Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cat herding is nothing to being a tour guide

Thinking back to those days as the chief of community relations at the former Lowry AFB, I had to admire the Capitol staff and all the junior aides who did tours. I remember an 8th Air Force tour where a staff of about 8 helped to host 500 World War II vets to a tour of our base. Our most notable facility was our weapons school (see above) where we had every fighter and bomber in the Air Force fleet. In fact, the guys at the weapons school used to kid me about having a second office at their school.
However, I have to also admit that it's truly hard to deal with educators when they're in a tour guide. As a former educator, I always found it amusing that there were always one or two that wouldn't follow instructions or stay in the group. About two to three times a year, my base would host "Centers of Influence" tours with local educators. The recruiting commander for a local region would take eight to ten educators or guidance counselors on a tour of a base to show them how we trained their students.
Most of the folks who took these tours were great people. In fact, I had an educator from my hometown who knew my mother, a fellow educator and former teacher union rep. He called my mom to tell her what a great tour guide. Still, I had one out of 200 or so who came to Denver complained to their recruiter that I made them stay on schedule. And, when I had one Air Force captain from the Air Force Recruiting Squadron call me about it, my boss, SMSgt (Retired) Jimmy Teet overheard it. He asked me to transfer the call to him, and he told the captain nicely that the majority of the feedback was positive, if not outstanding. "We CAN'T please everyone, especially the ones that won't listen to us!"
One of the things that I loved about working for Jimmy Teet was that if you did your job, he stood up for you. I remember one time that I was driving a group of educators home from a night on the town, when one commander told me to pull over at a 7/11 to get a case of beer. I told Jim the next morning about our unscheduled stop in case someone saw the Air Force "bluegoose" parked there, and my former boss growled: "X*^((&^%) it. You should have called me from the pay phone. I would have met him at the billeting office with the base commander."
Needless to say, Jimmy called another senior NCO at Air Force Recruiting who forwarded the info to his commander. About a month later, Jimmy came over to tell me that the former recruiting commander was off to a drug and rehab school.

Helping Lamar Smith find his Capitol tennis court

I am away in DC, doing the tourist thang with my wife, Jackie, my step daughter, Jen, son, Pete and daughter, Kate. Last year, Jen was a Congressional intern for Rob Bishop, (R) Utah, so she knew how to get a guided tour with one of our local Congressmen, Lamar Smith (see photo above). My daughter met him during her work and then helped his fall '06 campaign. It was kind of fun to have Jen along although our tour, as she did her fair share last summer. And, about two-thirds of the way through, Jen and our tour guide, Whitney Marion, had bonded. So, knowing that Jen knew the ropes, she let my daughter complete the tour for her.

For me, the highlight of the tour was to see my oldest daughter interact with others in DC, not only former staffers but her step sister and brother. However, I did enjoy Whitney's story about how her boss, Congressman Smith, tried to find the Congressional tennis court. Sure enough, there's a picture of a tennis court located on one of the office buildings in the Senate.

Whitney said her boss tried to find the court, and he's still looking for it, although if there's a tennis court, it has probably a security device in the ad court.

Having given tours in college to prospective college students and a few during my tour at Lowry as their chief of community relations, I enjoyed the work of Whitney as well as my daughter. As befits a summer season, there were a lot of other Congressional junior staffers showing their constituents the capitol.

(P.S. Kudos to Lamar Smith for his support of the San Antonio technology community, most notably the cyber security industry. I am sorry I am going to miss his presentation Monday in San Antonio.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly of T.J. Connally

Public Relations professionals are like dogs in the park. We acknowledge each other, but we rarely talk or even say much about our competition. I often get asked about my competition, and my remarks are typically positive such as: "I have heard great things about such and such." However, T.J. Connally has to be one of the most amazing publicists in the San Antonio market. How can this guy get not one but two metro columnists in the San Antonio Express News to feature him shows the kind of pull that he has, even if it is not always positive.

Proud to add the godfather of cybersecurity to our growing roster of clients

Fred Ramirez, one of the founding fathers of the Air Force's cybersecurity programs, has become one of my newest clients. As the guy who founded the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team, Fred, in the words of Mike Garcia, another friend and client at MDI, is the "godfather of the cybersecurity" program. Many of the information assurance programs now in place at military and commercial computers started within Fred's organization.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Get a second life at TASA

Had to admit that the presentation at today's TASA meeting about virtual life was one of the better I've seen. Aaron Delwiche, aka Carbonel Tigereye, one of the founders of Meta Versatility was one of the featured speakers on Second Life. According to Aaron, there are 7 million registered users to this software. I find it interesting that Laura Lorek, the technology writer at the Express News, has an avator like me in the program. Laura said before the lunch that she has a house close to a virtual museum who don't like her home next to their building. "I've gotten a couple of threatening emails from them," she said. Still, it's interesting to see that others are into the program. My son, Peter, has done some exploration for me, but I find the graphics a little clunky.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not the valuable prize I was looking for.........

Until I finished the first couple of chapters of Robert Scoble "The New Rules of Marketing & PR," I had viewed this blog as more of a diary than a business tool to engage others in an ongoing dialog. Today, that's going to change. About 10 days ago, I had written an entry about Jim Poage, the president of SATAI. Jim was the featured guest speaker at a technology mixer put on by friend and colleague, John Hill. I pulled that blog because I didn't want to offend some of my clients.

When Jim spoke on the ongoing technology in San Antonio, he engaged his audience by asking questions about technology. Get the right answer, and you got to put your name into a hat with the winner getting a prize. Well, I got the right answer to one question, and I contributed my business card into the prize bin, thinking that the prize offered by Mr. Poage might have been something of value. As Jim pulled the card from his hat, he announced that the winner got Spurs tickets. When he announced my name, I had visions of taking my son or daughter to a Spurs game during the NBA championship. Instead, I got these joke tickets for the Hickam Spurs (see my scanned image above.)

I worked for Jim on publicizing his SATAI annual banquet. Until I got the contract for this event, the organization had never gotten a supplement from the San Antonio Business Journal for this event. When that organization agreed to provide a 14-page supplement to SATAI, it helped publicized the growth of technology in San Antonio. In addition to this supplement, I also got coverage in the Express News and the SA Business Journal. If you know about the competitive nature of both, you'll know that it's pretty hard to get both to cover a story, but I manage in the words of Larry the Cable Guy to "get ur done."

Having worked with Jim on the PR and also as the field producers for his SATAI banquet videos, I know that he thinks he has a good sense of humor. And yet, I left that night with a pretty bad taste in my mouth about him and SATAI. Had I been still working for him as his publicist, I would have told him to find a pen or pencil set to give out as prizes or a $25 gift certificate from a local merchant.

But I am not working for Jim, nor do I think we can work together. As his publicist, I would tell him to never make fun of something as revered as the Spurs. Instead, I would have told him that the focus should be on promoting the great technology in San Antonio.

I doubt that few people realize this, but our city has a great wealth of technologies, most notably in security, web development and medical technology. IF I was still working for SATAI, I would have told him to focus on that message instead of asking questions like: "What popular magazine predicted that computers would never weigh less than a ton in 1948?"

Here's hoping that the SATAI board gets the message and helps Jim change his presentations. We need someone professional like Randy Goldsmith to help our growing cluster of technology grow. If you're not working in the technology space, you should know about the great technology base that this city has fostered and nurtured. Jim Poage needs to focus his message on what we're doing not what happened in 1948.

I am going to send this blog to a couple of people on the SATAI board of directors. I had originally pulled a previous blog about Jim because of the fear that some tech leaders might be offended and that it could impact my business. But as Scott notes in his book, a blog should shake things up. At the very least, perhaps it would get Mr Poage to look in his supply closet and find a set of engraved pens to send to me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Don't softsell your accomplishments

This week, I have met with two new clients. Both have impressive military careers with one of them serving as the "founder" of the AFCERT. This agency went from my client to a worldwide agency within five years and today it protects the Air Force's computers from unwanted intrusions. In a sense, this client is the "godfather" of the computer security program, and he helped a lot of military and civilian employees become the leaders in protecting the Air Force's computers.

My client left SecureInfo and has his own consulting firm. It's my job to rewrite his bio and then make him appealing to his customers -- government security firms. Now that I have a budget, I'll begin work on getting him a timeline to help him get customers and continued recongition for his leadership in this area.

Just after that meeting, I met with another new client. I noted the "chief" statue in his office, so I knew right away that he was a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. As a retired Air Force noncom, I saw this, and we began quickly to click together. Again, here was a guy who also served as an Air Force IG team member as well as someone who spent five years as an instructor in his career field. Right now, that information is not on his web site's bio, but that will change soon.

It's amazing how people soft sell their accomplishments. Perhaps, it's that Air Force perspective. The military demanded excellence, and many supervisors didn't show much in the way of appreciation. I have to thank Colonel (Retired) George Titus for his appreciation of what I did for him. In a five-year period, he put me in for two Air Force Achievement Medals, and he nominated me several times for military awards. While working with him, I also had Denver Mayor Wellington Webb give me "Technical Sergeant David M. Scherer in the City and County of Denver Day" upon my departure from Colorado to Italy. I rarely tell people about it, even though I am very proud of the work I did in Denver for over six years.

I guess it's like my one new client put it: "People want to know what you can do for them today; they don't care what you did previously." While I agree with that somewhat, you still have to put out those accomplishments because it shows new clients the roads you have traveled before.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Still more Manucheladas

Still more great publicity on the Manuchelada is rolling out with this latest missive from Edmund Tijerina:

One of downtown's swanky nightspots, Suede Lounge, is getting some attention for creating a special drink for the NBA Finals.
It's called the "Manuchelada" and it's a version of the classic michelada.
The recipe from general manager Sarah Hartman and marketing guy Matt Scherer features Heineken (because it's supposedly Manu Ginobili's favorite beer), lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and some other seasoning in a Twang-rimmed glass.
Enjoy one during the next game. Or before. Or after.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Five more copies for my mother....

Most publicists never want to take center stage when it comes to representing their clients, but getting a mention in Andi McDowell's weekly media column in the San Antonio Business Journal has to be a big highlight for me. Andi's column showed how Chris Day, my boss at Twang, and I worked with Sarah Hartman, the general manager at Suede Lounge, to create the famous Manuchelada, named after the famous Spurs star, Manu Ginoboli. In the words of Dr. Hook,,, "I'll have to send five copies for my mother."
(P.S. The words to the Dr. Hook song was written by the late Shel Silverstein, author of "The Giving Tree" and "Where The Sidewalk Ends."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Legal client wins $250K case

My clients, Marc Gravely and Matthew Pearson, helped one of their clients win a $250,000 judgement for a sexual discrimination case with the San Antonio Express News picking up the story on page one of their business section. They asked me to help publicize the case. As a longtime PR and former Air Force supervisor, I am amazed at how businesses treat women differently than men. While in uniform, I had a basic set of rules:

1) I don't care what color, gender, faith or background you had before working with me;

2) As long as you do the job, I will always support you.

3) I will do everything I can to help you advance your career.

As someone who came on active duty when the Air Force opened their doors to non-traditional jobs, I know there were some growing pains with the military. Yet, today women in the military do everything but fly fighter jets, and truthfully women pilots are better "sticks" than their male counterparts.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The birth of the Manuchelada

As the contract public relations manager for Twang, you can imagine my joy when the producers at WOAI wanted me to do a segment on NBA related drinks on Friday. With the help of Sarah Hartman, the general manager at the Suede Lounge on Houston Street, we created the "Manuchelada" for the SA Living show. As Sarah knows how Manu likes Heineken, we created a version of her michelada recipe for the segment by subbing the more traditional Dos Equis beer for the Dutch brew. In addition to the manuchelada, we also created drinks for Tim Duncan called the "Timmy," and a tribute to Eva Longoria and Tony Parker. For those who missed the segment which aired at 10:50 a.m. on Friday, here's Sarah's outstanding recipes.....

The Manuchelada

Rim glass with Twang chili-lime salt
Fill with ice in a pint size glass
Squeeze the juice of one half lime onto ice
Shake half a teaspoon of celery salt and a half of a teaspoon of pepper into glass
Add two dashes of worchestire sauce to the mix
Add three to five dashes of Tabasco (according to taste)
Pour Heineken over mix
Shake in large shaker and pour back into glass

The Evi-Toni

Rim glass with Twang orange or tangerine flavored rim sugar
Fill with ice
Add 1.5 ounces of X Rated Fusion Liquor
Pour ¼ can of Red Bull and one ounces of cranberry
Shake in large shaker and pour into large martini glass

The Timmy

Rim eight-ounce martini glass with Twang banana flavored rim sugar
In a mixing glass, add 1.5 ounces of Malibu Rum
Add three ounces of pineapple and three ounces of cranberry
Shake content and pour mix through strainer into Highball glass