Once a week, but never weak

“Stay close”

By Nick Coston, US sales director, Neuron; Art Savant

For the past 3 years or more, whenever I connect with a person on LinkedIn, I sign out saying “Stay Close”. I used to say that in my emails too, but a lot of wise people said “what will I be with”? I couldn’t answer that. But the way I look at it, it must mean something beautiful. I don’t say “please, get lost” or “play in traffic” or “get off the lawn”.

Will Lippincott

That, you must understand.

“Stay close” was a phrase that was a nice, smart and generally, very funny publisher I used when the phone hung up. Will Lippincott was very dramatic, he would lower his voice to several octaves, then say it in a Tom Hanks flasetto tune. “Stay close”. With an awkward smile always across her thin, expressive face.

He was also a good writer and editor. I imagine she has a red ballpoint pen while reading this piece and she is correcting.

I don’t know where he got this phrase from, but I bet he’s imitating an advertiser. Will was also a great salesman and occasionally imitated people after sales calls. However, from where I hijacked the phrase “stay close”.

These days, I think it’s quite appropriate.

I like to hang out with former colleagues, whom I have met over the years in my market rides, vacations, lunches and softball leagues. And since I’m out in the fields of entertainment, publishing, and advertising, you can’t really help but run around with people you’ve drank with or fallen to their knees. Sometimes you see them on the street or in fancy restaurants. Other times you see them on TV, usually interviewed on our local networks or in the sports segment. Dad’s six degrees, my kids call it.

Our industry can be quite volatile. When the economy sinks, when a huge epidemic spreads across the country, when planes crash into tall buildings, advertising is one of the first things that takes a big hit. Magazines shut down, sales staff shrinks, media buying budgets are all wasted, and people you know year after year are suddenly fired. Companies are bought, local management removed and their own people brought in. This is happening now in a medium sized billboard company not far from where I live. Longtime regulars will lose their gigs, wondering where they will end up next. It’s not like they get a piece of the sale.

On the other hand, at this past OOH conference in Marco Island, FL, I saw 3 OOH media professionals who lost their gig almost a year ago. But do you know who is with them? Me. Because I went through it too. And there were those three men, two men and a woman, wearing unadorned clothes, working for a new company, representing them at the big fancy JW Marriott. As happy as it can be. Each of them thanked me for keeping in touch with them and invited me to visit their market. It has the advantage of being close.

It’s not easy to do and it’s not for everyone. There is an art to staying close to those who are suddenly dropped, which is no longer relevant or maybe they don’t bring you business as before. You don’t really need them anymore, so maybe I’ll just shake hands and say hello, keep walking. The advertising industry can be very cruel, such as a private, clickish high school. Sometimes it is very difficult to be with people, suddenly you have to be associated with someone who is looking for a job.

That’s why, for so many years, I’ve embraced being around. Just this past week, in 1989, when I was working in New York City, one of my first friends lost his young son in a tragic car accident. Her son was 23 years old, the same age as my son. The expression of love and kinship towards my friend Bob, his wife and his two surviving children was immense. We’ve all been around, made a point to check in with everyone, made a point by looking at photos posted on Facebook for family events, birthdays, weddings. Occasional emails, occasional phone calls, maybe meeting every three years. Follow each other’s sports teams.

Bob and his friends were all around. So when tragedy strikes, a huge community of friends gathers around him. We were all there for him, his wife and his two sons. We stayed close.

We were all in the advertising industry. We all lost our gigs, some of us more than once. Being close means giving each other confidence, naming each other for interviews, giving someone to talk to. We all went through the death of grandparents, parents and sadly, now children. Many of my former colleagues are no longer in advertising, they have become famous chefs, mortgage brokers, yoga instructors, comedians. But somehow, we found it easier to stay close.

So when I sign off, and I write “stay close”, I really mean it. You could be a client, an agency, an artist, a bill poster, or God forbid, a printer. I plan to stay close. And you should too. It can mean a lot to anyone. Stay close. Because when you at least expect it, you can make their day.

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