Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Pat Byles shares marketing gems

Published:Sunday | July 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
K Patrick Byles
Capt. Frank Siwik, Master of the Grace Line cruise ship Santa Rosa (second from left) and guests aboard the ship in port last Saturday. With him from left are Mr. Paul Scott, general manager of Grace Kennedy and Company Shipping, Mr. Pat Byles and Mr. Gene McDonald of Martin's Travel Service.
Amitabh Sharma

Blooming flowers and the cool shade of trees owe their existence and potency to one simple reason: their roots are well embedded. This fact is often overlooked as everyone is reaping the benefits of the sweetness of the fruits that bear in abundance.

This analogy can be a best fit for marketing and communications guru K. Patrick Byles, who is still going strong after spending 70 years as a marcom (marketing and communications) professional.

The years might have, if one were to use an anatomical term, slowed some of his motor skills, but his mind is razor sharp, churning ideas and formulating marketing and communication blueprints as he would have done in his younger days.

He has a gem or two from his vast treasure chest of knowledge to share with everyone from students to professionals alike.

"Hard work, proper planning, consistency, and teamwork are the key to the success of any programme or campaign," said Byles. "This is across the board, whether you are developing a marketing campaign, planning an event, or for that matter, implementing any business process."

A Jamaica College and St George's College alumni, Byles began his professional journey in 1946, an era when the analogue and diode tubes were technological marvels, a wee bit prehistoric for most, but his thinking has been futuristic.

"I have opened the door to a lifetime of research," he said. "I have brought to life an industry, marketing - which is a part of the global industry."

Byles has, over the years, married the intricacies of the left brain with the creativity of the right, striking the ying and yang balance - he is an art entrepreneur, who vociferously advocates that the broad-brush paradigm of art has long changed.

"It is no longer a painting on the wall," Byles said. "This maturity is recognised at Boardroom levels all over the world.

"Art," he continued, "impacts all areas of communication, from commerce to packaging, architecture, travel, food ... to name a very few."

According to this veteran communicator, art should not be seen in isolation, nor deemed as a profession that is fit for people who did not have any other options in life and ended up doing arts because that was the last resort.

"It is demeaning, I would even say it is insulting to those who have this talent and want to create," Byles said. "It is not a 'bastardised' child and should not be treated as one, period."

His strong words are stamped in creations across the history of mankind what would life be if there wasn't the Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower ... all work of exquisite art.


But, according to Byles, for art or any other industry to succeed, marketing is the key component that has to be embraced wholeheartedly.

These words are gospel from a veteran who began his career as 'commercial artist' - painting and illustrating film posters for Palace Amusement Cinemas, then moving to Agency Art & Publicity Ltd, who send him to The Bahamas. Along the way, he added to his repertoire, being appointed the representative of Interpublic Group of Companies, one of the world's largest advertising agencies.

Diversification, he said, is the name of the game. "In the old days you had to be a little of everything," he said.

Marketing, across the board, cannot be a one size fits all. Byles says that marketing has to be complemented with specialised communications.

"It (specialised communications) is a concept that North American technological spearhead advertising agencies on Madison Avenue have developing for effective usage," Byles, said.

He says that for any marketing and communication to be effective, application of objectivity, academic learning, utilising motivation and psychological patterns work. Byles has lectured on 'Personal Wants' - the new economic force in relation to education and culture on vocational opportunities and marketing communications.

But, he warns, that segments of marketing communications, as a vehicle can effect change that can be used to over-influence negatively.

"This can result in impulse buying or more drastically, as propaganda to influence countries towards war or civil strife," he said.

"It (marketing) changes attitudes, conditions people to do what one wants," he said, making special case for artists and creative people, who he says, can be very effective, as they are more understanding, sensitive towards the public, than being "crass commercial materialist."

Though the desired mix in the business, these traits though, he says, can be seen as weakness.

"The sensitivity of creative people is a large part of the creativity," Byles said. "A lot of people mistakenly do not relate creativity and sensitivity; to them sensitivity can be considered a weakness."

The confluence of creativity with rationalisation is time-tested and cannot be brushed aside. Only strong foundations can bring about sustained growth and development, and to evolve is the key to that growth.

Notwithstanding that there will be failures along the way but one has to learn from them and move on.

"It is a baptism by fire," he said. "One needs to be persistent, keeping abreast with an open and inquisitive mind and attitude."

Byles, who, as he calls himself "90 years young", is not ready to give up the quest to impart his knowledge, encourage and inculcate best practises for business processes. For someone who still swears by penmanship, Byles' thought processes and actions are relevant and pertinent in the digital age and something that every youngster should, immaterial in which profession or industry they are in, learn.