Extreme Experience: “A Four-Star PR Generalist”

· From incinerators to symphonies: Different clients, same skills.

· Sample assignments.

· Experience at other PR Firms.

· Public speaking, radio-TV broadcasting, education.

· Beyond PR

From incinerators to symphonies:
Different clients, same skills

During a single month in the early years of my firm, my assignments ranged from on-site case-history research in a remote area of Alaska for an innovative, client-designed municipal waste-to-energy incinerator to a Boston publicity tour for a record company’s first recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Sound crazy? Not to me.

It’s how I was raised in the PR agency business.

My clients have been high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech. It all boils down to the same PR skill set, the same journalistic and promotional instincts, the same professional approach.

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Sample assignments

  • Designed and began implementing a major-market publicity campaign to promote a client that designs, manufactures and sells innovative, high-tech coin-operated amusements, achieving publicity in media ranging from trade publications and local newspapers to the Los Angeles Times and CBS News.
  • Publicized the relocation and reopening of an internationally famous Chicago restaurant, resulting in radio, TV, newspaper, magazine coverage in Chicago media and national publications, including a front-page news item in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Publicized the opening of a nonprofit museum’s new library, garnering local and national publicity for the facility and its principal benefactors.
  • Publicized all the regular concert series and special performances of Chicago’s flagship chamber music organization and its resident string quartet. Results included the organization’s first-ever write-ups in the Wall Street Journal’s “Leisure and Arts” sections, a story on the ABC-TV affiliate’s early evening news show, and a feature segment on Chicago public television’s weekly arts magazine.
  • Counseled the CEO of a large, industrial products manufacturer regarding the highly sensitive announcement of his company’s acquisition by another holding company. Wrote and distributed letters reassuring the company’s independent sales agents and a news release that generated helpful, non-sensational coverage in all key trade magazines and in newspapers in the company’s headquarters city and branch-plant location. (This was a highly confidential project, kept secret from the company’s regular advertising/PR agency. The assignment came by referral from one of my existing clients.)
  • Staged a New York press luncheon to introduce a record company client’s new opera recording. This, combined with associated PR work for the recording, resulted in stories in the New York Times, Washington Post (which also profiled the label and its founder), Billboard, and other music magazines. (Note: Since opening my PR firm, I have handled national publicity for a dozen classical and jazz record labels and a line of audio books.)
  • Conceived, researched, placed, and wrote trade and professional articles for a management consulting firm specializing in industrial-engineering, process-improvement projects for manufacturing and distribution operations. This included ghostwriting a large, client-bylined article on continuous flow manufacturing for Assembly magazine.
  • Wrote and distributed new-product news and product feature stories (how-to and “what’s new”) for a national manufacturer of home building and remodeling products that resulted in coverage in newspaper home design and real estate sections and consumer and trade magazines, yielding numerous requests for sales literature.
  • Handled all PR and advertising (trade publications, mailers, brochures, technical manual, trade show both messages) for the launch of a new East Coast company set up to distribute and install architectural building products from Europe. The campaign produced sales leads faster than the company could reply to them.

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Experience at Other PR Firms

  • Posner Public Relations, Inc. Midwest general manager. Launched and ran the one-man Chicago office of this New York-based firm during the office’s two years of existence. Played a starring role or major role on the following accounts:
    • R. G. Dynamics. National publicity for manufacturer of mainstream consumer audio and high-end “audiophile” components.
    • Flying Tiger Line. (International all-cargo airline later acquired by Federal Express). Publicized the introduction of direct cargo service to Minneapolis-Saint-Paul, Minn., and Miami, Fla., including planning and supervising all local special events, photography, public affairs, media relations, all PR writing and local media contact. Set up a Chicago press and civic luncheon to describe the airline’s noise-abatement program.
    • Purolator Courier. Publicized introduction of direct small-package air service to Laurel/Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
    • George F. Fuller Co. Handled reputation-management media relations program regarding this major commercial construction company’s reconstructing of a sports coliseum in the Northeast.
    • Hako-Werke. Announced this large, German industrial conglomerate’s acquisition of a suburban Chicago maintenance equipment manufacturer. Set up on-on-one interviews with the German company’s CEO in Chicago that resulted in a lead business story in Chicago Tribune.
    • Greyhound Lines, Inc. Played key role in grassroots media relations campaign in support of Capitol Hill lobbying efforts (ultimately successful) for federal deregulation of long-haul bus rates and routes. Briefed local editorial writers, editorial page editors, and transportation reporters in key states and Congressional districts and gave news interviews to local newspapers, radio, and television stations. My territories included Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. In Albuquerque, I appeared on a statewide noon TV newscast in an impromptu debate with the state utility commissioner. Also set up appearances on weekly TV and radio public affairs programs for a company spokesman.
  • Harshe-Rotman & Druck (now Ruder Finn Inc.). Account supervisor and account executive in the multi-office firm’s Chicago headquarters. Accounts on which I played a starring or major role included:
    • International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. (ITT). Award-winning “Grassroots” national corporate PR program, which consisted of staging and publicizing state-by-state business news and community relations events. I was the lead agency staffer for the programs in Alabama, Virginia; Tennessee and Arkansas; Montana and Wyoming; and Kansas; and played a supporting, media-relations role in Michigan, Maryland, and Indiana.
    • Skystream Airlines. Introduced this Midwest regional commuter airline’s inventive supply-and-demand discount fares, which I dubbed the “Fare Deal.” Fares decreased as the departure dates grew closer, until all seats were filled. Conducted news conferences in Detroit and South Bend, Ind. Landed a Wall Street Journal story and client was interviewed at length by the New York Times Midwest business correspondent.
    • Audio-Technica U.S. National publicity for consumer and professional audio products and accessories marketed by the U.S. subsidiary of a major Japanese consumer electronics company. Recording-session photos I took to promote the launch of a new product line ended up in Newsweek, Stereo Review, Audio, and Billboard magazines. The company also received front-page coverage in the Wall Street Journal as a result of a story I proposed to the Cleveland bureau.
    • Budget Rent a Car Corp. National publicity. Highlights included having proposed, researched, written, and publicized a “Driver’s Guide to Latin America” that brought in a large number of inquiries through publicity in newspaper travel sections and travel magazines.

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Public speaking, radio-TV broadcasting, education

  • Panelist at Public Relations Society of America/Chicago chapter forum on creativity in public relations.
  • A keynote speaker on public relations and export marketing at world trade conference for small businesses in Kansas City, Mo., and was the subject of a story in the Kansas City Star.
  • Prior to entering public relations, worked professionally on-air and behind the scenes in various radio and television newsrooms as a writer, reporter, announcer, and editorial assistant.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with master’s (MSJ) and bachelor’s (BSJ) degrees in editorial journalism, with a concentration in broadcast news.

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Beyond PR

Other media- and communications-related experience:

  • Writing and performing standup comedy professionally (i.e., for pay) in comedy clubs in Chicago and other Midwest cities.
  • Completing a year’s training in improvisational theater with the Second City organization.
  • Writing a spoof on employee incentive awards that was the subject of articles in Sales & Marketing Management and Incentive Marketing magazines.
  • Serving as Midwest correspondent for the trade magazine Jet Cargo News and a contributor to Screen, the magazine of Chicago film and television production.
  • Writing and selling travel destination articles (with photos), published under my own byline in Newsday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Chicago Sun-Times, and the travel magazine Home & Away.

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