Category Archives: News

Simply Brilliant: theSkimm

With so much information flying around, it pays to communicate clearly and simply—whatever your forum. For my money, nobody does it better than theSkimm.

Founded by NBC staffers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, theSkimm is a daily e-digest of the world’s most important news stories, offered in bite-size, easy-to-digest chunks. The subscription base is largely “busy women who want to keep up on current events and cocktail party conversation but who are short on time,” although I suspect a broad male readership exists.

Here is how theSkimm covered the situation in Ukraine today:

Sign up for theSkimm here. Or at a minimum, let theSkimm’s straightforward writing style inspire your next piece of communication.

Your customers will thank you.

Riggs Partners’ work published in Print magazine

We’re pleased to have work selected for Print magazine’s 2013 Regional Design Annual. The annual is the only comprehensive survey of outstanding design throughout the United States. Now in its 32nd year, Print’s Regional Design Annual is seen by tens of thousands of creative professionals, among the largest such audience in the country.

The work featured is the 2011 Annual Report for Palmetto GBA, a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. Palmetto GBA provides technical, administrative and contact center services to the federal government (Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services). The book has a blind embossed short cover, colorful infographics and custom die cuts and illustrations for the fold-out case studies.

The Introduction of an Optimist

Illustration by www.studio-ria.com

I’ve known this day was coming.

The moment I signed the papers and officially rejoined RIGGS Partners, a trio of realizations set in, each one spiking my anxiety level slightly more than the last.

“That’s right, they blog,” I thought, passing the contract back across the table.

“I mean…we blog.”

“Oh lord, I’m going to have to blog.”

One wouldn’t expect this to be such a daunting prospect for someone who trades in words and ideas for a living. But I began to sweat it on the spot. Yes, I enjoy writing. I’ve even blogged once or thrice for my own self. But this blog, this first post, wouldn’t be just writing. As the new Creative Director, I would have to introduce myself, make a statement. I would need to communicate something important about me to an audience of clients. I’d be talking directly to you.

What could I say to make you as excited about the future as I am? How could I reassure you that I would be a good steward of your brand and work tirelessly on its behalf? Where might I find the words to articulate what I was all about and why that was going to be a good thing for you?

Walking out of the office that Saturday afternoon, I registered the challenge that would soon lay before me and decided there was only one suitable course of action: Total avoidance.

That’s right. My first day was a week away. I had already settled things up with the friends at my previous shop. That left seven days to spend ordering household affairs, centering myself and, most certainly, running from the shadow of this damned blog post.

I’d made it to day five when that shadow caught up with me in the place most everything of consequence does — standing waist deep in a river, failing to outsmart creatures with brains the size of my thumbnail. I am, you see, a recent convert to the art of fly-fishing.

My father did his best to interest me in this when I was a teenager. So, naturally, it was ignored alongside every other piece of truth or beauty he worked to instill at the time. As such, I have only been properly engaged in the sport for the last two years, which is to say that I’m not very good at it.

Proficiency has little to do with enthusiasm, however, and I decided to spend the last two days of my hiatus on the Davidson River in Western North Carolina. It’s a beautiful spot that has routinely humbled me, its trout being easily spooked and always skeptical of my offerings. I’ve stared at the river’s mottled bed long enough to overlook fish which should have been caught and swear to see others that never existed.

True to form, this trip had delivered me into a seventh troutless hour when the shadow began to creep overhead. By that point, I had tied on nearly every fly at my disposal. I had led them downstream over and over again at every conceivable depth. I had cast, and cast, and cast.

Thus, with no fish to distract me, my thoughts soon emptied into the pools of uncertainty and expectation regarding the new chapter I would begin back in Columbia. I caught myself auditioning angles for this post and sarcastically remarked that I might as well be back in the office, feet up on the desk staring into the blinding white of a blank page. And that’s when it became clear how closely my profession mirrors the pastime that periodically interrupts it.

Be it on streams or in sketchbooks, we cast doggedly toward the barely visible — something we trust is out there. The right words. The perfect images. The strategies and narratives that steal beneath the surface of conventional thinking. The concepts that can bring a brand to life. It’s why I count creatives and anglers among the quintessential optimists. They never forget what the next cast, the next idea, could mean.

It wasn’t until the sun ducked below the timberline and the water around me had given up its reflections that I reached for a small, neglected box of dry flies. Though there is undeniable excitement in using these feather-light imitations to mimic insects floating on the water’s surface, they are far more difficult to present than their swift sinking counterparts. Despite two years of trying, I had yet to catch a single trout on a dry.

But with only minutes separating me from total darkness, prior experience and conventional wisdom yielded to a “you never know” approach. Tying on a #16 Parachute Adams, I squinted towards what might have been a rise near the bank. On my third cast, I managed to shoot the weightless fly out further than the heavier line and, with a quick mend, kept the current from dragging the whole parade of tackle unnaturally downstream. Just as the fly reached the end of its drift a small ring appeared in front and gently sipped it underneath. A second later, my line surged tight. A steep, diagonal tether formed from my raised arms to where the fly had just disappeared, and the trembling rod doubled over, its reel whining against my right ear. A few glimpses during the fight hinted at a brown trout, which my net ultimately confirmed. The fish was not as big as its strength had suggested, but big enough to change how the entire day would be recalled.

The next cast. It can mean everything.

That evening as I sat on a tailgate, staring into the fire and enjoying that pleasant ache of physical expense, I circled back to the clients and questions that awaited me in the coming week. I thought about that blank page and all that might be done with it.

Eventually an idea surfaced and hinted at how I might introduce myself. I began to see a way of telling you something important about me. That I will treat your brand as if it were my own. That beneath all the wise cracks and devil’s advocating, I am truly an optimist. That I plan to tie on everything at my disposal to get the right ideas for you. And that I will cast and cast and cast.

Pleasure to meet you. Let’s get to work.

 

 

Celebrating Sisters of Charity, St. Lawrence Place and Mad Monkey on Main

It was a day overflowing with good.

First, a luncheon to honor a long list of people doing great work throughout South Carolina, people doing the kind of work that changes lives, stabilizes families, improves communities. (Thank you, Sisters of Charity Foundation.)

I clapped loudly when they got to my dear friend Lila Anna Sauls, director of St. Lawrence Place, a woman who goes to work each day to help 28 families make the permanent transition from homeless to stable.

(Then Lila Anna goes home to her husband and their five sons, two of whom are 10-month-old twins. And she makes it all look effortless.)

In the afternoon, we Riggers joined our friends at Mad Monkey to celebrate their move Main Street. Can’t you just tell from this photo—which may I just point out is of the back side of the building—that the space is magical?

How perfect it is for Mad Monkey, a wildly talented group of people who continue to push, who continue to raise the bar for all of us in the business of building powerful brands.

How happy we are to raise our glass to them.

Cheers to good friends. Cheers to Mad Monkey on Main!

Global Pro Bono? CreateAthon Worldwide? Believe.

“YOU are CreateAthon?

            “Well, uh, yes, I guess I am.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s really you! I talk to people in India about CreateAthon all the time!

That is what greeted me within 10 minutes of stepping into an evening reception at the Global Pro Bono Summit, hosted recently by Taproot Foundation. It was a moment that took my breath away, and the start of a 24-hour experience that filled me with the promise of good in the world like never before.

Joining me at the event in NYC was none other than  CreateAthon Chief Evangelical Officer Peyton Rowe. That, in itself, is enough to get me pumped up on the matter of all things pro bono. Then there were our friends from Taproot Foundation, A Billion + Change, and other swell folks from socially minded corporations we’ve come to know. I expected to see these flag-bearers for pro bono, and to once again be inspired by their leadership.

What I encountered was something altogether different.

I was surrounded by people from about a dozen different countries who were part of Taproot’s global fellows program. Then there were “intermediaries,” people throughout the US who lead programs designed to mobilize pro bono efforts in their respective industries and/or communities. Like CreateAthon.

Before we intermediaries were introduced to the global fellows, Taproot Founder and event organizer Aaron Hurst provided some meaningful context to us on why these people had come to New York, and why we had been invited to meet them:

Understand that most of the people you’ll meet today come from countries in which pro bono is neither encouraged nor tolerated. In some cases, they are not only putting themselves at professional risk for advocating the practice of pro bono, but also personal. They can go to jail for this.

“You’re here to get to know them, encourage them, and connect with them from now on, so they can be prepared to carry out this work when they go home.

That got our attention.

Then here they came, 22 of the most delightful people I’ve ever met. Between their broken English and my heavy Southern accent, we often had to repeat ourselves or help interpret each other’s sentences. But what transcended that awkward dialogue was the immediate, shared spark of something between us: the belief in pro bono.

There’s so much to say about this experience — perhaps I shall come back here and unpack all of my takeaways — but for now, I hope you’ll be inspired by three things I now know to be true, thanks to this global gathering of good.

Pro bono is going to become an industry, not a nice to do.

We can capitalize on it and make a living giving it scale throughout the world. What some may have once considered a pipe dream is now quickly becoming a force.

People are different. Their hearts are the same.

The power of human connections around a central cause has never been more palpable to me than in the last two weeks. All it takes is one moment, and an extended hand.

The impact of CreateAthon has only just begun.

Our 24-hour marathon model is being noticed in places far from here, not just in India. In France: “We now have a marathon model in place inspired by CreateAthon.

In the Netherlands: “Oh yes, we’ve heard of you. What a great program!

In Germany: “We love CreateAthon, and I am going to get you to Berlin to teach us how to do it.

Where do we go from here? Global fellows, corporate leaders, and intermediaries like us will reassemble for Global Pro Bono Summit II a year from now. In the meantime, we’ll be connecting with each other, one by one, sharing ideas and offering encouragement. We’ll also be working together on a number of initiatives coming out of the summit that will help to move the global pro bono movement forward in the next 12 months.

The last thing I know for sure?

If you have a little idea, it can be big.

Peyton checks in at our mod venue, Steelcase

 

Telling our stories, one by one

P and T reunite with our global bestie, Armin from BMW Foundation.

Heated debate among the panel of judges for best global pro bono plan

Champion of pro bono and lover of all things CreateAthon: Taproot Foundation founder Aaron Hurst