Is it me or are event promoters being lazy?

Is it me or are folks getting lazy with professional event invites?

Specifically, not providing details on the format and what your ticket price gets you?

It seems that most of the event invites include date, time, location and cost. And that’s it.  

A recent marketing association event was held from 6 – 8 p.m. It was billed as a place to make connections, and that’s it. NO other information was provided.   A friend went and told me boxed meals (sandwich, chips etc.) were provided and tables were reserved for various companies. None of this is conducive to active networking.

I’m attending an event tonight at a restaurant from 6 – 8 p.m. and have no idea what to expect.

Some of the things I – and I assume other attendees  – would like to know:


  • Is it a facilitated networking event?
  • Or is it a come and go as you please and meet folks?
  • Will there be a speaker? If so, what time?
  • Is there a registration period before the event and is there a cut off?
  • Is there an agenda?
  • Will there be vendors? Exhibits?
  • Raffles, giveaways?
  • Who will be there?
  • How many are expected to attend?
  • What are the expected take-aways?
  • Will there be refreshments available? Soft drinks, water?  Wine and beer? Cocktails? Included or cash bar? Or a drink ticket or two?
  • Buffet style cheese and crackers? Passed hors d’oeuvres?  Finger foods or plated stuff?

As an event planner I include all of this information.  Is being sketchy on the details a new thing? Am I missing something?

There are a lot of events competing for my time. And while I am super grateful and excited to be attending in person, more information would be extremely helpful in deciding which ones are worthy of my time and money.


COVID Sabbatical

Rethink, re-imagine, re-launch!  Retool, rebound, reinvent, recharge, reboot, restructure, re- everything!

How about we just RELAX?

Those who aren’t working or with reduced hours seem to be spending their time at home doing everything from learning new languages and baking sourdough bread to posting pictures of DIY home projects and art creations.

Those who are working are building new or updating existing websites and launching new initiatives.  They are making instructional videos, organizing zoom meetings and virtual conferences.  Don’t forget the new special lighting to be at your camera-ready best!

Power up and power on everybody!

We are being told we must take advantage to this down time to learn, create and grow. We must not waste it!  We must stay productive and busy, busy, busy

Which leaves many of us- myself included – feeling left behind or inferior for not doing these things.

Admittedly – COVID struck when I was going through a particularly difficult time.

I had finished up a couple projects and had a several proposals out there, and then all hell broke loose, leaving me with a short client list. (In retrospect, this was a good thing).

In March and April, a family member was in crisis and incapable of managing his own affairs.  I had to spend hours and hours and hours doing research and on the phone helping him – actually, handling it myself with help from  some relatives, for whom I am eternally grateful –  navigate through the world of hospitals, healthcare, rehab facilities and Medicaid.   At one point, he said “my life was in his hands.” No pressure there!

This would difficult enough during regular times but was made significantly worse during COVID.  The hospitals wanted to kick him out, but no facilities would take him without COVID testing, but the hospital wouldn’t test him, some places weren’t taking new people at all, some denied Medicaid patients,  etc.  At one point I had to enlist the CFO of a hospital to ensure the family member could stay an extra day (Medicaid wouldn’t cover him anymore) until an alternate facility was available.  It sucked up almost all my time and I was worried beyond belief.

Plus, I was managing this while trying to keep my business afloat, putting on a brave and happy face for clients and worrying about my own health and safety.  Not to mention the effect of the constant barrage of negative COVID news, politics, violence and civic unrest.

Every morning I woke up angry with a sense of dread and anxiety wondering what fresh hell the day would bring.

Photos of exquisite baked goods, art projects and the numerous emails, newsletters and cheery, energetic social media posts insisting I use this time to “improve yourself and grow your business!” only made me feel worse.

Everyone else seemed to be moving on and I was shutting down.

And then I decided, fuck it.

In early May we left the chaos of Chicago for the vacation home in the northern woods of Michigan. (I realize not everyone has this option, and I am very fortunate that we do).

After I calmed down and got situated, I realized I could accomplish most of my work in 15 – 20 hours a week. I gave myself permission to not force myself to sit in front of the computer all day to be “busy.”

I skipped Zoom networking meetings and virtual conferences. I passed on webinars and webcasts. I scrolled past industry updates and articles.

Instead I went outside and spent hours stomping around in the woods searching for the elusive Morel mushrooms. (Despite what were supposedly ideal conditions, we were unsuccessful). We hiked and spent time swimming and reading books on the beach. Jeepin’ around the same trails we cruised on snowmobiles in the winter.  Sat on a hill overlooking a beaver pond and the old orchard. Watched as the season changed from snow on the ground to fully leafed trees.  Ate outside.  Went canoeing down the pristine Au Sable River.   We visited friends and had campfires at appropriate social distances.

I gardened and tended to outdoor projects.  We built a scarecrow for fun. Sometimes I would just be still and soak in the nature around me.  I’d sit by the little waterfall  gurgling into the ornamental pond while watching squirrels chase each other and attempt to break into the bird feeders.   Shy deer carefully picked their way down the hill while territorial hummingbirds zoomed around their sugar-filled feeders.  I laughed as my silly little dog chased chipmunks.   I tuned in to the mournful call of the Loons and the peckety-peck  of woodpeckers.

I learned about tractors and mulch and soil conditions. We bought farmer’s eggs and cow manure.

I didn’t pursue any new clients or learn any new business skills.

And I’m OK with that.

After almost seven weeks, we finally returned to Chicago.  I’m ready for the “re” words. Refreshed, relaxed and ready to get back to work from a much calmer, centered and focused space.

So go ahead, give yourself permission to use this time in your own way. And if that means doing everything I mentioned early in this post, that’s fine. But if you’d rather go mushroom hunting, that’s OK, too.


Marketing RX: Marketing lessons from my recent hospital experience.

Where have I been?  It was a rough start to the summer. 

On June 1, about three hours after I had my usual lunch salad, I was overcome with nausea.  No need to get graphic with how I spent the weekend.   But after getting  on the scale, having lost another 10 pounds in four days (after losing 20 in the previous three months without trying – should have been my first clue)  –  I knew something was wrong.

Long story short I went to Urgent Care thinking I would get a shot for nausea and be on my way. The next thing I knew I was in the Emergency Room, doctors and nurses and IVs and chaos everywhere,  then to ICU for 24 hours.  My glucose was a sky-high  650+  and I was dangerously close to having a stroke or slipping into a diabetic coma which has a 50/50 chance of recovery.

I had diabetes. What?  Diabetes does not run in my family, I eat healthy, am active, walk everywhere and was not overweight. I have never touched a cigarette in my life. This made NO sense.  Doctors were stumped at first, but we think this was triggered  by a virus I’d had earlier in the year.  I have Latent Autoimmune Disease in Adults (LADA) also referred to as Type 1.5 diabetes.

While in the hospital, there was much time to think and I thought about how my experiences there could be applied to marketing.   So I’ve created a series of brief posts. Below is my first.


Timing is everything:  The first few hours in the hospital, and in ICU, I was somewhat delirious from being so sick. I was overwhelmed because  SO many doctors and nurses and residents kept coming in to ask questions,  tell  me what was wrong, what I needed to do,  chastising me for being horrified about having to inject myself with needles (I’m talking to you blonde lady doctor who needs some training in being nice), asking me about my health history, moving me here and there, sticking in needles and IVs,  hooking me up to machines and electrodes, that I couldn’t absorb any of it. I had no idea what they were talking about and retained little of what they told me.  And don’t get me started on the catheter twins.  (I did anyway because they pissed me off – see below, at the risk of TMI ).

Marketing lesson: Make sure your client is open and ready and receptive to hear what you have to say,  e.g. not during a crisis. If the timing isn’t right, they won’t be ready to invest the time or money in PR or marketing.  That isn’t to say educating  potential new clients who may need your services  down the road isn’t helpful, but I don’t recommend investing a lot of time in proposals and plans when a company is clearly not ready to commit to PR and marketing programs and campaigns.   

#1 – part b – read at own risk and  comfort level of ewwww.

OK – I’ll tell. Two similarly sized residents – they looked like twins, but again, I was sort of delirious –   stood on either side of my bed insisting I had to have a catheter to measure urine output. For the record, I was not immobile and just needed to un-tether myself from the IV stand to go to the bathroom.   I asked why I just couldn’t pee in a basin and then have it measured. They said they needed it for night.  I told them I didn’t pee in bed at night at home so why would I do it at the hospital?  They ignored me and kept mumbling about yes, catheters, yes, yes, catheters and they exited the room in unison like brunette Children of the Corn.  I yelled at them that if they wanted to practice inserting those awful catheters to do so on themselves!  Even the attending doctor questioned why that was written on my chart. I told him no worries – I was not going to allow it anyway. And yes, you can deny services in the hospital.

See the Big Picture: Know Your Twitch Types

Tennis was the only sport I wasn’t completely horrible at – and I played when I was a kid, in high school and a little in college. In fact, when I took it up again in my late 30’s my coach (the fabulous Pete Lutze, Tennis on the Lake!) said I possessed some natural talent for it. Having always been the last kid picked for teams throughout my entire school life, this made me happy. (Plus, tennis is one of the few sports that has really cute outfits.)


However, the main thing I lacked was speed. Pete used to joke that I had glue on the bottom of my shoes.

He then explained to me the difference between fast twitch and slow twitch muscles.

Which at the time I thought was a bunch of malarkey but I would accept any outside excuse for my slowness.

I looked it up. And indeed, to state it simply, fast twitch muscles are for sprinters, and slow for long distance running. Because fast twitch muscles provide speed. Slow ones provide endurance. Cheetah vs. horse. Most people have an equal combination of both but some have more of one type than the other. My guess is I have more slow twitch muscles.

Stay with me – I am getting to a business point!

I recently read an article from an expert on conducting productive brainstorming sessions. He wrote that there are fast twitch and slow twitch thinkers.

Fast twitch thinkers are quick to come up with multiple ideas right away and are not hesitant to verbalize them and expect instant dialogue. Slow twitch thinkers like to process ideas before moving on to another one. They need time to internally process.

Guess which one I am?

If you come up to me and throw a bunch of ideas and options at me, I need you to go away so I can think and then I’ll come up with a response. This does drive some people nuts – especially in brainstorming and ideation meetings.

A colleague asked me if I was bored or not paying attention in brainstorming sessions because I didn’t contribute enough. That was not the problem. Actually I think her exact words were that it made me “look stupid in front of client.”

It was because while the fasties were expressing their ideas one after another, I was still thinking about the first few. Writing things down, doing some word webbing, making connections and mulling things over. While the team was discussing idea number 15, I would bring them back to the second one and create more ideas around that.

Chances are, your teams are made up of both kinds of thinkers, too.

To get the most out of meetings, don’t let the fast twitchers monopolize the conversation. The slow twitchers can’t get a word in edge wise. Ask them directly what they think. And don’t be annoyed when they take you back to an earlier conversation because they have come up with something related but perhaps newer or better. It also helps to give the topic ahead of time.

So yes, we are paying attention. And thinking. And taking ideas into new areas. Be prepared for both types in your meetings to get the most out of your team.

Telling me I play like I have glue on the bottom of my feet isn’t going to make me sprint way over there any faster. But I can nail you in the bean from just about anywhere on the court. (Right, Pete?)

Don’t Be Peter

OMG! Melania wore high heels on a plane! OMG! Trump likes fast food! OMG! That senator flirted with a bartender! OMG! That starlet didn’t wear the right color to the awards ceremony! OMG! Unisex bathrooms! OMG! Someone did something and someone is offended! OMG! The wolf is chasing the sheep!

In the meantime, while everyone is OUTRAGED over every single, little, thing, no matter how insignificant, there are events and decisions of true consequence taking place. But these often go unnoticed because they are being drowned out in all the hysteria.

When you cry and scream at the top of your lungs about EVERYTHING, people tune you out. They stop listening.

This applies to marketing and public relations, too. Stop yelling about everything your company is doing.

According to many press releases and ads and statements, CEOs and presidents are always “excited” about everything. Are they? Are they really “excited to announce” an office redesign? About a new pizza box shape? About the new “green” vending machines offering salads and smoothies? And to be honest, unless you’re McDonalds or Tesla, no one really cares about your new logo or how you dropped a word from your tagline.

And as a PR professional, it is my responsibility to tell clients when their “news” isn’t. And I do.

Not every single thing your company does, makes or offers is newsworthy. Therefore not everything needs to be blasted across all available channels. It is a waste of your time, energy and resources. It is not efficient or effective. And it makes recipients click “delete” when they see they another communication from you, or scroll past the post and skip over your sponsored content. Meaning they might miss the important news when you do have something to say.

If you want potential customers to listen to what you have to say, sell or offer, then only speak about things they want to hear or buy, or in the case of public relations, what their audiences are interested in.

Don’t be Peter.