Propaganda by the Pound

Propaganda by the Pound

Colored Resume Paper

St. Patrick’s Day! The day marks the official death date of the foremost patron Saint of Ireland and is also commemorates the culture and life of the Irish. Do you know why people wear green on this day? Green are for the shamrocks, which SaintPatrick used to teach others about the Holy Trinity as a missionary. Irish or not, people around the world love to take part in these celebrations. Will you be taking an Irish stroll tonight?

Green beer. Soda bread. Corned beef and cabbage. I grew up with these “staples” of the dinner table every St. Patrick’s Day. Oh, and I always wore a green necktie at work. It was considered a fun day. A cheerful day. A happy day. And I will always remember giving a bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and green carnations to my girlfriend at one time of my life. We would have a few drinks and end up singing Irish songs (way off key of course).

Color is associated with many of our famous special days, events and symbols. Red, White and Blue for our flag. Red and Green for Christmas. Blue and Grey for reenactments of the US Civil War battles.

Early in my career I was a press secretary for a Pennsylvania congressman. My job was to churn out publicity to make my boss look in our mostly rural congressional district.  I wrote press releases by the bushel. And radio scripts. And satellite feeds for TV. And a newsletter which was basically taxpayer-funded propaganda to 235,000 households where our voters lived. It talked about all the “great” things my boss was doing for his constituents and for America.

But press releases were the staple (or bane) of my existence. It didn’t much matter what they said – just something to make my boss look good. Being a rural district that he represented, most of the newspapers and radio stations I sent this mush to were re-printed verbatim. More than once I would see typos in those reprints our clipping service sent back to our office.

I once joked that my salary was probably based on how many pounds of news clips I helped generate.

Having worked at a newspaper before my experience in Washington, D.C. I knew that many of the press releases I sent to our larger newspapers went straight into the trash can. I called and argued for hours over the phone with reporters and editors alike about the “newsworthiness” of the material I was dumping on them.

Then one day, I thought to myself, instead of printing press releases on regular white paper like everyone else did, I started having them printed on multi-color paper. I figured they would stand out in the piles of paper on an editor’s desk. It seemed to work – for a while. Before they caught on to my act.

So what is the take away from all this?

For bloggers like myself, it is this. Always think out of the box. Let your hair down. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Dare to be great. Believe in yourself. Have a strong work ethic. If you suffer from writers block, go jogging. When I jogged, I would write stories in my head. Ideas became crystalized. I could THINK. I couldn’t wait to get back home to put my thoughts down on paper.

And I read a lot. Whatever I could get my hands on. I surfed the Internet relentlessly. I wrote down ideas for future articles.

People have told me I have a gift for writing. These are people who find it painful to write a thank you note. I don’t consider myself lucky. I am just following a calling I acquired when I was 15 years old and writing letters to the editor of our local newspaper (the same paper I delivered door to door as a newspaper boy rain or shine).

Do not allow anyone to tell you that you can’t write your way out of a wet paper bag. And if they do, don’t believe them for a second. Your time and your reputation and your name are the three most important things you own. They didn’t cost you a nickel. Believing in yourself is the best remedy for self-doubt.

Write for yourself or write for others. Either way, do whatever it takes to finish what your start. Keep a diary. Read voraciously. Take up jogging like I did. Compartmentalize your brain so there’s always a special place you can go to collect your thought and get them on paper.

They don’t teach you this at the blogging university (just kidding). But whatever school you did attend will give you certain tools to carry with you for the rest of your life. And your life doesn’t have to be black and white. There’s room for some color.