Feb 10 2010

#Snowpocalypse: The Unreported Story

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Since Friday, we’ve have more than 30 inches of snow in the nation’s capital.  It’s still snowing with blizzard level winds and low visibility. Once again, I’m fascinated by the television reporting.  Why do then rarely report how people spend their days in doors? I know. Working from home, laundry and household chores are boring.

Capitol HillThe federal government and many businesses have been closed for three days and counting.  It’s Wednesday, but feels like Sunday. It’s been winter vacation with intermittent shovel parties. I’ve caught up on some reading. Superbowl Sunday, my husband made a snow beer mountain. Cooking standards and new bistro trials have featured scones, waffles, salmon risotto, oven roasted chili, chicken pot pies and cookies for ice cream sandwiches. We’ve opened some vintage wine. What better special occasion than a record-breaking snow storm?

With Fat Tuesday fast approaching, I’ve already stored up plenty of calories for Lent.  I think I’ll give up being a coach potato.

Other than a brief flicker last night, we’ve had electricity and heat. How did I survive winters in Ohio as a kid without the Internet?  My nieces and nephews are perplexed as well.

Being from the Midwest, I usually shake my head at the DC metro region’s ability to overact to snow.  An inch or two can close schools here. This double whammy snow storm/blizzard, however, would cripple most any city. A shout out to the caller on the Kojo Nnamdi shower earlier today — in the Midwest, your neighbors have 4 wheel drive trucks and snow plows. They will plow your driveway — and the street if needed.

There has been plenty of reporting on the hard work and dedication of first responder personnel (even the bike cops are still on patrol in my neighborhood) and road closures.  As for historical context, there are some archived photos of the January 1922 Knickerbocker storm and video from the Presidents’ Day storm of 2003. (It was a week before the snow/ice melted in the alley, and I could get my car out of the garage).

However, my historical context is the Ohio Blizzard of 1978 a “severe blizzard” dumping nearly 4 feet of snow, producing arctic wind chills, record low barometric pressure and killing 51 people. We lost power at some point over the weekend and had be rescued by the Ohio National Guard. Sustained 40-50 mph winds, gusting to 100 mph, made it impossible for a lithe grade school girl to walk without assistance. We spent several days at my grandmother’s.

We made it home, but I don’t remember how. Memories include 14- foot snow drifts in the street that took days to disappear.  School was back in session, but we couldn’t walk to the end of the street to get the bus. My dad carried groceries through the drifts and lost a bag of oranges.

With snow still falling, if only for a little while longer, it looks like DC will have its snowiest winter ever with 55″ inches of snow since Dec. I look forward to monitoring reports of another once-in-a-lifetime blizzard.



Sep 3 2009

Mmbahhhh – Goat herding sure beats the corporate cats

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Goat herding sure beats the corporate cats

Goat herding sure beats the corporate cats

The best PR is based on relationships.  Locally sourced produce, meats and cheeses depend heavily on relationships and word of mouth (complimentary of course) as well.

The other day, some friends and I road tripped to Charlottesville, Virginia, to check out the wine and food scene.  Barboursville Winery is worth the trip — verdant vistas and quaff-worthy vino.  The wine tasting, lunch and produce shopping took up most of the day.

Our main objective, however, was to visit a goat farm. We decided to cold called Gail Hobbs Page, a former chef turned fromage maker.  Not only does she make a delicious selection of goat cheese, she raises and milks the goats. Now that’s a 24×7 job.

Gail was in the kitchen making cheese when I called.  “We don’t have a store on the farm, but you can come up and visit the goats if you’d like.”  She seemed completely at ease inviting strangers to her home.

About an hour later, we were higher in elevation and further from civilization as we city slickers know it.  The scenery was breathtaking, and the air so fresh it might have added a year to our life expectancies.

We were greeted by Bear, a Great Pyrenees dog who proudly works the farm, and a mass of goats.  Gail emerged a few moments later to give us an impromptu tour and a quick education in breeding. The males were in heat and you could smell it. Simpca and the other does were thankfully in a separate location for the time being.  (Gail has names for all of her 50+ herd.)

After about 45 minutes, we had to allow Gail to return to her work and tend to the 6 pm milking. I could have stayed far longer. Luckily, I purchased some Farmstead Fresh goat cheese from the Greenwood Gourmet Grocery earlier in the afternoon.  When I arrived home, I quickly opened a bottle of red, grabbed some crackers and enjoyed the creamy, lemony delight with my husband under the stars on my patio on cool summer’s eve.

Check out the “where to buy” section on her Web site: http://www.caromontfarm.com. It’s a local food relationship worth the investment.

You can read more about Caromont and Charlottesville area farms in the July Southern Living magazine. http://www.southernliving.com/travel/south-east/charlottesville-virginia-organic-farms-00400000049579/page9.html



Aug 26 2009

One woman’s spiel on the public relations profession

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As I considered writing a blog about PR, I hesitated. What would I write about? What would be my “personal brand”? Crisis communications, media relations, executive visibility, social media, writing, public speaking, managing people/projects/sanity….

Would I have to write something every day? Who would be my competition? Not surprisingly, it’s seems to be mostly men blogging about PR when it’s mostly women in the work force.

If I could convince colleagues and clients to blog, why am I sitting on the sidelines?

For the near term, I expect to be writing about public relations from the vantage point of preparing for the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) examination. However, first, I thought it best to start with a little bit of research. I discovered that the debate about the value of APR continues unabated. RepManBlog.com calls APR “worthless” (July 24). PRSay.prsa.org responded a few days later defending the need for a formal credentialing process and continuing education.

I must admit that my opinions about APR are mixed. First, aren’t institutions accredited and individuals certified? But CPR after your name would be confusing. Will an APR designation make me more competitive in the job market? Help me earn more money? Based on anecdotal feedback from colleagues with an APR and a review of job announcements, APR is not required. For the one job announcement I did find listing “APR preferred,” the hiring manager, as you would suspect, was Accredited in Public Relations.

So why study for my APR? I’m an award-winning practitioner. And I really didn’t want to spend $100 on a textbook that will collect dust in a few months.

I find myself with the desire to reflect on the PR profession and the knowledge and skills needed to excel in a Web 2.0 world. Reviewing communications theory and planning models might be useful. Memorizing the PRSA Code of Ethics, studying relevant case law and applying the code to hypothetical scenarios might influence my future decision making.

I know an APR won’t get me my next job. I’ll have to rely on my KSAs (Knowledge/Skills/Abilities), tenacity and charm. Yet, an APR may be helpful in demonstrating my commitment to the profession and help set me apart from the competition. It’s a personal choice – not unlike a master’s degree. But I already have one of those.