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Jun 30, 2010, 11:03 CDT
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Friday, December 16, 2011, 11:41 AM
From top U.S. dailies to local newspapers, regional magazines to industry newsletters, the types of publications that use ProfNet is wide-ranging -- and, if we may say so ourselves, quite impressive.
Following is a sampling of pubs that have used ProfNet over the last month to find sources:
Abilene Reporter-News (TX)
Accounts Payable Journal
ADVANCE for Nurses
Air Cargo World
American Medical News
Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Austin Legal News
Baltimore Business News
Banking New York
Beauty News NYC
Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Bend Bulletin (OR)
Bergen, Monmouth and Middlesex/Essex Health & Life magazines (NJ)
Better Homes and Gardens
Boston Business News
Briefings Media Group
Building and Construction Northeast
Business News Daily
Canadian Business magazine
Cheer Biz News
Christian Science Monitor
CIO Insight magazine
Civilian Job News
Clear Channel Radio
Construction Today Monthly
Corporate Compliance Insights
Crain's New York Business
Credit Union Management
Credit Union Times
Daily Gazette (NY)
Daily Herald (IL)
Desert Leaf (AZ)
Diario Uno (Argentina)
Digital Signage Today
Economist Intelligence Unit
Fifty Plus Advocate
Findlay Courier (OH)
Fox Business Network
Galveston County Daily News (TX)
Genetic Engineering News
Global Finance magazine
Globe and Mail (Canada)
Government Product News
Healthcare Risk Management
Hedge Fund Law Report
Horse Illustrated magazine
Hotel News Now
Human Resource Executive magazine
Indianapolis Business Journal
Industry Market Trends
InfoTech & Telecom News
International Business Times
Investors Business Daily
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Ivanhoe Broadcast News
Kaiser Health News/USA Today
Kentucky New Era
Kids' Sports Psychology
Lab Manager Magazine
Ladies' Home Journal
LI Kids Blog
Long Island Bride & Groom
Los Angeles Business Journal
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times Magazine
Managed Care Magazine
Managed Healthcare Executive
Mancow Muller Show
McKnight's Long Term Care News
Med Ad News
Medical Office Today
Medill News Service
Military Officer Magazine
Military Times Edge
MSN Business on Main
National Notary Magazine
NBC Universal's Home Goes Strong
New Jersey Realtor
New Nutrition Business
New York Observer
New York Post
New York Times
New York Times Upfront
Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Out Aloha Magazine
Palm Beach Post (FL)
Pharmaceutical Compliance Monitor
Pharmalive Special Reports
Philadelphia Business Journal
Philadelphia Daily News
Physician's Money Digest
Physicians Practice Magazine
Plain Dealer (OH)
PT in Motion
Puget Sound Business Journal (WA)
Real Estate Forum magazine
Real Health Magazine
Renewable Energy World
Resource Investing News
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Paul Pioneer Press
State Tech Magazine
Statesman Journal (OR)
Suddenly Frugal/Philly on the Cheap
Sun and Wind Energy Magazine
Sun Sentinel (FL)
Sunday Times of London
The Bulletin (OR)
The Ledger (FL)
The Oath (Middle East)
The Record (NJ)
This Old House magazine
Time Out Chicago Kids
Times Higher Education magazine
Today's Dietitian magazine
Toginet Radio Show
Tribune Media Services
United States Radio Networks
University Business magazine
University Daily Kansan
US News & World Report
Voice of America
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog
Watch Newspapers (CO)
WCIU First Business News
Wealthy Reader Online
Weight Watchers Magazine
Western PA Hospital News
Whole Living magazine
WorkWise Syndicated Column
World Trade 100 Magazine
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Friday, December 16, 2011, 10:12 AM
There are many iconic scenes in “A Christmas Story”: Flick’s tongue getting stuck to a flagpole. Ralphie getting his mouth washed out with soap. The “deranged Easter bunny” suit. And, of course, the leg lamp. Who can forget the leg lamp?
Not Brian Jones, owner of A Christmas Story House in Cleveland. Jones, who is profiled on ProfNet Connect, is an expert on the holiday movie and can share facts and trivia about the film and the actors.
In 2003, Jones launched a business that sells leg lamps just like the one featured in the film. In 2004, he purchased the Cleveland home used in the movie off of eBay and restored it to its original movie splendor. A Christmas Story House opened Thanksgiving weekend 2006 and has become a top tourist destination. In 2008, Jones hosted A Christmas Story 25th Anniversary Celebration & Convention in Cleveland, which included a reunion of original cast members.
Jones took some time out of his busy holiday schedule to answer a few questions for us:
Can you tell us a little more about the house? What should people know about it?
The house is in Cleveland, at 3159 W. 11th St., just five minutes from downtown. I purchased it sight unseen off of eBay in 2004. I renovated it back to how it appeared in the movie (inside and out) and it opened the day after Thanksgiving in 2006. This month will mark our fifth anniversary.
The movie’s production crew chose Cleveland because the Higbee's department store would let them film inside, when several other department stores had already turned them down. To find a house, they simply fanned out from downtown. This house was available and had the backdrop of steel mills in the valley behind the house. Steel mills were a big part of the author’s childhood in Hammond, Ind. Also, no house was on the left side to give a better camera angle. It was an available rental property. The house was mostly used for exteriors, with only a couple interior shots. The rest was filmed on a sound stage in Canada.
What we try to recreate is a feeling that you really are at Ralphie's house inside and out, so that you can relive the movie. The house across the street serves as a museum, with original props and costumes, as well as behind-the-scenes photos and information.
When did you know you wanted to make the film such a big part of your life and career?
Never. I wanted to fly jets for the Navy; I just stumbled into this. I started making leg lamps in my condo and selling them online part-time. The response was great, so I decided to leave the Navy to do it full-time. The second year was better than the first -- I had trouble keeping up with demand. That same year, the house came up for sale, and I simply figured that if this many people wanted a leg lamp, then a large number of people would also like to come see the house. A part of it was also that I am a fan and wanted to see a piece of Americana saved and cherished. I figured there was nothing to lose. Why not give it a shot?
What about the film appeals to you?
It’s hilarious and relatable at the same time. You can relate to Ralphie's experiences in the movie presented in such a comical but true-to-life way. All the dynamics of being a kid, and being a kid at Christmas, are here: the double standard of your dad cursing all the time but it being the end of the world if you say one curse word; the peer pressure to do a dare you know you should not; the family dynamic between the mom and dad over the stuff he thinks is great that she can't stand; campaigning so hard for that one thing you really want for Christmas; the first time you realized there are a lot of gimmicks out there.
Has making a career out of the film changed the way you experience the holidays?
I work a lot more around the holidays. Before this, the holiday season was when I took the most time off, so it a complete switch. In fact, it’s now the time of year I work the most. Watching the film is different too. I can still get into it, but it takes me a little longer to suspend reality and just enjoy it. I now know all the actors personally -- I know their real personalities in addition to their character personalities. I just know so many of the ins and outs of the film that I enjoy it in a different way now.
Why should families today care about "A Christmas Story"?
It’s a great family film and a classic that is true to the American Christmas experience. It’s the classic Christmas movie of this generation. It shows Christmas as it really is, with fun and festivity but also the stress and hectic worry that are part of the holidays.
When does one cease to be a "superfan" and start to be an expert about a film?
I just happened to me out of circumstance. I needed to know things to make sure the house was accurate to the movie. People would start to ask me questions and expect me to know the answer because I owned the house. So I just started talking to people who were involved in making the movie or knew stuff about the film.
Do you have any memorable holiday stories of your own?
I campaigned for a year to get a dog. I was just as sure as Ralphie that it was never going to happen. But it was my Christmas present that year -- the greatest present I ever received, better than the Millennium Falcon I had gotten a few years earlier.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Friday, December 9, 2011, 9:49 AM
I know what you’re thinking: “Furniture is interesting?” I thought the same thing -- until I met Lenny Kharitonov.
Kharitonov, president of Unlimited Furniture Group, was one of our guests at the ProfNet Connect anniversary party back in September, and he regaled us with interesting furniture-related stories, such as what you can tell about a person based on the kind of mattress they own.
We sat down with Kharitonov to find out more about the furniture industry -- and whether you should run out and buy a different mattress:
What made you decide to go into the furniture business?
“I can get you a better price on that.” That’s what I used to say to people when I was 12 years old and just got my first job in the furniture business. I was what you would call a “flyer boy.” I stood outside a furniture store in my neighborhood trying to direct people to a different store in the neighborhood. That phrase must have been funny coming out of a heavily accented 12-year-old immigrant’s mouth, but some people liked it enough to come across the street with me.
In college, I studied finance and wanted to be an investment banker just like everyone else in NYC. Interestingly enough, my first job in banking came from one of my furniture clients. By banking, I mean I was in operations in Lehman Brothers, not exactly my dream job. On a daily basis, I processed interest payments from different clients. After some time there, way before the firm collapsed, my former furniture bosses offered me an opportunity to take over a struggling store, and that’s how I truly began in the furniture business.
What's your favorite part of your job?
I get to live with the consequences of my decisions. Every day is unique, filled with both problems and opportunities. Sometimes I make the right decisions and sometimes I don’t, but, in either case, I am responsible for the consequences.
I work with a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, and it’s impressive what every person on my team brings to the table. Some of the best ideas have come from the most junior people.
What would people be surprised to know about the furniture industry?
People think all furniture is made in North Carolina, but that’s simply not true. Maybe 30 or 40 years ago it was, but now most of it is made in Asia. Customers often ask me, “Where is this made?” When I say China, clients often assume the quality is not good. In reality, the quality is often much better than domestic product due to economies of scale.
Your company, Unlimited Furniture Group, recently participated in a project with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” How did that come about, and what was that experience like?
ABC reached out to us to collaborate on a local project in Queens, N.Y., for the Peter family. A Hindu priest and his family were forced out of their home due to a fire. They were living in a hotel for six months when the insurance company denied their claim and the family had to move back into their burned house. It was a very humbling experience to help a family in need.
So, tell us, what can you tell about a person by the mattress they use?
As a furniture guy, I have been designing rooms and selling furniture for many years, and I developed a habit to instantly assess furniture in a home when I walk in. I look at furniture, usually dining tables and couches, but sometimes the bedroom stuff as well. I especially like the mattress part. The mattress is where we spend a third of our lives, and I like to know what kind of choices my friends make. Sorry, ladies and gents, but it’s true, I often check what’s under your sheets.
There are several non-traditional options in mattresses, such as air mattresses and foam-only mattresses. I consider owners of these to be risk takers. The odds are you did not have this kind of mattress growing up and you decided to try something new and unusual. To me, this means you are more likely to take risks at work and in your personal life and you are the kind of person who would try anything once.
Traditional or old-fashioned mattresses are made like a very simple sandwich, with a spring unit in the center and identical layers of foam and fiber on both sides so you can flip them over in case one side sags a little. These are hard to find these days and if you have one, it’s either that you never bothered to buy a new mattress from when you were a teenager or you had your parents help with the buying decision. This tells me that you are a big-picture person and don’t pay attention to detail. You are too busy and have way too much going on to think about something as trivial as a mattress.
The new kid on the block is the premium pillow-top mattress. There are many varieties and many models that use advanced materials and provide unparalleled comfort. If you have one of these, it tells me that health and comfort are important to you and you take time when making buying decisions and don’t just buy the first thing you use. You are also more likely to get a massage and eat healthy.
Friday, December 2, 2011, 2:57 PM
Cyber Monday spending set a new single-day e-commerce record, with sales jumping 22 percent to $1.25 billion, according to digital business tracker comScore.
That’s a lot of people shopping online. It’s also a lot of opportunities for cyber fraud and identity theft. We turned to Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, to find out what we can do to make sure we aren’t among the victims.
Siciliano is an identify-theft expert and consultant with one goal: to empower people so they can avoid becoming victims of crime. In addition to his role as a frequent guest on television news programs, Siciliano is the author of “The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert – How to Take Control of Your Personal Security and Prevent Fraud.” His new book, “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen,” provides tips on how consumers can protect themselves from identity theft and computer fraud.
What is the biggest mistake consumers make when it comes to online security, especially related to holiday shopping?
The Internet is still like the Wild West. When consumers set out to make a purchase online, they often do a quick search and buy from the cheapest retailers or auction they find. Scammers know this and do a little "Black Hat SEO" to get ranked high on searches. Once consumers end up on these sites, they give out their credit card details and never get the product. Worse, they may click links that infect their PC.
If you could tell consumers to do three things right now, what would they be?
1) Be proactive: Crime, whether it be physical violence in the real world or computer fraud online, is a real issue affecting millions or people every year, costing them billions of dollars -- and sometimes their lives. There are, and always will be, criminals. Being proactive with your personal security is a life essential. As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Read everything you can, whenever you see it, on how to protect yourself from new scams and violence.
2) Put systems in place: Put systems in place, such as full-blown, total-protection antivirus/antispyware/antiphishing. Get a "credit freeze" or identity protection to protect your identity. Lock down your wireless connections. Update your PC’s critical security patches. Install a home security systems with cameras, and lock your doors and windows. These things are as necessary to modern life as health insurance. You hope you never need it but, when you do, you're glad you have it.
3) Know your options: Security is not about being paranoid. Paranoia is an unhealthy mental illness resulting in a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and a sense of loss of control over one’s life. Security is having perspective, taking control, knowing your options, and living a fuller, conscious life by making better choices and decisions. Don't worry; just actively participate in your personal security.
What's the most common question you get from consumers?
How to protect their credit cards -- which tells me just how much the public doesn't know or, really, how much they don't care about their personal security. A credit card can't be protected. The data is there for the world to see with every transaction. Paying attention to your statements and refuting unauthorized charges within 60 days per Regulation E is your only concern there.
What is the "next frontier" for personal security?
The availability of information in social media and through simple search is allowing "evildoers" to come up with many creative ways to cause harm. Privacy as we have always considered it is becoming a moot point. Certainly there will be privacy within our individual relationships and those conversations. But, overall, we are living in the fishbowl. And while I have a need for privacy like everyone else, it’s not the issue of privacy that concerns me, but what a bad guy can do with the information available about us to cause harm. And as we continually see new ways in which people are victimized, society as a whole will develop a more acute security consciousness, like the "security moms" or “cyber moms."
Can you tell us more about your new book?
Yes, it’s a glorious day with the birth of my new book. I’ve spent 15 years in the trenches reporting on all issues of personal security, and now I’ve taken what I know about protecting your identity and avoiding fraud and packed it all into 99 tips in a quick read of less than 35,000 words. Now you can become an expert in protecting yourself from these horrible crimes.
But I didn’t do it by myself. McAfee, the largest, most trusted name in digital security, helped me. Their teams of threat experts are constantly fighting off the bad guys, and I drew upon their vast experience and research.
In the book, I proactively organize, simplify, and demystify the entire issue of identity theft and computer fraud into bite-size chunks to make consumers, families, employees, and small businesses safe and secure. Consumers will learn the difference between scareware, ransomware and spyware; about the types of cybercriminals, such as a Black Hat, Cracker, Script-kiddie and Hacktivist; and how to protect their identity online and in the physical world.
The book is available in print, ePub and PDF, and can be found on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Sony eBook Store, and 99 Series bookstore from $5.99 to $14.97.
Safe shopping, everyone!
Friday, December 2, 2011, 10:41 AM
The Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York hosted a breakfast seminar Thursday, Dec. 1, on the do’s and don’ts of crisis communications.
Brian Conway, vice president, communications, Greater New York Hospital Association, and Marcia Horowitz, senior executive vice president and head of the Crisis Management Group at Rubenstein Associates, discussed:
- What materials healthcare organizations should have prepared and ready for any unexpected event;
- How social media has changed the game;
- The types of talking points that may serve senior management well;
- The potential challenges and value of internal communications during a crisis; and
- Opportunities for post-crisis follow-up.
Following are highlights of the presentations:
Hospitals and Crisis Communications
There are a variety of crisis situations that can arise for hospitals and doctors, said Horowitz:
- Outside forces: blackout, hurricane, earthquake, fire
- A mistake during an operation or something unexpected happens
- MRSA, legionnaire’s disease, hepatitis, other viruses and infections spread through water or air in the hospital that can affect staff and patients
- Employee issues ranging from a nurse’s strike and health insurance issues to individual allegations of discrimination, harassment, etc.
- Noted patients and dealing with confidentiality
HIPPA Regulations and the Release of Patient Information
The federally mandated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) went into effect in April 2003 at health care institutions across the country, said Horowitz. HIPAA changed patient privacy standards and has limited hospitals’ ability to release information about patients to the media and public. The following information helps clarify what patient information a spokesperson may (or may not) legally release to the media:
• Under HIPAA, hospitals must ask each patient (or their legal representative) if he or she agrees to disclose information about his or her stay at the hospital. Patients may opt to refuse the release of information (including the fact that they are currently patients) or to limit the information released.
• A member of the media must have a patient’s name in order to ask for information. A patient’s condition will be provided only if that patient has approved the release of information. No additional or detailed information beyond the condition will be provided about the patient.
• If the media does not ask for the patient by name, no individual identifiable information about the patient may be legally disclosed by the hospital.
• For patients who die at the hospital, the hospital may not release any information without the written authorization of next of kin.
Do’s and Don’ts
• Remember HIPPA. It can help or hurt you depending on the situation. You can't defend your actions or even confirm the existence of a patient at your hospital, but you can use it as a shield to deflect discussion about the details of an incident.
• Form a crisis team. Organize your critical team members, such as the internal and external public relations/press staff, internal and external attorneys, hospital officials. Designate one or two spokespeople on a particular issue, to keep facts straight and consistent.
• Know your facts. Regardless of what you ultimately say or do, an internal or external review of the situation is usually warranted.
• Remind your staff not to speak to reporters. Have all calls referred to one or two central people in the press office. This should be standard media policy so that when you put out the notice, it is to remind them of the policy, not make it appear to be new due to the situation.
• Remember your audiences. Consider all the audiences affected and/or important to you. In some cases, this can range from phone calls to board members to emails to employees who appreciate knowing about something before they read or hear about it in the media.
• Return phone calls. Call reporters back even if you have nothing to say. Find out what the questions are as much as possible so that you can prepare accordingly.
• Express Cooperation. Although you won’t know much at first, make this statement broad. Things can change.
• Draft message points. Following appropriate review, focus on three or four points and emphasize these during conversations, as part of written statements, and in answering questions. Put together an internal Q&A, especially of the hardest questions.
• Update your messages and statements. Statements are often reactive at first, but can be proactive thereafter. If you conduct an internal investigation and find deficiencies, announce your plan to fix them before you are told you must. If you have conducted an internal investigation and found a lawsuit to be without merit, use this information as part of your statement.
• Protect yourself by putting it in writing. Ask reporters to email questions and respond by email. This helps prevent knee-jerk reactions and insures accuracy in reporting.
• Designate who should serve as official spokespersons. This way the messages are consistent and controlled. Depending on the situation, if you don’t want to look like you are hiding, have a media-trained doctor or a hospital official speak rather than a press person. Also, balance the need to show you take the situation seriously with the need to shield top doctors and hospital executives.
• Use the Internet. As needed, the intranet or website can help to get out your message. After the dust settles, try to add content online that is positive to help elevate positive news in search engine results.
• Monitor social media sites. Monitor Twitter, blogs, comments, etc.
• Correct inaccuracies. If information in an article is incorrect, consider writing a letter to the editor to set the record straight. For the online version of an article, ask for a correction.
• Consider advertising. If it is the only way to get your message across in a positive way, look into newspaper, or radio ads in targeted media, reaching your audience.
• Don’t lie. “If you don’t lie, you won’t have to remember what you said.” – Mark Twain
• Don’t blame someone else. In addition to possibly getting into legal trouble by libeling or defaming someone, you can create detractors in the press by being perceived as deflecting blame and failing to take responsibility.
• Don’t wing it. If you receive a question you do not know the answer to, say you will get back to the reporter.
• Don’t go on camera or do a radio interview. You don’t want to say anything in the public eye before you know the answer to every potential question.
• Don’t say too much. Statements should be short so a reporter can’t condense what gets used.
• Don’t assume your communications are confidential. Be aware of what you are saying in emails and other correspondence and just consider them “public.” In case of litigation, an attorney should be part of any email chain.
• Don’t forget to be caring. If someone was injured or died, regardless of culpability, express sympathy for the family. Portray your hospital as a caring institution.
Form a Crisis Team
First, select a spokesperson, said Conway. Ideally, it’s the CEO, but it doesn’t have to be.
Make sure a high-ranking communications person is on the crisis team.
While “war rooms” are cliché, they are also important. The ideal war room is a straightforward expansion of day-to-day procedures, rather than a radical change in normal operating procedures. Events are happening so fast, there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication and instruction.
Know Your Facts
Fact: You won’t know everything. While “no comment” is never OK, “I don’t know, but I promise to try to get the answer and get back to you” is sometimes exactly right, advised Conway.
Also, use the Internet and monitor social media sites.
- The critical importance of up-to-date lists (email, phone, cell, even fax). Have multiple hard copies of these lists in case power goes down
- Redundant communications (telephones, cellphones, email, 800MHz radios)
- Have an emergency contact directory, with key information for local, state and federal agencies.
- Use the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS), which collects data on beds, staffing and supply needs/availability, as well as event-related data (number of patients seen, waiting to be seen, admissions, unidentified patients, mortalities).
Before an emergency:
- Maintain up-to-date media lists. Have copies at your desk, in your travel bag, and at home. Have media contacts in your iPhone and BlackBerry.
During an emergency:
- Set up a communications center with phones, computers, hard-copy media lists.
- Remind all staff of media policies, and direct all calls to the communications center.
- Review key messages and develop written materials.
- Prepare for a phenomenal amount of calls – around the clock.
- Designate tasks: fielding calls, writing press releases and statements, coordinating interviews with the spokesperson, etc.
- Anticipate questions. Reporters always want/need numbers and data. Accept that reporters act differently during emergencies.
- Speed is crucial. Public perception of how you handled an emergency is largely determined by the speed and consistency with which you delivered information.
After an emergency:
- Be a harsh judge of yourself. What worked well? What needed improvement? What resources would have improved your efforts? Was your message the right one?
For more information on the Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York, visit their website at hprmsny.org
Monday, November 28, 2011, 12:25 PM
If you haven’t checked out the Blogs section of ProfNet Connect lately, you’re missing out on some really great posts. Here’s a link to last week’s most popular blog posts:
ProfNet hosted a #ConnectChat last week, in which our Twitter followers discussed some of their best practices for connecting with the media. You can read the recap here.
In Dear Gracie: How to Respond to an Angry Customer, seven experts from the ProfNet community shared their advice on how businesses can respond to angry tweets about their company/brand.
Fifteen Ways to Stay AP Stylish During the Holidays features tips from ProfNet Connect contributor Steve Vittorioso on holiday-related terms from the AP Stylebook.
In Weekly Roundup: SOPA and Journalists, Drone Journalism, Becoming a Reporter’s Best Friend, ProfNet editor Jason Hahn looks at some of the most interesting PR- and media-related stories found online last week.
In #PRDefined, Eric Bryant of Gnosis Arts shares his thoughts on the PRSA’s new initiative to (re)define what public relations is.
Dear Gracie: Ten Ways to Beat Writer’s Block shares tips from 10 experts from the ProfNet community who have found surefire ways to beat the dreaded writer’s block.
In Brands That Get Google+, Christine Cube, media relations manager for PR Newswire, explores how companies are using Google+ in the communications plans.
Frequent contributor Beth Monaghan of InkHouse Media + Marketing hit another home run with Minding Your Communications Manners, in which she offered suggestions for managing, and improving our interactions with, all the technologies we use today.
Beyond Queries: A Rundown of ProfNet for Journalists looks at all the different services ProfNet offers for journalists.
In What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate, Jeff Litchford, founder of Life Management Services, shares his thoughts on how to change your images and words to achieve your goals.
What were some of your favorite blog posts this week? Which ones did you find most helpful, interesting?
Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 11:33 AM
PR professionals are great at connecting with people, but even established PR pros sometimes need a refresher – or some new ideas – on how best to interact with the media.
In this week’s #ConnectChat, rather than having one “featured guest,” we decided to open up the discussion to all our followers.
The chat was held Tuesday, Nov. 22, on Twitter, and covered topics such as what PR people should never do; hurdles in connecting with media; social media sites for PR pros; contacting reporters; and more.
Following is a recap of the chat:
ProfNet: Welcome and thank you for joining today’s #ConnectChat! This is Evelyn Tipacti, taking over @profnet for our chat. We're changing things around today to discuss how to connect with the media, and instead of having one guest, you are all today's experts. We are hoping to get your expert advice and ideas shared with everyone on the chat so we can learn from each other. So, let's get started and have some fun.
What is your one best tip for getting media attention?
@SusynEliseDuris Engage, and develop the relationship before the pitch. Novel concept, isn't it?
@LoudyOutLoud A great story always helps!
@SusynEliseDuris A great story and being able to tell it well. I think both go hand in hand. #connectchat
@jgombita Agreed, except I'd call it a consistent Organizational Narrative (plus actual news, not a product launch)!
@JulieDuBrow Never BS’ing the media. Being straight. Following through. Helping journalists solve their problems vs. making more work.
@SusynEliseDuris I just look at Steve Jobs, who was able to appeal to people's emotions when telling a story. Very much like Bill Clinton.
@ProfNet Great examples. I agree Jobs was able to reach people, and Clinton certainly has a style that seems to work.
@SusynEliseDuris But it wasn't flying from the seat of your pants. Very orchestrated. Being an actor and a marketer has helped.
@LoudyOutLoud A great story told well with supporting proof points works well. The media love it!
@jgombita I'm sticking with my continuous weaving (like a tapestry) of the Organizational Narrative.
@LoudyOutLoud "Continuous Weaving of the Organizational Narrative" -- love it! I would love to steal that line in my next meeting with marketing.
@jgombita Constructing the Organizational Narrative: PR definition in the making: t.co/OFwvPrKH
@BradDevero PR pitches are good if they have clear news value and are of interest to readers. Help with unearthing a great story/source is great.
@Alisonbck As a reporter, I learned to always keep the reader/listener/audience. What do they care about? What's in it for them?
@BradDevero It’s nice when the story is clear without having to cut down a lot of self-promotion.
Do you use press releases to get your message out?
@allbeautyntruth It depends on the stakeholders, audience, etc.
@lastwordy As a small organization currently doing our own PR, we use press releases for big events and new section launches.
@prforsmallbiz I've been using press releases more for SEO purposes lately.
What's the most important tip you'd offer to someone just starting out in PR and working with media?
@prforsmallbiz Don't take anything personally, and fine-tune your follow-up skills.
@JGinenthal Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.
@SusynEliseDuris Research, engage, learn -- in that order. Some of these "kids" are too eager to change things. Learning is key first.
@imbookin Personalize, connect, connect, connect. You want people to know you're real and not a robot, that you're willing to engage and answer questions. Be the authority.
@JenelleHamilton Don't be shy and be yourself. Make an effort to get to know the media and speak with them on a regular basis. Editors are human too!
@SDA_PR Don't get hung up on mistakes. It's all part of the learning process.
@lauramfin Always research a reporter thoroughly before pitching them.
@prforsmallbiz Don't EVER stalk the media, be pushy or nasty.
@STACISMAIL Make friends/don't stalk.
@BradDevero Don't just email a release. If it is truly newsworthy, follow-up calls are appreciated.
@jgombita Wow! It's the rare journalist who invites follow-up calls to email news releases, in my experience.
@imbookin Voice is very important. Make sure whatever you say sounds like something the publication would write, at least a little.
@lauramfin Read lots of their work before ever picking up the phone or emailing. Know what they cover and how they cover stories.
@HiCaliber1 I agree. Know their beat.
@jgombita Try to figure out who is in same department – and, for goodness’ sake, don't phone or email more than once.
@katwife View that journalist’s past stories and bio, get a feel for their writing. Stay on top of trends and make your story a news story for all to take notice.
What should PR people never do?
@imbookin Never lie. It sounds so obvious, but getting caught is worse than 'fessing up when there's a mistake and taking it from there.
@jgombita Don't keep bugging journalists about whether they are interested in your software, book or new widget (same with bloggers)!
@prforsmallbiz Don't send out pitches that say "Dear Editor" or "To Whom it May Concern." Do your research.
@lauramfin Always remember that journalists are people; don't treat them like a tool to get your message out -- that's a newswire.
@SusynEliseDuris What gets me is, seasoned pros are still mass mailing press releases. No. No. No.
What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome when it comes to connecting with the media? How did you do it?
@prforsmallbiz Most PR pros face not getting timely responses from the media. I try to overcome by providing extremely relevant pitches.
@Alisonbck Too often we PR folk start with our own angle, what we think of the news/study/product. Instead, write with your audience in mind.
@imbookin I think, coming from a journalism background, that some media are wary of the sincerity of our claims that it's newsworthy.
@lauramfin More likely, many do not know how or are afraid to tell their client/boss, "No, this is not news."
@Alisonbck I call it my "cold water talk." I often throw cold water on the idea -- sorry, if it's not news, I can't pitch it.
Which social media sites are you using in your capacity as a PR pro? Do you use social media to reach out to journalists?
@lccole00 We're using mainly Twitter/Facebook, but for some of our constituents we're getting into Pinterest.
@imbookin Not Google+ yet. I don't think most of our potential audience is on there. I have a Circle just for journalists on Google+.
@DragonSearch This is a great feature of G+ that mirrors FB.
@imbookin I also use Facebook, of course, but I feel like it can be a difficult platform if you're not an established well-known brand. Also, if you have the right content for it, Yahoo! Shine is a great platform to spread the word and get clicks.
@lauramfin Yes, need to interact with people where they are and become part of the larger conversations.
@jgombita I met the majority of journalists I have a relationship with on social media. Otherwise, it’s mainly email.
Question from @FatherGator: What is the etiquette about contacting multiple reporters at one newspaper with same story?
@jgombita DON'T DO IT. When in doubt, contact the business editor (or whomever) to ask -- or the switchboard, in a pinch.
@WendyMackall I've always tried to let business know I've also contacted news, for example. Reporters hate chasing a story only to find out someone else in the organization is, too.
@GnosisArts I wouldn't do it.
@FatherGator Three out of three suggest "no." I'm taking that as strong advice. Thanks to all.
@lauramfin Normally, I only do so after one passes; in any event, full disclosure is always required -- be honest. But it did once take me 22 no’s from journalists at the WSJ to get one yes -- and it was a great yes.
@SusynEliseDuris Determine the top three placements for the story. Lead with the strongest. Don't mass mail.
@imbookin If you must, then absolutely mention that you had already contacted another staff member. Or perhaps send to both saying, "Would either of you be interested?”
@BradDevero Just let us know who else received the message so we can communicate/coordinate.
Do you reach out to journalists via social media, or do you prefer to already have a relationship and then go to social media?
@jgombita A bit of both. Generally, I engage with them (tweet or DM) if they are tweeting about something of interest or if I can add to it.
@katwife It depends. Over the years, some are friends. If you write good stories, they will respond either way.
@WendyMackall It depends. I mostly follow as a way to keep up with what they're writing about/interested in.
@jgombita For a fabulous journalist on Twitter, check out @SusanDelacourt (senior reporter on federal politics and general raconteur).
What's the most underrated skill/tactic when reaching the media?
@jgombita Empathy -- appreciating the resource constraints of most journalists today. They have lots of pressure, not much money.
@WendyMackall Understanding the obstacles journalists face with being asked to do a lot.
@lauramfin A very thick skin. Media relations pros will have a lot of rejection in their lives, even with good stories to tell.
@HiCaliber1 Spell-check might rank up there as one of the most underrated tactics when reaching the media.
@jgombita Especially spell-checking the journalist's name(s). I get some doozy spellings (and pronunciations) on my surname!
@katwife Respect their time and work, and they will respect yours.
@ProfNet This ends today's #ConnectChat. Thanks again to all of you for participating, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 3:12 PM
Content marketing pros know the key to capturing your target audience is to create informative, creative content that catches their attention.
Today on Beyond PR, Gena Sabin, online services product manager for MultiVu, shares how State Farm did just that with their creative turkey fryer safety campaign, timed to Thanksgiving and starring William Shatner.
Click here to read about how a multimedia news release helped get the story on the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN and more.
Friday, November 18, 2011, 11:10 AM
Thanksgiving is a time when American families get together to offer thanks for all the blessings in their lives – and, of course, to eat until they pass out in a Tryptophan-induced coma. But how much do we really know about the traditional Thanksgiving dishes we enjoy?
Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald are ready to give us the lowdown on some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, from turkey and pumpkin to cider and pies.
Stavely and Fitzgerald, a husband-and-wife team of librarians (he at Fall River Public Library; she at Newport Public Library), are co-authors of “America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking,” which explores the origins of New England cooking, including foods traditionally served at Thanksgiving.
Stavely and Fitzgerald took some time out of their pre-Thanksgiving schedule to help shed some light on a few of our favorite Turkey Day traditions:
In your book, you explore the origins of the foods traditionally served at Thanksgiving. What would people be surprised to know?
Massachusetts Bay colonist Edward Johnson, writing in the 1650s, boasted that, by then, most households in the colony could eat "apples, pears and quince tarts instead of their former pumpkin pies." Johnson and his contemporaries considered this progress, as pumpkins were merely native squashes, whereas apples, pears and quinces were imported English fruits that the settlers had to work hard to cultivate.
Then there's the type of pumpkin pie Edward Johnson was speaking of. The 17th century English pumpkin pie was far different from the custardized, single-crust pumpkin pie we know today. Pumpkin pies were at first made with layers of sliced apple and pumpkin, mixed with spices, herbs, sugar and currants, and baked between two crusts. Sometimes the pumpkin slices were first fried with a mixture of eggs, herbs, and spices, then cooled and sliced before being added to the layers in the pie. This omelet-type thing was called a froiz. Cold froiz, sliced apples, currants, bottom and top crust. The pie was then baked.
But that's not all. A sauce called a "caudle," made of eggs, milk, and sugar, was poured under the top crust of the baked pie before it was served. Not exactly our idea of pumpkin pie! But we recently made one of these pies and it was surprisingly good, though still not a pumpkin pie as we think of it.
A recipe that is quite similar to our modern pumpkin pie appears in the first cookbook written by an American, “American Cookery,” by Amelia Simmons. This cookbook was published in Hartford in 1796. Before that, American cooks relied on imported English cookbooks, which were sometimes reprinted in American editions, and on manuscript recipe collections, which were very popular, often being passed down through generations.
Speaking of Simmons, she suggests serving roast turkey with another uniquely American food, cranberry sauce, or "cramberry-sauce," as she calls it. But this practice is also derivative because the English often served their roast meats with a tangy red sauce made of barberries.
And what about that quintessential American dish, the roast turkey? Even the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table is not a purely American idea. We might say that it's as American as apple pie -- meaning it's of English origins. Wild turkeys are certainly American, but the roast turkey came to us this way: Turkeys were brought from the Americas to Spain in the 1520s, and soon thereafter to France, England and the rest of Europe. The first mention of them in an English source occurs in 1541. By 1575 they had become common English fare for Christmas dinner. The Puritans of New England imported tame turkeys from England as early as 1629. Although they disdained the English Christmas as virtually a pagan feast, their descendants adapted the English Christmas menu for their days of thanksgiving.
The final surprise we might mention is the very idea of Thanksgiving Day. Throughout the colonial period, special days of thanksgiving were proclaimed when occasions that warranted them arose. But the idea of celebrating according to a regular schedule, in other words, instituting a Thanksgiving day, was as anathema to the Puritans as was the celebration of Christmas. It wasn't until much later, in 1862, that President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
What impact has New England history had on the modern culinary world?
We grew up in the culinary world of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, in which people were encouraged mostly to have meals consisting of relatively unseasoned meat dishes, accompanied by equally bland tasting starch and vegetable side dishes. The main departure from this setup that was considered legitimate was spaghetti and meatballs. In great part, we think, this approach derived from the Domestic Science movement that arose after the Civil War. This Boston-based movement stressed various things, but what had the most lasting impact was its efforts to “Americanize” immigrant families by introducing them to what it defined as American food. And the Domestic Science movement’s definition of American food was essentially the simplified (some would say tasteless) cuisine that by the mid-20th century had become the norm.
Contemporaneous with this movement was the Colonial Revival, which, in matters of cuisine, greatly overemphasized a few traditional New England dishes, such as chowder, baked beans, and brown bread, as though they constituted the entirety of the region’s cooking. Since the 1960s, with Julia Child as the great initiator and instigator, there has been a reaction against this mid-century culinary world, resulting in its replacement by our present world of cultural and ethnic diversity in food. Our situation now is often thought of as signaling the triumph of the rich and subtle cookery of France and other nations over the gastronomically impoverished, boring cookery of England and the U. S. But, in fact, English and American cooking prior to the Domestic Science movement and the Colonial Revival was itself far more interesting than these movements made people believe it was. In our most recent book, “Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England” (2011), we tell the story, complete with almost 400 actual historic recipes, of this more complex, gastronomically respectable Anglo-American culinary tradition.
Over the last few years, interest in cooking has increased dramatically: celebrity chefs are household names, there are several networks dedicated to cooking, and a number of cooking shows are hits with audiences. To what do you attribute this surge, and what does it say about our society?
Strange to say, but there appears to be an inverse relationship between the popularity of cooking shows on television and the amount of time Americans devote to home cooking. We wish this were not so. If only the vast audiences for celebrity cooks and their shows translated into an interest in learning about and preparing wholesome, homemade foods. But cooking knowledge of the everyday kind, like many domestic arts, is still given short shrift. Why does everyone need to aspire to be a great chef or to cook elaborate dishes? Why not aspire to making honest, from-scratch meals at home on a regular basis? It seems Americans are obsessed with food consumption and food display. But we generally know little about where our food comes from, what a balanced diet is, how to make food a part of family life.
Historically, local and regional cuisines developed the way they did in large part out of necessity. Before the industrial revolution brought mechanized farms, far-reaching transportation networks, home refrigeration and similar conveniences, home cooks had to find ways to vary the menu using a limited range of ingredients. They had to use seasonal and local foodstuffs to their best advantage. They had to know how to preserve foods, and how to make everyday foods like bread, pies, stews, roasts.
We don't mean to romanticize this -- for instance, people in early New England certainly got tired of their daily bread, a dense dough made of rye and cornmeal, grains that grew well in the region, with little or no wheat mixed in. But people also took great pleasure in hearth and home, in their simple kettles of beans (not drenched in molasses), pans of baked apples, fresh fish on the griddle, pies in the larder, sweet herbs and salad greens from the garden.
Celebrity chefs, overly rich foods, enormous portions -- we find these aspects of the modern American culinary scene disheartening. But there are also more and more people who want to know where their food comes from, who grows it, and how. We realize that local sourcing can also be a luxury, but we think increasing awareness of these issues helps regional and local farming, which is always a good thing.
What drew you to this topic? And how did you decide you wanted to write this book together?
One of us, Kathleen, started thinking about the fact that the food she ate while growing up in her Boston-area, Irish-American family in the 1950s and '60s was essentially Yankee food, such as Saturday night baked beans and brown bread, clam chowder, fish cakes. She wondered why this food was considered simply -- or to put it another way, generically -- food, whereas other types of food usually came with an ethnic group or nationality prefix -- Italian food, French food, and so on. Those prefixes suggest that those foods come from somewhere and have a history. They're produced by a particular group of people and are the expression of a particular tradition. She thought this must also be true of the food she grew up with, and so she started exploring the social and historical contexts in which New England-style cooking developed.
Meanwhile, the other of us, Keith, had for a long time been interested in other aspects of New England history and culture, especially Puritanism, and had written some books and articles about it. It began to seem like a natural fit that we would work together on New England food history. And so, 10 years and two co-authored books later, here we are.
So, what are you having for Thanksgiving dinner?
Our extended family members always come from Boston and New York to have Thanksgiving dinner with us in Rhode Island, and for several years now what we’ve all dined upon has been a turkey dinner made from Amelia Simmons’ recipe (and, the last couple of years, featuring a delicious turkey from a local farm). To the turkey we add a homemade chicken pie. It's made with a beautiful puff paste crust. Chicken pies were a standard part of earlier Thanksgiving feasts.
Simmons has also provided the desserts -- the custardized pumpkin pie we mentioned earlier, and also a custardized apple pie known as Marlborough Pie. To make things even more interesting, this year we’re also going to have the layered English-style “pumpion pye” we mentioned earlier, boiled plum pudding, and a yeasted plum cake. These last two desserts were frequently included in New England Thanksgiving dinners of the 19th century.
The recipes for all these dishes are included in our new book, “Northern Hospitality.”
Thanks, Keith and Kathleen! I hope you -- and all our readers -- have a happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 10:28 AM
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