Dying in the Digital Age

John Pedersen, as a Boy Scout, Camp Parsons, near Brinnon, Olympic Peninsula, Washington StateMy father-in-law died last week. He was 92 and lived near Brinnon in Washington State. He mostly lived on the same land with his wife Marilyn for more than 50 years, secluded, surrounded by pristine forests, an abundance of wildlife and the magical waters of Hood Canal, part of Puget Sound. 

John Pedersen did not have a computer, he could not comprehend email or the Internet. In his final days he tended his garden, read Tolstoy and The New Yorker and visited with his wife, who also enjoyed nature and shared his mistrust and suspicion of technology.

Now that John has passed, technology keeps his memory alive to those who could not make the trip to his memorial, and far flung family members who lost touch. The days of the simple obituary are gone. John Pedersen’s obituary online in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I) includes a Guest Book, and links to send a gift, share a photo, or leave an audio message.

Legacy.comThe obituary service at the P-I is through Legacy.com , specializing in Memorial Websites ”Where life stories live on.” This is a valuable service and a brilliant business. Obituaries are the ‘most read’ section of a newspaper. We are naturally drawn to people’s stories. Self-described as “the Web’s dominant obituary resource and the leader in online memorialization,” the Legacy.com people are also obviously adept at ‘digital public relations.’  Their site includes bios and photos of luminaries who recently died and they create permanent memorial sites for notables such as Bettie Page .

Cupcake Barometer Points to Deeper Recession

Magnolia Bakery, Greenwich Village, New York City, famous for cupcakesI have never seen such a sullen holiday season in New York. Prices are slashed 35%-50% all over town and still the stores are empty. People are in spending lockdown as the idle crain’s atop hulking abandoned high-rise condos attest to the deep impact of a recession that promises to be prolonged and painful. It seems almost obscene to shop this holiday season.

Alas, this being New York we could always eat our way to some measure of happiness. You may gain a few pounds but you stave off the recession malaise.

The Magnolia Bakery at Bleecker and W. 11th street, Greenwich Village, New York City is a major spot for tourists and impressionable locals The Magnolia Bakery, Greenwich Village, New York City, famous for cupcakes, is suffering in the recessionto gorge on mediocre cupcakes, cakes, and pies and marginally acceptable coffee. The lines at Magnolia are always ridiculously long – I was not willing to waste an hour to get a cupcake (besides, real New Yorkers eschew such obviously touristy behavior).

Then something remarkable happened. In the middle of a nice Sunday, at the height of holiday shopping season, there was no line. I walked in unaccosted, picked out a couple of cupcakes, paid without waiting and was out in a couple of minutes. If people are cutting back on their cupcake consumption we must really be heading for the skids.

PR/Media Week in Review 12-14-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewIt was the week of the swindler, the thief, the profane, double-dealing Governor, the blood sport of Illinois politics and the sociopathic Wall Street money manager. Marc S. Dreier, “one of New York’s most accomplished lawyers, brazenly swindled some of the city’s savviest investors,” (NYTimes), while Bernard Madoff was perpetrating the largest fraud ever (Wall Street Journal), $50 billion, making Dreier’s $100 million damage seem like chicken feed, while Blago Blagojevich was peddling Senate seats on the open market like bogus flat screen TVs (Washington Post). 

It was a week to celebrate unrepentant greed and corruption as the tightening vise of a deep recession forces dark dealings to the light of public scrutiny. As U.S. auto makers and the unions will attest – this is a great climate for crisis communications.

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The Drama of Public Relations continues through the week with performances of WHITE NOISE to December 22 at H-B Playwrights Theatre in New York City. Performances for the “Waiting Room” series of 10-minute plays are free. Comment by Karasma: PR and cruising on the traitorous sea meet in a therapist’s office…PERFECT!

Maintaining good relationships with donors or their descendants is not only good public relations but also could help avert legal messes down the road. … See San Antonio Express-News story

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The Drama of Public Relations

Ella Jane New plays Melanie in WHITE NOISE by Mark Rose at H-B Playwrights Theatre, New York CityJoe (played by Andrea Modica, below right) is a stressed out VP at a New York PR agency. Melanie (played by Ella Jane New, left) is a stressed out marketing exec launching a new cruise liner. A chance encounter in the waiting room a therapist’s office leads to impromptu venting, a connection and a negotiation - proving that in New York your life can radically change in less than 10 minutes. 

Joe and Melanie are working out their agita on stage for 8 performances, starting next Thursday, December 11, at H-B Playwright’s Theatre, 124 Bank Street, NYC, next to H-B Studios. Directions here.



WHITE NOISE, a new 10 minute play by Mark Rose
Directed by:      Karen Azenberg
Joe:                  Andrea Modica
Melanie:           Ella Jane New


WHITE NOISE is performed with 12 other 10-minute plays in Evening B in “The Waiting Room Plays” presented by H-B Playwrights Foundation, Donna de Matteo, Executive Director.

Andrea Modica plays Joe in WHITE NOISE by Mark Rose at H-B Playwrights Theatre, New York City


Schedule of Performances, Evening B:

  1. Thursday, December 11, 8 PM
  2. Saturday, December 13, 8PM
  3. Sunday, December 14, 3PM
  4. Wednesday, December 17, 8PM
  5. Friday, December 19, 8PM
  6. Saturday, December 20, 3PM
  7. Sunday, December 21, 8PM
  8. Monday, December 22, 8PM 

H-B Playwright’s Theatre is at 124 Bank Street, between Greenwich and Washington Streets, next to H-B Studios, in the West Village.


No admission charge. Call 212-989-7856 for reservations, Mon. – Fri., 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM. Reservations must be picked up 15 minutes before curtain. Limit two (2) tickets per request. You can also request tickets for “Evening A” performances.

THE WAITING ROOM PLAYS: Marlene Mancini, Managing Director, Giovanni Villari, Technical Director, Tara Webb, Office Manager. The HB Theatre is committed to supporting the long-term development of original productions. “I worked closely with Herbert (Berghof) for a number of years at the Playwrights Foundation. He directed many of my plays there and produced a number of others. He gave me a home and rekindled my faith in theatre.” Horton Foote – 1990

How to Waste Big PR Budgets

U.S. automakers try to overcome public relations disasterWork for a U.S. auto maker and see how fast the big PR dollars fly out the window. The recent show by the big 3 U.S. automakers before Congress was generally panned as a PR disaster. Like errant children they were told to go away, get their act together, and come back with a viable plan that warrants a government bailout. Does that mean that U.S. automakers will learn in two weeks what has escaped them for decades – namely how to build better, more fuel-efficient cars?

Maybe this is a case where bad PR actually leads to an epiphany. Survival is a ruthless teacher. Big U.S. automakers are imprisoned in their self-destructive story. Congress and their consituents are demanding a new story. Forced to adopt new messages might require an operational and strategic shift that will lead to survival of the U.S. auto industry.

“Good PR” cannot gloss over bad business behavior. It might help if they stopped looking like three over paid, clueless white guys begging for a handout. The best defense is an offense – they should become inspirational leaders of the “new” U.S. auto industry. Where is Lee Iacocca when we need him?