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.