Learning and Teaching: Do Both for a Dynamic Career

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Communications, Education, Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Learning and Teaching a Dynamic Lifelong Cycle

Both learning and teaching contribute to a dynamic career

I’ve been thinking about the learning and teaching cycle.

When I first started this blog, I was an inbound marketing neophyte, just starting to transition my communications practice from traditional PR to an array of online services. At the time I was acutely aware of being a student and sought teachers and mentors.

Ironically, I was moving from a place where I was highly competent and knowledgeable and where I was teacher and mentor to interns who sought me out and went on to make it in the business. Stepping into their shoes turned out to be an exciting and energizing experience.

Today, I’m still a student because there’s always something new to learn. And I love being engaged in learning. It’s stimulating. But almost three years into this transition, with a body of good work to point to in my new service areas, I’ve begun to feel credible as a teacher again – even moreso with my new knowledge and skills integrated into my earlier experience.

It’s a good thing, too, because businesses still need a great deal of education in order to begin taking advantage of the powerful marketing tools available to them. Teaching is so gratifying because it reveals to us just how much we’ve learned and can apply to helping our clients. It also clearly points the direction to our next student stint.

The cycle of knowing and needing to learn keeps us moving productively into the future. What are you learning and teaching?

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The Thrill of Possibility, or Why I Love the Web

Posted on June 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

One of the main reasons I’ve always loved my career in public relations and marketing is the sense of possibility that pervades the practice. You start with nothing but an idea and you turn it into a campaign that can make something happen that would not have happened otherwise. Every time I’ve ever distributed a press release I’ve had the thought, “OK. Now let’s see what happens.”

Now that we work over the web, the anticipation and excitement of possibility is exponentially greater. With each tweet, blog post, social media release, Facebook post, new web page, free ebook offer, video on YouTube, each and every piece of content created, there is the possibility that life will change in some way. It’s a very motivating thought.

Here’s a short list of opportunities that have arisen or things that have changed in my life and the lives of others thanks to what we’ve created online:

I joined the Jazz in Business group on LinkedIn to connect two passions and met a business consultant/author/speaker/musician from the UK– Peter Cook. We’re networking across the web and learning more about each other’s capabilities. Despite geographic distance I believe that our friendship will lead to business some time in the future. Follow him on Twitter – @academyofrock. Or buy his terrific book on Amazon.

A friend made the commitment a year ago to blog every day. Not only did he grow traffic to his blog more than 10-fold, but last week received a book offer from a publisher who’d been reading his posts.

On LinkedIn I reconnected with a PR colleague who moved to another state a few years ago. The next week she introduced me to a business lead.

One Friday afternoon I dashed off a blog post that was selected for the WordPress Freshly Pressed home page feature out of some half-a-million posts that day. Almost two thousand new people visited my blog as a result, a number of whom became and remain subscribers. A shout-out to all of you. Thanks for reading!

A couple of years ago I created a hashtag #notatsxsw in jealousy of all those who were tweeting from the South By Southwest Festival in Austin with the hashtag #atsxsw. Immediately I got replies from a group of young #socialmedia folks in Chicago who were sitting around having a few drinks and lamenting that they weren’t there either. We began following each other. One guy @joshhersh – @joshicago – just launched an online business www.daycation.com – @mydaycation – which I was pleased to help him promote to my various communities.

Relationships I’ve built on Twitter and elsewhere have led to invitations for guest posts on significant websites – expanding my reach far beyond my own communities.

These are just a few business relationships and opportunities that have resulted from embracing the possibilities of the web. However sometimes the pay-off is REALLY life changing.

 Almost six years ago I sent a quick email to a guy who had a wonderful profile on match.com — and found Jeff Levine www.levinecounseling.com the love of my life!Jeff Levine in his Office

 Who knows what might happen when I hit the publish button for this post. But I’m excited about the possibilities!!!!!!!

What are some of the interesting things that have resulted from your online efforts?

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In Defense of True Journalists

Posted on June 15, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Communications, Media, Newspapers, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

First, apologies. I promised this post would follow up the last with a system for online marketing. I’ll deliver that next post. Today, however, I attended an event that got me thinking about journalists and what they’re going through in the evolution of media and have some thoughts to share.

This afternoon I attended the annual meeting of the Fairfield County Public Relations Association, a PR professional organization founded in 1958. I proudly served as its president in the mid 1990’s.

Coming out of the PR profession, I’ve spent my career interacting with journalists, offering them story ideas, articles and sometimes just the camaraderie of people who make up two parts of an equation.

As much as the rise of the Internet has changed the lives of PR people, I believe it’s changed life more for journalists. I recognize that the web lets me take my clients’ stories directly to their constituents. I can bypass the media and go direct to our audiences with useful information that they will embrace.

I blog and write a monthly column for a business journal. I share with you my experience, expertise and take on what’s going on in the online marketing world. But I’m not a journalist and don’t pretend to be.

I truly hope the definition and characteristics of true journalism stay alive. Journalists are committed to reporting the facts. They vet their sources. They report on what’s going on more than they opine. They’re trained to have a nose for what’s newsworthy. So do PR people, but journalists are charged with digging to get both sides of an issue, rather than advocating for only one side of the story.

importance of Journalists

Journalists play a key role in our democratic society

The keynote speaker for today’s meeting was Julia Hood, president of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization for senior PR and corporate communications executives. Julia pointed out that PR people are supposed to advocate for our clients, despite recent crises to the contrary (i.e. Facebook/Burson-Marsteller). It’s our charge to be truthful, but not necessarily impartial. That’s the role of journalists. Nonetheless, I’ve seen fabulous reporters dumped from newsrooms as daily newspapers struggle to evolve and figure out their role. Who will take up that slack?

The incoming president of FCPRA, Marian Salzman, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America pointed out rightly that, although corporate America has lagged behind, hyper-local is the current focus of people and the media that reflects their interests. Hyper local media is experimenting with combining professional and citizen journalism as a way to cover the local news, taking advantage of expanded digital platforms.

That’s interesting and it’s good that they’re employing some journalists, probably not at great pay levels. But I hope we don’t lose the desire to support the kind of skeptical, truth-seeking journalists I’ve discoursed and partnered with to get great stories out, negotiated and disagreed with over newsworthiness and whether something represented a trend, cursed out under my breath when they just didn’t get something I thought was important.

Many of these incredible pros have been riffed out of newsrooms because of downsizing. I spent time with a few today. PR leaders like Bob Dilenschneider have added some of these amazing – now former – journalists to his global PR consulting team. I am intrigued about what they in conjunction with an evolving PR profession will envision together for the future.

What they provide needs an ongoing place in our culture and our political system. It’s not melodramatic to say that they are at the heart of our democracy — moreso than any politician who claims that turf for him- or herself.

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Social Media: Your Reputation on Steroids

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Crisis Management, Marketing, Reputation Management, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I was so dismayed tonight – but not surprised — to hear New York U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s press conference awhile ago coming clean about his posting of improper photos to various women on social media.

I really don’t want to talk about him. But the whole disgusting affair makes me want to share my thoughts with you about the importance of protecting your good reputation online.Keep your rep angelic

Now consider that my background is in public relations. I’ve spent my career counseling clients about how to communicate their value while maintaining their dignity and credibility. I’ve spent countless hours going over copy, press releases, speeches and other materials to be sure that the chosen words are in keeping with the client’s values and that there’s nothing that could be misinterpreted in a way that would cast doubt on the client’s reputation.

Let’s shift to the online world where we tend to dash off emails and texts and blog posts and where we feel more relaxed than in the more formal communications of yesteryear. Beware. It only takes one off-message tweet or blog post to cast doubt on your positioning, message or culture. Those messages last forever online.

Be in the moment but don’t be impulsive. Take a minute or two to re-read what you’re about to send out to the universe. And listen to your gut. If anything gives you a little raising of the hackles on the back of your neck – EDIT!! Make sure that everything you write is in keeping with your mission, with your audiences’ expectations and your own self respect.

You know, when I am deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter, I go to their profile and read about a dozen recent tweets to see if they have anything to contribute to me and my Twitter stream. Recently I performed that ritual when a new local brand selling a family and environmentally-friendly product followed me.

I scrolled through their previous day’s tweets and found that they re-tweeted a tweet that included a profanity. That tweet communicated bad judgment and lack of sophistication in their marketing. It really turned me off.

But social media marketer that I am, I felt compelled to share a bit of well-meant advice. I sent a direct (private) message that said: Thnx for following. Congrats! Friendly tip…Keep curse words out of your tweets and RTs. It’s counter to your brand image.

I haven’t had a response, but hope they took it in the positive spirit that was meant. My message to you is to make sure to protect your reputation online with every tweet, update and post. We can be open, authentic, and personal. But it’s crucial that we understand where to draw the line online. If you put it out there, it’s out there forever. Make it worthy, make it valuable and do your best to share your finest attributes.

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Give Pieces a Chance: A Case for Integrated Marketing in the Digital Age

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here are a few disparate but related thoughts that will roll into the topic of this post – how to make integrated marketing a reality. Today’s musical post is Pieces of Dreams, a jazz standard sung by Sarah Vaughan, backed by the orchestra of Michel Legrand, its composer.

The song title connects to the post title: Give Pieces a Chance. Now, I could have selected the John Lennon/Yoko Ono hit about ‘peace’. But I really wanted to stick with the idea of ‘pieces’ – read ‘tactics’ — and their relationship to successful integrated marketing.

So, the Legrand song seemed to be a better tactical choice in support of my strategic objective – to start a useful discussion about integrated marketing. Also – I believe that true integrated marketing is sitll a dream. And – the song had double appeal because an excellent jazz band Pieces of a Dream – who hail from my home town of Norristown, Penna and used to play at our family’s parties – derived its name from this same Michel Legrand tune.

Call me sentimental! Marketing is about emotions after all! But there’s definitely an intellectual piece first…

Integrated marketing in the digital age. Here’s why I decided to write about it again. Earlier today I read and commented on a wonderful blog post by Jill Adams, CEO of Adams & Knight, an integrated marketing agency. Her post was titled “Stop Chasing Digital Crazes: Tomorrow’s Top Brands Will Be Led by Fusion Marketers – Not Social Media ‘Gurus.’”

After reading her post, what I recognized is that the integrated marketing battle is no different today than it’s ever been — except for the fact that we have many more tactical tools to choose from and that there is more of a willingness to at least consider blurring the boundaries between various marketing disciplines. Historically there have been turf wars for both budgets and bragging rights among various contributors that have negatively impacted results.

Even though I come out of PR, I’ve made it a point to understand the big picture in order to be able to support various marketing pieces with media visibility. ‘Big picture’ is the operative term here because you have to see the big view to identify overall objectives and strategy. Then it’s a question of having a big tool box. No one person can implement all of the important efforts, so we need to collaborate with trusted colleagues who can bring their expertise to bear – everyone with an eye on what will move the ball ahead to the objective.

What will work is different for every project, assignment and initiative, which takes flexibility and ever greater creativity. What’s most important for success is how we think about each effort. THINK!!!!!!! Thinking is at the root of the creative process. It’s not what we know about Twitter or Facebook or a flave of the week digital offering that will achieve success for our brands.

Yes we have to keep informed as never before because everything cycles through so fast. But we have to think about what we want to achieve, what the best tools are to get there, who else we need to collaborate with to make it happen. If we don’t think about the tactical pieces of what we’re doing in terms of the strategic whole, they’ll never have a chance of getting us to success.

Now this post has been very theoretical. Next time I’ll share some recent client projects to give you a more practical view of marketing integration.

Please jump in to share how your strategic vs tactical thinking works – whether or not you’re a marketer.

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Marketing isn’t easy. If you want results.

Posted on November 26, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

To make the realities in this post easier to swallow, listen to Sinatra’s swingy version of “Nice ‘n Easy.”

I just had dinner with my friend Mary Kay who’s a research consultant. We were talking about how difficult it seems in these dollar-tight days for marketing companies and consultants to be valued for the expertise they bring to the table. Everybody’s afraid to commit budget these days, and many companies are adopting a DIY or make-do approach. How to make the case to prospects and clients that failing to get the marketing help they need is counterproductive? Especially in a rapidly evolving marketing environment.

Then, like a flash, I remembered a piece of sublime wisdom that I learned from Al the Drain Man, my highly competent plumber – who is a big Frank Sinatra fan and also inspired the musical post today.

Al once shared his mantra with me: Nothing is easy.

He developed this belief over time after countless responses to calls where customers (including me the day he told me this) implored him, “Al can you get over here for fifteen minutes. I just have a simple and easy thing. It’ll take you no time. The sink’s dripping and driving us crazy (or whatever) and I’m sure it just has to be tightened up.”

Al would show up, take one studied look and realize that — counter to the customer’s amateur assessment — he was dealing not with a simple loose fitting, but years of neglect, or the incompetence of the original installer, or an unpredictable shifting of the soil under the house or a thousand other unforeseen problems.

Al would then use his experience to diagnose the real problem and spend the time required to resolve it. Even though it might have taken hours – not minutes – undoubtedly his expertise and skill would make it a faster and better job than were he a less accomplished craftsman.

Because it feels safer, we humans tend to minimize what’s required to resolve a problem or reach a goal. Often a prospective client will say to us, “We don’t have a budget. We’re just a start-up.” This, of course, doesn’t bode well for future success. Or we’ll hear, “We just need a press release (or a web page). Could you do that for us?” Sorry. Not if you really want to accomplish something.

Successful marketing just isn’t that easy. There are more and more moving parts and it can take a skilled marketing or PR practitioner to provide the thinking, strategy and implementation required to get those parts moving in synch. Companies need to plan for marketing and commit realistic budgets in order to compete in a more and more diverse, complex and competitive marketing arena.

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It’s not Business. It’s personal.

Posted on September 30, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, ecommerce, Human Business, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This post is about human business. The musical post isn’t directly related. It’s a song I love, Don Quixote, a beautiful song by Brazilian composer/singer Milton Nascimento. I guess I hope that the concept of human business isn’t tilting at windmills. Hope it catches on.

I want to share with you a current project of mine that will be the role model for all of my future business development. And I hope for yours, too! The project is incredibly challenging and complex from the standpoint of strategy and implementation. It is joyous from the standpoint of trust, collaboration and respect among my client and business partners.

I launched this client’s bricks and mortar business 16 years ago. Her successful business model was based on quality, service, community and charity. Since the launch we have both evolved. I am now helping her to expand a spin-off division of her company online. We’re building an ecommerce site and planning a robust online and traditional marketing kick-off.

My partners in this endeavor are Bernadette Nelson and Dave Lostracco. Bernadette is a highly talented graphic, brand identity and website designer who codes as well as designs her sites. This is pretty rare. She was born in Paris and is a fearless sportswoman and good friend. She and I co-author a monthly column, Working the Web, for the Fairfield and Westchester County (Conn, NY) Business Journals.

Dave is a Renaissance Geek. (My new coined phrase.) He is a sublime techie, a veteran high-level operations guy for Group W, a musician, a recording studio owner, an SEO and Google AdWords expert and an incredible human being.

As a marketing team we are intensely focused on creating a seamless experience for our client. We want her to feel that we have her back so that she can relax and enjoy this new chapter in her business.

Our client, who will go unidentified so we don’t spill the beans before the launch of her site, is the perfect collaborative client. She is extremely excited about the expansion of her business and the opportunities it brings – albeit with a touch of normal anxiety. She recognizes that she has a role to play in the success of this project. Certain things can only be done by her. And she does them in an engaged and timely fashion.

We vendors so appreciate that our client appreciates us and trusts that we have her best interest at heart. We do! Her overt recognition makes us even more dedicated to her success.

We have communicated to each other – client and vendors – that we feel like friends. This makes the quality of our interaction so enjoyable. There’s a lot of positive emotion that we’re all putting into this. Personal makes business so much more rewarding – and successful!

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A Word to Wise Nonprofits: Avoid the Pro Bono Trap

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The music accompanying this post is about the inspiration I’ve received from everyone I’ve ever met who has committed to a career in the nonprofit sector. I get chills and tears listening to the lyrics of “If I Ruled the World” by Leslie Bricusse and sung here by the spectacular Tony Bennett.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many nonprofits on their marketing and PR programs. The work that nonprofits do is essential to meeting our society’s needs in ways that neither the government nor the private sector can do as well. I consider having non-profit clients a very meaningful part of my practice. I’m writing this post not to be in any way self-serving, but because we need our nonprofits to succeed more than ever!

Although my fees for nonprofits are at a lower rate than for commercial clients, I do not provide my professional services pro bono. I will volunteer in many other ways. However, I believe that marketing is such a mission critical function that I do nonprofit clients no favor by offering a pro bono arrangement. This is a drum I’ve been beating since the stock market crash of 1987 and again in the recessionary aftermath of 9/11.

The topic came rushing back to mind again last week when a respected colleague of mine told me that she had agreed to provide some pro bono web and graphic design services to a local arts group. However, she gave the executive director one condition: No deadlines. She would have to implement the project when she had time, as she owed first priority to her paying clients. This is reality.

And that, my nonprofit friends, is the pro bono trap. You may need a service performed pronto to meet a grant deadline or to announce an important fundraising event. But as the adage warns, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

When the economy went into the tank in late 2008, many nonprofits immediately cut back or completely curtailed their paid marketing and development activities. So did many for-profit companies to be clear.

During 2009, there were many out-of-work marketers offering free help as a way to keep busy, keep their portfolios fresh or reposition themselves. Admirable that they wanted to turn lemons into lemonade for a good cause.

In 2010, many have either gotten permanent jobs, or transformed themselves into consultants with paying clients.

 As the economy improves, nonprofits that have been relying on board members and volunteers to get the word out about their missions, their successes and their funding needs may very well find that they’ve fallen dangerously behind. Pro bono services are generally provided piecemeal in the best of cases. Overall or longer term strategy takes a back seat.

In addition, the world of marketing and PR has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Just putting up a Facebook page – as some organizations have done – does not substitute for preparing to attract meaningful support using online channels. But doing some serious planning and working with professionals – in- or out-of-house – on execution can create never-before-possible efficiencies of scale.

Savvy nonprofit Executive Directors/CEOs need to make a strong case to their boards of directors that marketing is a specialized skill that can’t just be dumped on a volunteer or junior staffer to ‘make it happen’. It goes hand-in-hand with successful development efforts and needs to be in the budget at a serious level every year.

Likewise, foundations and other grantors must recognize that solid and appropriate marketing can help nonprofits leverage funding and improve service to their constituents. Marketing grants need to be more numerous and more generous.

Mind you, I’m not talking about over-the-top direct mail campaigns that, frankly, I find offensive and have written about in the past. Just don’t regard marketing as a frill. Nothing could be farther from reality. As the funding pie shrinks, when it comes to generating revenue it’s the NFP that thinks and acts like a business that will survive to help those who need its services.

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Back on the Content Wagon

Posted on July 31, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Jeff, the love of my life, was practicing his drums this morning to this killer big band tune from George Benson’s Big Boss Band album – “Without a Song.” It struck a chord because content is the ‘song’ of a blog. Enjoy listening and read on for the relevance.

You may notice that it’s the last day of July and this is my first blog post of the month. My days have been full creating content for others and working on a couple of exciting new ecommerce sites that we’ll promote via a content marketing strategy. I, who am thoroughly convinced of the role consistent online content creation plays in business success, fell off the content wagon.

I only created one other piece of content under my own banner this month. It was ‘Working the Web’, the column I co-author for the Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals with my web development/graphic design partner Bernadette Nelson of Studio B Visual Communication. Ironically the topic was “6 Tips for Getting Over the Content Hurdle.”

What resulted from the column has provided a huge reminder that for my business, content is job one. I’ll share the story, because it’s critical for your business, too.

The first tip in the column is that to begin creating useful content, it’s first necessary to buy in to the fact that this is an important business objective. To support that statement to the Business Journals’ small business audience, I went searching for some recent study data.

Thanks to Google, I found the stats I wanted in the Small Business Success Index, a study created by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. I quoted the study in the column.

Working the Web runs in the two Journals’ print editions and also on www.westfaironline.com. Yesterday, it posted online. Within hours, I received an email from Shashib Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami for Network Solutions."Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions"

Remember that the reason this content making for the web works so well is that it’s searchable and findable by people with an interest in certain search terms. Obviously Shashi monitors the web to see where Network Solutions’ content is being disseminated. He found, read – and liked — the column that mentioned the NetSol study.

Shashi emailed to say ‘thanks’ for the mention – and to invite Bernadette and me to write a guest post for Network Solution’s www.growsmartbusiness.com blog. He also tweeted the url to the column to his almost 11,000 followers on Twitter – and is now following my tweets.

The takeaway: Well-made content created for a relatively local audience, once put online, can yield much farther-reaching connections and additional credibility for our businesses.

Given that blog posts are highly searchable and that I’m going to tag this one with his name and the study, Shashi will surely see it. So, thanks Shashi, for helping me get back onto the ‘content wagon’ and for a good idea for this post. Looking forward to writing one for you!!

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Can Good News Sell?

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Entertainment, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, News, Social Media, TV, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

You’ll soon learn why the musical post today is the most classic jazz performance of Route 66 by the Nat “King” Cole Trio with the trumpet of Harry “Sweets” Edison — my favorite version of my favorite “road” song.

I hate to think how many years ago I pitched our local daily paper with an idea for a “Good News” section – an antidote to the remaining 95 percent of its content. It was during the former recession of the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. Given my own bad-news weariness and that of many of my friends and colleagues, it seemed to me that people were hungry for reminders that all was not wrong with the world. My idea was turned down flat by the then-publisher. “Good news doesn’t sell,” he said.

As we inch our way out of this latest – and deeper – recession, I’m once again craving some good news, especially after seeing this morning’s news including the inadequate ‘fix’ for the oil spill in the Gulf. But it seems that not much has changed in the commercial media and entertainment world when it comes to the projects they’re willing to get behind; the Susan Boyle story notwithstanding.

I just watched the pilot for a reality/documentary TV show that, unfortunately, you all may not get to see. There are details I won’t get into, but the main reason is that the subject matter is too positive for the subject matter. I’ll explain.

Last week I received an email from an Oklahoma man named Edward Winterhalder, a foremost authority on the Harley Davidson motorcycle lifestyle. Ed found me through my Twitter profile (listen up you skeptics on the value of Social Media for business). My profile states: PR Professional, Inbound Marketing Consultant – and two-up on a Harley Road Glide. The latter qualification refers to my weekend passion – riding behind the love of my life, Jeff Levine, a Viet Nam vet and talented psychotherapist/relationship counselor, on his Harley Davidson.Ellie & the Harley Road Glide

Ed was looking for communications representation for his six books (fiction & nonfiction) and TV concept Biker Chicz. He thought that because I ride, and live in his native Connecticut to boot, that I’d be a good fit. He was right in more ways than one. I’m also a fan of good news.

He’s already produced an earlier pilot, “Living on the Edge,” which he sent along with copies of the books to familiarize me with his work. Except for maybe his first book, everything else he’s created addresses the positive side of motorcycle clubs, something I understand well.

Google Ed and you’ll find about 142,000 references. Unfortunately, most of these focus more on his early motorcycle experience as a leader of the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle club (even though only a small percentage of the group qualify for ‘outlaw’ status.)

Today, Ed is a successful real estate developer, as well as author and TV producer. His books are sold around the world, translated into a number of languages by his publishers abroad. The guy is a talented voice for the millions of solid citizens around the world – including my love and me – who come alive on a bike.

Not only do they love the ride, but they’re a generous group, raising millions of dollars annually for good causes too numerous to mention and just doing meaningful deeds. For example, Jeff rode with the Nam Knights motorcycle club here in the New York area to escort a badly-injured Iraq war veteran from a local re-hab hospital to his home way in upstate New York – a tangible tribute to honor his service and sacrifice.

Yesterday morning, we watched the DVD of Ed’s first TV pilot, “Living on the Edge.” The concept: Each episode follows the members of a motorcycle club somewhere in America, examining the causes they embrace and the good they accomplish. It delves into the lives of members and introduces us to their families and friends.

If you went by looks alone, you’d never guess that cast members in the pilot range from a UPS driver, to a project manager for a high-end residential developer, to a man who repairs communications antennae on towers, including atop the Empire State Building after 9-11 — 1000 feet off the ground. Included in each episode’s cast is a bike-riding corporate exec who gets the opportunity to immerse in the lifestyle of the group.

It was an engaging viewing experience, for sure. Yet the pilot is languishing in Hollywood, despite the fact that Winterhalder is well regarded there. Why? Entertainment executives are convinced that the viewing public would much rather watch motorcycle gang violence than the positive side of the Harley Davidson lifestyle.

That’s one more item to chalk up in the bad news category, but personally, I’d rather buy the good news. Anyone with me on this?

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