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These stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 19, 1999.
All rights reserved.
Television PR: War of Images
Publicists for hi-tech companies may find it difficult
to generate interest from television reporters, but Bev Aaron,
creator and producer of Philadelphia WPVI-TV’s Prime Time Weekend,
has actually built a 23-year career on the back of hi-tech entrepreneur
stories. "Television is unique; it’s a war of images," he
says. "It’s not necessarily `if it bleeds, it leads’ anymore,
but you need to have good visual documentation."
Aaron offers some strategies for getting science and technology stories
into the public eye at the annual dinner meeting of the Princeton
ACM/IEEE Computer Society on Thursday, May 20, at 6 p.m. at Sunny
Garden. He speaks on "Science and Technology: Reporting in the
Television Age." Cost: $17.50. Call 609-924-8704.
A Princeton native who glowingly recalls Einstein walking past his
family house on Mercer Street, Aaron revels in science (Darwin is
his hero). He is hardly an academic, though. He left Yale in the 1960s
to join the army’s special weapons unit during the Cuban missile crisis
and never went back. Sitting in the ivory tower, he says, didn’t seem
relevant. "I wanted to be part of the real world."
While working his way from the mail room to the documentary film unit
at WPVI-TV, the ABC station in Philadelphia, a vision for capturing
the real world on television slowly formed. "I got bored with
the typical public affairs social documentaries," he says. "I
was casting about for a new show, looking for something pretty dramatic,
and I went up to Jim O’Brien and said: Ever thought of jumping out
of an airplane?"
O’Brien, a weatherman at the station, agreed to do the parachuting
stunt on TV, but Aaron had to take the first leap. He landed with
a broken leg and a new program for the station. [O’Brien, who become
a parachuting enthusiast, died much later in a parachuting accident.]
Prime Time Weekend covered the "risk-takers" in business,
environment, medicine, and technology then, just as it does now. "We
were doing entrepreneurs before entrepreneurs were cool," Aaron
says. To him, entrepreneurs are modern-day adventurers. "`Could’
is perhaps the most operative word on the stock market and the media,"
The complex and often abstract nature of the stories that attract
Aaron makes his job as a producer a risky venture. One daunting thing
for television people reporting on science is finding good visual
material, he says. "A lot of great science stories don’t get done
because there’s no visuals to support them."
Publicists can make the television producer’s job easier with a little
ones always have a videotape ready for producers like me," says
Aaron. Projects associated with a university might have the media
department get the necessary footage.
If you can’t get video, he says, animate it. "Whatever it is that
you’re trying to design, come up with some visualization. There are
so many great programs now that do animation."
PR people or articles in newspapers or magazines.
but that could be an important source for visuals as well.
other station is its website. "Instead of becoming one of the
centers of the universe, we become one of a billion stars," he
says, humbled by the implications of the new technology. "Here
we sit in this industry and tell stories about technology, and one
of the most important stories of the century — we don’t know how
it’s going to turn out."
— Melinda Sherwood
Manners Still Count
If you want to make money, try good-old fashioned manners,
says Barry Farber, a nationally syndicated conservative talk
show host with Talk Radio Network. The good ‘ol boy from North Carolina
thinks people should capitalize on etiquette. "Coming across well
and having others like you is a devious tactic, and one I recommend,"
The Mercer Chamber of Commerce has asked Farber to share his unusual
perspective as a social commentator on Thursday, May 20, at the Hyatt
at 11 a.m. Cost: $30. Call 609-393-4143.
After 40 years on the air, Farber toes a conservative line ("my
greatest interest is bringing America back morally," he says),
but his life has been anything but conservative. He spent the greater
part of the 1950s traveling in and out of Cuba, Brazil, the Soviet
Union and Hungary to cover stories of war, revolution and repression.
He speaks 14 languages (fluently) and founded the New York Language
Club. He also wrote three books, all of which draw on conventional
wisdom to help people better themselves.
"We’re all mice trying to become rats through bodybuilding,"
says the self-proclaimed moralist. His third book, "How To Not
Make The Same Mistake Once," was just released by Barricade Publishers.
He describes it as a kind of Aesop’s fables for adults; a series of
true stories about people who have destroyed their friendships, relationships,
careers, marriages, elections, and aspirations of every kind by "saying
or doing something extremely stupid." Farber says it was his mother’s
story-telling that inspired him to write the book.
Farber was born and "bred" in Greensboro, North Carolina,
where he and his brother were raised by their stay-at-home mother
and a father who worked in the clothing business. By the early age
of 14, Farber began to study Italian and, later, Norwegian and Chinese.
Farber received a BA in journalism at the University of North Carolina,
Class of 1952, where he was a boxer and a wrestler. A love of languages
and foreign affairs led him to Europe before he would seek out a journalism
career on domestic shores.
Farber’s unconventional track record landed him a job as a producer
of the Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenberg Show in 1957. "They liked
what was in my background that others didn’t like," he said. "I
didn’t just work in my local newspaper after graduating from college."
For three years, Farber lined up guests for the popular radio show
hosts before breaking out on his own. "I just gradually approached
the flame," he says, and then "I realized that I can do this
Farber debuted on WINS in New York, covering every topic from the
mafia to NASA’s space program. Forty years later, Farber’s show is
still somewhat similar; he takes "whatever motivates the day"
and incorporates it into the show. "It’s a great way to make a
living," he says. "Beats plowing."
Although nothing can compete with "good breeding" (of which
Farber was a recipient), he does think people can improve business
performance through common courtesy. He offers the following simple
will stand out like a volcano in a forest of Ronson lighters,"
says Farber. Don’t wait for the person to ask to put you on hold.
"There will be a subconscious good feeling in the heart of the
person that you do that for."
"If you say `Excuse me, is this Mrs. Jones?’ all of sudden she
feels like a person and not an answering service."
a noticeable delay in lunch be charged to you," he says, adding
that women are often guilty of delaying lunch with complicated requests,
thereby "demoting herself from a totally equal player."
out himself), there’s a good reason: "God," he says, "is
Graduate school guides are traditional sources of information,
at least at the initial stages of the graduate school hunt. They give
you an overview of colleges, the programs they offer, and other pertinent
information such as financial aid and admission requirements. Peterson’s
Guides to graduate schools — produced by the Carnegie Center-based
publishing company — are a good place to start exploring your
For a person seeking to go to graduate school for a degree in communications,
for instance, there is the "Arts, Humanities, and Archaeology"
book/CD duo that profiles more than 5,300 accredited programs in these
fields. It also provides advice on applying, testing, and financing
your graduate education. The CD provides in-depth descriptions of
specific graduate programs, along with the GRE test-prep software.
This 900-page softback guide costs $24.95.
If you are seeking a management degree, the Peterson’s 1999 exclusive
MBA guide to "U.S., Canadian, and International Business Schools"
provides information on more than 900 institutions with full-time,
part-time, joint-degree, distance learning, and executive MBA and
master’s level business programs. It also provides an inside track
to the job market, career options, hiring trends, and salary details.
An access advisor CD, an interactive student financial planner, comes
with the book. This 1,300-page softback guide costs $26.95.
Peterson’s also has six hardback volumes, each with over 2,000 pages,
purchased mainly by libraries and colleges. The volumes include an
overview; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Biological Sciences;
Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Agricultural Sciences, the Environment,
and Natural Resources; and Engineering, and Applied Sciences.
Each volume has a tremendous amount of information. For instance,
the sixth volume, "Graduate Programs in Business, Education, Health,
Information Studies, Law, and Social Work" covers more than 15,000
graduate programs in 126 disciplines and provides details on entrance
and degree requirements, expenses, housing, and financial aid. This
particular volume costs $39.95.
Apart from directory listings of institutions and programs, it also
has in-depth information about some colleges. For example, in the
Information Studies section, there are almost 60 colleges offering
the program that are listed but only 16 institutions "have chosen
to prepare detailed program descriptions," according to the guide.
These descriptions include research facilities, living and housing
costs, faculty, history, location, and transportation.
Information that is conspicuously absent in both the hardback and
soft back versions (with the exception of colleges that have provided
detailed descriptions in the hardback version) is living and housing
All this information is also available on the Internet at http://www.gradschools.petersons.com,
which Peterson’s claims is the Internet’s largest graduate study database.
While both the book version and the online version have their merits,
the online version is superior in one regard. It provides a listing
of colleges on the basis of location, which the book version does
not. This information is vital for someone searching for public institutions
or with a particular state preference. Searching through a list of
1,500 alphabetically-listed institutions for schools in one particular
state obviously can be quite laborious.
— Teena Chandy
And No Advertising, Either
One hallmark of the Peterson’s Guides is that they are
not swayed by advertising. "The difference between advertising
and what we do is that, in advertising, you get to say what you want
and where you want," says Michael Ditchkofsky. As director
of institutional markets at Peterson’s, Ditchkofsky is in charge of
services to the universities and colleges and he presides over the
print and web-based listings that are so popular among prospective
Founded in 1966 by Peter and Casey Hegener, Peterson’s
is based at the Carnegie Center and publishes books, data bases, and
software for career guidance, college choices, and recruitment. It
accepts no advertising, and it prints all of the basic listings without
charge, but it does allow colleges to buy expanded listings. Peterson’s
edits the paid-for expanded listings to conform with its style, and
it makes its own decisions about where to place the listing.
"We survey every accredited graduate program in North America
and generate a profile for every program. Schools can opt to give
additional information, but we prescribe a format and they must write
in terms of the format," says Ditchkofsky. An alumnus of LaSalle,
Class of 1981, he has a PhD in English from the University of Chicago
and has worked at Peterson’s for seven years.
A standard listing might be five inches, sharing a page with four
other institutions. An expanded listing covers two facing pages and
includes what prospective graduate students are intensely interested
in, the list of faculty members, their awards, degrees, publications,
and research interests. It also has an extensive quote from the admissions
director, which as Ditchkofsky points out, "has to be written
by the head of the program in the form we prescribe."
"The manuscript is scrupulously edited. we don’t allow anyone
to make qualitative statements, only actual viable reference information,
so readers can go compare and contrast," he says. "Also they
can’t tell us where to place it. The idea there, from the beginning,
has been that when a student is looking for a particular kind of program
they can go to one place, whatever the program happens to be called."
A college seeking chemistry majors for its graduate biology program
may request to have it put in the chemistry section, but that request
would be denied.
The data is "rebuilt" every year and changes are made as received
and "refreshed," on the website, every two weeks. "When
we decided every indepth description would go up on the web, we raised
the price of the indepth description," he says. "Later this
fall there will be a dramatic shift, and we will offer a number of
services only on the web, with no print equivalent. These services
will help the admissions directors."
"When our research department sends out a survey, the institution
doesn’t necessary know how those questions will be put together in
a profile. We mail a copy of last year’s manuscript, but we don’t
send out proofs in advance. We verify volatile data by phone."
Even though admissions directors focus their marketing efforts on
the Web, because they know that is where their students are, they
usually reply to the survey on paper, so that someone at Peterson’s
has to keystroke in the changes. So far, paper replies don’t cost
more. "We do have price incentives," says Ditchkovsky, "but
they have to do with getting the manuscript in early."
That may change next year after Peterson’s converts its editorial
database software from Signature to Oracle, a change that is taking
place company-wide. The new platform will integrate all the databases,
and the in-house programmers are being trained in Oracle.
Peterson’s is partnering with Educational Testing Service for online
application for MBA programs, including payment through Verifone.
On August 31 it will release a version for all graduate programs.
Peterson’s traditionally eschews a service that news magazines supply
— the ranking of colleges and graduate schools. "Financially,"
says Ditchkovsky, "we would make a lot more money, on consumer
publications, if we were to rank. but we don’t believe that
ranking is a valid way to make educational choices. Ranking assumes
there is one right place for every student and that all students have
the same needs and aspirations."
— Barbara Fox
Save Some Wages
You may reconsider hiring "temps" this summer.
Several area teachers are giving up a month of summer vacation to
work in area businesses, and the Department of Labor will reimburse
employers for roughly 50 percent of the teachers’ wages.
The new program was created by both the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
and the Department of Labor to expose teachers to crucial business
skills that will, in turn, help them better prepare their students
to enter the workplace.
Although businesses can hire a teacher for four weeks for little more
than $1,000, employers are required to appoint a supervisor who will
be enrolled in a two-day mentor training program that the Chamber
of Commerce sponsors. For their part, teachers must complete an after
hours program in which they devise a way to incorporate workplace
readiness skills into classroom activities.
The program will start in July. The Chamber of Commerce is currently
accepting teacher resumes and applications by employers. Anyone interested
should contact the Chamber before mid-June at 609-989-7888.
Developers and commercial lenders can compete for $6
million in subsidies under Governor Whitman’s Urban Home Ownership
Recover Program (UHORP). The program has just entered its fifth phase
and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) is ready
to review applications.
Since its inception in 1996, the UHORP has awarded nearly $275 million
in subsidy funds, construction financing, and home-buyer mortgages
to encourage the development of affordable homes in urban neighborhoods.
In that time, 68 developments, or 1,695 new homes, have been completed
or developed, and 7,200 construction jobs created.
Developments approved under UHORP are also eligible for participation
in the HMFA 100 percent Financing Consumer Mortgage Program, which
does not require a down payment for qualified buyers, says HMFA executive
director Deborah De Santis. "That means more hard-working
families, who often find saving for a large down payment to be an
insurmountable hurdle, can now become home owners," she says.
The deadline for UHORP Phase Five applications is July 15. Call 609-278-7617
or E-mail email@example.com. Subsidy awards will be
announced in September.
The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology
(NJCST) has just distributed nearly $2 million in Technology Transfer
Awards to nine companies, including five from the Princeton area.
"The Technology Transfer Program gives the commission the opportunity
to really accelerate the commercial adoption of important new technologies,
and get new technology-based products in the marketplace," says John
Tesoriero, the commission’s executive director. Princeton’s recipients:
Cranbury. Home page: http://www.epigene.com.. Based
at Exit 8A and headed by Jonathan Nyce, the eight-person firm is developing
new respiratory drugs, including the first once-weekly preventive
therapy for asthma (U.S. 1, March 17).
(609-730-0400). George W. Taylor is president of the nine-person firm;
it is working on a line of power generation buoys that can convert
wave energy into electricity, for use along coastlines where access
to power grids is limited (U.S. 1, January 8, 1995).
Center, 732-355-0100. Wlodek Mandecki is working on light-powered
microtransponders for applications in radio frequency identification
devices that have tags, attachable to objects for identification use
(U.S. 1, January 20).
Edward Polkowski (215-736-3555) plans to move his company to Trenton;
the firm is developing a prototype system that can do "maskless"
photolithographic patterning of substrates and wafers for semiconductor
Business Park, Pennington 08534. Home page: http://www.worldwater.com.
Quentin T. Kelly is CEO of the 20-person company working on off-grid
drip irrigation systems powered by solar energy, to be developed in
partnership with Rutgers University (U.S. 1, May 7 and October 15,
ElectroChemical Systems in Ridgewood, Green Drop Ink Co. in Morristown,
and Sealtech Company in Weehawken. Awards are given quarterly, and
the next proposal deadline is July 13. Copies of the application may
be downloaded from http://www.state.nj./us/scitech.
Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is offering
degree programs in mecomtronics and insurance this fall. Insurance
needs little explanation but "Mecomtronics Engineering Technology"
trains students in the essentials of mechanical, computer, telecommunications,
and electronics technology and prepares them for careers in engineering
The curriculum for mecomtronics was developed by the New Jersey Center
for Advanced Technological Education, an educational consortium bringing
together RVCC, Middlesex Community College, St. Louis Community College,
the College of New Jersey, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and
the Woodbridge School System. The program is funded by the National
Science Foundation through its Advanced Technology Education Program.
The insurance option is an Associate of Applied Science degree in
Business Management, and includes specialized courses in property
and liability insurance, personal insurance, commercial insurance,
sales agency management, and multiple lines in insurance production.
Graduates are able to work in the field as managers, customer service
representatives, claims adjusters, market researchers, product developers,
or as insurance educators.
The degree option is the result of a collaboration between RVCC and
representatives from the Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey,
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Hunterdon County Polytech, and
Thomas Edison State College. For information, call 908-218-8861.
The Junior League of Greater Princeton has released over $11,000
in community grants to twelve selected organizations. The League awards
community grants to organizations serving children and families throughout
Mercer County, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
First Union Bank and the Main Street Project of Lawrenceville
awarded matching grants of up to $500 to three village businesses
to upgrade store signage.
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