Corrections or additions?
Thewe articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were
prepared for the October 8, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Asia on the Bias: Don’t Ignore Civil Rights
We Americans are a nation of protesters. Try to overtax
our tea and we’ll dump it in the harbor. Don’t tread on us. Deny us
rightful employment, a justifiable bank loan, or a seat in the front
of the bus and we will rise up. That’s the stereotype, but does it
hold true for every group? What happens to those who do not complain?
Seven percent of all Garden State residents are of Asian or Pacific
Island descent. Yet interestingly, they account for only one percent
of the discrimination complaints lodged with New Jersey’ Civil Rights
Division. And this despite the fact that the seven percent includes
a number of sometimes misunderstood and politically unpopular people.
"The Civil Rights of Asian and Pacific Island Americans,"
a free seminar, takes place on Thursday, October 9, at 8 a.m. at
Valley Community College to help all Asians and Pacific Islanders
take advantage of their new nation’s protective laws. Call
ext. 8312, to reserve a place.
Coalition and director of Raritan Valley College’s Government
Institute, has united both these organizations, along with several
Asian community leaders, in sponsoring the event. J. Frank
director of New Jersey’s Division on Civil Rights, provides legal
expertise at the meeting.
"We see this as an important first step in making Asian
aware of the process of protection under the state’s Law Against
(LAD)," says Vespa-Papaleo.
Maharjan believes that far too many Asian Americans fail to report
discrimination, yet he also insists that much of the trouble can be
warded off preemptively. "All Asians, and indeed all immigrants,
have to learn to mainstream into America," he says. These words
have been Maharjan’s battle cry since he left Katmandu, Nepal, 30
Arriving in the United States to pursue undergraduate studies at
College, Maharjan found a home in academic circles, later gaining
a Ph.D. in educational administration from American University.
his years with several of New Jersey’s community colleges, he has
labored to enhance trade and to establish not globalism, but
He hosts a series of seminars to help state businesses connect abroad,
and has formed the Friends of Nepal.
In addition to the age old embers of ignorance, two recent elements
have fueled the fires of anti-Asian discrimination. First, we still
feel the specter of 9/11 with its elusive, vague, yet supposedly
enemy. Too many Americans cannot distinguish a Sikh from a Buddhist
monk, but they are sure our nation’s greatest enemy wears robes and
cloth head gear. Better watch out. Maharjan reports that several
women in Somerset have been harassed to the point where they now just
stay in their homes.
On top of these suspicions comes the fear of economic hard times.
Ever since the building of the transcontinental railroad, established
American residents have resented the flood of more recent Asian labor
taking "our jobs." Be it well-paid Chinese physicists or
shop owners, "when bad economic times come," says Maharjan,
"everyone is naturally looking for a scapegoat. And the last ones
in are the most likely to be discriminated against."
In the face of all this, why are Asians, in our nation of protesters,
so singularly silent? There are many reasons, explains Maharjan, but
each one has a solution.
have left lands where any level of government is less than excited
about defending individual rights. Previous personal experiences have
proved that government is wholly to be feared and life is best lived
inconspicuously. Just try dumping overtaxed tea in Beijing harbor.
"It takes a lot of education and outreach to break the wall of
fear," says Vespa-Papaleo. "We are trying to reach into the
various Asian communities through their leaders," he says,
they must spread the word that we want to protect their civil
Vespa-Papaleo, originally from Venezuela, has spent the last two
defending discrimination as an attorney in several New Jersey law
firms, and for the past 15 months has headed up the Civil Rights
Finding and clinging to a little enclave of folks from your homeland
is natural and helpful. But like birds in the nest, there comes a
time to venture out beyond. "People can dwell in an Indian or
Korean community, and never know the rest of America," says
"They fail to learn of the government, the language, and worst
of all, to meet the people beyond their own ghetto. This invites
and ignorance on both sides."
At least twice a year, the Islamic Society in South Brunswick runs
an open house in its mosque. The newspaper "India Abroad"
actively supports several English as a Second Language groups.
traditions does not mean loss. Cultures, like fine wine, are best
stereotypes follow Japanese importers, Indian doctors, Chinese
and others well beyond the first impression. Emancipation from these
stereotypes must, of course, be individual, but Maharjan adamantly
states that ethnic communities can reach out much further to help.
A great many shops and firms actively solicit business from their
own ethnic group, while ignoring and even shunning inquiries from
non-ethnic companies. "If your business is known as a Thai company
or Korean company," states Maharjan, "you are not reaching
For Vespa-Papaleo, the solutions to discrimination are more swift,
legal, and direct. His department, under the New Jersey Attorney
office, exists to determine discrimination and enforce the 58-year-old
Law Against Discrimination and the 1993 State Family Leave Act. Over
20,000 inquiries are made to his department annually, of which 2,000
develop into actual discrimination complaints. These include bias
in employment, housing, or access to public places on the basis of
race, religion, gender, age, or other stereotyping.
Discrimination complaints may be made in this area by calling the
Regional Civil Rights Office at 609-292-4605. After a complaint is
received, the complainant meets with an investigator who will work
to determine if a case really exists. "Throughout the entire
says Vespa-Papaleo, "our office does not take anyone’s side. We
work merely to enforce the law."
The complaint then undergoes a set process:
arguments. In the case of employment, for example, they examine
for disparate impact. That is, if your firm has 85 percent Pakistani
workers and not one has ever received a promotion, the next bypassed
Pakistani who complains has a strong case.
in most negotiations. Here, under the eye of a Civil Rights Division
mediator, anything goes. One time, recalls Vespa-Papaleo, a man lodged
a complaint about being passed up for a job in advertising whereby
he would dress up as a pickle and tout the company’s product. The
final settlement, which left both management and the unhired
smiling? A year’s supply of pickles.
landlords, and store owners are happy to settle quickly, but when
mediation fails, the case is given one final try with the ADR unit.
This legally-required last ditch effort seeks final conciliation.
By this time, Vespa-Papaleo’s office is actively seeking a finding
of probable cause of discrimination. If it is found, the case becomes
one of only five percent that land in court.
trials where the judge makes the decision. The defendant in this
frequently faces a two- pronged attack — from the complaining
individual seeking damages, and from the state seeking to enforce
the LAD codes.
Not all Asians bear discrimination lightly. In l990 Miye Sano, a named
plaintiff with relatives in the Princeton area, received a check for
$20,000. Along with 70,000 other claimants, she was paid this
as part of a $1.65 billion settlement for America’s shameful interning
of the Japanese people during World War II. It was a small price for
the confiscation of all the property she and her now-dead husband
owned, along with the destruction of their livelihood. Sano, and the
other Japanese-Americans, won their settlement the old American way
— they protested. Loud and long. And their government heard their
Those most likely to reap the benefits of their adopted nation are
those who most actively join it.
— Bart Jackson
All buyers are liars. They’ll swear on a stack of
ledgers that the bottom line is all that matters; that they’ll deal
with the devil herself if she’ll sell it to them for five cents a
unit cheaper. Ah, but follow the purchase orders. Almost invariably,
the money lands in the hands of the individual the buyer knows and
Earning that enviable position as a trusted business compatriot
a logical yet delicate process is the topic of a talk, "Personal
Relationship Marketing," on Thursday, October 9, at 6 p.m. at
the Merrill Lynch Conference Center. Cost: $35. Call 609-924-7975.
Sponsored by the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners’
(NJAWBO), this meeting features Marlene Waldock
president and the host of New Jersey Business, a weekly television
program on News 12 New Jersey.
Those unable to attend on October 9 can catch Waldock’s talk at
Middlesex Chapter dinner meeting on Monday, October 20, at 6 p.m.
at the Sheraton Raritan Center Hotel in Edison. Cost: $43. Call
"You don’t sell the deal, you sell yourself" is a credo
has employed in conquering some of business’ stiffest self-marketing
challenges. Shortly after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh
with a degree in psychology, Waldock found herself working for
As director of Southwest sales and training, she recalls, "I was
running around giving training sessions that lasted four-and-a-half
hours. I had to develop a program that would make audiences more
to sell than lynch the speaker."
In l987, Waldock founded her own marketing and communication training
firm, 1st Impression Communication Services, in Morristown.
So what are the magic words? What’s that secret approach that
strangers into friends and trusted clients upon first meeting? For
Waldock, if such a verbal elixir exists, it would be "Establish
a Self Marketing Plan."
Waldock suggests that you ask yourself some questions. What have I
personally got to offer — beyond my product? What are my values?
What is my vision? What am I really seeking from the individuals I
meet: Advice? sales? contacts?
"Rather than just blindly networking," says Waldock,
what you are and what you seek." Then, with bold pen and paper,
just as you plan the marketing of your product, write a program for
marketing yourself. Research and determine what sort of organizations,
clubs, and institutions are good places to meet people who might meet
the needs you have listed. Strategize, and then prepare to mingle.
the worst way? Cross a crowded room, make a beeline for some potential
client; grasp his hand, introduce yourself and your product, and then
What happens? Shields up! That unsuspecting client will stiffen like
a wall. His every ounce of sales resistance will be focused on you
and your display of desperation. Such a negative response is obvious
and understandable. Yet this worst-way approach, notes Waldock,
overwhelmingly the most popular. "Make it a marketing rule,"
she says, "never, never try to sell during your introductory
birth of a relationship, not a sale. So why not shake hands and begin
a conversation? Waldock terms this first meeting, however brief, an
"an opportunity to align like minds." Perhaps commenting or
inquiring cogently about the other person’s field may produce common
ground. But by whatever means, take this chance to examine this
with an eye toward possible future dealings.
In the late 1980s when China’s trade door squeaked open, American
businesses poured in and found themselves stymied by the number of
months it took to close the simplest of deals. The reason was less
bureaucracy than the age-old Chinese custom of determining the content
of a business partner’s character before signing. Developing such
trust saves legal fees and ulcers, and in the long run builds profit.
If mutual interests spark, follow up with a phone call and an
Even at this phone call stage, ask for a chance to chat or "to
continue our conversation." If you truly are meeting to develop
a business relationship, it will take time. "It is a long-term
investment," states Waldock, "and you’ve got to have
president of a real estate firm, who she saw would ideally suit the
needs of another business associate. She called them both together
and introduced them over lunch. They sparked. "Now I am seen as
the creator — the giving connector," she states. Thus, quite
naturally, when one of these friends saw that Waldock was stranded
for a guest on her New Jersey Business show, he quickly hustled around
and supplied a candidate.
If you are invariably the one seeking advice or pushing the product,
you will be viewed as a leech. The shields will again go up and people
will wince when you call them on the phone. Focus on needs beyond
But, acknowledging that you do have needs, Waldock points out that
every person you help is likely to have a network of family and
who just might be able to help you.
venue, people favor those who communicate clearly. Speak openly and
honestly. Realistically assess your capabilities and offer them. If
you are going to become that trusted business compatriot, you must
promise only what you can deliver, and deliver at least what you
The old rules apply: trust is forged not by rank, but by those who
continually prove themselves dependable.
to ourselves. "Too often we don’t recognize and acknowledge our
own achievements," she points out. Some time very soon, take a
moment, write down all your accomplishments and then write
— good job!"
When you believe in your product, after all, it is easier to sell
— Bart Jackson
"My task is to make sure people with
different points of view get heard," says Nancy Duff
professor of Christian ethics at the Princeton Theological Seminary,
she is speaking of her role as moderator of an upcoming conference.
The event is entitled "Should We Place Limits on Medical
A Look at the Stem Cell Debate." Sponsored by the Conference
at Mercer, it takes place on Friday, October 10, at 8:30 a.m. at
West Windsor campus. Cost: $35. Call 609-586-4800, ext. 3856, for
more information. Among the speakers:
for Collaborative Neuroscience and a professor at Rutgers. A leader
in spinal cord injury research, he serves on, or has served on,
committees for the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy
of Sciences, NICHD, and on the boards of many spinal cord injury
newspaper for 22 years and who is the mother of actor Christopher
chair of the board of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and chair of
the National Academies of Sciences Committee on the Organizational
Structure of the National Institute of Health. He has served as chair
of the National Bioethics Advisory Committee.
and primary spokesperson for New Jersey Right to Life, who works
with federal and state legislatures on pro-life legislative
including the NJ Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the NJ Parental
Law, and the NJ Safe Haven Infant Protection Act.
priest and who has written a book on physician-assisted suicide.
who sits on the Consumer Affairs Committee and the Law and Public
charged topic, about which there is little middle ground. Stem cell
research is controversial in large part because it intersects with
the Right to Life debate.
The stems cells that are thought by most scientists to be most helpful
in medical research are those from embryos. Should embryos be created
solely to aid medical research? Should stem cells be harvested from
aborted embryos for the purpose of medical research? Few people answer
"maybe." Positions on each side tend to be passionate.
Duff lays out the two sides of the argument. "Some people believe
nascent human life has the same status as human life," she says.
"It’s a dilemma because of what stem cell therapy could address
— MS, spinal cord injury, Alzheimers, Parkinsons. Devastating
diseases, absolutely devastating."
The stem cells found in embryos, because they have not yet developed
into specific organs, could potentially be grown to replace damaged
cells in any part of the body.
"It’s so exciting," is how Duff characterizes the promise.
At the same time, troubling issues are raised. Human life, at any
stage, should not be treated callously, she says, declaring, "it’s
Duff’s life revolves around the examination of moral quandaries. A
Texas native, she grew up in Tyler, a little town in the eastern part
of the state. She attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and
in 1977 with an English degree. She then attended Union Seminary in
Richmond, Virginia, where she was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
After two years as a campus minister back at Austin College, she moved
to New York City to earn her Ph.D. from the Union Theological
There she met her husband, David Mertz, a Methodist minister, now
serving in Princeton and in Rossmoor.
Duff, meanwhile, had been called to teach ethics at the Princeton
Theological Seminary. "I absolutely love teaching ethics,"
she exclaims. "I’m in the wonderful position of never having to
convince students that what I teach is important."
In her ethics classes, Duff strives to create understanding. Few
make this more difficult than those surrounding stem cell research.
Her students are "all over the place" on the issue. She is
not out to change anyone’s mind, but rather to open minds enough to
see the merit in at least some of the points the other side is making.
"We don’t have to scream at each other," she says. "It’s
frustrating when people can not listen to one another." At the
upcoming conference she is going to ask panelists to identify the
opposing argument they disagree with the most, and then to identify
an argument that really has some merit.
"There’s room to acknowledge that one’s opponent has a valuable
perspective," she says. The all-too-common tendency to reduce
the other side to a caricature is not helpful. "When we do that,
we’re arguing with the weakest argument," she says.
Duff cannot recall a case where a passionately Pro Life or Pro Choice
person ever went over to the other side, but she has seen positive
movement. "I had a student who wrote a paper on abortion,"
she recalls. "It was so mean-spirited, so unfair." When she
gave the student a low grade, he asked for an opportunity to re-write
the paper. The new attempt retained the same arguments, but presented
them without the meanness. Duff raised the grade, and the student
agreed that the change was for the better. "I had no idea I
like this!" he told her.
His paper, stripped of vitriol, was not only more acceptable, it was
also more persuasive.
Duff doesn’t want to give away her own position on stem cell research,
but she does say that her experience of motherhood has given her
into the issue.
Marrying relatively late in life, in her mid-30s, Duff was not
eager to have children. "We were ambivalent about children,"
she says. While discussing the issue in a desultory — "What
do you think?" — manner, she was surprised to find herself
pregnant. "It came out of the blue!" she says.
At age 38, she gave birth to McKinley, now 14. "It was the best
thing that ever happened to us," she says. "I just shudder
to think we might have missed this." McKinley gained a sibling
two years later when Adam was born.
"My biggest regret is that I would have liked to have a third
child," says Duff. "We did go through the adoption process,
but it fell through." She and her husband had hoped to adopt a
child from China to round out their family, but could not afford the
$20,000 that they were required to put down upfront. "It shouldn’t
be so hard," says Duff.
Bearing and raising children has convinced her that there is a place
for "bringing the language of experience into the moral
The gradations of feeling a mother has for her unborn child, and then
for her children, belong in the debate, in her opinion. As the
mother of a small child, she realized which way she would go on stem
cell research if it could save "the child I rocked to sleep."
Now, as a mother of two growing children, she says there could never
be any choice.
Says Duff, "We’d all walk into the sea together."
In a company of 100 people, it is a good bet that 80
percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the employees. This
comes from Thomas Damman
consultants. "These are the people whose work is most aligned
with who they are," he says of the 20 percent.
He talks about how to get employees more productive when he speaks
on "How to Connect People with Their Passions" at the Human
Resources Management Association on Monday, October 13, at 5 p.m.
at the Yardley Inn. Cost: $40. Call 973-208-9083.
Damman has zigged and zagged a bit on his way to his ideal work. He
grew up in Michigan, the oldest of 10 children in a family that owns
a chain of hardware stores in the Detroit area. His grandfather, one
of six children, founded the chain. This wealth of potential business
heirs took the pressure off him. Although he, along with his siblings
and cousins, spent some time working in the stores, the family was
not at a loss for the next generation of management. So, when he
that he wanted to be a priest, he found nothing but support.
After attending seminary for high school and for the first two years
of college, Damman decided that the priesthood was not for him after
all. He completed his degree at the University of Michigan, where
he studied psychology. He then joined the Navy, served in Vietnam,
obtained an MBA and a CPA, and signed on as a systems consultant with
Price Waterhouse. After seven years with Price Waterhouse, he worked
for a number of companies, helping them to structure internal audit
Damman’s overall view of corporate America after serving a 25-year
stint? "There are a lot of unhappy people and ineffective
The reason, he says, is twofold. On the one hand, society on many
levels pressures individuals to fit in. This process starts with the
family, where there tends to be an expectation that children will
choose a path similar to that of their parents. Damman’s family, he
says, had a business orientation. That was the life they knew, and
that was the direction in which they pointed their young.
Another family might have an artistic bent. Growing up surrounded
by actors and musicians, a youngster with a yen to tote up numbers
might receive scant support.
The molding process continues in school, where self-fulfillment tends
to take a backseat to achieving high test scores, participating in
sports and activities deemed likely to appeal to admissions officers,
and winning a place in a prestigious college.
By the time most people hit the workforce, says Damman, they don’t
even know what they want to do. What they do discover all too often
is that they are deeply unhappy, and are just marking time in their
jobs. Part of his practice involves uncovering innate abilities and
helping individuals to identify the work they were meant to do. Just
as some insist that there is a soulmate for every person, Damman is
convinced that there is a perfect work match for every person.
"It isn’t what you think you want to do," he says. The match
is not cerebral. It goes deeper than that. "It’s
he continues. "It’s a deep sense of satisfaction. Not mind or
image, but how does it feel." When you are doing work that feels
good, work that you would do without pay if money were not an issue,
you know that you have found the work that is perfect for you. The
criterion of feeling goes against the grain, however. "We’re
says Damman, "that if it feels good, it’s not good for you."
In addition to helping individuals peel back the layers of
that led to poor work matches, Oak Ridge-based Cornerstone Group
advises corporations on forming productive teams. Here are some ways:
that the United States has been a successful economic experiment.
While repressive governments, in the U.S.S.R. and in Cuba, for
have crashed and burned, the United States, even in recession, enjoys
tremendous wealth. As industries slow down or export many of their
functions, new industries spring up in a vibrant marketplace.
While the economy as a whole operates in a democracy, companies have
not followed a democratic model. "It’s top-down management,"
says Damman. "It’s very hierarchical." The result often is
the kind of disincentive to contribute that one sees in repressive
countries. "People do only the minimum," he says.
continue to tap only a fraction of their workers’ abilities, says
Damman, is that managers fear giving up control.
"People are afraid of letting the process work," he says.
He has seen that only unusually enlightened managers are able to set
their team members free to attack a project by using their innate
skills in a way that suits their work style.
abilities in the team, and let them go," urges Damman.
individual passions," he says. "Shape team roles to capitalize
and the organizational people are respected for their ability to keep
the project on track, there is far more likely to be the kind of
that boosts productivity. "On a 10-person team," Damman points
out, "just getting two more people onboard ups productivity 20
<D>Richard Laermer’s advice for PR professionals
seeking ties to journalists comes straight from the playground:
you want to make friends," he counsels, "make sure you’re
the one they want to be around."
Laermer, founder of RLM PR (www.rlmpr.com) and author of a number
of books, including Full Frontal PR, expands on this topic — and
on other ways of getting the client’s word out — when he speaks
on "Power Tools for Building Buzz" on Tuesday, October 14,
at 11 a.m. at a meeting of NJ CAMA at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $45.
Call 609-397-3737 for more information.
Laermer built his own buzz early. As a student at Pace University
(Class of 1980), he looked around and saw that no one was writing
about New York City below 13th Street. He filled the gap with a column
he describes as "very funny, no b.s., a lightweight thing about
downtown." The column was picked up by a number of publications,
including SoHo News, New York Arts Weekly, and the Washington Market
He had learned a valuable lesson very early in his career: Editors,
like businesspeople of all stripes, are inundated with requests, and
tend to go with a known quantity. "I got a reputation," he
says. "It started me on a freelance career. Editors knew me."
Assignments from the likes of Rolling Stone and Editor & Publisher
followed. Steady work for the Daily News, mostly writing "funny
arts pieces," followed.
Laermer, who has written a book called trendSpotting, says his next
experience in journalism was especially important to his career. He
was in on the start-up of USA Today. Running around New York, covering
everything from Broadway openings to radon scares, he learned to
Using his knowledge of New York, Laermer wrote Native’s Guide to New
York: Advice with Attitude for People Who Live Here and Visitors We
Like. The book, in turn, gave him an education. "On the first
book tour," he recounts, "I learned about good PR."
of course, are divided into two species, those who love New York,
and those who hate New York. Tapping into the passion, he was able
to get both types to comment on his book, building up its buzz.
Laermer added to his knowledge of how business works when he accepted
a job as public affairs director of the Columbia Business School.
"I became super-informed," he says. "I could meet every
journalist, every PR person, any entrepreneur; I could call up the
president of Harvard. I used the position to become better informed
as a businessperson."
He ticks off the two lessons he learned as an employee of one of the
country’s premier business schools: "Number one, nobody works
very hard in academia, and number two, entrepreneurs all over the
country need help with their images."
Sharpening his antennae at every turn, Laermer was ready to start
his own business. RLM PR burst from the gate in 1991, just as the
world’s first Internet companies were starting to toddle around. The
new company, with a specialty in identifying emerging trends, quickly
pulled in business from dot-com trend setters, including Kozmo.com,
HBO.com, SonicNet, Rare Medium, the FeedRoom, Bolt, and LowerMyBills.
Of course, many of these venture capital rich ventures are no longer
around. Laermer dismisses this happenstance as inconsequential to
his agency’s prospects. For one thing, any number of media companies
went down in the crash, reducing competition. "Most of the PR
firms are out of business, thank God," he says. And before the
bubble burst, he had already begun to focus on healthcare as an
industry. "In the late-’90s and early 2000s, we saw that a lot
of healthcare PR agencies weren’t handling healthcare as though it
is interesting," he says. RLM PR moved into the breach.
As an example, it took on Allergan’s Alocril, a prescription medicine
for the relief of eye allergy symptoms, and turned a potentially
product into a boon for golfers. After attracting coverage in Golf,
Golf Digest, Fairways, T & L Golf, and Golf for Women, RLM PR is
on other lifestyle niches for the product.
In a breathtaking trend-spotting feat, Laermer, a lifetime New Yorker
who got his start singing the city’s praises, has opened a California
office to supplement his New York and Washington, D.C., offices. Not
only that, but, speaking from the Left Coast, he sounds totally
by the Cali lifestyle. His new orientation comes as critics are
that New York’s number one cinema poet, Woody Allen, has begun to
turn toward the sun, advising the hero in his new movie to seek his
fortune in Los Angeles.
"People have been making fun of me all year," says Laermer.
"They’ve been making fun of L.A., but now Woody Allen’s telling
his character to go to L.A." Los Angles, trend-spotter Laermer
declares, is "a lot happier than New York." And no, he says,
it wasn’t 9/11/2001 that plunged Gotham into gloom. "The year
before was tough," he says. "It was the burning off of
The stock market plunge, in his opinion, "made 2001 an evil
People, he says, "were in a really bad mood."
"I started coming here more," he says during a phone interview
from his 310 area code. "If you’re in a bad mood, the weather
makes it go away. Some cliches are true." Moving a few steps ahead
of Woody Allen, Laermer is in the process of building a house in the
desert outside of Los Angeles where, he says, sounding absolutely
blissful, "it’s always warm and beautiful."
Savvy PR strategies have gotten Laermer to a position where multiple
residences are an option. He shares them in his new book Full Frontal
PR (Bloomberg Press). Here is a sample from the "Thou Shalt Not
Lie — And 27 Other Media Relations Do or Die Commandments"
for the media, or if your pitch isn’t hitting home, regroup, fix the
problem, and patch all the holes. Bribing a journalist is buying your
way into the publication, and if that’s what you want, make life
for both of you and buy an advertisement. The best way to get a
to take your story is to prepare and hone the pitch so it delivers
your message and addresses the media’s real needs.
a gift thanking the reporter. Your intentions may be perfectly
honorable, but once again, a gift is problematic for a journalist.
All you’re doing is putting her ethics up for debate, because if she
ever chooses to cover you in the future, a case can be made that you
endeared your way in.
Send a handwritten note expressing what a pleasure it was to work
getting media coverage if you’re the one with the connections.
What your higher-up thinks is a friend usually is someone he talked
to at a cocktail party.
Time and time again, a client has beseeched us not to talk to a
because she, thinking she had an "in" with the reporter, was
going to handle it herself. And every single time, either we’ve had
to step in to clean up the mess, or the reporter, with whom we’ve
had a longstanding relationship, has called us to say `Why is this
person bugging me?’
to disclose. Entrepreneurs, inventors, and generic know-it-alls
always seem to be in a very unhealthy form of `stealth mode,’
toiling away on their next big idea in a locked lab guarded by
agreements. But, of course, they want to be famous, too.
The first thing to remember is that no matter what you’re doing,
it isn’t curing cancer or AIDS, someone else is doing something more
If the media wants to know about it (because you called them,
then give them the full story. Never solicit coverage and then give
only half the news. It’s pretentious and off-putting.
one more thing: Don’t miss a deadline. The media live and die by the
clock. If you’re working with a reporter on your story, always make
her schedule yours.
or service makes a journalist who reports it look like a dolt.
If you don’t want to read it the next morning in the paper, don’t
say it. Many people like to exchange off-the-record quips with
to buddy up to them. You’re only creating problems for the writer
when you spill dirty little secrets. Here’s why: Journalists don’t
have to honor off-the-record statements. Their job is to report the
news, and if your off-the-record scoop is news, they need to tell
question. Just don’t. No comment is a product of Hollywood. It’s
an incriminating answer. By not commenting, you’re saying a whole
If she asks you a question on a subject you can’t talk about, such
as a legal or Securities and Exchange Commission issue, tell her so.
Acting coy is not a good idea here.
are looking for straight facts, and great PR people are only too happy
to supply the answers. The idea isn’t to be a spinmeister, weaving
a web of confusion, but to be there to answer questions and get a
story in print. All of the facts discussed may not be beneficial to
you, but they’re probably quite necessary for the whole of the story.
not a doormat. Journalists are just like anyone else, and if you let
them walk all over you, they will. Set guidelines and let them know
you aren’t a pushover. You’re there to contribute your share of a
mutually beneficial relationship. If it doesn’t seem like a two-way
street, get off at the next exit.
Always read and watch the news if you’re trying to be a part of it.
There’s always a bigger trend to keep an eye on, and maybe your small
business or big idea is relevant to the conversation. That’s your
`in’! Jump on it, make the calls, and become part of the news.
Remember what Gloria Swanson said in Sunset Boulevard: `It’s the
that got small!" Day in and day out, our clients say they don’t want
to waste their time speaking with Wireless Review, Call Center
or atNewYork.com because they’re too small or no one reads them.
Press begets press, darn it, and if you turn coverage down, you’ve
set yourself up to fail. The big secret is that most journalists read
the small news outlets like atNewYork.com to find great stories
before they hit the mainstream. Do you think they dream up all those
great stories on their very own?
joke, don’t. Even if you think that somehow it will ingratiate
you with the host or hostess, don’t. Particularly if it’s about
guest, no matter how light-hearted it is, just don’t. You’ll never
get asked back. Other producers who are watching will scratch you
off their lists, too.
we decided to add one more commandment, the one that truly counts:
Don’t say no to all these ixnays. They are time-tested and worth
attention to. Use and obey!
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.