I really enjoy calligraphy and the art of handwriting, so I was disheartened to find a recent article from Time magazine bemoaning the death of handwriting and good penmanship.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always appreciated the intimate and personal nature of a small handwritten letter to say “hello” or a note to say “thank you.” This was the main inspiration behind my work on a recent identity and ad campaign for local stationery boutique, Scribbler.

Aesthetically, I was particularly inspired by the work of calligraphic artists such as Betsy Dunlap, Maybelle, Bernard Maisner and Elvis Swift as well as historical letters and vintage postcards.

Betsy Dunlap >> http://betsydunlap.googlepages.com/bdunlap
Maybelle >> http://www.may-belle.com/index.html
Bernard Maisner >> http://www.bernardmaisner.com/index.php
Elvis Swift >> http://www.joaniebrep.com/swift.html

In this digital texting / tweeting / Facebooking age, the rarity of receiving handwritten correspondence makes it even more special. But I do hope that the work of artists like these, as well as stationery stores like The Scribbler will keep the tradition of the written note and social stationery alive.

Is Pinterest Legit?
Is Pinterest Legit?

The social media realm is abuzz over Pinterest and possible trademark and copyright infringements. We’ve seen the articles, blogs, etc. on how this pin-board style portal is enabling millions of people to illegally share all kinds of things they don’t “own”. Is this a big deal? Perhaps it is worthy of debate, but let me ask you this. Who isn’t guilty of sharing things that aren’t technically theirs via an array of other online activities like re-posting, re-tweeting, emailing, and so on. The concept isn’t new; it just so happens that Pinterest is a pioneering proponent for such online behavior. Companies and brands should stop protesting, and start developing their plan for the social site. Is it right for your brand? How can you use it to leverage relationships with customers, especially if they’re women? Don’t waste time debating whether or not it’s legit. In just one year, the site has gone from zero to more than 10 million registered users. To us, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are in good company with our new friend Pin.

Source for site traffic and more Pinterest data

The well is capped, but the spill is not over.
The well is capped, but the spill is not over.

While we rejoice over the recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report stating that 75% of the Gulf oil spill has already been eliminated from the water, a new U.S. Travel Association report offers a sobering assessment of the current and long-term threat to the Gulf Coast’s $34 billion tourism economy. The threat is that consumer perceptions of a disaster often last well beyond the physical damage itself.

In the report, research firm Oxford Economics compares the Gulf oil spill to 25 other disasters and suggests that tourism visits and spending in areas along the coast will likely be reduced for a minimum of 15 months and perhaps as long as 36 months.

Although the U.S. Travel Association is recommending that BP fund a $500 million marketing effort to help undo the damage done to the tourism economy, destinations that depend on tourism dollars cannot wait for this money before they begin to rebuild their businesses.

Destination marketers that start the soonest to share the good news will be the first to benefit from increased travel. And, while Summer 2010 is over for families with school-age children, marketing to families with younger kids and to couples without children (especially weekend trips from nearby feeder markets) should be emphasized immediately.

Another great way for destinations to counter misperceptions about the condition of their beaches is to amp up their social media efforts. Although traditional marketing and advertising channels will continue to be successful in reaching travelers, the immediacy, scalability and personal credibility that social media offers is a perfect fit for the Gulf Coast destination’s current situation.

Families and individuals that have been taking vacations from the beaches of St. George Island, Florida to fishing trips in Vermillion Bay, Louisiana love and cherish these places. As travelers return to these destinations, the personal stories and photos that they share via the web will have a huge impact on perceptions of the Gulf Coast.

Therefore, if you’d like to help the people and businesses along the Gulf Coast, here are two things you can do now:

1. Travel with family or friends to the Gulf as soon as possible.
2. Post on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc. and share your experiences.
Finally, advertising makes a rebound
Finally, advertising makes a rebound

These days it’s difficult to escape the heavy-handed and negative media reports regarding our economy, consumer confidence and the recession. We constantly hear off-putting reports and statistics on unemployment, real estate, the stock market and a myriad of other social and economic issues.

The advertising industry has also seen its fair share of negative press. We’ve witnessed media conglomerates collapse, 65-year old magazines dissolve and national mega-newspaper corporations suffer. However, in this massive sea of negativity, it seems as though things might be headed in the right direction.

According to data recently published by Kantar Media, total advertising expenditures in the first quarter of 2010 rose 5.1% from a year ago and finished the period at $31.3 billion, marking the first increase in quarterly ad spending since the first quarter of 2008 and the largest gain since the first quarter of 2006, as the ad market finally experienced a long-awaited rebound.

The study tracked 19 types of media —13 of which increased from this time last year. Network TV, Cable TV and Spot TV all increased significantly (11.6%, 8.2% and 22.0% respectively), as well as Internet (display ads up 5%) and Local, National and Network Radio (4.6%, 19.0% and 3.0%). As a whole, print media recorded a slight decline in 2010 (an average of -3.4%) except in Sunday Magazines (13.7%) and National Newspapers (9.1%).

While we continue to follow the ups and downs of the economy, we can be encouraged by studies like this that provide us with an indication that the ad market is moving forward. With the political season approaching this fall, we anticipate these numbers to increase further as inventory tightens and media costs rise. As I’ve recently prepared media plans for several clients, I’ve noticed a renewed confidence in our vendors that I haven’t seen for some time. I think we’ve seen the bottom of the media market and the only place to go from here is up.

The passion of volunteering
The passion of volunteering

I have volunteered all my life – not sure if it started with Brownies (a younger version of the Girl Scouts) or whether it was following my Mom around “helping” her with countless charitable organizations she worked with during her life. So I guess it’s in my blood or, “The way I was brought up” as many say.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I get so much more out of volunteering than I could ever give, and it’s just something you do, because it feels good. So I guess it’s not surprising, that the civic organization I’m most passionate about right now was started by my Mom. She helped start McKemie Place, the only overnight shelter for single women within a three county area based in Mobile, Alabama. She started McKemie Place with such passion because she didn’t want these ladies to sleep on the streets one more night. Was every single detail in place? Absolutely not. But she was determined to figure out a way, sooner rather than later, and made it happen. She could pretty much do that with anything she set her mind to do.

Not long after the shelter opened, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer and she lived only a few short months after her diagnosis. The bad part was that McKemie Place didn’t yet have an operational fund structure set up – so for the next several months it was struggling to make the monthly operational fund budget. When I began working closely with their director to help, there were possibilities on numerous occasions that we may have to close for random nights because we couldn’t make payroll. I think that’s where the passion truly kicked in for me. These ladies were not going to be left on the streets – I knew the data and research and I knew what could happen to them. We had to find a way to keep the shelter open every night.

Before I knew it, I was co-chair of the charter advisory board. It has been a long but inspiring six months since then. Many a night I wake up and wonder…what in the world am I doing? How can I do this as a single, working Mom? I don’t know if I can do it… Even though I’ve been on numerous boards, I’ve never started one! What was I thinking?

I was thinking about passion and the passion that I had gained from the experience of not only working with the ladies as guests at McKemie Place, but the countless other volunteers, foundations, government entities, etc, who had stepped up to the plate to help us pay the bills each month. Not to mention the way that the team at Lewis jumped in and took hold of the reins.

I believe it all started with my Mom. She had passion like there’s no tomorrow. She taught not only me, but countless others so many things. Do I think you can teach passion? I don’t think so, but you sure can show folks what it looks like. When you see it, you want a part of it and it’s contagious.