Unplug for your kids.

Unplugged Bots on Wired’s “GEEKDAD” Blog – Shared Post

By Erik Wecks, GEEKDAD

 

At his day job, Gary Hirsch is a business consultant running a company called On Your Feet which uses improvisational theater to help businesses communicate and collaborate. When not working with managers from Nike and other large corporations, you might find Hirsch busy painting robots on the backs of dominoes or out and about Portland, Oregon, leaving his creations all over town for people to find.

BotJoy fan Jeff Probst with artist Gary Hirsch

In early 2012, his “What Brings Portland Joy?” project asked finders of his bots to post pictures of their bot with things which brought them joy. In true Portland style, he soon had pictures of kale, roller derby, and beer. Recently, Hirsch was asked to have his bots included in the swag bags for both the Emmys and the Golden Globes. Joy Bots and other Bot creations by Gary Hirsch have now been showing up with the likes of Downton Abbey‘s Elizabeth McGovern; cast members from GleeTrue Blood and Breaking Bad; and Survivor host Jeff Probst, who recently ordered 100 of them to give to the guests on his talk show.

 

Not only are Hirsch’s bots hobnobbing with the rich and famous, but they are also becoming well traveled. Hirsch says that he has received pictures of his bots from all over the world. “There is a part of the website ‘Where in the world is your Bot?,’ and folks love sending in photos of their Bot in exotic places: Bali, Egypt, Nairobi, and the Arctic Circle to name a few.

 

After meeting the art therapist at Randal Children’s hospital in Portland, Hirsch asked if he could make a special “Brave Bot” for kids being admitted to the hospital. Now each child admitted to the day surgery unit gets a special Brave Bot with instructions that read:

  1.  Allow your robot to get to know you by letting him hang out with you in your room, on your windowsill, in your pocket, or wherever you like to spend time.
  2. Listen carefully, when needed, your Brave Bot will use his robot powers to give you a little bit of courage to face the things that feel uncertain and scary.
  3. Keep your Brave Bot with you anywhere you go for a little bit of courage where ever you are.

Gary Hirsch's Brave Bot

“I hear some amazing stories of how the Bots are helping,” says Hirsch, “For instance: Ava, a wonderful 8 year with type 1 diabetes holds on to her Brave Bot every time she gets an injection. Her Mom just told me that now Ava is able to give herself insulin injections with the Brave Bot watching.”

When asked why he thinks these bots seem to have helped, Hirsch answered, “The Bots are small, feel great in your hand, the kids are always bigger then the Bot, they can talk to it, they feel in control. Somehow the Bots help you have conversations with yourself that you might not have otherwise. I have really no idea how they work. I just make them and let the people that have them do the rest.”

I asked Hirsch how he came up with the idea for the bots.

“I had this idea about 5 years ago: What if you had an imaginary robot that followed you around all day and gave you outrageous compliments? It was a fun idea to imagine, so I included it in an illustrated journal that we made for our On Your Feet clients and gave them out when we were running innovation and creativity sessions. The image of a robot following you around giving you compliments kept haunting me… I mean seriously, how cool would that be? It would be invisible, and only you would know it was there, and it would say things to you like “Nice pants” or “That was a smart thing to do” or “You made the right choice.”  So two years ago, I thought, “Let’s make the robot real” and after playing with several surfaces, I stumbled onto the domino. Now instead of an invisible robot, you have a small one that you can take anywhere.”

One of the things I love about each bot is that it is a numbered piece of art. I have bots which Hirsch gave me in the 15,000 range. He told me that recently he passed number 17,000 and has left hundreds of them around cities like Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas. Hirsch is incredibly generous with his bots, giving away thousands of his creations. The rainy night I met him, Hirsch stuffed the pockets of my jacket with several bots for me, and some for my kids as well. He also produces large scale installations of his bots which used hundreds of individually crafted pieces. Hirsch says that he can lose himself for hours while painting bots and is nowhere near bored with the project.

Gary Hirsch original bot.

Hirsch has branched out from the original joy bots. There are now 26 different Bots. “You can see them all on my Etsy site with new ones sprouting up all the time. My favorites are:

The Launch of the Unplugged Bot:

Recently, Hirsch’s brother came up with an idea for a new bot, the Unplugged Bot. The Unplugged Bot assists its owners to unplug once in a while and re-connect with the real world. Like all his bots, they are hand-painted and one-of-a-kind.

“Do you know someone who needs to unplug? Who has to check their electronic devices every 20 seconds?”

 

Read more by Erik Wecks

Follow @erikwecks on Twitter.

The Cyrk

Movin’ on up, to (a new part of) the East Side & Joining The Cyrk

As much as we’ve loved our time in the Buckman Neighborhood – rubbing shoulders with the mad scientists of Distillery Row, descending like locusts upon local eateries such as Robo Taco and Vivo, and working with neighbors Bremik, Tapalaya, Po’Boy Art and more – it’s the dawn of a new year and a new era for AM:PM PR.

We survived an overinflated panic surrounding a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, and we figured why not treat ourselves to a new space. Not to toot our own horns (TOOT!), but it’s a doozie.

At the beginning of February, we’ll take up residence in the Cyrk Building on southeast 20th and Clinton. For those of you who’ve yet to cast your eyes on this miracle of modern building techniques, feel free to drive by and check it out. It’s a gorgeous space that we’ll share both with our brothers in arms at 7/Apps and our clients EE Northwest. The latter owns the building and was kind enough to approve our tenant application. We’ll try to keep the noise level down.

AM:PM PR joins the Cyrk-us

For those of you who understand how calendars work and are wondering about the omission of a little thing called January, well done. That was a test, and it’s nice to see that you were paying attention. As construction is finished up on our new space, we’ll be going back to our roots.

Just as in the early days of AM:PM, we’ll be a bit like the French Resistance, except with public relations instead of freedom fighting, and minus the Gauloises. We’ll meet at a variety of our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and watering holes, keeping the client work that’s our bread and butter firmly intact. You likely won’t notice much difference unless you meet us face-to-face, in which case the password is “Le Coq Sportif.” Also, feel free to give us suggestions for great coffee shops that can accommodate large groups of mostly serious professionals.

During the next month, we’ll keep you updated on our activities and the construction’s progress via the usual channels: our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. We’ll also be getting to know our new neighbors. We’ve already visited St. Jacks, Compote, The Night Light Lounge and more, and look forward to getting to know them and their tasty offerings even better.

When we get moved into the new space, we don’t expect you’ll miss it. We’ll have a hard time not crowing from pride about our new digs, and of course there will be office-warming festivities to attend to. Keep an eye out for something occurring around St. Patrick’s Day.

We’ll also be working on new job titles and a high-flying new concept for the website that will highlight the subtle circus theme of our new digs. Prepare yourself for the greatest communications show on Earth, or at least in Portland. In the meantime, Happy New Year. We hope you’ve got as much to look forward as we do.

 

ICBC booths

Long-time Intel spokesman linking up with AM:PM PR

 

As winter begins and the New Year approaches, 2013 is looking like Spring to us. Our new offices are under construction. New clients are coming aboard. And today we confirmed that one of Oregon’s most respected and visible communications professionals plans to affiliate with us early next year.

In an email to his Intel colleagues and friends, Bill MacKenzie, a long-time Intel spokesman announced today that after 15 years as spokesman for Intel in Oregon, the state’s largest private employer, he’ll soon launch his “post-Intel life.”

Before starting his high-visibility job at Intel, Bill spent a decade as a business and politics reporter at The Oregonian. He also held senior positions on the staff of a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Commerce, including service as a foreign affairs officer working with the Department of State on treaty negotiations.

In announcing his future plans, Bill told friends he plans a short break before starting part-time work over the next year for the Encore Fellowship Program and Social Venture Partners Portland. He also plans some non-fiction writing, including journalism.

But what we liked best was reading this: “I’ll also be affiliating with Portland PR firm AM:PM PR to offer PR services such as corporate communications, crisis communications and media relations training.”

We couldn’t be more excited. Allison and I worked with Bill and his team at Intel more than a decade ago, helping with communications about one of Intel’s multi-billion dollar investment announcements. We also facilitated Intel’s former Community Advisory Panel, part of the company’s communications with its neighbors.

He’s been a good friend and a helpful professional colleague ever since.

In his email, Bill reflected on his time at Intel: “I’m proud to have played a part in handling hundreds of critical business issues with the media and in helping to secure public support for $37.5 billion of Strategic Investment Program Agreements that have facilitated billions of dollars of Intel investments in Oregon and generated thousands of high-skill, family-wage jobs. I’m also proud that Intel has consistently been voted Oregon’s most admired tech company and one of the most admired companies across all industries during my tenure.”

Intel has reason to be proud of the contribution Bill has made to Intel’s success in Oregon, and we’re pleased he thinks enough of us to link up with us.

While it seems like Spring to us, Bill is waiting for the real thing before setting off for a long-planned lark: “On May 9, 2013, I’ll embark on a bicycle trip from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to Boston, long an adventure on my bucket list.”

Bill has many more adventures in him, and we look forward to sharing some with him at AM:PM PR.

Oregon Manufacturing Industry

Canny Tax Policy Works

 

Oregon has maintained its stake in the competitive manufacturing sector over the past two decades by a canny approach to tax policy.

Governor Kitzhaber’s proposal this week to create a tax policy guarantee for large manufacturers, such as Nike, is the latest in a line of proposals dating back to 1984 when Oregon lawmakers repealed the state’s worldwide unitary tax.

The circumstances through the years have been the same – state leaders needed effective ideas Oregon could afford to attract or retain major employers. Clever tax policy did the trick.

nike logo
The 1984 repeal of the unitary tax occurred during an economic downturn and threats by Japanese and other foreign companies to blacklist Oregon. Repeal of the unitary tax wound up causing only a minor tax revenue drop, but served as a red carpet to companies such as NEC and Epson that responded by quickly building manufacturing plants in Oregon.

In the early 2000s, manufacturers with large physical footprints and lots of employees in Oregon complained that the state’s apportionment formula to determine tax liability penalized them. The three-factor formula weighed property value, employees and in-state sales equally.

Lawmakers recognized the tax disincentive for companies such as Intel and Precision Castparts to keep investing here and adding jobs. They modified the apportionment formula to give double weight to in-state sales.

Under continuing pressure from the manufacturing sector, lawmakers agreed to phase out the three-factor formula and replace it with an apportionment scheme that just considered in-state sales.

That change eliminated the penalty manufacturers felt when they expanded their operations and hired more workers. It undoubtedly reduced state corporate tax bills, but the addition of more, often higher-paid workers increased personal income tax collections. On balance, the state achieved a net positive.

Local communities also benefitted from higher industrial property valuations that helped pay for schools and firehouses and new residents who bought or built homes and shopped in local stores.

Kitzhaber’s latest idea basically enshrines the latest good idea for manufacturers who promise to make sizable investments and create jobs. It doesn’t cost anything, but it will reap dividends by once again helping Oregon stand apart from the crowd – and eager industrial recruiters from California, Arizona and Colorado and cities such as Austin and Raleigh-Durham.

Some may question Kitzhaber’s haste in summoning lawmakers to pass tax legislation undeniably intended to entice Nike to stay and expand. But it’s no different than Governor Vic Atiyeh who summoned a small group including us 20 years ago to count votes on repeal of the unitary tax.

Oregon’s sizable, productive and diverse manufacturing sector is the evidence of a smart, cost-effective strategy that still works.

Darth Vader and King Arthur's Sword

The Force is strong with Disney’s marketing of Star Wars buy

Pat McCormick as Walt Disney with his grandson Ian as MIckeyI confess I’m a Disney fan. Disneyland opened the summer before I entered 8th grade, but I never got to go until we went 30-some years later with our kids.

When Disney announced on Halloween that it had acquired Lucasfilm, owners of the Star Wars franchise, it was big news. It also was an opportunity for someone at Disney to invest a little bit of time to make a brilliant marketing move.

Remember the long-running series of Disney “What’s Next?” commercials featuring Super Bowl or NBA or Olympics champs being asked what they plan to do after winning their championships? “I’m going to Disneyland,” was the reply.

Well, on the day of the Lucasfilm announcement, some creative Disney marketer got Darth Vader and some Imperial Storm Troopers to cut a video asking Darth Vader “What are you going to do next?” The YouTube video shows Darth and his entourage enjoying the fun of Disneyland.

What I love about it is that someone, probably with no budget, could execute the idea so quickly. For those of us who visit Disneyland with some frequency (I take each of my grandkids for four days in the parks between their 9th and 10th birthdays), we know that Darth and the Imperial Storm Troopers have Jedi training sessions six times a day, so the costumed characters are easily available.

So is the whole park. Get a video crew Disney marketing team, shoot some video, edit and post.

In one day, the quickly posted YouTube video has had almost 500,000 plays. Congratulations to the marketer that had that idea. Brilliant.

Be cautious with outbursts on your Facebook Business Page

What not to do on your Facebook business page

 

Damaging your own reputation through social media – a cautionary tale

A restaurant owner in small town in Washington surely regrets sharing publicly that he pay his utility bill and blaming the local PUD on his woes. The reactions below demonstrate risks of outbursts for managers of a Facebook business page.

What can we we learn from this Facebook business page fail?

  • Don’t post when you’re angry. You’ll regret it later and it just might turn viral.
  • Don’t share your financial issues with customers. You’ll lose respect.
  • Don’t act maliciously. You’ll lose fans quickly.

Your Facebook business page publicly represents your company in a platform that allows all of your customers to engage or witness your engagements. Every comment you make can be shared with thousands in seconds. The impression you make can have a lasting effect. Be cautious and interact in a way that supports the reputation you want to have. If you think what you’re about to post has the potential to be misconstrued or hurt your reputation, run it by a second pair of eyes first.

For more cautionary tales (and some laughs at others’ expense) check out Failbook.

 

Peter Morrissey - friend and mentor

Missing a mentor today – Peter Morrissey remembered

A good friend and mentor died August 3. His passing reminds me again of how we’re formed by the people we admire.

I first met Peter Morrissey when our firm joined an international network of independent public relations agencies, Pinnacle Worldwide. Peter owned a firm in Boston that specialized in corporate reputation management and crisis communications.

It was easy to see why corporate executives trusted Peter. He was honest, whip smart and direct. He also was a teacher. He shared stories to illustrate lessons. And like a good Irishman, he had great stories to tell.

Among Peter’s corporate clients was Johnson & Johnson. He counseled the company and its McNeil Pharmaceuticals subsidiary when poison introduced into its Tylenol capsules killed seven Chicago-area residents in 1982. It’s now a classic case study in PR classes on crisis communications.

In addition to running his successful firm, Peter was the consummate good citizen. He taught at Boston University, was active in numerous community groups and served on the board of Boston Athletic Association, sponsors of the Boston Marathon.

I remember him most for what I learned listening to him. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed reading Rate Your Professor comments from students he taught at Boston University.

“Morrissey’s real-world experience as CEO of a highly successful PR firm makes his class probably the most useful I’ve taken at BU.“

“Professor Morrissey’s class was a great class. He brings his real-world experience of owning his own PR firm and working with big name clients to the class. Morrissey’s work in crisis communication especially is a case study for every intro to PR class everywhere.”

“I LOVE PROFESSOR MORRISSEY! If you want to go into PR, take as many of Morrissey’s classes as you can. Work hard, talk to him outside of class, and he will help you in your job search way more than Career Services ever could.”

Peter was the same way with his professional colleagues. He would help you any way he could. Mostly he helped me remember that, at its core, our profession is about serving our communities with integrity, honest communications and a commitment to do what’s right.

Peter taught that by how he lived.

MeetUp - the social site that encourages you to meet in person.

MeetUp – The greatest social network you’ve never heard of

– by Cam Clark

One of the most prominent complaints I hear against social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter is that they actually make us less social. They suck you into interacting on a superficial, virtual basis rather than face-to-face.

There are arguments for and against this thought process, but for the past ten years one social network has been quietly and successfully nullifying these two assertions right under our noses by creating a network of people who meet virtually and congregate physically.
 

Meetup.com is one of the rare websites that actually encourages people to meet in real life. The website aims to help people create communities unified by a common interest, such as: politics, books, sports, movies, health, pets, jobs or other hobbies. Members just enter their ZIP code or their city and the topic they want to meet about, and the site helps them arrange a place and time to meet.

Meetup’s mission is “To revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.”

This under-recognized social networking site is the world’s largest network of local groups, with people getting together somewhere on the planet every 13 seconds. Meetup boasts an impressive 9 million visitors per month in 45,000 cities worldwide, and has 280,000 monthly Meetups on every topic imaginable. Sure, compared to Facebook numbers, 9 million is a drop in the bucket and the site could use a visual overhaul, but just because this site has been outshined by others does not mean you should ignore it.
 

 
I personally have made some great connections through this site, and in a very short time frame. I’ve pub-crawled with the “20 and 30 somethings in Portland,” happy-houred with the “Happy Hour Aficionados of Portland,” run with the “NoPo Run Club” and even sung my face off with the “Portland Karaoke Singles.” There is so much fun to be had.

If you don’t think you have time to check it out, do me a favor. Go to meetup.com, enter in a topic that interests you and your zip code, and just see what comes up. If you are unable to find anything interesting, come to one of our PR 3.0 meetings and I will buy you a beer. Or, maybe, just maybe, you will find a group of people that will forever change your life. Either way, what do you have to lose?

AM:PM PR original crew

AM:PM PR rings in a year of doing public relations their way

Media Advisory
July 12, 2011
503-232-1015

PORTLAND, OR – (July 12. 2011) Portland-based communications team AM:PM PR celebrates a year of doing things differently during the month of July. This time last year, public relations veterans Allison and Pat McCormick left a more traditional, established firm in a downtown high rise in favor of Portland’s Central Eastside.

Choosing a renovated historic firehouse in Buckman has given AM:PM PR the chance to be a real part of a neighborhood – a seeming impossibility downtown. Making friends in Distillery Row and with People’s Art of Portland has shaped the celebration of AM:PM PR’s first year in business.

That diversity of character also defines AM:PM PR’s work with clients including Motorola, Unified Grocers, Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, and 7 Apps.

“Rather than picking clients based on their size, we have looked for companies with stories worth telling,” says AM:PM PR’s Allison McCormick.

“Part of doing things differently involves being generous with our knowledge and experience,” Pat McCormick adds.

For every nationally recognized name AM:PM PR takes on, it’s central to its mission as a company to help out businesses from the neighborhood. As the term hyperlocal helps to redefine journalism, it’s also helped to chart AM:PM PR’s trajectory. Working with Alder Pastry & Dessert, Oregon Distillers Guild and Bremik Construction have strengthened the firm’s relationships in the neighborhood and helped the organizations maximize their reach outside the neighborhood.

In honor of the company’s first birthday, AM:PM PR launched a new website, which Allison and Pat hope will exemplify many of the characteristics they recommend to their clients. It’s social, visually engaging yet clean, and is constantly updated with new content – sharing industry insights with personality.

AM:PM PR’s Birthday Bash on July 14 will serve not just as a celebration of prospering during a time of economic uncertainty, but also as a celebration of the community it calls home. Local businesses ranging from its Distillery Row neighbors to Cascade Brewing, Eat Your Heart Out Catering, Flux Salon, Portlandia International Language School and more all have pledged their time and services to make it an affair to remember.

AM:PM PR is a Portland-based public relations firm established in July 2010, and specializing in marketing, integrating social networking into strategic communications, qualitative research and corporate communications. The firm represents the consumer product, healthcare, telecommunications, technology, construction, non-profit, business-to-business and waste industries. For more information about AM:PM PR, see its website, www.ampmpr.com, follow it on Twitter @AMPMPR, or like it on Facebook. Or, just stop by Fire House No. 7 and introduce yourself.

Files:
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AM:PM PR Logo
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AM:PM PR Team Photo

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1FjMB-pD

American's continue to spend more time on social networks

We’re Spending More Time on Social Networks

 

UPDATE: January 9, 2015 – Time on Social Networks Still Increasing

Pew Research Study Social Network Usage Stats

From the Pew Research Center Study on Usage of Social Networks:

In a new survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center finds that Facebook remains by far the most popular social media site. While its growth has slowed, the level of user engagement with the platform has increased. Other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn saw significant increases over the past year in the proportion of online adults who now use their sites.

The results in this report are based on American adults who use the internet. Other key findings:

  • Multi-platform use is on the rise: 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.
  • For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors.
  • For the first time, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. And half 0f all Instagram users (49%) use the site daily.
  • For the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%.
  • Women dominate Pinterest: 42% of online women now use the platform, compared with 13% of online men.

Nearly a quarter of the time Americans are online is spent on social networking sites according to The Nielsen Company’s June 2010 study, What Americans Do Online, released August 2.  Time spent on social networks grew by 43% from levels reported in June 2009.

One reason?  So many more people continue to join social networks – especially Facebook.

Oregon is a good example.  Last month, blogger Nick Burcher posted state-by-state numbers showing the growth in Facebook members from July 2008 to July 2010.

In July 2008, 242,500 Oregonians were active on Facebook.  That grew to 815,660 by July 2009.  This July, Facebook reports 1,648,820 members in Oregon – a growth of 102% over last year and 580% over 2008.

It’s unlikely the number of Oregonians on Facebook will double again by next summer.  While 2010 census data aren’t yet available, the July 1, 2009 estimate of Oregon’s total population was 3,823,465.

Based on those data, more than 43% of all Oregonians now have a Facebook page.  Compare that to the 14% of Oregonians who read one of Oregon’s 18 daily newspapers.

Neilsen reports Americans are spending 906 million hours a month on social networks.  Online gaming now occupies the second biggest block, up by 10% from 2009.  But people are spending 28% less time on email, which slipped to third place.

If it wasn’t evident before, social networking is changing how people connect with one another.  If brands and businesses want to engage their customers, it’s clear where they can find them online.