It’s Monday, and here’s what really matters

Some issues of interest to PR professionals — and one for the Kent State faithful. Here’s to a longwinded Monday!

On-the-job whining is out the open. Or so says Jonathan Cox in a story for McClatchy Newspapers. His story cites mostly anecdotal evidence that young employees in today’s workplace aren’t afraid to bitch about their jobs and their employers. In fact, Cox says some employers actually encourage whiners to speak up.

crybaby.gifNot that long ago “loyal” employees were expected to do their jobs and shut up. But it seems at least some employers see value in listening to employee complaints, then making adjustments to enhance productivity and retention. What a concept!

We’ve all read the statistics about the cost of replacing a productive employee. So if your company or clients don’t have listening posts in the workplace, you might want to ask “why not?”

Cartoon by Wayne Edwards, The Family Poet.

money.jpgAre you paying your interns? If not, you may be in violation of the Fair Labor Standard Act, or so says an AP story by Joyce Rosenberg. Seems that federal law classifies internships as “training programs,” meaning you must meet all six criteria governing them. The criteria listed in the story:

  • The intern must receive training similar to what he or she would receive in a vocational school.
  • The training must be for the benefit of the intern.
  • The intern must not be displacing a regular employee — in other words, doing a regular employee’s work
  • “An employer has no immediate advantage from the activities” of the intern, Zimmerman said.
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship.
  • Both intern and employer understand that the intern is not entitled to wages. A student may be able to receive a stipend, however.

Fail to meet ANY of those criteria and your intern becomes an employee subject to the same regulations as the rest of the troops. And would that be so bad?

I’m happy to say that fewer than 10% of Kent State interns work for free. And most who do accept unpaid internships are working for nonprofit or cause-centered groups. Students in the corporate, agency and government sectors earn between $8 and $15 an hour, with $10-11 being about average — not bad by Midwestern standards.

redribbon.jpgIs cause-related marketing counterproductive? Eileen Alt Powell’s story today suggests that nonprofits may actually be hurting their fundraising efforts by partnering with consumer brands. According to the story, the Susan G. Komen Foundation raises 10-12% of its annual revenues from corporate partners who feature the group’s pink ribbon on their packages. Most folks see these partnerships as win-win propositions, since they lead to higher retail sales and position the business partners as caring and socially responsible.

But there is a danger, according to Dwight Burlingame, of Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy.

“The big negative is the idea that potential donors think that by buying a bottle of water or participating in a particular race … that they’ve done their philanthropy, when only a portion—and often a small portion—of their contribution is going to a cause,” he said.

“The danger for the nonprofit is that potential donors feel they’ve ‘given’ and don’t have to sit down and make a real gift,” he added.

If Burlingame has research to support his assertion, it’s not referenced in the story. Still, it’s something to consider if you’re considering marketing programs colored green, red, pink or purple. If this topic lights your lamp, I expressed other concerns about cause-related marketing back in October.

Changing a Kent State icon — I tell you, it has me worried.

rays.gifOK, you can change the curriculum, you can change the admissions standards, you can even change that silly “Golden Flashes” mascot for all I care.

But when you mess with my favorite watering hole, geez, I worry.

Charlie Thomas, owner of Kent State’s most revered taproom, Ray’s Place, has closed the downstairs portion of the bar for complete remodeling this summer. The new Ray’s will have large windows looking onto Franklin Street, more comfortable bar stools, nicer tables and a new bar. I have been assured they won’t mess with the signature sandwich, the double, mushroom bacon cheeseburger known as the MoFo. Whew!

Charlie promises to retain the character of this legendary bar that’s served KSU students, faculty and townies since 1937. Yep, it’s the place that made Playboy Magazine’s “Top 100 College Bars” list a decade ago. It’s the bar where KSU dropout Drew Carey is still known to drop in and buy the house a drink from time to time.

According to a report in the Akron Beacon Journal:

When the first floor reopens, it will have new tables, chairs, a bar and large open-air windows in the front to let more light in. The windows are Ray’s attempt to compete with open-air decks.

The first floor will look more as it did when Ray Salitore first opened the bar in the former Central Hotel, Thomas says. Rest assured, he adds, he doesn’t want to mess with the character or drive customers away.

“What I’ve realized is it’s much bigger than I am,” Thomas says. “Ray’s is a part of Kent history.”

So, yeah, Charlie Thomas knows he’s messing with an icon. But change is inevitable — something PR folks should understand, since we’re constantly promoting it. (Here’s another take on the story, this from the Record Courier.)

No matter what the new barroom looks like come fall, they can’t remodel the memories — fuzzy as they are at times. So to the Kent State faithful, let’s plan to belly up at the new Ray’s next fall. The first beer is on me!

7 Responses to It’s Monday, and here’s what really matters

  1. Brian Wooley says:

    As long as Ray’s remains, I don’t care what it looks like. Just keep the doors open, Charlie!

  2. Blair Boone says:

    Changing Ray’s? Say it ain’t so, Bill.

  3. Stacy Wessels says:

    Ray’s with windows? And natural light? If you want crap like that, go upstairs.

  4. Brian Wooley says:

    Ray’s with windows? And natural light? If you want crap like that, go upstairs.

    And if you want to drink in a dungeon, go to the Brass Rail (if it’s still there, that is). 🙂

  5. Ruth Rogers says:

    Your story uses a graphic (crybaby.gif) that is an original cartoon (see Cry Baby) by my father, Wayne Edwards of The Family Poet. I would appreciate if you would give him credit for his copyrighted work, as well as a link back to his site. Thanks.

  6. Bill Sledzik says:

    So sorry, Ruth. I was under the impression this art was in the public domain. Let me assure you that I didn’t profit from it and I’m only too glad to insert the link in the hope that maybe your father will.

    Your note points to a problem for all of Web 2.0 — the intellectual property issues. As art is passed around an posted here, there and everywhere, it’s easy to forget that someone created it, and sometimes impossible to learn who that person is.

  7. Ruth Rogers says:

    Thanks, Bill!

    It’s definitely an ongoing problem. Short of branding every image with a copyright notice, which really clutters things up, the only hope is education of the masses. US Copyright law actually states that every creative work is copyrighted unless specifically stated otherwise. That makes it pretty easy to tell what’s what, but somehow the “popularized” understanding of How Copyrights Work has managed to avoid that little bit altogether.

    My dad’s biggest “profit” from his work is knowing others enjoy it. My own enjoyment comes from seeing him acknowledged for his talent.🙂

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