October 22, 2013
Our company’s long-lasting relationship with Bud Adams and the Tennessee Oilers/Titans started quietly with a couple of phone calls and then a hastily called meeting in a Memphis hotel room before an Oilers game in Memphis against the Washington Redskins in 1997.
My partners Mark McNeely and Dave Cooley were at the meeting at the Memphis Hilton, and Mr. Adams, who died on Monday at age 90, made the decision that day to hire a public relations firm for the first time in his nearly 50 years as a professional football team owner.
His predicament at the time was simple: The decision had been made for his team to leave Houston after the 1996 season and play in Memphis for two seasons while Nashville built the team a new permanent stadium. McNeely Pigott & Fox had overseen the successful referendum campaign for approval of the Nashville stadium’s bonds, so we were familiar both with the project and with many of the members of the Oilers executive team.
The problem with having Memphis serve as the team’s temporary home was that the people there had wanted an NFL team of their own rather than to serve as babysitter for Nashville’s team. The result was that Mr. Adams was reviled by many in Houston for taking the team away, unwanted in Memphis because he wasn’t moving there permanently, and distrusted by some in Nashville after a hotly contested stadium debate.
I became involved in many of the steps after our hiring, and we have proudly worked with the team ever since. The immediate steps after that Memphis meeting were our helping with announcing that the team would arrive in Nashville a year earlier than originally planned, assisting with drawing a good crowd to their first game at their new temporary home at Vanderbilt stadium, and helping to get Mr. Adams in front of as many people as possible in Nashville to let them get to know him.
We oversaw the polling and analysis that led to Mr. Adams’ reluctant decision to change the name from Oilers to Titans, and we worked on many other projects with his quality senior staff.
Though a demanding boss sometimes, Mr. Adams could also be a real charmer and was great at telling stories from his many decades in professional football. His team has played to a sellout crowd at every game since LP Field opened.
He was controversial at times, but his record speaks for itself: Nashville is a far greater city overall because former Mayor Phil Bredesen and Bud Adams worked out a way to bring an NFL team here. I would contend he never put making money ahead of trying to make his team better. And his team has been generous in helping our city’s charitable organizations.
MP&F is proud to have “played for” Bud Adams.
August 19, 2013
August 2, 2013
By Tom Hayden
As a former professional political communicator, I’ve managed and staffed my fair share of events with elected officials, with big titles such as mayor, representative, senator, governor and even president. One thing that always becomes clear at these types of events is the difference between those staffers who are there to get their personal photo op and those who are there to get the job done. While it is easy to get your head turned among so much excitement, I’ve always held the most respect for those who are more willing to forgo the personal glory in order make sure the event is successful. I was reminded of this again as colleague Sam Kennedy and I helped client Amazon prepare for a presidential event at its Chattanooga Fulfillment Center this week.
Instead of strategizing about ways in which we could be close to the president, Sam and I spent our drive down from Nashville discussing ways to ensure our client’s needs and message didn’t get lost. Once on-site, we set about getting our tasks done, from working with national and local media to helping with staging and working with a wonderful team of Amazon volunteers who played key roles in the event.
With an event of this magnitude, we were interacting with varied interests from the White House, Amazon and the media; but Sam and I kept our focus.
While I wish I had a photo of us smiling with the president, I am more proud of the photo at the top of this post showing a successful event that clearly kept our client front and center. After all, one of MP&F’s mottos is to fulfill our promise to do great work for our clients.
July 12, 2013
Roger Shirley is a former editor of the Nashville Business Journal and longtime editorial director here at MP&F. He reads just about everything we write. And we write a lot. This is Roger’s column about writing.
From the Department of Redundancies Department
My first MP&F blog post extolled the virtues of concise writing (When you write, keep it tight, February 4, 2010). One of the bullet points was about eliminating redundancies. The other day I stumbled upon an email I sent to the staff on the topic back in ’07, inspired by a list I’d seen. It still holds up, so here is the email:
Many of you have heard me say that an effective way to develop tight writing skills is to go through your copy and eliminate unnecessary words. If you can edit a 25-word sentence down to 18 words and not lose any meaning or effect, the shorter sentence will be better. Words such as “currently” can be eliminated about 95 percent of the time. In some cases, not only are words unnecessary, they create redundancies. I remember an old city editor almost having a stroke when a reporter turned in a story about an “armed gunman.”
Here are a few examples of common redundancies. Eliminate the word or phrase in parentheses:
bouquet (of flowers)
(completely, entirely) eliminate
depreciate (in value)
during (the course of)
each (and every)
evolve (over time)
fly (through the air)
grow (in size)
introduced (a new)
(live) studio audience
look back (in retrospect)
look (ahead) to the future
previously listed (above)
surrounded (on all sides)
(three-way) love triangle
(two equal) halves
vacillating (back and forth)
whether (or not)
MP&F has received many awards and honors over the past 26 years, and we are proud of all of them. We’re especially proud of our most recent honor – being named one of The Tennessean’s “Top Workplaces” as voted on by our employees – because it means we are succeeding in maintaining one of our core values.
Early on, the firm’s partners committed to creating the kind of workplace for their employees that each of them would want to work in – a place that rewarded creativity and perseverance, that balanced hard work with fun, that treated everyone as family.
We believe strongly that maintaining that kind of work environment translates directly into producing the best work possible for our clients, and that’s what our business is all about. That’s what determines our success.
Here’s a sampling of what MP&F staff members say about working here:
Senior Account Executive
MP&F is a great place to work for hundreds of reasons – the great partners that lead the firm, the incredibly talented staff we have, our long list of diverse and wonderful clients; but my favorite thing about working at MP&F (and what has kept me here for nine years) is the team-oriented culture we have. Our “all-for-one and one-for-all” dedication to the firm, each other and our clients is irreplaceable. We work damn hard, we work together, and we have a lot of fun doing it.
A lot of companies pay lip service to being family-friendly; but here at MP&F, it is ingrained in the company culture. It’s not just that the partners have family-friendly policies – it’s that they truly care about people and understand that giving employees the flexibility to take care of their families is an asset, not a liability, for the company. For me personally, their willingness to allow me to work around family commitments makes me want to work that much harder for them. It makes me extremely dedicated and loyal to this firm, and it makes me feel appreciated as a person, not just as an employee.
I first walked into this office 20 years ago as a summer college intern. Since then I have been involved in amazingly important and meaningful work in Nashville and around the world, while surrounded by the smartest and most creative people in town. Over the years, my bosses became my friends and my friends have become my bosses. I feel very fortunate to have bosses and co-workers who truly care about my family and me, not to mention they are just fun to be around every day.
In short, we work hard and play hard around here. We take our work very seriously, but try not to take ourselves too seriously. We get the job done and have a good time while doing it. Did someone say “beer cart”?
There are so many things that make MP&F a great place to work, but a big one is the formal and informal benefits – they are tremendous. MP&F pays 100 percent of individual employee insurance, 100 percent of parking and offers a generous vacation package. Beyond that, the partners often give additional paid days off around Christmas. And this year, with July 4 on Thursday, they announced we would all get Friday off as well. Some of our younger staff may take those added benefits for granted; but as someone who knows this is not the norm, I sure don’t.
When I interviewed with MP&F three months ago, I constantly heard about its “open-door policy.” I didn’t really know what that meant until I was able to experience it firsthand. From day one I have felt welcome to go to any staff member, from a fellow SA all the way to a partner, with any question I could possibly have. I feel challenged, supported and motivated on a daily basis. I am constantly learning something new or being exposed to a different scope of this crazy industry we call public relations. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that your supervisors want you to do well, not only for the company’s success, but because they genuinely want you to succeed individually as well.
It’s hard to put into words what makes MP&F so special. To me, MP&F is a really great team that’s a lot like a family. I’ve always believed that when the MP&F team works together we can accomplish anything for our clients. That feeling of family and team comes from working with and for people who always are willing to jump in and help, whether it’s with planning a client event or developing a new idea. It’s a special place, and I feel really fortunate to be a small part of it.
Senior Account Executive
MP&F is not the best place to work for everyone. I don’t get to wear jeans every day, I don’t have a business card with a made-up title on it, and there’s only free beer in the break room, like, once a month. But, from the day I was hired I was encouraged to have ideas, share them and put them into action. My colleagues and I work in an environment where staff members at all levels – from interns to partners – are empowered to have a hand on the agency’s steering wheel. We like coming to work every day because we made this office the way it is.
Associate Account Executive
MP&F is one of the best places to work because I work with some of the most talented, smartest and hardworking people I’ve ever met. When I step off the elevator each morning, I know that the day ahead will include a lot of work, but I’m comforted in knowing that I’m a part of a great team. MP&F is my first “real job” since graduating from college, but I wouldn’t want to start my public relations career anywhere else because I’ve grown a lot and I’m learning more and more about the industry each day.