Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Making Deadline: a Tribute to a Hometown Newspaperman

By Rose Strong

Several weeks ago, we said goodbye to a dear friend, Joseph Wingert, who passed away after a lengthy illness. Joe was the publisher of our local weekly newspaper, the Bucks County Herald.

At a time when I was discovering my chops as a writer, the publishing industry was beginning to feel the grip of the Internet take hold. I had no idea back in May 2003 when I pitched my first story idea to Joe’s wife Bridget Wingert, editor-in-chief of the Herald, how strong a grip this little independent newspaper eventually would have on my life.

When you met Joe Wingert for the first time, you typically received a strong handshake, a pat on the back and a warm welcome. After that, it was an embrace and an even warmer greeting. When he became more familiar with you, he gave you a big hug and a kiss. However, any time you came face-to-face with Joe Wingert, he would look you in the eye and with that enormous mustachioed smile and those big, bright, blue eyes and he’d become immersed in conversation with you as if you were the only person in the room.

As I got to know Bridget and Joe, I learned Bridget had been an editor for years at previous Bucks County weekly newspapers. When a corporation took over those local weekly newspapers in the quaint towns throughout Bucks County, Bridget decided to start her own and along with her came Joe who, despite his well-earned retirement, took on the job of publisher with gusto.

Inspiring young journalists

Heading back to school as an adult some years ago, I enrolled at Cedar Crest College, a small, liberal arts school in Allentown, Pa., and one of only a handful of women’s colleges left. At The Crestiad, our college newspaper, I wrote a column and helped publish the paper.

In a conversation after class one day, my professor and I discussed that I was writing for the Herald, a paper founded and run by a woman whose husband not only supported the business, but was its publisher. My professor thought that was quite empowering and a great example to an all-woman class. She asked if Bridget and Joe would consider coming up and speaking with the class. I asked and they cheerfully obliged.

Bridget spoke about her past editorial roles and then discussed the founding of the Bucks County Herald. Joe interjected here and there, making jokes or discussing the process of publishing a paper, the industry and his part at the Herald. One thing I recall Joe joking about was how deadline day was the all-important day of the week at the Herald. It was when they put the paper to bed, as they say. “Lord knows, whatever you do, don’t die on deadline day, nobody’s coming to your funeral,” said Joe with a laugh, pointing over to Bridget and winking to the class. It was a delightful evening that I would recall with poignancy years later.

Learning the newspaper business

Several years before the Great Recession hit, small businesses were being hit in the pocketbooks and my life partner (now my wife) was laid off from her job as an auctioneer after more than 20 years. Though she knew nothing about Excel spreadsheets, human resources, ad copy, setting up a newspaper or weekly deadlines, she did know sales. Joe Wingert found a position for her and she’s been full-time at the Herald ever since.

Over time, her position of Gal Friday evolved into Assistant to the Publisher, and she has learned computer skills, the newspaper business, and office management. Joanne and Joe became very close in the past decade, chatting about business, life, and illness (Joanne is a metastatic breast cancer survivor, so they had lots to share).

An extended family

Joanne and I have long considered Bridget and Joe family. We know their sons and daughters and Joanne has worked with numerous Wingert grandchildren over the years as they interned through the summers and has had fun watching them all grow and mature into young men and women of whom their grandparents can be proud.

In 2012, when same-sex marriage became legal in Maine, Joanne and I got married - after nearly 26 years together. We filled out the forms and were married in a snowstorm with just my sister, brother-in-law, our officiant, her husband and our standard poodle, Looloo, in attendance. But when we came home to Bucks County, Joe and Bridget Wingert would not let the momentous occasion pass by unremarked. They threw us a party at their home to celebrate our union. They had invitations made up, and told us to invite family and my coworkers, as well as the entire staff of the Herald. It was simply the most caring gift they could have given us.

At our own celebration in 2013, the DJ asked all the couples to head for the dance floor. After they danced for a bit, he asked those who had been together for one to five years to sit down, then those who had been together six to 10 years, and so on, until the last couple left dancing was Joe and Bridget Wingert. Bridget refused to say how long they had been married and Joe wouldn’t utter a word. He was a very, very smart man! I see them as inspiration for a long, loving marriage.

Making deadline

Joe Wingert passed away during the early morning hours on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. It was officially deadline day for the Herald. He leaves behind a legacy that Bridget is carrying on, and I am so proud to be a small part of the Bucks County Herald’s story.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

3 Essential Public Relations Tools From Which Every Client Can Benefit


By Megan Quinn

I previously discussed how to explain a public relations career to friends and family. In part two of this blog series, I discuss three tools that public relations professionals frequently use and explore the reasons why those services are valuable to our clients.

Media monitoring services.

Our clients need to see the results of their public relations campaigns and we need to be able to deliver those results in an organized format. In order to comprehensively summarize our clients' coverage in the news, we create media monitoring reports.

To compile those reports, we use several media monitoring services to track and collect media coverage. In the age of digital communication, it can be difficult to capture absolutely every story under the sun, but using the right services enables us to capture most stories involving our clients. We employ different services to monitor print, online and broadcast coverage.

Media database.

One other very valuable tool is a media database. Almost every day, we use an enormous database to search for reporters nationwide, including print, online and broadcast journalists. We use this database to research the right people to which we want to pitch our clients' news, knowing that all news is "local" and each media outlet has its own particular audiences. Custom-tailoring our clients' pitches to the right media outlets is one of the major ways in which we differ from PR firms that just blast out press releases to hundreds of (usually inappropriate) journalists at the same time.

Online press release publication.

For clients that want to focus on improving their search engine optimization (SEO), we employ one other important public relations tool, a service that can be used to issue press releases to a wide variety of online media outlets. Having our clients' news get picked up all over the web is one part of helping our clients' websites stay near the top of search results pages.

However, that is only one piece of the press release puzzle. In part three of my blog series, I will explore press releases in more detail.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Social Media Etiquette for Business on the ‘Big Three’

By Kim Tarasiewcz

We all have those friends whose updates you dread seeing in your Facebook feeds – they type in all caps, they post their political rants, or they just can’t stop posting every move they make on any given day. You try to scroll past them, but they just keep coming. And for whatever reason, you can’t unfriend the person without causing family, business or friendship issues.

Fortunately, privacy settings can be used to hide feeds entirely or to allow you to see less of certain types of posts in your news feed. Just click on the small arrow in the top right corner of the post and chose an item from the drop-down screen. Currently, however for Facebook, there is no way to unfriend someone without alerting them, so hiding posts is the best way to remove them from your feed so as not to cause disputes.

In business social media, the rules become a bit diluted and are still evolving, but there are three main platforms with which every business should be familiar. Where Facebook is the most common and one of the oldest social media platforms, LinkedIn is probably best known as the connection spot for business. LinkedIn is less about your personal connections and more about sharing business ideas and networking. Twitter moves faster with shorter “bursts” of information which can be great to get news out to the public quickly, but can be dangerous if the information is incorrect or controversial.

Facebook allows flexibility when sharing information on the site, but how often should you “tag” another business? Probably never unless previously approved by the business. At Furia Rubel, we share our client’s news and events, but only after they have sent it out and only with their permission. Our site is maintained and reviewed so that nothing offensive is on it and there is no need for clients to worry if we share news. Allowing other businesses to tag you can lead to problems if their site isn’t constantly monitored.

So what are the connection rules on LinkedIn? I’ve had several times recently where a salesperson has called and as soon as I hang up the phone telling them we don’t have a need for their services, they are connecting with me on LinkedIn. Do I accept their connection or not? I find it a strange concept to connect with someone you’ve never met and most likely won’t meet or ever develop a relationship with. But it’s business, so most of the time, I will connect because there may be a need in the future for their services or for business leads, but also because I don’t like to burn bridges.

Twitter can be a great tool, especially for events like a press conference or seminars as you can give quick updates on what is happening and provide links to details if people need more information. Because Twitter limits the number of characters in an individual tweet to 140, it forces creativity with wording in your messages and choosing hashtags or you may end up with a stream of unwanted items. It’s so easy to send something off; before tweeting or re-tweeting, be sure the information is legitimate.

But as with any social media platform, too many posts, tags or tweets can cause viewers to hide or to skip your posts. Look around – if the same person repeatedly comments on your items or if no one is commenting, maybe you need a campaign to attract new followers or to add something more interesting to your pages. And for goodness sakes, DON’T POST IN ALL CAPS – no one likes to be yelled at.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thank You Notes: Old Fashioned or Professional?

By Rose Strong

My nephew, who just graduated in June of 2014 with a biology degree with a concentration on entomology (that’s bugs, folks!), is currently in a job-seeking mode. Since grad school is tough in the entomology field, he took what seems to be a good entry-level management position with one of those pet supply chain stores where they sell small pets like reptiles, fish, rodents and birds. For now, it pays the bills and gives him the chance to work with animals.

I helped with his cover letter and reviewed his resume. He received a call for an interview last week with a company in the business of raising insects for animal feeding. (I know, ewwww.) He texted me all excited about it. The first text I sent was a clear YAHOO! The next was telling him to get a thank you card ready to write and send when the interview was over.

My gut told me he was thinking I was just his crazy aunt, (which I am,) but that he’d get around to it.

After the interview he stopped by to tell his parents about it and I happened to be visiting. He said he did great and met with the CEO and the general manager. He felt good about how it went and when I said he now had to send out two cards, he nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah, okay.”

Working at Furia Rubel, we keep a stack of thank you cards on hand and send them out for all sorts of things. They are sent to convey gratitude for a business referral opportunity. We write them out after some business meetings or a networking event we attend. Furia Rubel even sends out thank you notes for gifts folks send to thank us for something! We find the time it takes to write them is a good business investment and helps to leave a lasting impression. This article from Entrepreneur.com is a great introduction to the “how-to’s” of a professional thank you note. It doesn't have to be long or laborious, just legible and sincere.

This article from BusinessNewsDaily.com is filled with the top 10 things you shouldn't write in a thank you note. It includes excellent tips on how to keep your note professional.

Thanks to the instant gratification of email, Twitter, Facebook and all the other forms of electronic communications, too few of us today take the time to hand write a letter or mail anything via the U.S. Postal Service more than some bills. There may still be a few of us who send birthday cards and holiday greetings, but it’s rare to see an actual handwritten note. Perhaps because it is a rare gesture these days, we find that the act of sending a hand-written card makes the recipients very happy, and as a consequence, they remember us fondly. I know that is true in my own life, too. Besides the excitement I feel when I receive a handwritten envelope in my pile of mail, the idea the sender is offering their sincere appreciation or good wishes sticks with me. And that is what good marketing – and good manners – is all about.

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