Monday, August 31, 2009

PR on the Rise For "My Daisy Days"

What is a co-executive producer on the hit TV series “Lost” doing with a children’s DVD series starring a basset hound?

That is one intriguing question that revolves around "My Daisy Days," a terrific pre-school children's DVD series that Inside Edge PR has been working on behalf since May.

You can see the story about producer-director Mary Murphy's role at (That's Mary, pictured, above.)

Plus, there are a variety of tremendous resources on the "My Daisy Days" website.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping Busy With Five Seasons Sports Club

Been busy of late working on publicity pieces for the Five Seasons Sports Clubs in Burr Ridge and Northbrook, including a recent series of media outreaches on the Tri-umph Youth Triathlon Clinic.

Pictured here is Kate Schnatterbeck, founder of Tri-umph, Inc., who organized the two-day session in Northbrook.

An essential element, as always, is to take photographs and, when possible, videotape. Along those lines, I set up a YouTube channel for the Burr Ridge Five Seasons on Tuesday evening.

Friday, August 21, 2009

LeBron: A Look Back at A Legend-in-the-Making

Between 2000 and 2004, I worked on about 85 assignments as a stringer for Time magazine. Easily, one of my favorites was reporting on LeBron James during his senior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.

To see some of my first reporting on LeBron, while he was in high school, click here.

I also reported on him early in his rookie year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. You can see that writing here.

Three times during a formative 11-month span in this phenomenal talent’s life, I dropped in on LeBron’s World, interviewing him, his coaches, friends and a longtime support network of adults.

The first time, in December 2002, I met a reporter for the Akron Beacon-Journal, David Lee Morgan Jr. I could tell, within a few minutes, that Morgan was working on a book on LeBron. Though he coyly resisted confirming my suspicion, neither did he deny it.

So it was no surprise a short time later—I think it was during LeBron’s rookie year in the NBA—that I came across Morgan's “LeBron James: The Rise of a Star."

On my second trip to Akron, in January 2003, I met Kris Belman (pictured below, with James). He explained that what had begun as a film school class assignment had mushroomed into a documentary on LeBron and his teammates.

He took a few minutes to interview me (cutting-room floor material, I strongly suspect) at “The JAR”—the James A. Rhodes Arena where LeBron’s team played its home games.

Little did I know that it would be the better part of a decade—by which time LeBron has more than lived up to the rarefied billing with which he entered the pros—that the documentary would start appearing on screens across the country.

In October, at last, that documentary, "More Than a Game," will be aired in Chicago and other cities. You can see Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson’s story about it here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

PR Tips: How to Build Rapport With Reporters

Among many other topics during last week's workshop, "PR Secrets From a Media Insider," one was on how to develop rapport with members of the media.

In a nutshell, here are some basic steps:

1. Pay attention to the reporter's prior work.
2. Pay a (sincere) compliment.
3. Respectfully challenge a reporter's work.
4. Offer a story suggestion that does not benefit you in the least.

The brief video below, from the PR Secrets workshop at the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park, Ill., touches on these points:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who is your audience? And other questions...

Just what is public relations?

It can mean different things to different people, but taking a look at a definition carved out at Wikipedia offers one version.

And focusing on various portions of that definition can spur on any number of questions. Here's one, when thinking about "exposure to your audience":

Who is your audience?

How do you reach them now?

Is there a more effective way of reaching them?

How can you expand your existing audience?

What does your audience need to know?

What will move them to take the action that you desire?

Do you need to create different messages for different segments of your audience?

Any business ought to be in the continual process of updating their answers to these questions. When's the last time you took a step back from your day-to-day work and did so?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ribbon-Cutting Symbolizes Elmhurst Chamber's Commitment

It wasn't on my list of "100 Things To Do Before I Die," but the other day I had an opportunity to be at the center of a scene that I never suspected would happen: I wielded larger-than-life scissors as part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The symbolic moment came inside the office of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The organziation offers the ribbon-cutting moment to all new members, with the photograph appearing in a local newspaper and helping promote not only the new member, but the chamber itself.

And the moment was fun, to be sure--especially when I managed not to injure myself or anyone else.

But what most impressed me was the well-coordinated nature of the event.

The chamber has "Ambassadors" (you can see them in the video above) that accompany chamber director John Quigley (front row, far right) in sharing various pieces of information about the workings of the group as well as opportunities for newcomers to become more involved.

All in all, it was a thoroughly impressive gesture, and speaks volumes about the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of this ship that Quigley helms with humor and determination.

Beforehand, through my dealings with staff members like Betsy D'Onofrio and two networking events, I had been struck by the group's professionalism. Now I am motivated more than ever to meet and exceed its stellar standards.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Who's Vetting John Hughes's Pen Pal?

It is fascinating to learn that the late, great director John Hughes apparently had a teen-aged pen pal, Alison Byrne Fields, for a two-year period in the mid-1980s.

(To the left, that's his signature from one of his missives to Fields, according to her blog.)

But another intriguing element of this story is the blazing speed with which the media are hopping all over the story. And, of course, that raises this basic question: Who is fact-checking all of this?

Fields posted her wonderfully told journey on her blog, "We'll Know When We Get There," on Thursday, the same day that Hughes died.

According to the time stamp on her blog, she began writing her piece at 4:41 p.m., about 45 minutes after she Tweeted that she would do so. The first comment on her post came shortly after 9 p.m., meaning she produced it in about four hours.

So her swift turn-around suggests:

A. Fields had already crafted much of the story, including the scanned images of Hughes's letters to her, not to mention the fan club photos of actors like Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson that she had received through her friendship with Hughes.

Was she simply waiting for an opportunity to share her experience, and Hughes's death opened the door?


B. In a flurry of creativity amid her grief over Hughes's death, Fields managed to whip up this moving blog post.

In either event, the timing of her blog, let alone the content, should spur on this question in any skeptically trained mind:

How do we know her account to be true? Has anyone independently verified Hughes's handwriting? Did he ever talk about this pen pal with any of his family or friends?

I'd be interested in reading that story. And Fields, as a media-savvy individual who understands the tenets of journalism (check out her bio here), may well welcome such scrutiny.

For what it's worth, if I had to bet a dollar, my gut instinct is this: I believe Fields is being truthful. Further, I believe she is a most insightful, gifted communicator. She is among a select group of people who would have the literary and technical ability to "write on deadline" in this manner.

But don't take my word for any of that. As I commented at the end of the Washington Post Celebritology Q & A in which Jen Chaney interviewed Fields:

"This all has an authentic air, but I wonder how various media types are confirming the accuracy/credibility of Alison? That, to me, is a story unto itself--the process of confirming her pen-pal relationship actually occurred. If your mother tells you she loves you...check it out!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gift & Home Channel Airs Inside Edge PR Q & A

From the workshop earlier this year at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, "Social Networking Sites: Are You Connected?" a video interview of me has surfaced with the Gift & Home Channel.

You can see the clip, "How To Harness Municipal Tools," here at By the way, pay no mind to the shiny substance in the corner of my mouth--it was overreaching lip balm on that blustery day.

Note to self: always look into the mirror before doing on-camera interviews.

Below, I have also embedded the Q & A, which focuses largely on the Shop the Village campaign that I coordinated for the local business community last winter:

Oak Park Village Highlights - Matt Baron, Inside Edge - The best home videos are here

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oak Park's Own: My Q & A With Stephen Green

Six weeks ago, in an Inside Edge PR blog post, I noted an interview that I did with Stephen Green, the Chicago Cubs' official photographer for more than 25 years.

Joe Kreml, of the village of Oak Park, recently wrapped up editing the Q & A and did did an outstanding job. I think the segment, "Oak Park's Own: Stephen Green," will be of interest not only to sports fans, but anyone interested in the artistic process.

To see the 10-minute video from my session with Green, click on the video below.