Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Falling Man Billboard in NYC

To David Dunlap- New York Times:
Dear Mr. Dunlap,
As the founder of one of the longest running and farthest reaching 9/11 Projects, called the 9/11 Patch Project, I couldn't help but respond to your request for comments on the recent Mad Men billboard.

Let me preface my response by saying that I have been a fan of the show Mad Men, but have always wondered about the opening of each show, where there are business men falling from the sky. I am sure there is some significance in this opening to the content of the show in terms of a metaphor that relates to the high stress and competitiveness of the ad business in the early sixties. As for the campaign and the billboard placement, the man falling literally hits too close to home.

It is understood that campaigns for such shows are designed to catch the eye and provide a subtle yet powerful influence on fans of the show, those that may be curious about the show and those that have been sitting on the fence, deciding whether or not they are fans. In this particular case, there appears to have been no thought in this campaign towards the sensitivity of New Yorkers and others, that a man falling from the sky can bring back the horrible images on 9/11 when multiple people jumped from the WTC towers that were raging with fire.

In my opinion, there is a profound responsibility of advertisers and promoters to continuously be sensitive to how they create their campaigns--especially when displaying their billboards in front of folks who were witness to or victims of such a horrible crime. 9/11 is engrained in the minds of American's and people around the world. Even placing such a billboard in the Los Angeles area would probably be insensitive and distasteful.

Does this change my interest in the show? No it doesn't but I am sure they will not gain respect and admiration by any who are on the sidelines. The show is one thing and the campaign to promote it is another. Just as there are consequences on the show for the characters to create tasteful campaigns, they should hold their own advertisers to the same standards and be prepared to deal with the "fall out," should they miss their mark so dramatically.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Navy SEAL Honoring the Lost Heroes of 9/11

This photo is of a Navy SEAL from Team-1, taken somewhere in Afghanistan, in early 2002. Even though it was nearly 10 years ago, his face is not being shown for safety and security reasons. Those in the military will know it is authentic by the weaponry and how he is suited up. You'll notice on his right sleeve, he is wearing the Original 9/11 Patch. He made the decision to wear this patch in honor of the 1st Responders lost on 9/11.

This SEAL's actions contributed to thousands of other deployed soldiers in both Iraq & Afghanistan to wear the patch in unity with their Fire, Police & EMS brothers back home. There are some great Photo's on the website that show other U.S. Military personnel wearing the patches.

I met this SEAL about 4 years later when another Southern California Firefighter surprised me by showing up at my house with him one day.

Jacket given to Hill from Navy SEAL
In my 10 year history of running the 9/11 Patch Project, it is the other moment in time that rises above all. I was even more surprised when he handed me a special jacket that he had made for me while deployed in Afghanistan. On the right sleeve, was the insignia of the Team (Hotel Company) just below the 9/11 Patch, that he had also had sewn on. On the back of the jacket, was an incredible embroidered piece that took up the entire back of the jacket. The scene was a map of Afghanistan and about the Enduring Freedom Operation where they, alongside British Special Forces, ousted the Taliban regime from power in Kabul and most of Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.

Ten years later, people still ask me why after suffering such a significant personal financial loss, I still continue the project. They wonder how I can even keep it going when orders are just trickling in. I tell them about this memorable event in the project's history, and I tell them it is about a promise to the heroes of 9/11 to NEVER FORGET. For me, as tough as it is at times to continue to breath life into this project, it is about the families of the lost heroes that have to go on with their lives--without their husbands, fathers & sons. While many in our great nation have moved on, I feel it is my duty to continue the work of the project to insure the memory of their ultimate sacrifice lives on.

If you believe in the project and would like to see it stay open, there are a number of ways you can help. The website is http://9-11patchproject.org and you will see where their are opportunities to purchase the patches & decals, add your name to the 9/11 WALL, make a donation or even apply for the Capital One 9/11 cards. Any level of support would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to those out there who have supported this project the past 10 years and allowed me to continue doing what I feel I was called to do!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Where your unreturned emails go

Not to date myself, but I remember years ago when attempting to contact someone, they were either on the end of a phone line or not home. There were no voice messages--no cellphones--no email--just home phones. You kept calling to get ahold of someone or you gave up for another day. The common courtesy, was to answer the phone if you were home--or endure the endless ringing.

Today, so many of us can hide behind our email--our home message machines or our cellphone voicemail. The humanization of communication is gone! I can understand how many want to screen who calls or emails (eg. spam, salespeople, bill collectors, etc.) but it has become so out of control that we are losing touch with many in the world to avoid some we actually may want to speak with or answer their email.

For me personally, it has become one of the largest frustrations of my life. Running the 9/11 Patch Project the past 10 years has been tough getting through to many folks as to save the high costs of advertising, many emails were sent out to various Fire, EMS & Police organizations to make them aware of this worldwide effort to remember the heroes of 9/11 and raise funds.  If the email is lucky to not fall into a "spam folder," it just lines up in someones email box alongside hundreds of others. Many will pick though that list of emails and as quickly as possible, eliminate the ones they are not interested in at first glance. Depending on the sender, most will not even click though the email if it is not from someone they know or are expecting an email from.

So where do your unreturned emails actually go? If they are not deleted outright or caught in the 'ol spam folder, they get buried in the email-abyss until someone has time to actually respond or go back into another round of deletion. Even when you actually respond back to someone who initially replied, the same thing could happen all over again. Sometimes I get as much as 200 emails a day. If I don't check for 2 days, there are now 400 emails to go though. This is even worse as the deletion process becomes more of a hap hazard mission to get to that one or two emails folks remember they need to return.

What about phone calls? Many of us use email so we don't have to track someone down on the phone. Even if we get a voicemail, depending on the amount of "um's" you leave in your recording, you may not get that call back.

So how do we get our emails replied to? According to Net Manners (link in previous paragraphs) We often screw things up right out of the gate by putting the wrong words in the subject line, including "red flag" words in our first couple of paragraphs and inserting pictures into the body of our emails. Even fancy fonts with colorful text and backgrounds may ruin your chances of getting your email read.

Bottom Line: At some point in time, if you want your email to find its target and earn a response, you may need to follow up with a phone call--the sooner the better. Modern communication does have it's advantages but it may take more work to see them--especially if you are sending out an email to someone you don't know. Spam can be a grey area to some but very black and white to others--especially those on the receiving end who didn't solicit an email from you to begin with.

Friday, February 17, 2012

9/11 WALL

Since the 9/11 Patch Project introduced the 9/11 WALL of Supporters, nearly a year ago, over 100 names of people and organizations have been added to the WALL. The low cost $9.11 donation secures your name on the WALL--$9.11 X 2 will get that name bolded.

This donation  means a lot to the project as it not only lists the names of those who have put their support with the project, but it also helps to cover the costs associated with running this non profit effort, that is mostly funded by the sale of the iconic 9/11 Patches & Decals.

In addition to the 9/11 WALL, there is now an opportunity for companies and organizations to take it a step further by becoming a Sponsor. The $911 donation to become a Sponsor is a one time- life time donation where the donor will get their website banner and link on our Sponsor page. Sponsors will also get their names and links in newsletters, press releases and other promotional opportunities. From time to time, the 9/11 Patch Project will do interviews with the media or have a special story printed online or in printed materials such as news, magazines and other company newsletters. We understand the $911 donation may be a little steep for some organizations out there so the donation remains negotiable.

Thanks to those who have added their names to the 9/11 WALL and thanks to our recent LifeTime Sponsors; Hire Patriots-Connecticut, Fire In Motion, Beverly Hills Fireman's Association, Auto Medic of Seattle and ID Safety 24 on 7.

Thanks in advance for any level of support you or your organization is willing to provide!