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Author Archive » Myles Bristowe, President, AMA Boston

AMA Boston Pleased to Welcome Vic Beck Back from Service in Iraq

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

You may remember a series of blog posts about Vic Beck’s service in the US Navy as the chief of media operations in Iraq. Mr. Beck was the Vice President of Communications on the Board of Directors for the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association and we are pleased to have him back!  This article about Vic appeared in the Globe today and is a good summary of his tour in Iraq.

In Iraq, he got the word out

By Susan Chaityn Lebovits, Boston Globe, December 14, 2008
In December 2006, Vic Beck was spending his weekdays working in a public relations firm in Wellesley and his weekends watching his son’s basketball team in Sudbury. But one phone call changed everything for a year.

Beck, a Navy reservist, learned that he had been activated. The following April he was shipped off to the Middle East where he became the spokesman for US Central Command in Dubai. By that August he was the chief of media operations in Iraq, where he remained until he returned home last spring.

As chief of media operations, Beck orchestrated two news conferences each week for Iraqi and international journalists. He was responsible for ensuring that everything ran smoothly - from getting translators and securing satellite uplinks to supplying photographic and video images, and making sure that the participants had proper entry access. He also helped high-ranking military officials prepare for the briefings.

“I had a staff of 85 people, from speech writers to press monitors, so all of the Western media outlets based in Iraq, such as ABC and The New York Times, were able to get what they needed,” said Beck, who holds the rank of captain in the Navy Reserve. He also oversaw the “embed” program, in which reporters accompany troops on patrol.

“When I first arrived, there were mortar attacks every other day,” said Beck, who lived in a small trailer outside the US Embassy in Baghdad.

“Typically there would be a few seconds warning that a missile or rocket was coming in,” said Beck. “You could run to one of the cement shelters, or drop to the ground.”

While Beck admits that receiving the phone call to ship out to the Middle East for a year caught him off guard, he was quite familiar with military life, since his father was a career Navy helicopter pilot. His home in Sudbury, where he lives with his wife and two children, is the only place Beck has ever stayed for more than six consecutive years.

Beck was born in Rhode Island and began his nomadic existence at 6 months of age when his family moved to Florida. Throughout his childhood he moved seven times, Beck said, with his stopovers including Monterey, Calif., and Yokohama, Japan.

Beck attended the State University of New York at Brockport, where he majored in communications, hoping to get into radio. He was a program director for the college radio station, and landed an internship at a radio talk show in Rochester, N.Y., where he’d wake up at 3 a.m. and read through the newspapers searching for interesting topics and people for the morning program’s host.

Two months before graduation, Beck said, he realized there just aren’t that many plum jobs in radio.
“I moved to my parents’ house on Long Island and went back to one of my old summer jobs, moving furniture for United Van Lines,” said Beck. “My life was not how I’d envisioned it would be.”

In an attempt to break into communications, Beck took a sales job, going door-to-door selling Cablevision high-speed Internet and digital cable television services.

“It was an awful experience,” said Beck. “I knew the Navy and decided I’d learn to drive ships for a while and figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.”

Beck began training to become a surface warfare officer, a position that involves coordinating a Navy ship’s movements, operations and weapons systems. When he got his orders to report the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise he couldn’t have been happier.

“It was better than I ever imagined,” said Beck. “It’s like driving a city block, it’s really a floating industrial city.”

Beck’s first chance to put his new skills into practice came in 1988, when a Navy frigate, the USS Samuel B. Roberts, hit an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf and nearly sank, with a 15-f00t-wide hole blasted in its hull.

“At the time, the USS Enterprise was operating outside of the Persian Gulf,” said Beck. “In retaliation, our planes, which came off the Enterprise, attacked some oil platforms inside the gulf.”

Some of the challenges in helping aircraft take off properly, explained Beck, include maneuvering the carrier to harness the necessary amount of wind to accommodate particular planes.

After serving on the Enterprise, Beck was one of the navigators for a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Richard E. Byrd, and completed a cruise around South America that included training exercises with US allies such as Brazil and Argentina.

“The most interesting area was going through the Straits of Magellan,” said Beck, at the continent’s southern tip. “We were working six hours on and six hours off, navigating around huge chunks of ice.”

Beck spent five years on various ships before being assigned to a shore job, as assistant director of the Navy Office of Information in Boston, which covers all of New England.

“That’s how I got started in public affairs and found public relations as a way that I could go back to my communications days,” said Beck. After seven years of active duty, Beck became a civilian, yet remained a member of the Navy Reserve.

Now that he has returned from Iraq, Beck continues as a reservist, serving one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year in Washington, D.C., working in communications for the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a post now held by Admiral Michael G. Mullen.

Since leaving active duty Beck has worked as the head of corporate communications for a number of companies. Currently he is the director of communication planning and strategy for S4 Inc., which is based in Burlington and has offices across the country, including several military installations. At S4, Beck provides strategic communication consulting for various government organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and private businesses.

“Whatever efforts Vic needed to get the job done, he did, and never complained about it,” said Scott Silk, a friend and former boss of Beck.

“I frequently call on him from my cellphone to navigate me through the streets of Boston, as he knows them by heart - he has a wonderful sense of direction and a great memory.”

Aquent and AMA Release New Marketing Compensation Calculator

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

This summer the American Marketing Association and Aquent launched a series of conversations about the marketing profession. We encourage you to check out these valuable marketing tools and resources, including: the compensation calculator and the first installment of the Insight-Series.  The Insight Report demonstrates the key findings distilled from the survey, including a stark alignment between seniority and satisfaction.

Try the Quick Salary Calculator (opens new window)

Download the Insight Report (pdf format)

AMA Boston Hosts Regional AMA Leadership Retreat

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

As president of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association, it was my pleasure to welcome representatives from several other chapters from the Northeastern Region.  Our guests included representatives from the New York Capital Region Chapter,  the Rochester New York Chapter, the New Jersey Chapter and the Hartford Connecticut Chapter.

On Friday evening, Amy Quigley, Maryanne Spillane McInturf, Keith Laferrier and Jim Gallant, members of the Board of Directors from the Boston Chapter, entertained our guests over dinner at the Tavern on the Water in Charlestown.

On Saturday, we met at the Constitution Inn in Charlestown for an all day conference with work sessions guided by special guests, Michele DeKinder-Smith from Tampa, Florida and Karen Stone from Nashville, Tennessee. Both Michele and Karten are successful past presidents of their local chapters and accomplished leaders of the Professional Chapters Council, for the American Marketing Association.

The purpose of  the leadership retreat was to bring several chapter leaders together from around the regionso we could support each other and exchange ideas. It was good to see old friends and to participate in such a productive meeting.

Boston Website a Model for Other AMA Chapters

Friday, February 29th, 2008

A few days ago, I was contacted by an experienced sports marketing professional that is relocating to Boston.  She told me that she was recently at the Mid-Atlantic Leadership Retreat being held in Baltimore. These retreats are an opportunity for several chapters within a region to come together to share ideas and best practices.

At the retreat, the conference leader promoted the AMABoston.org as the best chapter Website and referred to it as a model to be followed.  There are 78 chapters internationally.  The chapters in attendance were Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Richmond and Central Virginia.

Learning about the unofficial accolades through word-of-mouth was a great honor and although we still have a lot more we want to do with our Internet presence, my only hope is that our members are getting as much value from our site as possible. We really appreciate the efforts of everyone who continues to contribute to it’s success on a daily and weekly basis.

Even with such a complement from the international association, we are actually working right now on a redesign for the interface of our site.  Aloft Group is the agency we selected for the redesign and we are looking forward to what’s next!

In related news, Boston will enjoy the honor of hosting the 2009 Northeastern Leadership Retreat next fall.  Chapters are expected to attend from Providence, Hartford, Albany, Rochester, Montreal and Toronto.  We will welcome them to our city and hope to show them a wicked good time!

Myles Bristowe
President-elect, AMA Boston

Best Practices in Digital Marketing - Presentation Now Available for Download

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

On February 13th, Pedro Laboy, Senior Partner at Tocquigny, an Adweek Top-25 Interactive agency, and Author of Brand Nexus, gave a keynote presentation on what every marketer should know about Digital Marketing.

Pedro Laboy’s Presentation “Best Practices in Digital Marketing” is now available in the Resources section of the AMA Boston Website.


International Marketing Wine Tasting Video

Monday, January 28th, 2008

AMA Broadens Definition of Marketing

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

The International office of the American Marketing Association has redefined the word “marketing,” to reflect its broader role in society.

The new definition reads: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The previous definition stated: “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

Wikipedia defines the term this way: “Marketing is a societal process that is needed to discern consumers’ wants; focusing on a product/service to those wants, and to mould the consumers towards the products/services.”

Some very interesting differences between the definitions. The AMA revisits the definition for marketing every five years in a disciplined effort to reflect on the state of the marketing field. How would you define marketing?

AMA Boston creates new LinkedIn and FaceBook groups

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Interested in connecting with other marketers in the Boston area and beyond? The Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA Boston) has created two new online networking groups to further expand our professional marketing community.

We get daily requests from marketing professionals looking to be included in our LinkedIn group called, AMA Boston Marketers. If you’re already a member of AMA Boston, it’s likely that you’re already pre-approved to join our LinkedIN group!

If you would also like to network with us on Facebook, join our new Facebook Group.

Myles Bristowe
President-elect, AMA Boston

Thank you to: Molecular for hosting our Mid-Year Retreat

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

On behalf of the Board of Directors and all the volunteers of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association, I would like to thank Molecular for providing the use of their office in Watertown for our Mid-Year Retreat. It was a terrific team building all-day event and we would like to express our gratitude for their generosity… a special thanks to Amy Quigley and Annette Goldberg for setting it up for us.

Myles Bristowe
President-elect, AMA Boston

How big is the Marketing Universe?

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I don’t know if there have been any studies done to describe how many marketers there are in the world today. However, within the United States and Canada, I can say that the American Marketing Association is among the largest associations for marketers and is made up of over 38,000 professional members. While many Marketing associations focus on one specific area of marketing, (like advertising, market research or public relations) I’ve found the AMA to reach a wider audience because it covers every area of marketing. As great as the AMA is, I decided that 38,000 couldn’t be the whole universe…

So, for starters, I looked at the Marketing universe on LinkedIn:
LinkedIn Logo Within LinkedIn there are more than 567,000 individual bios that contain the term “Marketing” in their profiles. While only 292,000 have selected “marketing and advertising” as their professional category and only 141,000 have selected the “market research” category to identify themselves. To include PR in the mix, I found that 277,000 have selected “public relations and communications” as their professional category. Keep in mind that a person can only select ONE category for their profile.

Oddly enough, if you add up the three distinctions together (Marketing and Advertising, Market Research and Public Relations and Communications) you will have 710,000 individual profiles on LinkedIn who have identified themselves as marketers… even though only 567,000 actually use the word “Marketing” in their profile.

I find it quite interesting that 20% of all these Marketing individuals did not feel the need to use the word, “marketing” in their profile in order to best describe their job, their work experience or their interests.

Myles Bristowe
President-elect, AMA Boston

AMA Boston • Office: 411 Waverly Oaks Road, Suite 331B, Waltham, MA 02452 • (781) 647-7555

The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.