November 19, 2013
“We would like to use our brains…”
I love this ad. The ad is set to a Beastie Boys song, and the premise behind GoldieBlox is to encourage girls to go into the engineering industry. It basically makes fun of the pink and frilly princess-y girl toys that cram stores. Tea sets. Baby dolls. Feather boas and tiaras.
Not all girls like those things. I know…
Sure I played with dolls and occasionally had a tea party or two. But what I really like were matchbox cars and Tonka trucks. In high school I got a better grade in shop than home economics (and STILL can’t sew on a button). I hate wearing makeup, cooking and cleaning. I would have made the worst 1950s housewife. Ever.
It’s important to young girls to have loftier goals than “becoming a princess.” I think we are on our way encouraging older girls to be smart and successful…now we just need to work on the younger ones.
October 26, 2013
Originally published on CUinsight.com.
Last month, ABC News Correspondent Elisabeth Leamy spoke to Credit Union League and Association communicators about media relations and the elements of a good news story.
Her presentation reminded me of an acronym used in public relations to determine if your idea had news value.
TIP CUP represents the words timeliness, impact, proximity, conflict, unusual and prominence. A newsworthy story will have one or more of these components:
Is it happening now? Or will it happen soon? Don’t send a journalist information about an event that happened last week.
Will this have an impact on readers or viewers? Will they be interested? How can it help them or make their lives better? What is the “wow” factor?
Proximity Is it happening in your town or nearby? Will it affect your community? If it’s a national story, how can you make it local?
Are there two sides to this story? Another angle is an individual struggle against a life event or tragic situation.
Novelty is always a plus. Are you announcing a new innovative product? Or a fresh approach to something old and traditional?
If your story involves a well-known person, the news value increases.
Two other tips that Leamy covered during her presentation are worth repeating:
- Know what kinds of stories the journalist covers. Don’t pitch how your credit union member destroyed their debt to a reporter that covers local crime or state legislative issues.
- Be mindful of where the journalist works. If you are contacting a TV station, make sure you have good video opportunity, or can supply it to them. If it’s a print publication, high quality photos work best. Radio interview? An interesting sound bite will carry the story.
Journalists are busy and many receive hundreds of news releases a day. Make yours stand out by ensuring your information passes the “who cares?” factor by asking yourself, why would people care about this? What value does the information have for consumers? And be sure it passes the TIP CUP test.
August 12, 2013
(Disclaimer: I think teachers are one of the most important people in a child’s life. Teachers posses more patience, more energy and more excitement in one school year than I have in one hour. Teachers are helping our little ones become responsible members of society. And the last thing they need to be hearing is me complaining about something. But here goes…)
On this First Day of School Eve, I want to send a request to all teachers and room parents:
When sending home papers, please include something that tells me which room/grade/teacher/child this particular paper is meant for.
Here’s the deal…I’m usually organized. I have two calendars that sync together with my phone, meshing my work and home life into one big calendar. We’ve never been late for the bus, and I’ve never missed a parent teacher conference, a music program or school party (that I said I would go to…)
But here’s where it all falls apart: When one child’s papers, assignments, notes or classroom instructions get mixed up with the other child’s papers, assignments, notes or classroom instructions.
“For our Halloween party we will be making scary snacks! Please bring one of the following to class by Friday. For questions, contact Jane (Jordan’s mom) at XXX-XXX-XXXX .”
“We are doing a special project at school! Please bring 3 empty paper towel cardboard inserts to school by Wednesday.”
“In order for me to better get to know your child, please fill out the following questionnaire and send it back with your student on the first day of school.”
Do you see the problem here? I don’t know who Jordan is. And what if both my children have a Jordan in their class? Which class is doing the special project? Which one of my boys do you want to get to know?
And don’t say “just ask your child,” Anyone with children knows how this turns out.
“Whose paper is this?” –> “I don’t know.”
Well, did your teacher say you were having a party?” –> “I don’t know.”
“Do you have a child in your class named Jordan ?” –> “Um…maybe. Well…no, I guess not. But there’s a Jordan in the classroom next to me.”
“Who has a child in their class named Jordan?” –> “I might, but can’t be for sure.”
This probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I had a 5th grader and a 1st grader. Maybe I could figure it out based on the content of the paper. But you see, my boys are one grade year apart. Which makes it extra tricky.
I did buy some magnetic file holders that each child is supposed to put their papers in. But come on, do they do this every day? No. Sometimes all the papers end up on the kitchen table. And that’s where the trouble begins.
So please, teachers and room parents, help a sister out and include something on your take home papers that would tell me which paper goes with which child. A simple “5th grade party!” or a room number or the teacher’s name would work just fine. I know I can’t be the only one who has mixed up papers…am I?
July 22, 2013
Our family took our first Amtrak train trip during the Fourth of July holiday. We thought it would be fun to ride the train from Lee’s Summit, MO to St. Louis and back.
The trip was five hours, with six stops in Missouri: Warrensburg, Sedalia, Jefferson City, Hermann, Washington and Kirkwood.
It was fun, and here are a few of my observations of train travel.
At each stop, the train usually stops for only two to three minutes, so you better be ready!
An Amtrak train is nothing like the train in Harry Potter or the Polar Express (a nine-year old’s observation).
Our train traveled between approximately 45-70 miles per hour, depending on where we were, and what was in front of us (like a freight train). The mph was determined by a free app I downloaded…I’m not sure how accurate it is.
Train seats have more room than airplane seats.
I was looking forward to looking out the window at the scenery, but most of the time the tracks were flanked by trees on both sides. We did get a few breaks to see the Missouri countryside. I have heard that other routes are better, especially ones that go through the mountains.
It’s nice that you can walk around on the train, and there’s room to do so. Although be advised, it can be a little tricky walking between the train cars while the train is moving.
Train food is not the best. Next time we’ll bring our own food. But to be fair, trains aren’t known for their gourmet cuisine.
The power outlets at every seat is a major plus.
Just as in any service industry, people can make all the difference. A fun train conductor can sure make a mundane stop seem exciting!
Would we take the train again? Probably, but maybe for a shorter trip next time. Although it’s not the fastest way to travel, it is cheaper than flying, and does take a few cars off the already busy highways.