from pickett&associates … exploring PR, social media and entrepreneurship

April 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 12:16 pm

Both tear provoking and thought provoking. As a “card carrying member” of that sandwich generation, I find myself staring at an eclectic mess of my mother’s things and at my two daughters who’ll eventually have to deal with all of it if I don’t first. Great inspiration to “live lighter.”

the National Association of Senior Move Managers® blog

Your Daughter’s Grief: An Open Letter to Moms

Fortunately, we have Senior Move Managers…

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Flipped Out April 1, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 10:42 am

Okay, I admit it.

I am a Flip-o-phile.

Before you call the authorities or report me to some list, allow me to explain. Over the course of the last year, I have become a huge fan of the Flip video camera. This little gadget goes with me wherever I go … just hangs out in my purse until I’m ready to pull it out and shoot something. It’s called “The Flip” because a little “USB” plug pops right out of the camera for seamless, easy uploading to your computer via FlipShare. From there, you can email it, upload it to Facebook or distribute through YouTube.

The addiction started slowly … Much like Facebook, it was initially a means to capture and distribute updates on my grandchildren. Then I began sharing its wonders with friends and clients. Of late, I have created YouTube channels for clients and begun posting videos that we integrate into their Websites.

For instance, Randy Sorrell, owner of Surroundings by Natureworks+ is a perfect fit for this medium. His YouTube channel (that’s integrated into his website) allows him to not only show his expertise, but his natural ability to communicate with others. And let’s face it … talking into the camera is sometimes a lot easier than sitting down and writing a blog … and it serves the same purpose. Most importantly, he “gets” that it’s NOT all about him, but about the quality of content of information he shares. So he reaches out to industry peers (and, yes, competitors) to provide viewers with a wide range of subject matter.

Likewise, WealthPoint Advisors has gotten on the Flip-wagon and are in the process of  integrating their “WealthPoint TV” YouTube channel into their website. They, too, understand the value of informational content and provide  knowledgable yet personable insight into financial planning and wealth management. 

I’ll give credit where credit is due. Lee Lonzo first got me hooked on the Flip as a business tool. He began using the Flip two years ago with his KickOff Program that empowers high school upperclassmen to be mentors to incoming freshmen. He’s able to capture the enthusiasm and excitement he incites as the KO Program trains about 50,000 students during the spring and summer. If a picture paints a thousand words, a video paints a million.

If you’ve not ventured into the world of Flip, give it a shot. Whether you’re a grandma or a PR pro, you’ll find it a tech tool you won’t want to live without!

A sunny Friday here in Indianapolis … needless to say, Go You Mighty Butler Bulldogs! Here’s hoping for “the glow of the vict’ry firelight!”


Remember Your Mentor January 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 3:47 pm

Mary Benedict listening intently during the 1975 summer HSJI institute.

While January is National Mentoring Month, tomorrow is “national mentor day.”

Our friends at the Kick-Off Program freshman transition program recently launched a Facebook campaign to replace your profile photo with that of your mentor and write a little tribute on your wall. So, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, a tribute to my mentor, Mary Benedict.

I met Mary in the summer of 1975 … my first summer attending the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University where she served as the director for a number of years. It was the summer that I decided I would be a journalist, and she was instrumental in lighting the fire that got me there. And I know positively, that there are thousands of folks out there who can say the same thing about her.

I feel fortunate that I paid her a bit of a tribute in a column around 1992. I mentioned her influence on my life … and a few days later, she called to say thanks for the kind words. Like most folks who find themselves recognized as a mentor, she told me I was kind to remember her and asked what I’d been up to. When I read of her passing a few years ago, I was so glad I’d had the chance to say, “Thank you.”

Upon her passing, Jack Dvorak wrote a fitting tribute that I’d like to share. After you read it, you will totally understand my admiration.



(May 24, 1922 – April 17, 2004)

Those who knew the late Associate Professor Emeritus Mary Benedict will not be surprised to learn about her wishes for the disposition of her ashes: She wanted them scattered on a private all-male golf club.

This story and many others were recounted during the celebration of life party held in Mary’s memory at The Garden (Beef & Boards Dinner Theater) on the northwest side of Indianapolis April 22, 2004. She died unexpectedly at her home April 17. She was 81.

Among the themes that surfaced during testimonials were Mary’s vivaciousness, her ability to lead, her competence as a journalism educator, her deep love of family and friends, her power to influence people positively, and her love of golf and scotch – not necessarily in that order.

She served on the School of Journalism faculty from 1972-1986, and during her 13 years as director of the High School Journalism Institute (HSJI), more than 6,000 high school students attended. She also taught courses and conducted workshops for future and current teachers of journalism. For several years she coordinated and taught the J200, Writing for Mass Media, course. She was also the primary public relations instructor. She gained respect of her students as a taskmaster, but always got high student evaluations.

As a specialist in the service area, she inaugurated Media Merit-thon, a statewide on-the-spot contest for high school journalism students. She also directed “On-Assignment” days on the IUB campus. These were one-day events that brought high school students and their teachers to campus in order to experience individually tailored educational opportunities in journalism. Hundreds of high school personnel came for these special meetings with Professor Benedict and the colleagues she recruited to meet with them.

Between 1950 and 1972, she was a teacher at both Washington and Arlington high schools in Indianapolis, where in 1967 she won National Journalism Teacher of the Year honors bestowed by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. She also won Indiana’s top teaching award for a journalism educator – the Ella Sengenberger Award presented by the Indiana High School Press Association of Franklin College in 1964.

After being graduated with a bachelor’s of science in journalism from Butler University in 1945, she worked for the Red Cross in the Pacific for three years. During college, Mary worked for radio station WIBC, and from 1965 to 1970, she did public relations part-time for the Indiana State Teachers Association. In 1953, she earned her M.S. degree from Butler.

Mary enjoyed a national reputation as a giant in journalism education. Aside from many teaching honors, she also took on leadership roles at the national level. In the early 1980s, she was head of the Secondary Education Division of the Association for Education in Journalism, an organization of university educators. She was also a board member for Quill and Scroll, international honorary society for high school journalists, and was president of both Indianapolis and Bloomington chapters of Women in Communications. The Journalism Education Association, primarily comprised of high school teachers, presented her a Pioneer Award for her long service to that organization.

The late Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon named her a Sagamore of the Wabash, and she was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, headquartered at DePauw University in Greencastle.

After her retirement from full-time teaching at IU-Bloomington, Mary taught part-time on the IUPUI campus and at Ivy Tech. Also, she volunteered as editor of The Garden publications for her church and was active with the Southeast Community Center, Habitat for Humanity, Fresh Start, the Indianapolis Press Club, the Society of Retired Executives and Money Makers Investment Club.

She loved to travel, and she wrote articles about her bike trips across France and other countries for The Indianapolis Star and other publications.

Survivors include her sister, Geraldine Hines; brother, Frank Benedict; seven nieces and nephews; and a host of great-nieces and nephews. Mary was preceded in death by a brother, Clement “Joe” Benedict, and a sister, Florence Benedict Cohen.

After the party and luncheon that followed her celebration of life in April 2004, at Mary’s request relatives and friends toasted her with some of her favorite scotch.

Mary Benedict was one of a kind. Like a good mentor, she provided guiding words that inspired me to do things that I had never before considered. She was a seeker of excellence and truth. So, raising that glass of scotch, here’s to Mary B. Thank you, again.


A Day to Remember My Dad and the Mighty Midgets November 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 11:42 am

Dad in his dress blues.

In light of Veteran’s Day, I recently did something I’ve been meaning to do for several months. I began an Internet search using my father’s discharge papers from the Navy to attempt to piece together his time of service during WWII. I had come across these papers earlier in the year as I reorganized family papers that I didn’t even realize I had.

But the discharge papers were of particular interest. I had grown up hearing the story of how my father – who enlisted at 32 years old to offer his mechanical skills to his country – had been on a minesweeper in the South Pacific. There were the funny stories – like when they had their final shore leave before heading into battle, and he was determined to take a five-gallon bottle of rum along for the ride (and walked off the pier holding on to it) – and the somber stories, including the minesweeper having a mine detonate beneath them. The latter sent him back to Indianapolis for “survivor’s leave” at which time he dated my mother for 11 days before they got married.

Trust me, we’ve already covered all those quips. But I digress.

Unfortunately, 65 years ago, no one was blogging about their experiences, and in particular no one serving in Task Unit 78.2.9 on YMS 47. And, while there were always the “stories,” I never asked the specifics … or maybe I did and he just went back to the stories. It’s taken a few hours, but I’ve found that they referred to the minesweepers as the “mighty midgets.” And, now I’ve got a better idea of the missions that (according to those discharge papers) resulted in a WWII Victory Ribbon, American Area Ribbon, Philippine Liberation Ribbon/ 2 bronze stars and the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon/four bronze stars that were awarded to my father, William N. Snyder. I have never seen these awards; it looks like they were sent to my father about two years after his discharge in 1948. But I did find a copy of a Presidential Unit Citation to Task unit 78.2.9. That unit included the U.S.S. Sentry, U.S.S. Scuffle, U.S.S. Scout and YMS’ (minesweepers) 9, 10, 39, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 95, 196, 314, 315, 335, 336, 339, 364, 365, 366, 368 and 392. It reads:

My father looks like he's just waiting for the shoe to drop ...

 “For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces at Balikpapan, Borneo, Netherlands East Indies, from June 15, to July 1, 1945. Limited in speed and maneuverability by the drag of their sweeps while being subjected to heavy and determined enemy artillery fire from shore batteries, Task Unit 78.2.9 aggressively conducted sweeping missions in fields sown with Allied magnetic, acoustic and combination mines as well as newly planted Japanese mines. Constantly menaced by mines and concentrated Japanese fire, the officers and men of these vulnerable mine sweepers maintained a high morale; they entered the mine obstructed waters at the objective throughout seventeen days of operation; they manned their stations gallantly during protracted periods of General Quarters: they rendered counter battery fire and aided the support vessels in spotting Japanese positions more clearly visible from their own close range positions; and although suffering serious losses in boats and sweeping gear which necessitated long work hours to prepare the mine sweepers for further operations, they succeeded in meeting the scheduled landing date. By the skill, fortitude and courage of its personnel, Task Unit 78.2.9 was instrumental in preventing damage from mine explosions to the landing ships despite heavy traffic on or following the target date, thereby rendering distinguished service in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Through some intensive “Googling,” I finally found this (http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/chr/chr45-06.html) :

06/28 Thu.  United States naval vessels damaged, 

             Balikpapan area, Borneo:

         Motor minesweeper YMS-47, by mine, 

              01 d. 19’S., 116 d. 55’E.

             Motor minesweeper YMS-49, by coastal defense gun,

              01 d. 00’S., 117 d. 00’E.

            Japanese naval vessel sunk:

             Destroyer ENOKI, by mine, Sea of Japan, 

             35 d. 26’N., 135 d. 44’E.

The "liberation parade"

If you follow that link, you’ll see a harrowing detail of that June 1945 and a mention of “Vice Admiral J.S. McCain,” John McCain’s father. I found a startling line in “The History of the YMS 196 — “One day while sweeping we came upon a minesweeper that had the stern blown completely off. I believe that it was the YMS-47.” Further search allowed me to read a passage from “South Pacific at Seventeen: USS Cofer” by James Richard Snellen. He writes of that Thursday, June 28, 1945: “At 0740 hours, our boat #2 was lowered into the water, 15 miles east of Balikpapan area, Borneo to act as a standby rescue boat. At 1415 hours, the YMS 47 was struck by a mine and sustained severe hull damage with two injured. Boat #4 picked up three casualties and brought them to the Cofer. The YMS-49 took YMS-47 in tow to an anchorage area.” Which must have been a little more dangerous than it sounds when you refer to the above detail of that same YMS-49 being “damaged by costal defense gun.”

I was searching for a picture of the YMS-47 only to find that sometimes words are worth a thousand pictures …

A Plug for a Distinguished Nervuos Cross

Listen, men, I’ve a tale to tell,
of mighty midgets that sail like – well,
with a word to the wise on larger ships,
to forget those small craft transfer slips,

Men don’t live on YMS’s –
they just exist under strains and stresses,
tossed around like a bundle of peas,
inside their ship on the calmest seas,

Did you ever eat on a YMS?
It has been done a times I guess,
but the simplest meals can come to grief,
when we hit the wake of a floating leaf.

An order comes to dog the hatches,
for days on end we all wear patches,
what dire calamity caused all this?
A passing school of playful fish.

Then, at “0 two hundred” all’s secure,
the anchor is deep and sure,
and even when the seas like granite,
she’s taking off for another planet.

The battered life is just one item,
we’ve many more, just let me cite ’em,
We scrub our whites – they come back black,
our clothes line boys is aft of the stack.

The spacious lockers, I might mention,
are always full and gosh, the tension.
I wish the Navy were more lenient,
four rubber sides would have been convenient.

I’m not through with this little tale,
of little ships and how they sail,
half submarine and aeroplane,
they’re a secret weapon gone insane.

Ah yes, my friend, if big ships bore you,
the YMS is waiting for you,
with loving care, from fore to aft,
the Navy designed them and laughed and laughed.

(Courtesy of Robert Noonan – YMS-176, U.S. Navy Minesweeper – World War II – Pacific Area)

On this Veteran’s Day, I feel like I’ve spent some time with my dad. He was definitely part of that greatest generation who entered a war and came back to a booming economy, had a successful run in business and provided a warm and loving home for his family. He was as quiet as my mother was vociferous. My dad passed away in 1984 at only 72, after 11 years of somewhat precarious survival after a massive heart attack in 1973. He was 47 when I was born. The age of many of my friends’ grandfathers, I never doubted that I was totally adored. Yet he wasn’t out in the backyard throwing a ball with me, nor did we hike or go on family vacations. The happiest times were spent on our back patio where he had mastered the rotisserie and a ham of epic perfection.

When I post this blog, these memories and research will be “out there” in cyberspace for anyone else who has found themselves compelled to “Google” the tales of the “mighty midgets.” And they’ll get a little glimpse of my dad, a “Motor Mac” who went on to live a pretty happy, quiet little life. And today I’m especially grateful to have been a part of it.


Dear Macy’s … October 19, 2010

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 7:22 am

Two years ago this month, my mother passed away after a lengthy battle with numerous health issues including a stroke, a heart attack and two bouts of lung cancer. The first bout’s treatment of radiation and chemo filled her lungs with scar tissue, making it necessary for her to wear oxygen. It also caused the bones in her sternum as well as her vertebrae to disintegrate. She spent her last six months fairly confined to a hospital bed … where my desk sits now.

Despite it all, despite some really bad days when we’d both end up in tears, my mother had a ridiculous, wicked sense of humor. I still have cartoons she clipped hanging on my refrigerator as well as a rather disturbing “news blurb” of one poor guy’s demise when he threw garbage from the roof of his business … and ended up “D.I.T.D.” (dead in the dumpster). My mother thought this was a hoot.

I’m painting this rather dark  picture so you will “get” the humor in the story of the day.

Since my mom lived with me for five years, and since I was the lone child, I still receive her mail from time to time.  So, I wasn’t surprised when an envelope arrived from Macy’s. Mom had an account there since it was “Lazarus,” where she shopped with black-belt prowess. And Macy’s sent her a new American Express credit card. Okay, here’s the funny part … The copy on the flyer attached to the card read: TAKE THE MAGIC WITH YOU. The message was illustrated with a lady holding a red balloon, floating in a very blue sky.

I just laughed and said, “I think it’s too late.” And laughed again and said, “But you CAN’T take it with you.” And knew positively that my mom would have LHerAO at this … mostly because I remember her sending a pretty funny letter to some lender wanting to extend credit to my dad based on his “outstanding credit history” … nearly a decade after his death.

I’m sure this is a potetial nightmare for companies; I’m quite certain many people might be reduced to tears or angry at receiving a new credit card for their deceased loved one. Having some experience in direct mail, I know those lists often “roll over” for years at a time. As for Macy’s, perhaps they didn’t get my note that my mother had gone on to “the big 12-hour-sale in the sky.” No, I didn’t really write that. My mom would have, but I did not.

So, Dear Macy’s … Thanks for a laugh and fond memories of my mom. Certainly, some of our most enjoyable times were spent shopping together, and your offer prompted me to recall those fondly. And on her behalf, thanks for the new American Express Macy’s card, but she won’t be needing it. As a side note, while searching for an image for this blog, I did visit your Facebook page which is VERY nice, and as usual, your holiday ads are shaping up nicely. I’ll cut up the card, but keep the blue sky image. It makes me smile.

Another busy day on tap … creating a communications plan for our newest client and following up on the “to-do list” for this week. For the record, I’m thinking about boycotting TV until after the election. Why is everyone shouting?


How Do You Prevent a “Gap”? October 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 2:20 pm

Ah, Gap, how we’ve loved you. The cool ads, your flair for fun, the logo as comfortable as a pair of eight year old Gap jeans … uh … what happened?

You’ve undoubtedly seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter; this morning one of my blog feeds did an outstanding job of detailing the “rise and fall of a great logo” … Read through a shel of my former self “Lessons from the Gap Logo Debacle” by Shel Holtz to get a grasp on the enormity of the situation.

Do you wonder how the Gap got there? Is there some graphic designer sitting at home this morning, shaking his/her head and saying, “Seriously, I told them that was horrible … from the bold black Helvetica to the floating blue box. But did they listen? NNNooooooo.”

According to our friend Shel, “The logo was designed by Trey Laird and his team at Laird and Partners, which has done design work for Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Nautica, stetson and DeBeers, to name just a few. It was commissioned, according to a statement from Gap President Marka Hansen, because “our brand and our clothes are changing and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that.”

I hope at some point a case study of the “dysfunction junction”  tha occurred during this process is published. At this point, it’s pretty much all conjecture … but in the end, the Gap was caught with its proverbial denims around their ankles.

Has your company rebranded lately and established a new logo? How did you involve your “evangelists” in that decision in an effort to prevent this sort of backlash in the blogosphere?

Writing from sunny Evanston, Illinois on a Saturday afternoon. Beautiful day for football, crunchy leaves and enjoying some family time. Hope you’re able to do the same!


Gaga, Oh La La – What Lady Gaga Can Teach You About Social Media (via Bianchi Biz Blog) September 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — pickettwrites @ 10:19 am

Admittedly, I don’t “get” Lady Gaga. (Seriously, she wore a meat dress to the VMAs … ) I’m not even going to blame it on my age because I know a number of women in the 50-ish range who really DO like her and have attended her concert tour this summer.
But what I DO GET is her PROWESS within the realm of social media. Read on for some great insight into this phenom.

(Guest post from Bianchi PR Account Supervisor Leslie Dagg) We know, we know. Your opinion of Lady Gaga might be one of love, hate or ambivalence. But no matter what … we all can learn a thing or two about maximizing social media potential from her. No, seriously. And you don’t have to set a piano on fire or wear an outfit made out of raw meat to do it. If any one person demonstrates the power of social media and viral marketing, it’s Gaga. Few m … Read More

via Bianchi Biz Blog