Take It From Me: See `Taking the Wheel’

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is helping get the word out about newsworthy, interesting subjects, whether they are a client or not.

So it was a thrill this morning to get word from a longtime friend, David Ackerman, about prominent mention that MSNBC.com gave a brilliant 10-minute film that he wrote and directed, “Taking The Wheel.”

Last Friday, when I saw the query “Getting Grandma Off The Road” on Help A Reporter Out, I immediately thought of David and connected him with the writer, Harriet Baskas.

She produced this thoughtful story.

It’s even more gratifying to know that the story–as David’s film has done since its release in 2002–will assuredly play a key role in saving lives.

Among other successes, the California Highway Patrol regularly shows the movie as part of its Driving Safety Education Outreach Program. “Taking the Wheel has certainly helped to save many lives,” the CHP has stated, “and we intend to make sure that it continues to do so.”

To learn more about the movie, which stars Patience Cleveland and John Cleese of “Monty Python” fame, you can check it out here. Then make a point of watching the movie–and sharing it with your loved ones, young and not-so-young!

Just Who or What Is `Mainstream Media’?

Lately, there has been much discussion and debate on my Medill School of Journalism alumni list-serv about what constitutes “mainstream media.”

Of course, the phrase is often used in the context of claims that the aforementioned nebulous institution is biased, out-of-touch and worthy of tongue-lashings from all quarters.

On a related note, someone recently got huffy with Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out source-and-storyteller matching service. The reason they unsubscribed from his so-called HARO: he was including too many source requests from bloggers in his thrice-daily (Monday-Friday) outreach.

To me, much of it shakes out thusly: what influence and impact does a given entity–whether it’s a person, a website, an organization, or whatever–have on your target audience?

In some cases, a blog with a relatively small, but intensely interested, passionate and motivated following, can represent a much better and more relevant “hit” than a national publication with a huge, but diffuse, reach.


Anyone seeking to increase their sales, their profile, or otherwise attain a goal needs to intelligently assess the entire landscape of communications outlets–and it’s growing bigger and murkier by the hour–and then make thoughtful decisions about where to devote its story-telling resources.

Today’s mainstream may well be tomorrow’s footnote, and today’s alternative media may well be tomorrow’s mainstream.

Terminology aside, if you’re a publicist, this is my bottom line: If your media outreach list isn’t constantly evolving, then you’re not paying nearly enough attention.

Peter Shankman, One HARO-ic PR Force

A quick public service/public relations service message today:

If you are in the PR business–or even if you’re not–you should know about Peter Shankman.

You may recall a previous post in which I credited Shankman with inspiring my idea for the U.S. Department of XS Energy.

This year, in particular, Shankman has shown why he is a creative force to be reckoned with. Perhaps his biggest endeavor has been extending his reach with Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, a service that matches journalists with sources and has ProfNet quaking in its stale boots.

I recently wrote a review of Shankman’s book, Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them.

Go here to check it out.