Monday, November 24, 2008

KCRiverFest 2008 Named Finalist for Best International Festival

Kansas City’s EventPros Honored with Nomination
(KANSAS CITY)—KCRiverFest has been named a finalist for an international special event award.

The Special Events Magazine Advisory Board released the list of entries nominated to receive a Gala Award, the most prestigious prize in the special events industry. EventPros, Inc., a Kansas City special events and communications company, received the nomination for their work producing KCRiverFest, Kansas City’s annual Independence Day festival. EventPros produces KCRiverFest on behalf of Friends of the River—Kansas City.

"We had nearly 400 entries, a 20 percent increase over last year," says Special Events editor Lisa Hurley. "The competition was fierce." This year’s competition drew entries in 35 categories from Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Germany, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Nominated entries went through three rounds of judging. The Special Events Magazine Advisory Board will select the winners during The Special Event 2009 Conference, Jan. 27-30 in San Diego, Calif. The Gala Awards will handed out on Jan. 30 at a black-tie gala ceremony.

As finalists for the Best Fair/Festival, EventPros/KCRiverFest is in competition with events in Sacramento, California and Harrisburg, N.C. Last year’s winner in this category was Marketing and More of Munich, Germany for “Mini United 2007,” a three-day festival in Zandvoort, Netherlands.

“EventPros is the premier event planning company in Kansas City, and their nomination to receive a Gala Award from Special Events Magazine is a testament to the quality of their work,” said Chris Gutierrez, KCRiverFest chairperson. “KCRiverFest has become Kansas City’s Riverfront tradition and Friends of the River-KC is pleased to be working with EventPros on this event through 2011.”

The 2008 KCRiverFest was the first produced by EventPros. Shortly after the successful festival, EventPros accepted a three-year contract to produce the acclaimed festival.

“We are very excited and humbled to be a finalist for this international award. We see this not only as an honor for our work producing KCRiverFest, but as a strong indication of the quality and importance of this festival to our community. We are also gratified to bring international attention to this unique Kansas City event,” said John Short and Bill Svoboda, owners of EventPros.

“We’re very proud of our team, as well as the leaders and volunteers of Friends of the River,” Svoboda and Short added. “It’s an honor to work with them on this growing event, and look forward to making KCRiverFest 2009 an even bigger success.” The EventPros team producing KCRiverFest includes Lisa Holst and Alex Greenwood, along with a host of professional staff and volunteers.

Major sponsors for KCRiverFest included KCTV 5/myKSMO, the Port Authority of Kansas City, Isle of Capri Casino, Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund, EventPros, Inc., Time Warner Cable, Cumulus Radio, Urban Times Magazine, Radio Disney, Burns & McDonnell, Hertz, King Hershey Attorneys at Law, Clarkson Construction and BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas City.

For more information on The Special Event show, visit For more on the magazine, visit

Friends of the River-Kansas City (FOR-KC) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate the heritage and to promote the development of the Kansas City riverfront through education, community outreach, volunteer commitment and fundraising.

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 image management, marketing and communications consulting services. 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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Tone Deaf PR of the Big Three

ABC's Brian Ross and Joseph Rhee report that the Big Three automaker CEOs flew private jets to Washington, D.C. to plead for taxpayer-subsidized bailouts:

The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

All three CEOs - Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler - exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

"We want to continue the vital role we've played for Americans for the past 100 years, but we can't do it alone," Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee.

While Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport. It is just one of a fleet of luxury jets owned by GM that continues to ferry executives around the world despite the company's dire financial straits.

"This is a slap in the face of taxpayers," said Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste. "To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a hand out is outrageous."

Wagoner's private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.

After the hearing, Wagoner declined to answer questions about his travel.

Ford CEO Mulally's corporate jet is a perk included for both he and his wife as part of his employment contract along with a $28 million salary last year. Mulally actually lives in Seattle, not Detroit. The company jet takes him home and back on weekends.
"It appears that the senior management of the automakers simply don't get it," said Schatz.

The Sauce

"It appears that the senior management of the automakers simply don't get it," said Schatz.

It would seem so. It would also seem that their public relations advisors are either too "in the bubble" or too powerless to point this out to their bosses. This kind of tone deaf handling of a crisis situation could very well be a nail in their coffin when trying to shore up public support for a bailout. These guys apparently learned nothing from AIG, where executives of the bailed-out-by-taxpayers insurance behemoth met at swanky resorts.

Public relations professionals who are doing their jobs should be thinking "outside the bubble;" operating three steps ahead by analyzing how company actions will affect public opinion. This is especially true in a crisis period such as the one the automakers face. The PR professional should also have the nerve to tell the boss when he's about to make a very stupid move--even one that was unintentional.

I was once in this situation, and had the unenviable task of telling my boss, the CEO of a sizable firm, that he was making a mistake by doing XYZ. He responded very negatively, to which I replied, "Part of my job is to tell you the truth as I see it. The fact that you don't like the truth doesn't make it any less true."

Well, it did not end well for either of us. I didn't work there much longer (by my choice) and the company went out of business relatively quickly after my departure. Of course, the company didn't close because I left, but certainly some poor decisions affected the public image of the company-- and that certainly didn't help when other business woes struck.

Lesson: Stay out of the bubble!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The folks over at Bottom Line Communications first posted this gem a few years ago, and it bears repeating. As a former editor and reporter, I can tell you these "tips" are spot-on. My personal favorites are in bold.--Editor


A few years ago, we developed a tongue-in-cheek list of "16 Sure-Fire Ways to Impress the Media" based on feedback from media folks. Little did we know these tips would be reprinted in hundreds of publications and in the book "The Brand Management Checklist."

Here they are:

* Demand that reporters run your entire news release "as is" with no editing, including your pithy headline.

* Tell reporters that you have an "exclusive" story for them only. Then send it to all the other media outlets to also give them "exclusives."

* Let reporters know your story would make a good cover story. Unlike you, sometimes they just don't realize the importance of it.

* In an interview use the words "No Comment" as often as possible because reporters appreciate not having to write down so much stuff.

* Always demand to review the story ahead of time. That way you can make sure it comes out correctly.

* If you say something you wish you hadn't, quickly follow-up by saying "That was off-the-record." Don't bother to let them know when you are "on-the-record" again. Keep them guessing.

* Let the reporter know upfront that you consider all media people a bunch of liberal, pot-smoking bleeding hearts, but that you are graciously willing to let him/her a chance to handle your story. They will appreciate your honesty.

* Let reporters know you are well-connected to the editor/publisher/station manager. Tell them you hope you won't have to go over their heads!!

* Pretend you genuinely care about reporters' deadlines. Then ignore them.

* Constantly tell reporters that all information is "proprietary." This will eliminate a lot of needless facts in your story.

* Make sure to tell reporters you never read their newspaper or watch/listen to their station because they always get things wrong. Again, they appreciate honesty.

* After the interview is over make sure you contact the reporter hourly to determine the status of the story. Call more often if you really think the story is a good one.

* When the story runs, call the reporter and tell him/her to send you a copy/tape. They consider it part of their job to respond to your needs.

* Always let reporters know your company is a big advertiser and helps pay their salary. This is a great way to impress them and guarantee a great story.

* If you say something stupid, or if the story is negative, always claim you were misquoted or that they edited out your real remarks. Demand a retraction!!

* If a reporter does a good job and writes a great story, don't bother to thank him/her. That's why they make the big bucks. It's enough of a reward for them to have worked with a real media professional.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kansas City Scores PR Coup with GMA

From the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association:
Nov. 11, 2008

Good Morning America to spotlight Kansas City's holiday traditions

Thanks to a partnership between the KCCVA and Hallmark Cards, Kansas City will be one of three holiday windows featured in Good Morning America’s Times Square Studios in New York City. GMA selected Kansas City, Atlanta, and Denver for the ground level studio windows for the show's annual Holiday Window Series. The windows will bring viewers—and people who visit in person—a fun and festive look at holiday traditions in the various cities represented.

The KC window will be unveiled live on Dec. 3 to more than 4.3 million viewers nationwide, and will become a backdrop for the show until Dec. 31. The double-sided display will also be seen by the millions of people that pass through Times Square during the holidays.

"The national exposure from this opportunity will be priceless. And, we couldn't think of a better partner than Hallmark Cards to introduce KC to millions of potential visitors this holiday season," said KCCVA President Rick Hughes.
The CVA partnered with Hallmark Cards to build Kansas City's elaborate display, complete with moving parts and lights, to showcase the city to the nation. Scott Butterfield, trend consultant and Hallmark employee for 20 years, used Hallmark's Keepsake Ornaments for inspiration as he incorporated iconic Kansas City scenes to build the window.

GMA started the Holiday Window Series last year with windows showcasing New York City, Chicago and Dallas. Stay tuned for more information about the Dec. 3 unveiling in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the GMA Holiday Windows by clicking here.

Watch KMBC's video about the window design.

Read the story in the Kansas City Star.

photo copyright 2008, A. Greenwood

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Are You LinkedIn or on FaceBook? Should You Be?

Social networking sites like LinkedIn and FaceBook are fundamental in getting your personal professional self in front of the right people in the 21st Century. LinkedIn is very helpful in a job search or even scoring a new client, as Stephen Spencer noted on his blog:
I had been on LinkedIn for quite a while but I never gave it much thought or attention. I had never bothered filling out a meaningful profile for myself. And I had never sought to add any contacts to my network.

This year I saw the light -- I saw how valuable LinkedIn can be if you know how to work it. I witnessed my colleague Brian Klais use LinkedIn to find some amazing candidates for SEO positions at our company Netconcepts. At the best of times it's hard to hire for SEO positions, as those who are the most qualified are undoubtedly already pulling in a very respectable paycheck. LinkedIn made it a breeze for Brian. Brian's success spurred me on to give LinkedIn a bit more of my attention.
I tend to agree, and have had some success using LinkedIn.

Facebook is a different animal. Besides the potential dangers (posting the wrong photos, your private life spilling over into your public life, etc.) it can be argued that its just not a serious use of your time or the Internet:

Put simply, it’s today’s AOL. It’s an argument that’s been made before, and it’s becoming more clear as the site grows more ambitious.
The Sauce

LinkedIn is an invaluable online networking tool, especially when used properly and strategically. It's an opportunity to show the world your "better professional self;" a high-profile place to post your resume, photo and recommendations.

FaceBook is an excellent place for targeted marketing, but I question its efficacy as a means of promoting yourself, especially when LinkedIn has cornered the market on professional social networking online. FaceBook can also be a massive timewaster.

Many local online networking sites are also successful, like Chris Gould's Kansas City-area phenomenon, Kansas City Online Community. This particular network features in-person networking events and seminars (yours truly spoke at the first such event), thus giving participants the best of both worlds.

It really all gets down to how well you write and maintain your profile--just like any network, it's all about what you put into it.

What are your thoughts? Successes? Horror stories? The comments section is open.

That said, come visit your humble Bernay's Sauce editor's profile on LinkedIn. As for my FaceBook page...well, why waste your time?