Drew Kerr 212-849-8250 www.four-corners.


Reporters, bloggers and broadcast producers are bombarded by thousands of pitches every day. What is going to make your pitches or press releases beat the odds and stand out? We expect all our employees to follow these guidelines – it is very important to us. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with putting aside a pitch letter or press release, going out to lunch or sleeping on it, and then going back and make it even better. There are two parts to writing: the technical part (spelling, punctuation, accuracy, choice of words, editing) and the strategic part (what you say in what order, how you grab your reader, making “the sell” convincing). You have to do both of them well to succeed as a publicist. TECHNICAL PART What you write is a reflection of you and this company – to the media and to our clients. Every little thing you write does count. 1. 2. 3. 4. Every word and name is spelled correctly. You use commas and apostrophes correctly. Are your words accurate? You are careful about hyphens, dashes and capitalization (upper and lower case letters). 5. The writing is lively and compelling – you mix up your words, as opposed to using the same ones over and over. 6. Say what you want to say in the shortest amount of words. Edit, edit, edit. 7. Use the active form of phrases (GOOD: Dennis Publishing president and CEO Stephen Colvin… BAD: Stephen Colvin, the president and CEO of Dennis Publishing…).

EXERCISE: Look at each sentence. For each one, write two different ways of saying the same thing. • Verizon paid a very large sum of $1 billion to carry NBC Universal programming on their fiber optic cable network. • There will be 12 photographers walking around the Radar launch party, taking pictures of celebrities going into the party and the people at the party as well. • The new Xbox will allow users to connect to the Internet, play other people around the world, play MP3’s, and record TV programs digitally. THE STRATEGIC PART • Get to the point in the very first sentence. As a matter of fact, get to the point in the very first words. o The reader should get the complete idea in the first two sentences. o Grab them by the collar from the very first word and never let them go. o Great tools to grab a reader: surprise, irony, drama, extreme situations, puns and word play, big revelation. • In a press release, the headline should be the news peg, the main point. It should be as compelling as the first sentence. o The headline should be specific (BAD: "Good Housekeeping Looks at Crib Sheets" GOOD: "Crib Sheets May Be Dangerous To Children: Special Investigation in Good Housekeeping's December Issue") o Your headline can be clever, if the material dictates it. (i.e. "Hillary Gets No Respect -- Mrs. Clinton Off Good Housekeeping's Most Admired List"). • E-MAIL PITCHES o Journalist’s first name is ALWAYS in the subject line followed by a colon. (i.e. “Joanne:”) o The subject line must be so compelling and grabbing AND specific that the person you’re sending it to wants to open it up. A subject line like “George: Exclusive Story from Blender” is not a grabber. “George: The JLo Hissy Fit That Nobody Knows About” works. Make believe you are writing a magazine headline that will make somebody open the issue to read the story.

TIP: Sometimes it’s a good idea to say sentences out loud. If it does not sound right to you or something sounds off, there’s probably an excellent chance something is wrong and can be improved.

IF IT’S A PRESS RELEASE… Does it grab you from the very first words? Is there a news peg you can ride the coattails? Is all the spelling, punctuation and grammar correct? Are the subject line and headline highly persuasive and specific? Are you getting the essential points in, and cutting the lesser ones out? Can you use more lively words than the ones you have now? Can you say what you want in fewer words? Are you using active phrasing?  Does it need a boilerplate?  When you are finished, can you actually say to yourself, “This is killer?” Are you really happy with what you wrote? If something is still bothering you, what is it and how can we address it?        IF IT’S A PITCH LETTER…  Does it grab you from the very first words?  Are you asking the reader what you’d like to do with them? (TV segment, exclusive story, etc.)  Are you describing what the segment will look like and what your guest can do?  Is there a news peg you can tie it in with?  Are there any human interest anecdotes you need to make this pitch letter  Is all the spelling, punctuation and grammar correct?  Is the subject line highly persuasive and specific?  Are you getting the essential points in, and cutting the lesser ones out?  Can you use more lively words than the ones you have now?  Can you say what you want in fewer words? Are you using active phrasing?  When you are finished, can you actually say to yourself, “This is killer?” Are you really happy with what you wrote? If something is still bothering you, what is it and how can we address it?

GREAT WALL STREET JOURNAL LEADS Barnes & Noble's acquisition of Ingram Book Group, the country's largest book wholesaler, has sparked a wave of criticism from a prominent industry group and a Barnes & Noble rival. **** Talk about the cutting edge. With little fanfare, 17 master knife makers have gathered at Texarkana College's School of Bladesmithing, all trying to prove they are the sharpest. **** When farmer Van Meek was planting his corn and soybeans last spring, he paid little heed to Asia's economy, even though Asia is one of the biggest customers for the crops. **** In a corporate boardroom, chief executives often brim with vision and self assurance. But when they testify in court, they can be their own worst enemies. **** One of the fastest-selling new products for urban teens comes with a warning sticker: Users run "the risk of serious bodily harm, including head injury, spinal injury or death." Pretty scary stuff for a pair of sneakers. **** Playboy is making a pass at women. **** The pain wars begin today. **** Despite a big push to sign more women up to get M.B.A.s, the nation's major business schools have little to show for their labors. **** Korean tradition demands homage be paid to the dead -- whether they are human or lab rats. ****

As Kodak and Fuji's market-share war kicks into overdrive, steep film prices are becoming a sepia-toned memory. **** A comedian named Adam Sandler just dumped a big pail of water on rule No. 1 for the top Hollywood studios: Expensive action movies are the way to make a profit. **** It's the battle of the boy bands. A simmering rivalry between 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys, two hot-selling teen groups, has erupted into of the music industry's biggest and most complex brawls. It involves two record companies and a pop-music impresario. And beneath the din of screaming teens, control of the two bands and million of dollars in profits from their red-hot albums are up for grabs. **** In the latest shot of bad news for the gun industry, United Parcel Service of America Inc. is tightening its rules for shipping handguns and effectively raising prices for the service. **** Calvin Klein has put himself on the sale rack. In a move to take advantage of the current feeding frenzy for established fashion brands, Calvin Klein Inc., the American fashion house that made designer jeans its signature, confirmed that it had hired investment banker Lazard Freres & Co. to consider a merger, a strategic alliance or similar combination. **** Imagine a major casino with no flashy limousines, no sumptuous restaurants and no hotel rooms. That would be Harrah's New Orleans Casino. As with so many things in this town, there's really nothing else quite like it. **** In his first six months as chief executive of Xerox Corp., G. Richard Thomas has had a run few executives would want to copy. ****

The bubble gum has burst. Baseball and other sports cards are in a slump, as kids reject the classic pastime for the Internet and Pokemon. **** Imelda Marcos, the Internet beckons. In the past year, the number of retailing sites on the World Wide Web with significant offerings of shoes has jumped to 1,500 from 1,100. **** Once again, the world's giant pharmaceuticals makers have caught the merger virus. **** Candie's has been a longtime advertiser in Rolling Stone magazine. Now Rolling Stone is returning the favor. **** A month from now, as Santa Claus crawls back up the last chimney and heads home, the retail world will begin its annual postmortem: How did discounters once again manage to trounce traditional department stores? Was it sophisticated pricing, the latest in-store design, or cutting-edge inventory management? Actually, after 20 years of growing discounter dominance, a simpler explanation rolls into view: the shopping cart. So far this year, the six leading discount chains, led by Wal-mart Stores Inc., have chalked up robust sales increases of 5% or more for stores open at least one year. And each of those chains offers customers the luxury of a shopping cart. meanwhile, the six leading department-store companies, led by Sears Roebuck & Co., don't provide carts. Their year-to-date same-store increases have all been less than 5%. **** Nike Inc. is playing a brand new game.

In an effort to capture the attention -- and dollars -- of the demographically powerful "Gen Y" crowd, the company is moving beyond shoes and sportswear and going digital. **** Sales executive Roger Mitchell wasn't exactly thrilled to find that his wife's company was holding its quarterly sales dinner at the circus, in a big yellow tent set up in a parking lot across the street from a McDonald's. "I expect we'll be leaving early," Mr. Mitchell said. But then a clown in a tuxedo rolled out a crimson carpet and ushered the guests into the reception tent. Mr. Mitchell took in the circus wagons selling Caesar salads and espresso with hazelnut liqueur. Once in the big top, he sank back in a plush, red-velvet seat -- and stayed for the entire two-hour-and twenty-minute show. Upscale audiences are discovering the circus. And troupes nationwide are catering to their new, well-heeled fans with premium-priced, amenity-laden performances. Gone are the sawdust, peanut shells and plastic flashlights many baby boomers remember from their childhoods. They've been replaced by canapes, cocktails and performances so quiet that a squawk from a toddler draws glares. **** As a boy, Robert A. Eckert enjoyed playing with Matchbox toy cars. Today, the father of four enjoys seeing his children play with Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels toys. His youngsters will soon have as many Mattel Inc. products as they wish. Mr. Eckert, the 45-year-old head of Philip Morris Co.'s Kraft Foods unit, is taking command of the troubled toy maker. Early Wednesday, Mattel named him chairman and chief executive, effective immediately, ending a three-month external search. **** When Paramount Pictures' "Mission: Impossible 2" is released on Wednesday, the name Stuart Baird will appear nowhere in the credits. But by some accounts, he is the movie's real hero. Like Ethan Hunt, the fictional secret agent played by Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible" and now in its sequel, Mr. Baird is called in to do jobs too difficult for others to handle -- film-editing jobs, in Mr. Baird's case. Indeed, if Mr. Baird shows up in the editing room of a movie during

post-production, chances are something is wrong and there is a lot at stake -- which was precisely the situation when Viacom Inc.'s Paramount brought him in a couple of months ago to final-edit "M:I-2." **** Get this: A couple of Ivy League wisenheimers put up a Web site on a lark, the site causes a sensation and the duo become budding new-media moguls with no revenue but venture capital to burn. It's the kind of dot-com folk tale that Modern Humorist's Web site would mercilessly spoof, except that it is, in fact, the brief history of Modern Humorist itself. Specializing in wickedly funny parodies, Modern Humorist is the brainchild of two Harvard graduates, Michael Colton and John Aboud, and, without revenue, has attracted a cult following and $1 million in venture capital. **** Can purple courts, fatter balls and shorter sets save men's tennis? After two decades of dwindling U.S. television ratings and a steady popularity fade-out, the potentates who oversee international professional tennis are making an all-out effort to revamp the game -- everything from painting courts purple to permitting John McEnroe-style tantrums during play. And they are quietly experimenting with one of the most significant rule changes in the sport's history: cutting the number of games in a set to four from the traditional six. **** One morning, a Costco store in Los Angeles began running a little low on size-one and size-two Huggies. Crisis loomed. So what did Costco managers do? Nothing. They didn't have to, thanks to a special arrangement with Kimberly-Clark Corp., the company that makes the diapers. Under this deal, responsibility for replenishing stock falls on the manufacturer, not Costco. In return, the big retailer shares detailed information about individual stores' sales. So, long before babies in Los Angeles would ever notice it, diaper dearth was averted by a Kimberly-Clark data analyst working at a computer hundreds of miles away in Neenah, Wis. ****

It's beginning to look a lot like a handheld computing Christmas. Handspring Inc. is firing the first shot in what is likely to become the most competitive -- and most critical -- selling season yet for makers of devices like Palms, Visors and Pocket PCs. Over the next few weeks, Handspring, Visor's maker, will roll out its first national ad campaign in advance of the Christmas selling season. The company will plaster ads outdoors on billboards, taxi tops and bus shelters. In October, it plans to add full-page ads in newspapers and magazines. The multimillion-dollar campaign's tagline: "Visor is." **** Avon is about to call on some new customers, and nary a ding-dong is going to be heard. After months of negotiations with retailers, Avon Products Inc., the door-to-door seller of cosmetics, has chosen Sears, Roebuck & Co. and J.C. Penney Co. to sell its makeup and creams. Avon has never sold its product in U.S. stores in its 115 years in business, but, facing a country where women aren't as commonly home during the day and no longer open their doors to strangers, it is looking to change. ****