Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day

A few years ago my cousin Kevin published this piece about his father, who was my father’s oldest brother. It is a fitting tribute. 

Father’s generation created better world
By Kevin D. Preston

He was the eldest son of seven children of an immigrant family. Born to a sickly father and a mother who lived a long life and worked every day of it, he inherited his father’s health, and his mother’s determination.

He began working at the age of 9 and quit school at the age of 15 to help put bread on the table of his family during the depression. A soldier at 21, across the beach at Omaha at 24, married at 26, the father of three by age 30.

He was a high school dropout who was determined not only to support his family, but to ensure that his children would have a better start than he did. He had only two things going for him, an unlimited determination to work, and an uncanny ability to fix things.

For more than half a century he worked in mills and factories at home and overseas, fixing warplanes, machinery, jewelry and antiques as well as the toys of his children and grandchildren.

But he has always been far more than just a workhorse. He knew that beyond the everyday struggle for survival there were larger issues which affected the quality of the world he and his family would live in.

By reasoning more simple yet more powerful than that of his college educated children, he knew that his country must support programs to reduce poverty, because he knew what it was to be poor. He knew that discrimination was wrong because as a French-Canadian, and as a Catholic, he knew of the crippling effects of bigotry on both the victim, and the bigot.

And despite the fact that out of devotion to his church he sent his children to parochial schools, he always supported the proper funding of public schools, because having been deprived of a proper education, he knew its value.

Out of the Depression 

Although special to me, my father’s story is typical of that of many of his contemporaries. His was the generation that as children saw and felt the devastation wrought by the Great Depression. His was the generation that as young adults fought and beat Hitler and all he represented. His was the generation that built the greatest economic power the world had ever seen. His was the first generation in history to choose to share their newfound material success with the poor and their long cherished political rights with minority groups which had long been excluded from their enjoyment.

It has become the fashion among my generation to denigrate the condition of the world which we are inheriting; to focus on problems which remain rather than on progress already made.

True Test 

But the final measure of any generation is whether they leave the world better than they found it. And by that measure my father’s generation has been exceptional.

The simple fact is that the sons of my father’s generation are, on average, richer, healthier, better educated and will live longer than their fathers.

They eat better foods and work shorter hours.

More of them have the right to vote and to stand for public office. Unlike many of their fathers when at similar age, the sons can, for the most part, travel across this country, eat in restaurants, sleep in hotels, rent apartments, marry, play golf and do pretty much what they want regardless of their race or religion.


It is by any standard an impressive list of accomplishments.

As a 10-year old boy in 1961, I watched on television the handing over of the reins of power from my grandfather’s generation to my father’s.

In his inaugural address 30 years ago President Kennedy said that “… the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war and disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.”

I knew even then that he was talking about millions of fathers, but in the eyes of this 10-year-old boy, my own father became my measure of what that generation was, and was to become.

Thanks Dad, and happy Father’s Day.

Kevin D. Preston of Attleboro is an attorney.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The On-Line E-Newsletter: You Can’t Live Without It

A respected non-profit recently sent out an RFP for a firm to create a newsletter for the organization. Although we rarely respond to RFPs at New Harbor Group, we strongly believe that having a newsletter is a good thing. Every organization should have some way to tell its story and update its key audience on a regular basis.

But here’s the problem: This particular group asked for proposals for putting together a print newsletter. Bad idea. If you don’t have a newsletter, and you’re thinking about starting one, here’s why an on-line edition is absolutely the only way to go:
  • Why pay for printing and postage? Who does that anymore? It’s simply a waste of money.
  • Keep it fresh. The on-line version won’t get stale waiting for that “one last story” to be submitted, then getting printed and then sitting around in the bulk mail trays at the post office.
  • Get (really valuable) information. An on-line version will give you data about your audiences – who opened the e-mail announcing the latest edition, and who hit “delete”; what stories are popular, and which ones aren’t. With a print newsletter, recipients may read it, or they may toss it – you’ll never know.
  • And speaking of data, your advertisers will be thrilled to know how many people visited their website – and perhaps even hired them or bought their product because someone clicked on their ad in your e-newsletter.
  • Keep the conversation going with social media. With your on-line newsletter you can actually engage with your audiences, either in the comment section, or even better – with social media. Your on-line e-newsletter is a great way to drive your readers to your social media pages (and your website itself), communicating with your audiences and finding out what they’re really thinking about you.
  • Also - it’s “green”.
Amazingly, the main objection to an on-line newsletter is usually this: Somewhere out there exists a mythical, 90-year old person who doesn’t have e-mail or use the Internet. Needless to say, I’m dubious.  After all, we live in a world where 84% of Baby Boomers – who are now well into their 60s – say that the Internet is an essential, like bread and milk in a Rhode Island snowstorm. I’ve never met this person who isn’t on-line, or learned their name, but this person is the reason why people tell me they can’t possibly put their newsletter on-line.

Nevertheless, if you’re in print and thinking about the transition to an on-line e-news, I have a solution for the “90-Year-Old Person Who Doesn’t Use the Internet” problem which works like a charm. I’d be glad to share it.

Our client the Rhode Island Society of CPAs has a very successful on-line newsletter called “What Counts.”  Not only does the Society enjoy all the benefits of an on-line newsletter I described above, they also defray nearly the complete cost of the publication with advertising, which you can see at the bottom of this – and every - page when you click here.

And yes, we are prepared for that “person who is not on-line.”  If that person calls the Society they will print this version, and mail it to him or her. First class.

If you have an existing print newsletter, you need to be thinking about how to transition to an on-line edition as soon as possible. If you don’t already have a newsletter, and are preparing to start one, the only place you should be publishing is on-line.