Honoring Pat Liss, Five Seasons’ PR Tipster

Frequently, I write about new arrivals in an organization. But another satisfying part of my work is to honor excellent individuals upon their exit.

Such was the case earlier this week with Pat Liss, concierge extraordinaire at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge for the first 9 1/2 years of the club’s existence. Her last day was July 23.

For more than a few reasons, I will miss Pat and her welcoming, warm personality as I entered, roamed around and exited the club during my visits to the site. From a purely PR standpoint, here’s one of the reasons: she tipped me off to numerous outstanding story ideas in the 3 1/2 years that I have provided public relations support for the Five Seasons clubs in Burr Ridge and Northbrook.

Pat was the one who sparked my media outreach about Five Seasons member Rick Rodrigues when, as a 55-year-old grandfather, he deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Spurred on by my news release, a media blitz ensued: the Chicago Sun-Times’ Andrew Herrmann wrote a front-page story on Rick, TV stations profiled him, and national outlets also pursued his story.

All of that buzz–and the positive glow that cascaded on Five Seasons, whose training staff was preparing Rich physically for the rigors ahead–can be traced back to Pat.

Her insatiable curiosity about what is happening in others’ lives and her others-focused desire to put the spotlight on them also happen to be powerfully effective PR traits.

So I was pleased to be able to turn the lens squarely on Pat last week, at her retirement celebration. You can see a TribLocal photo gallery of the event, which also links to the full release that I wrote.

In addition, Pioneer Press has picked up on the story.

Timely PR: A `Real Estate Reality Check’

It’s hardly news to report that real estate values have declined lately.

But if you find a local, specific angle on that general state of affairs, and back it up with some reliable statistics, it can become news to your target audience.

And better still, because you are taking the lead in disseminating the hard data, you automatically position yourself as being at the forefront of transparent communication about this sensitive issue.

And that can’t be too bad for business at a time when trust is such a precious commodity. These ruminations date back to a month ago, when one of my newer clients, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty, told me it was about to issue its second postcard in a new series called “real estate reality check.”

The firm’s president, Richard C. Gloor, asked that I proofread the new piece, which I was happy to do. But I also strongly recommended that we go even further and develop a news release highlighting what his firm is doing.

The result was a news release that struck a chord with Bill Cunniff of the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote a piece, based on the “reality check.” The Sun-Times real estate piece appeared in the Sunday, Feb. 8 edition.

To read the full news release, visit Triblocal.com, which lays out what Gloor is doing “to champion candid communication” about the real-estate market. (I couldn’t resist the alliterative temptation.)

I also created a blog, Oak Park-River Forest-Forest Park Real Estate, so that anyone can review the raw data that is behind content in the release–an essential element when striving to communicate transparently.

Blog A Vital Cog in Paralympian Coverage

How important are blogs?

Sometimes, they can provide essential information and help spur on media coverage. A recent case in point was Chicago Sun-Times reporter Andrew Herrmann’s story on U.S. Paralympian Melissa Stockwell, the first female U.S. amputee in the Iraq War.

Over the past nine months, Herrmann wrote two fine stories about Stockwell.

The first time, last December, he interviewed her in person at the Oak Park location for Scheck & Siress, the region’s top private prosthetic and orthotic provider and where Stockwell is interning. The second time, Herrmann caught up with her by phone while she was the Olympic Training facility in Colorado–no easy feat, given her jammed schedule after she qualified for the Paralympics.

But this time around, she was half a world away, in China, and essentially unreachable by traditional means. On Friday, keeping the media posted on Stockwell’s efforts, I passed along her most recent blog update.

Three days later, Herrmann resourcefully tapped into the blog in filing this piece. And I believe the blog will continue to serve as a valuable resource for other media outlets that will consider profiling her journey upon her return to the Chicago area.

On a related note, to see a moving tribute about her amazing qualification for the Paralympic Games–she was a longshot to make the team–check out this 4 1/2-minute New York Times video.