Bad Pitch Blog Wednesday, Jun 17 2009 

I realize not everyone out there wants to be a public relations person, but we all handle our own individual brands, whether we like to think that or not. So, being able to pitch a story well and successfully is crucial.

"electric storyteller"

"electric storyteller"

Pitching a story is the art of crafting a story idea that is well suited to the medium and its target audience.  Good pitches take a lot of thought. Simply having a topic or an announcement does not a story idea (or pitch) make.

It’s the task of the public relations person to come up with a story idea, expert spokespersons, ancillary information plus ideas for images and graphics and pitch that package to the appropriate media.

strytlr imagesPR people need to be good storytellers, as well as good resource people.

pitch cartoon images

The ideas of “pitch” and “story” can be generalized to cover letter + resume, e-mail inquiry, interview, portfolio presentation, and client proposal meeting. Sky’s the limit: Your only constraint is your imagination.

That said, there are right ways and wrong ways to pitch. If you learn best by instruction on what not to do—or want a good laugh at some wrong-headed efforts—check out the newest addition to my blogroll, the Bad Pitch Blog.

Image of electric storyteller from via the Web
Image of “storyteller” license plate from via the Web
Image from via the Web


Spotlight on Mary Schanuel, Synergy Group Marketing Communications Sunday, Apr 5 2009 

Mary Schanuel

Mary Schanuel

synergy-group-logoheaderI’ve had the great fortune in my work life to have had a number of mentors. Each has come along at just the right time and taught me, patiently, what I needed to know to move my career along. A mentor is a very giving person, who is also expert at what they do. One of my mentors is/has been Mary Schanuel, president of Synergy Group.

Synergy Group was the public relations agency working with Lawrence Group president, Steve Smith, when I was hired in 1999. I came on board as director of marketing services at Lawrence Group and took over the management of the agency work for the company, among other things. This is how I began working with Mary at Synergy Group.

Mary not only knew more about Lawrence Group than I did when I was hired, but knew more about public relations, news, writing for the media, crisis communications, media relations and a host of other related things, and what I know about these things I have learned from watching her. I think everyone who works in public relations should take a turn as a reporter, as an account manager at an agency and as an in-house communications person. Each role adds a level of understanding to anyone’s communications career, and Mary has done each of these. She’s a truly well-rounded expert.

Mary saw the impact that the Web and social media were beginning to have on marketing communications before anyone else I know. She dug into the emerging technology and used what she learned about those subjects to expand Synergy Group’s Web site and media center, which has benefitted all of her clients.

If your company or nonprofit organization has reached a point where you need the insights of a communications strategist, you should set up a meeting with Mary to explore options. She can be reached at

7915 Big Bend Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63119

314.961.9772 Phone

Compared to me, Mary is a quiet person (well, maybe compared to me, everyone is “quiet.”) I like to tell people she has perfected the art of listening, which is one of the things that makes her so good at public relations.

KOI DREAM by Tony Schanuel

KOI DREAM by Tony Schanuel


On top of all this, Mary and her husband, award-winning artist and photographer Tony Schanuel, are well traveled and spiritual people, who share a deep appreciation of art, culture and nature.

Check out the Web site Mary has built for > Synergy Group <.

Her blog is AEC St. Louis: Architecture, Engineering & Construction News, which I’ve added to my blogroll. Subscribe for free and stay on top of news she covers in AEC  St. Louis.


Image of Koi Dream, 2006, digital medium on archival paper, by Tony Schanuel via the Web

Editor’s note: I have learned so much from Mary in nearly a decade of working with her. She has helped me gain insight into the news business, develop an ear for news, given me courage in developing my own media relationships, sharpened my strategic thinking and a host of other skills that help me as a communications professional today. Unfortunately, due to cost cutting measures taken by my employer last fall, I no longer have the budget to work with Synergy Group. Mary and I still shoot e-mails to each other from time to time, but I sure do owe her a visit.

Save the Date: Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 5:30-7:30 pm Sunday, Mar 15 2009 


St. Louis-based writer Diana Losciale and a few of her colleagues are hosting a casual networking night for the St. Louis creative community on Wednesday evening, April 1 at One Campbell Plaza, a St. Louis Landmark.


About the Event

** This is a free event.  **
TIME: 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Wednesday evening, April 1, 2009
PLACE: One Campbell Plaza on The Hill, Suite 2B – St. Louis, MO 63139
(directions will be attached to the formal Invitation–coming soon)
BRING:  Business cards to share
RECEIVE:  Light refreshments (drinks, appetizers and Red Velvet cupcakes)
WHO: Writers, graphic artists, journalists, editors and other communication specialists 
WHAT: A gathering, meet-and-greet, catching up, saying hello, making connections
WHY: Because  we need to connect with one another in terms of projects, opportunities, what’s what, openings, and networking (old word, new meaning). And because LinkedIn and emails are not enough. This is about face time.
Let me know if you any questions, and I’ll put you in touch with the answers. Diana says to spread the word: forward this, and post it anywhere you like to get attention. Thanks! 

Editor’s note: Diana, you had me at the Red Velvet cupcakes … .   istock_000005154086xsmall_red-velvet5

About The Venue

Inside the Plaza

Inside the Plaza

I ran over to One Campbell Plaza today to take photos to include with this post to help orient anyone not familiar with the venue. The name sounds new, but the building has an incredible local history that I will share with here. I was completely fascinated by the massive, red-brick building and courtyard. It’s at 59th and Arsenal and sits on its own piece of elevated ground—kind of “a hill on The Hill.”  

The Missouri Institute for Mental Health Web site ( says this about the origins and history of the buildings at Campbell Plaza: “It all began with Kemper College, the Protestant-Episcopal counterpart of St. Louis University. Situated at Kingshighway and Arsenal, its 129 acre tract extended along Arsenal to Hampton. When Kemper went bankrupt in 1847, they sold their property …  Thus, the college’s buildings were converted to Poor House #1. Poor House #2 was later erected at 5900 Arsenal. Today, it is called the Campbell Plaza Building … .” 

Wow:  There really were such things as “Poor Houses.”

For a bit more detail, here is another > LINK < with historic photos by the current owners and reators.

One Campbell Plaza is a renovated historic structure that has had the TLC of Duffy Nuerenberger Realty. They have been behind a lot of historic renovations and historically appropriate in-fill properties throughout the City of St. Louis. I took some photos over there today to help orient everyone to the general location, parking, etc., but here is a > LINK < to a brief virtual tour of the property that is worth your time. Click that link, and then click on Tour on the Web page that comes up. So, come and network and see this building and courtyard.

Here are my photos from today, plus one from Nuerenberger Duffy’s Web site, above, an overview that’s better than anything I took.

From Arsenal & 57th, the Plaza is south

From Arsenal & 59th, the Plaza is south

Back of Plaza, from Arsenal & 59th Streets

Back of Plaza, from Arsenal & 59th Streets

Inside the Plaza, plenty of parking

Inside the Plaza, plenty of parking

Charmingly renovated.

Charmingly renovated.