Monday, December 27, 2010

Resist Tunnel Vision About Your Value, Heed Market Feedback & Turn Failure into Success

In today's rapidly shifting strategic marketing and public relations landscape, being willing to change is only one part of the equation.

You've also got to be continually alert to those ways in which you must embrace change--or invite extinction.

That truth comes to mind as 2010 draws to a close and I reflect on what was happening in my professional life five years ago.

In the January 2006 issue of North Shore magazine, I bought an advertisement for Your Front Page. It was part of my big promotional push for a personalized writing service that until that point had been a fun sidelight to my journalism career.

I hoped the ad would trigger a deluge of business from folks in places like Winnetka, Northbrook and communities all throughout the Chicago area who wanted a distinctive way to commemmorate birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other celebrations.

Alas, the placement sparked a grand total of one phone call. And here's the kicker: it was from a salesperson hoping I'd buy an ad from his publication.

The "Your Front Page" ad
in North Shore magazine
I realize that with advertising, repetition is vital, so I don't in any way fault the magazine (which has recently been assimilated into the burgeoning Make It Better empire). Besides, I made other grassroots marketing efforts to get the service off the ground.

Despite my grand ambitions, Your Front Page has attracted a mere three clients in the past five years. And while enthusiastic responses to the pieces have been gratifying, it's obvious that on a commercial level, my blueprint of how I'd shift from journalism has been a resounding flop.

Fortunately, I wasn't hung up on the exact nature of my value to the marketplace. As a result, YFP's failure has opened the door to the success of what has become Inside Edge PR.

Like a quarterback who spots a coming blitz and calls an audible at the line of scrimmage, I have been open to market feedback and carved a niche as a Chicago-area publicist who uses a journalistic sensibility to help small- and medium-sized companies and organizations.

Over the next five years, where will it all lead? Will I continue along this path of helping mostly Chicago-area businesses connect with, and expand, their market?
Maybe--though I wouldn't bet on it coming via some orderly trajectory. New wrinkles continually emerge: over the past few years, for example, Inside Edge PR has jumped feet-first into the use of videos for PR as well as developing a strong social media presence for clients.

Through it all, one thing is for certain: nobody, least of all me, can afford to stay stuck in any preconceptions about how they can best serve the marketplace.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'It's A Wonderful Life' Flashback: My Chicago Trib Story on Karolyn Grimes, aka ZuZu Bailey

Karolyn Grimes, as a 6-year-old
ZuZu, in Jimmy Stewart's arms
A P.S. here to my post last week about Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest and It's A Wonderful Life.

Exactly four years ago, to the day, I had the privilege of writing a story for the Chicago Tribune about Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played ZuZu more than 60 years earlier.

At the time, I was charmed by the entire experience. How cute, I thought, as people young and old lined up for a chance to meet this woman who had played ZuZu so many years earlier.
A recent photo of Grimes

Of course, I had only seen bits and pieces of the movie at that point, so I didn't really get what all the fuss was about.

In fact, I passed up the opportunity to see the film on the big screen--I was too focused on getting in front of my computer and filing my story. How fortunate to have gotten another chance, this time with my family, earlier this month at the Lake Theater in Oak Park.

One last note: in my recent reading, I was pleased to see that Karolyn remains on the It's A Wonderful Life circuit, appearing again this past weekend at Hollywood Blvd. Cinema in Woodridge.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rahm Emanuel Residency Brouhaha is Latest in Chicago Area's Storied `Silly Season' History

Rahm Emanuel, (occasional) Chicago resident
The residency flap over Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel is just a variation on the "Silly Season" theme in Chicago-area politics.

Six years ago, one of the central characters in the Emanuel controversy, Burt Odelson, was in the midst of a scrum in Cicero that I covered for the Chicago Tribune.

Here is one of the all-too-many stories that I reported in the 2005 Cicero election cycle.

Intriguingly, Larry Dominick was the only person who was not knocked off the ballot in that Silly Season cycle for Cicero. He went on to topple, by a slim margin and to the shock of political observers, Ramiro Gonzalez in the election.

One thing I learned in covering all the technical tussling: the only ones guaranteed to be winners are the attorneys who rack up large hourly billings and, often, the losers are citizens who don't get legitimate challengers to elect since they are bullied off the ballot.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a Wonderful PR Opportunity: Oak Park Bank Wins Our Hearts, Then Business, With Screening

The triumphant scene from
 It's A Wonderful Life
Last Saturday, It's A Wonderful Life played at the Lake Theater in downtown Oak Park.

Sponsored by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, which is situated directly across the street from the elegant theater, it was a free screening.

It also made for brilliant PR.

Call us sentimental saps, but my wife, Bridgett, and I were deeply moved by the classic film. (We were also shocked to discover that it was the first time either one of us had seen it from start to finish.)

In recent months, we've been mulling the idea of moving our money from JP Morgan Chase (or "Chase" for short) to Community Bank. Our resolve would only increase when, every time we went in with a question, Chase personnel would use the opportunity to try to sell us products we don't need, rather than simply provide fast, attentive customer service.

Located just down the street from Community Bank, Chase is the latest in a series of titanic institutions occupying the northeast corner of Lake and Marion streets in the heart of Oak Park.

For the past 15 years, we had gone along for the ride, whether the sign on the door read First Chicago or Bank One or Chase. We tolerated little "mistakes" such as the time, just in the last year, when Bridgett noticed the bank had more than halved the interest rate on our savings account.


Makes you wonder how many other accounts got shorted--and if miscues involving a too-high interest rate ever befall Chase.

Our decision to flee Chase has been made easier by Chase itself. Beyond the prior clumsy efforts to sell, rather than serve, us, an employee two weeks ago linked our debit card to a just-closed account. Three phone calls later, including one on a Sunday to a customer service rep, Bridgett cleaned up that mess.

All of which brings us to this past Saturday afternoon. Moments after we emerged from the Lake Theater, red-eyed from our tears that flowed throughout the movie, Bridgett deposited a check at Community Bank. It was on behalf of an association of which she is treasurer, and we chuckled about wanting to move, that very day, our personal funds there, too.

On Monday, on the heels of It's a Wonderful Life, we began the transition. The movie, including Community Bank's civic-minded role in its screening, has doubtlessly hastened our pace.

To be fair, I am sure that Chase has many wonderful, caring professionals. I wish the bank great success. But, at least in Oak Park, it has a ways to go in seizing opportunities to genuinely nurture relationships and engender trust.

Community Bank, on the other hand, seems to really get it. At a time when monolithic banks, and their greedy, tight-fisted ways, are high atop the list of citizens' Reasons to Get Angry, it's especially powerful to associate your company with a story whose central message teems with community, integrity and love.

Of course, you've got to be able to back it all up with action. The ball--and our money--is now in Community Bank's court.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cross-Marketing Makes Good Business Sense; But Have You Alerted Prospects To the Details?

Have you created cross-marketing opportunities for your enterprise?

And if so, have you told your customers, and prospects, about this great way to drive traffic in both directions? If not, or if are limiting your exposure (such as telling only those who walk into your business), then you are severely, and needlessly, diminishing your marketing message.

Below you can see a brief video recounting what one Inside Edge PR client, Allstate of Oak Park, has done with a next-door business, the historic and regionally renowned Petersen's Ice Cream shop on Chicago Avenue.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Go Beyond `Testimonial Providers Anonymous': Put Names & Faces With Your Rave Reviews

Would you trust this man's testimonial?
Whether you're a widget salesmen or a world-class motivational speaker, testimonials are central to your persuasive story-telling endeavors.

Alas, some otherwise-credible individuals and organizations haven't taken the time to gather such testimonials (or "success stories" or "endorsements"--whatever term fits into your vocabulary).

Only slightly better are those instances when an organization handles the testimonials as an extension of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

If you're plotting a clandestine drug deal or attending a 12-Step Testimonial Providers Anonymous (TPA) meeting, referring to somebody only by their initials or as "Matt B.", if you are feeling a bit bolder, may make some sense.

(By the way, don't bother Googling that "TPA" organizatione. I just made it up--to make this point: in business, these cloak-and-dagger, veiled references come across as sketchy and needlessly secretive.)

Why reduce a raving fan into a camera-shy type?

And settling for TPA-style sources means barely skimming the surface of the potential good these third-party edifications could do for the person or organization you're seeking to promote.

What follows, then, is the Inside Edge PR checklist for collecting a testimonial:

1. Receive a signed media release form in which the individual agrees to have his/her story shared through various modes of communication at no compensation.

This first step should be no problem if people are genuinely fired up about the great service they've received. In my experience working on scores of testimonials across a variety of industries, collecting willing and eager testimonials has never posed a problem.

2. Do everything in your power to obtain or create testimonials in a variety of forms:

-A video of the individual sharing his or her story about the good that you and/or your product or service provided.

-At least one photograph of the testimonial provider.

-Additional photographs that would help tell the story (such as before-and-after images of someone who has lost weight or photos of a house that has received significant upgrades).

-A written narrative that tells the individual's story in a compelling, newsworthy manner.

And don't settle for a meager two-line quote--go for a rich, nuanced story that conveys a powerful story. Out of that story, you can excerpt a quote or two on an as-needed basis.

3. Armed with these key elements, re-purpose the content across many platforms and toward a variety of audiences that are in your target market.

For examples of testimonials, you can check out some videos on the Inside Edge PR video channel.

About three years ago, when Inside Edge PR took testimonials well beyond the Witness Protection Program level, it spurred on positive coverage in The Daily Southtown for Chicago Women's Health, an obstretrics/gynecology practice.

You can see that particular written testimonial on the Chicago Women's Health website, along with a few others.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Storymix Media Gives Nod to Inside Edge PR For Focus on Creating Video Testimonials For Clients

Inside Edge PR received a nice mention from Ariane Fisher of Storymix Media recently on the Chicago firm's blog.

You can see the ditty, which emphasizes the importance of video testimonials in helping attracting customers, at the My Photo Video blog.

Inside Edge PR is "at the forefront of establishing a video presence for the clients they represent," Fisher wrote. As I emphasize with all my clients, it's one thing to establish a video presence and it's quite another to develop it on a more sophisticated level.

That's where Storymix Media comes into play. The company takes raw footage and elevates the final product through its editing, graphical and other technological know-how.

This post wouldn't seem complete without a video testimonial, so below you can find one that Tricia Miller of Serenity Acupuncture graciously provided about a year ago. You can see more at the Inside Edge PR channel.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Inside Edge on Assignment With ULI Chicago: Emerging Trends in Real Estate for 2011

A black cat puts the hex on the Cubbies.
Will the Chicago Cubs ever win another World Series? Who was the genius who decided that there should be a “p” in “raspberry”? And just what are the emerging trends in real estate for 2011?

While I can’t answer the first two questions with any level of confidence, I can at least point you in one direction on the last of those queries.

For the third year in a row, I recently had the opportunity to write the summary of the Urban Land Institute’s Chicago District Council panel discussion on the upcoming year’s emerging trends.

There were a few hundred people in the Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom, so odds are you weren’t able to be on hand. That’s OK, you can still read the Emerging Trends summary here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Social Media Backlash is Natural: Steps You Can Take Without Having it Take Over Your Life

Anyone else notice an increased level of backlash against social media in general and Facebook specifically?

Yesterday, it was Garry Meier of WGN Radio, who wasn't so much as trashing it as he was questioning how and why it fits into our media-saturated lives.

This is all a natural (and recurring) response to anything that takes an increasingly prominent place (some might say "invades") in our lives. And it's especially prone to happen when we didn't really see it coming--it just sort of happened incrementally.

We've all heard (or are) the stories of people who scoffed at Facebook, checked it out once to see what the fuss was all about...and got hooked within minutes.

Whether you are born again in social media or a social media sourpuss, the below slideshow, which I first created in March 2009, may be a helpful reminder of the simple step-by-step process that you can take in this realm--without having it take over your life.

(Note: this presentation was geared toward an Oak Park, Ill. audience, so the "Pope" you see with the red ticket is David Pope, our village president. A little inside joke there.)

One last thing: it's still lawful to become a fan of Inside Edge PR.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

`While You're Up' PR Like Ice Cream Clean-Up: How Can You Carve Up the Moment Some More?

Like old times: my dad carves up a half gallon of ice cream.
What do empty ice cream bowls and public relations have in common? In my experience, anyway, both revolve around what you might call a "While You're Up" philosophy.

First, a bit of family history will help set the scene. A fond, enduring memory of my dad was his penchant for corralling me or one of my siblings into bringing his empty bowl of ice cream (often coffee-flavored) from the living room into the kitchen.

This would come after he carved a half-gallon of ice cream with a big knife, into evenly distributed slices--a scene that we re-enacted, to my delight, in 2001 (see photo).

Starting in the 1980s, as one of us kids would rise to bring our own bowl to the dishwasher or sink, Dad would say, "While you're up, bring my bowl, too."

It was an eminently efficient directive. Other than the occasional backtracking of a few steps to retrieve his bowl, he really wasn't putting us to any extra work.

The same efficiency ought to come into play as you approach PR. What can you do to parlay what you've already done and create additional exposure?

An example from the past week: I wrote a biography on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty agent Monica Davidson Klinke. In short order, it was up on the BHG/Gloor Realty website.

So, "while it was up," to paraphrase Dad, it was then a simple matter of making some tweaks and turning it into a profile feature that is now posted on the Oak Park page of

Over time, Monica's bio at the BHG/Gloor Realty website will get plenty of visits. But in the short term, the Triblocal placement will do much more to heighten awareness of her, and the firm's, work.

I'd even be willing to bet a pint of ice cream on it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Getting the Word Out About George Hood's Latest Guinness World Record Achievement

A few weeks ago, I noted the Guinness World Record attempt by George Hood in spin cycling, in support of the Gunnar Hotchkin Memorial Fund.

In the spirit of follow-up--and George Hood is nothing if not the consummate example of persistent follow-up, here's a news release that Inside Edge PR produced in the aftermath of Hood's successful ride: "Two Much: George Hood Wraps Up Spin Cycling Marathon at 222 Hours, 22 Minutes, 22 Seconds.

Along with other volunteers' efforts, Inside Edge PR helped secure coverage for George's feat on WGN Radio (host Greg Jarrett), WBBM Radio (Mike Krauser), NBC 5, and a variety of local newspaper outlets.

Congratulations to George, whose record-setting rides (as well as a few that fell short) I've publicized for nearly four years. And kudos to the volunteer crew that played an integral role in his extraordinary effort.

Below is a video clip, shot by Devyn Bokos of Urban Tri Gear in Burr Ridge, that shows George cruising past the prior record of 200 hours:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finding the Media's Need and Filling It: Tips on Shining a PR Light Amid the Storms

A J.C. Restoration Large Loss Catastrophe Bus
 "Give the media what they need, and you will get what you want."

I've uttered that so many times to my clients that it's become a mantra.

What the media need: legitimate news.

What clients want: to get their name "out there" in the various media outlets.

So as storms have swept through the Midwest, including northern Illinois, do you work for, or represent, a company that has some logical tie-in to the meteorological repercussions that have flowed?

It's time to consider what your company does that might help the media tell the stories that will follow in the severe weather's wake.

For Inside Edge PR, anyway, it was time to share a message about the expertise of J.C. Restoration, a Rolling Meadows-based disaster restoration firm.

A vital piece of such a communication is to be clear on precisely how you can help the media tell stories that are relevant and helpful to their audiences.

This J.C. Restoration buggie reveals the core of the firm's expertise.

It isn't enough to simply say that ABC Firm is "available to comment."

With J.C. Restoration, then, I told producers, editors and reporters, "Among other facets related to the storms, J.C. Restoration has experts who can provide:

-guidance on how and when homeowners and businesses should file an insurance claim

-advice to business owners and homeowners on steps they can take to minimize further damage to their properties

-insight into the industry as a whole: What does a restoration contractor do? What certifications are involved? Where can consumers go to learn more and ensure they are dealing with a reputable business?

-work-related photos that augment your media coverage

-historical perspective on the storm, compared to previous storms’ impact

-on-site interviews (either at our job sites or at our state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot building just off I-90 in Rolling Meadows)

-demonstrations on restoration equipment and procedures"

In short, you want to give at least a partial blueprint of how the media should think about coverage. Certainly, you will be restating some angles that have already been developed. But in some instances, it's a safe bet that you will be shining a light on an approach they would not have otherwise pursued.

In the end, it would all be in a (very stormy) day's work of giving the media what they need.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Providing PR Support for Guinness World Record Bid, Hotchkin Family Fundraiser

Much afoot with Inside Edge PR, including a great cause that was oh-so-easy to get behind: raising awareness about an outreach to help the family of Gunnar Hotchkin, a Hinsdale native who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Starting on Saturday, Oct. 23, the indefatigable George Hood is aiming for another Guinness World Record and using the platform to raise money for the Hotchkins, as noted in this TribLocal piece.

If George's name looks familiar, it may be because I have blogged about him before, in addition to providing PR support, either officially or informally, for all five of his GWR bids on the spin bike.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How To Capitalize on Facebook Opening the Door on Personalizing Fan Page Suggestions

Until recently, Facebook had a glaring oversight when it came to Fan Pages: if you wanted to suggest a Fan Page to someone, you were unable to include a personalized note.

But about two weeks ago, there came a welcome change. Now you can jot a note with that suggestion. So the question you may have is should I include a note?

Absolutely--and it ought to go beyond the obvious "Hey, I think you'd like to be a Fan of XYZ Cause or ABC Organization or LMN Business."

Communicate in terms of what's in it for the individual to whom you are making the suggestion. Tell him or her why they should become a Fan.

Here are excerpts from a notes that I sent to friends last week:

"...I am helping with the Facebook Fan Page for BHG/Gloor and giving away $10 gift cards weekly when folks submit song names with real estate related titles (such as "Our House" or "Homeward Bound" etc.). Come play!"

"...I am helping promote Five Seasons Burr Ridge's Facebook Fan Page. Our Fans win prizes, get helpful fitness tips and keep posted on other related news. Come join us!"

"...I am helping with the Facebook Fan Page for McAdam Landscaping. To our Fans, we award gift cards, provide helpful gardening/landscaping tips and generally add value to their FB experience. Want to come join us?"

If you are tempted to get long-winded, you'll soon find Facebook limits the number of words you can write. So you'll have to keep your message succinct, which is as it should be, anyhow.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

ULI Assignment: J.C. Nichols Prize Luncheon Honoring Chicago Mayor Richard Daley

A few days ago, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was named the 2010 laureate for the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

Through my ongoing writing engagements for the ULI's Chicago District, I had the privilege of being at the Art Institute of Chicago to chronicle the event.

In addition to gathering brief remarks on video from about a dozen prominent business and civic leaders, I wrote this summary that appears on ULI Chicago's website.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Delightful Dilemma: Scrambling To Keep Pace With Fast-Growing J.C. Restoration

It's a blast working with a company that is clearly on the grow, as is the case with one of Inside Edge PR's newer clients, J.C. Restoration. Among other developments, the company recently hosted Continuing Education courses at its 102,000-square-foot facility in Rolling Meadows.

And company president Warner Cruz is developing this uncanny habit of winning awards left and right. In May, he was named Small Business Person of the Year in Illinois, leading to coverage in publications such as Hoy (click on the image below).
The latest is the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Chicago Latino Network.

The flurry of positivity creates a wonderful dilemma, as one of my biggest challenges is prioritizing the company's growing list of accomplishments and outreaches. For instance, when shooting and posting video, do we want to put it first on J.C. Restoration's Facebook Fan Page or do we upload it to the J.C. Restoration YouTube channel?

The answer, of course, is to post the good news in as many spots as possible.

Like Hansel & Gretel, publicists need to keep alert to any way we can drop our marketing bread crumbs for folks to find along their day-to-day paths.

And you may not need to know much about the company know, but if your building is damaged by floor, fire or some other calamity, you're going to want to know more how to reach J.C. Restoration,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Creative Win-Wins To Generate Traffic, Inspire Community on Your Facebook Fan Page

Developing and growing Facebook Fan pages is a contact sport.

If you run a business or organization, have you driven a stake in the Facebook ground yet? And if so, what are you doing to give your fan base a reason to keep coming back--and to suggest your page to those in their spheres of influence?

Develop creative ways to spur on interaction with your peeps--and to explore ways to create win-wins with fellow (non-competing) businesses.

Here's one effort that Inside Edge PR has under way, the Halloween Decoration Declaration contest at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty's Facebook Fan page
The contest will reward three people, including one with a $100 gift certificate at Maya Del Sol, a popular Oak Park restaurant. In addition, the goal is to grow BHG/Gloor Realty's presence on Facebook and throughout the community. can visit (and become a Fan of) the Inside Edge PR Fan page here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Humor + Humanity in Communication Paves The Way to a Great First Impression

I really am trying to write shorter blog posts--I preach it all the time and you are more likely to read this entire ditty if I stopped right after this sentence.

But I promise this one is worth the extra effort you'll require to dig in here. In fact, extra effort--just a modest amount, mind you--is at the heart of this missive.

Think about your day-to-day journey. You know, the one that can often be filled with so much drudgery and sameness? Honestly, don't you crave a little humanity--and more than a little humor--to come across your path as often as possible?

What if you were to offer those precious commodities, especially at unexpected moments and in unexpected places, to those whose path you cross?

Folks would rave about you. You'd generate the right kind of buzz. And, according to a recent survey, you would be 87 percent more likely to become a millionaire.

OK, so I made up that last one. Just trying to practice what I'm preaching and inject some humor into your life.

These ruminations flow after a decidedly pleasant encounter I had today with the Terms of Service for a new outfit called Yes, you read that right: terms of service--that dry legalese that hardly anyone ever even looks at, let alone reads (at least, that's how I operate).

For months, I've been hearing rumblings of Patch and noticing veteran journalists, including at least one former editor of mine, have jumped aboard with the company.

But it was only today that I dug a little deeper. (Here's the link for the Oak Park, Illinois patch, if this is all news to you.)

Because I plan to post stories and other content on behalf of various Inside Edge PR clients in the future, I decided that I really ought to click on the link for Patch's terms of service.

I was treated to a living, breathing narrative that communicated all the required points (read: legalese), but it did so in a way that was a downright delight.

Some excerpts:

"We ask that you read these Terms of Use carefully before registering or using the Service. If you do not accept these Terms of Use, we promise not to get mad. But in that case, you may not use the Service."

"You are responsible for the security of your password and will be solely liable for any use or unauthorized use under such password. Therefore, if you share a computer with others, don’t allow your Internet browser to automatically save your password. Also, don’t write your password on a Post-It note and leave it on your desk for all to see."

Later, after spelling out some of the no-nos that will get your butt kicked off of Patch, there was this simple summation:

Instead of trying to memorize all that, you might boil it down to three main policies: “Keep it clean,” “Don’t try to trick people,” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Easy, right?"

By the end of it all (and by now you shouldn't be shocked to learn that I read to the end), my regard for the company had skyrocketed. Bear in mind, I know little more than what I've already described, and this halo effect has already taken root.

How would you like your customers, clients, audience base, fans, whomever, to begin with that kind of overwhelmingly positive impression?

That's the power of effective--human, humorous, real--communication.

So what are you doing--in your e-mails, in your voicemails, in any interaction that you're having with others--to do that little something to bring a smile to someone's face?

Do people dread or look forward to hearing, or reading, from you again? The answer lies at least partly in whether you take the extra effort that, in's case, inspired me to give them this rousing shout-out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teeming With BHG/Gloor Realty Promos, Activity

For the second straight year, Inside Edge PR client Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty is holding a clothing drive.

(The photo here is from last year's initiative, which led to more than 2,000 items being donated.)

This year, the effort launches on Oct. 17 and has been expanded to include toys. If you're looking to do some fall cleaning--and clearing-out--of articles that remain in good condition, we would appreciate your consideration.

Also, I've recently upped activity on the BHG/Gloor Realty Facebook fan page, including a weekly feature dubbed "Tuneful Tuesdays."

The lifeblood of any Facebook Fan page is interaction and engagement with those fans, and so we've offered a modest incentive (a $10 gift certificate to Erik's Deli, a longtime Oak Park restaurant) to spur on suggestions for future songs with real estate-related names in their titles.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The River Forest Citizen Corps Wants YOU

Last week, I had the honor of writing and distributing a news release on behalf of my friend, Jim Flanagan.

It bears the headline, "River Forest Citizen Corps Seeks to Educate, Enlist Volunteers for Emergency Preparedness" and can be found here at

Over the past year or so, Jim has led a group of volunteers who have poured their time and energy into bracing for times of crisis. Special heads-up for those of you who reside in River Forest, there are two meetings later this month (Sept. 23 and Sept. 25) that will provide more details.

On a separate note, to learn a bit about how Jim serves those approaching or in retirement, through Bentron Financial Group, there is also a recent post about a free seminar that Jim is presenting on Oct. 2 in Lisle.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PR Icing on the Cake For Tom & Eddie's Debut

A great, busy week wrapping up for Inside Edge PR, with much of it revolving around Tom & Eddie's hugely successful Grand Opening on Friday at the Shops on Butterfield at Yorktown Center in Lombard.

For a PR sampling, simply type "Good Taste Guard" into Google and see what pops up first.

As of this moment, it's this news release on an unorthodox step that Tom & Eddie's took to secure an extraordinary "cheeseburger cake" created by La Petite Sweet of Westmont in conjunction with the Grand Opening.

You can also see learn more about the making of the cake in this Q & A that I conducted with La Petite Sweet's Diane Eenigenburg during Tom & Eddie's VIP Party. (That's me, in the photo below, standing on Friday in front of Tom & Eddie's.)

Clearly, not your run-of-the-mill restaurant debut.
Of course, it's all for naught if the food isn't any good.

Fortunately, what is plainly evident is that the food is fantastic, from a positive review by the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel to rave remarks on Tom & Eddie's Facebook Fan Page.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Growing A Facebook Family With Tom & Eddie's

One of Inside Edge PR's favorite clients, Tom & Eddie's, is ramping up quickly toward its Grand Opening at the Yorktown Mall in Lombard, Ill. on Friday.

The past few weeks, in a complementary role to the outstanding lead work provided by Ginny Richardson Public Relations, one of my primary responsibilities has been posting content and providing updates to the restaurant's Facebook Fan Page.

An especially fun subplot the past few days has been spurring on comments via contests offering tickets to the Sneak Peek & Eats "soft opening" that began Monday and ends on Wednesday.

For example, in tonight's contest, we ask Fans to share another Tom & Eddie combination (other than Tom Dentice & Ed Rensi, the restaurant's co-founders, pictured below with business columnist and media personality Terry Savage).

Over the last three hours, from "Tom Brokaw and Eddie Van Halen" to "Tommy Tutone and Eddie Albert," there have been more than 15 responses. Meanwhile, the Facebook Fan base grows daily by more than a dozen individuals.

By the way, Sneak Peek & Eats is much more than fostering good will by providing free meals.

Akin to Major League pitchers and catchers being the first to report for Spring Training, it's a time for the entire restaurant team to begin working out some kinks and get ready for the public opening.

In much the same way, generating a lively, ongoing conversation on Facebook is not some frivolous exercise. Rather, it's an effective way to build community even as you are responsive to the views of those who choose to join that community.

When individuals feel that their voices are being heard, respected--and rewarded, on occasion--then they are much more likely to suggest their friends join in as well, and to talk favorably about a given brand or business in their day-to-day travels and interactions.

One last note: did you know you could win a weekly free burger meal for life when you come to Tom & Eddie's during its Grand Opening on Friday? And this prize isn't too shabby, either: a free weekly burger meal for a year--80 individuals will get that reward.

Check out this GR-PR news release for those and many other details.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home Insulation Tips Expand Comfort Zone

One of the cool things about working with a variety of clients is that it stretches me well beyond my comfort zone. Really, a more apt word than "comfort" might be "familiarity": it's not so much that I'm initially uncomfortable with a given industry, or topic within that industry, as I am largely clueless about it.

In the process of being thrust beyond my comfort, or familiarity, zone, I gradually expand what is comfortable, or familiar, to me.

A recent case in point: talking with Scott Grafft (pictured) of EnergyMen to gather enough raw material to write a news release about home insulation, on behalf of EnergyMen, the company that Scott and Gary Quateman operate.

The Chicago-based firm personifies its work as "Home Comfort Heroes" as EnergyMen helps homeowners transform their abodes into energy-efficient shape.

I am not handy around the house--I have trouble locating the toolbox, let alone figuring out why my wife is asking me to grab a wrench that some guy named Allen apparently left behind years ago.

But in time, through working with EnergyMen, I am confident that I'll at least be able to start talking a good house game. You can see the news release, "Home Insulation: 3 Keys to Energy Efficiency," at

Oh, and one last thing: Allen, if you're out there somewhere, drop me a line and we'll figure out a way to get this wrench back into your hands.

Friday, August 13, 2010

When's The Best Time To Send a News Release?

If it's Friday, then that must mean it's time to squeeze in that media outreach campaign before reporters, editors, producers and other news-disseminating decision-makers take their weekend break.


Generally speaking--and unless it's such an urgent matter that your piece of news positively, absolutely must get out pronto--you are better off holding off until the following Monday or Tuesday.

Why is that? For the answer, just click on my Tip of the Inside Edge video clip below.

For more from my video archive, click on the Inside Edge PR channel.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Partnering With J.C. Restoration & EnergyMen

It's been exceedingly hectic at Inside Edge PR the last month, so today's ditty will consist of a brief mention of two firms that have recently retained Inside Edge PR.

(Come to think of it, their addition has been a significant reason for the rapid pace of work.)

One is Rolling Meadows-based J.C. Restoration and the other is EnergyMen, with Chicago headquarters and clientele throughout the region.

More details of each firm in the time to come.

Meantime, check out this Warner Cruz profile, about J.C. Restoration's president being named Small Business Person of the Year for Illinois, and 2nd Runner-Up nationally.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not Shy About Sharing My Parenting Column

Over the first three years of my twin children's lives, I blogged extensively for the Chicago Parent website.

One of those pieces related the rationale for my antipathy toward the potentially harmful (and often inaccurate) characterization of children as "shy." It was published recently as the "Family Guy" column in Broward Family Life, a parenting publication in Florida.

Editors aptly fashioned this headline: "Sticks and Stones: Words That Wound Are Not Always the Obvious Ones."

Broward Family Life also published a Father's Day tribute that I wrote about my dad in May 2008.

I realize the image of the page on which my recent column appears (above) is as decipherable as hyeroglyphics. If you want to read the piece, you can click here and scroll to page 39.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Entrepreneur Features My Blagojevich PR Stunt

Nearly a week after closing arguments in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial, the jury is still out on whether he is bound for the slammer, a reality TV show, or somewhere in between.

But, at least, has weighed in with a verdict on a Blago-inspired PR stunt that Inside Edge PR concocted for a hair salon client, Charo's Hair Design and Day Spa of Elmwood Park, Ill.

The stunt, chronicled previously in this blog, came on the heels of Blago's arrest some 20 months ago.

In a piece that appeared online Tuesday, freelance writer Geoff Williams deemed the stunt to be a flop, though he did note some up-side as well. He also covered nine other PR stunts and teased out lessons from each, making it relevant material for anyone in the public relations and marketing fields.

I really don't mind the "flop" characterization.

As Williams rightly notes, "Blagojevich didn't take the salon up on the offer; he likely didn't see much of an upside to accepting. A smattering of local outlets reported on the gimmick, but the stunt went nowhere."

On the positive side, Williams wrote, "It's good practice to invent marketing stunts that won't cost you much if they don't go anywhere. Baron doesn't think Charo got a lot of business from the stunt, but she didn't lose any time or money, either. Try to avoid a marketing stunt that, if it fails, could cost you a lot of time and money that you can't afford to lose."

And here in August 2010, the hairy hijinks did get some more national publicity, with links to both the Inside Edge PR website and that of Charo's Hair Design.

How fortuitous, too, that it comes at a time when Blago is very much on the collective public's mind. Who knows? Maybe he will still take up Charo on her offer, which is good through January 2011.

If so, you can be sure that I'll appeal to to alter its "flop" verdict.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Honoring Pat Liss, Five Seasons' PR Tipster

Frequently, I write about new arrivals in an organization. But another satisfying part of my work is to honor excellent individuals upon their exit.

Such was the case earlier this week with Pat Liss, concierge extraordinaire at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge for the first 9 1/2 years of the club's existence. Her last day was July 23.

For more than a few reasons, I will miss Pat and her welcoming, warm personality as I entered, roamed around and exited the club during my visits to the site. From a purely PR standpoint, here's one of the reasons: she tipped me off to numerous outstanding story ideas in the 3 1/2 years that I have provided public relations support for the Five Seasons clubs in Burr Ridge and Northbrook.

Pat was the one who sparked my media outreach about Five Seasons member Rick Rodrigues when, as a 55-year-old grandfather, he deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Spurred on by my news release, a media blitz ensued: the Chicago Sun-Times' Andrew Herrmann wrote a front-page story on Rick, TV stations profiled him, and national outlets also pursued his story.

All of that buzz--and the positive glow that cascaded on Five Seasons, whose training staff was preparing Rich physically for the rigors ahead--can be traced back to Pat.

Her insatiable curiosity about what is happening in others' lives and her others-focused desire to put the spotlight on them also happen to be powerfully effective PR traits.

So I was pleased to be able to turn the lens squarely on Pat last week, at her retirement celebration. You can see a TribLocal photo gallery of the event, which also links to the full release that I wrote.

In addition, Pioneer Press has picked up on the story.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Merging Content Opens Story-Telling Avenues

When Dr. Richard Powell sees a new patient in pain, he can empathize perfectly: that was how he first encountered the world of chiropractic.

So starts a recent Inside Edge PR news release on behalf of Dr. Richard Powell of HealthSource of Elmhurst.

The rest of the release, headlined "His Pain Leads To Others’ Gain: Elmhurst Chiropractor Marks 25 Years of Helping Patients," blends a biography that I developed about Dr. Powell as well as excerpts from testimonials that I wrote about two of his patients.

The outreach reflects the power of re-purposing individual story-telling elements--regardless of industry--into a new piece targeted to a different audience.

Here, Dr. Powell's bio and the two patients' stories are geared mostly toward an internal audience, such as existing and new patients. When combined and edited, however, they can speak to an external audience, such as local media outlets.

You can read the entire news release at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tom & Eddie's in Crain's Chicago Business

On the front page of Crain's Chicago Business this week is this feature story on an exciting new upscale burger restaurant called Tom & Eddie's.

Since April, Inside Edge PR has had the good fortune of working on behalf of Tom & Eddie's, which opens at The Shops on Butterfield at the Yorktown Mall in August.

Here's a link to a prior blog post about Tom & Eddie's as well as the initial news release announcing the restaurant, as posted at

Crain's also produced this video telling Tom & Eddie's story.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How `Why' Injects Life Into News Releases

We've all heard the expression of "raining cats and dogs."

In the arena of news releases, however, there is an all-too-common experience that I'll dub "yawning cats and dogs." That's an expression for the lifeless, bland collections of words that do a disservice to the word "news."

This came to mind a few weeks ago, when a college friend asked for advice on creating a news release for an upcoming art exhibit featuring his work. At my request, he sent me a release that he used a few years ago.

Reviewing it in a few minutes was enough for me to see that it was like so many other so-called news releases--written without any creativity, imagination or sense of story-telling.

If you are looking to develop as a publicist, or in any way as someone seeking to attract attention from the media and your target audience, I hope you find the response to my friend (below) helpful.

"What you sent is a very common style of release. What, who, when, where. What it lacks is “why”. And that’s the heart of great story-telling.

Why do you paint? Why did you paint the pieces that are on exhibit in July? Why should people care? Why is it different from others in your genre?

Here are some questions I’d ask you, to elicit a story that the media would gravitate to more often:

What your earliest memories of painting? As a 1st grader? When was it, and what parallels between then and now? What’s different?

What other hats have you worn in life—professionally and personally, and how do those roles play a part in your art?

Who are your biggest influences—in life, in your art?

What are the adjectives that you would ascribe to your work? What have others said? Where are you headed with your art? What do you want to spark in those who view your art?

Tell me about a recent piece that you finished and that will be part of your show in July--what was the journey you took with it? What inspired you to do it? How did it change as you created it? How did YOU change as a result of having created it?

The key is to have a story that weaves in the facts of your show, but it does not make the show “the thing.”

You, and your journey and your impact on those around you via your art—that is the real thing. The show is simply a vehicle to tell the broader story."

Looking for more guidance and inspiration?

At Inside Edge, you can find plenty of samples of news releses that I've written.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Public Service, Pics Drive Five Seasons' Outreach

Remarkable athletes, accomplished coaches, fund-raising programs and family-friendly activities.

Since 2007, those broadly stated categories have formed the bulk of stories that I've shared as publicist for the two Five Seasons Family Sports Clubs in the Chicago area (Burr Ridge and Northbrook).

But last week represented a new opportunity to raise awareness about the Burr Ridge site at 6901 S. Madison, as Five Seasons hosted water rescue training for the Tri-State Fire Protection District. At, you can see the news release, which went to a variety of other local media outlets as well.

In light of photographs' supremely vital role in drawing attention, I also created a photo gallery.

Something to keep in mind when posting photos: it's not enough to simply slap up a bunch of images. The more descriptive captions you can offer--such as the names of individuals in the photos--the more likely the media will use the photos in other formats, such as the old-fashioned print version.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

No Topic Too Far Afield For This Sports Nut

My first piece of journalism, 26 years ago last week, was about Chris Lapriore, a high school tennis star in my hometown of Marshfield, Mass.

For most of my first half-dozen years as a reporter, the bulk of my work was sportswriting. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, track and field, golf...if it involved some element of physical competition, there was a good chance I covered it.

But over the last 20 years, my opportunities to write about sports have come in fits and starts. Along the way, I created an inflation index for home runs, wrote a stats column for Sports Illustrated for Kids, and reported on sports icons like Tiger Woods and LeBron James.

Still, the sports-related work has been largely bumped off my plate. So if there's an occasion to weave in an athletic reference, I jump all over it. Such was the case three weeks ago, when I tied in the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup triumph with my summary of a NAIOP-Chicago meeting ("The Rumors Are True, Capital is Back").

I didn't waste any time, either, referring to the hockey franchise's great win in the very first paragraph.

I look forward to my next gratuitous sports tie-in, especially if it has to do with a certain Bay State team winning its third World Series in the past six years.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On the PR Trail With `Road to Remember'

Five years ago, toward the end of my time as a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune, I wrote a feature on Marc DeLise, then a police sergeant with the Oak Brook Police who was raising awareness and money for Kids In Need and the Illinois Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Since then, Marc's retired from the force, but he's hardly the retiring type. He's now in the midst of walking 900 miles from Chicago to New York in a fundraiser dubbed Road to Remember. (That's him, above, during his law-enforcement career and below in Chicago, on the first day of his walk last week.)

The mission is to raise funds for children of police officers, firefighters and military personnel who perished in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As it turns out, Marc is a longstanding member of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge, where I have been the publicist since 2007 and where Marc prepared in anticipation of his cross-country walk.

So it was a pleasure--and a bit of deja vu--this past week to develop a news release in support of the Road to Remember cause, including a tie-in to Five Seasons.

You can see the release here at TribLocal and check out a photo gallery as well.

Want to track Marc's progress? Visit Facebook and type "Road To Remember" into the search box.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

DivorceIllinois: Fiscal Guidance in Tough Times

Divorce is a prevalent fact of life. So, too, is financial fall-out from marital break-ups.

DivorceIllinois, a new client of Inside Edge PR, is working to minimize the latter even if it can't do anything about the former.

A professional association comprised of divorce financial specialists, DivorceIllinois was formed exactly 10 years ago, in June 2000.

The organization came about in response to individuals seeing clients who had been poorly served during the divorce process and had been thrust irrevocably into difficult straits.

Today, I began media outreach in the Chicago area with a news release on some findings from a recent survey of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA).

You can read the piece, which includes insights from DivorceIllinois President Peggy Tracy (pictured, at left), at Survey: Recession Keeps More Struggling Marriages Together.

“Divorce has far-reaching implications—often more so than any other life event or decision,” Tracy says. “It’s crucial that people invest the time and resources to ensure their rights are protected and their financial future is looked after by a knowledgeable and ethical advocate.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Latest Guest Spot on `Smart Behaviors'

Last week, I was a pleased to be a guest on Joe Takash's Smart Behaviors Radio Show. You can listen to the broadcast online here.

I came on after the featured guest, Cheryl Cran, a little over 30 minutes into the program. Joe asked me to discuss the principles of PAVE, which I created about eight years ago and have provided the framework for some of my seminar work:

P Practice active silence--be a sincere audience
A Ask engaging questions--find out what makes people tick
V Value all people--everyone has a story to share
E Expand your comfort zone--you'll be amazed by what you learn

In April, I was also on Joe's outstanding program, which airs on the VoiceAmerica Business Channel. I wrote about my experience at that time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Put Time on Your Side, Give Media Notice

If you are opening the doors to your new business on a Thursday, it's a good idea to spread word of it to the media by Wednesday.

Of course, by Wednesday, I mean the one that falls on the calendar at least four weeks before your Grand Opening. Such advance notice gives the media enough reaction time to pencil your enterprise into its coverage plans.

And depending on the specifics and scope of your business, allowing for even more breathing room (such as two months or more) could provide opportunity for multiple pieces of coverage that build your target market's anticipation of your product or service to a crescendo.

A recent case in point: outreach that I began last week on behalf of Tom & Eddie's, a new better-burger restaurant opening in August at The Shops on Butterfield at Yorktown Mall in Lombard.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Share the Spotlight, Spread Your Success

Last Thursday, I had the good fortune of attending Joe Takash's talk, "The Values that Drive Opportunity," at Via Bella in Countryside.

The event was part of raising more than $3,500 for a program of the Greater LaGrange YMCA. You can read more about the presentation here at (That's Joe in the photo, standing on the left, with LaGrange Business Association President Ryan Williamson.)

One of the outstanding elements of Joe's approach was how he repeatedly illustrated the success principles he talked about by turning the spotlight on members of the audience.

Like a quarterback who gives generous praise to the linemen who protect him, Joe provided a great reminder that life--and success we achieve in it--is very much a team sport.

When's the last time you cheered on someone else who has helped you get to wherever you are? Make it a habit, and chances are you'll go farther, faster--and have still more reason to express your gratitude.