Archive for January, 2012

Happy birthday, More With Les

My humble blog is now five years old.

I began my blogging journey with a post entitled, “Why this blog? Why me? Why now?” It was a rambling justification for why I joined the blogosphere. When I wrote that, I had no idea of how important this vehicle would become to me over the years.

Over the years? Yes, five years today, to be exact. Times flies.

Looking back, I believe it was a good decision to become a blogger. I try to capture why I do this in the widget, “Why is Les Potter blogging?” In keeping with that statement of purpose, I have learned  a great deal from this blog and have made many new friends I would not have otherwise. That has proven to be one of the greatest satisfactions from blogging.

Another aspect of my career for which I am eternally grateful is the many invitations I have had to speak at workshops, conferences, meetings, and seminars. I tried to calculate how many people I have spoken to as a conference presenter over the life of my career. I lost count at upwards of 15,000. My blog’s site stats say I have had 113,001 visitors. That proves that blogs can have incredible reach.

But the most important thing about a blog is what you have to say. I am not the most prolific blogger out there, nor do I wish to be. I post when I have something meaningful and heartfelt to say, not to meet some arbitrary quota. I try to concentrate on Strategic Communication/Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communication. But, I also like to talk about personal and topical issues, so I include the category of Life in General. The human condition is quite compelling, and it deserves comment from time to time.

Thank you for reading More With Les.


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Robert Holland’s comment to my post, In Praise of Bookstores, made me think of how much I owe my career success to having spent a great deal of time in print shops.

I believe that to be a true communication/PR professional, you must have a thorough knowledge of and experience with the printing process. You have to get some printers’ ink into your bloodstream.

I began my career journey in a humble manner. In college, I cleaned the presses for each run of our student newspaper.

In my first job after graduation, I was editor of a U.S. Army publication in Germany while stationed there with the 32d Army Air Defense Command in Kaiserslautern. My newspaper was printed at a German print shop in the small town of Otterbach. I loved spending time there while the newspaper was prepared and printed. It was my first professional opportunity to work with a printer, and I learned so much from the staff there. I even learned all my type fonts and sizes in German to be able to communicate with the staff.

My second job after being discharged from the army was as managing editor of an award-winning weekly newspaper. The newspaper was printed in a print shop 60 miles north of the city it served. I loved going there each week to supervise the press run. I became good friends with the owner of the print shop, and he gave me the run of the place. His name was W. C. (“Dub”) Shoemaker, and he became a dear friend and mentor to me.

There is something magical and fulfilling about watching your hard work come off the press. I was allowed to work with Shoemaker’s staff in every department as my page proofs worked their way through the printing process. Then, standing at the end of the huge offset press, grabbing a finished publication as it came out of the folder, I could, as Robert described it, hold my work in my hands, and in so doing, feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

I left the weekly newspaper editor’s job to join my first corporate communication department. Among other duties, I was managing editor of a large monthly publication, that was, fortunately enough for me, printed at Shoemaker’s shop. I usually spent a couple of days there getting that  publication out each month. I did that for years, and I never got tired of it. I leaned so much about the printing process and how to make the most of it. I think every communicator/PR professional should have such knowledge. It adds a wider dimension to your professional skills.

Plus, the printing process is quite interesting if you are a serious communication/PR professional. Every top communicator I ever looked up to had printers’ ink in the bloood. It completes your work and brings a satisfying conclusion to your projects. It is much more satisfying to be part of the printing process, too, in addition to all the development, writing, and design of any given project.

I left that organization, and sadly, Shoemaker’s beloved print shop, and moved on to other corporate communication management positions in different cities. I still dealt with printers on a regular basis, as is necessary to be successful in this business. I was thankful  to have had such a good grounding in the printing process. It helped me tremendously.

Today’s communication/PR students may never need to enter a print shop. For a very long time now, it has been easy to send complete layouts to the print shop online and never set foot in the shop itself. That is remarkable progress and very efficient, but it also lacks soul. Like Robert said, the smell and feel of printers’ ink gets in your nose and on your hands, but it also gets into your heart/blood stream. I miss that experience.

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I love bookstores. It’s too bad that they are on the endangered species list.

I have spent some serious quality time in bookstores recently. It is one of my great joys. There is nothing like it for an avid reader, row after row of new books just waiting to be read.

Choose a bookstore with a coffee shop, and you have everything you need to be happy. A nerd’s nirvana, a quiet and safe harbor of peace and fulfilment in a troubling sea of noise and crudity.

Since I am on a break between semesters at Towson University, where I teach in the Mass Comm. department, I am free to read for pleasure. And read I am, every waking minute.

True, I order many books online. Being able to order books and have them delivered is a wonderful thing. I grin from ear to ear when the UPS truck stops out front. I know treats are coming. I pant and salivate like a housebound labrador retriever when it’s time for noon walkies.

But I try to enjoy my favorite bookstores while they last. The shift to book readers (or e-readers) proceeds rapidly. I, too, have my eyes on a tablet computer perhaps more for the book reader capability than all the other apps combined. E-reading is the way the world is going, and I must accept it.

Soon, I believe all the textbooks we use at Towson will be offered exclusively for book readers and tablets. The cost of textbooks is astronomical anyway, so book reader versions are the more economical way to go.

However,  I will always love the feel of a good book. Books are one of the few treasures I believe are worth keeping. When other collectibles lose their appeal and become just so much clutter, books will remain worthy of our love and respect. They instruct and entertain. They take us away from the all-too-often grim reality of our day-to-day existence.

Books are the key to a life well lived. And to me, a bookstore will always be a place of reverence.

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