, etc
- Learning about supporting an effort already underway to build a BOUNDLESS playground in your area
Let's ALL play...it matters!
Apparently there was a contest to find the most deserving community to receive the $350,000 Boundless Playground gift from Hasbro. Dawn said they didn't really expect to get more than 50 entries because not only did the contestants have to write in why they felt they deserved it, they also had to have permission from the city to build the playground which was an extra step.
Well, they didn't receive 50 entries, but 1,000! Dawn had to narrow it down to the top 20 to present to Hasbro and then all 20 were informed they were finalists. They were invited to again submit why they deserved to win (or something like that - I'm vague on this particular detail because I was beginning to get very tired it was so late last night.)
A small community in Pennsylvania went all out and created a little video highlighting all the reasons why they should win and how it would benefit the community as a whole. Just watching the joy and excitement on all 500 little kindergarten through fifth graders in the video at the thought their school might win a playground brought tears to my eyes just watching. The Governor was on the video and numerous city officials explaining why and how this would bring together the community - it was amazing.
Then Dawn showed the video of the school actually learning they were the recipients of the award and then I couldn't stop crying. What an awesome thing to be involved in blessing that community like that. Apparently, even though McCullough Elementary School is 40 miles outside the major city, all along that 40 mile route to the school were signs in store windows thanking Hasbro/Playskool for their generous gift.
The community is still giving back in so many ways to others less fortunate as a result of this amazing gift which to a company like Hasbro is a small amount of money in the grander scheme of things. Now if only more companies would realize their responsibility to make their communities better rather than just taking all the time. There's so much good that can happen when people put their mind to it.
Here's some of the press release on the winners taken from the Hasbro site:
"Boundless Playgrounds®, Hasbro Inc.’s (NYSE:HAS) PLAYSKOOL brand and GameTime, a playground equipment manufacturer, today revealed that McCullough Elementary School and the Penn-Trafford School District in Claridge, Pennsylvania, is the grand prize winner of the “PLAYSKOOL Win a Boundless™ Playground Essay Contest” and will receive a Boundless™ playground in their community so children of all abilities can play together.
essay, submitted jointly by third-grade teacher Scott Mickey and parent
Lisa Popovich, beat out almost 1,000 entries which were received from
44 states plus the District of Columbia. The goal of the contest is to
raise awareness that playgrounds should not exclude children with
disabilities – instead, playgrounds can and should be places where
everyone is included in the fun.
“Scott and Lisa’s story
provides a touching example of why universally accessible playgrounds
are so vital to healthy children and communities,” said Amy Jaffe
Barzach, executive director/co-founder of Boundless Playgrounds. “We
are so grateful to be able to provide such a deserving community with a
playground that will provide joy and fuel imaginations for years to
come, and it brings us one community closer to making this wish come
true for children everywhere.”
McCullough Elementary School
and the community surrounding the school will receive a Boundless™
playground worth up to $300,000 which is to be built at a site
previously designated as a practice field adjacent to the elementary
school and centrally located for community use. Following is an
excerpt from the winning essay:
“While our goal to
differentiate instruction within McCullough Elementary School has been
successful, our community playground outside has fallen behind and
limits our children’s play, movement, and interactions. ‘To infinity
and beyond’ is not realized on the old, rusty, and outdated equipment.
Many of our student population cannot even access the equipment due to
its height or lack of ramps.”
“We at PLAYSKOOL are proud
to award McCullough Elementary School with one of the greatest gifts a
community could ever receive, a place where children and parents of all
abilities can connect without boundaries,” said Lorrie K. Browning,
General Manager, PLAYSKOOL. “It has been an absolute pleasure working
with Boundless Playgrounds over the years to help them grow as an
organization and meet the vast need for universally accessible
playgrounds, and we look forward to continuing our support in the
“The overwhelming response this essay contest
elicited only reinforces our resolve to help provide every child with a
place where they can play and learn together with their peers,” said
Tom Norquist of GameTime. “McCullough Elementary School’s story truly
inspires us and we look forward to building them a playground they will
use for years to come.”
It was more than a decade ago that
Amy Jaffe Barzach lost her 9-month-old son to spinal muscular atrophy
and decided to build a universally accessible playground, in his
memory. His family imagined that in Jonathan’s dreams playgrounds
would be places where children of all abilities could celebrate life.
The special playground built in Jonathan’s memory became the
inspiration that led to Boundless Playgrounds being established.
founding national sponsor, Hasbro has been the organization’s most
ardent supporter; the company has donated more than $1 million, helped
establish a national resource center, launched an educational campaign,
helped develop Boundless™ playgrounds in 24 disadvantaged communities
across the country and sponsored two signature playgrounds in Rhode
Island and Massachusetts."
Okay, I know that if you saw the video you would have an even greater understanding why this story is so amazing. My hope is that People Magazine or Oprah learn of it and cover it because it really was wonderful to see this community rally together.
At first you think, oh this community is only doing it because they want to win, but then when you watch the children's faces and see the purity in their desire, then you are blown away by the community spirit everyone exhibited. I hope Allison & Partners uploads all of their winning video on Youtube or something because you really must see it for yourself.
In the meantime, check out this very cute music video that all the students sang on to share their enthusiasm for winning this Boundless Playground. A parent wrote the lyrics and it still brings tears to my eyes watching it. I hope it does to you too.
This is what America is all about. Corporations giving to communities. Yes, Hasbro benefits in certain PR ways, but I'm also sure they benefit in deeper ways than even those involved expected to as well. Rumor has it that now Hasbro is considering turning their entire marketing budget into more promotions like this one. Just think. What if Hasbro became the next Extreme Makeover for children? I love it!
So, if you don't agree, or you are hardened to this effort and don't understand the value, I feel sorry for you. You must live a very selfish, self-centered life not to see the reason to reach out to your community and do something good rather than just party your life away or only live for yourself. But then again, who's to say you're even the type to read this? HA!
And with that, I'll close. May God richly bless you as you pursue your life. May He reveal His love for you in ways you can't even begin to imagine. May that expression of that love spill out into your life and affect those around you for good as well.
God loves you and so do I.
Now off to bed to sleep again hopefully.