Street Talk

Sometimes PR people are in the news. This time it was just a former employer having a little fun.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Steve Heacock for Congress campaign to lead communications efforts.  After meeting the candidate and the team, I accepted the role.  The same day I joined the campaign team, Rick Treur was brought in as Campaign Manager, a role he filled for Vern Ehlers previously.

In addition to developing a communications plan for the campaign, one of the first tasks was a news release announcing Rick as the new campaign manager. A couple outlets picked it up, including the Grand Rapids Business Journal, which mentioned the release in its “Street Talk” column.  It wasn’t quite the “pick up” I was expecting however.  Typically the PR person remains behind the news, not in it.

The problem is that I used to work at the GRBJ.  Back in 1990-91, I was a reporter covering manufacturing, banking and the economy.  Shortly before I left I was approached by Seyferth & Associates which, at that time, was Grand Rapids’ leading PR firm. After a couple of meetings, I accepted their offer of a job. At the time, I was a young guy with a young wife and a little baby girl trying to pay off college debt and live on the meager earnings of a reporter. I worked nights at a video store to earn extra cash.

Along comes a PR firm offering me a significant upgrade. Of course I took the job, even though in my heart I still was a journalist at that time. My Editor, Carole, took me to Teazers, a bar down the street, and bought me a couple beers while she tried to talk me out of taking the job.  That’s what led to the following portion of the column:

“…the news came in a release distributed by Robin Luymes. The Business Journal clan knows Luymes well from his start as a fresh-faced reporter with the BJ.  No amount of adult beverage at the time could keep the pride of Canada from traveling down the path that now has him stumping for political types and other interests as an independent PR pro. We tried.”

I was flattered (although embarrassed) to be the focus of Carole’s comments, because the real news was Heacock and the Treur announcement. But I’m thankful for my start with the GRBJ because it was my work there that earned the notice of Seyferth which led to my PR career. Ironically, I never did go to work at Seyferth.  Before I could finish my “two weeks notice” I was approached by Amway.  I interviewed and they offered me a job too (one representing a significant upgrade from Seyferth’s offer). 

The rest is, as they say, history.

Owning it

Tiger Woods taking ownership of his issues in interview with The Golf Channel.

I’ve blogged here before about Tiger and hope to not do so going forward. He’s announced he’s coming back to the tour, and I’m sure the media will be ruthless in its pursuit of him.  But I’m impressed with the interviews he’s conducted as part of his “re-entry,” especially the one with Kelly Tilghman of The Golf Channel.

In it, he answers tough questions and admits his faults. He doesn’t dodge questions, but he also doesn’t provide details that he’s said all along he will not provide. Good for him. The worst thing would be if he starts to provide any of those details or hints at it even. Because with that little bit of blood in the water, the media would be relentless. 

Many of the comments following stories about Tiger are becoming much more sympathetic to him. Many question why this is a story at all. As I’ve said earlier, the sooner he gets on the course and starts winning, the sooner all the questions will go away.  But I totally respect him for taking his time and dealing with his issues through therapy. Hopefully it will save his marriage. Hopefully it will save him, too.

Marriage: A team effort

My wife is part of who I am, and any success I have in my career can be equally attributed to her and how she supports, encourages and inspires me.

I am thankful for my wonderful wife and all the ways she has supported and loved me over the past 21 years. Today we celebrate our wedding anniversary and I pause to consider what it means to be with the one who was meant for me.

There have been many wonderful times where everything has seemed just right, and there have been times where Kari has had good reason to be disappointed in me. God has blessed us, however, with good people who have provided support and council, and we can look back on our time together and be thankful for the wonderful children we’ve raised and the life we’ve built together.

In recent times, especially, my wife has been a wonderful support and a source of strength. Leaving a job and the security that 18 years of employment provided was scary, but Kari was there to encourage and push me and she put in extra time at her job to ensure we could pay all our bills.  Even now, as I begin to land clients and we can see light at the end of the tunnel, we know there may be difficult times ahead and are prepared to work through them, together.

I know there are many examples of entrepreneurs who succeeded without the support of a spouse, but I’m not sure I’d be one of them. My wife and my family are part of who I am.  They are among the key reasons motivating me to succeed, and they are among the key sources of strength and inspiration.  My wife forces me to lighten up when I’m too serious, and to become more serious when I’m taking it to easy. She jumps in to handle family matters when my work calls me away, and she is a great soundboard for ideas that are bouncing around in my head. If it doesn’t pass the Kari test, if often doesn’t see the light of day.

I’m thankful for the past 21 years with Kari, and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us in the months and years ahead!

Spring in the Air

Recap of the last two weeks

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted here. I’ve been very active, you see! Lots of networking, going to events like the Addy Awards and the aimWest Tech Trends event and WMPRSA’s “Meet the Media” event and so much more.  Plus I’ve had lots of meetings with people.  Some were people I worked with a long time ago but with whom I had lost touch. Some were people who have offered to help me in various ways.  Some were students I’ve offered to help.  And a few were even potential clients.

After a long cold winter, this week has seen a thaw in West Michigan. Snow is melting away in the balmy 40+ temperatures. Spirits are lightened as Michiganders head outdoors in their t-shirts. :-)  People around here rejoice as America took home the top haul of Olympic medals. I took special pride in Canada’s top haul of 14 golds and, in particular, the men’s hockey gold. After losing to the U.S. in an earlier round, I just knew the Canada squad wouldn’t let themselves lose another game.

And my prospects for new work are also very good. Today I accepted one assignment that will likely keep me busy through November.  Two other projects I bid on seem very possible and, if I get that work, I will be very busy through the summer.  I have agreed to join the Festival of the Arts communications team as a volunteer, which also will be very fun. And, of course, I’m still writing for Grand Rapids Magazine and for RapidGrowthMedia.com

When you add in serving as president of West Michigan PRSA, serving as secretary of the deaconate for my church, and writing assignments for the New 2 You Shoppe (my wife serves on their board), there’s not a lot of free time!

So, that’s my excuse for not blogging the last few weeks.  Next week begins the “Nine Days of Celebration” in the Luymes household. First it’s my birthday on the 9th, then my wife’s birthday on the 14th, and then our wedding anniversary on the 18th (21 years). So, maybe I’ll be too busy partying down to blog. Or too busy working (which is just one more reason to celebrate)!