Archives for May 2013

A Stitch in Time


The old saw of “a stitch in time saves nine” (mending the tear before it goes any farther) was never more timely than in the brave new world of new media. Now, a 7-year-old soundbite can suddenly go viral and do damage to a brand within minutes.

Case in point, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ less than diplomatic and arrogant 2006 shot heard round the world that “Candidly, we go after the cool kids…a lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

In addition, the retailer purposely doesn’t provide XL and XXL sizes in order to abide by his belief of the brand’s image.

Jeffries’ comment and store action has resulted in an online petition, video protests, and a viral letter demanding the brand accept more diverse body types.

In response, Mr. Jeffries whined that “This 7-year-old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context.”

Media Training 101 teaches CEO’s that the nature of media coverage is to distill a message into a soundbite and “take it out of context.” Therefore, the technique of crafting your messages in clear, concise, complete sentence quotable quotes is better for your brand than leaving it to the journalists’ interpretations.

Another basic media strategy is that the best defense is a good offense. It is far better to offer the positive than deny the negative. We would have coached Mr. Jeffries to address the questions with positive adjectives of Abercrombie & Fitch’s target market: physically active, sports minded, healthy, fun-loving, trendsetters vs. his being suckered into a discussion of who his brand excludes.


brain blog pic2

Comedian George Jessel once said that the human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public. It’s believed that everyone’s #1 fear is public speaking, with loneliness at #7 and fear of death at #5. Probably, because you don’t have to live through the lonely experience of being  “up there!”

A week or so ago, UCLA Longevity Center director and co-author of The New York Times’ best-seller The Memory Bible, Dr. Gary Small lived to tell about Keeping Your Brain Healthy: Preventing Alzheimer’s in a presentation to UCSB Arts and Lectures series.

Had Dr. Small come to READY FOR MEDIA for presentation training, we would have coached him on the #1 Rule of Public Speaking, know your audience. In our view, the technical expertise about the brain’s biology and how it is affect by Alzheimer’s was baffling.

But he posed and answered two really important questions for his audience. “Do we have control over our brain health as we age, and if so, what can we do to forestall symptoms of Alzheimer’s?”

Dr. Small states today’s society is living longer but not necessarily better, and coincidentally age is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s.  But there are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid and/or delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

His prevention methods include four foundational non-genetic factors: 1) physical conditioning, 2) mental exercise, 3) stress management, and 4) nutrition.

Physical activity allows our bodies to pump oxygen to the brain and keeps us fit resulting in healthy brain volume.

Participating in mental exercises and cognitive techniques keeps the brain stimulated, lowers dementia risk, and improves memory.

Developing good stress management skills either through meditation or relaxation reduces chronic stress, which according to Dr. Small stigmatizes brain growth.

Finally, having a healthy diet full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fruits and veggies, and the occasional taste of alcohol and caffeine are important lifestyle changes that factor into the prevention of Alzheimer’s.