Reflections of 1991: A Valentine’s Greeting to My Former Colleagues at The Courier-News

From the front page of the Feb. 15, 1991 edition of The Courier-News in Elgin, Ill.

This past Sunday was the 20th anniversary of my start with The Courier-News of Elgin, Ill.

When Mike Bailey hired a 22-year-old guy who had trouble navigating his way to the newsroom all the way from Chicago, it was for an eight-week period to fill in for a reporter on maternity leave.

As it turned out, the reporter decided to stay home with her baby, and Bailey decided that I could stick around longer.

It set into motion an eight-year period in my career that I appreciate more with each passing year.

Before moving on in March 1999, I had the good fortune of working alongside dedicated professionals, of having the chance to do wide-ranging, important work, and of learning a ton all along the way.

One of my first assignments, during Week 2 at the newspaper, was a feature story on Valentine’s Day 1991 about 25 couples who chose that romantic day to get married at the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva. (You can click on the image above to read more.)

The last few years, I’ve kept the piece on my office wall, with the idea that it would be fascinating to catch up with a few of those couples today, see how they’re doing–and whether they remain married.

A few weeks ago, I suggested such a follow-up to my former colleagues. No reply yet, and I understand if they don’t have a chance to pursue it. Resources are so limited and personnel so stretched today in the newsroom.

Thanks largely to social media, many of us have stayed in touch. Two months ago, when the paper’s office at 300 Lake St. closed after more than a half-century (though the paper continues on), we had a mini-reunion.

Being the PR guy now, I shot photos as well as videos that you can find on one of my YouTube channels.

So, if nothing else, I suppose this post is my Valentine’s greeting to all of those who played such an instrumental part in my years at The Courier-News–the few who remain and the many who have gone on to other endeavors.

PR Resolution: Give Media Plenty of Lead Time

If it’s January 2, then that must mean it’s time to start seriously brainstorming some Valentine’s Day story suggestions.

Though the romantic holiday may seem way off on the horizon–a full 43 days away–a recent story in Pioneer Press newspapers reaffirms that it’s never too soon to start planting story seeds with the media. In late October, I sent a news release to print and television media about the fitness transformation of Wayne Arner (pictured, with son Tommy).

Arner is a member of Five Seasons Sports Club in Northbrook, a client of Inside Edge PR for the past two years.

At the time, I was trying to be as timely as possible, in the wake of Arner’s competing in a national triathlon championship. You can read about him, and my initial PR approach, in this Inside Edge blog post on Oct. 27, 2008.

Of course, Arner’s dramatic weight-loss is a timeless story–and is especially timely as an inspirational and educational New Year’s Resolution piece. And that’s just what Pioneer Press staff writer Mary Graham did in a recent story bearing the headline “Man of Resolution.”

Graham also wrote a sidebar to the Arner profile that included input from Drew Surinsky, who has trained members at Five Seasons Sports Club, as well as Marie Pearson, the club’s group fitness director.

A remarkably versatile trainer in her own right, Pearson is the one who first tipped me off to Arner’s story and offers important tips for anyone seeking better fitness.