Linda Kaplan Thaler talks GRIT

Illustrious CCNY alum, Chair of Publicis New York, and bestselling author Linda Kaplan Thaler returned to campus for an engaging Lunch w/Leaders chat in front of an SRO crowd of students, faculty, and members of the CCNY community. Recipient of City College degrees in both psychology and music, Linda was recently inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame and was named one of Ad Age’s  “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising.”  As a committed alumna of the college, Linda sits on the boards of both the Colin Powell School as well as the Master’s program in Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC). She received the Townsend Harris Medal in 2005.

Ms. Kaplan Thaler’s topic, “Success is a Four Letter Word,” was based on her latest book, Grit to Great, which draws upon ground-breaking research as well as her own experiences. As a proud Bronx native and CCNY alum who now oversees a multi-billion dollar agency with over 800 employees, Linda's own story is an inspiration to us all.

BIC program director Nancy R. Tag led Linda through a curated list of student generated questions about her unconventional career path to the advertising industry and what lessons enabled her to eventually become the founder of her own agency, The Kaplan Thaler Group. The Q&A format resulted in a unique sharing of career anecdotes and life experiences which underscored the essence of GRIT -- both a motivating word and dynamic acronym for Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity. Here are five of the most memorable GRIT-inspired takeaways.

HAVE GUTS: Don’t be scared!

BUILD RESILIENCE: Ask yourself, what can I do to improve myself today? What can I do better?

SHOW INITIATIVE: Add the phrases “yes, and...” and “yes, but…” to your on-the-job vocabulary, and eliminate “no.”

PRACTICE TENACITY: Always have a growth mindset. Be a plotter not a dreamer.

This Lunch w/Leaders event was co-sponsored by the Branding & Integrated Communications and Ad/PR programs of the Media & Communication Arts department as well as the CCNY AAF Club. Copies of Linda's new book Grit to Great were given away throughout the event. Afterwards, Linda signed copies of her book and chatted with students.

For inspiration, we HIGHLY recommend you read Grit to Great. You can start with an excerpt, here.

GREY hosts the future...

BIC's annual Mix+Mentor networking event was held on Thursday night, October 29th, at GREY Global Headquarters on 5th Avenue. A crowd of over 100 guests showed their commitment to the future by meeting and promising to mentor members of BIC's Class of 2017 featuring 30 hard-working grad students from across the globe, around the United States, and right here in New York City.

Industry professionals, consultants, and recruiters from agencies such as GREY, JWT, Ketchum, ARF, BBDO, 360i, MTV, BrainJuicer, Momentum, R/GA, Ogilvy, The ONE Club, Publicis, VML, Loyal Kaspar, TBWA, Kay & Black,  Rabin Martin, PRWeek, NBC Universal, Matter Unlimited, FCB, Coyne, AWNY, Gartner,  Weber Shandwick, and XL Alliance offered encouragement, exchanged business cards, and made a commitment to be a mentor. Special guests of the evening included members of BIC's Alumni Association from our first graduating class who honored their own mentors by bringing them along -- celebrating the power of mentorship.

BIC Program Director Nancy R. Tag expressed gratitude to GREY for sponsoring this year's Mix+Mentor with a special thanks to catalyst Paulette Forte and organizer Sabrina Mercado of Grey as well as BIC Program Specialist Christina Castro and BIC Tech Specialist Mira Steinzor. Professor Tag welcomed the crowd by introducing BIC's latest incoming class, the third since the program's launch in 2013.

"By committing to the two-year master's degree program so they can think more deeply about the issues impacting media and communications today," Tag noted, "these students have already demonstrated a commitment to the industry -- and to everyone in the room who's dedicated to future." Past sponsors of the BIC Mix+Mentor have been Y&R, Ketchum, and McCann.

See more photos of the evening here.

Lynn Appelbaum is PRSA's Outstanding Educator of the Year

Congratulations to CCNY Professor Lynn Appelbaum who is the 2015-2016 recipient of the PRSA Outstanding Educator of the Year Award. This award honors Professor Appelbaum’s commitment to public relations education, the industry, her students, and diversity. Over the course of her illustrious 30-year career as a public relations practitioner and professor, she has built City College’s AD/PR undergraduate program into the prestigious program it is today. She is currently the Program Director as well as the Internship Director of the Media & Communication Arts Department at City College. In preparing her students to meet the needs of the industry and serving as a champion and advocate on the issue of Diversity and Inclusion, Lynn fosters the careers of countless students year after year. Her latest research on the lack of diversity in the PR industry demonstrates her willingness to hold the industry accountable for recruiting, promoting, and retaining a diverse PR industry workforce. Professor Appelbaum will receive the national award this weekend at the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta on November 9th. 

New Study Addresses Diversity in the Public Relations Professions

CCNY Ad/PR Professor Lynn Appelbaum has co-authored a report with Franklin Walton, PhD, titled, "An Examination of Factors Affecting the Success of Under-represented Groups in the Public Relations Profession," funded by the PRSA Foundation. According to the report, the industry needs to make a more “concerted effort in diversifying the demographics of PR professionals to reflect the profile of the nation.” The US Census Bureau projects that by 2020 36.5% of the US population will be comprised of Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans.

In a recent PRWeek article, Why retention is the roadblock to a more diverse PR industry, employers and employees hold differing opinions on the issue. Employers believe retaining multicultural employees is the answer.

Young Black and Hispanic PR practitioners who have graduated since 2008 were surveyed along with PR employers in the field from October 2014 to February 2015. According to the article, “Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) PR employers see their efforts to retain a diverse workforce as being successful….One-third of young professionals say the industry is not effectual at retaining a diverse workforce.”

“Other perceived biases noted in the study by young, multicultural PR pros include not feeling genuinely respected by colleagues (43%); believing they have to be more qualified than a Caucasian employee in the same situation (45%); and thinking multicultural practitioners are put on "a slow moving track" (44%).”

For more on this industry-wide conversation, read the PR Week article and Professor Appelbaum’s full report. Share your thoughts and join the conversation on Twitter via The Ad Club's #imPARTofDIVERSITY movement.

This November, BIC Board Speaks

BIC welcomes Advisory Board Members Linda Kaplan Thaler and Rob Norman to campus this November in two spotlight events.  On Thursday, November 12th, the multi-titled Linda Kaplan Thaler will be interviewed in the Lunch w/Leaders series sponsored by MCA's Ad/PR and BIC Programs along with the CCNY AAF Club.  Her topic, "Success is a Four Letter Word," is based on her latest book, Grit to Great, which draws upon ground breaking research as well as her own experiences as an Advertising Hall of Famer, Bestselling Author, Chair of Publicis New York, and CCNY Grad.

On Wednesday, November 18th, GroupM Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman will share his latest insights in his @BIC lecture "There's an App for That" in which he contemplates the end of fragmentation as he challenges familiar narratives that stifle creativity and discovery.

Come to campus and join the conversation. Contact us at for details and to RSVP.

BIC Alum at Inc. Women's Summit

On the first Thursday in October, BIC Alum Alex Suazo '15 joined some of the world's most influential entrepreneurs at the Inc. Women's Summit, where she connected with other business owners, heard inspirational stories, and learned valuable tactics. Even more important, she wrote up a summary. Check it out here.

Intense Digital Integration Intensive

For two weekends in October, BICsters took course knowledge to the next level in a one-credit Special Topic Intensive called Digital Integration taught by Will Parker, Associate Director of Analytics at Publicis. Touching upon all things digital, Will provided historical context, reviewing the traditional players and why data is the catalyst to the biggest shift the industry has seen in decades. He offered up a matrix for evaluating the shift and then moved swiftly -- and with great clarity -- through a number of topics, such as who's regulating the Internet, how Google ranks its listings, real time media bidding, etc. He also provided a number apps and sites where students can learn aspects of the Internet that are largely invisible to the average consumer. A favorite: the Norse Attack Map.  Students were given the option of getting certified in Google Analytics as part of their grade.

The End of Competitive Advantage

This year's NYC Media Lab Summit, which took place at NYU on September 25, was an opportunity for media executive, technologists, and decision makers to explore interesting technologies and applications of the future. Dr. Rita Gunther McGrath of Columbia University Business School delivered an impactful keynote address on how leaders need to be driven by discovery -- a theme expressed by nearly all of the 12 faculty-led workshops. Her latest book, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business includes advice on how to make innovation proficiency an institutional feature of your company -- as opposed to "innovation theater" where employees engage in innovation bootcamps and pep rallies.

CUNY has become increasingly active in NYC Media Lab activities. Students and faculty from City College, Guttman Community College, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism showcased their project demos at last year's Annual Summit. Gistly, a project developed by City College PhD student Alex Vlachokostas, received the third place prize at the Summit. This year's summit was attended by BIC faculty Nancy Tag and Angela Chitkara as well as by Zahn Director Lindsay Siegel.

Read more about Professor McGrath here and about the NYC Media Lab here.

Silence is Not an Option

Wearing a Coca-Cola sweater and even Coke high heels, Wendy Clark, President of Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing for Coca-Cola North America, stated in her keynote address at 4A's recent Talent@2030 that  “If you will accept with me that everything has changed, what do we have to do? We have to change everything. You can’t operate in this very different world with very traditional capabilities. It’s not going to work.” As the world is slowly being replaced by digital natives, we need to appreciate that they have only two states: they're either connected or they're asleep. 

To a packed crowd of C-Suite professionals, Clark spoke with conviction on how brands need to be front and center of the public narrative.  “The first thing we’ve learned: In a socially networked world, silence is not an option. If you are silent, your truth will be filled in for you,” she said. To illustrate the point, she compared how long it took the company to respond to the outcry over new Coke back in 1985: 72 days. Today, she said the reaction would have to be closer to 72 minutes. As a result, Clark advised everyone to empower their teams to move in the moment. "Speed trumps perfection."

Read more about the first day of 4A's Talent@2030 Conference here.

George Lois Donates Archive to CCNY

It was a night of megawatt star power: over 150 fans and friends of George Lois arrived on campus to celebrate the publication of his latest book, Lois Logos -- The Creative Punch for of Big Idea Branding. Mingling in BIC space in the heart of Shepard Hall, other cultural icons (including Senator and former Knicks star Bill Bradley and legendary designer Bob Gill) as well as awestruck students in the BIC program genuflected to the master. Despite the fact that Lois' impact on advertising's Creative Revolution dates back to the 1960's, students were inspired by his commitment to creativity and the power of Big Idea thinking.

In his speech, Lois spoke about his fascination with logos as the most elemental form of communication. "A logo should contain an essential idea that communicates personality. It must have blood running through it...a quickly recognizable face." He added that the face's bone structure must consist of a solid marketing idea, and the "design must explain the idea." He challenged students in the room to dive deeply into their projects. "If you can't get meaning into everything you design, there is no meaning in your work...The mystical blending of copy, concept, and art, dramatized by a unique image in synergy with words that can communicate in a nanosecond always ignites an immediate intellectual and visceral human response."

George Lois has been on BIC's Board of Advisors since the program first launched in 2013, but a piece of his heart has been on the CCNY campus since he attended the High School of Music and Art back in the 40's. He noted this connection as he wrapped up his speech. Surrounded by his beautiful wife, Rosie, along with family, friends, and fans, and following a stirring presentation of his logos to the music of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," George announced that he was donating his advertising archive to City College. By bestowing this amazing and historic collection --coveted by institutions all over the globe -- to CCNY, George reaffirmed his commitment to diversity and those less privileged who are born with grit and the sheer determination to fight the good fight. "Our mission in life cannot be to sedate, but to awaken, disturb, communicate, and instigate and even provoke...Now more than ever, we must speak truth to power, whatever the cost."