Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sign of the times....

The Boston Globe ran a report this morning about one of the technology industries major publishing houses ceasing the printing of the print version of PC Magazine. We've all heard and read about declining subscriptions, circulations and advertising dollars, but this news really hit home.

When I began my career in technology PR, PC Magazine was considered a top-tier industry trade publication. To get an interview or meeting for your client, you literally had to pray, beg, borrow or steal since every company dreamed of having their product or service written up in the pages of the PC Magazine bible. While the content and incredibly savvy writing will simply move from print to online, this news really does speak to shift in multiple industries--including PR.

PR pros, now more than ever, need to familiarize themselves with online editorial (and the lack of journalistic 'rules', social media, citizen journalism and the blogosphere. Getting your client on the front page of the Wall Street Journal is lovely--but only if someone reads it. Nowadays, getting your client launched via, or the like, is a valuable accomplishment.

Delivery of news has also changed how we absorb information. Alerts to your phone, Blackberry or Treo or your RSS feeds seem more the norm than a read-through of the daily paper. Local newspapers have returned to their roots--focusing on just that--local news. A major shift is now afoot in media publishing, new media, and the value of a print-based outlet. Keep your eyes open since there is definitely more 'shake out' to come.

(From the Boston Globe;
PC Magazine will switch to online-only operation
Ad revenue is falling fast, publisher says

By Stephanie Clifford
New York Times News Service / November 20, 2008

Ziff Davis Media said yesterday that it was ending print publication of its 27-year-old flagship PC Magazine and would make the title online-only. It is the latest of several magazine publishers to drop a print edition as advertising revenue plummets and the cost of printing a paper version rises.

"The viability for us to continue to publish in print just isn't there anymore," Jason Young, chief executive of Ziff Davis, said.

However, while most magazines make most of their money from print advertising, PC Magazine derives most of its profits from its website. More than 80 percent of the profit and about 70 percent of the revenue come from the digital business, Young said, and all of the writers and editors have been counted as part of the digital budget for two years.

The change will not require much of an adjustment, because the focus has been on getting stories to the Web first, said Lance Ulanoff, editor of the PCMag Digital Network, which is what and its accompanying websites were renamed yesterday. "All content goes online first, and print has been cherry-picking for some time what it wants for the print edition," he said.

Circulation at PC Magazine had been declining since the late 1990s, when it hit a peak of 1.2 million. This year, the magazine's rate base was 600,000.Young said that while the print magazine would be profitable in 2008, he had forecast that it would lose money in 2009. The final print edition will be the January issue.

Seven production, circulation, and advertising employees will be cut as a result of the move, out of a total of about 140 who work on PC Magazine and Young said the company was considering making its other print magazine, the video-game publication Electronic Gaming Monthly, into an online-only format, but would not decide before the end of the year.
Other publishers have also moved publications online-only.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently announced it would go online-only beginning in January. "We're trying to deal with the cost pressures," said Jonas Siegel, the Bulletin's editor.
The Boston-based Christian Science Monitor said in October that it would cease printing its paper weekday edition and appear online only; also in October, Hearst Corp. closed CosmoGirl but kept its website.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Signing Time--They do PR well!

It seemed appropriate for me to take a moment to highlight the good work of a company based in Salt Lake City, UT called Signing Time ( The predominantly family owned and run operation was founded to create stimulating, unique and fun items to teach sign language to infants, toddlers and school-aged children. In the last year, the company has truly embraced the various forms of PR/Marketing available to engage multiple audiences--including YouTube video, blogging and social media networking. In preparation for the company's launch of its new Baby Signing Time series 3&4, the company even organized a contest among its constituency of bloggers--an impressive idea for a small business. As such, it made sense to give kudos to Communications Manager Lindsey Blau, who runs herself ragged alongside company founders, to insure that messages are in sync, opportunities are not missed, and all levels of media, engaged. Congratulations to the crew at Signing Time on the release of your next Baby Signing Time iterations. I've also linked Lindsey's personal blog in my "Cool Links of Note." Nicely done Lindsey!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 of my startup clients makes their public debut! Introduces Phone Message Manager

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- DROP THAT STICKY NOTE! In an
effort to free desktops and workspaces of stacks of phone message slips,
random pieces of scrap paper, and layers of sticky notes stuck to one's
computer monitor, today introduces the phone message

Unlike an online contact manager geared towards sales professionals, is the only secure, Web 2.0 portal designed to aid in the
organization of phone calls and messages for anyone that relies on
telephone communication.

Making and receiving telephone calls are a necessary part of a work
day. Amazingly, calls and messages are still managed using phone message
pads, spiral notebooks and sticky notes, upon which call information or
important details extracted from a voicemail message are handwritten by
administrative or personal assistants, business colleagues, or us. Phone
message slips can quickly pile up and efforts to make four phone calls can
easily result in four voicemails (voicemail tag). Mental checks of calls
made, messages left, and calls that still need to be returned swim in our
heads alongside ever- expanding professional and personal to-do lists--
making the management of daily 'phone work' a tedious, inefficient and
disorganized process. In a day of technological innovation, a paradigm
shift away from the handwritten phone message is afoot with the
introduction of the online phone message pad.

With no complicated set up, no large manual to review, and no software
to install, is a tool designed to alleviate multiple
telephone challenges by providing amateur and savvy computer users alike a
web-based method of managing, sorting and storing phone messages. Once
entered into the spreadsheet-style application, calls and messages are
displayed as a color- coded overview -- allowing immediate identification
and sorting of calls that need to be made, calls that have already been
made, and new messages received. Anyone that relies on telephone
communication can leverage's 'virtual phone message pad'
which securely stores contact information and archives phone
messages-resulting in a personal, online phonebook for each user that is
accessible anytime and anywhere in the world where Internet access is

" solved the problem of always trying to find my phone
call note sheet and allowed me to keep track of my calls anywhere I might
be working," said Jim Gabriel, director of Michigan-based St. Hugo of the
Hills. "I've been recommending it to everyone."

Why Voicemail Isn't a Failsafe Solution
When known or expected callers leave a message in our voicemail box,
response is easy as many of us submit phone numbers to memory or program
them directly into our landline or wireless phone. Yet, should a message be
left by an unknown or unexpected caller, we're left reaching for a pen and
piece of paper to draft a handwritten and ultimately disposable message.
From a point of innovation using voicemail, we return to an antiquated
method of managing our messages. To maintain progress towards innovation, augments voicemail by digitizing phone messages,
streamlining message management, and eliminating wasted paper-a nod to the

Phone Message Manager Can Become an Assistant's Most Used Application

Many businesses today employ administrative professionals or personal
assistants charged with scripting and maintaining a daily inventory of
phone messages for one or multiple team members. insures
that messages taken are in one location rather than scattered across
cluttered desktops or pasted amid swarms of sticky notes atop hidden
computer monitors. The US Department of Labor and the International
Association of Administrative Professionals report that in 2006, 4.2
million administrative assistants and secretaries were employed. This
figure is expected to grow an additional 362,000 by 2016. Administrative
professionals are not being replaced by technology or voicemail. Rather,
technology which aids these professionals and those they support becomes
more relevant.

"After struggling to keep track of more than 80 calls a day, I went in
search of an application to help me organize calls and messages," said Jan
Zands, founder of "Sadly, no available software or phone
message service fit my needs. There seemed to be a hole, and
now fills it."

Professionals in finance, broadcast media, real estate and business
consulting, through synagogues and small business owners, use "The business of being a broker in a top Dallas commercial
real estate firm requires an extraordinary amount of focus and
communication with a large clientele," said Collin Curtis of Harvard
Companies, Inc. "When making hundreds of calls a week,
becomes an invaluable tool."

The service is immediately available for US $15/month or
$160/year. A free 30-day trial and online tutorial are available at

About is the premier online phone message manager. Through its
secure Web 2.0-based portal, users can track phone calls, messages and call
history in real-time when at their desktop or when working remotely. simplifies the management of phone calls and messages and
helps to eliminate stacks of phone message slips and sticky notes stuck to
one's computer monitor. The company, based in Los Angeles, was founded by
an entertainment industry veteran seeking an easier way to manage a high
volume of phone work. More information and a free trial of the service can
be found at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Strategic political PR or just dumb luck?

(Photo by Getty Images/BBC)

Was the appointment of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (AK) a smart move on the part of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, or just a fantastic publicity stunt?
Interestingly, since the news made public McCain's selection of Palin, the most talked-about fodder of the Governor of Alaska hasn't been her track record, or even much about her political bent. In fact, the main focus has been on her as a working mother--to five children--the youngest of which has Down syndrome.
For members of the special needs community (of which I am a proud one), this is a coup! Individuals with special needs of all types comprise a sizable portion of our population and while strides have been made to reverse social stigmas and stereotypes, many still exist.
Palin is also a wife and working mother. Is she a perfect surrogate to Hillary's past profile, or not quite woman enough to fill those shoes?
Regardless of your politics, McCain and his team did something right. They selected a female politician, mother, and parent to a child with special needs. All of those tied together create an incredibly powerful media package for any journalist worth their salt. The potential articles that could be drafted from those components alone seem limitless. Add on her actual stance on abortion and the gun law (she's pro-life and a member of the NRA) and wow, it's fireworks set to explode!
While Obama's text messaging campaign was wrought with foibles and earned his office little more than negative publicity, McCain has started to fire with guns a blazing. From the PR perspective, Palin's appointment will assure the McCain camp a nearly endless opportunity to pitch the Republican party and its campaign for the White House.
It'll be interesting to see if McCain's appointment was strategic or simply lucky, and whether or not it will work for or against him. I remain in waiting on the sidelines like all other Americans to see what will happen next.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Favre's back??!!

Although I'm not a Packers fan, I just couldn't resist reading the headlines today discussing Brett Favre's planned return from his recent retirement from football. WHAT???

Once a press conference is held and a public decree of retirement is made, how can any player with respect for his teammates, the sport, his fans, the media or himself possibly come out of retirement? Any sports figure (past and present) regardless of their level of greatness that comes out of retirement displays a huge amount of disrespect. I feel absolutely sorry for the Packers club now--especially since they offered Favre a multi-million dollar marketing deal with the team and he declined it. Again, I repeat, what?

I'm not sure how his agent 'Bus' is forging ahead alongside his client, but this situation has nightmare written all over it. For the sake of the fans, the media, the current, non-retired players, coaches and executives, it is a no-brainer for Favre to stay retired and to find a new direction for his incredible, field-level knowledge of football. Instead of trying to reinstate himself into the NFL, maybe he could use his knowledge to develop a new type of pigskin that allows QBs to grip the ball better in cold weather, or write a book on 'The most persuasive plays of all time?' This type of situation oozes a loss of credibility. I feel sorry for the media forced, by their job position and title, to cover Favre again after he seemingly (and so gracefully) made an appropriate exit. Are there so few good QB's in the NFL that he felt he needed to return to the sport?

My guess is that the PR pros within the Packers club are right now meeting with executives to figure out how to spin the situation. They are prepping to quickly type up a press statement, organizing yet another press conference and hoping that a deal can be arranged. Or, is this just a ruse to create some pre-season press not focused on the New England Patriots QB, Tom Brady?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HARO Power....

An amazing service, developed by uber-PR-guy, author, entrepreneur, skydiver, runner and George Michael-fan Peter Shankman, HARO (Help-A-Reporter-Out) has recently achieved more than 15,000 users (fans) this past month. For a combination PR professional/journalist, which I am, this service couldn't be more beneficial. It helps journalists locate sources (even when on deadline) and PR folk (professionals or just small business owners) can leverage HARO to gain buzz-building power for themselves or their clients. The catch? There isn't one! The service is free and somehow, amid a flurry of grueling marathons, skydives, interviews, cat-parenting and of course, work, Shankman is able to email queries three times a day. Check it out--or better yet--'Help A Reporter Out!'

Monday, July 14, 2008

A standard rant...

As a journalist AND PR person, it can be challenging to determine on which side of the fence to sit when it is obvious that subscriptions and ratings are what drives news, rather than when news drives news. Case in point--this past week. I was privy to the fact that a major, national conference was being held in Boston. Yet, the top news of the day (literally, the lead stories)--instead of even a one minute or less snippet about the conference--was about an individual who scooped the 'face of Jesus' out of a bucket of ice cream and a dog that rides on the back of a motorcycle! Now, I'm just as engaged by celebrity news and gossip as the next person, so the current Madonna-Alex 'A-Rod' Rodrigues tidbits and Brangelina twinderful reports keep me riveted as it does most others. Yet, when a worthy, local, newsworthy event gets absolutely no play from the media and lame, tabloid and absolutely worthless pieces gain lead story definitely makes me wonder. Can public relations be effective in an era where goofball tips to a TV station rank higher than relevant local news? The PR person in me thinks the media is getting less professional every second, but the journalist in me realizes that without subscriptions sold or ratings secured, our jobs would be all but eliminated. The quandry......

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Organic children's clothes....

Environmentally-responsible or 'green' companies have been emerging more aggressively in the last few years. While shopping for a handful of items at Costco this afternoon, I stumbled across the most adorable childrens clothing like called Agabang--made completely of 100% organic cotton. The outfits were adorable, so I snatched up several for my sons and daughter and can't wait to put them on them. Interestingly, their website is a bit outdated--like almost a year. For a clothing manufacturer, that is forever, so I'm wondering what happened to this brand, and why the fall-off on a consumer web site?

As a PR person, my suggestion to Agabang in today's highly, socially-networked environment is:

* Keep your web site fresh and ever-changing. This encourages regular visits from your loyal and faithful legions of followers who always want the newest, hippest items and updates.

* Let the drumbeats roll--meaning keep the news cycle filled with interesting updates about new products/collections/lines and interesting philanthropies the company may be involved with--because everyone wants to know!

* Never ever let your website become too outdated--especially if you have a consumer brand. Hire a web guru to do minor updates at least once a month--it doesn't cost too much.

* Consider contributing to a blog or better yet, start one all on your own!

So alas, I'm off to wash and fold my new kids' attire, but will definitely drop the company a note to thank them for some really snazzy outfits for my kids, first.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome back....

For those that drop by this site, you should know that I've been on maternity leave after giving birth to twin boys. That adventure in itself was a wild ride, and opened the door to a new community I'd never even known about--the world of multiples!

As I headed back to my office after eight months of "nothing-but-baby," I found myself wondering if I had the wherewithal to return to the world of PR with the same level of zest I had prior to my birthing departure. My answer came quickly as I dropped onto LinkedIn to check in with my connections and investigate emerging groups of interest. Of course I'm excited to be back in the world of PR! I remain a newshound and cannot get enough local and national news--always finding the 'spun' story amid the straight WYSIWYG pieces.

When studying journalism and PR back in college, I learned, 'if it bleeds, it leads.' A sad state of affairs for news media, but nonethess, an adage that remains true. Front page stories, lead radio and TV pieces all have an element of glitz and tragedy tied together. As a journalist and a PR person, I find the balance fairly unique -- and often practice pitching stories that have said marriage in the hope that it'll get a solid placement!

But, with each keystroke or word uttered, I return to the image of my kids and hope for their sake, that my job will become more than just story placement. I hope one day have a list of clients that aren't just 'cool,' but ones with a mission to improve our world through things like sustainability, green, organic and anything that will reduce the price of gas!!! I may not obtain that client list overnight, but will make it a mission to do so.

I'm inspired by mompreneurs in a way I never imagined I would be. I look at non-profits as a vehicle for continued pro bono work since all of them are worthy of volunteer support. Simply stated, I hope to use the skills I learned in school to accomplish a mission of somehow leveraging my client list to make the world a better place. Each day I go into my office will prove if I have what it takes to keep doing this job, or if it is time to bow out gracefully and head home to play with my three little ones.