Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good Press, Bad Press

Can bad press be good press?

I think so. One of the main purposes in using public relations is to generate awareness. And, in this day and age, people are even more in tune with creating their own opinions than ever. Trusting the press isn't the first thing they do when they read a story. In fact, if something negative is written, it may have the opposite effect - people take it as positive because they mistrust the press!

So, if you have something negative written about you:

1. DON'T stress and freak out.
2. DON'T contact the writer/paper and yell at them!
3. DO contact the writer and thank them for writing and offer a time to meet and give them more information.
4. DO share the story with friends, supporters, etc. and ask for their feedback. Perhaps encourage them to write a letter to the editor.
5. DO include that writer/paper in further PR correspondence.
6. DO use it as a learning experience about what the public wants to hear and how information is interpretted - THAT is the power of PR!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Burlington's Old North End

Burlington's Old North End has always been endearing to my heart, and many others who choose to reside and/or do business there. When I first moved to Vermont in the spring of 2000, I moved into the Old North End in an apartment I lived in for seven years. Just recently I moved to launch my public relations business (with a more suitable office space and opportunity for expense consolidation) to yet another area of the North End - closer to the core.

When I first learned about it in Seven Days, I joined The Front Porch Forum. The Forum, which really fosters a valuable online avenue for neighbors to communicate, is where I found out about the newly created Old North End Arts and Business Network. I immediately sent in my $25 one year membership fee, excited about the opportunity to get my business and personal passions involved in the community I live in! Prior to this networking opportunity, my "North End" involvement includes power walking through the neighborhoods, meeting Melodie Bean at Vantage Press where I will certainly bring any print work, attending the local pancake breakfast at Lawrence Barnes School, and enjoying one of my favorite watering holes and music venues, Radio Bean. Oh, and I split my local shopping needs between Waggy's, Dave's Old North End Variety Store, and Radio Deli.

Anyway, last night I attended my first Old North End Arts and Business Association (ONE Arts & Business for short, ONE=Ward One) meeting at the lovely coffee shop, Viva Espresso. The brainchild of Burlington's community-minded real estate folks at Redstone, ONE Arts & Business is something I feel is much needed in the Old North End as a powerful opportunity to bring the community together, a vehicle to offer marketing potential for the businesses in the North End neighborhoods, and a great first step in making efforts to highlight the history, diversity, and vitality of Burlington's North End - surely the most eclectic part of nationally renowned eclectic city!

A group of us branched off to form an event committee charged with the task of creating a spring event to encourage visitation, shopping, and enjoyment of the Old North End. We meet next Tuesday, December 11th from 4-5 pm at The Bobbin Sew Bar & Craft Lounge and I encourage anyone reading to share with anyone you think might be interested in joining the committee!!

I am so excited about the opportunity to offer my public relations skills and my artistic flare to my community and am sure there will be more on such endeavors to come!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A PR Pet Peeve

I love what I do. I love being able to help people share their business, experience and energy with their targeted audiences. I also take my profession seriously and feel it is very important to work with clients to find what is newsworthy and timely to talk to media about. I shun clients from engagement in "shameless self promotion" since the key of public relations, in my opinion, is to find what is newsworthy and share it with the media without expectations and with respect of their busy jobs. My ultimate goal is for a media contact to cover a client's news in a timely manner, but even more important is to build solid relationships with media contacts. I have worked hard to cultivate good, trustworthy relationships with media contacts so they feel they can call me to get information, regardless of who my clients are and so when I contact them, it is for a reason that they or their audiences may have some interest in. I understand that media folks are busy, working on deadlines, trying to meet a variety of demands, and don't have enough hours in the day to often get done all that needs to get done.

What creates my pet peeve is when I continuously get no response from some media folks when I have good, valid, and newsworthy reasons to be in touch with them. I work very hard to not be a flashy, stick-up-my-bum, sales oriented PR person. And while I understand media folks work in a very fast-paced, deadline driven environment, everyone has stresses to deal with and deadlines to meet. In my opinion and upbringing in respectful business practices, there is no excuse to blatantly ignore people and provide no response to emails or phone calls. Rudeness sucks. I mean, everyone is just trying to do their jobs, so we can enjoy our lives outside work. And, I wish people in general would not judge others by their business position - you never know who you can enjoy a good beer with!

Maybe these will be my general wishes for humanity this Christmas. Don't judge, respect others, and realize everyone is just trying to make it in this crazy world.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Business Conference at Topnotch

I have been slacking on the blog front - my apologies! But, this Thanksgiving morning, before I power walk, make pies, and head off to dinner, I thought about what I am thankful for - and my success thus far at opening my own public relations business is certainly at the forefront. With that thought I'd like to bring you all back a few weeks to the Women Business Owner's Network (WBON) Fall Conference I attended and offer some thanks to the women I most associated with at the conference by giving a few other small business shout-outs!

First, I'll say the conference was held at Topnotch Resort in Stowe. What a fantastic location! I don't frequent Stowe often; it is a bit swanky for my tastes. My skiing also stays at Bolton Valley, Smuggler's Notch, or Sugarbush (where my pass is this year!) And I always thought Topnotch was just another over-priced "resort" in Stowe. I relent - this place was worth it and I should learn to not judge! I managed to take a few pics with my disposable camera, which certainly doesn't do the place justice, but we were busy at the conference and I took these while finishing Harry Potter on a private patio outside the lobby. If anyone reading this is planning a conference, large or small in the near future, especially one for Vermonters - bring 'em to Topnotch - there's something special about doing "work" in a place many people who bring money to this state spend their money.

I always enjoy attending WBON events so I can catch up with those women who are also friends in my personal life. Danielle Livellara is one! Danielle is a financial advisor with Smith Barney and was also a speaker at the conference (the theme was the financial side of running a small business). Danielle is smart and with-it and always gives me great advice and knowledge I need since I am a publicist, NOT a financial analyst! She doesn't have a direct website to link to, but if anyone wants to schedule a free consultation with a trusty gal, call Danielle at 802-652-6074!

Danielle's good friend and woman I have met before at these events is Jen Stanley, owner of Stanley Technical Services. Jen is a technical writer who I hope to work with soon! I write publicity materials. Jen writes all the big stuff that no one wants to write - annual reports, manuals, catalogs, and all that stuff that technical folks need to make into English for everyday folks to understand. Her website is - check her out! Here I even have a conference shot of myself, Jen, and Danielle!

My roommate while staying at Topnotch in absolutely fabulous rooms I must say was Carrie McDougall, owner of Cultural Crossroads, a wonderful travel service for people to go on worldwide tours that include access and private tours to some of the most renowned historic and cultural locations across the globe. You must at least check out her website to see what some of these tours are - - and share with friends you think would be interested!!!

I also spent some time chatting with my new bookkeeper, Diana Jones of Double Entry Bookkeeping, who I scheduled a meeting with the very next week. I can purchase QuickBooks through Diana and she will give me a tutorial and help me set it up for my public relations business and will help me prepare my taxes! Double whammy!! Maybe that's why it's Double Entry? Either way, if you or someone is in need of such services, I highly recommend Diana. The website is

Happy Thanksgiving all!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


When I first started studying public relations, I quickly learned what I consider to be the three cardinal rules of PR in what makes something newsworthy and if it can't fit into one of these three categories, then leave it and move onto the next thing. The "news" that someone wishes to promote can be considered news and therefore "pitched" in some manner if:

1.) It solves a problem
2.) Can offer useful tips
3.) Identifies a trend

It is with trends I want to touch upon this week. It is imperative in the marketing world to keep up with trends. Trends allow you to tie your product, service, idea, "news" into the larger picture by connecting it somehow to a trend, which is what makes it newsworthy to the media.

Some examples would be relating a product to a certain season or a way of life, such as being green. Or, offering a service and tying it in to a similar service popular on the national level. Or, positioning an event with a well known movement. Or, connecting a concept to popular lifestyles or recreation.

Trends can be local, regional, or national and using trends can help a local item of news become newsworthy on a national level and vice versa. It is important to note trends have nothing to do with what you wish a trend to be, it is what the existing trends are and using them to your advantage - a great opportunity to get creative!

Here are some trend resources - both for talking about trends and for you to browse to discover trends yourself:

- National Consumer Trends:

- Vermont Trends:

Any trends out there people would like to comment about?

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Magazine in Vermont!

And its GREEN!!!

I feel like such a reporter today instead of a Vermont public relations practitioner. Coming very soon to a newsstand near you is the Central and Northern Vermont edition of the Green Living Journal. Yippee!! The magazine is being published by Vermont magazine industry veteran, Ellen Shapiro, most recently seen as an account manager at Vermont Woman magazine.

Green Living Journal
is "a practical journal to friends of the environment." There are currently editions in Southern Vermont and Southern Oregon, and now Central and Northern Vermont with Ellen as the Publisher! The magazine operates as a whole with structure and general content publishing "news you can use" articles on organic gardening, green building, health, eco-careers, outdoors, socially responsible investing, eco-notes, Q&A, book reviews, and environmental issue topics. But, the magazines are independently published so they are tailored to the specific geographic regions they reach which allows content to be localized while offering the backbone of an established magazine group (Green Living Journal started in 1990).

Sounds like a win-win to me! The website is and look for the Central and Northern Vermont edition soon! And be sure to look through for a blog column written by me! If you'd like to reach Ellen for marketing opportunities with the magazine, email her at

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Constant Contact

Yes, in marketing, of course people should have "constant contact" with constituents. What I am talking about, and actually wondering about as well, are email marketing programs such as Constant Contact, a company that provides such services as newsletter distribution and other email based communication programs.

I highly recommend such programs for newsletter distribution, however, in my direct business, that is not something I currently offer. I may, if I sign up with an email program like Constant Contact. I heard about Constant Contact at the latest monthly luncheon for the Burlington Chapter of the Women Business Owner's Network - one of my favorite self employed business activities and organization I might add. Every time I go to a WBON event, I learn such valuable and helpful information for operating my independent public relations agency - RachelCarterPR. (I've decided I like the one word identity.)

Anyway, the reason I am interested in a potential email marketing program is for press release distribution. I can see how it would be a plus on one side with eliminating annoying formatting issues and being able to include photos without attachments. However, editors get so much email, that will the majority of them even bother to click the button that allows newsletter content to be read? And, furthermore, they haven't subscribed - email marketing is anti-spam and while there would be an option to unsubscribe, they never subscribed in the first place and the last thing I want to do is annoy the press. For this post I need advice - anyone have any???

Friday, October 12, 2007


I like the concept. I do. Work for someone and trade for something you need. The key word in that sentence is need. It's a lot like coupons.

The concept of coupons is good. Be diligent, clip coupons, create a shopping list of things you need and then use the coupons against those things on your list and save money. But, how many people see coupons for things they might like, or might want to try, a might use down the road and how many people end up buying those things simply because they have a coupon?? I mean, seriously, isn't that the point of coupons? Yes! They are not there to save you money! They are a marketing strategy to get you to buy things!! And, in my opinion, a very good one.

And, yes, even as a public relations and marketing consultant in Vermont, I too fall prey! When I moved to my new apartment to help consolidate expenses for starting my own business, I got the relocation coupons. One was a 10% off Home Depot. So, of course I went to Home Depot to buy some stuff I needed and quite a bit more stuff I did not need. Great marketing tactic to get me to shop at Home Depot when normally I would go to South Burlington Ace Hardware and support my local hardware store owner where I already have a 10% discount card that applies everyday!

So silly. But, we all do it, don't we?

However, now that I run my own business, I have started to come up against the bartering and trade for my public relations work. And, I have to be frank -

I do not like them PR fans,
I do not like to barter PR for my ham,
I will not barter for my pork,
I will not trade PR for a silver fork,
I do not want a bag of yams,
I will not have it Bartering Fans!

Unless it is trade for my rent, internet, phone, utilities, or garbage, as I am in my first year as a business owner, I think I'll opt out. There is the Vermont Barter Network, which down the road, I may explore as I am one to be open minded, but that, my friends is for another post, in another year.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Media Lists

Good media relationships, understanding the concept of what is newsworthy, long term media campaign planning, and synchronizing publicity efforts between print, broadcast, an online outlets are what I consider to be the four most important factors in a successful public relations campaign. If one of those four are not working, than the other three really will not be able to make up for it. Hence what I try to tell clients and prospective clients - public relations is NOT a quick fix or a magic wand.

But there is a major backbone to public relations that if not in proper alignment can significantly hinder a public relations campaign - even if all four of these components are in place. That is accurate, working media lists. There are a few ways to keep media lists and anyone handling any part of public relations work probably does one of these three things:

1.) Keep an ongoing contact list of your media contacts.
2.) Search on the internet for email addresses and contact names and information for the media outlets you want to target.
3.) Subscribe to a media database - the three most well known being Cision (used to be Bacons), BurrellesLuce, or Vocus.

And, here are the pros and cons for each one:

1.) Media Contact List
PROS: Exceptional idea because the best editorial you will get comes from those people who know and like you as a person, so keep this updated and send individualized notes or "pitches" when appropriate to these folks.
CONS: If you rely only on this, you are missing out on a world of other media outlets who may be interested in different news stories - don't underestimate the power of the vast markets there are out there that are interested in many different elements of the news you are trying to publicize.

2.) Internet Searching
PROS: Web centric, remember? This is great because it allows you to find niche publications, outlets, websites, blogs, etc. that you won't find anywhere else. It helps globalize your news. And, news outlets often change emails because of the high spam volume they get (which is why you shouldn't bug news people unless you have something newsworthy) and usually update their website first - either with a new address or the form, which is becoming increasingly more popular.
CONS: As someone pointed out on my Web Centric post - not everyone is online! Not all publications are online and not all people are online, so relying on this way to get media contacts will only cover partial markets and media outlets.

3.) Media Databases
PROS: Media databases list just about every media outlet that exists - you'd be amazed how many niche publications and trade journals there are out there. And this is exactly why media databases are great - they allow you to find, rather quickly, all of the media outlets that fit your demographic, market, and region. This is especially important with any regional or national publicity you are trying to garner.
CONS: They are super expensive and while they have a contact management system, they do not always list the contacts you may have made or the most appropriate person all the time to contact. They are also a bit lacking on the web side of the equation.

So, what to do? All three of course! You must do a little of each, making the field of public relations so much more about organization than it has ever been. This is part of the reason I love public relations in my new role as running my own business. While I love being a professional storyteller here in Vermont, I am also uber organized, so it all works out well! And coordinating all three components of media lists is quite the organizational task! If it's too much - feel free to hire me as a consultant- even if it's just to help you coordinate and organize the process and you are the actual media contact - I do it all! My company is RachelCarterPR, my website is, and I subscribe to Cision (an an FYI).

Happy Media Listing!

Friday, September 28, 2007

The By-Liner

My latest PR insider tip for those who slyly read my blogs for good ideas yet don't post comments (please - that's all I ask!) - I have a super secret public relations industry tip. Why I give these out, I don't know. I guess it's to position myself as a resource and show I am an honest and trustworthy PR professional in Vermont.

A by-lined article is what my secret of the week is. It is an article written by you or someone of vast knowledge in your organization on a topic of interest to the public you are trying to reach. It IS NOT an article written by you on what you want the public to know about your company. For example, if you are a health related organization and you would like consumers to know more about you and your services, then you would write an article for the local papers in those communities on some useful tips or advice that the paper editors (yes, you should contact them first) would like their readers to know more about. You only mention you and your organization at the end as a little info piece on the author. This helps to position both you and your company as a trusted resource on certain health topics and therefore helps build your credibility instead of the newspaper thinking you are just a shameless self promoter and never printing what you send them anyway.

Does this make sense? Please comment if you have thoughts and you can always get in touch with me directly via my website to discuss such ideas further and how I can be of assistance to you and your organization.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Web Centric Marketing

What does this mean? Another fancy marketing term used to lure in the un-marketing savvy client? Maybe, but sometimes marketing folks create marketing terms for things so they can say what might take a paragraph to say in three little words. Isn't that one of the reasons people need help with marketing in the first place? Doh! Yes, even I have been a bit Simpsonized - a-ha! There is a marketing term right there! Is it easier to say:

a.) I've been Simpsonized?
b.) I now say things that are often said on the Simpsons because I live in the state where the American public decided the Simpsons live?

Sooo - what is web centric? (Comments would be cool here since there haven't been any in a while and my tracking devices show that people are indeed reading my blogs!)

Web centric is providing marketing services based on...yes! The Web! That means your website must be the focus and all other marketing umbrella items swirl around the website. And, here is a BIG, dirty, industry secret - lots of old school advertising firms don't want to play that way because then they won't get their big advertising commissions, because figuring how to make money online is new, unchartered, and scary territory to those folks who have shunned such activities as online dating (yes, of course, I have fully embraced such activities, although that doesn't mean it isn't still unchartered territory).

In my fervor to start my own public relations business in Vermont, I am in a continual quest to network with folks who are embracing this web centric style of marketing. In my journey, I have come across two I would like to give kudos to here:

Shark Communications - I did a lot of research of agencies who did not offer in house public relations services and how I might be of service to them and them to me, and the one that sparked the most marketing fun and excitement in our fields of work was the gang over at the end of Battery Street at Shark Communications - These guys (and gals) are ALL about the web and I must give Principal, Pete Jacobs, the credit for broadening my vocabulary to use the marketing term "web centric." I also thank them for giving me the opportunity to work with an agency to forge ahead with all sorts of new media ideas, concepts, tactics and all those other fun marketing words we like to use.

Shadow Productions - I have just started working with these folks as a vendor for electronic press kits, interactive press information, and the more "theatrical" side of marketing and am also pleased to say, my first meeting with them sprouted all sorts of new ideas that continue to position me more and more as a professional storyteller than just some PR person than ever! And that, makes me rest easy at night - even if I stay up too late writing blogs! Check them out too -

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I love when I am inspired to write a random post as opposed to sitting down to think of one!! Today as I was cruising along Shelburne Road, going to the bank (KeyBank of course), stocking up on cat food (Pet Food Warehouse of course), and getting an oil change (without a shadow of a doubt from my favorites at Shearer Pontiac - home of the VIBE!!!), I came across a group of blue people dancing at the rotary before South Willard Street and at first thought - the Blue Man Group in Vermont? I quickly dismissed that idea as they are definitely not cool enough to dance around during local soccer mom traffic where South Burlington and Burlington slap five. Instead I saw it was the marketing funhouse known as the Burlington team of 1-800-Got-Junk. I see these guys at every Chamber of Commerce event and absolutely love their style - now even more so after the "blue man dance." Not to mention that the concept of 1-800-Got-Junk is a perfect fit with Burlington.

1-800-Got-Junk comes and takes away and properly disposes of, recycles, and collaborates with other groups to re-use your junk, crap, and stuff that you can't get rid of yourself, yet you would prefer it not sit around adding to potential white trash status. I love this concept for the Burlington area for two main reasons:
1.) It is much more environmentally friendly than (gawd forbid) dumping it, bringing it to the dump, or having it sit around in some inconvenient place.
2.) It gives me a reason to say: Stop being lazy Burlington jerkfaces and leaving your junk on the side of our streets - take some responsibility for yourselves, hack up the fee, and get the dudes at 1-800-Got-Junk to take it away for you!
How can we ever become globally responsible if we don't take the extra step ourselves? So, my kudos of the day - love my service team at Shearer! Kudos of the month - 1-800-Got-Junk!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Falling Into Publicity

I started off this blog griping about the industry, clients, money, etc. Then I deleted it and am starting over. I guess the ultimate gripe is that starting your own business is a lonely process. You no longer have co-workers or associates to plot the demise of your boss while pretending to be in a very important meeting, to sneak off with for extra long lunches downtown on a nice day, to yell back and forth over cubicles or office doors, or to say "screw working out, we're going for margaritas!" On a serious side, you also really don't have folks to bounce ideas off of or to blow off steam with after a crappy phone call.

And, in all fairness to myself and the industry, I guess I can't really use my blog to gripe. But, I can say that everyone has their ups and downs and everyone is human. In this humanity is also where we can really shine and connect with other human beings as people. Because at the end of the day what matters isn't your work, clients, or how you succeeded or failed, what matters is if you helped someone feel better about themselves, helped someone think more clearly, and if you helped yourself love and be loved. That is what matters. Oh and for my blog tags - I am Rachel Carter, a Vermont publicist and more importantly, a storyteller.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking for an Intern!

Yes I am! I am just too busy and need someone to ghost-write my blogs. Just Kidding! In my public relations opinion, that is NOT ethical! I do work with some blogs - like Green Mountain Power's Choose2BGreen blog, but that is the mechanical background work, research, rankings, etc. And, in fact, that is partially what I need help with! Someone who's internet savvy and up in the social networking world to help me with that side of my business while also learning the more traditional components of public relations and marketing.

This is definitely an unpaid internship, but the opportunity would be exceptional for the right candidate. Here's what I am offering:

- Flexible hours
- Relaxed home office environment
- Networking - for this I will cover the intern's expenses
- Chance to work on all of my accounts in various capacities - mostly writing, research, brainstorming, and helping with execution of various PR programs
- RachelCarterPR email account
- Women business owner firsthand experience

What I am looking for:

- College student majoring in Public Relations who is extremely driven and outgoing and who has real life experience in LIFE! (meaning, I do not want a bookworm whose experience is limited to the "college bubble" - I want someone who has traveled some, partied some, had a variety of jobs, has a variety of friends, and simply put - "gets it.") I do not care about GPAs
- Candidate must have a laptop - a computer is just something I cannot provide
- Candidate must be able to write well without spelling and grammar errors - I simply do not have time to correct these types of things
- Candidate must be able to take direction and feedback as well as give feedback and insight
- Prefer someone who is going to stay in Vermont for a while since the opportunity for Vermont media contacts, business networking, and even job openings is high

If anyone knows of anyone - please pass along and have candidates contact me by email with a well crafted, creative, and lively cover letter selling themselves to me as well as a resume.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Promoting Events

A big part of what I do as a Vermont public relations consultant/publicist is promote events. I guess this was the part of PR I always did. Like, when my middle school chum, Cathy, and I would have Valentine's Days parties for my pets and parents - to publicize it we would work for hours on a newsletter we would create and then "pretend" mail to the various members of my household. Or when another friend, Denise, and myself wanted to have a baby-sitters club (like the books) and I submitted a little article for the town paper and stuck fliers in all the neighbor's mailboxes. Or like how I would always be on the publicity committee for the plays, talent shows, and other such performing events I was in. I would distribute fliers, but would always submit a letter of some sort (aka press release in raw form) to the local newspaper. From then to know, I have also understood the power of the "calendar listings." When I taught the PR classes at Champlain College last year, one of the items I would always reiterate to my students was the importance of sending out timely calendar listings to every place that lists an event calendar.

I just spent most of last week doing just that, for I am in the midst of promoting three events and I might as well use my blog to help promote them as well. Now of course, I have stated many times this blog isn't in existence for client promotion - it is to give PR tips and to help generate PR discussions - especially relevant to public relations in Vermont. However, events are the topic, and these events are worth checking out anyway! Besides, who's steering this tractor??? (vroom vroom)

4th Annual Community Energy Fair
Where: Green Mountain Power Facility, 163 Acorn Lane (off exit 16, I-89), Colchester, VT
When: Saturday, September 8th, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Details: Part Festival. Part Science Fair. All Fun. Learn about energy efficiency and alternative energy solutions at Green Mountain Power’s annual Community Energy Fair located at its facility in Colchester. Tour the facility, take the Energy Challenge, meet team members and the mascot of the Vermont Voltage soccer team, listen and dance to tunes by the Steel Rail Bluegrass Band powered by The Solar Bus, experience the Electrical Fire Safety Trailer from the State of Vermont, and taste free concessions from McKenzie Hot Dogs, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and locally made fruit smoothies!!
The Energy Fair is open and free to the public and more information can be found at

American Machine - A play co-commissioned with the Flynn Center for Performing Arts
Where: FlynnSpace, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
Dates: Tuesday, September 25th – Sunday, October 7th, Daily
Times: September 25th, 26th, 27th, & 28th @ 7:30 pm
September 29th @ 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
September 30th @ 2:00 pm
October 3rd, 4th, 5th @ 7:30 pm
October 6th @ 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm
October 7th @ 2:00 pm & 6:30 pm
Cost: $20 - $29
Details: Jim Lantz, writer/producer of last year’s show, The Bus, delivers American Machine - part parable on the American dream, part cautionary tale taken from the headlines, which tells the story of a great factory that once made parts for classic American cars. As a makeshift family of six friends comes together each night to work, they're soon faced with rumors that their employer will be downsizing—or even closing altogether. As they begin working on a new order—making buckets and mops for Wal-Mart—the prospect of being split up looms before them, and their dedication to the once-proud factory is put to the test.
More information is available at Tickets are available at

I Tango – Argentine Tango Performance, Milonga Party After the Show

Where: Flynn MainStage, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
When: Friday, October 12th, 2007, 8:00 pm, Milonga Party @ 10:15 pm
Cost: $55; $45; $35; discounts for seniors, students and groups of 15+, Milonga Party - $25
Details: The Argentine Tango Society brings their distinctive production of I Tango to the Flynn for the first time! Under the esteemed art direction of Alicia Cruzado, fourteen tango dancers from Argentina and the world renowned orchestra, Color Tango, grace the Flynn MainStage Friday, October 12th. I Tango explores the personal relationship each performer has with the sensual and beautiful art form known and loved throughout the world as “tango.”
Following the performance will be a Milonga Party at the Flynn with the cast, opportunities to dance on stage, and music by Color Tango.
Tickets are available at and more information is available at

Please share with friends too!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Networking 101 - Cruising with Intent

Back when I worked at a marketing/advertising agency as the Director of Public Relations I began honing the skills known as networking. Networking is not something taught in school, although I strongly recommend it be. But then, how do you teach Networking 101? I took a stab at it in one of the 400 level classes I taught in PR at Champlain College. The students asked about how to shake hands and I happily led the class in a hand shaking exercise - they thanked me and said they found it helpful. In my years at Marist College, I had no such luck. But, in the agency world, you are thrust into many situations where you either learn to network or you get really good at waving as you watch opportunities pass you by. After I started to really feel I was getting some sort of knack at networking, I soon labeled it "cruising with intent."

Now I own my own public relations business - yes, it is official, I am a women business owner - Rachel Carter PR is now registered with the State of Vermont. This new title certainly brings about an incredible amount of networking responsibilities. And for this blog, I will offer my opinion and feedback on three networking forums I have come across - this week actually involving all three!

Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce - Located at, the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce has built its way into my heart the way a complex friend does - the kind you never seem to have figured out until you realize they've been loyal and around long enough that they really are a great friend. I first utilized the Chamber when moving to Burlington from Nashville, Tennessee (that is another blog) and purchased the membership directory to start my job search (side note: first job in Vermont was a chambermaid at the Days Inn on Shelburne Road). From there I landed the gig as Marketing Director at New England Financial - Burlington and would often attend the Business After Hours events with various insurance agents - more-or-less as marketing morale support. I found the mixers to be annoying - more of a lame get-hit-on-by-creepy-older-men-or-cheesy-younger-ones event than anything else. But, then, once at the marketing agency, I tried it out again - this time with other co-workers as a pre-game and excuse to go out on a work night. Throughout this time, I actually started to meet people and started "networking" - all while cruising with intent - even if that did mean checking out a few cuties.

Anyway, once I started to make preparations to go into business by myself, I found the Chamber of Commerce events to have been an invaluable part of my business owner training. And not just the mixers, but the legislative breakfasts, and other community work the Chamber is involved in. One of the first things I did when I was on my own was join the Chamber and purchase a bunch of Business After Hours tickets. These events have become a highlight of my month - and not even because of the networking anymore, but I have some great friends in the Burlington business community and this is where we hang out. And tomorrow night the event is at Blues Night at The Lincoln Inn - how stoked am I?

Women Business Owners Network - This group, located at, is like the fun, flashy friend who you like immediately and jump on the bandwagon because it looks like a good idea and because you feel it in your gut - don't you just love when your head and gut agree? I joined the Women Business Owners Network without knowing anyone in it, without having gone to a meeting, and without having heard much about it except I knew it was in existence and knew it had a good reputation. I joined about a month after joining the Chamber and my first event was the spring conference. I was hooked!!! What a well run, organized, positive energy filled, copious amounts of great networking, useful and helpful seminars, and healthy food filled event! Yes! I go to the Burlington chapter monthly luncheons (was at one today) and look forward to going to the new Williston chapter events as well - and that fall seminar at Topnotch - I just need a roomie!!

Business Network International (BNI) - The Vermont chapter is located at and I was invited to attend a meeting (which I did yesterday) by a talented graphic designer who owns Interrobang Design. It seemed similar to the Vermont Business Roundtable in that one professional in a variety of disciplines is invited to be in a networking and lead generating organization. I think the big difference between BNI and others I have mentioned is the focus on lead generation. It is also similar to the Rotary Club structure with the more old school and fraternal internal structure. While I was a Junior Rotarian back in high school and even in Alpha Kappa Psi (professional business fraternity) in college, I find this type of structure not to be as much my style as music and mixers and women empowerment. Plus, the meetings are at 7:30 in the morning - doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a home office? I mean, how can I cruise with intent at that hour?

Now, I am a believer in the power of three, so while I will not be joining BNI, I will be switching all banking from Chittenden to Key Bank so I can participate in the excellent program - Key For Women - another networking opportunity I am sure to be blogging about in the near future!

See you all at the Lincoln Inn tomorrow!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Being Green

Ok, I want to know what folks think about the whole green everything? What do you like? Not like? What's a sham? For real? What do you want to know more about? And, what do you want to not hear about ever again?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Evaluation

No, not an employee evaluation. Luckily now that I am a self employed public relations consultant, I no longer have to suffer through such tasks that can cause blood vessels to burst and overindulgences in office bagels. I am speaking of the evaluation of a public relations program. I think it makes all PR people shudder a bit, but the answer as to how to evaluate is ALWAYS a question that comes up and can be the deciding factor over getting business - regardless of how many nifty ideas you and the intern pulled together. Oh, I do love the tip lists...

1.) Address the evaluation of any program (PR, marketing, sales, etc. - it all fits) BEFORE it is brought up to you.
2.) Generate a discussion about the nature of evaluation and for results to be measurable. Public relations is a long term process, NOT a quick fix and it's important for folks you do work with to understand that.
3.) Of course there is the traditional "ad equivalency" which is attributing a dollar amount to the editorial space based on how much it would cost to have placed an advertisement of that size. However, as the media landscape is changing so drastically and so much of traditional advertising is becoming obsolete and community relations becoming more and more a part of PR, this is not necessarily the best way to "evaluate" a publicity program.
4.) There is also the sheer quantity of editorial through public relations efforts which is one of PR people's largest headaches. This is because we generally do not have the tools or man power to search through the vast amount of placements our efforts can garner. Sure, we know about a lot of the stories because we're working with writers on them, but the only way to get all of the "clips" is for a client to pay for a clipping service which is often times more costly and hassle than it's worth.
5.) So, what do you do??? Implement some evaluation programs at the beginning.
---Set up initial surveys or research and then conduct it again at the end to see what has changed, increased, ended, etc.
---Work with the IT folks to set up online tracking systems or advanced URLs - especially for the traffic PR can generate to a website.
---Determine very clear objectives with a client or business partner at the beginning so expectations are met at the end.
6.) Of course, making for a successful evaluation system may cost the client extra time and money that they do not want to spend which is why trust, honesty, integrity, and positive relationships is what public relations is all about. And in the end - long after a PR program has run its course - it will be deemed successful if those attributes are how the public feels about the company, organization, or individual who benefited from a public relations program.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What is a Press Kit?

A press kit is one of the most utilized tools in public relations ad publicity efforts. A press kit is information that is pulled together and written for the sole purpose of providing the media with the story details they want and need. It should not be the same thing as a sell kit or something provided for customers. While some of that information may be useful, the most productive press kits are tailored for the media - and that usually involves some research as you want to offer information that can't just be found by looking at a website. You also don't need to spend a bunch of money in design, the media want good, easy to follow, and well-written materials, not fancy brochures that are trying to paint a picture. A press kit should include:

~ Photos (small versions are fine, the media will contact asking for large files when they are ready)
~ A basic fact sheet
~ A backgrounder or history sheet
~ Bios of key people - not just the bigwigs, but those who have interesting stories behind them
~ A story idea sheet offering the media the different ways you might be able to be incorporated into a story
~ Current newsletters
~ Contact info
~ Recent news in the form of press releases or articles
~ An online component that is interactive with a video, blog, or podcast in addition to the items listed above

That is just a very basic guideline, but the first and most important thing to do is to prepare information the press will want, not what you want the press to want - this is one of the trickiest areas of PR!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to Balance "the sale" and "keeping it real"

That is a tough question and I guess those salespeople who are both successful and happy have gotten it figured out. I can't really give "tips" here, but I can give insight as to how I try to balance it. And I keep trying...

First of all, it is important to note that public relations is a sale because it's the selling of a concept or idea, yet I try to steer far away from the salesperson approach to PR - ICK! But how do you network and start building relationships that are business in orientation without coming across as being a pushy business pain-in-the-ass?
And here folks - I give you a list!

1.) Alcohol and Humor - if you are lucky enough to have a sense of humor and are surrounded by others with senses of humor and alcohol is involved - you are golden! You can yap away all night, solve the world's problems, and look forward to seeing each other in a boardroom one day. Unfortunately not everyone is funny and not everyone gets witty when they drink.
2.) Smile and mean it! There's nothing worse than those surly faced business gals and those guys that undress with their eyes. Sometimes it baffles me how these types of people are successful. If you're bopping around at a business function of some sort, chances are most people are just as uncomfortable as you. I enjoy getting people into conversation just to know that I helped make them feel less uncomfortable, but I could never do it if I wasn't actually happy with who I am and what I'm doing.
3.) Balance between Ego and Humility - ahhh, so difficult to balance! Yes, egos have to stay in check, that is obvious. But, with business networking, people do want to know what you do and what your strengths are, so finding that balance between bragging a little about what you do and being able to make fun of yourself is so key!
4.) Business Cards - Bring 'em and get 'em! Hand them out and get whatever you can get but then you MUST follow up!!!! This allows fun chit chat, shooting the breeze, skimmin' the foam - whatever! But then a business conversation can follow when people are back at the drone of computer monitors and too many bagels.
5.) Embrace the Marketing Golden Rule in whatever you do! And what is that rule you ask? You Cannot Be Everything To Everyone - EVER. The sooner people, businesses, concepts, organizations, etc. learn that rule, the more lucrative they will see marketing and publicity efforts become! This gets into targeted audiences and I think my PR students at Champlain College should be able to give a good talk on this area. Some people will not like you, your product, your idea, your hair, or your shoes. Get over it and move on to someone who does without getting pissy!

Ok, comments time!! What are some of YOUR tips to selling, networking, schmoozing, etc.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Simpsons...

Ok, so has everyone heard that Springfield, Vermont is where Bart, Lisa, and the gang have been hanging out for such a timeless amount of time? I remember when my little brother (who is now like 28) wore skidz and Bart Simpson hair gel!
The question I pose for my marketing friends today is this:

How will Vermont use this to their advantage?

I can think of endless possibilities to capitalize - in an integrity driven way - on this fun and wonderful opportunity to shed a positive light on Vermont, boost Springfield's economy, and really let the world know that while Vermont is small, simple, and the true home of the Simpsons, it is also a place that is filled with heart and people who really get what life is all about as well as a state that knows how to get its shit together when faced with such a tremendous challenge and opportunity.

Vermont certainly proved themselves with making the best movie which helped us win - public relations and promotions Vermont! And may you please not be like the Vermont political candidates and use out of state marketers... This will be interesting to say the least.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Marketing without Spending a Dime

So, my old friend Jen McColgan - a former Ski Vermont marketing gal and now Colorado marketing maven - posted a comment which inspired this next post. Here are some tips for how to market yourself, product, business without spending a dime:

1. Ask friends and customers how they FEEL about your product/business/service and why they like it. Be open to hearing things you may not think are true - because they probably are!

2. Use that feedback and pay attention to news outlets that reach the audience that enjoys/uses your product/business/service. Make note of the writers who write about possible competitors or who you think would be interested in writing about your business/service/product.

3. Contact those media folks and talk to them about your business, etc. Don't tell them what they should write about, rather start a conversation and ask what they would be interested in writing about and be prepared with background information and photos for them.

4. If you're having an event of any sort, research all the places that list events and send a brief calendar listing to make sure your event is included - just write it exactly how they print it and you're golden.

5. Collaborate! See what other businesses/organizations/individuals have a similar mission or audience and see how you might be able to work together.

6. If you earn any awards or receive any designations or hire new employees and they receive any awards or recognitions, send a short press release with a photo to local business publications to make sure you get included.

And those are some public relations tips you can use right here in Vermont or wherever you are trying to get free publicity! Feel free to use the comment section to ask a question as well!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Generation X

Yes, I am in Generation X, yes, I have been swamped in getting this new public relations business in Vermont up and running, and yes - it is finally coming together! I am moved into my new house in the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont, my home office is set up, and I know it is time to get blogging!!

So, I just got back from the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce Travel and Tourism Study Committee meeting, and have some thoughts I'd like to share. First of all, the purpose of such meetings is to ultimately find ways to beef up tourism in Vermont - an industry that impacts so much of the state's economy, yet - in my opinion - is in constant need of improvement. While sitting at the meeting, I am filled with thoughts and ideas that break from my regular flow of client work (much of which deals with Vermont tourism) that often helps shape new ideas away from my current train of thought.

The one I want to write about today - and hope to get some comments on - is Generation X and their travel habits. It continues to baffle my mind how tourism dollars everywhere are so geared towards our Baby Boomers parents. Yes, they have the most disposable income ever and of course we will always be the poor children - even when we are retiring, but why does no one market to our generation???

We are now old enough to enjoy the "finer things in life" and we have some money. And, we're exceptional targets for in state travel - so how come no one's offering us free gas gimics, or two for one specials, or sending us coupons, or encouraging us through the media (aka public relations folks) to travel and experience the state we live in?

Thoughts on why? Ideas to target Generation X?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Let the Blogging Begin!

And so it goes - my first "professional" blog! Guess that means I can't talk about my new romance, or the stress of moving, or the yummy crab cakes I just ate. But, I can talk about the craziness of starting a new business! And, it is crazy!!! Since I am now getting my blog going, guess I am supposed to post this Technorati link so I can play in the search engine field - Technorati Profile
so, there goes.
Anyway, so as a newly independent public relations consultant in Vermont, my goal in this blog is to offer some basic PR tips for folks - in Vermont and beyond. So, since most people associate the word public relations with a press release, here is my tip for the week:


Think of this instead - public relations is the telling of a story to relate the public to a product, idea, trend, event, etc. Would you tell a story by writing a wordy document and then spamming everyone you could and hope they read your story? Uh, I think not. You would call your friend and tell her and would chat about how it relates to her as well as you. You would email your cousin and tell him in a different way than you told your friend. You would mention it to a co-worker in a different manner than you would tell your significant other - um, get my drift?

Sit on that for a little while, soak it in, think about it, and let's chat about it next time...stay tuned!