Hey there, all you dads: Thanks for inviting our public-relations firm here today to present our ideas about giving you a makeover. Smart move. You have some issues to manage, big guy.
By the way, congrats. Calling in crisis-control experts like us to get your rehab going is the first step to recovery. So now we're going to ditch the PowerPoint and just talk to you fathers, man to man.
For openers, we held focus groups on your product attributes and saw some definite positives. You still have a job and having a job means you bring home the bacon and your children happen to like bacon. So you at least have a strong provider vibe going.
But make no mistake: Your approval rating as a father has dipped to an all-time low. Our spot poll shows your children respect you 28 percent less than they did 10 minutes ago. You're listening less, and you never listened all that well in the first place.
Let's talk specifics, though. You occasionally sleep through family dinners, snoring loud enough to set off the smoke alarm. Because your average work-week goes 51 hours, it turns out you spend less time talking with your children than you do clipping the hedge. As a result, last September you tried outsourcing certain traditionally male household chores, such as washing the car, to Kuala Lumpur.
Big mistake, dude. All a father ever has is his street cred and yours is lower than Barry White's voice. Plus, you're up against the stiffest competition known to man – mothers.
But, of course, we PR pros are here to help create a new you. We've researched the brand called "Dad" and brainstormed a three-point proposal.
First, conduct a visibility tour. Get out of your easy chair and visit your target demographic. For example, drop into your son's bedroom. Give him a signed T-shirt saying, "I Live With the Big D."
Second, communicate better. This is a big deal: The average contact between father and child is less than 30 minutes a day. Remember: In 2007, grunting no longer counts as a vocabulary word. Try taking up instant messaging, complete with all the latest emoticons.
Third, start some better habits. Surrender the remote control for 24 hours. Promise your kids you'll never again BlackBerry during a bar mitzvah. If your boy loves pro wrestling, let him body-slam you on the living-room carpet just for fun.
A few final points here, big daddy. Accept your imperfections as a father, all 4,037 of them. Acknowledge that you may never have all of the answers – or any, for that matter. No need to worry. We'll craft you some message points.
Otherwise, you're a splendid primate, really. After all, you love your children with all your heart. Keep doing the stuff you've always done right – expressing affection, encouraging excellence, setting the right example.
You'll be fine, especially after we get you those sound bites. We see the big picture here. We know every father has the potential to be something unique for his children – a hero and the unofficial family chauffeur.
• Bob Brody, the father of two, is a public-relations executive and essayist in New York City.