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grimm poster header

Grimm tidings to you, Sam and Dean

by Jake Ten Pas

Portland has been all a-Twitter about NBC’s new supernatural/fairy-tale-based thriller Grimm filming in town, and with good reason. Given Oregon’s abyss of joblessness, we’ll take any employment we can get. Secondly, for those of us who are tired of unimaginative reality TV, the recent slew of horror, fantasy and sci-fi themed options is like a breath of fresh air straight from an alternate dimension. Whether it’s “American Horror Story,” “Walking Dead” or “A Game of Thrones,” I’ll take it.

Grimm crime scene

But here’s the thing. Whoever scheduled “Grimm” at NBC pulled one of the classic jerk moves in the history of TV programming. He, she, they or it put “Grimm” on at the same time as two of my favorite network shows of the past five years, “Supernatural” and “Fringe.” Obviously, this is no accident. NBC wants to cannibalize the other two, steal their fans and leave the shows to die by the side of the road like zombie victims. If this theory of TV scheduling was, at one time, effective, I sincerely hope it won’t be anymore. I wish this not because I don’t want to see “Grimm” succeed, but rather because I think the notion of trying to kill off other shows that share a common fan base is an outdated, unnecessary, and just plain unwise way of going about the business of ca

rving out a viewer niche.

grimm show
In an era when more people are watching TV at a time of their choosing via DVRs, the Internet and DVDs, why is it necessary to try to gouge out your opponent’s eyes? As a proud geek, I can say that I make time in my week for a multitude of shows, and all you have to do is not A) Make it more difficult to watch your show than it has to be, or B) Piss me off by taking on one of the shows I’m already loyal to. Sadly, the NBC execs have done both. By scheduling “Grimm” at the same time as two of my favorite shows, they’ve shown their total ignorance of the way DVRs work.

While some DVRs will allow you to record three shows simultaneously, most standard ones issued by cable companies will not. With my DVR, we can record two shows and watch a third, but because these shows are on Friday night, I’m never at home to do so. Thus “Grimm” gets the boot, and the only way to watch it later is to hunker down in front of our tiny computer screen and watch it on Hulu. The week that the pilot of “Grimm” aired, NBC did something really smart by rebroadcasting it on SyFy. This not only exposed the show to a wider audience, but it also found a loophole in the DVR dilemma by allowing another time slot at which my DVR could find it and record it. Why they quit this strategy after week one is anybody’s guess.

After watching the first two episodes, I can say that the show potentially deserves better. While it owes a big debt to institutions such as “Supernatural,” I was instantly intrigued and wanted to watch more. Which leads me to wonder why NBC doesn’t try to incorporate some truly social elements into its marketing campaign for “Grimm”? Sure, it already has a Twitter account, but the account basically does nothing but promote itself all day long. Instead, why not subtly court fans of “Supernatural” and “Fringe” by putting your show on right before, or on an entirely different night, and then tout the similarities between them?

A truly social presence means giving props (or recognition) to others while saying what you have to say. It isn’t just about riffing on how rad you are. And in case you think that I’m saying “Supernatural” is doing any better of a job on Twitter, I’m not. That show’s Twitter account is full of the same self-aggrandizing nonsense, which is totally opposed to the self-effacing humor the show specializes in.

This is a new age for TV, in which people can watch what they want when they want. Your petty little network ploys and bickering can only get in the way of our enjoyment and support of an array of shows. With the advent of Apple TV – and who knows how many other technologies coming down the pipeline – it’s time to play nice and cultivate an audience of fans hungry for great stories that you can all draw from.

Quickly, before I leave this rant be, my coworker informs me that he can watch any show directly from NBC’s website via his iPhone used in conjunction with his Apple TV. Even if I simply had a newer model of TV, I could hook my computer up to it and watch “Grimm” on the big screen despite NBC’s attempts to make it as difficult as possible for me to do so. Perhaps this issue is indicative of technological growing pains we’re going through as a culture, particularly as they relate to TV. No matter how specific you want to get as to whose fault it is, I fall back to the basic position that it’s a network’s job to get its programming to me, perhaps more than it ever has been before.

So, if you’re reading, NBC, I’m here, I’m weird, and I’m ready to watch “Grimm.” Can you help a geek out?

lemongrass portland

Lemongrass

 

 

Jake Ten Pas
by Jake Ten Pas

I don’t really believe in the concept of reverse racism. At least not in America. Racism is based on power, and, well, this isn’t a blog about reverse racism, so I won’t waste any more of your time with my philosophical ramblings. I simply mention it to preface what I’m about to say.

Reverse racism exists, and nowhere is it more prevalent than in Thai restaurants in Portland. If you don’t believe me, try a little experiment:

Step 1) If you’re white (and also a masochist), go into a Thai restaurant and order your favorite dish at the spiciest level the restaurant offers. This will usually be a four or five.

Step 2) Be disappointed.

Step 3) Invite one of your Asian friends to join you for the same meal at the same restaurant. If you don’t have an Asian friend, make one.

Step 4) Go back and order the same dish at the same level of heat.

jake ten pas sweating
Step 5) Enjoy (Unless you’re one of those “normal” people, who don’t like having your taste buds burned off of your tongue with edible lava, or the impending gastrointestinal discomfort that will surely accompany it).

Step 6) Come to the mandatory conclusion that white folks simply can’t get any respect when trying to order spicy at Thai restaurants. You might want to have a pillow handy, so you don’t have to cry into your sleeve.

Now that we’ve all learned something about the brutal nature of modern life, allow me to blow your mind. What if I were to tell you that there’s a Thai restaurant in Portland where the color of your skin not only doesn’t matter, but where the heat scale goes up not just to five, not even to eleven, but to TWENTY.

It’s called Lemongrass, and it’s located in a beautiful, if slightly dilapidated, old house on N.E. Couch St. The restaurant’s menu is pretty simple compared to many Thai places, and the staff seems to consist entirely of the family that owns the place. If you’re looking for either a luxurious or cookie-cutter dining experience, stay away. This means you, angry man on Yelp.

If, however, you’re looking to eat some incredibly delicious Thai food, and sweat out all the toxins in your body (and perhaps a few pints of essential bodily fluids), Lemongrass is the place for you.

Explaining to our host my issue with most Thai joints’ underestimation of my threshold for pain, I was met with eyes that said they’d heard it all before. I was told that I should probably order a level two on my green curry to match other restaurants’ level 5. Full of the sin of pride, I ordered a level three and braced myself.

Jake Ten Pas celebrating
Did I weep openly? Did I gnash my teeth? Did my internal organs liquefy? No. I’m a professional, people. I’ve eaten something called a Satan’s Handroll, Salvador Molly’s Balls of Fire and even attempted Orochon Ramen’s Special #2 noodle challenge.

But it was damn spicy, and full of flavor that surpassed that spice to disprove the notion that when a dish is too hot, all you can taste is the heat. And this was a level three. Imagine a ten, or heaven forbid a twenty. I am, and my imagination tastes delicious right now.

If you’re like me, and tired of the extremely first-world problem of not being able to get hot enough curry, stop by Lemongrass Thai sometime. I’ll be headed back soon myself, and this time I’m trying for a five. Pray for me.

Just like a AM:PM PR Speakeasy roundtable

The Best King Arthur Story Ever – The 442

– by Jake Ten Pas

You know that story about the Round Table of Arthurian legend arising from the knights demanding to all be treated equally? Total nonsense. I wasn’t there or anything – I had a previous commitment at Morgana’s place – but I can tell you exactly what happened. It went a little something like this:

Arthur: Can you please pass the gravy?

Sir Lamorak: (who was sitting at the opposite end of a very long table): Eh? You like to shop at Old Navy?

Arthur: No, the gravy. The gravy! Can you pass it? And what is this Ye Olde Navy of which you speak?

Sir Lamorak: Inexpensive yet chic? I quite agree. I got this tunic there in several fun summer colors just last week.

Arthur: Did you just call me weak? Guards!

And after Sir Lamorak was beheaded (this is only one version of the story, mind you), Arthur decided that it’s just much easier to have a conversation if everybody is seated in a circle. A large circular table was constructed, gravy was passed without bloodshed, and they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Or is it?

Last week, we hosted our weekly social media Gabalot, better known as PR 3.0, at 442 Soccer Bar on Hawthorne. It’s quickly become one of our favorite places to host the event for a number of reasons, all of which could prove instructive to other bars, pubs and nosheries looking to attract the patronage of businessy-type people such as us. So, without any further ado, a list of five reasons why we frequent 442:

1)   They’ve got a great circular seating area where roughly a dozen folks could sit, hear each other talk and keep a lively conversation going between them. Places that only have long, skinny tables simply will not work for a good group discussion. They end up breaking up into individual conversations about good TV shows, as opposed the big, dynamic group discussion about TV shows we prefer.

ampmpr-speakeasy-at-442

2)   They play great jazz music in there, but they understand how to work the volume knob. Few people on Earth are more obsessed with music than I am, but there’s just something about being forced to scream like a character in a natural disaster movie to be heard that tends to distract from the finer points of a good confab. Keeping the music at a reasonable volume encourages your customers to enjoy each other in addition to your tunes.

3)   The bartender, who I assume is also the owner, is a total character. He refers to everybody as either “Pretty lady” or “Nice guy,” and he is always friendly and welcoming. Big groups tend to spend a decent amount of money, and his strategy is endlessly more effective than that of some other bars, where you’re treated like yuppie scum if you walk in with a brief case or without a mustache and sarcastic T-shirt.

4)   442 features tasty Bosnian food. While this isn’t directly related to us holding our meetings there, it doesn’t hurt. And if you like to watch soccer games (Personally, I do not, but my coworker Erin is an aficionado), I’d imagine they go way better with Cevapi than hot dogs.

5)   442 has both a full bar and a killer selection of European beer. Normally, I only drink bourbon, but when you have the option of drinking a giant frosty mug of draught beer from the homeland of the owner of the bar – or thereabouts – I highly recommend it. And yes, I realize that any domestic beer is probably from the homeland of the owner of most U.S. bars, but now you’re just being difficult. Finally, unlike point number four, point number five IS directly related to us holding our meetings there.

The End.

Really this time.

Unless it isn’t.

Distillers at AM:PM PR's first anniversary party

First Anniversary Party Video

 
 

Scenes from AM:PM PR’s first anniversary party mingle with fire chief Pat McCormick’s speech to the friends, clients and family that showed up to support us and the community that is our home. Included among the participants were members of Distillery Row, Cascade Brewing, Zanzibar Cellars, Eat Your Heart Out Catering, Phoogoo, and the creative minds associated with PoBoy Art and Chris Haberman Art.

ampmpr team firehouse

AM:PM PR – still standing! Yeah, yeah yeah!

fluxby Jake Ten Pas

While it’s only been 10 months since our launch party, it’s been a full year since the actual launch of this crazy public relations space ship we call AM:PM PR. Sure, there have been a few asteroids, black holes, unhappy aliens and bounty hunters with personal vendettas along the way, but for the most part, it’s been smooth lightspeeding.

7/apps logo
Whether or not you believe that, you can trust me when I say that the party we’ve got planned to celebrate our year anniversary/first birthday with our sister firm, 7 Apps, is going to be visible from space. OK, so maybe that’s still hyperbole, but it is going to be super fun and so packed with local goodness that, if we were to broadcast the soiree live to the web, people all around the world could put their differences aside and be united in wondering why they don’t live in Portland.

Given that Pat and Allison have real work to do, and Cam’s been scalp-deep in a redesign of our website, Alexis and I took it upon ourselves to round up some of our favorite neighborhood and greater-Portland-area people to show off how well connected we are, and, we hope, look all the better by our illustrious associations.

distillery row passportWe’ll have six different distilleries on hand, including Deco, Sub Rosa and Integrity Spirits from our neighbor Distillery Row. Ashland’s Organic Nation, Wilsonville’s Vinn Distillery and Portland’s own Bull Run Distillery will also be with us. Our association with the Oregon Distillers Guild has yielded some tasty results, as you can see.

If that’s not enough, Will Smith from High Ball Distillery will bring products from his other endeavor, Great Western Spirits – such as Four Roses Bourbon – to further increase our range of offerings. His partner in Distillery Row Tours, Mike Heavener, will be on hand to tell you all about what’s going down with The Row.

Then there’s the beer and wine. Our favorite makers of sour beer, Cascade Brewing is sending over a keg from itseat your heart out logo
Barrel House, and Oregon’s greatest microbrewery, Ninkasi is donating cases thanks to the involvement of two artists we’re fortunate to have in the neighborhood, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I have to mention Zanzibar Cellars who’s graciously donating a bunch of vino for the cultured sippers in attendance.

To soak all this up, or maybe to make you thirsty in the first place, we’ll have the fabulous finger food of Eat Your Heart Out Catering for your snacking pleasure, as well as the sweet treats of Alder Pastry & Dessert. If you need a pick-me-up, Nossa Familia Coffee will be percolating your perfect cup. Helado, we’ve even got frozen yogurt thanks to one of our newest neighborhood friends, Active Culture.

people's art logo portland
But back to the art. If you were at the launch party, you likely noticed the colorful paintings punctuating the white space of the walls. Those were courtesy of artist Chris Haberman and PoBoy Art. This year, Haberman and his partner in the Peoples Art of Portland, Jason Brown, and an armada of their artist buddies will set sail for the shores of your pleasure centers. This imagistic invasion will be propelled by the sounds of DJ Hasselhoff, aka Zach Hoffman of Phoogoo.

Also along for the ride will be Leslie Hand Painted Glass, PDX Seamsters and a bevy of other Portland businesses. Donating items to our raffle this year will be Nicholas Restaurant, Flux Salon, Portlandia International Language School, Three Friends Coffee, Distillery Row Tours, FH Steinbart Homebrewing Supply Store, Enso Winery, Zell’s Cafe and Floyd’s Coffee. And Ankeny Hardware will once again loan us garbage cans to keep the party as clean as possible. There will even be a lemonade stand operated by three of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen, and I’m not just saying that because they’re Allison and Juan’s.

Finally, we have to mention our new best friend, Jack Hopkins, who was generous enough to loan us the huge parking lot behind our building free of charge. It abuts Cornerstone Automotive Group and NW Medical, and we hope to see their employees making with the merriment at our Birthday Bash.

In the past week, we’ve been diligently trying to invite everybody we know, love, “like,” and do business with, but it’s a long list. If we’ve forgotten you, drop us a line, and we’ll get you an invite. This party is going to be one for the ages, and it’s our little way of thanking the city and neighborhood that have nourished us along the way. We welcome the chance to nourish you right back. Cheers.

AM:PM PR original crew

A year of fun in the ‘hood

The top topic buzzing around our office lately is our upcoming first birthday bash . Like our launch party last year, we plan to highlight the wonderful wares of our neighborhood – distillers, caterers, brewers, bakers, artists, winemakers and more.

As much as I’m looking forward to the party, looking back over the past year makes me grateful just to be part of AM:PM PR.

I’m the old guy in our group – literally the father figure to my partner, Allison, and our Human Infrastructure Technician, Erin. (I had to use “literally” in my post because it irritates Jake when people use the word inappropriately. I, of course, used it appropriately.)

When we set out on this adventure last year, I had this quixotic hope that spending my days working with young professionals would be invigorating. Turns out, I was right.

Instead of working in the Class A office space I enjoyed for more than 20 years downtown, we looked to the evolving east side of Portland’s Willamette River, where industrial operations mix with hot new restaurants, artist studios and a vibrant creative community. We ended up in a historic firehouse (lovingly restored by Venerable Properties and Bremik Construction).

Our group wanted open space, not private offices. They wanted to sit together around a big table. For an old coot like me, it’s strange. But my colleagues are comfortable with it. Collaboration is natural and creating privacy simply requires putting in their ear buds, or taking a call in our toy room.

Clients have helped us better understand what business we’re in. We knew interest in social networks was escalating exponentially, but we were surprised so many clients in the business-to-business categories – law firms, construction companies, architects, engineers, trade associations, etc. – are eager to learn more about and use social media.

Of course, one reason to celebrate is that we’re still here. Starting a business in the midst of a dismal economy is anything but ideal. Surviving and succeeding is worth celebrating.

But my main reason for celebrating is the gift I get from working with young professionals who respect traditional principles of successful public relations and teach me new insights about how to use today’s constantly changing communications tools.

It’s been a great ride this year. And we plan to have even more fun in the year ahead. Hope you can join us for the party.

 

 

 

 

 

The wisdom and wise words of Dr. Suess

Five Dr. Seuss Quotes with PR Lessons

Dr. Seuss’s wise words for the young and old can be applied to every part of life – even in the PR business. Some of his best quotes have PR lessons within.

Top Five Dr. Seuss Quotes Translated Into PR Lessons:

1.) “Shorth is better than length.”

The most read blogs are 150 words or less.  This blog is about three times that length, so I’ve chopped it into bite-sized nuggets for easy consumption.  If you want to get your message across, whether by blog, email, video or media pitch, keep it short.  Shorthness will increase the likelihood that your message is remembered.

2.) “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

We often get requests from prospective clients who need help with outreach, but have no plan in place.  Developing a strategic plan that integrates all outreach enhances the effectiveness of your efforts.  Creative brainstorming and planning will also provide social networking content ideas and pitch angles throughout the year.

3.) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

Don’t create messages you think your audiences want to hear.  People want to hear truth and will respond to it.  For example, don’t say you’re green if you haven’t made real strides in the area.  Your words won’t ring true.

4.) “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

So much fear still exists around embarking on social networking.

Complicated questions: “How can we control what our employees will do when given access? How will we respond if someone trashes our good name? We’re already so busy; how can we do it all? These are just a few of the questions we hear.

Simple answers: Trust your employees.  Criticism is unlikely for most businesses. When it does happen, respond transparently and your fans will come to your defense.  Social networks are where the conversations are happening.  Transition is a must.

5.) “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

Be prepared.  Create a crisis communications plan.  It’s one of those things, like a will, that you know you should have, but it’s easy to keep putting off.  Being prepared for anything will help ensure that you maintain a consistent message and increase the likelihood of preserving a positive reputation in the face of a crisis.

More great Dr. Seuss quotes worth remembering:

Wisdom from Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax"

Dr. Seuss encouragement

Dr. Seuss's simple wisdom

Stand out

 

 

 

Know Before You Go (A Closer Look at the Supportland Card)

Supportland-CardThe AM:PM PR team recently held one of its weekly PR 3.0 meetings at a spot close to our offices called Madison’s Grill. We likely would have picked this location anyway, due to its proximity and ability to accommodate large groups. But throw a free plate of delicious nachos into the mix for just checking in, and we couldn’t get there fast enough.

Clearly, I’m always up for a good deal, and if I had a retail/service business I would certainly be on board to create deals for patrons to reward them for showing up regularly. The problem with apps such as Foursquare is that you never really know, until you’re there or nearby, whether the business offers a deal. Since I’m burned out on the gaming aspect, and really couldn’t care less if I become the Mayor, I’m much less likely to use this app on a regular basis.

In a previous post, I wrote about a Smartphone application called CardStar. It’s a way of condensing all of your rewards cards info into electronic form. My only issue with this is that I often shop for essentials at places other than the major box stores.

The Supportland card has filled this gap. Visit the site and learn all you need to know about it. For me, this one is a no-brainer. It’s the best of location-based applications married with the ease of an app like CardStar – or for those who prefer a tangible card, it’s just one card for a whole slew of businesses.

It couldn’t be much easier; you simply swipe your card at participating establishments and earn points to score sweet deals. What’s more, if you see a Supportland sticker in an establishment’s front window, you always know you’re able to use your card and earn points. You can even visit their website and check out a list of participating businesses broken down by neighborhood.

For those of us who get burned out easily with game-centered apps, there’s an alternative. That is, at least, if you live in lovely Portland, OR. **

** Supportland has plans of rolling out their technology to other locations. If you’re lucky, maybe it will be your city next.

am:pm pr early logo illustration by Molly McCormick

Collaboration – We like it this way

When our team decided to spin out and start our own thing, we wanted everything to be new and we wanted everything to be “us.”

Our most enjoyable and successful experiences had been through collaboration.  From day one, we decided to collaborate on everything.  We brainstormed our mission together. We decided on open office space where we would sit around one table, without offices that separated us from each other. We shopped for office furniture together and covered our walls in white boards for our many spontaneous brainstorms.

We planned our website together.  We all participate in client development activities.  We’ve realized putting our heads together makes us much more creative. As leadership guru Ken Blanchard teaches, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Our collaboration became so natural and organic that we extended this way of working to relationships with our clients, partners, neighbors, peers and friends.   Our clients become part of us.  We absorb them as members of our team. We hope they see us the same way.

We recently decided to partner strategically with 7 Apps, a smartphone app developer.  We realized more of our clients are asking about apps as marketing tools.  Our partnership gives 7 Apps access to market research and marketing expertise to support apps it’s developing for its own clients.

We hold weekly PR 3.0 meetings (Thursdays at 3:00pm) and invite our PR peers and clients to join us for roundtable discussions about the latest happening in social media, SEO and mobile.

We even crowd-sourced our logo, asking everyone we knew to help us choose the image that identifies our firm.

Now there’s another big opportunity for our friends to collaborate – in celebrating an open house for our new venture (save the date – 8/26/10 4-6:30pm).

We came from downtown, Class A office space and for AM:PM PR we were looking for an office location distinctly different.  We found the perfect place in an iconic historic firehouse with available space in an eclectic area of SE Portland.  A big bonus is that we can be part of a real neighborhood.

Rather than just show off what we’ve got (and the new space we’ll be moving into with 7 Apps), we decided to invite our neighbors to show off to our friends what an amazing neighborhood we’re in.

Bremik Construction (next door neighbors and the builders who did such a beautiful job restoring the firehouse and the adjacent buildings that are now Bremik’s home) even decided to open up their space and deck for our event.

We’re big fans of everyone we’ve invited.  Expect to taste:

We’ll even be showing off art from the wealth of local artists, hardware from our favorite little Ankeny Hardware across the street, and much more.

We like this way of working.  We have found real value from the psychic income of collaboration, enjoying the work we do and the people we are surrounded by.  Our new, bigger space should be completed by the end of the year.  It will have the same open feel and include gathering areas for peers and clients to come and just hang out if they need a little collaboration time.

So come on over – August 26 for the open house, or anytime.  Our place is yours.