Friday, October 31, 2008


A big happy birthday and happy Halloween to my sister Laurie.

It has always been a big celebration in our family - probably because of Laurie's birthday and the combination of lots of candy.

I've been getting super into the pumpkin carving thing and last year we took it extreme. I found this site on the internet with directions for a flaming pumpkin. The easy way to do this (and safe) is to soak a roll of toilet paper overnight in kerosene. Carve a big pumpkin with a large opening at the top (my son Eric did this one). Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet and light her up. The results will amaze and impress.

Happy trick or treats!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stay Inside the Shark Cage

I have been in the PR profession for like 20-years. And I'm still learning something new - seems like every day. That's one of the reasons I started this blog.

But yesterday was a lesson I will never forget. We brought a media trainer in to help a client understand how to speak from a message box. Picture a box in the middle of a piece of paper that contains the central point of what ever story it is you want to tell. Than all around the box are themes that support your message.

We came up with an original idea at the center and terrific points to support our story. And as we started questioning our CEO - easy questions then hard -- a former big CEO who is on his board came into the room. He looked at our message box, listened to the client answer a couple of questions and then he said:

"You have just steped outside the shark cage with that answer. You're going to get your arm ripped off. If you keep stepping outside the box, you'll get ripped apart. Think of that message box as a shark cage. If you stay inside, you will be safe. If you go outside, the press will tear your head off."

Brilliant metaphor. Life lesson.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


My sister sent me this quote from Author David Sedaris on Undecided Voters. It says it better than I could ever say it:

“I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention? To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it? To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

- Author David Sedaris, on undecided voters

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Terry Tate Tackles The Issue

I just could not resist. Forgive me. - Watch more free videos

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reading the Script

I attended two debates today and was shocked to see the two Republican incumbent candidates again and again read their responses to questions from prepared scripts. The first was John Hartwell and Toni Boucher for State Senate (he's "my" candidate). And the second, Jim Himes (pictured with his family) and Chris Shays for Congress.

As seasoned politicians my expectation was that Toni and Chris would be well versed in all the issues. I had thought that they were prepared. I had hoped that they knew the issues well enough - having been our representatives for many, many years, that they could speak from the heart.

On the other hand, their two challengers John and Jim - not politicians, but proven business executives -- both spoke directly at the audience. They may have had notes, but they did not read them as prepared scripts.

It was almost insulting to have to sit and listen to a canned response versus an open exchange of ideas as the Debate format offers. I clearly have a bias - but I honestly feel that the Democratic challengers outshone thier more seasoned counterparts by speaking simply and straight to the crowd.


Colin Powell today endorses Barak Obaman. At the core of his endorsement is the issue of "Judgement." Powell says that in watching Obama, he has displayed the judgement required to lead our country. That he is more inclusive, he crosses lines.

He said that Obama is a transformational candidate. He has both style and substance.

Powell said that he has to question McCain's judgement. His lack of judgement was evident in his selection of Palin. It continues with the way in which he has been running the race. The robo calls, the negativity and narrowness. The Republicans move far to the right is also an issue.

He questions how the Republican party at large has conducted itself.

From Meet the Press: "Powell also told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that he was “troubled” by Republicans’ personal attacks on Obama, especially false intimations that Obama was Muslim and the recent focus on Obama’s alleged connections to William Ayers, a co-founder of the radical ’60 Weather Underground.

Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.

“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society.

“I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” Powell said. “Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower.”

It has already been called a "racial" move by some on the far right. For shame.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Old Lady Bloggers

I love this! Two supposedly 82-year old women from Texas have a blog
And they are hysterical. In commenting on the last presidential debate they say:

"But who the hell is Joe the Plumber? Seriously. What the hell was that all about? Joe the Plumber? Joe Six Pack? The new McCain strategy seems to be banking on a lot of guys named Joe with a beer in one hand and a pipe wrench in the other. Is this a political campaign or a dating service for the Palin women?"

I wish they lived in Florida.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nice Works

The takeawawy from Debate watch 3 (and 2 and 1) - is that John McCain could have helped himself a whole lot more if he behaved like a decent human being. If he only had one ounce of sincerity in his voice, one honest look of respect for his challenger -- he could have made the American public actually hear what he said.

But he was petty. He was petulant. And it did not serve him well. Imagine him sitting across from a leader of another country and trying to hold back his small mindedness. If he could not rise to the ocassion and treat Obama and the American public with respect, how can he serve this country?

A debate is not just about works and counter punches. It is a visual contest as well. From the moment McCain gets on stage -- be it while meandering the floor as he did in Debate 2 or smugly smirking as he did last night, he looks profoundly unpresidential.

Obama on the otherhand, demonstrated the poise, calm and patience that one would expect in a leader.

And I love how NPR next day checked all the facts. See link here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Funny story. My friend Barbara Hoffman was recounting a story from High School. She recalled coming by our friend Susan's house one evening only to find Susan's father Victor, in his underwear trying to chase down the dog Benjamin who had apparently taken off. Seeing Victor - a fairly high ranking executive at IBM - on the front lawn in his boxers was surely a funny sight.

But Barbara remembered this image. And when she felt intimidated in a job interview or conversation or altercation with anyone, she remembered Victor running around in his briefs.

I thought this was a smart way to stare down those who put you on the defensive. I actually recounted the story in a meeting yesterday with a client and reporter for the WSJ. It has legs (so to speak) and can be applied to many situations.

Next time I'm in that spot, I'll think of Victor. I think he'd like that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lessons from Friends of Long Standing

High School Reunion - 30 Years!

So the full impact of seeing all those familiar faces and the emotional impact of long forgotten memories has not sunk in.

But the dinner the night before with frinds of longest standing -- Barbara Hoffman, Nancy Weiner and Susan Goldberg (maiden names of course), was the most perfect way to re-enter this transient zone of remember when.

I forgot how funny Nancy always was. And I forgot how wise Barbara always was. And I forgot how Susan was freinds with EVERYONE!

Lesson of Day One - we can always start again - no matter how young/old we are. And we can be successful in many things.

Picking up and leaving home at age 46, starting a new life far from what has been a normal day for a lifetime can bring new perspective and talents. Barbara goes from NY society life where she dressed and outfitted the ladies who lunch to a much simpler and happier life in Peach Tree Georgia where she grows tomatoes! Who knew?

And Nancy has a 5-year old when many of us are now looking at colleges. From teaching at a highly regarded private school, she's teaching on a farm. (And looking for a home for a few good goats).

Susan has stayed home (literally and figuratively). But the Scarsdale of past is a different place today and sometimes it seems learning to live with a familiar place with a different set of walls is almost more challenging.

So while you can go home to visit. You take what is best from wherever you've been and you bring it with you wherever you go.

I'd like to have a little more of Barbara, Nancy and Susan here in Wilton.

Friday, October 10, 2008

PR Lesson of the Day

When they say "It's the Economy Stupid," what they are really saying is that this is the topic of the day and that's all anyone wants to hear about.

This is an imporant lesson. And once again proves something I learned from Howard Rubenstein - one of the smartest PR guys ever. If you can make your story tie into what is happening in the news, you will get interest and visibility. True then. True today.

What this means for the PR business today is that your story has to relate to the economy to get visibility. In fact a reporter at the WSJ told me that point blank yesterday that unless your story has some relation to the events in the financial markets, it's not a story for the next several weeks, possibily months.

This is an opportunity. If you can get clients and others to pay attention.

But it also works in this election cycle. My candidate has siezed on this issue as issue number one and formulated a distinctive strategy for dealing with a looming budget deficit. And I think he has the right idea.

The question I know need to answer is how to make my business survive at a time when I am seeing clients (and clients of my clients) cut spending way back. This will be a long, hard road.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How Low Can it Go

The stock market is reeling. The S&P 500 stock index has fallen 42 percent over the last year. The NY Times says that its nearly as bad as one terrible 12-month period from late 1973 to 1974. "Other than that it's the worst decline since 1932." This photo was taken downtown today. Someone painted the bulls balls blue. I believe the paint has since been removed.

It's too late to pull out of the stock market. Yet investors are withdrawing money from mutual funds like crazy. That is enough to set off even more of a melt down.

I am not a financial expert. I still add on my fingers. But I think that until we elect a new president the market will continue to freefall.

A reporter at the WSJ told me that several months ago Rupert Murdoch said he put all his money in bonds - treasuries - and out of stock. Rupert Murdoch can sometimes be a smart man. If only he wasn't a republican....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama Mania

Ok - I admit it. I saw this on my friend Michelle's blog (sugarpieexpress - it's listed on my blog list). I had to post it because I think that there really is an art form in campaign design/signs, logos, etc. Obama happens to have wonderful design on his side. It is interesting and is reflective. It makes you think. That is the essence of good communications -- engagement.

He's got it. McCain's is very traditional and predictable. That speaks to the very heart of the differences - that "change" thing.

One more thing. My husband sent me this video of O'bama the Irish. It's hysterical. Enjoy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Red vs Blue

This came courtesy of my good friends in Connecticut local political groups. We are small, and we are outnumbered. But we clearly are smarter. This is the first time a post comes 100% from outside. I think it poses an interesting challenge.


Dear Red States,

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California , and we've decided we're leaving.

We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii , Oregon , Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois and all of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Nancy Pelosi. You get Sarah Palin.

We get the Statue of Liberty. Y ou get WalMart.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America 's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama .

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals.

They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite , thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red state s believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico .

Blue States

Friday, October 3, 2008

Debate Guide

So while there was no hoped for car wreck, there also was not coherent answer to most of the questions. A friend sent this to me. I think it's great.

What did I learn? That we long to see people fall on their faces. We're a mean bunch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I saw this photo in the NYT and did a double take. Then my mouth fell open and I was speechless. Yes. I was speechless.

How is it possible that she could wear a polar bear pin? She said the Polar Bears don't need protecting and are not endangered. Now she's mounting them on her lapel. I'm at a loss....

She Doesn't Read!!!

I can't help myself. In the interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin could not name a single magazine, newspaper or media outlet that she has recently read. What did she say? She said:

"I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media," Palin replied. Asked for examples, she said, "Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years." -- Poor Rupert Murdoch!

Asked again for an example, Palin told Couric: "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."

In remarks aired Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show," Palin told Couric that she thinks media coverage of her has been guided not by sexism but by the fact that she isn't "part of the Washington herd."


So the blogosphere thing can be tricky.

As I am finding with business, there is no longer anything that a company can call "internal." For once a memo goes out, once a new product is planned, once an idea is articulated, it somehow finds its way into the ether.

The notion of "where there's smoke" there's fire is true. If a reporter calls asking about a rumor, chances are there is some element of truth to it. So while I was getting calls about a magazine being sold or a CEO retiring, behind the scenes, these things were really happening. In front of the scenes, I had deniability because I HAD NO CLUE.

Today, however, there is a new transparency. Nothing happens behind the scenes anymore. With blogs, a newsmedia that runs news as it happens (and sometimes before it happens), we are all subject to exposure.

I got exposed yesterday. I monitor an industry blog and on occasion, I will comment on a post. I do this under a nom de guerre. But in yesterday's post - which was very innocuous and thankfully did not call out a client -- I signed the stupid post "Toni."

Not sure now what to do. There are a lot of Toni's out there, but if I'm monitoring those blogs, I know a lot of other people are as well. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me they saw my post.

The lesson? Just like there's no more transparency in business or life - there really is no anonymity. Sooner or later, you are exposed.

UPDATE: Nailed! Just got asked by a friend if I was "Toni" on the already mentioned Blog. Things move in superhigh speed online.

The Root of All Evil

According to a new film out by Bill Maher 60% of the US Population actually believes the tales from the Bible. They believe in Noah and the Ark. They believe that snakes talk. In sum, they believe that things that can't be explained by science or fact, are true nonetheless. And they believe this because they were taught at a very early age about god and their religion.

I was taught as well. But I have to say, somewhere along the line I came to the realization that the only one who was going to help me in this world was me. I have a hard time believing in some all knowing great being.

Thankfully we have Bill Maher and his new film "Religulous" that is being called an "uproarious nonfiction film about the greatest fiction ever told."

Bill made a special appearance on Jon Stewart's show the other night and I was rivited. One of my friends said she was shocked that he was so far left and that she found herself agreeing with everything he said. Me too.

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