Sunday, December 14, 2008

Television Business Model Rapidly Changing With New Media

Joe Adalian, TV Week, Melissa Grego,
Broadcasting and Cable and Juan Morales, EMMY
Magazine at an EPPS media workshop in December.

“The TV Business model is changing”
Say EPPS Editor Panelists

By George S. McQuade III

December is certainly a month to remember in Television. NBC announced it is restructuring and Tonight show Host Jay Leno will stay with a new primetime show at 10 pm on NBC. It was no wonder the first question to a panelist of TV writers and editors focused on how each handled the NBC breaking shakeup story. The moderator was a good fit, too. Joe Schlosser Sen. V.P., Comm.,NBC-Universal Television Studio-Distribution. The entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) workshop was held at the International Cinematographers Union Local 600 PR Auditorium.

“The TV Business model is changing clearly faster than anyone thought, said Joe Adalian, deputy editor and columnist, TV Week. “I think the writer’s (WGA) strike set that up, and I think we are going to see more events like this happen like this over the next year. Some people say it was a negative, while others will say it is a reflection of the business.”

Joe Adalian, TV Week

“It’s all about making sure your readers can turn to your site to get the story, whether you are two minutes earlier or later than the competition,” said Adalian, TV Week. Adalian also writes for Variety and the New York Post.

“Long gone are the days where you hold stuff,” said Melissa Grego, executive editor, Broadcasting and Cable (B&C), who said she was literally working on breaking three major stories Online at B&C, including Jay Leno’s stay at NBC. She also said the terrorist incident in Mubai, India dominated any other TV coverage, because it was such a high profile area and story.

“We really are driven weekly by a cover story, which is a multipaged , in-depth report you can’t replicate like breaking news such as the Jay Leno deal,” said Grego, of B&C. “The timing of the attacks ( terrorism) in Mubai was tricky for a lot of the US TV organizations to cover.

Melissa Greg, B&C holds up special issue
on Terrorism Media Coverage in India.

Marissa Gunthery, who covers the TV business, did a nice job in an analytical piece that showed showed how all those foreign news budget cutbacks came into play with the lack of coverage in Mubai. It was a huge story. The story was done late in the day, and a lot of our readers are in
New York, so we held off until the next morning.”

The 1,200 word story was posted Online and got so much interaction at various journalists’ websites; we took excerpts and printed some of the talk backs from the conversations Online. The most fun part of the story was encouraging our readers to go back Online,” explained Grego.

“If you can push a story ahead in the print edition of our magazines it gives the story legs beyond what you have to print on a day-to-day basis Online,” explained Alan Frutkin, correspondent/producer, Nielsen Business Media (Hollywood, Reporter, Billboard, MediaWeek, and Backstage).

Frutkin was caught in a middle of doing a feature on NBC’s Night Rider when the news came down it was cancelled. “I was invited out to the set to do a video report on the executive producer and the Night Rider show, but before we packaged and uploaded our story, it changed to NBC cutting back on the episodes. It’s tough and that’s how fast news changes.”

The job has changed too for Frutkin, in addition to writer, he also producers video reports Online for all of Nielson’s platforms. “It indicates how quickly the industry and trade journalism is changing to meet the needs of what users and readers want.”

“I’m a little jealous, because breaking news is not really something we can do, Juan Morales, editor-in-chief of Emmy Magazine, which publishes six issues a year for mostly subscribed TV and Arts Academy members. “We do more of analysis and compiling of the TV events, and we’re all connected in the sense of being the media, we focus on what it means when NBC Chief Jeff Zucker announces he’s doing away with primetime Television. Realistically since we are a bimonthly, we really can’t do anything until February or when the new show (Jay Leno) premiers.”

Morales also said in regards to the NBC fallout announcements, “Strictly as an observer of the industry I thought it was interesting that there are a lot of appendages of stories, not only the announcement itself, but what about the story about competition for bookings between Leno and Conan O’Brien being on the West Coast, at the same network.” He admitted that the Emmy Magazine doesn’t have the resources to covering breaking news, but does have a website and we relies on publicists to provide us with the information so we can provide to our members. Morales prefers email pitches at:

“It’s all about making sure your readers can turn to your site to get the story, whether you are two minutes earlier or later than the competition,” said Adalian, TV Week. Adalian also writes for Variety and the New York Post.

Tips for publicist from the panelists:

· Exclusives are still welcome, but holding breaking news is impossible

· Email pitches work best and lots of early warning no unsolicited stuff

· Honesty in communications, be upfront - provide as much as you can

· Strong relationships and familiarity with a writer’s beat equals success

Emails contacts:;;;;

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Future of News: "Innovation and telling stories in your own voice"

(l-r) Lee Abrams, Ron Kaye and Erza Palmer at LA Press Club event
held November 13, 2008 at the Steve Allen Theater, Hollywood.

The Future of News

By George McQuade
West Coast Bureau Chief

“Tribune reaches 31 percent of all people 40 years and older,” Senior V.P. and Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams, Tribune Company told about three dozen mostly journalists at the LA Press Club sponsored “The Future of News,” media workshop held recently (11-13-08) at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.

Lee Abrams
Tribune Company

“Forget anyone under 40, that’s 69 percent market.” Abrams joined, former Managing Editor Ron Kaye, Los Angeles Daily News and Moderator Ezra Palmer, vice president of Product Development,
Westwood One.

“After attending a fundraiser for Autism last night with lots of celebrities in Hollywood, I had this fantasy that this is what journalism is going to come to,” said Palmer.

Erza Palmer
Westwood One

“That we would gather together to raise money for the news and wear bracelets that said ‘let’s do the news’ and maybe we would have walkathons and telethons, who knows. Is the news still a business or is it something that is going to turn into a public trust?” he asked the panel.

“I’m not so sure that the answer is that simple for radio, Television newspaper, but I will tell you the business model is broken,” said Ron Kaye, who now writes his own blog, and plans to start a “Green Sheet” and nonprofit over the next few weeks.

Ron Kaye

“The news business model and form are broken in the face of the most democratic revolution in human history, which is the Internet. It’s where anyone can speak, and we starting to see products develop. I have a friend who writes for OPED News, and he has never written a thing in his life, but has always been passionate, and I think his ideas are crazy as I have ever heard. He gets a tremendous number hits on”

Additionally, Kaye said, “There is an audience for people’s voices, anybody’s voice that can draw a crowd, its democratic and its free.”

Kaye is planning to launch a “Green Sheet” of half metropolitan and half local stories from the
San Fernando Valley, which has about two-million plus residents. “I think allowing anyone to talk, post stories or create a public conversation, where everyone participates would make a good nonprofit format, and I hope to pull it off,” he said. “I’m told there are two dozen large newspapers that are up for sale, and given the current climate they are not worth the land they own. It is like saying the only LA Times asset is Times Mirror Square.”

The newspapers are not selling at the cost structure they are at all panelist noted. “Since I was fired back in April, because I had reached the limit of who I could cut and still produce a paper, 15 of the best people at the paper (Los Angeles Daily News) have quit, and everyone one of them tell me they are happier, working harder, faster and learning more in a more creative environment.”

“When I first came to the paper (Los Angeles Times) I said, "The news/information is the ‘new rock and roll of news’, which means news is vibrant and alive like rock and roll of 1955 impact on culture. It is an exciting place to be, where it is the Internet, newspaper, TV or radio,” said Lee Abrams, who worked at XM Satellite Radio before joining LAT.

Abrams noted that each newspaper, including the Los Angeles Times are going through individual designs, describing phases that involved the whole newspaper staff, who now feel liberated.

“I got all the departments involved, people who had a lot of repressed feelings. Some said, ‘some of our stories are boring,’ so we liberated them in three phases: fear, acceptance then excitement,” he said. “They came to term with the war out there. We are not cheapening ourselves, just claiming our turf. The whole process involved myth busting,” explained Abrams.

Abrams described the evolution of newspapers and the mass media as a “magical time to be involved in the changes and once everyone gets past the challenges of friction a year from now, people are going to say the Los Angeles Times is a pretty hot newspaper. We need to take advantage of the times, and not get so mired in tradition, myths and old ways of dong things.”

The presidential campaign was a wake up call for the media, too! “A lot of newspapers were under the radar during the whole Obama thing,” said Abrams. “While everyone was worried about the layouts and where they were going to be five years from now, all of a sudden thousands of people were lining up outside the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times for copies of it (Election Day edition). The papers started rethinking and replaying the elections of the past. The Chicago Tribune actually wrote an article on how to preserve a newspaper,” said Abrams.

Standby, Abrams said he feels local television news around the country is “kind of goofy, all have the certain feel and look of revenue machines. Tribune owns KTLA-TV, which has seen ratings drop along with other broadcast outlets. Abram plans to visit KTLA next. The panel contends that editors and reporters need to write more in their own voice and do a better job in telling stories that are useful and not boring.

“I wished the times could look like the Sunday edition 365 days a year, and we need more entertainment stories in a section of their own, like stocks,” said Abrams.

Other media Blogs worth checking out:
MAYO Communications
O'Dwyer Publications

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

How To Start Your Own Public Relations Firm

EPPS Workshop

“Prepare Now, Because The Day Will Come!”

By George S. McQuade III
West Coast Bureau Chief

“I started my own agency on a fluke,” said Murray Weissman, president, Murray Weissman & Associates, Los Angeles. Murray was amongst eight Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) Panelists at the recent (Oct. 16, 2208) media workshop “Mechanics of Starting Up Your Own PR Firm.” It was held at the ICG Headquarters in Hollywood.

Murray Weisman

“I knew I was going to leave Rogers & Cowen and I would be calling around town for another job, so I let them know in front, and also called a good friend of mine, the late Thomas M. Pryor, who was editor of Daily Variety,” said Weissman. “For some reason he put my story on the front page of Variety, and I said, ‘I’m leaving to form my own PR agency,’ and that resulted unbelievably in two clients coming in to follow my leave, and boom, I was in business.”

Weissman also said, be prepared, have confidence and use all that background experience to be successful when starting your own PR firm. Weissman’s first client was Charlton Heston, and the movie “Mountain Men.”

“I say to everybody in this room, and if you work for a big company, prepare now, because the day will come when you’ll use all of your good contacts that you’re making with your different clients. They’ll come back to you, you’ll learn from them, and they will become valuable assets in the future. Some where down the line when you work for big companies as I did, like ABC, CBS, NBC and Universal for 10 years. The day will come when there is a management change and they’ll show you the door.”

Madelyn Hammond, Variety

“If you are ever in a position to help someone start their business you should do that,” said Madelyn Hammon, Chief Marketing Officer, Variety, who started her own business and went back to corporate life. Madelyn moderated the workshop. “If you are ever in a position where you are really successful, and got a spare office, and someone is going on their own, you should say, ‘come here for awhile, because that will make all the difference in the world.”

“When you start your own business you need to plan how you get clients, but also how you plan to organize your life,” said William Vu, Esq. Lawyer, Los Angeles. “There isn’t one thing, there are a lot of risks that have to be managed, you will need office space, but more importantly how you plan to organize your life.”

“My situation was a little different from Murray’s, said Stan Rosenfield, president & founder of Stan Rosenfield & Associates. “I had had worked for a very successful company, and I had always wanted to go out on my own. I read an article about the Master’s Gold Tournament, which said, ‘The average age of a Master’s champion was 33, however if you had not one the Master’s by the time you were 28, you were not likely to win it.’ I equated that to going out on your own. I did not want start out on my own when I was 45, but I didn’t quite know what or how I wanted to do it, and spent one year at the former company doing nothing but planning my company, developing a mental business plan.”

Rosenfield, who started his company in August, 1975, suggested creating a business plan, and obtaining a line of credit to start your company. Rosenfield’s first client was Actor Bruce Dern, and his friend who was general manager of KHJ radio in LA, and I had the movie “One Flew Over The Cookoos Nest,” (starring Jack Nicolson), and there were a couple of actors in that film that I had talked to, because we were representing the movie. Three or four actors came with me.”

“I operated the first three months on adredeline alone, but that’s how I did it. My former boss used to say ‘eight phone calls then I am out of business.’ You could lose your company if you get four or five phone calls saying ‘you’ve been really good for me, but I want to go a different direction.’ There’s no protection against that, because personal service contracts are not valid unless they have a 30-day out clause, and clients can leave you. I had very loyal clients,” said Rosenfield.

Amy Prenner (R) & William Vue

“I actually started my company out of burnout,” said Amy Prenner, The Prenner Group. ‘I ran publicity for Wheel of Fortune for five years, and I spent half of every month on the road. It got to the point where if you knew the city, I knew the journalist. I knew the radio person, media affiliates, so I felt I built a great basis for anything I wanted to do. I decided to leave after going to the same markets (media) again, and I realized maybe it is time to do something else. Slowly through the contacts I’d built, I put the feelers out just to see what was going on, and what was out there without even trying, I started getting clients. Right as I was leaving (Wheel of Fortune) I started getting referrals left and right. I took in a lot of meetings, but I knew I wanted to stay in television, since I had been working TV for nine years, so it is what I know, if I couldn’t work for someone, I would do it on my own.”

Prenner said about six years ago, she felt like, she was too young to handle it and wasn’t ready, and that she didn’t know how to handle money, billing, retainers and “chase things so, it fell apart really fast. Be sure you know what you are doing before you jump in,” she said. Her first client was on TLC (Discovery Channel) called Big Medicine, that stapled people’s stomachs.”

Contracts and unpaid billings

“Letter of agreements are okay, but I like to see contracts, because that’s the kind of lawyer I am,” said Vu. “Relationships are built on trust, and I like paper, but you have to maintain that relationship with your clients, so they will stay with you year after year.”

“When an independent film company comes in we have a letter of agreement, we have do an indemnification clause, which I highly believe in so you don’t get sued, and you incorporate your company, so they don’t take your house away if there is a legal action. If we haven’t dealt with this client before, we require two months fee in advance, along with a $1,000 for expenses, which is accounted for, so we know we’ve got that in the bank, before we start working,” said Weissman.

“I agree and it is a great idea," said Dan Harary, president & founder, Asbury Public Relations, LA. “Most of my clients are small little boutique companies or big marketing agencies, and multimillion dollar clients thank God. But, for the smaller ones, I have lunch with them, I shake their hands, I look in their eyes, I get some references, and I have to go with my gut. In 12 years I’ve only been screwed a few times. My second year I was screwed for about $40,000, and several companies had gone bankrupt.

When talking about fees, Harary drew a huge laugh from the audience when he said, “I’m like the Wal-Mart of PR. I don’t care about quality; I go for quantity of clients.”

Harary said fees could range from $500 for startups working out of their apartment to $5-$7K. The average amounts to $3,000- $5,000 per month. Most of the panelist believe in getting fees at the beginning of the month, before work begins. On larger accounts some publicists like Weissman ask for half the funds upfront, which are placed in an escrow account.

“I wish I had the leverage to ask for payment upfront, however I am third party of some film projects. Always get something in writing with expectations written down,” said Caroline Rustingian Bruderer, owner, K-Line & Company. I always ask for some kind of contract, because some clients will say you didn’t what you said you were going to do. So cover your asses,” she said.

“I have a one page agreement, which includes an indemnification clause and works well for all my clients,” said Weisman. “Both of us sign and date it after we agree on the scope of work.”

“Homeowners will not cover your business if you use your home or apartment for business,” said Michael Mesnick, CPA.

“You need liability insurance, and obviously you need workers Compensation Insurance and malpractice insurance in the even of a lawsuit. Anyone who does not get malpractice insurance is a fool, because you can get into a situation, and I’ve known this to happen to two people, one of them was a friend of mine and business manager, who got sued by two of her employees in a sexual harassment case, she said it didn’t really happen, but the two employees collaborated with each other. It cost her a $250,000 to settle the case, and it cost $3,500 a year to have the malpractice insurance. It protects you against an employee suit. If a client, for whatever reason wants to sue you, you can be out of business, lose your home and you can lose everything.”

Attorney Vu says to protect yourself you need to be incorporated, because letter of agreement you sign with the client is with the company. If you do not have a good business support team on your side and get great advice, you’re making a huge, huge mistake. You need a good accountant, and a good labor attorney. You are running business, which has nothing to do with the creative aspect of being a publicist. Other panelists agree adding a bookkeeper and Information Technology expert to the list.

Last piece of advice; do not get rid of your company insurance until to secure health insurance for your new company.

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


By George McQuade

West Coast Bureau Chief

The Los Angeles Times is not like an endangered polar bear stranded on an ice floe, it has some smart people who are making tough decisions to insure the long-term survival of the 120-year-old paper now owned by real estate baron Sam “The Grave Dancer” Zell.

That was the message Darrell Kunitomi, public affairs representative of the L.A. Times, had for O’Dwyer’s following a tour of the newsroom and a presentation at LAT headquarters.


Darrell Kunitomi, public affairs
representative of the L.A. Times

Change is the reality at the LAT. “The Media Group will get webbier, the newspaper will change sections, fold them, create new composites; retrain still photographers and reporters to become VJs and use video reports more and more; and the newspaper will continue to change its look,” said Kunitomi. “The graphics are changing as we speak, including the front page of the future. Don’t be shocked – it’s a new era of new ownership.”

He put the change mantra into context. “A great organization such as The Times should be one of those companies that will go on long after its original founders have passed from the scene, change its spots, adapt, and survive to prosper and grow.

“The movies survived the breakup of the studio system. The music business has dealt with synthesizers, vinyl to cds and now file sharing,” he said.

Here’s the best part for PR pros pitching the LA Times: “We still take hard information, images, commentary entertainment, food and sports and fun and put it to newsprint every 24 hours. It might be a traditional, retro way of informing society, but at The Times it is what we know and what we do best. We’re changing. We know we must to survive. And really, we know that,” said Kunitomi.

During the tour, this writer noticed several changes. Stacks of newspapers, media kits, dictionaries and books have been replaced by more computers, high tech gadgets, high tech monitors and electronic wizardry.

But really noticeable were fewer people, almost like visiting the newsroom on a weekend night with a skeleton staff onboard.

The group tour was sponsored by PRSA-LA, Southern California American Marketing Assn., Direct Marketing Assn. of Southern California and Women in Technology International (WITI) and held in one of the ‘great buildings of LA history.”

Four globalization considerations

John Longhlin, president of Targeted Media and senior VP marketing, told the audience how the LAT wrestled with globalization.

He said the LAT answered four questions:

  • Which countries should we support? In which order?
  • Which languages should we offer? Which should we do first?
  • How much content should we offer? How deep should we go?
  • Should we just market ourselves on the web? Or should we sell?

“If you want news, politics, sports, entertainment, we got something for you, so come and send some time with us,” said Longhlin.

The Tribune Direct/LA Times event was billed as helping PR Pros learn “what the LA Times is looking for today in news coverage and how it is dealing with current changes in print media.”

However, the closest we got to any editors or writers was the distant tour of the Los Angeles Times Newsroom, which was quiet, nearly empty and almost surreal compared to even two or three years ago.

For the newspaper business, it might just be the sign of the Times.

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Google's Chrome Rocks


Google Brings Back Simplicity -
Surfing The Internet With Chrome

By George McQuade,
West Coast Bureau Chief

As a self-taught techie, who launched the media campaign for open source Linux Operating Software in August 1998, I have seen a lot of changes in technology, but none so advanced as Google. Google's much-anticipated Web browser, Chrome, hit the Internet in beta form (testing stages) Tuesday (Sept. 2, 2008), with shiny new features, but best of all it is several times faster than Microsoft’s Internet browser (IE) and twice as fast as Mozilla’s Firefox.

The good news is your bookmarks can be easily imported with the click of a mouse.
The open-source browser first showed up on an unofficial Google blog in the form of a comic book. Google made an official announcement that appeared late Tuesday afternoon after the Internet began buzzing about the comic-book site. Chrome, the newest browser technology had so much buzz, users were waiting anxiously for the free download, but for MS Windows only.
George S. McQuade III

Many of the options are hidden, but easily found in the menu, giving Chrome a cleaner, sleeker technology look, unlike IE or Firefox. For the PR Pros who are like me and visit so many websites daily for news articles to research on clients, it is the browser that gets you there faster than a bullet train, and remembers where you’ve been. Like the competition, you can have your membership sites like saved in Chrome, and you just click on the plus sign to bookmark it.

I downloaded and tested it on Labor Day, and love it, but still love Firefox for my other functions such as menu bookmarks, clearing the cache (good for getting rid of spyware and ad ware history) when I close it. Much of the technology in Firefox has been included in Chrome, so you have a very small learning curve and you can keep all three browsers. I keep MS IE6 to design websites and blogs so I can know what surfers are seeing using those applications, Chrome is the new shining star in my book, and it will be yours soon, too.

To download the Chrome beta for free, visit: All your book bookmarks, browsing history and passwords are imported automatically and loaded for use.
The main features of Chrome include:
  • Performance – Chrome totally wipes out Internet Explorer (IE) at rendering web pages. It’s just faster.
  • User Experience – You have one box for everything. Type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and web pages. Chrome’s integrated address/search menu and tab drag & drop feature really says it all. You can rapidly combine all of your tabs from separate browser windows. In IE there is a lot of copying and pasting of URLs required. Just drag, drop, repeat and you’re done.
  • New Features - Chrome has thumbnails of your top sites and you can access your favorite pages instantly with lightning speed from any new tab. \
  • Shortcuts for your applications – You receive desktop shortcuts to launch your favorite web applications.
  • Compatibility – Chrome makes Microsoft’s new browser almost a dinosaur for me. Chrome does a better job of re-using shared code than Internet Explorer. If you or your company has multi-tab application scenarios, Google’s clean multi-process design explodes with bonuses compared to IE 8. Almost every other Windows application I’ve experimented with was compatible and lightning fast.
  • Home Page - The standard home page is all about you the PR pro. It includes links to the sites you visit most often and bookmarks. At beginning, you can return where you left off, not just on the last page you visited, but all of the pages you had up when you shut down. Wait, there’s more. You can even tell Chrome which websites you want it to open every time you start the program. This is outstanding for PR Pros who often monitor hundreds of pages.
  • Web Surfing Ease -The Google search field is conveniently located in the URL address bar. So, you could type in the space to go directly to the site or type "Jack O’Dwyer PR News" for a search.

  • Pull-Down Windows -Chrome has pull-down window functions for Print and Save, making way for a cleaner browser with more content room, but if you don’t like it just right-click your mouse to do it. Like Firefox, Chrome can keep you in a incognito surfing mode, allow for privacy while surfing the Internet and any sites can be kept off the browsing history list

  • Shortcuts – you can make many shortcuts on your desktop, where Chrome opens up that home page when you start up or when you return to browsing the web.

Google assembled a large cast of characters to unveil its new browser, Chrome, on Tuesday. Here's the engineer and executive who took the stage at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, led off the show with Google's grand aspirations for Chrome: "Our intent here is to drive the Web platform forward," he said. In other words, Google wants the Internet to be a more powerful foundation for online applications.
The bottom-line is this. Speed is the key to success here. Time is money in any business, especially PR and while you test drive the Chrome browser keep track of your time, then try the other browsers you normally use, I bet you will feel cheated without Chrome. Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.

P.S. Just make sure you have plenty of Ram on your computer, because as you use the Chrome browswer and add extensions, it will eat up tons of memory (RAM) random access memory on your computer. In other words you will not be able to have to many windows open when using Chrome.
4 to 6 Ram is recommended and has become a standard on most computers purchased today.

MAYO PR - "We don't guarantee media, we just get it!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Entertainment Editors and Writers Broadcast Secrets To Media Exposure on TV and Radio Shows

Maria LaMagra, moderator, George McQuade, past EPPS pres,Rosalie Fox, AP,George Pennacchio, ABC-TV and Ross Crystal,
KFWB/CrystalVision Media at Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) workshop. (Photo by Julian Myers)

Entertainment writers, producers and reporters prefer email pitches and still love exclusives

By George McQuade,
West Coast Bureau Chief

TV and radio entertainment producers and reporters huddled in Hollywood recently (8-21-08) to give entertainment publicists inside pitch tips to getting their clients on the air.

“It is possible to get coverage of lesser known actors and movies,” George Pennacchio of KABC Ch. 7 news, LA, told about 75 entertainment pros at a media workshop sponsored by Jack O’Dwyer, the International Cinematographers Guild, and hosted by the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society, LA chapter. EPPS member Sharon Weisz won the door prize raffle of a 2008 O’Dwyer Directory of PR firms.

George Pennacchio of
KABC Ch. 7 news

"I got a handwritten envelope and invitation to a play, and because the publicist had such a passion for the client, I decided to cover the play, and that relationship grew. Later the play became a move and Oscar contender. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an Academy Award nominated 2002 romantic comedy film,” said Pennacchio. He also said he interviewed Ricky Martin during the Grammy’s and the next day his song was a hit, and Pennacchio had exclusive interview on ABC. Pennacchio prefers email pitches at: He works afternoons and evenings, so early afternoon is the best time to pitch him.

Bonnie Tiegel, Entertainment
Tonight & the Insider

“You need to come up with the nugget,” said Bonnie Tiegel, senior supervising producer, Entertainment Tonight and the Insider. “If your story has a connection to Hollywood, it is a fun and interesting story, it will be easy to sell, tease and promote,” she said. “We do a little more edgy story for the Insider and we have stories with a different hook.” Tiegel prefers email pitches at:

Rosalie Fox, AP Radio Network

“Because of who I work for, I have no local interest,” said Fox. “The Associated Press is worldwide. My pieces are heard with my voice wrapped around the interviews I’ve done, or I will use individual sound bites. All of that goes to Toronto, Syracuse, Vancouver and every where, so a little local interest doesn’t work. What my audience wants is a recognizable name, recognizable celebrities or a tie-into a recognizable movie, TV show, stage plays or something like that were they don’t have to scratch their heads in the 30 seconds in the time telling the story.”

Fox, who works from 2:00 – 10:00 pm, prefers an email pitch first, and even though she works evenings, she’ll make an exception for celebrities in the morning if needed. “I only have 40 seconds and I work with recognizable names in movies or A-list celebrities.” Fox checks her email in the morning at She also likes exclusive story pitches.

Ross Crystal, KFWB/CrystalVision Media

“Less is more, and the phones work well with us. We don’t have to get all our interviews in person,” said Entertainment Reporter Ross Crystal, Crystal Vision Media, who has a 1:30 minute syndicated report that airs on KFWB, Los Angeles. “I actually prefer doing a phone interview, and remember 90 seconds moves like a freight train, but since it is syndicated your story is moving nationally. Ross loves exclusives and prefers email pitches at:

All panelists said they love exclusives. “There are only two kinds,” said Tiele. “The one that his handed to you and the one you get from digging for three months. Exclusives include websites, getting the story first by a 15 minutes or a day. It is very very important to have good relationships with reporters.”

KABC’s George Pennacchio, a three-time Emmy Award winner, also told PR pros, “You need to have a fun story, because boring doesn’t work for us. The question producers ask is how do I tease that? If they don’t know how to promote the story, then they (producers) will have less interest in it. If I get a good tease and pitch for a story, then often I will get the green light,” he said.

EPPS member Sharon Weisz
won the door prize raffle
of a 2008 O’Dwyer Directory
of PR firms.

“You’re absolutely right, the tease and the promo,” said ET’s Bonnie Tiegel. “American Teen is a good example. Basically a documentary, I don’t know any of the people, but it was easy to promote.” American Teen follows five very different Indiana high school students around during their senior year, catching all the emotional turmoil associated with getting ready to leave high school behind and head off to college and the real world. It debut at the LA Film festival at Universal Pictures, Hollywood.

Pennacchio also warned publicists who bring their celebrity clients up to him when ABC is covering another story live on a red carpet event. “If the publicist could be just one step ahead, then I can tell them I only get a minute and half for this story, and maybe I can interview them later. Just to be put on the spot is a little tough, especially if you do not know who that person is. And that happens on a regular basis,” he said.

It wasn’t the worst, but the most memorable pitch Pennacchio received from an publicist, who said, “Rod Roddy says come on down and get your colonoscopy.” ”It got my attention, and we probably would have aired the story if we had the TV show The Price is Right on our station.”

Robert Ray "Rod" Roddy (deceased), an American radio and television announcer. He was known primarily for his role as the announcer on both CBS game shows, Press Your Luck, and most notably, The Price Is Right, a role he assumed after the death of that show's previous announcer, Johnny Olson, in 1985.

EPPS TV/Radio Workshop at ICG
Headquarters in Hollywood

“I can take nuggets, I don’t need a whole lot of video or audio, because my national syndicated program is only 90 seconds, however sometime I will take a local story and offer it to the news desk at KFWB,” said Crystal. “There are two audiences we are serving. The audience in the car, and the audience of the stations we are serving,” said Crystal. “However there are some stories that the audience wants to know, but the station program directors are not too thrilled with it.”

As for exclusives: “AP gets a lot of exclusives due to the enormity of its distribution,” noted Crystal. “We like to get exclusives. It is part of the challenge and fun of the business.”

“Most of my stories are a day of local charity, and it makes no sense to exclude a station at a charitable event, and if we are told we are not allowed to cover a charity, because it is an exclusive event for another station we will report that we are not allowed entering the event. If exclusive for ET, at least let us have the story for the 11 p.m. news. I don’t want to get a story that aired two days ago on Channel 5 (KTLA),” he said.

Another suggestion from the radio side, publicists should not exclude or select radio reporters last for interviews. If you get on APTV or APR, your story has been exposed to half the planet.

As for exclusives AP’s Rosalie Fox said, “My news director at a radio station had a big picture of a crowded freeway posted on the outside of his office door that read, ‘how many of these people are watching TV or reading the newspaper?’”

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