PR Restraint For George Hood’s Next Guinness World Record Bid in Plank

George Hood on Dec. 3, 2011, shortly after he set the Guinness World Record in the abdominal plank.

George Hood, the ultra-endurance athlete extraordinaire from Aurora, Ill., isn’t slowing down at 55 (years of age).

The five-time Guinness World Record holder on Saturday is supporting HeartChase, an American Heart Association fundraiser in Newport, Ky., as he bids to break his own record in the abdominal plank.

But just because the disciplined and driven former Drug Enforcement Administration agent has mind-boggling stamina doesn’t mean the media operate the same way. As a result, publicizing the effort on behalf of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge, where Hood works as group exercise director, has been an exercise in restraint.

Having promoted six of Hood’s prior Guinness World Record efforts over the past six years, one of the major lessons that has emerged is the importance of not wearing out the story’s welcome before the record-breaking moment arrives.

Sure, being persistent is important in marketing and public relations, but it’s critical to balance that trait with the discernment to “pick your spots” and intelligently consider when is best to reach out to any given media outlet.

In this instance, another factor is that Hood is from the Chicago area (representing one media market) and will be going for the Guinness World Record in the Cincinnati area.

So four weeks ago, Inside Edge PR began waging media outreach in the Chicago area as well with some national outlets. Among other coverage, you can see the news release at the Chicago Tribune‘s TribLocal and this feature story in Suburban Life.

Meanwhile, this week marked the start of outreach to media in the area where Hood will be looking to shatter his own mark of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds. The Cincinnati Enquirer is now pursuing the story.

It remains to be seen where other coverage may flow from, but one thing is for sure: if Hood succeeds in setting a new Guinness record, the moment he stops his plank will mark just the start of a new wave of media coverage.

News Release on Five Seasons’ Manny Velasco Caps Small-World Story-Telling Connection

If you stay at something long enough, fun interweavings come about.

The first story that I ever got paid to write, nearly 27 years ago, appeared in the Marshfield (Mass.) Mariner. It was a feature on Chris Lapriore, a star tennis player from my high school. A two-time state champion, Chris was about to enroll at the University of Illinois.

A few years ago, as I was doing some PR on Hall of Fame tennis player Monica Seles’ visit to Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Northbrook, I chatted with the club’s head tennis pro, Manny Velasco. In the course of our conversation, I discovered that Manny (pictured below, with Monica) had played with Chris at Illinois.

So it was especially satisfying, and with more than a little feeling of nostalgia, that I wrote my most recent tennis piece last week: a news release on Manny’s receiving Coach of the Year honors in the USTA’s Chicago District.

Makes me wonder what stories I might be telling in the year 2038.

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.

Public Service, Pics Drive Five Seasons’ Outreach

Remarkable athletes, accomplished coaches, fund-raising programs and family-friendly activities.

Since 2007, those broadly stated categories have formed the bulk of stories that I’ve shared as publicist for the two Five Seasons Family Sports Clubs in the Chicago area (Burr Ridge and Northbrook).

But last week represented a new opportunity to raise awareness about the Burr Ridge site at 6901 S. Madison, as Five Seasons hosted water rescue training for the Tri-State Fire Protection District. At, you can see the news release, which went to a variety of other local media outlets as well.

In light of photographs’ supremely vital role in drawing attention, I also created a photo gallery.

Something to keep in mind when posting photos: it’s not enough to simply slap up a bunch of images. The more descriptive captions you can offer–such as the names of individuals in the photos–the more likely the media will use the photos in other formats, such as the old-fashioned print version.

Related Posts:
PR on a Five Seasons’ Fitness Turn-Around
Pick up the Phone, Break Away from PR Pack


On the PR Trail With `Road to Remember’

Five years ago, toward the end of my time as a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune, I wrote a feature on Marc DeLise, then a police sergeant with the Oak Brook Police who was raising awareness and money for Kids In Need and the Illinois Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Since then, Marc’s retired from the force, but he’s hardly the retiring type. He’s now in the midst of walking 900 miles from Chicago to New York in a fundraiser dubbed Road to Remember. (That’s him, above, during his law-enforcement career and below in Chicago, on the first day of his walk last week.)

The mission is to raise funds for children of police officers, firefighters and military personnel who perished in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As it turns out, Marc is a longstanding member of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Burr Ridge, where I have been the publicist since 2007 and where Marc prepared in anticipation of his cross-country walk.

So it was a pleasure–and a bit of deja vu–this past week to develop a news release in support of the Road to Remember cause, including a tie-in to Five Seasons.

You can see the release here at TribLocal and check out a photo gallery as well.

Want to track Marc’s progress? Visit Facebook and type “Road To Remember” into the search box.