Monday, November 30, 2009

`Super Shopper Spotter' Picks Up Steam

Off to a good, fun start with Shop the Village, in my alter-ego character, Super Shopper Spotter.

Above is a photo and below is a video from my Saturday excursion, featuring a visit to Val's Halla Records on Harrison Street in Oak Park:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered, PR-Style

"Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."

In other words, don't get too greedy.

From the standpoint of creating something that is a legitimate, well-rounded piece of news, rather than a wholly self-serving PR piece that may turn off the media, the pigs/hogs axiom certainly applies.

There simply are times when it's best to share the spotlight rather than try to hog all of it. A current example illustrating that truth is a recently issued Inside Edge PR news release on an event called "Pancakes for Soldiers."

I learned of it from Pat Liss, the concierge at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge. You can read the release at here.

Here is a photo gallery that I assembled, with great support from organizer Tina Vandenbosch of Willowbrook.

Over the last three years, Pat has been a great source of excellent story ideas, often human-interest in nature.

And in this case, Pat was also part of the story, as it turns out. Of course, because Five Seaasons is a client--and because it played a key role in supporting the cause--the release included prominent mention of the club.

But it's not at the exclusion of noting others' support, from a local Starbucks to another company that donated a propane griddle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shop the Village & Super Shopper Spotter

It's a's a's Super Shopper Spotter!

A new superhero has descended on Oak Park and he's on the lookout for people shopping locally. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to yours truly, S-3 (for short) is one of the new, fun wrinkles to the 2nd installment of the "Shop the Village" program whose implementation I will again be overseeing.

Check out more details at Shop the Village's official website, which has links to a news release, a YouTube channel and other specifics.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When One-Sided Claims Masquerade As News

During my most recent "PR Secrets From a Media Insider" workshop a few days ago, a local businessman asked what time of day deadlines typically happen for the media.

Ten or 15 years ago, I could have easily laid out some specific windows of time, I replied. But these days, I added, the answer is literally “all the time.”

That is one of the most profound effects of the Internet and the media’s collective rush to be first with news, even if it’s incomplete, unbalanced and, in some cases, the hasty airing of publicly filed records without any discernible thought as to whether it is actually newsworthy.

Some so-called news group's apparent rationale: "We'll contact XYZ Company or ABC Source when we get around to publishing a story in our print edition--that's the `real' version anyhow."

Having been in newsrooms for most of my career, this insensitive illogic is galling. It fails to consider the impact that Internet content has on an individual or organizational reputation. The Internet is forever and everywhere. Print is limited, both in collective memory and geographic scope.

Compounding that sin, some draw extra attention to these “stories” with yellow, sensationalistic headlines that take highly questionable assertions and portray them as fact.

And then there's the recent element of using social media to draw online eyeballs to breaking stories. This is terrific...except when it puts the spotlight on pieces that are woefully under-reported and unfair in their treatment of one side of an issue or another.

The moment that journalistically slipshod content appears online, the damage has already been done. As previously mentioned, the Internet is forever and everywhere.

In the long run, I am confident, such reckless behavior will hasten the demise of shoddy journalists and half-baked news outlets that are little more than cut-and-paste hacks. Those in the community to whom such outlets render this brand of disservice will simply shift their trust--and advertising and circulation dollars--to those that treat information, especially those relating to volatile, one-sided claims, with care.

But what to do in the meantime? When those situations crop up, it is essential for advocates, such as PR professionals, to move quickly and forcefully in demanding ethical accountability and professionalism from the offending media outlet.

It surely doesn't reverse the damage, but at least it slows the bleeding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Writing On `State of the Chicago Hotel Market'

It's been awhile since I wrote about hotels.

I've written about events at hotels, provided feature reporting for Time magazine on boutique hotels--and even went into one hotel room, right after a police officer, to report on a young man who had fallen to his death from a ledge.

But it wasn't until 10 days ago that I wrote about the hotel industry as a whole. It came in the form of a summary report of "The State of the Chicago Hotel Market and Its Reflection of Economic Conditions," at an Urban Land Institute meeting.

The speakers I chronicled offered a good news/bad news report--with the good news coming only after some immediate-term bad news the industry is grappling with.

Fittingly enough, the session was at a swanky hotel known as theWit in downtown Chicago. Previous ULI summaries I've done are linked from a prior Inside Edge PR blog post.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sharing Client's Tennis Success a Team Effort

Last week, on the heels of some significant success among girl's tennis players who have been coached for years at Five Seasons Family Sports Club, I wrote a round-up and shared it with the local media.

Along with the news release ("Five Seasons Sends Top Frosh Crop to IHSA Tennis Tournament"), which you can see at, I created a photo gallery to provide online visitors another way into the story.

That's Alysa Straub in the photo accompanying this post--she's had a spectacular season at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

Often, the difference between little or no publicity and solid P.R. is cooperation from clients. This outreach, for example, came about thanks to excellent collaboration with Ernesto Faisal, a longtime coach who provided me with the background information for the story.

In all, he invested over an hour of his time to help make it happen. Over the coming weeks and months, I firmly believe the time that he devoted will reap a solid return in the form of increased awareness of, and enrollment in, the stellar tennis coaching that goes on daily at Five Seasons.