The Crystal Ball Report

2020 Messaging – The Flight from the Fray - (IOPs)

Photo by  Holger Link  on  Unsplash

Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

As Media Strategists we have successfully developed the skillset of fortune-tellers.  Since 1977 we’ve been in the practice of buying time and space (combined with the needed skill of predicting what our demographics’ preferred media points of reference for decision-making will be in the next year). And, along the way we’ve seen “politics as usual” devour the media landscape from the perspective of both an active participant in the process,  as well as, a victim of  this full-on communication assault.  

In our years of purchasing points we would expect the McDonald’s 300 points a week for the MacRib promotion to be surpassed by the political window, ideally absorbing 500 points a week purchased for a serious candidate  six weeks out and increasing to the fevered pitch level of cacophony of 1000 points per week the last two weeks before the make or break election day.  

We have been deep in discussion for the past six months to determine our best plan of action to deal with the anticipated “information overload” in the upcoming election year.  The concept of successfully positioning top of mind by out spending the well-funded candidates is impossible for our clients.  Not just because of inventory issues, instead it is the result of our demographics being victim to over stimulation, too much information,  and the constant rhetorical dialogues screaming at them.  These elements create a veritable behavioral stasis in the communities effected.  The citizens don’t know what to believe.  They can’t make big decisions, large purchases historically lag, life changes wait, all in all they adapt a reoccurring social syndrome, we professionally refer to tas, “The Hunker Down and Wait for the Fray to Subside Syndrome”. 

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash

We will, of course, flight our messaging to avoid the intensive political windows of the Primary in March as well as the General Election in November. We have also encouraged our clients to focus the bulk of their energies toward their existing customer bases during 2020.

Luckily, we believe technology has evolved to provide us with a way to overcome this syndrome. Finally the fragmentation of our media use is working as a benefit to us. As we know, our demos have the ability to customize immediate access to desired information in a myriad of ways. We can see the growth of online sources and particularly podcasts, as a result of this expectation of immediate, custom tailored information, and we believe this provides us with a solution to the syndrome’s manifestation that is forthcoming.

We have created Informational Oasis Platforms (IOPs) to house our messaging in 2020.  We will nest inside specific industry centric content and promote them via various trusted media sources. This will safeguard our clients’ brands from the smudges and smears that many news groups have embraced.  Instead our brand will be protected by information in webcast / podcast formats simply underwritten by our client.  This is a throwback concept to the vignettes that ran in the television arena years ago.  The recall rate for the vignettes was about 3x that of a regular :30 spot.  With the content that we will create with our media partners, we will continue to provide our potential customers with a reliable resource with which they can make decisions.

We believe these our small segments of sanctuary will aid our customers in their Flight from the Fray in the political nature of 2020. And, once they land on our oasis, the information we provide will help them move forward – avoiding election year overload and stasis - toward a beautifully informed decision. 

They Can't See It.

I drove toward the Burbank airport today (as today was the end of a trip to Ventura for work). After our team’s luncheon yesterday the wind had become wicked.  It whipped us and flew about us – taunting the sunshine into giving up its warmth.  

Today pieces of Ventura are on fire.

En route to the Burbank Airport

En route to the Burbank Airport

Yes, I drove toward the Burbank airport today.  

The traffic coming toward me was highlighted in red on the Waze map.  My direction was purple.  The red lane drivers had a massive cloud of dark smoke chasing them.  It seemed to be large and threatening to those of us heading into it in the purple lane.  The red lane seemed so happy to be escaping it or possibly they were totally oblivious of its presence behind them.  In contrast, we purple lane people seemingly accepted the inevitable as we rolled into the fray.

Airport entrance

Airport entrance

Indeed, I drove toward the Burbank airport today.  

The ventilation in the car was set to allow outside air into the passenger area.  This was obviously reset.  The cloud of smoke held a huge mitten over the road ahead.  A new primary objective for me, the driver, was keeping particulates out.  This became my priority as the intrepid Toyota rental car fearlessly approached the massive grey creature.

Upon arrival the face mask that somehow lived in my roll-on suitcase decided it was a good idea to become a piece of apparel before I left the Toyota rental car at the Burbank rental car return. I felt the precision of the timing of arriving, returning and arriving was incredibly crucial in order to avoid the smoke’s imminent presence.  This thought was not comforting to me.

Glad I had it!

Glad I had it!

The people walking toward me outside of the airport seemed truly unaware of the looming smoke’s approach.

They were checking their phone, walking, talking, laughing and never once did they look back at the cloud. The view from their direction was pleasant.  The view from my direction was worrisome at best.

Is the airport on fire?

Is the airport on fire?

I asked the policeperson after TSA how the smoke might affect the flights.  She assured me the pilots would never take off if there was danger. “The pilots really like to live.”  She also said the winds change and the smoke goes in various directions quickly.  Her reasonable, calm responses seemed to lessen the tensions I felt were needed  - and yet-

How could the “airportians” have such a different interpretation of being at the same place and time?  

This question lingers past embarking on the plane and jettisoning myself, and a few hundred others, eastward toward Texas.  There is a persistent echo of this thought that enters the places in-between this and that.

What other events do I see that others cannot fathom?  

What events do others survive that never touched me?  

In what direction do I move? Toward or away?


Can you see this?

Saving the Butterflies

As a child I found a cocoon... 

I put it, along with the stick upon which it grew, in a jar with holes in the lid.  I watched it for days.  Then the butterfly started to emerge.  I carefully took the stick-with-almost-butterfly out and put it on a limb of a tree.  The butterfly’s wings were wet and wrinkled – not ready to fly.  The ants on the tree took full advantage.  It was a horror show.

In the 1980’s we went to San Francisco to visit and stumbled upon this poster of the alphabet in butterfly wings. At this time in history everything was moving forward. Yuppies abounded.  Accessing the best things in life was accepted as a right.  Economies reflected excess. And butterflies created a poster that meant something to our world.

A poster we found in San Francisco

A poster we found in San Francisco

More than a movie

Flight of the Butterflies in 3D and at the IMAX where big, big butterflies fly out of the screen at you.  It’s a natural history epic. It’s a compelling detective story. It’s a scientific adventure at its best. It took Dr. Fred Urquhart almost 40 years to discover the monarch butterflies’ secret hideaway and prove the most incredible migration on Earth. Following the year-long annual migration cycle of the butterflies, the award-winning production team filmed hundreds of millions of monarchs in their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and again in 2012 and also along their migratory routes from Canada, across the U.S. and into Mexico. The technology of IMAX® immerses you in the astounding migration experience as two generations of the butterflies migrate north and then a Super Generation miraculously finds its way from Canada to a few isolated mountaintops in Mexico – to a place it has never been! 

And we’ve all been invited to Mexico to witness this journey.  Actually the president of Mexico invited us via a Youtube video.

President Calderon says, “The journey of these extraordinary creatures is a symbol of how we are all interconnected and interdependent across this continent.” 


To celebrate the talented composer Laura Phelan’s anniversary of birth, we visited the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

A Rice Paper Butterfly landed in the palm of my left hand.  The butterfly and I looked at one another for about 3 minutes.  And then I realized we must part.  There was no place in this world for a relationship with a butterfly in your hand.  The beautiful butterfly will fly and I will walk and we will remember a moment shared.  Then I laughed.


The day before our annual Epiphany Party on January 6th, there was a lovely Swallowtail Butterfly outside the back door.

We humans knew the weather was supposed to dip below freezing the next day and we hoped the butterfly also had access to this information.  Each time we passed her, we suggested a hasty and immediate departure for places south.

Unfortunately the next day arrived after a frigid night of frost and freeze and we found the lovely butterfly on the ground, semi-frozen.  We took her into the warm kitchen and she returned to life– after a few hours and fully resurrected she flew around the kitchen and later that evening  attended the party as a guest of honor.

We fed her honey and named her Honeytime.  Alas, her time here was over and later that day she left the winged body for one without a heart, a head or a needed sense of direction.  She flew without wings.

Why should we care about saving butterflies? 

Because they belong here.  Because they represent the challenge of change and the inherent structure of meaningful metamorphosis.  They inspire transformation. They are fragile and real.  They are free to fly. To be.  

No one tells them when to become that which they must become.  The combination of this and that dictates the shedding of the skin.  The position of the sun.  The tilt of the planet.  The wind and even our place in the universe creates the mandate to fly once they have become.

How do we save butterflies?

Buy a poster of the alphabet made of butterfly wings?         No.
Watch a movie?         No.
Go to a museum?       No.
Hand out seeds?        No.
Look at Facebook posts of others doing something?         No.

The only way to bring about change is to make something.

Recently we hosted Laura Phelan playing her composition for the Blue Morpho. We all listened to it a little bit differently because of the changes we have experienced.

And how will I save the butterflies?  I will do what I can do.  I will grow the food they need.  I will plant Milkweed.  I will help make this world hospitable for them.  And I will share my actions with others. 

The Right Stuff(ed)

Everybody needs a friend. Someone who will just listen, hug you when you need it, and stare at you lovingly with glassy black eyes. There is a special place in everyone’s heart for inanimate friends. Those stuffed buddies that you rested your head on after a trying day. The fuzzy chums that let you cry into their fur when you need to vent. The fluffy comforters that in the case of our founder, provided companionship for a scared 3 year old with a broken neck so many years ago. It is this reverence for our silent that brought us to the door of one of our new favorite programs and potential collaborators, The Stuffed Animal Rescue Foundation, or SARF.

The principle of SARF is straightforward. They rescue forgotten or damaged stuffed animals, tend to their wounds, and find them a safe and loving home. But through their vision and passion they have become so much more than just a repair shop, they have become an integral part of the community.

We recently chatted with Wendy Mitchell, the founder of SARF to find out her inspirations, motivations, and goals for her non-profit.

In 2008 Wendy moved to the famous 37th street, where neighbors join together to put on some of the city’s biggest and most unique Christmas displays. Utilizing the overabundance of lovingly repaired friends in her possession, Wendy created the first stuffed animal petting zoo. The tiny scenes with miniature bales of hay fake snow and water were a great hit with the kids and adults alike but as the season drew to a close she realized she had to do something with all those friendly faces.

            Wendy explained, “I didn’t just want to take the stuffed animals to a thrift store when it was over. They had personalities and props. So I decided I would let people apply to adopt them.” Inspired by the typical pet adoption websites, she created profiles and personalities for each member of her menagerie and the SARF website was born. “It just sort of snowballed from there."

SARF is still going strong. The website is filled with pictures of the happy stitched smiles of successful adoptions. This rate of adoption is a testament to the power of imagination and good humor.

“Think of a stuffed animal on a thrift store shelf. It just sits there for months, and hundreds of people walk by it without anyone even batting an eye. But if you give that object a name and a story and a history, it becomes something different. It becomes a commodity. It has an identity, and it has value again. Then those same people who walked by it before are now applying to adopt it.”

SARF strives to be a force for good. Adoptions are free of charge and the process itself adds to the wonder of making connections between the animals and their adoptive homes.

“There’s something innately magical (and maybe annoying) about waiting and mystery. The SARF seems to strike a chord with people who have long attention spans and big imaginations and who are okay with the fact that they’re not quite sure if it’s real or not.”

Wendy hopes to expand the magic into some with more creative and potentially revenue generating aspects so that SARF can provide free adoptions and care for the next 20 years and beyond. She has plans for a kids writing program, books, charitable events, videos series and even an Onion-esque news show in honor of the greatest friend to plastic eyed buddies, Jim Henson.

Keeping Texas Safe, One Media at a Time

(Austin, TX)  For the 10th year Blitz Media Labs has partnered with BAH! Design and Wick Marketing to create this year's Texas Mutual Insurance Company's statewide campaign.  This year the overall campaign is a focus on handshake-close activities tied to the cause of workplace safety-- "Work Safe, Texas." The existing url provided the home base for the building of this highly localized campaign.

"We were able to leverage our media investments with our local and statewide partners," explained Eileen Keller, CEO of inc. and Blitz Media Labs, "to create a multi-dimensional presence for Texas Mutual Insurance inside all of the points of content distribution. We worked hard to create specialized native content through our media partners and to make sure we had a strong 'white hat' image with an event-centric profile.  It's what we are known for - creating realities through media investments."

In addition to the statewide "Work Safe, Texas" campaign, Blitz Media Labs has created the media platforms and partnerships for Texas Mutual's Safe Hand Texas presence in Amarillo and Victoria.  

"This public safety initiative touches our hearts.  As 7th generation Texans we care about the safety of drivers in the oil and gas industries as well as the citizens of the surrounding markets.  We want to thank all of the media in these markets for working with us to create a dynamic campaign for the summer of 2014," explained Keller. 

Aggressive negotiations and a tug or two at the heartstrings of the media has yielded  bonus placement and a feel-good involvement for all participants.

"We just want to save lives," said Keller.

Blitz Media Labs is a subsidiary of inc., a 19 year old Texas grown and Austin based company dedicated to making dreams come true. 

For more information or to schedule an interview with Eileen Keller, or any representatives of, Blitz Media Labs, or Texas Mutual Insurance, please contact or call (512) 476-2548.

Creating Emotional Tattoos

What is an "emotional tattoo?"

It's not about hitting a target. It's not about branding a group of people with a hot stick.

It's about creating a message that solves a problem.

Finding your "friends and family"

With whom are you trying to create a partnership for your product?

Why do they need it?

What will make them carry it forward into the future?

Your role is to provide for the future.

Your role is to define points of reference that your friends and family use.

What do they read?

What do they watch?

To what do they listen?

We need a list of what they trust to tell them what to do.

Your joy will be in giving them the perfect solution.

Once you determine where they spend time finding out what to do, you need to define the value of that point of reference in reaching your friends and family.

Solutions are the most valuable commodity to your product's friends and family.

You want your people to care about your product.

You want your people to pay someone to have your name with them all of the time.

You want to create a true relationship.

5 Steps to Better Media

Time for a webinar!

Eileen Keller will cover the best practices for investing in media to reach your desired demographic. We will give you the inside 'how-to' that will allow you to negotiate the best rates and the most value-added for your dollar. This information can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising.

Benefits for You

  • You will learn the resources for best defining your advertising investment dollars.
  • You will learn to pay at or below Fair Market Value to talk to your customers.
  • You will learn to set the correct metrics for your advertising success.
  • You will learn how to save money by finding mistakes.
  • You will learn to leverage and dimensionalize your media presence.

...and if you use the link below, you are eligible for 50% off the registration fee!

5 Steps to Better Media Investments

August 05, 2014
1:00PM EST - 2:00PM EST

Register online here for HALF PRICE!

Call: 866-352-9539
Discount code: D6197080
Priority code: 15999

West Austin Studio Tour 2014

We were blessed to have a presence at this year's West Austin Studio Tour thanks to the generous hospitality of Mary Yznaga, our studio host, who opened her M.Y.Metal metalworking creative realm to not only display her own beautiful works, but also the creations of a few of us at, her friends and collaborators. 

M.Y.Metal studio by Mary Yznaga

M.Y.Metal studio by Mary Yznaga

Gene Menger had several of his fiber and textile works on display. Visitors were continually wowed by the color palette and texture.

Gene Menger's fiber and textile works

Gene Menger's fiber and textile works

They seemed so remote and otherworldly, yet so many of us felt like wearing this particular piece like soft armor to embolden our imaginative greatness. 

Eileen Keller also presented her artwork, a series of corazon pieces entitled "hearts on fire," mixed media pieces incorporating wax, glass, words, live matches, and raw emotion.

Then of course we had the hand-forged works of our fabulous host, Ms. Mary Yznaga's M.Y. Metal. 

We were also treated to an afternoon musical performance by the Commerce Street Ramblers, starring the usual suspects (R to L): Brian Tronsgaard, Gene Menger, Dee McCandless, Jeff Kessell, and Kim Karalekas.

Commerce Street Ramblers

Commerce Street Ramblers

All in all, it was a fun and relaxing two weekends of art, music, and friends, new and old-- which is just the way we like it at