It make me think of the impact downsizing has on workers, a subject I often blog about, have personally endured and recount in my book. It is unfortunate that layoffs and downsizings happen, yet it is a fact of working life. Layoffs always happen, and always will.
So, how can employees of a century-old banking giant, or a truck plant in Toledo, or anywhere subject to business disruption ever truly prepare for such a career calamity? The key is knowing that this could happen to you, and preparing for involuntary separation long before it happens. Continue reading →
With all negative news Detroit has received (and really, since 1967!) it is a wonder how any of us could have built a career or a business here in the Motor City. But we did.
Yes, Detroit has been a victim of the “kick-a-city-when-it’s-down” syndrome, and it may feel like bad things happen all the time here. But bad things happen to cities, communities and citizens everywhere. And they all generally survive, as I firmly believe will Detroit.
I began my working career around the time Detroit’s issue gained widespread attention in the late 1960s. Based on all the negative news the city and region received then and continue to now, to be a success, perhaps I should have moved to another city. Continue reading →
The following is a portion of Chapter 6, “My Stroh Years,” from my book. Stroh remains an iconic name in Detroit, and I had the good fortune to counsel the brand during its growth years. I highlight this particular selection as I feel it is important that, as a public relations professional, you must stand by your client and the community it serves through thick and thin. For many of you, this will be a revealing look into a lively tale of Detroit’s economic legacy, as well as the “why” and “how” of communicating news on behalf of a company in a responsible manner.
In 1985 the company closed its iconic Stroh brewing facility located in downtown Detroit near Interstate I-75 and Gratiot Avenue. This was a huge blow to the local economy and image of the Detroit community. The old brewing facility built in 1912 with some of the earliest buildings on the site dating to the 1860s was the most expensive brewing facility to operate in the country and was land-locked and could not expand. Our challenges at AMF, Inc. were:
To deliver the message that Stroh was not leaving Detroit or Michigan and would remain a major player and employer in Detroit for years to come, even though the plant was closing. The plant had been there since 1912 but the first cellars were located on the site in the early 1850s though the first Stroh brewery, then named Lion, was not completed until 1867 on the site. The brewery had been expanded many times over the years. But the facility had become the least efficient brewing plant of all brewing companies in the country. And the Stroh acquisitions had given them several newer and more efficient brewing facilities and lower production costs.
To minimize negative responses from business and government leaders and if possible, have these leaders say something positive about Stroh.
To communicate that The Stroh Brewery Company would do everything in its power to help workers find new career paths, if not another job.
In one planning meeting regarding the details of the plant closing, about twenty of us were sitting in the huge boardroom at Stroh with company officers, lawyers, investment counselors, and other senior consultants. I was the least important person in the room—I know I made the least money. They were talking about closing the plant on February 14, 1985. I got up my nerve to say… you can’t close it that day. They all looked at me like I was from outer space. What could this lowly public relations idiot be thinking… we are in charge… I could read this on their faces.
Book publishers offer the same fundamental advice given by the entire public relations industry, which is to know your target audience.
The publishers smartly say, “This way you can market the product much more efficiently.” As The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business spans my 56-year career, it targets multiple audiences:
people stuck in a career or job and contemplating a move;
anyone who aspires to start a business;
those who want to see how someone else did these things to measure their own progress.
These are the primary “targets,” but there are others who will find the book equally interesting from a historical point of view.
The book follows my career from inception through to my “retirement” in 2012, including:
working with three iconic and pioneering public relations agency founders—Beverly Beltaire, Tony Franco and Jack Casey;
helping to grow Stroh’s from a small regional brand in 1975 to third largest beer company in the United States in 1985;
educating the American public through a nationwide PR campaign to increase safety belt usage from about 10 percent in 1984 to more than 70 percent in 1992;
establishing my own company, John Bailey & Associates (JB&A), in 1996;
among many client/agency successes, developing and executing a PR campaign to eliminate smoking in most public places throughout Michigan.
I was told at age 57 that I was too old to start a company, but did so anyhow. With the help of many great clients and associates, I grew my company into one of the most respected and largest PR firms in Michigan. This entrepreneurial success lead to me and JB&A being recognized by then-President George W. Bush in a televised 2005 speech.
There are many teachable moments and even humorous anecdotes that happened along the way. But those target audiences mentioned above can judge all that for themselves, and I trust they—readers like you!—will.
‘The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business’ will be available on Amazon in early June 2013. A growing community of book supporters can be found on Facebook.
The following text is taken from the introduction of my new book “The Power of Ownership” available June 1, 2013* on Amazon.com.
This book is about a guy who was an underachiever for most of his early life. He had no plan, no direction, no inspiration, and no motivation. He was an average student getting mostly Cs with a few Bs and some Ds throughout school. He almost didn’t graduate with his 1956 class because his grade in English was so low. He began his career with a weak educational foundation at best. But he liked people and wanted to be liked by everyone and always wondered what more he could do in life.