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How the Inventor of Instant Replay Changed American Culture Forever
by J. Bonasia

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Photo credit: NHPR

The great television impresario Tony Verna passed away this month from leukemia at age 81 in Palm Desert, Calif., after producing many of the biggest televised events in American history.

Verna’s five decades in the TV business included directing five Super Bowls, two Olympic Games, 12 Kentucky Derbies, the famed Live Aid global concert in 1985, Pope John Paul’s TV special, and numerous NBA Championships and Stanley Cup Finals.

Despite these landmark achievements, history will remember Verna as the inventor of TV’s instant replay. By launching this rather innocuous advance, Tony Verna arguably helped change the face of American culture forever.

Verna was a young CBS sports producer assigned to cover the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on Dec. 7, 1963. He had developed a new production trick that he wanted to try out on viewers during the big rivalry, which featured star quarterback Roger Staubach playing for Navy.

Verna’s breakthrough technology initially ran into technical problems. When he tried airing replays several times in the game’s first half, the designated tape would only show prior clips from “I Love Lucy” or soap commercials. Finally, Verna was able to make the tape loop work correctly, and our world has never been the same since.

Sadly, no video record of that special game exists today. Verna’s broadcast showed the world’s first instant replay of Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh crossing into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fans were shocked when they saw his teammates celebrating, only to watch Stichweh make the exact same play just moments later.

Phone lines quickly lit up at the local CBS stations. Confused viewers were trying to understand what had just happened. Announcer Lindsey Nelson had to explain that Army had not scored a second touchdown. Rather, home viewers had just witnessed a historic “immediate video replay” of the TD, as it was called.

“This is not live,” Nelson exclaimed. “Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”

Granted, sports fans should be forever grateful for the ability to analyze important plays in excruciating detail, watching the action loop over and over again in super slow-motion. But, in many ways, instant replays introduced an era of technical cynicism to our sports coverage, and to U.S. culture more broadly.

First, consider the meaning of the term itself: instant replay. “Instant” implies an urge for instant gratification, of knowing the precise outcome right away. “Replay” implies the ability to do things over, to witness events repeatedly and relive critical moments again and again.

As Verna’s invention started taking hold in society, America endured the Civil Rights Movement, several brutal political assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the Watergate scandal which culminated in the only resignation of a U.S. president – by Richard Nixon, a diehard football fan no less. This was the dawn of the modern era when America arguably lost its innocence, and the instant replay was just one small thread woven into this much larger national tapestry.

Of course, the instant replay has greatly improved our sense of fair play by reversing bad referee calls, and exposing players who actually stepped out of bounds. On the other hand, the replay technology has prompted untold delays for sports fans while officials “go to the replay booth to check the tape.”

The replay has become so ingrained that we reflexively accept this slowdown of action, which in turn fuels doubts about every single call made on the field, depending on which team the fans are rooting for. Nobody believes in the umps or refs anymore, because all humans are fallible. In some very real sense, the instant replay has reinforced our faith in technology at the expense of human trust.

Now replay cameras crowd our baseball outfields to show when any hit lands foul, and they surround our basketball courts to show who got fouled. Over time, our expanding doubts and fears have introduced replay cameras into every stadium, along with every shopping center, office, bank, store, housing complex and street corner in the United States.

In the wake of recent violent police altercations, virtually everything we do now gets filmed for replay, even down to police officers carrying cameras on their helmets to capture footage of all public interactions. If we can’t trust our refs, how can we possibly trust our cops armed with guns? And so it goes.

In short, we have become an instant replay society so consumed by our capacity to double-check errors that we have forsaken the ability to quickly forgive mistakes and move on. It’s much more fun to fixate on the instant replays and scream at the on-screen blunders in high-definition over and over again. Come to think of it, that’s probably appropriate because it’s what Tony Verna would have wanted all along.

Making Your Voice Stand Out in a Technology-Mobile-Security First World
by JoAnn Yamani

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Photo credit: TaaraGo

“Is NOTHING sacred anymore?!?,” exalted a fellow shopper standing in an exorbitantly long line at a crowded mall less than a week before Christmas. With everyone’s personal lives on display through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the answer to that simple (and, most likely, rhetorical question) is “No.” Yet, we still live in a reality of our own creation that we define our own privacy and have more than a modicum of control over our lives (be it digital, analog, or paper).

On Christmas Day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Security Agency was asked to provide additional details about its supposed snooping in regular peoples’ lives. To those of us not living under a rock, this came as no real surprise. To those of us in the public relations industry, it was par for the course.

The upside about all of this data about random people (and the tangential reality that nothing is sacred anymore) is that it’s hard to stand out. We find this equally true in the technology-ridden world of Silicon Valley where the latest and greatest technology is, quite often, muffled by the big voices of the Fortune 20.

Hear (pun intended) are some tips for making your smallish voice stand out above the din:

  1. Make friends with others

For every New York Times or Wall Street Journal, there is a great industry-focused publication that, like you, knows there are other players in the same field. Introduce yourself. Explain your market differentiation. These are important building blocks toward more business-focused pieces.

 

  1. Befriend a big kid

Reporters with the larger publications are smart, too. They know that more interesting stories can be told with an understanding of the overall industry landscape. Mine the fields and find them. Work around their schedule. Find your relevancy to their coverage and see if there is interest in a different perspective.

 

  1. Learn to take “No” (not this time) for an answer

Okay, so we’re all busy. Maybe some other company is getting funding from Khosla. Maybe Microsoft is next behind Sony in the hack-attack. But, establish an ongoing dialogue so your company remains top-of-mind.

 

  1. Know your point-of-view before the opportunity strikes

Having pre-planned responses to malware attacks, advertising maelstroms and whatever craziness happens is a strategic maneuver for you and your marketing team to block and tackle immediately, before the need to huddle even arises.

Happy Holidays from The Gutes!
by Jordan Hubert

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2014 has been a great year at Gutenberg! To say thank you for all of the support we received in the past year from our clients, colleagues and friends, we held a terrific holiday party in their honor at our new office in Campbell!

Thanks to all who attended last night’s party (some pictures below and the full album here). We wish you all a happy and healthy new year!

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Holiday Shopping Goes Mobile: Lessons for Marketers and Companies amidst the Shift in Shopping Patterns
by Jen Kindred

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Photo credit: Sense Networks

Photo credit: Sense Networks

Ah, December… a time for reflections and predictions. Marketing and PR professionals are especially fond of this annual season of round-ups and forecasts. It gives us a chance to take a step back and think about what we’ve learned, to note patterns and emerging trends, to take a deep breath and prepare for the rush of work that will land on our laptops in January. Here in Silicon Valley, the holiday season has us thinking a lot about mobile technology, among other important topics. How has the rapid expansion of the smartphone universe impacted holiday shopping, consumer behavior and family traditions?

Recent news reports about the health of the holiday economy are less than clear; by some reports, retail spending fell 11% on Thanksgiving weekend. We’re still in the first half of December, so the comprehensive picture of retail results remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: mobile is a big game changer. According to MediaPost and IBM, online traffic from mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day was stronger than traditional PCs for the first time, accounting for 52% of all online traffic. Best Buy experienced such an unexpected surge of mobile traffic, their web site crashed.

Black Friday shopping—complete with crowds, bad weather, and parking lot hassles—has lost some of its luster now that similar discounts can be found online before, during, and after Thanksgiving. Some of us, after all, are old enough to remember when Turkey Day was more about family than the frenzied pursuit of doorbuster deals. Perhaps the convenience of shopping from our phones, tablets, and laptops in the comfort of our own homes is helping us reclaim some of the true spirit of the holidays. Indeed, teens and Millennials appear to be one of the most lucrative targets for in-store Black Friday sales; American Eagle, Old Navy, and Victoria’s Secret had a banner weekend.

As with any major paradigm shift, the remarkable changes we’ve seen in consumer behavior over the last few years have far-reaching implications, some of which we are only beginning to understand. When we step back from retail numbers to take in a bigger picture, we see that mobile devices are impacting much more than just shopping trends. In recent years, increasingly dire weather conditions have impacted the shopping season; many retailers started promotions earlier this year to hedge against this risk.

The ongoing debate about the disappearance of the middle class and the struggles of the working class appears to have also had a sobering effect on many Americans’ spending habits. While the overall economy shows promising signs of recovery—lower gas prices, improved jobs numbers, the best consumer sentiment stats in seven years—retailers may have been too optimistic about how this good news would hit their bottom line this season. After many years of economic struggle, many Americans are using the extra room in their household budget to pay down debt, save for retirement, and donate to charitable causes, knowing that tough times may still lie ahead. (For more on this, see IBD’s article about the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.)

According to Entrepreneur, the number of ads and promotions the average consumer sees during the holiday season is equivalent to standing in the middle of Times Square for 10 weeks. Yikes…how much of that can possibly be sinking in, especially in the middle of a dramatic news cycle? Obviously, in the face of advertising overload, the smarter and more personalized the marketing, the better chance it has of reaching its intended audience and converting to an actual purchase.

Mobile is the most obvious choice for delivering more intelligent, customized promotions to targeted consumers. It will be interesting to see how advertising, marketing and PR professionals use the data generated by this holiday season to analyze consumer trends and tailor their approach. And it will be even more fascinating to see how emerging technologies like wearables (Apple Watch), mobile payment systems, 3D printing, and smart, connected products (IoT) converge to transform our buying and consumption habits in ways we have yet to imagine—not to mention how these habits will be influenced by economic, political, and social developments. Looking back and looking ahead, one thing’s for sure: If you’re on the high-tech beat, 2015 will be a busy year!

What do you think? Is mobile changing the way we shop for and celebrate the holidays? Which retailers were able to break through the noise and make you pay attention this year?

Putting Your Client Front and Center When a News Cycle Hits
by John Kreuzer

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Those of us who have chosen a career path in the PR industry have become very familiar with the 24 hour news cycle which refers to the 24-hour reporting of news, associated with the fast-paced lifestyle of today’s connected society.

The enormous amount of news resources available has increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting media outlets to deliver the latest news in the most captivating manner in order to remain ahead of competitors. This includes television, radio, print, online, and now mobile apps which have been designed for news.

But with today’s 24 hour news cycle, how can you, as a PR professional, keep your client front and center when a news cycle hits? That seems to be the $1,000,000 question these days. Here are a few simple things that PR professionals can do on a daily basis to better prepare ourselves to insert clients into a breaking news cycle:

1. Make a List and Check it Twice

First and foremost, as a PR agency, it is our responsibility to keep our top-tier business and industry media lists up-to-date at all times. With a 24 hour news cycle, this is of the utmost importance these days. You never know when the next big news story is going to break, and you don’t want to spend the bulk of your time trying to figure out who you should be contacting. These lists need to be updated regularly or you’ll risk missing out on a potentially great opportunity for client coverage.

2. Television and Print and Online…Oh My!

With potential media hits on television, in print and online, you need to know what is going on in the news at all times. Not only should you start each day reviewing breaking and trending news stories, you should keep one eye on the news throughout the day. As PR professionals, we should always be looking for opportunities to inject our clients into the conversations that are taking place. New stories break throughout the day, and if you can identify breaking news that provides your clients with opportunities for coverage, you’ll continue to score points.

3. There’s a Newsjacking in Progress

A term that you’ll hear frequently at PR agencies looking to successfully insert their client into the news cycle is “newsjacking”. Newsjacking is a strategy that I’m sure we’ve all used which entails the promotion of a client through breaking news. If done creatively and successfully, newsjacking provides an opportunity to launch your client into the national spotlight. The challenge that we as PR professionals have is making our pitch stand out among competing companies as the breaking news story grows. As a PR professional, you need to be thinking ahead. Have a few pre-packaged pitches put aside on a few different topics so when a news cycle is developing, you can have your subject matter expert ready to chime in with valuable perspective.

4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Just because a news cycle ends, doesn’t mean that your work as a PR professional is over. After a specific story dies down, don’t be afraid to follow up with the journalists that you’ve been working with. See if there is an opportunity for a follow up story. Offer up a company profile, an executive Q&A or an in-depth examination of a product or service. It doesn’t hurt to just check in with the journalist on what trends are on their radar. You never know where your next opportunity may lie. You’ve helped them once, why not go back for seconds?

5. Reading, Willing and Able

Sometimes, locking down a source during a breaking news cycle can be nearly impossible. As PR professionals, we need to know who can speak on what topic and when they are available. Sounds tough, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. For each of your clients, you should have at least three to four designated spokespeople who have been media trained in case your top choice is unavailable. At the same time, you should be sure that you have their headshots and corporate biographies ahead of time in case they are requested by a journalist on a moment’s notice. If you know that a heavy news week is coming, or already in progress, proactively reach out for their availability ahead of time. You’ll be happy you did this.

6. Respond to HARO’s and ProfNet’s

Finally, there are a lot of resources out there that have been created to benefit the PR industry. Two of my favorites are ProfNet and Help a Reporter Out (HARO), both of which are great resources for finding out what journalists are working on, especially during a news cycle. I can say from personal experience that I’ve had great success using both services. Not only do ProfNet and HARO provide great opportunities to land an interview with a specific journalist, sometimes an inquiry can lead you to a news cycle that has either just broken, or is about to break. In a way, they can alert you to a specific story that you might not have been aware of before.

 


 

Did I miss anything? Do you have any other key tips? How have YOU inserted your client into a breaking news cycle? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

Rebrand – Pan Pacific Bank
by Max Liberty-Point

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In the summer of 2013, Gutenberg Communications was hired to rebrand and produce a website for a small business/personal bank in Fremont, CA.  What resulted was a modern, clean, and professional brand with a fully responsive website to match.  The bank’s board and other staff were included in much of the conceptualization and design processes.


The Challenge

Coming off a very successful fiscal year, Pan Pacific Bank was ready to renovate the brand and build a new website.  They felt their current brand was inefficient, unclear, and stale, and wanted a new identity that would strengthen their presence in the industry.  Gutenberg Design set out to do that.


Old Logo

Their original logo (above) was created some 7 years before.  The serif font gave off a very traditional feeling and the “gold” wasn’t rendering well on digital screens.  Nothing about it felt modern or potent.  It was time for a completely new look.




After a series of customer audits and board member interviews, it was established that Pan Pacific Bank ought to convey 3 major traits: community, relationships, and power.  Many brainstorms and sketch sessions later, it was decided that the Pacific Ocean embodied these characteristics excellently.  It’s specific to the bay area, extremely powerful, and highly relatable.  A new blue color palette would also be incorporated into the new brand.


Brainstorm Sketches


The Presented Concepts


[ #1 ]

[ #2 ]

[ #3 ]

After presenting these 3 concepts to the board members, it was decided that #3 should be the concept to be further refined.
After more iterations, what resulted was a symbol that boldly and professionally expressed the characteristics of the Pan Pacific Bank.  An artistic interpretation of waves breaking in the Pacific Ocean, the symbol communicates strength, community, and relationship.  Waves breaking gives the brand strength.  The allusion to the ocean supports the nearby community.  And the circular form gives the brand a feeling of security and affability.
Besides redesigning the logo mark, PPB’s logotype needed a makeover as well.  We settled on a sharp, bold, uppercased sans-serif that supported the strength and modernity of the logo mark.


The Final Logo

 

The Different Logo Orientations


The Logo Spacing Guidelines


Business Cards



The second part of the project was to redesign the website.  Pan Pacific Bank’s old site was old, dull, and lacked many of the web standards users expect today like responsiveness to different devices and a layout compatible for touch screen users.


Old Site

The new website would need to capture the professionality, strength, community and relationships that the brand stood for.  What resulted was a flat, elegantly simple design that communicated the content clearly and efficiently.  The layout is responsive to different screen sizes and works beautifully on touch devices.  This website is live at panpacificbank.com.


Website – Desktop Version

Website – Tablet Version

Website – Mobile Version

The Role of Marketing Has Changed
by Jeff Platon

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The old formula of interruptive, push marketing and a dependency on advertising has given way to a new process in which buyers actively participate in moving themselves through the journey of buying. More importantly marketing now has the potential to take a role as a guide in shaping the buyers journey and have a real impact on driving revenue.

For the savvy few, this revolution can create a new seat at the executive table for marketing executives.  This new marketer will have to utilize the fast growing science of marketing and use of big data and analytics that can radically alter the impact marketing can have on business results in this era of mobile cloud computing.

Today’s buyers are more interested in having an engaging experience in which they receive helpful information, compelling content, and a good education to help them compare products or services to make the best choice.

The first big change in the new marketing map is the newfound use of a comprehensive buying center persona development to enable highly targeted marketing campaigns.  Who specifically buys your product, and Why? What influences these buyers? What are they looking to achieve in terms of return on investment and results?  Where do they work?  What is their business role and title?

By adopting these new methods and digital tools you can enable your brand to appear in the right places at just the right times to reach your specific buying center.  And most importantly, marketing campaigns can drive an outcome – which is really the return on marketing investments leaders have been looking for all along.

A Room Full of Hope: HERS Breast Cancer Foundation Celebrates Community Support
by Jen Kindred

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” —President Barack Obama

Last Thursday, several of us from Gutenberg had the privilege of attending the People with Purpose fundraising luncheon hosted by our client, the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation.

“HERS” stands for Hope, Empowerment, Renewal, and Support. The luncheon was a resounding success on all these fronts – the room was full of hope and a tangible sense of purpose as breast cancer survivors and their supporters from the community came together to celebrate another year of hard work.

The mission of the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation is to support all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services regardless of financial status. They provide specialty undergarments, wigs, lymphedema sleeves, and other products that help breast cancer survivors heal after surgery and treatment. At their two program stores, talented and caring breast care specialists create a “soft place to fall” for women who have been profoundly impacted by the physical and emotional effects of their cancer and treatment.

Already this year, the foundation has lots of good news to share. Most significantly, they opened a new program store at the Stanford Cancer Center. The Stanford Cancer Center empowers collaboration, fosters multidisciplinary research and accelerates the pace of new knowledge that can be translated into new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. This makes it a premier location for HERS Breast Cancer Foundation to serve a new population of survivors. Likewise, 2013 was a year of continued steady growth: clients were served in over 1500 visits last year, with all programs seeing increases. Every client served means a survivor is not facing their healing process alone. The physical healing power of the garments and the emotional healing found in restoring a sense of dignity and personal beauty combine to have a powerfully positive effect on the women who use the Foundation’s services.

At the luncheon, the keynote speaker and honorees all gave inspiring and meaningful speeches about their involvement in the cause; several were cancer survivors. Dr. Kimberly Allison, a breast cancer pathologist from Stanford, read an excerpt from her memoir about her own personal fight with breast cancer, and the realization that medical care was only half the battle – the support of loved ones and community was just as important in her healing process. The audience acknowledged the powerful truths at the heart of her story with a tearful standing ovation. Dr. Mark Pegram, Director of the Stanford Breast Oncology Program, filled the room with hope as he shared news of recent FDA approvals and promising clinical trials.

Bay Area organizations Latinas Contra Cancer (founded by Ysabel Duron) and To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation (run entirely by volunteers) were honored for their research, outreach, and financial support. Gene Mello, CEO of Myers-Stevens-Mello and a generous leader in his Fremont community, was recognized for his long-standing support of the Foundation; he has been working with them to fill their insurance needs for over 12 years.

We look forward to another great year of working with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and the amazing women who run it. Spread some hope and show your support by sharing their story in your community — especially if you know someone who might need the services they offer. Donations are always gratefully accepted.

PR Lessons from GM, Toyota auto recalls
by Mike Gallo

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The Detroit News today put the GM ignition-switch recall center stage noting that the developing auto recall crisis, not limited to GM, provides some lessons for an already embattled industry.  The article also reminds readers of the billions that Toyota Motor Corp. paid — and the “incalculable damage to its sterling reputation for quality” — after its sudden acceleration crisis of 2009 and 2010 forced the company to recall more than 10 million vehicles.

Moreover, Detroit News also points out that automakers are on pace this year to break the all-time record for most vehicles recalled. In the wake of GM’s big recalls — 9.6 million vehicles recalled this year, including some more than once — many automakers have stepped up the pace of callbacks.

This clearly raises an issue of trust and transparency – qualities that are of the utmost importance in the way companies engage with customers, stakeholders, investors and, of course, the media.

In the case of GM, some have questioned why the company didn’t take steps to fix this problem “decades ago,” then citing cost issues – an argument that tends to enrage consumers. However, any business case for saving a few bucks on a recall is lost in the significant brand equity and trust that is lost with consumers.

There’s a lesson here for PR – even if purely from a communications standpoint. Companies need to assume that issues and problems that today are behind the scenes will eventually come to light, and when a company isn’t the one breaking the news, it will be in a reactive, defensive position as the story plays out.

What’s even more interesting is how situations like this impact industry peers that may not even have an issue.  Investors, for example, tend to sell first and evaluate later, and in the face of overwhelming industry problems.

For example, Nissan Motor Co. addressed the recall issue from a process standpoint, noting that executives responsible for recall decisions have “complete autonomy” and there’s no connection between their personal compensation and company profits and losses.

This level of transparency is a strong step toward building trust with consumers and letting them know that there is, at the minimum, a reasonable process in place to identify recalls and take timely action when necessary.

In a communications age when information can circle the globe in a matter of minutes, companies need to identify issues quickly and then have a strategy in place to communicate with stakeholders and customers, or they risk letting the situation spin out of control.

April’s Fools
by Jon Teel

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“Let’s suspend his stapler in Jello.”

“Let’s fill his office with balloons!”

“No, let’s fill donuts with mayonnaise.”

“What about toothpaste?”

A snapshot of the conversations that riddled the Los Gatos Gutenberg office on March 31st, the eve of all prank days.

“What about a blow horn beneath an office chair?”

Silence. This was the winning idea, and we all knew it.

The next morning it was just a matter of coming in early and finding an open seat. 7:55a rolls around and there were two unfilled seats in the office—new team member, Jordan Hubert, and Co-CEO Hugh Burnham. Without hesitation we strapped the horn to Jordan’s empty chair. It was time to officiate his initiation… with a bang!

Creative Director, Max Liberty-Point, unveiled the horn and a roll of black duct tape (two ingredients that guarantee a laugh!), and began engineering the rig. I sat in the chair several times to mimic the trigger, and Max carefully positioned the horn beneath the cushion. A few extra strips of tape to conceal the device and we were set. All we had to do now was wait.

Five minutes later Jordan strolls into the office, suspecting today would be like any other Tuesday. He places his bag next to the desk and squares himself against the chair. He pivots to sit… but stands to arrange his laptop. After a moment he bends to sit again… but then stands to straighten some papers. The office is silent, a little too silent for those in the know, but Jordan (apparently) didn’t notice. Finally, with a knee bend and a lean, Jordan drops into his chair and the horn’s high-pitched shriek fires! Watch Jordan’s reaction here.

We all got a good laugh, but we were too excited to let April Fool’s end there… especially when there was one seat still not filled. We quickly stripped the horn from Jordan’s chair and applied it to Hugh’s, this time looking over our shoulders to make sure he didn’t walk in the door. We set the trap and walked away, and we seemingly forgot about it. 10a rolls around and Hugh comes in, reminding us of a doctor appointment he had this morning. He walked around the office for a few minutes chatting with everyone individually, all of us now plugged into assignments and phone calls. By the time he stepped into his office, none of us remembered that the bomb has about to go off. The horn blared and the whole office jolted! The horn continued to shriek, holding its blast for nearly 10 seconds. The office quickly reverted to laughter at the sight of Hugh’s hands covering his ears with a perplexed look on his face… but still sitting stationary in the chair until the horn bled itself dry.

Happy April Fool’s from your friendly Gutes!

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