Monday, September 28, 2009

PR On A Five Seasons' Fitness Turn-Around

Sometimes, timing is on your side.

That was certainly the case about a month ago when I was at Five Seasons Sports Club in Burr Ridge to meet with leaders there and develop story ideas to share with the media.

Desarez Carlson, the club's senior sales adviser, handed me photos and notes written by Sharon Anderson, who had lost more than 100 pounds since joining Five Seasons in early 2008. It was the foundation of a terrific story about the club's impact on fostering Anderson's newfound fitness.

But I would need to talk with Anderson. Ideally, it would be in person, to be able to do the story justice and enhance our chances of attracting media coverage. A few minutes later, as I gathered more story ideas, Carlson looked over my shoulder and out the window by the club's stately front door.

"There she is," said Carlson. "There's Sharon walking in."

I excused myself from the meeting. A short while later, a videotaped Q & A ensued. You can see it below, and you can see the news release on Anderson's amazing transformation here at

Friday, September 25, 2009

ULI Update: Writing About the Future of Retail

A year ago, I began writing summaries of panel discussions of the Urban Land Institute's Chicago chapter. Two days ago, after a summer hiatus, the ULI resumed those meetings with "The Future of U.S. Retail-How a Changed Consumer Will Affect Retail Real Estate."

As usual, the speakers were brimming with insight, which I did my best to encapsulate, complete with Mick Jagger lyrics, in this written summary, which appears on the ULI-Chicago website.

Of the numerous data points divulged on Wednesday at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago, here's the one I found most intriguing: the year when the United States is projected to be its "oldest" is 2037. God willing, I'll be turning 69 that year, doing my part to justify that collective elder-statesman distinction.

You can also read prior Inside Edge PR blog posts about ULI topics I've covered, from talks the organization held last November, as well as in January, in March, and in May.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Practical Video Offers Great PR Primer

For anyone who wants to learn more about what not to do, when it comes to connecting with the media, below is a fun and practical video, produced by a company called Wondergem Consulting in Grand Rapids, Mich.

I especially chuckled at the editor who pointed out the annoying (and unprofessional) PR ploy of saying that the "client really needs to get this into the paper."

Need schmeed!

As I often tell my clients, and stress in my workshop, PR Secrets From a Media Insider, the focus must be on giving the media what they need (and then you'll get what you want).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oak Park's Own: My Q & A With David Mendell

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a top journalist and author for whom I have the utmost respect, David Mendell.

We spoke for 45 minutes, non-stop, on a Scoville Park bench for an upcoming segment of "Oak Park's Own." Produced by Joe Kreml, the village's video production maestro, the segment is the third one that I have hosted for broadcast on the local cable television Channel 6 here in Oak Park, Ill.

I first met Mendell in January 2008, shortly after reading his wonderfully reported, even-handed book on Barack Obama, Obama: From Promise to Power. At that time, I was so fascinated by Mendell's odyssey that I penned a profile on him for the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

The piece, "Covering a Phenomenom," is posted on my Inside Edge PR website. I also blogged about Mendell 10 months ago, on the evening of Obama's election.

Among my questions today during taping at Scoville Park:

Does he plan to write another book on President Obama? What was the biggest price he paid in writing the book? Having left the Tribune 13 months ago, does he miss daily journalism?

I'll let Mendell's answers speak for themselves when the Q & A starts airing on Channel 6 and is posted online at the same time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Savvy Kanye: Crazy Like A PR Fox

Three things I know about Kanye West:

1. He has a knack for saying foolish things at the most inappropriate times, such as his stage-storming incident the other night when he dissed Taylor Swift.

2. He knows how to keep his name in the news, in a big way. As I told John Williams of WGN Radio this morning (after he solicited callers to comment on Krazy Kanye), Mr. West has a tremendous reservoir of PR savvy, in crazy-like-a-fox style.

3. His pause on the Leno show last night was a bunch of show-biz hokum. Puh-lease. And his excuse that he had failed to properly grieve his mother's death, and that is a factor in his anti-social antics? C'mon, Kanye, keep the sympathy card close to your vest.

Still, the guy's got a shameless gift for drawing attention to himself.

How many more people tuned in to Leno because they wanted to see what Kanye would do next? I would be willing to bet that his presence gave the show an extra 5% of viewers, at minimum.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Web: A Key, Free Promotional Platform

"What do you get when you mix an acupuncturist, a chiropractor and a massage therapist?

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, it will be a holistic workshop called “The Secret to Symptom-Free Menopause.” Three holistic healthcare professionals will teach how women can slow the aging process as they reduce—and in some cases, prevent—menopausal symptoms."

That's how I start a news release issued today on behalf of Alejandro Fernandez, Dr. Linda Knowski and Michelle Donat, all fellow members of the OPRF Partners chapter of Business Network International, a highly successful business leads group I've belonged to for three years.

In addition to crafting the release, I created a blog, with an easy-to-remember name, where people can learn more about the workshop. The site is called, built on the WordPress platform, and includes the release (which I'm also sending to area media outlets), biographies and website links of the three practitioners, and directions to the workshop venue.

The site, which is free, can be used for future collaborative efforts that the three develop.

The project represents my emphasis on establishing a foundation that can serve short- and long-term marketing and communications needs. If you are interested in learning more about the workshop, click on the poster image above, visit the workshop website or call 708-366-8002.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A No-Brainer on How To Insult Your Audience

One of the most dangerous phrases anyone can use is this one: "It's a no-brainer."

Three years ago, a radio ad saleswoman uttered it as she sought, in vain, to convince me to advise a client to shell out thousands of dollars for a promotional spot.

Immediately, the likelihood of my doing business with this individual went from slim to none. When someone refers to something as a "no-brainer," they are being insulting and insensitively coercive. In esssence, here is what they are communicating: "If you don't agree with me, then that means you have no brain."

How's that for undermining any chance of a mutually respectful and symbiotic relationship?

Peter Shankman, a bright and personable PR guy whom I respect, pulled the no-brainer device today. In a message to his thousands of subscribers on Help A Reporter Out. Shankman began, "This advertiser is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth."

Not only is it a no-brainer, but it's the no-brainer that trumps all others. That's certainly upping the ante, Peter.