Press Releases Still Work

Posted: March 17, 2013 in Weekly Blog Posts

I’ve read recently local news at 6:00 is dying. I’ve read most folks turn to Twitter or other social media outlets and online sources for their news. To an extent, this is probably true. However, an old-fashioned press release still has a place in the ever expanding world of public relations. According to entrepreneur.com, a press release is, “a public relations announcement issued to the news media and other targeted publications for the purpose of letting the public know of company developments.” With this definition in mind, clearly a press release is a valuable tool.

Here are some advantages to writing an effective press release: 1. Boost company/agency exposure to the general public: There are few better ways to get your company name out then for it to appear on the news or in the local newspaper. Most local news stations and newspapers have twitter feeds and Facebook pages that include links to their stories ran on the air.
2. Effective press releases have wings: This website says the majority of major network news comes from local media affiliates. Indeed, a company can start at the local level, only to see their product/news reach far and wide to all parts of the globe.
3. Some potential investors are old school: Investors and potential company clientele read newspapers and watch morning news on a daily basis. If your press release reaches even one of these investors, hasn’t it been worth the time and effort?

Effective press releases are nothing to be scoffed at or pushed to the back burner. Agencies should appoint press release writers and constantly share company developments with the local news mediums.

I may be off my rocker, but I doubt it.

Thanks for reading,

Levi.

 

 

It’s a Brotherhood

Posted: March 5, 2013 in Weekly Blog Posts

We’ve been watching Together: The Hendrick Motorsports Story in my Survey of Motorsports class at Indiana State. Its a touching story, one focused on family and treating people right. The toughest part was the segment when Ricky Hendrick and nine others passed away in a plane crash in October 2004. The grief felt by the whole race team (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, etc) was tremendous. It made me think about the brotherhood aspect of racing, and the brotherhood aspect of my profession. 

On March 4, 2013, we lost a brother at work. I’ve only been on the job a few months, but that has been long enough to shake a lot of hands and work with just about the whole department. I met Cody, and I talked with Cody at length about mostly sports and pop culture. You know there are those people that you think, ” I can probably connect with this dude pretty easily.” Cody was certainly one of those guys. Its sad. 

I imagine I’m going to see the best of the fire service in the coming days. I’m going to see my brothers and sisters band together and honor Cody and his family. I’ll see guys work overtime to continue to serve the community, and relieve our brothers on A-shift. I’m going to see American flags draped over bunker gear and fire trucks with black flags waving in the wind. I’m not sure why, but John Michael Montgomery’s “Letters From Home” comes to my mind. Specifically, “Cause there ain’t nothin’ funny when a soldier cries, I just wipe my eyes…pick up my gun and get back to work.” I replace soldier with firefighter, and gun with tools.

That is what we will do. We’ll come together as brothers, and continue to pick up our tools and get to work. To honor Cody and his family. I knew Cody well enough to almost weep as I looked out the window during the Hendrick Motorsports story. This is the best of the fire service. Perhaps, other professions don’t understand. Hopefully they do. 

The fire service is the absolute greatest job in the world, and it makes my hair stand on end when I think about those that came before me to make it what it is today; a true brotherhood. To me, there is nothing quite like it. I’ll be on shift tomorrow, and it will be with a heavy heart; Rest In Eternal Peace, Cody. Amen. 

I may be off my rocker, but I doubt it. 

Thanks for reading and have a nice day, 

Levi. 

Image

Ethics. We all have them. Every business needs them. What happens when the two collide? I would venture to say firefighters in a rural Tennessee community witnessed the collision first hand, and unfortunately, I think they let the lesser of the two trump their ethics.

First, you have to understand the situation. Gene Cranick, a citizen of Obion County, Tennessee failed to pay the $75 annual fee for around the clock fire protection. And wouldn’t you know it, the poor fella’s house caught fire on September 29, 2010. Now we have the premise for the ensuing sticky situation.

Chiefs and black hats (firefighters) from the nearby city of South Fulton, TN responded but did not put out the blaze. Why? Remember Mr. Cranick was deliquent on his fire dues. The ethical dilemma facing the firemen was whether or not to let the house burn in front of their eyes over $75. Well, they did (although certainly under orders from their superior officers, i.e. the Fire Chief).

“Anybody that’s not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer. Either they accept it [and pay] or they don’t,” said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker. Yeah, but Mr. Mayor this person’s house was on fire. “The fault is the failure of the Cranick family to pay that subscripton [for fire protection],” said Bob Reavis, chief of the Hornbeak Volunteer Fire Department. Yeah, but chief it’s $75, and the Cranick’s had dogs and cats in the house…that was on fire…in front of you…while you had a fire truck.

Firefighters on the scene made certain to protect the fence line and the structures adjacent to the Cranick’s, but watched the fire building burn to the ground. Where should ethics have trumped politics here? The IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) took the moral high road and said, “because of South Fulton pay-to-play policy, firefighters were ordered to stand and watch a family lose its home.” Brutal.

As a firefighter, and even if I was a political figure such as the fire chief or mayor, I’m not sure I could watch a family lose its home when I possessed the means to quickly mitigate the problem; that is putting water on the fire. I get that politics and taxes and fees play a role in the fire service and local government, but should it to the point $75 decides whether or not a house fire is extingushed? It’s $75. I’ve spent $75 on a single meal before.  This was certainly an ethical dilemma faced by the fire department, but I think the firefighters and command staff at the blaze should have hung Cranick’s failure to pay and put out the fire. I bet he would have paid the town back,  and the Mayor would have got over it.

Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I doubt it.

Thanks for reading and have a great day,

Levi.   

 

     Photo via Paul Jones

 

Of Balancing and Budgets

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Weekly Blog Posts

Last night (Wednesday),  I attended Pizza and Politics in the Events Area of Cunningham Memorial Library on the campus of Indiana State University. The session had an eye on Indiana’s state budget and how it directly relates to public institutions of higher learning such as ISU. The Executive Director of Government Relations at ISU, Greg Goode began the presentation by giving a summary of his role in Indianapolis fighting on behalf of ISU for more state funding. Beside him was Bob Heaton, District 46 Representative in the Indiana House.

I’ll give you the main reason I went to this event: free pizza after a bout in the hot tub at the rec center. However, I found the money talk more interesting than I thought I would. Did you know higher education accounts for 12% of the Indiana budget? Did you know Indiana State has an operating budget of 144 million; 45% of which comes from tuition? I expected the percentage from tuition to be higher. After listening to President Bradley and the powers in Indianapolis, it got me thinking about my own finances and budgeting.

Here is what I think: the American government and more specifically the American public has gotten into the financial disaster we’re in simply by not living within our means. Credit cards have satisfied the “must have it now” attitudes and folks are willing to pay upwards of 20% interest in some cases on late credit card bills. I understand financing homes and vehicles, but why would you make monthly payments on furniture, stereo systems, appliances, pets, etc? Aren’t these things one would want to pay in full? Isn’t this common sense? I just finished Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, and learned interesting tips concerning personal finances. Indeed, Dave does NOT advise making payments on couches, TV’s, or book shelves. I don’t figure I ever will. The “envelope budget” is going to be my bread and butter.

In a nutshell: I will deposit my bi-weekly or monthly paychecks and take out an amount of cash for certain categories agreed upon by me and my soon-to-be wife, Erica. These categories include: groceries, entertainment, vehicle maintenance, and eating out among others. Each category will have an envelope and when it is gone it is gone. It will take self-discipline and control. Doing this will allow the rest of our paychecks to go towards Roth IRAs, emergency funds, and mutual funds. Our goal is to comfortably retire millionaires while still being charitable to church and the community. Lofty goals? Perhaps, but I think we can do it.

I am probably naive, but I think at its most basic level, finances are common sense. Spend more than you make and you will be in trouble; bank more than you spend, your savings will grow. Isn’t that pretty accurate? My wife and I will always live within our means, will have few credit cards, will only have debt on a house/apartment and car, and will be charitable to our church and other causes. I believe in balancing your checkbook every month, knowing where your paychecks are going, and having an agreed upon monthly budget, all while having an emergency fund in reserve for inevitable roadblocks. Clearly, my mind was elsewhere by the end of President Bradley’s talk.

Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I doubt it.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day,

Levi.

 

Budget; Mr. T in DC

Mr. T in DC via Comfight

An agency that arguably has the most interaction with the public on a daily basis is your local fire department. The customers of the fire service–and public safety as a whole–is the local tax-paying public. Therefore, a progressive fire department should have a policies and written best practices in place to deal with the customers, and perhaps more than that, a specific go-to person to deal with the ever intrusive media. I introduce Captain Matt McCullough. 

Captain McCullough is the captain of a local Terre Haute fire department (name not wished to be released) and has been in that capacity for two years. He has been a career firefighter for ten years. Some of Matt’s duties include keeping the firehouse’s affairs in order and being go-to administrator for outside vendors and hopeful clients. (I.e cleaning products for the station, computer software, etc) 

A typical work week for Matt includes two or three days on shift 24 hours where he fields calls from potential vendors and fields calls from the media if any incidents peaked their interests. For example, a multi-vehicle accident would get the attention of the news media, thus provoking a call to the fire department. 

As a quasi-public relations professional, Captain McCullough must stay current in the ever-changing and ever-evolving field of PR. Matt understands the “must have it now” attitude of the media and does his best to facilitate. During the interview, Matt gave me three tips when dealing with the media he wished he knew prior to his promotion: “Don’t be offended when the media is pushy, don’t be surprised to wake up in the middle of the night to give a statement, and always be willing to learn new tricks of the trade and the industry.” Indeed, I think it is good advice. 

After interviewing Capt. McCullough, I am still likely to pursue a career in the fire service. He said  nothing to scare me away. Matt did not take any formal schooling for his role in PR, and is a member of no particular PR organizations. 

 

Matt does not have a Twitter or LinkedIn. 

 

Thanks for reading and have a good day, Levi. Image

                            Photo via Compfight: Jennuine Captures

God Made a Farmer

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Weekly Blog Posts

Commercials are a part of the Super Bowl. If you don’t accept that point, you’re stuck in the mud. Each thirty second spot is a major contributing factor to the NFL climax consistently being the highest rated television program annually. Traditionally, beer sponsors such as Bud Light and Budweiser, and other corporate giants like Doritos steal the limelight. It is up to an individual to pick a favorite. Last year, my favorite was the Darth Vader Volkswagen spot. Personally speaking, I am more interested in the game but I am curious enough to pay attention to the commercials as well. In 2013, between the 49ers and Ravens going after each other in gameplay, I picked a favorite. 

I am many things. Among them are a Christian and country born and raised. Therefore, I could not help but appreciate the Ram pickup spot God Made a Farmer. This commercial tugged at every heartstring, and gave me the chills the minute I watched it (admittedly, on Monday afternoon as I must have been otherwise occupied as it aired originally). I have never owned a Ram pickup, my family has always used Chevy or GMC. The item being branded did not mean as much to me as the memories the slides brought to the surface.

I remember my own childhood not too awful long ago. I am only 22 years old, so merely four years removed from the Clay County Fair and 4-H. In the commercial, Paul Harvey said, “someone who can make a harness out of hay wire…so God made a farmer.” On our family farm, hay wire was referred to as baling wire or just wire. At any rate, baling wire was gold. The number of gates, fences, PVC pipe, hay racks, feed pans, and even truck parts held together by baling wire was enormous. When a normal person would buy something new, a farmer on my family farm would simply reach for wire and possibly more wire.

Paul Harvey also said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year’…so God made a farmer.” My family did not have horses, but this scene was played out on a small farm in Cory, Indiana numerous nights with baby pigs and baby goats. I remember well a few nights my dad not coming home as he tended to sick hogs or a sow having trouble with a litter of pigs. Often, we would lose the runt of the litter, which was almost like dad losing his own child.

Indeed, 4-H animals almost are an extension of your family. I played high school basketball, and most nights consisted of practice after school and feeding the goats and pigs after practice. Mind you, by then it was getting dark and water lines could be frozen. Many nights, I dreaded going to the farm, but looking back I can appreciate every trip there.

I will forever have a place in my heart and soul for a farm. I love the Case tractor displayed in the commercial, the wide open spaces of a rural countryside, and the freedom to ride bikes and hike creek beds in the summer. I can only hope to one day, teach my kids the responsibility and work ethic only working on a farm can provide.

Have a great day and thanks for reading,

Levi.

 

 

 

 Image  

Credit: Elvis Kennedy via Comp Fight