Friday, August 22, 2008

KCRiverFest Promotional Video 2008

A successful event produced by our firm, EventPros. Check it out!

This great July 4th event returns next year. For sponsorship opportunities, contact us here.

Friday Sauce: Public Relations in the News

Beep, Beep, Who Knows the Veep?

Just a quick note that the Obama campaign is adding a nice twist to the quadrennial dance that every presidential nominee plays with the media. Though most conventional wisdom points to Biden, it could well be a head fake. But that's for another blog to discuss.

No matter who he chooses, it's a clever idea on Obama's part to use text messaging and email to make the announcement; thus reinforcing to what most polling indicates is his base: younger, tech savvy voters. Despite some hoaxes, it has also generated some nice PR for him outside the usual stuff we get every four years when it's veep announcement time. We should know sometime today or tomorrow. Have you signed up for the text message? Like Obama or not, it makes you part of history when that text message notice beeps, for whatever that's worth. Next week we'll look at what McCain is doing to build buzz for his Veep pick.

UPDATE: It's Biden.

No Sauce, Just News: A couple of notable bits from PRWeek:

MSNBC conducting media outreach for Digital Cafe

MSNBC's internal PR staff is conducting a media outreach and brand awareness campaign for the network's Rockefeller Center Digital Café.

The cable network, a partnership between NBC Universal and Microsoft, will target consumer tourism publications through the end of the year. The company, which has headquarters above the café, also reached out to advertising and marketing trade media.

MSNBC conducted two events, one for members of the media and another for New York concierges, who often direct tourists to landmarks, prior to the café's July 28 opening, said Gina Stikes, MSNBC director of marketing.

The effort also contained an employee-outreach component, as the network's communications staff, which is not working with an outside agency on behalf of MSNBC, used internal e-mail messages, newsletters, and merchandise to promote the coffee shop to colleagues, Stikes said.

Brands represented in the Digital Cafe, like Chock Full O'Nuts and Garrett Popcorn Shops, also conducted media relations for the effort in partnership with MSNBC PR team, she added.

Clark Nessrodt, VP at Bullfrog & Baum, which is AOR for New York and national press for Garrett, said it hopes to raise awareness for the Chicago-based brand in other markets.

Military to select firm for 'info ops' initiative in Iraq

The US military expects to hire a firm to provide “information operations” support in Iraq to counter insurgent misinformation tactics. The bids were due on Friday, August 22.

Army public affairs officer Paul Boyce said the reason for the RFP is primarily the military's need to counter misinformation spread by hostile parties. Stopping rumors is a particular need for the Army, but finding out about those rumors is difficult if the language and culture of the area of operations is not well understood.

“We've had an insurgent population that has sought to kill our soldiers,” Boyce said. “By communicating with people in Iraq in as many ways possible what we're trying to do to help them, and what we're trying to do to prevent people from using these ruthless roadside bombs that blow up people in streets, in schools and mosques, we find that a very important thing.”

Work for the account involves a wide range of communications activities, including monitoring and analyzing Arabic and Western media; spokesperson training; and development and dissemination of TV, radio, newsprint, and Internet “information” products, according to the RFP, originally issued by the Department of the Army's Joint Contracting Command in late July.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

KCRiverFest 2008 Success Nets Three-Year Commitment for EventPros

Just tooting our own horn a bit...--Editor

(KANSAS CITY)—Production management of the next three KCRiverFests has been awarded to EventPros, a leading Kansas City event planning, production and communications firm.

“As producers of KCRiverFest 2008, EventPros cut costs, negotiated contracts with vendors and initiated a very successful media plan. They worked with Friends of the River –Kansas City to successfully reinvigorate the festival—putting it on a firm footing to continue for years to come.” said Chris Gutierrez, KCRiverFest Chairman. “We are very excited about the prospect of working with EventPros to make each succeeding KCRiverFest bigger and better.”

“EventPros is honored to accept this unprecedented offer from Friends of the River,” said Bill Svoboda and John Short, owners of EventPros. “It’s gratifying that our work has been embraced by this great organization. We are very proud to be their partner in making KCRiverFest not only the Fourth of July destination of choice, but ultimately the premier annual festival in Kansas City.”

This year’s KCRiverfest attracted more than 35,000 visitors July 3 and 4 to Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park. It featured local bands, entertainers, food and a variety of exhibit booths. The festival culminated in an 18-minute high altitude fireworks display broadcast live by presenting sponsor KCTV 5. More information is available at Information about next year’s event will be added to the site soon.

“Under the direction of Festival Chairman Chris Gutierrez, the EventPros team is already developing some exciting ideas that will make 2009’s Fourth of July more memorable for the entire community,” Svoboda added. “The Port Authority of Kansas City has made Berkley Park into a fantastic community resource, and KCRiverFest is a great way to show it off. The sky’s the limit for our next festival.”

Founded in 2001, EventPros, Inc. specializes in all facets of event planning and production of any size and budget, including large-scale community festivals. The firm recently introduced extensive public relations, marketing and communications consulting services tailored for midsized to small businesses and organizations. EventPros also performs functions for events, conferences and parties including theme development, food and beverage design, transportation and tours, talent sourcing and on-site event management. Visit or call 816.960.3400 for more information.

Worth A Look...Emmy Winning Reporter Jeff Crilley's PR Tips

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Good Advice for Online Networking

Do you use LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook or any of the myriad online social networking sites out there? Here's some advice on doing it right. Hat tip to HairPro at the very impressive Kansas City Online Community for pointing out Rebecca Beasley's good tips on social networking.

Here's an excerpt:

If you try to use social networks by just signing up and sending bulletins and emails to people, you’re missing the point entirely. If you don’t have a profile that’s the first thing people notice. You’ve already ruined your credibility and made yourself look like a scammer. Anyone who doesn’t take the time to at least set up a simple bio page has nothing to present. Even if you add friends, what are they going to see? No one wants to do business with someone they don’t know. To them you’re like a stranger lurking in the shadows with no real identity. You also want to have a nice picture of yourself so they will see it when your activity comes up in the search engine of the site. If you don’t have a picture people see you as the default no pic blank photo and this makes you look like you’re not professional or trustworthy.

The whole posting is here. Give it a click.

The Sauce

Good face-to-face networking in the Kansas City area may be found at the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours. Click here for details on the next one!

And if you need assistance in making your social networking site sing, let me know.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are Cafeteria-Style PR Firms The Next Big Thing?

The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area reports that a “cafeteria-style public relations franchise is opening its first store this fall.”

The outfit will “cater to small- and medium-sized businesses, offering a "menu" of public relations, marketing and advertising services on an à la carte basis, rather than charging a retainer fee.”

The Sauce
“Coming soon to an abandoned Starbucks location near you—the PR Store!”

I kid, I kid. Well, mostly.

I have no quarrel with their business model, though I have two qualms:

1. The website for the company shows that the “PR Store” mostly offers marketing services; it’s very light on actual Public Relations services. This blurring of the lines between professions is not good and continues to erode the public view of what “public relations” is. I mean, honestly, why don’t they call it “The Marketing Store”?

2. Even if the company truly marketed professional public relations services, I just plain hate the less-than-clever moniker of “PR Store.” Ugh…just when I thought there could be nothing as cheesy as “The Money Store.” It brings to mind an image of clients pushing a rickety shopping cart through aisles marked “Press Releases” “Brochure Design” and “Web Content.”

Actually, our firm offers à la carte services, too. In fact, much of our clientele fits that demo. Clearly the market need is there—especially for small-to-mid-sized companies and organizations. The article said that the company has “about 40 stores in 19 states. PR Store expects to open 350 more within the next five years." I believe it.

Lew G. Brown, associate professor of marketing at the Bryan School of Business at UNC-Greensboro, said in the article that “PR Store is the only retail marketing shop in the Triad of which he knows. The target market of small businesses are often the ones who need help in PR and marketing.”

"They may not know what they need, and if they do they often can't afford it," said Brown, who has worked as a marketing consultant. "It's a tough market, but clearly there is a need."

I couldn’t agree more. My aversion isn’t to the concept of helping small businesses with affordable services. It’s the blurring of the lines between marketing and PR. Add in the crass “store” theme and voila, the cheapening of the profession continues. It’s simply a matter of style and concern about its effects on the already-embattled public relations profession.

Contact me today to learn of ways our firm can help your business, organization or cause: a’ la carte or full service. I promise we won’t give you a squeaky-wheeled cart.

The Best Béarnaise Sauce

Okay, I know that some of you may have tripped over this site by accident looking for the best Béarnaise Sauce recipe ever; so I consulted my colleague John Short over at EventPros. Here's his favorite. Enjoy!

Béarnaise Sauce

1 lb 4 oz butter 1/8 tsp peppercorns, crushed 1/8 tsp salt 3 Tbsp tarragon vinegar 2 Tbsp cold water 6 egg yolks 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon cayenne pepperlemon juice

Clarify the butter. Keep it warm but not hot.
Combine the peppercorns, salt, and vinegar in a saucepan. Reduce until dry.
Remove from the heat and add the cold water. Transfer the diluted reduction to a stainless steel bowl.
Add the egg yolks and beat well.
Hold the bowl over a hot-water bath and beat the yolks until they are thickened and creamy. Do not overcook them or they will curdle.
Remove the bowl from the heat. Using a ladle, slowly and gradually beat in the warm, clarified butter, adding it drop by drop at first. If it becomes too thick to beat before all the butter is added, beat in a little of the tarragon vinegar.
When all the butter has been added, beat in lemon juice to taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and cayenne. If necessary, thin the sauce with a few drops of warm water.

For Hollandaise Sauce delete tarragon and tarragon vinegar - replace each with lemon juice
For Mousseline Sauce fold 1 cup whipped cream into basic Hollandaise Sauce

Other variations:
Substitute each for tarragon/tarragon vinegar – Paloise Sauce (fresh mint); Maltaise Sauce (orange juice with orange zest); Mikado Sauce (tangerine juice with tangerine zest); Choron Sauce (1/2 cup diced Roma Tomatoes).

Be creative!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sprint Through Taking It On the Chin? A Look at A New Tactic

Embattled telecom giant Sprint is apparently through taking it on the chin.

You've seen the Alltel spots that take humorous cheap shots at their competitors ("Wizard!"), but Verizon has stepped it up a notch, going after Sprint's push-to-talk service

In a recent pitch to tech bloggers, the Overland Park, KS-based company used a little humor to jab at Verizon's latest attempt to chip away at Sprint's customer base.

The cartoon (above), takes a bite out of the iconic Verizon "can you hear me now?" character, implying that the emperor (Verizon) has no clothes when it comes to push-to-talk. Sprint talking points were included with the cartoon, including this critical fact:

Sprint has more than 15 years of expertise and is the undisputed leader in push to talk services. Our competitor has just launched their “new” service and has less than 4 years of total experience in offering push to talk.

Sprint ends on this note:

How does that old saying go? “The greatest form of flattery is imitation.” Well, that’s what our competitor is doing with their new service. However, when it comes to push-to-talk, there is no imitating Nextel Direct Connect. Nice try; maybe they’ll get the hang of it . . . someday.

The Sauce:

We give this tactic an A- for creativity and execution. Going after niche tech sites is a smart move, one that every business or organization--large or small--should seriously consider as part of their public awareness and image management efforts. It has a lot going for it in concept, but it shouldn't be a one-time thing. Sprint needs to keep this sort of guerilla tactic in its overall PR/Media mix.

I (and others who have commented on the cartoon and concept) think it would be cool to make the cartoon concept into a commercial starring a familiar face; perhaps bring back the Sprint "Trenchcoat Guy," who in his heyday was as well-known as the mousy Verizon character. (Some may disagree.) Or maybe put a fun spin on it and put new Sprint CEO Dan Hesse in the trenchcoat?

Sprint has also been impressive and smart with its use of new CEO Hesse in recent "Wireless Revolution" spots. They've taken a faceless "Big Corporation" with a poor customer service reputation and given it an amiable, solid "go-to guy" who even puts his email address out there so you can contact him. We're reasonably sure he's not answering every email, but it's good public relations all the same.

Sprint still has light years to go in the quest for regaining its market share and the glory days of its brand; but clever tactics like this are a smart move.

Think this tactic is only useful for big companies? Au contraire, mon frère. This is actually a tactic that benefits smaller companies most. Why? Reason one is because they are generally more agile and can respond to market forces and public relations buzz more quickly.

Let's hear your comments on this--post them below. Also, contact us for ways we can help your business use humor tactics to raise awareness and boost market share.

Disclosure: The writer of this post is a Sprint stockholder and is directly related to a Sprint employee.