I was home today and following the oil spill. Without going into detail regarding the work of endangered species biologists working for the USFWS (Department of the Interior) or biologists with NMFS (NOAA-Commerce Department), I wanted to share this article to remind people of a contentious issue. The incident may remind you or make you aware of the controversy over delisting other species in the past. Some endangered species’ numbers have recovered sufficiently to warrant removal from the Endangered Species list (Endangered Species Act). However, many would argue that several species that have recovered from the brink of extinction or at least a status of concern should remain on the list because they face an uncertain future and require continued protection under the ESA.
Is it a Zoo or a Living Collection? This is what happens to you if you spend too much time in school as I did. Everything becomes an “institution” and eventually so do you. Actually, I prefer Living Institution which I believe was coined by the top-notch folks at the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society. The reason I like the term is because zoos are deserving of the same respect that academics tend to reserve for Museums of Natural History. I’d much prefer to call a zoo a zoo, but in an effort to better market these wildlife holding facilities to a more sophisticated patron or consumer, I think it’s worth considering a slight upgrade.
I don’t know that the Popcorn Park Zoo will be as well- served by the name change. In fact, the Popcorn Park Living Institution sounds kind of scary. It doesn’t quite roll of the tongue, rather it falls out of the skull, for lack of a less artfully sadistic expression. With that said, it’s also all-encompassing terminology. A living institution can refer to a collective group of marine parks, aquariums, zoological parks and other captive wildlife facilities. Some may think that my thought process alone, warrants sending me to another kind of institution, but I think that facilities can be well-served with multiple names. Zoo Miami has just adopted two. One name is official and the other is used as a working title. The “Living Institution of Miami” might conjure up some kind of convalescent home in your mind, but once people get used to it, the name may very well catch on.
I remember when one of my parents friends asked me what I thought of the tittle “Zoo Keeper.” I didn’t initially pick up on her condescension. I replied that technically I’m an “Animal Keeper” who happens to work at a zoo. I was very proud that I came up with the distinction so promptly and on my own. And then I realized she was hoping I would come up with a more sophisticated name like “Scatological Disposal Technician” or my favorite, “Special Species Collection Husbandry Science Specialist.” In school you are often taught big words and faculty often carry big titles. Again, I see potential for multiple titles. This goes back to my post about my friend who is a self-proclaimed “aquatic biologist “even though his official title is animal keeper. He may be an aquatic biologist, but his colleagues refer to him as fish geek or fish keeper. I think that the longer and more confusing the name, the more we create intrigue. Some of you will continue to disagree vehemently, but it’s just my new opinion on the matter after I started to become fond of the name “Living Institution.”
Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus (AKA Special Species Collection Husbandry Science Specialist Emeritus)
Both the New York Times & CNN seem to be reading the Zoo Peeps blog. I’m so flattered. I won’t distract you with my thoughts, but read my article on the re-branding of African wild dogs and other endangered species. The new field of conservation marketing and brand development is taking off.
When did I become obsessed with note cards? I know no one else that can spend 30 minutes contemplating stationery; evaluating each available design and qualifying them by the projected emotional reaction each card will evoke when opened by the recipient. I eliminate them one by one, “ too corporate”, “not professional enough”, “ too girlie”…. This process took over half an hour!
It might be understandable if I was in a stationery store the size of Bev Mo, but I was in front of a 3-foot wide stand in a bookstore. A guy at the café table right behind me ordered his latte, drank it, and finished his magazine by the time I decided between the Chinese flower and the French lettering!
So what was my deal? I now know that every time I send a note card, it is a representation of my brand, much like a business card, but I wanted it to seem personal, no logo, or tag lines… yet it should have the feeling that I might have designed it. I wanted “authentically me.”
I finally found my perfect cards. I was pretty darn happy, too that I feel so clear on my brand these days that I was able to make that decision with such accuracy.
I was not always clear on my brand. In the very beginning of my business I remember when I couldn’t tell people exactly what made me different. It took some work, but I got clear in my brand, clear in my message, and increased my business and back account. Let’s take Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus, for example. He is very consistent in marketing the Zoo Peeps brand, not just the logo. Anything Zoo Peeps connects zoo people. I may suggest some ways that he can further distinguish his brand, but some of you already consider him synonymous with Zoo Peeps. For an animal guy he sure has some intuition when it comes to marketing and brand development. Jungle Jack Hanna is a legend in his field.
I don’t even need to say a word. You guys already conjure up an image.
Are you clear in your brand? Does your visual brand match what you have in print? In other words, when you speak about your business, on TV or in person, do you create the response that you want? Do people act on your call to action? Do they see the value in what you know, and what you do?
If not, look to see if your authenticity is showing….
The Boring Lawyer
I met a man the other night that was nervously preparing to talk to a group of professionals about real estate law. “What I do is boring,” he said… Well, good grief, it will be if he walks in with that attitude!
He really likes what he does, but doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of people or cameras. So, he feeds his fear of speaking, (which is a fear of rejection, really), by suggesting that his material is boring, and they will never like him! He has built in his excuse for failure!
I saw a better presenter in this guy:
My suggestion was for him to bring a story; He mentioned he is very fond of his dogs, so I proposed he start his presentation with story that includes them. He feels comfortable with that topic, and he will seem more approachable when the group sees a personal side to him. instead of a stiff lawyer that they might expect to see. I helped him find a thread in his story that took him into his first point of his presentation. He got very excited about this idea!
Now, he won’t just be the “lawyer that had the PowerPoint presentation on disclosures”, but he will be “the owner of the Frisbee dog they can see at the park on Saturday mornings! Oh, yeah, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to disclosures… I should give him a call… I liked him!”
What’s happening here? He is allowing his authenticity to show, and he standing out from the crowd.
Stories are one of the most memorable ways to create your visual brand, and show your authentic difference from your competition. Having a stable of stories can be ammunition in the interview circuit, too! If you need help getting those stories down, grab a coach and get them ready. It will pay off in the end. Literally!
Then you can “thank” your coach with a nice note card!
Sandra Dee Robinson
Sandra is a veteran of day time TV and has appeared on numerous shows including one of my favorites, 2.5 Men.
She is also a renowned media trainer and owner of Charisma On Camera. Her recent contribution to Zoo Peeps provided some interesting perspectives for zoo educators and animal care specialists working with the public. I selected Sandra because I wanted a wildlife enthusiast and someone outside of the profession to serve as a refreshing addition to the Zoo Peeps “franchise.”
We crack each other up and I thought that we would make for an interesting duo and would certainly do our very best to entertain, if not inform, and inspire. We already have guests scheduled for our first few shows. We will feature zoo peeps and other wildlife aficionados for a virtual behind-the-scenes exploration of the lives of passionate wildlife professionals. Sandra is an ardent supporter of zoos and their wildlife conservation programs. In fact, I first learned about New Jersey’s Popcorn Park Zoo from Sandra Dee.
Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus