Wednesday, 31 December 2008
ADVISORY TO NEWS & ARTS MEDIA - CHARLES TAYLOR PRIZE FOR LITERARY NON-FICTION SHORT LIST TO BE ANNOUNCED AT TUESDAY MORNING MEDIA EVENT
ADVISORY TO NEWS & ARTS MEDIA
December 31, 2008
The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
2009 SHORTLIST PRESS CONFERENCE
Tuesday, January 6th at 10:00 a.m.
WHAT: Announcement of the finalists for the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize
WHEN: Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Announcement: 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. sharp
WHERE: LE MERIDIEN KING EDWARD HOTEL
Consort Bar, Main Floor, 37 King St. East, Toronto
(Parking: Public lot east of King Edward Hotel on Leader Lane)
WHO: Noreen Taylor, Chair, The Charles Taylor Foundation
Prize Juror Jeffrey Simpson
Prize Trustee & author Dr. David Staines
Canadian book publishers
WHY: The Charles Taylor Prize is the country’s most prestigious literary non-fiction award. Since 2000, the Prize has been the driving force behind increased recognition and growth of Canadian non-fiction.
Now in its 8th year, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction celebrates Canada’s rich literary voice, and the exceptional authors and journalists who captivate us with their stories, insights and style. The Prize commemorates the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada’s foremost essayists, a foreign correspondent and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community whose dream was to raise the public profile of non-fiction. CTP is presented annually to a Canadian author whose book best demonstrates a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception. Originally awarded every two years, since 2004 the Prize has been awarded annually.
135 submissions are competing for the 2009 CTP Shortlist. The Prize consists of $25,000 for the winning author and an award of $2,000 for each finalist with promotional support for each shortlisted title. The winner of the 2009 Prize will be announced at the CTP Author Luncheon Monday, February 9th. The Prize is presented by the Charles Taylor Foundation with generous support from AVFX, Ben McNally Books, CBC Radio One, CTV, CNW, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and Windﬁelds Farm. For more information: www.thecharlestaylorprize.ca
Media are requested to confirm their attendance with Linda Crane, Stephen Weir & Associates
Stephen Weir 416-489-5868 cell: 416-801-3101 email@example.com
Linda Crane: 905-257-6033 cell: 416-727-0112 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Over the past thirty years I have found myself writing about shipwrecks and the men who find them. I wrote a book about the sinking of the Mayflower near Barrys Bay. Ontario. I have had over 10 articles published about the Edmund Fitzgerald (I can't even count the number of Titanic projects I have worked on) and I have interviewed Great Lakes wreck hunters. in ALL cases, the wreck stories have raised a boatload of controversary.
There is no money to be made in finding shipwrecks - Wreck expeditions cost big money, thousands of hours on the water and now and then, the accidental death of divers. Why then such "mashing up" about mashed up ships? It is all about that 15 minutes of fame (20 if you work with Stephen Weir & Associates), the public adulation that wreck hunters always garner after announcing their finds. And, for some, there is the chance that that fame will help them recoup some of their expenses through book deals, movies and speaking gigs.
This summer I was in Kingston, Ontario to take part in a shipwreck festival. One of the highlights was to be a slide show of recent finds in the St Lawence River. I drove to Kingston to sit on the slide show. It didn't go so well, as this unpublished Diver Magazine story documents.
Kingston Underwater: A Celebration of Marine Exploration
Controversy, infighting amongst wreck hunters almost kills Kingston’s first shipwreck festival
Cutline: Kenn Feigelman, the president of Deep/Quest 2 Expeditions pictured in downtown Kingston, Ontario.
It got off to a wobbly start when the featured speaker refused to take to the podium, but, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes was able to right the ship and launch its first annual shipwreck festival in 2008. Kingston Underwater: A Celebration of Marine Exploration, was a three-day event that featured underwater demonstrations, shipwreck displays and lectures and slide shows given by local divers.
Kingston has one of North America’s largest concentrations of fresh water wrecks ranging from 19th century warships, and paddle wheelers to modern tugs and ferries. It is estimated that there are between 400 and 450 wrecks within easy reach of Kingston. In an effort to promote the growing interest in Kingston as a wreck dive destination, the Museum along with the Preserve Our Wrecks-Kingston Association and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation partnered to organize the mid-summer weekend event.
The launch of the shipwreck festival was almost sunk by infighting amongst the very people it meant to put the spotlight on. Kenn Feigelman, the president of Deep/Quest 2 Expeditions, Kingston’s underwater exploration and film documentation organization, was asked to open the conference by giving a multimedia presentation showcasing the work of the association. Mr. Feigelman has reported making a number of important discoveries in the St. Lawrence River, however, his multi-media presentation was going to be about other expeditions his association has made at the “By Invitation Only” talk.
The opening film and lecture night was held in inside the downtown St. Lawrence riverside Museum. Close to 50 people from around Eastern Ontario were in attendance that night to hear Mr. Feigelman’s talk.
Although the wreck hunter was in attendance, the lecture wasn’t given that night. The reason? Apparently an underwater photographer who at one time had been involved in a Deep/Quest 2 expedition, was in the presentation room using another person’s invitation. Mr. Feigelman refused to take to the podium as long as the photographer remained in the audience. For his part, the uninvited guest refused to leave.
As a result the abbreviated evening consisted of curator Ann Blake talking about the work of the Museum and Stewart Deline showing slides of a recent trip he took to the Cayman Islands. Mr. Deline is a traditional Mohawk environmental awareness speaker and faith elder who learned to dive in 1980 while in the Armed Forces.
Saturday and Sunday, the second and last day of the Festival, the problems of opening night had been settled. Northern Tech Divers and Shark Marine Technologies, conducted scuba diving demonstrations, a demonstration of an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) and high definition underwater photography demonstrations took place in the dry-dock adjacent to the Marine Museum. Mr. Feigelman came back to the Museum and gave the talk he was suppose to give the night before.
Interest in the public portions of the Shipwreck Festival was strong enough in 2008 to convince the organizers to make the event an annual event. Details about next year’s weekend symposium, including a list of speakers, will soon be posted on the museum’s website www.marmuseum.ca/
Ontario’s premier shipwreck museum is in Kingston
The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is located inside an historical building built beside a 19th century dry dock. Floating inside the dock is a 3,000 ton icebreaker, the Alexander Henry (which is both a museum exhibition and functioning Bed and Breakfast operation). The museum's extensive exhibits provide a look at 19th and 20th century shipbuilding and life on the Great Lakes
So what has Kenn Feigelman been down to lately?
Diver Magazine attended the abbreviated Opening Night of the Marine Exploration Film Night and interviewed Kenn Feigelman, several times over the summer and fall. Diver asked Mr. Feigelman what he has discovered while exploring the waters around the city of Kingston.
“We found four warships!” he told Diver Magazine in September. “No doubt they are scuttled British warships… we found two of them today and two a few days ago. We found them basically in the St. Lawrence, right off the city of Kingston where the Lake Ontario becomes the St. Lawrence.”
“We know, they were built as war ships,” he continue. “They are sturdy -- one was in 62 ft of water, the other in 50 ft. The same situation holds for the other two ... we found them in 49 and 55 ft of water.”
“We are going crazy (with our finds). Two weeks ago today, we were going down the St. Lawrence towards Hall Island when we came upon an anomaly (on their side sonar screen). At this point the riverbed itself is 60 to 70 feet down. We found valleys or gouges, into the flat river bottom.
“ I stayed on the boat, and kept the engine running, “ said the explorer. “ (Our divers) found the hull and stern post of a large ship. We are finding all kinds of stuff down there.”
Mr. Feigelman will be researching his finds over the winter, but, suspects that he has rediscovered the wreck of the War of 1912 warship the HMS Montreal which he says was sunk in the 1830s and thought to have first been located in the 1980s.
He is unsure of the identity of the other three warships. Next summer he plans to use his SeaLife photographic equipment to take complete digital photographs of the wrecks and create mosaic pictures of all of the wrecks.
Exploring the St. Lawrence Shipwrecks is just one of many projects Deep/Quest 2 Expeditions is involved in. The company will be launching an expedition next year to photograph and film Greenland Sharks in the upper regions of the St. Lawrence River. On the books in 2009 will be underwater expeditions in the waters around Cuba.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Every PR campaign needs a press release. Writers spend days writing only a few hundred words. PR managers spend an equal amount of time rewriting these tomes of commerce. Days are spent crafting the ulitimate quote. Clients agonize over every last comma. Large profitable companies like Canada News Wire Group and PR Newswire Group have armies of young journalism grads working around the clock to email, text, post, fax and mail that release to working journalist around the world.
Yet for all that sweat and bother, the media rarely read a release. At best the headline of the release will be looked at ... for a nano second. Aside from Saturdays and Sundays, thousands of press releases are issued every hour in North America. There are just too many releases arriving at a news outlet computer for a reporter or editor to actually read. As a result, most press releases never end up being used by anyone!
One of the ways a press release can catch the attention of a jaded reporter's eye is by using gentle humour. Below is a release recently written for the state of New Hampshire. It uses rhyme to bring attention to events and places that normally would not make it into print.
For Immediate Release
March 26, 2008
On the first day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me
A Chop and Shop Weekend and a big free holiday fir tree
The Granite State gears up for holiday season with pizzazz and price conscious events
Toronto – Toronto – New Hampshire has so much on the go this winter that it would take more than just 12-days of Christmas to experience the best that the Granite State has to offer. And the State has it all –- which makes it really hard to pick just a dozen unique things that tourists can enjoy before December 25th. Consulting the Official 2008 In-State Visitors Handbook and using a dash of poetic licence, visitors should consider the following:
On the first day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, a Chop and Shop Weekend and a free holiday fir tree! The Gale River Motel and Cottages in Franconia provide two nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Sugar Hill Inn, a 22-inch Balsam Fir Wreath and an 8 ft tall Christmas tree. The special is $290 US and the hotelier will help load the tree onto the roof of your car! www.galerivermotel.com/aspecials.html
On the second day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, amazing holiday shopping that is always tax-free. This is the best time to get one’s Christmas shopping done sans tax in the outlet stores of Settlers' Green Outlet Village and North Conway Village. For just $198 the Cranmore Mountain Lodge in North Conway has an affordable Shop Till You Drop package for visiting couples. Package includes a bag of samples and coupons and a standard room for two nights. www.cranmoremountainlodge.com
On the third day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, an antique hunter’s map and a bottle of wine for thee. In December The Glynn House Inn in Ashland has an Antique Get Away For Two. Guests receive a delicious picnic lunch for two, including a bottle of wine, plus a special folder containing information about the best antique shops and auctions. www.glynnhouse.com
On the fourth day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, ten-minutes of quality time up on Santa’s knee. The North Colony Motel & Cottages in Bartlett offers a Santa’s Village two-night package (starting at $212) for families which includes 2-nights lodging for 2 adults and 2 children and 4 Santa's Village tickets. www.northcolonymotel.com
On the fifth day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, turkey dinner and a huge Bingo win under B Three! Join the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society at the Funspot Bingo Hall every Tuesday in December . Doors open at 4:00 pm. The charity Bingo is catered by Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant. Weirs Beach www.LakeWinnipesaukeeMuseum.org
On the sixth day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to me, a mountain hike to photograph a moose behind a tree! Grab your camera and come see the views and maybe a moose, December 20th and 21st. Outdoor Escapes New Hampshire holds its popular 2-day Guided Nature Backpacking Tour, in the Great North Woods. The price for 2 days of guided hiking with a nature/history focus and 1 -night remote camping is $200 per person. www.outdoorescapesnewhampshire.com
On the seventh day of Christmas New Hampshire gave to sis, a hayride in the snow you don’t want to miss! This December 13 th tourists are invited to the Farm Museum in Milton to celebrate Christmas on the Farm. Take a sleigh or hayride, make a gingerbread man and tour the beautifully decorated farmhouse. www.farmmuseum.org
On the eighth day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to you, a walk in the park with the state’s solstice crew! The Margret and H.A.Rey Observatory in Waterville holds a very popular walk every winter solstice. The free annual winter solstice hike to the Solstice Stone on Dickey Mountain will be held on Saturday December 20th. www.visitwatervillevalley.com
On the ninth day of Christmas New Hampshire gave to me, snowshoeing followed by eggnog for free! From December 19 to 29 children and adults of all ages will find winter merriment at Mount Washington Resort. Enjoy a festive celebration of sleigh rides, snowshoeing, skiing, stories with Santa and holiday refreshments. Snuggle in front of the fire before being tucked in by one of Santa's elves. Christmas Day invites a full day of skiing and outdoor adventure! www.mountwashingtonresort.com
On the tenth day of Christmas, New Hampshire gave to dad, a guided snowmobile ride that is really really rad. Alpine Adventures have guided snowmobile tours through the White Mountain’s Franconia Notch during the holiday season. www.alpinesnowmobiling.com/
On the eleventh day of Christmas New Hampshire gave to us, a magic light show worthy of a fuss. After a day on the slopes head to the White Mountain Holiday Magic Light Park in Campton where you can ride through a mile of animated light displays with thousands of enchanting lights. Take a family portrait with Santa, snuggle up on a free wagon ride, build a free craft with the kids, and sip hot cocoa by the bonfire. www.holidaymagiclightpark.com
On the twelfth day of Christmas New Hampshire gave to families, an invitation to ski on New Year’s Eve above the trees. Ring in 2009 at Cranmore Mountain’s Crantastic New Year's Party. Ski until midnight, and enjoy tubing, music, fireworks, party favours and more. www.cranmore.com
The 2008 Visitor’s Guide Book is supported by a sophisticated, user-friendly website (www.visitnh.gov ) which has comprehensive sections geared specifically to the Travel Trade. The site is updated daily and has the latest information on holiday season event listing throughout the state.
To find out more about New Hampshire or to receive the new free visitor’s guide, call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH (386-4664) or visit www.visitnh.gov. Canadian travel trade and media may call 1-888-423-3995, or email email@example.com.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
cutline: John Scott on the set of Canada AM, showing new food products coming to a store near you this winter.
Three days of PR work (and some midnight veggie shopping) for a brief but fruitful food segment on the Canada AM news show
The media consumes New. New movies. New faces. New problems. New leaders. New messiahs. New ideas on old themes. New New New. And that was just last week's headlines.
Public Relations practitioners who represent clients that have New, will find a welcome reception from usually frosty television show bookers when pitching new. A broadcast favourite is a 5 minute segment that puts the spotlight on a procession of new products - be it clothing, cars, tools, gadgets or new foods. The biggest challenge for PR people is not finding a TV show interested in New, but, deciding which show to offer the Cavalcade of New to.
One of the best places to showcase freshly minted products is on CTV's nationally broadcast morning news/talk show Canada AM. Although its numbers have dropped, it is one of the few Toronto created shows that has a daily cross-Canada English audience. A show and tell with purveyors of New is a welcome break from stories of fires, murders and scandals.
Every so often I help Crane Communications (an Oakville PR firm) with the pitching and servicing of Cavalcade of New segments for Toronto television shows. Owner Linda Crane has a well respected expertise in placing new products on TV, be it on Canada AM or CITY TV's Breakfast TV, Global Television's morning show, Rogers Daytime and now and then the Weather Network. Crane has showcased everything from new boat products (bikini clad models with its bitsy life jackets), to home show cleaning products. Last month I assisted her with the Grocery Innovations Canada trade exhibition and the PR campaign which included bringing shopping carts filled with NEW food products onto Canada AM. Viewers got a chance to see new products that will be making their way onto store shelves this fall and coming winter.
Grocery Innovations Canada, is the country’s largest grocery trade show and conference. Staged for the owners of independently owned food stores, the conference was held on Sunday, October 26 and Monday, October 27 at Toronto Congress Centre.
John F.T. Scott, president, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (pictured above on the set of Canada AM), was our presenter on a Thursday morning Canada AM broadcast. Along with host Seamus O'Regan, the pair managed to look over 50 new things that you will soon see in independent food stores. The show-and-tell ran the gambit from 2-bite brownies for dogs (people can eat them too), to squeeze bagged Ketchup sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Seamus O'Regan sampled new cream cheese spreads on new glutton-free crackers. He took a pass on peanut butter made with soya and only sniffed at 100% peanut free chocolate chip cookies but seemed to be fascinated by new East Indian sauces made in Saskatoon.
The whole process, like the medium itself, is fast, furious and not particularly in depth. Unless viewers have a pen and pencil beside their TV sets, it is unlikely that consumers will actually be able to remember the names of the products they saw flash across their screens. Despite the lack of specific brand recognition, the broadcasted food segment did reap rewards for the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers -- the producers of the trade-only exhibition where the new products were debuted to food store owners.
Scott's performance graphically showed consumers that small independent food stores continue to be an important part of the country's economy. A 2008 Kraft Canada/Canadian Grocer sponsored study reports that independent grocers (including franchises) comprise 40.2 % of Canada’s $76 billion grocery industry.
The independent stores continue to be strong even though their competition is huge -- think WalMart, Price Club, Metro, Soebys and the Loblaws Superstores. The Canada AM segment not so subtlety showed that the corner store is the place to shop to find cutting edge new products.
The under current messages? Independents are concerned about the health of its customers. Many of the product labels shown on TV that morning included the word organic in their names. Some of the new products answer the dietary concerns of a changing population. There were many new ethnic foods launched and the segment also showed that the independents have a desire to go with the 100-mile diet concept ... selling food that is processed within 100 miles of where their ingredients are grown.
5-minutes of television on the run doesn't come easy. Three people spent two 8-hour-days collecting product samples from producers and another 8-hr day to get even more samples (after it was determined that the line-up was a little light). Scripts and back-grounders had to be written, and one run through with John Scott was held via phone conference. Scott had to know everything about every project displayed on TV in anticipation of an out-of-left-field question from a sometimes wacky Seamus.
I personally scoured the market for ornamental gourds, dried Indian corn and orange squashes to decorate our show-and-tell TV set table. I bought veggies at midnight (to be fresh under the lights at 7-am the next morning) and drove an SUV filled with product to Canada AM's east-end Toronto studio at the crack of dawn. Two of us spent an hour dressing the table with the products prior to John Scott going on air.
After the show ended the producers of Canada AM came on set and congratulated the Grocery people for a job well done. We were asked to come back next year ... provided we had something Newer than this year's New to talk about.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Cutlines: Dave Trafford outside Studio 1010 interviewing Minister Fonseca and pannist Joy Lapp at the Scotiabank Caribana City Hall launch 2008.
Cutlines: The crowd at the Scotiabank Caribana launch
Cutlines: The crowd at the Scotiabank Caribana launch
This Blog is nominally about how public relation people like me can help clients get that extra 5 minutes of fame. As this item will show, the Blog is also about what NOT to do when dealing with the media.
Getting publicity is not usually a difficult task. The "secret" is to really understand the event/persons/thing that is to be promoted and determine what aspects of the project will have some interest to the media. Media outlets do not all have the same interests in stories; so, a publicist has to match up the news worthiness of a project with the appropriate outlet.
Timely informing the proper media contacts by email and phone calls, coupled with an informative data package, does wonders for getting coverage. Reporters and Assignment Editors get to know publicists and usually will listen to their pitches ... and positively respond to their calls.
There is also a growing trend that publicists help create partnerships between media outlets and events/persons/things.
Media partnerships come in many different forms, but, typically it means free advertisements, story coverage ("good" coverage is not guaranteed by any means) and access to the people that matter are given in return for the media's name, logo and, sometimes their "stars" given top billing by the event/persons/thing that you are promoting. Often times the media outlets are given exclusive access over their competition.
For their part, publicists have to support the responding media by getting what they need, on time, and in a form that they need. That could mean a succinctly written, honest press clip, or, an interviewee that can perform well on camera, or a good voice on radio. In short, they must make good for their client in supporting the media partnership.
The annual Scotiabank Caribana festival depends on media partnerships. Television networks, radio stations and newspapers have paid monies to attach their name to a Festival that attracts over a million participants every summer. It delivers an audience that mainstream media has had difficulty in reaching.
For years CFRB has been a media partner with Caribana. It has given the parade cash donations, free advertising and live broadcast coverage of the parade. That relationship crashed and burned this year, and, as the publicist of record, it was my fault.
CFRB is a Toronto talk station and at first blush would seem to be an odd station to supporting a Caribbean Canadian event. It tends, at least in the high rating weekday mornings drive, to lean heavily to the right. Its prime time hosts are almost exclusively white and male. The one black host has a short Sunday shift when the ratings are very low. Both the CRTC and the broadcast standards association have received complaints from minorities -- blacks, Jewish listeners and even overweight Canadians -- about so called unfair comments made on air.
Despite that all, CFRB has been a strong voice for Caribana. It even went live – with our help – for four hours from the 2007 parade.
This summer things did not go well. This is what happened.
After getting verbal agreement from CFRB to be our sponsor. I arranged to have their broadcast truck - studio 1010 – to have exclusive radio access onto the City Hall property for the Scotiabank Caribana launch in early summer (not a mean feat, City Hall doesn't want heavy trucks on the patio).
CFRB promised to go live at noon and asked that Joe Halstead, the CEO of Scotiabank Caribana, come over to their booth for an interview at 12.02. We agreed.
The Square was bedlam. TV crews, reporters, and over 5,000 spectators crowded onto a space meant for 2,000. Loud Soca music boomed over the speakers and politicians jostled to get onto stage.
At noon Halstead was standing 50 feet from the CFRB truck. I sent him over for his interview. On his way, a Global TV crew grabbed him and started interviewing him live. I went over to extract him. By the time I got him to the CFRB booth to be interviewed by News Director Dave Trafford, the spot was lost. (Picture taken of Global broadcast wrap-up seconds after Joe left for CFRB http://www.stephenweir.com/gallery1/main.php?g2_itemId=474)
Personal apologizes to the news director and later the station's PR person, fell on deaf ears. CFRB did not formalize the partnership agreement and much of the support that was given in previous years did not occur (but their news team did cover events and there were in studio appearances by Caribana people including Joe Halstead). A 40-some relationship appears to be over.
What follows are 3 emails sent during the summer. The first is from me, to, a producer who had called to see if we were going to have our regular Thursday Caribana update on the CFRB noon package.
Stephen Weir: (The Launch Broadcast) didn't go well at 12.01. Dave (Trafford, news director) is pretty pissed. Sent Joe (Halstead) over for his inte'rview at CFRB and Global grabbed him. By the time their just "one minute" was up the (CFRB) interview was lost. Tried to apologize to Dave afterwards but ... Tourism Minister and musician (we brought on for the second interview) was great radio.
Thanks. Let me know about Thursday, ain't holding my breath on David chilling out
Dave Trafford saw that email and responded. This is the email a publicist never wants to get!
You certainly got the right read yesterday.
I wouldn't be so annoyed if this were something new. We deal with all the major festivals and their organizers and dealing with you is the most trying. Whether it's slack response or no-show guests, doing LIVE remote broadcasts from Caribana events present unnecessary stresses. I don't expect things to run perfectly, but I do expect that you don't just abandon us when things fall apart at your end. That's what happened yesterday.
Pointing Joe in our direction is not good enough. You should have delivered him as promised, made Halstead keep his commitment with us.12 noon is 12 noon...not 12:08 when I'm in the middle of another segment. Apologies and excuses are meaningless to our audience. The opening of our show didn't deliver as promised. It was an "on location" Caribana special...with nothing "on location" from Caribana! You made us sound weak.
We committed a full hour of LIVE programming to the event, based on your commitments, and you blew us off WITH NO NOTICE so the TV guys could get a 20 second quote from Joe. If our coverage of Caribana is not a priority for you, I'm happy to accommodate. I'm not interested in wasting time, resources and programming.
Newstalk 1010 CFRB
Astral Media Radio GP
2 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON, M4V 1L6
I responded a week later by email. My associate Alicia Sealey (a broadcaster who had been our voice on Radio Noon the year before) made several calls to Mr. Trafford. Neither of us got a response but, that is par for course when you are a publicist.
Got your email. Wanted to wait a week before responding -- time has a way of putting things in perspective.
First off, your email is right on. If I had it all to do again I would have taken Joe by the arm and dragged him to 'RB. I went through hoops with city hall to get the mobile truck on the plaza, and it was personally disappointing to loose the opportunity to have our CEO talk to your audience (and your numbers are way better than Global at Noon). Our CEO only had to walk 50 feet without me to make the interview. I can't believe he didn't make it. Joe Halstead is mortified; I sent him a copy of the CFRB letter. He did try to apologize, but you had left by the time he got off stage.
I have worked with CFRB on a variety of live broadcasts over the years, from the boat show to the gourmet food and wine show, to the home show and others that I have long since forgotten. So to say all those remotes went without a hitch would not be an accurate statement. But, because of the very nature of Caribana (run by a variety of committees and thousands of volunteers), our shortcomings are much more spectacular than the failings of events that are run by private industry. Sorry that this is the way it ends between CFRB and Caribana. Historically our festival and the station have had a strong relationship even though one would immediately identify your audience as being interested in Caribana.
In the early days Gary (Slaight - the former owner of the station) would write a personal cheque to Caribana's Caribbean Cultural Committee. The first time I met him was in 1999 when I came by the building to pick up one of those cheques. FLOW, which at one time Standard owned 25% of, donated monies as well to the parade and now, I believe gives support to individual mas bands in our parade.
The Festival Management Committee (representatives from the city, the province, the mas bands, the Calypsonians and the pan artistes and the CCC) is aware of your concerns and the end of your sponsorship. I have tried to remove the CFRB logo from our list of proud sponsors, but I am afraid it is too late. All of our print material deadlines have long since passed.
The City Hall launch fiasco does have a certain amount of irony for me. The last time Caribana worked with CFRB was at the parade launch in 2007. Your station was to go live for four hours from the route.
In preparation for the day I took parking passes, maps and press kits over to your host's Riverside home and briefed her on getting into the grounds. I drove her son around for part of an afternoon in preparation for his being on the line during the parade and reporting back to his mother. I had my staff seek out suitable interviewees (including Joe Halstead), and scheduled them to come on air during the parade.
The day of the parade I met your truck at Yonge and Eglinton and drove with them into the grounds to make sure they got on location without problems. We moved them around a couple of times until they got the spot they wanted within the confines of the judging area.
One of my staff members, Alicia Sealey, was to help on-air by describing the floats marching by to your host. Like me she has worked in radio and is comfortable behind the mike, but, up until that day didn't know how 'RB physically put a show together (what buttons to push, what spots to throw to etc)
Just before CFRB was to go on air, Alicia, our first guest and myself came over to your truck. Nancy (the PR director) meet us as we came across the parade route. She gave us the news. No host! Your host was lost/stuck in traffic. And, there was no one back at the studio that could take over ... So, Alicia put on the headphones and filled in. With Taggart's (sp?) help she did very very well.
Your host didn't have a cell phone with her, but, I was able to put out a call to our 300-security force and we did locate the missing announcer and bring her to the trailer. I can't remember how long Alicia was in the chair, but she says it felt like 24 hours.
Anyway, as you can see, with 'RB and Caribana, it isn't always the guest that misses their time check.
I hope you have a good summer. I have copied Nancy on this email. The Festival Management Committee understands why CFRB will not be covering the festival and again I do apologize again for not being able to remove your logos from our many banners and printed materials.
ps - not one for e-mails, but when I did try to apologize in person, but as you know you were not having anything of that.
Monday, 14 July 2008
A diver has died in Tobermory, Ontario. I think that this is the first dive fatality of the year here in the province of Ontario. The Ontario Underwater Council will probably post information about the accident on their website. I did a quick search for media reports on the incident. There isn't much available and what I have seen so far has little information (which wreck he was diving on, name of the boat he was diving off and the club he was diving with (if indeed he was diving with a group).
I haven't dove in Tobermory for a few years. It is a long 5-hour drive from Toronto and when you are a single diver it is hard to get passage on a summer weekend dive boat. Clubs and shops book the boats months in advance. The town, located in a National Park at the tip of the Bruce Penn. is where Lake Huron splits off into Georgian Bay. The weather can be harsh in Tobermory (hence all the shipwrecks) and it is not unusual for dive boats to cut back on their trips because of high seas.
Still the dive community continue to visit Tobermory every summer. A number of hotels, B&Bs and campgrounds have sprung up to service the dive community. There is hyperbaric chamber in the town and a well qualified medical staff is in place. Dive fatalities are rare but do occur - probably one every two or three years. The waters are usual crystal clear and the shipwrecks (husbanded by the National Park) are worth seeing. What makes the diving difficult is the extreme cold of the water. Even in July a depth of 30 feet, the water temperature can be in the low 50s. The deeper you get the colder it gets.
Originally the only information that I had came from newspaper and radio reports, which, I now find are much different that what the Ontario Underwater Council has posted on its accident site. What follows is an excerpt from the Ontario Underwater Council followed by two samples of media clippings collected a day afer the accident.
Excerpt from 2008 Report on Scuba Diving Related Incidents in Ontario
Date of Incident: 2008-07-13
Summary: 53 year old Craig Whitehouse, of Niagara on the Lake, died while diving in Tobermory this past weekend. Craig was apparently a very experienced technical diver who was highly regarded in his group.
Apparently Craig was diving solo, on technical equipment (a rebreather).
The dive was planned to depths of 200 feet or more.
Craig surfaced at some distance from the boat. The boat was unable to move to expedite the rescue due to other divers doing deco/safety stops on the anchor line.
Craig received CPR but was pronounced dead a short time later. The coroner has reported the cause of death as massive air embolism.
The coroner is still investigating the equipment and will make other information available as appropriate.
Details to be confirmed as more information becomes available.
• Insufficient information to be able to make any recommendations at this time.
• Once more facts are known, OUC would appreciate representatives from Ontario’s
growing Technical Diving community contacting us to help ensure any recommendations drafted are relevant and applicable.
The following brief news story was broadcast on an Owen Sound, Onatario radio station dated July 14, 2008.
Diving death in Tobermory
Written by Manny Paiva
A 53 year old man is dead while diving at Tobermory.
Bruce Peninsula OPP were called to the diving destination in Northern Bruce Peninsula around 10:40 Sunday morning.
Police say the diver -- who was operating off a dive boat -- surfaced in medical distress.
CPR was administered but the man was pronounced dead a short time later.
The man has been identified as Craig Whitehouse of Niagara on the Lake.
The Canadian Coast Guard and Parks Canada personnel were called to assist.
A post mortem will be done today at the Owen Sound hospital to determine the exact cause of death.
A similiar, very brief, oddly written report appeared in the July 15th edition of the Owen Sound newspaper.
Experienced Diver Dies In Tobermory;
Posted By THE SUN TIMES
A 53-year-old diver who surfaced in the waters around Tobermory in a state of medical distress died Saturday despite attempts to save him.
Police say Craig Whitehouse of Niagara- on-the-Lake was an experienced diver and was part of a large group of people who chartered a dive boat on the weekend.
At the time of the incident, Whitehouse was diving alone, away from the main group, which was working with a dive master. The boat was anchored in 35 feet of water.
"He was off on his own, away from the group that was getting instruction from the dive master," said Staff Sgt. Brad Fishleigh of the Bruce Peninsula OPP.
"He was very experienced and they weren't in very much water at the time."
The cause of death is under investigation by the police, coast guard and Fathom Five National Marine Park officials. The man received CPR but was pronounced dead a short time later.
This Obituary was posted earlier this week
Obituary for Craig Ian Whitehouse
WHITEHOUSE, Craig Ian - Resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, age 53, died tragically on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at Tobermory, Ontario. Mr. Whitehouse was born in Hamilton, Ontario on September 25, 1954, the son of Freda and Len Whitehouse. He married Deborah Ginter on May 17, 1980. Mr. Whitehouse was a member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, NOTL, a graduate of General Motors Institute and Harvard University. He was a manager at General Motors, St. Catharines for 33 years. He was active in motor sports, sailing and scuba diving. Surviving are his wife Deborah Whitehouse, of NOTL, sister Zena Elizabeth and her husband Jim Barkey, of Stoney Creek, sister-in-law Judith Anne and Steven Wieneke, of White Lake, Michigan, and Little Brother, Chris Doucette. He will be missed by all of his friends and family. Cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held at the NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE- CHAPEL of the MORGAN FUNERAL HOMES, 415 Regent Street on Thursday evening from 7-9 p.m. A Memorial Service will be held at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, NOTL, with the Rev. Gordon Ford officiating on Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to Big Brothers Big Sisters Niagara and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Online guest register at www.morganfuneral.com. 11167002
Deb has said to Matt that she would love to see the church filled to capacity with divers. Diving was one of Craigs many passions.
and finally from the St Catharine's Standard:
Scuba diver was group's 'unofficial' leader
Wife fondly remembers her soulmate, who died diving at Tobermory
Debbie Whitehouse called him her soulmate.
She also referred to her husband, Craig, as Mr. Wizard because he was someone who friends and family say could do anything.
"If the world really was flat, Craig, my soulmate and the love of my life, would have been working on a means to turn it perpendicular to the universe so he could live on the edge," she said in her husband's eulogy Thursday.
Craig Whitehouse died Sunday while scuba diving at Dufferin's Wall in Tobermory, a popular spot that boasts deep water and the remains of many shipwrecks.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake resident was 53.
Matthew Mandziuk, who taught Whitehouse to dive five years ago, said details surrounding his death aren't known. The experienced diver's equipment is being tested and police are investigating.
But Thursday evening as friends and family gathered at the Little Red Rooster restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, most of the dozens who came together were remembering and celebrating Whitehouse's life rather than ruminating about what went wrong.
Mandziuk was with Whitehouse when he died. He and fellow divers Terry and Christine Davidson, who were also in Tobermory with them, said he was always there for them, every Wednesday night, when the club from Dan's Dive Shop met for their weekly immersions into the region's rivers, quarries, lakes or the Brock pool.
He was the group's "unofficial" dive leader, Christine Davidson said. Unofficial because Whitehouse refused to take credit or be the centre of attention, even when he deserved it, friends said.
At those dive nights, he would be anyone's dive buddy and especially their mentor.
"We referred to him as Mother Craig," said diving friend Brian Buchanan. "He was the dad. We were the kids."
Christine Davidson often introduced him to new divers as "our everything."
"I'll never introduce anyone else like that again," she said.
He was also the club's MacGyver, Terry Davidson said.
Any time someone needed something or had a conundrum, Whitehouse was there with a pen and paper, drawing up the plans for a solution.
Whitehouse was more than a diver, however.
He was a longtime General Motors employee, spending much of his 33 years with the company in supervisory roles. He was an avid motorcyclist, sailor, car buff, a Big Brother to Chris Doucette, handyman, welder, mechanic, metal worker -- a renaissance man who was more inclined to make a bolt in his basement than go to the hardware store to buy one, brother-in-law Steve Wieneke said.
"There was very little he did not do," said Nick Trach, who worked with Whitehouse at General Motors' Glendale plant.
He was also a great conversationalist. That's why John Kernahan, who works with Debbie Whitehouse at the Niagara Parks Commission, always sought him out at parks commission events.
"He knew everything," Kernahan said. "The guy was really a wizard, a genius, so you never had a boring discussion. He's going to be really missed, I'll tell you that."
The Whitehouses, both highly regarded in their professions, were also perfectly matched, he said.
"The two of them, the energy they had, it was like walking into a high-energy force field," Kernahan said. "You almost felt a buzz about them. They were great together, and I can't imagine them apart."
The couple met about 30 years ago when Debbie and childhood friend Susan McDonald attended a frat party at the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich., where Craig, who also graduated from Harvard University, was studying.
Three years ago, the couple renewed their wedding vows for their 25th anniversary.
"In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, until death do us part," Debbie Whitehouse said in her eulogy. "I just did not expect this last bit to happen so soon after our renewal of vows ..."
Craig Whitehouse is also survived by a sister, Zena.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
The demise of the PR/Marketing budgets of Canadian publishers has lead to a growth industry for publicists like me. Authors who spend years on a single title are prepared to hire independent publicists to assist in the promotion of their work. Typically book publishing houses have a small, experienced PR staff that have a finite amount of time and funds to promote each author in their stable. The bigger the author, the more time and the more money spent promoting the product. For new authors, or for writers producing work that has a limited audience, the PR support the publisher gives is limited.
Small firms giving personal attention to the promotion of just one title often gets more results that what a publishing house can get. Publishers know their limits and are willing to work with outside agents. However, there can be a BIG drawback. Often times the royalty money that an author can expect to get selling his/her book in Canada is less than what a publicist ... even bare boned operations like mine ... can expect to collect. It doesn't seem right to spend three or four years on a book and have a publicist take home more money than the author that is being promoted!
Some authors don't mind. They see the advancement of their titles as more important that the money they spend on PR. By pimping up the profile of a book, an author is likely to see more opportunities come his/her way, be it a TV or movie deal or simply by paving a wy to make the next writing project more lucrative and in less need of publicity. All writers pine for an appearance on Oprah, most authors have to settle for 2 minutes on Rogers Television (Canadian public access channel) thanks to the help of a publicist.
No advances, meagre royalty payments, limited PR support and predatory pricing by giant bookstore chains paint a grim picture for new authors. It isn't surprising that writers are turning away from publishing houses and self-publishing their own books figuring that what sales are lost by not having the support of a publisher are made up by getting a larger percentage of the sales revenue, controlling the marketing and PR for the title and reducing the printing costs by working with a print on demand company. Most of these books are available only on the web. I have been approached by a number of authors who want help in promoting their self-published books. I haven't had much success since the media tend to ignore books that are available only on the web ... they want authors and titles that are available in most bookstores across the country.
There are a few success stories for self-published authors. Steve Alten and I have corresponded a few times over the past decade. The author of Meg - a sci-fi story about the return of history's largest and meanest species of shark - originally was unable to find a publisher for his thriller. By using the web to presell his book to divers and horror story lovers, Alten was able to not only able to get his book onto the printing press with a huge (profitable) number of orders from people who had never read the book, the buzz on the Internet allowed him to sell the movie rights to Hollywood sight unseen.
Alten is a bit like Amway. He rewards customers who find more customers for him. He has a full-line of "stuff" to go with his growing list of book titles including gold and silver Meg tooth pendants (cast from a fossilized tooth), t-shirts and of course, coffee cups. His newsletters are so successful he could make a fortune renting out his mailing list. And, because he is promoting his own material, he doesn't have to retire a title when it gets too old, or to make room for another author's work!
The Alten method of book publishing (/www.stevealten.com/) is more of a lifestyle model than it is a sound business plan. The author lives and breathes self promotion. I don't really know the man, but, I suspect he spends more time selling his product than he actually spends at honing his craft.
Not everyone can be a Steve Alten. He writes well for his genre and he understands his market - Jaws in the 21st century. And then there is Calvin Keys, who's book cover graces this blog entry.
Keys like a growing number of niche authors, has self-published his first book. Turtles Lead to Treasure, is a thin, soft-covered picture-filled book that claims it knows how to find hidden Spanish treasure in the United States. Keys uses photographs of rocks to back-up his belief that in the 15th and 16th centuries Spanish adventurers buried huge amounts of treasure in North America and marked the location of those gold and silver troves by subtlety carving the shapes of animals and reptiles into huge boulders nearby. Of course the Spanish realised that if the carvings were too overt anyone wandering through the wilds of the deep South with a shovel and eye for outdoor art, would quickly become a millionaire. So instead, the treasurer hiders sought out rocks that were shaped like animals and were near where they were going to hide their booty, and modified those rocks to sorta-look like lion heads and dog. The Spanairds crafted secret symbols that people can't see if they aren't in the know (and buying this book puts you in the know -- although one reviewer spells that NO).
The book isn't well written (no budget for proofreaders and editors with this vanity press offering), has more typos than a Stephen Weir blog post (seriously) and has no creditable documentation to back up claims of discovering sign posts for buried doubloons. The only review I saw of the book said that the black and white photos of rocks and boulders had been photo-shopped to look like dogs and lions. For my part I couldn't see any of the animal shapes he was pointing out, except when he outlined the shapes. The pictures are badly taken and the print job is so cheap, it is difficult to tell what is a rock and what is a tree in some of the pictures. I did do an extensive search on Mr. Keys and could find no indication that he has ever found any Spanish treasure of his own .... maybe his symbolic rocks are more markers for where treasure has been and not where it is now.
I was interested in the book because I often write book reviews about diving titles. This book was being viral marketed through a number of dive chat lines I monitor. Most blood and bubble books talk about either sharks or treasure, so I decided to ask the author for a review copy. Since I didn't pay for the book I wasn't upset that in fact there was no reference in the book to diving and all the symbols and carvings he writes about are in some unnamed southern US forests. A check with the dive chat lines indicate that I was the only person to buy into the claim that the book would be of interest to treasure hunting divers (it wasn't).
So what has Keys gained by publishing a book that few will read? He does have the sastifaction of seeing his work in print. He has control of what happens to his work and he has established himself as an authority in dog shaped treasure rocks. Although I have no inside information on the sales figure for the book, I would suspect that Calvin Keys is going to have to find his own treasure trove to pay for his book
But, compare that to the author who works for a decade to put out REAL book with an established publisher and gets no reviews, no sales and no profit, and only gets to see his work in the remainder bins of a Barnes and Noble or Indigo superstore. Who is further ahead?
Thursday, 5 June 2008
While my work assignments as a publicist are always changing, the one constant thing remains ... clients who want media recognition for themselves, their employees, their products or their own personal accomplishments.
For clients wanting publicity for events that are frankly not newsworthy (even though they are raising money for a good cause, they aren't necessarily of interest to the news department or the society columnists). To overcome the lack of media starch, clients often want celebrities to attend and help promote their cause. Can't find a movie star, a TV performer, a rock muscian, an author or famous artist? Well, the next best way to draw cameras and pens is to set a world's record.
Setting obscure records to garner media attention is something I have already written about on this blog. However, this past month I have found myself writing, yet again, about world's records. I recently wrote two press releases about events in the city of Ottawa. This summer the city's famous Rideau Canal will be holding a festival to mark the fact that it has been designated a Unesco World Site. As part of the celebration the organizers are staging the world's biggest bike ride and are asking bike riders from all of Canada to come to the capital and help set a Guinness World Record. What does a giant bike ride have to do with a 19th century fresh water canal? Nothing. But, cue the bike built for two?
A few days after writing that press release I wrote a press release about a number of hockey related events that will be happening in Ottawa this year. It all starts this month with the staging of the NHL Entry Draft at the Ottawa Senator's arena in Kanata (a suburb of Ottawa). Other Ottawa hockey events in Ottawa this year? Don't miss the Atom League Hockey Tournament. It is the world's largest hockey team with over 1,000 players taking part.
Other world records? While in Cuba attending a tourism conference staged in a 17th century Havana fort, I wandered into one of the fort's barracks and came upon an elderly Cuban man making the world's largest cigar. Even though there is a bit of connection between Cuban cigars and tourism, the actual record attempt was being done solely to attract media attention to Cuba. And, it worked. Even though the US has made Cuba off-limits to most Americans, the world's biggest cigar did attract cameras from CNN and AP. The new world's record garnered media coverage around the world.
Like every other media person with a camera, I did take time out from my meetings to take pictures of the record setting cigar. It was so long, the Cubans had to build a tent outside both ends of the barracks, to accommodate the stoogie.
While event managers embrace world records, sometimes the people achieving these weird milestones, can feel less than proud of themselves. For example, pictured above are five obviously embarassed American teenagers. This PR photo arrived in my inbox a couple of months ago from the makers of the"Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008." The teenagers set a bunch of Guinness World Records for scores they achied on the video game: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
Below is a Reuter's story on the World's Biggest Cigar. As well, I have posted some of the underwater records set in 2008 I have written about for Diver Magazine's website. (They haven't printed them yet but ...)
Friday, 16 May 2008
Even communist Cuba has the set-a-world-record fever. Communist country knows how to use World Record to gain media traction in the Free World
At just over 148 feet 9 inches, the thick stogie stretched like a long brown snake through a room and out its front and back windows at El Morro, the old Spanish fort overlooking Havana Bay.
British diplomat Chris Stimpson made the official measurement, which he said would be sent to the Guinness World Records in London for confirmation.
"The best in the world, no?" said the cigar's smiling, ash-stained roller, Jose Castelar Cairo, better known as Cueto.
His six-day-long project, completed with several assistants, eclipsed the previous record of 135 feet (41 meters), held by Patricio Pena of Puerto Rico.
Breaking the record was a point of pride for Cubans, whose cigars are considered among the world's best.
More World's Underwater Records
… no matter how silly
Recording the records for readers]
As spring rolls into the Northern Hemisphere, divers likewise will be rolling into the water to set yet more underwater records, accomplish first-ever events and invent new things to do under the surface of the water.
Recent underwater firsts noted by divermag.com include:
ß Divermag.com has written about the sport of underwater ironing in past postings. It is fun sport invented for people who just leave their housework at home. Here is how it works, a diver takes an ironing board, an iron and a wrinkled article of clothing and goes underwater as deep as possible and irons. World records have been set for the deepest recorded ironing and the largest number of ironers underwater at one time.
Last month in Australia 72 scuba divers have underwater-ironed their way into the Guinness World Record. According to the Geelong Advertiser, the divers belonged to a local club and wanted to establish a new record for the largest mass-ironing underwater. They beat the old record of 70, set by the same club a number of years ago.
ß Mark it down. Spring 2008 is when divers began to find out about the world’s newest underwater sport. Due to popular demand, the Swiss Underwater Sports Union began in late March to teach men and women how to play the brand new full contact game of Underwater Rugby. Playing on the bottom of a swimming pool, two teams of six, compete to see who can put a 6-kilo ball (filled with salt water) through the opposing squad’s basket. Players wear only bathing suits, flippers and goggles. Apparently underwater rugby was first developed in Germany as a training exercise for new divers. Now it is the new hit sport on the European continent this spring.
ß A UK based swimmer plans to train all spring in preparation for her May 11th attempt to break her own British record for distance swum underwater without breathing. Liv Phillips broke the underwater swimming record last August having swum 104 metres -- four lengths of an indoor pool -- without breathing.
The 32-year old will also attempt to break the National Static Record, where she is required to hold her breath underwater for as long as possible. She already holds Britain’s National Static Record after holding her breath for five minutes 32 seconds, which she did underwater in Slovenia last year.
You have read about underwater records, now watch them!
If web counters are to be believed, there is growing worldwide interest in stories about dubious and quirky underwater records. You Tube has many videos posted “showing” people as they set new records – the problem is trying to find these videos (many of them aren’t in English) in You Tube’s massive, and growing inventory of postings. There is a new website that has taken the search out of locating You Tube underwater record setting videos.
The Scuba Channel posts underwater videos made for the most part by European divers. As well, Scuba Channel has linked with You Tube to show underwater video’s posted on that popular site. The Scuba channel [http://www.video.scubadata.com] has a growing list of underwater record videos including:
ß Nordic Night Dives on camera. A group of Nordic divers set what they call a new world record in simultaneous night diving. A total of 1,859 divers in six Nordic countries all went underwater at the same time at a total of 138 sites. The Nordic Night Dive of 2007 took place December 6, 2007 and involved divers in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Organizers said they would have had more people in the water if rough sea conditions in the Faroe Islands hadn’t force participants to abort their group night dive. The Nordic Night Divers are going to try and break their own record this December 4, 2008 and invite divers from around the world to join in.
ß According to a video posted on the site, Nuno Gomes – the diver not the soccer player - is the current (2008) deepest dive world record holder. He set a mark of 318.35 metres in 2005 and that dive is documented on the video.
ß There is a You Tube posting that shows snippets of a diver setting the record for the longest time spent under the water in the open ocean (24-hours and three minutes). This record was set on 20 July 2005 by Will Goodman off the coast of Gili Trawangan, Lombok Indonesia.
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
DIVE FATALITY 13 MAY 2008
I was monitoring Cayman radio stations this morning (14 May 2008) and noted that there was a dive fatality yesterday in Cayman. Vibe radio, in its 8am news broadcast was reporting a female tourist from Texas died while shore-diving near the Crack Conch cafe. A 911 call came into police from a citizen on shore who saw a diver waving for help. The diver was in the water, and beside him (her?) there was a female diver who was not moving. Police arrived quickly. The divers were brought to shore. The injured diver was given CPR and taken to hospital but could not be revived.
Since posting this item, the following news item appeared in the Cayman Compass:Diver dead in West Bay. Wednesday 14th May, 2008
A vacationer on a shore dive in West Bay died Monday afternoon.
The 45–year–old woman, who was from Texas, was spotted in the water just off Coconut Bay. A 911 caller reported seeing two divers who had surfaced near the shore; one was waving and the other was not moving.
The unresponsive diver was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. A cause of death had not immediately been determined. A post mortem will be conducted, but police said no foul play was suspected in the woman’s death.
The incident in West Bay Monday was believed to be the fourth watersports–related fatality in Grand Cayman so far this year.
On 3 March, a 69–year–old English swimmer’s inert body was found by a snorkeller along Seven Mile Beach. There were also two diving deaths here in January, one off 12 Mile Bank and another that occurred near the West Bay dock.
UNDERWATER FATALITY 26 MAY 2008
It is May 29th and once again, while listening to Cayman radio on my computer, I heard a news story about a tourist dying underwater in Grand Cayman. I was able to find local newspaper coverage of the incident. It would be unfair to the local dive industry to call this a scuba death, rather it was a Sea-Tek helmet death .... the first I have ever heard about.
Sub-Sea Ltd, a California company manufactures Sea-Tek, a plastic helmet with a large space-suit like glass window. The weighted helmet has a tube that leads up to the surface. Air is pumped from the surface through this tube, into the helmet. Tourists simply put the helmet on and then enter the water. They are able to walk on the bottom of the ocean and look at coral reefs, fish and sometimes even shipwrecks, without ever having to swim. Helmet diving unlike scuba, lets tourists get underwater without any formal training.
The helmets are meant to be used in shallow water and the guests have to follow a predetrimned path along the ocean floor. Scuba diving guides and safety personnel are with the tourists at all times. Because of the shallow depths (10 ft) that the Sea-Tek divers walk in, most people could easily remove their helmets and swim to the surface if there were any problems with their air supply.
According to the Cayman newspapers "The tourist who died while helmet diving in the Caymans has been identified as Timothy Eugene Mowry of Traverse City, Michigan. Mowry, 62, died last Monday (May 26th) while participating in a helmet dive with his son near the Royal Watler Port in George Town. Witnesses said the victim lost consciousness and died while diving with a Sea Trek diving helmet. Crew members aboard the Sea Trek vessel said he was unconscious when he was pulled from the water and never revived despite CPR efforts by paramedics and Sea Trek staff.
The helmet diving accident, the fifth diving-related fatality this year, is under investigation by the Royal Cayman Islands Police.
IN OTHER CAYMAN NEWS: INQUEST RESULTS
Coroner’s verdicts on tourist deaths
By James Dimond, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 11th May, 2008
The Coroner’s Court recently considered the deaths of four tourists that were pulled from Grand Cayman’s waters dead between June 2006 and April 2007.
Nebraska retiree Daniel Childs, 71, died while diving near the blowhole in East End. Mr. Childs and his son, Frederick, had been 15 minutes into a group dive with a tour operator in April 2007 when he was noticed missing.
In a statement, the dive–master with Mr. Childs’ group said she had ordered the other divers to ascend to the surface once Mr. Childs was noticed missing. He was later found floating on the surface of the water. CPR was performed on Mr. Childs for an extended period, but he was later pronounced dead at the Cayman Islands Hospital.
In a statement, Frederick Childs said his father was a very good swimmer, an experienced diver, and in perfect health, but an autopsy found that Mr. Childs had severe narrowing of his coronary artery, an enlarged heart and was diabetic.
The doctor performing the autopsy said it appeared Mr. Childs had made an uncontrolled assent to the surface that could have been the result of panic – possibly related to his heart condition. A Department of Environment inspection found that the diving equipment Mr. Childs used was functioning properly at the time of his death.
Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay–Hale pointed out there were a number of possible explanations for Mr. Childs’ rapid ascent, but told the jury they did not have to decide why he rose so suddenly. If they accepted that he drowned it could only be because of accident or a third party, with all the evidence pointing to the former, she said.
The jury ruled the death an accident, returning a verdict of death by misadventure.
A verdict of death by misadventure was also returned in the case of Michael Kuntz, who was honeymooning in Cayman with his wife, Patricia Kuntz, in January, 2007. The Nebraskan couple had been married for nine months when Mr. Kuntz’s body was pulled from the water in front of Sunset House following a shore dive.
He had been out diving with a friend, James Paben, also from Nebraska. In a statement, Mr. Paben said both were certified divers and Mr. Kuntz had done about 30 dives. He said the two had gone about 200 to 300 yards from shore and dived to a depth of about 60 feet. After about half an hour, they had decided to go back, and Mr. Kuntz ascended to the surface first.
When Mr. Paben surfaced, Mr. Kuntz was about 40 feet away. While swimming towards shore, Mr. Paben noticed his friend was not keeping up. “At this stage I waved to our wives to get help,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if Michael was having problems but I wanted to be on the safe side. Shortly after the dive instructor swam out to me. I pointed out to him the last place I saw Michael.”
In a statement, the instructor said he found Mr. Kuntz lying face down in the water. His face was blue, his eyes open and glazy and his mouth open with water in it. The instructor commenced rescue breathing and, when picked up by a boat a few minutes later, CPR, but Mr. Kuntz could not be revived.
A post mortem examination found foam drainage in Mr. Kuntz’s left ear – signalling he may have made a rapid ascent to the surface. It also found severe narrowing in one of the arteries leading to his heart.
Temporary Health Services Authority Pathologist, Jacqueline Torrell, who was in court to help explain the post mortem and autopsy report findings to the jury, was asked by the coroner whether it was possible Mr. Kuntz had a heart problem while underwater. “This evidence of heart disease could have caused a shortness of breath or some other episode, leading to panic,” she replied.
The coroner pointed out that 30 dives over a period of years did not amount to a lot of diving experience, and that could explain why he surfaced so quickly. But she said it was not for the jury to decide why Mr. Kuntz rose so rapidly – they had to decide whether he drowned, and if he did, whether it was an accident – a view they accepted, returning a verdict of death by misadventure.
SMITH COVE DROWNING
Jurors examining the death of Charles Simpson, 57, from Texas, heard Mr. Simpson had gone to Smith Cove Beach to dive with his wife and two other couples on 11 March, 2007.
His wife, Carol, said in a statement the couple had been the last into the water, with her about 10 yards behind Mr. Simpson.
After making it about 20 yards into the water, Mrs. Smith said she became uncomfortable with her gear and decided to return to shore.
Carl Simpson – a relative and friend of the deceased – was about 75 yards ahead at the time. He said Mr. Simpson – known as Chuck – continued to come towards the other divers initially, but then waved his hand at them to indicate he was returning to shore. Another member of the group said Mr. Simpson had only been about 30 yards into the water when he indicated he was turning back.
When she got back on shore, Mrs. Simpson looked for her husband but didn’t see him, so assumed he had caught up with the others.
When the group returned without him about 30 minutes later, Mrs. Simpson asked where her husband was. “They told me that he turned, said that he was going back to shore, but that they had not seen him since.”
Police later found Mr. Simpson’s lifeless body face down in the water. A post mortem examination listed drowning as the cause of death, but noted that Mr. Simpson was moderately obese, diabetic and had severe narrowing of his coronary artery. The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
Snorkelling death at BT
The jury were also asked to consider the death of Thomas DeMarco, 49, from Georgia, who was found unconscious on Bodden Town Public Beach after snorkelling and later pronounced dead.
Mr. DeMarco went snorkelling with his son and wife on 20 June, 2006 by the reef in front of Turtle Nest Inn. In a statement, his wife, Martha, said she had stayed in shallow water and returned to shore first.
When son, Ben, returned to the shore alone, she asked where his father was. Ben said he didn’t know. She returned to their hotel room to see if Mr. DeMarco was there, but he wasn’t. Back on the beach, Mrs. DeMarco saw a group of people gathered, including two paramedics. “I looked and saw a body lying on the beach ... I then knew it was him,” she said. “I then saw them several times doing CPR and leaning the body to let the water out, but when I saw this, in my mind, I knew he was dead.”
The coroner pointed out that an autopsy had concluded the death was caused by drowning. It noted Mr. DeMarco had a history of high blood pressure and diabetes.
The report also noted there was narrowing in one of the arteries leading to Mr. DeMarco’s heart, but the coroner pointed out Mr. Demarco had no known history of heart problems.
She said it could have been that high blood pressure or a heart complaint caused Mr. DeMarco to panic, leading to his drowning. But she emphasised it was not for the jury to determine how the man drowned, but if he drowned and whether it was an accident. After a brief deliberation, the jury concluded it was, returning a verdict of death by misadventure.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
The bottom picture, taken at the same event, shows Hugh Brewster a Titanic children's book author telling the story of the shipwreck to a class of Grade 5 students. Dressed in Edwardian clothes, the Canadian author has made a career out of explaining the tradegy of the Titanic to school age kids!
The two smaller images at the top of the page are frame grabs from the 2007 BBC / CBC production of Dr. Who. The popular Time Lord somehow managed to land his Tardus inside a Titanic space liner, and, like its Earthbound namesake is about to crash! How in all the gin joints across the galaxy Dr Who could wander into, I can' t imagine the odds of landing in a futuristic flying Titanic spaceship!
Being at the press conference made me reflect on the drawing power of the world's most famous shipwreck and how over the last 20 years I have managed to get millions of dollars worth of publicity for half a dozen projects cashing in on the Titanic brand. Explorers. Underwater Researchers. Escape Artists. Authors. Film Makers. Phantom SOS signals. Nutbars. All of the projects were different -- the only two common threads were the wreck itself and the nutty people the almost mythical Titanic attracts. [ I am busy working on a number of projects and will continue this thread later today or tomorrow or ....]
Sub-Title: Later that same month ... It was early in life I learned that blood and guts and accidental death sells. Monster Miller would give anything to see the Titanic.
Back in the 60's living in Renfrew, Ontario, I noted that for many teenagers entertainment on a hot summer night was visiting the downtown parking lot of the local GM dealership. Given that the Trans Canada Highway ran right down mainstreet (A new by-pass has now pushed Renfrew out of the motoring limelight) wreckage from nearby highway accidents were routinely towed to the lot and left on display until the police and insurance agents had a chance to document the twisted bits of metal. The more blood, the more deaths, the larger the crowd. I remember one student, Ralph Miller (dubbed Monster Miller) would crawl inside those cars that had been involved in fatal accidents and retrieve bits of bloody metal for his trophy case. No one in town thought it weird or macbre (except when the accident involved a local), in fact the two town papers, the Mercury and the Advance raced to see who could get to the lot first and get the best pictures for the next edition! They rarely beat Monster Miller to the scene. He was a local hero.
Renfrew is a backwater community and its communal taste for disaster is much baser than society's fascination with shipwrecks. But, that same raw passion that transformed Monster Miller when he recovered bits of bone from the front seat of a crushed Pinto, is probably that same primitive rush - albeit draped under a mantle of science and history - that shipwreck hunters feel when they find a ship underwater. The bigger the casuality list the more press, and cash you will garner. Guaranteed.
My first encounter with the Titanic was while I was giving publicity assistance to Underwater Canada. Stephen Low, a Canadian film director was onboard a Russian research vessel (with its two deepwater minisubs) and produced an amazing IMAX large format film of the recently rediscovered passenger ship. Footage from that film was shown at Underwater Canada's annual film festival and team members took turns talking about the adventure. I got a lot of press for the project. Involved in the project were two Canadian researchers; Stephen Blasco and Dr. Joe MacInnis. Both men added an element of science to the filming and both came to annual dive show to talk about the film and their experiences underwater. Stephen, a government researcher based out of Halifax, made some startling discoveries about deepwater ocean currents and about how water pressure was crushing the hull of the Titanic and overtime creating huge metal rusticals to form on Her.
I am not sure or I have forgotten what Dr. Joe's role in the project. However, he did often give moving public talks about the filming expedition and somehow got the 3-D rights to portions of the footage shot on the wreck. He went on to write a book about the Titanic. And, a few years after the movie came out I tried, on behalf of the late great Toronto Maritime Museum (the Harbourfront Pier), to set up a small theatre to show Joe's movie to visitors! We never did get the movie up and running, lighting concerns and costs scuttled the project. I am not sure how Joe's book did, he has since gone on to write a book about the Edmund Fitzgerald and another about Canada's most northerly wreck, the Breadalbine. Joe, a medical doctor by training, frequently writes for Diver Magazine, however he doesn't talk to me unless he really has to, he has a hate-on over a Globe and Mail review I wrote about one of his books. Sigh - not an uncommon occurrence in the dive industry, where bragging rights are more important than commerce.
A few years after the Imax movie I was once again schilling for the wreck. James Cameron, a Canadian diver turned Hollywood movie maker, was filming Titanic. The project was behind schedule and way way over budget. Cameron, worried that the film might be sunk by the studio before it was even finished, actually gave up his share of the film to help finance its completion and began a global PR campaign to show investors and journalists images from the sunken ship.
Cameron had leased that same Russian research vessel and its deepwater wide -windowed submarines that were used in the filming of the Imax movie. Shooting for Hollywood rather than for Science Centre audiences, Cameron took amazing images of the downed ship. He sent his submarine pilot to Toronto with a tray full of slides to show auidences at Underwater Canada and to an eager press what would be in his movie. We were front-page across the country.
The dive show was held in late winter, early spring. A few months after the Titanic slide presentation had sailed through town I got a call from a location manager working for Cameron in California. She wanted to know if I knew of any ships that had steam driven boilers - Cameron was thinking of filming a sequence showing Arnold Schwartznegger madly shoveling coal to power the Titanic as she tried to full-steam ahead past the iceberg. I told them of an abandoned ship my wife and I had seen in Palau, but, the Arnie idea was dropped and I never heard from them again.
I was also hired to briefly help with the Toronto launch of the Titanic Exhibition by Premier Entertainment. It was held in the Better Living Building on the Grounds of the CNE. It was the first of what is now 7 travelling exhibitions showcasing artifacts removed from the wrecksite of the Titanic. Many say it is grave robbing. Premier Entertainment say that they are protecting artifacts that would soon be crushed by a crumbling mass of untempered steel.
The Toronto show was not very successful even though the set-up was spectacular and the media to-die-for. The whole front of the Better Living Building had a massive mural of the Titanic. On opening night there were various food stations serving dishes from the various classes of passengers and crew. (They served a boiled cabbage and corned beef to show what people in steerage ate). The downfall of the show was the location. The CNE grounds are not known for museum exhibits and in winter it is a blistering cold and windy half-mile unprotected walk from the streetcar station to the Better Living Building ... and when you got there? Well the building wasn't heated.
Premier got their act together and now have a very slick, albeit expensive, presentation that is drawing spectators in across North America. I've caught the show in San Francisco and my wife saw it in Vegas. It now finishing an extended run at the Toronto Ontario Science Centre - hence the need for a media boosting press event in February.
Not to be outdone by the Better Living Building show the Toronto International Boat Show, put on a display which I helped promote. They worked with a Nova Scotia magician, the Great Santini, who also owned a private collection of real artifacts from the Titanic. Steve Santini's holdings were not plunder from the wrecksite but were floatsom that was collected by East Coasters following the accident. Including in the exhibition he installed at the Boat Show was a deck chair and a life presever.
Steve Santini would dress up like Captain Smith (in a real White Star Line uniform) and yell at visitors as though they were panicky steerage passengers wanting to be allowed on the upper decks so that they could get on life boats. And, if you tried to rearrange the deck chair on the Titanic deck, he would almost foam at the mouth. He scared children, deafened adults who wandered into hearing range and titilated the media! During breaks he would perform card tricks and bemoan the fact that he didn't have chains or a straight jacket to break out of.
Santini was a hard working man, he got just one day off from the ten day show. He was orginally from Toronto but had moved to Halifax to look after his Titanic Collection. Rather than visit his family on his one free day he had me drive him around the countryside tracking down Ontario graves from Titanic victims. Although he does have a career as a magican and escape artist all he could talk about was the Titanic.
As I remember it, we got as far as Stroud. If we had have travelled farther north we could have stopped at the Lands Inn Bed and Breakfast in Tobermory. The hotel is owned by a dive historian who annually hosts a meeting of wreck experts, a group which includes Steve Blasco and Dr. Joe MacInnis. [Art Amos, the owner of the Inn accompanied me once inside a Canadian Navy mini-sub as we looked for shipwrecks in Lake Erie]. Legend has it that due to freak atmospheric conditions, the Titanic SOS was heard at Lands End in Tobermory!
Experience has taught me if you need press find a Titanic angle. I was working with a PR company - Crane Communications - and we were trying to get attention for the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. As part of the Expo the organizers were putting together a wine auction with the proceeds going to Sick Kids. Believe me, there is nothing more difficult to push than charity wine auction. Calling newsrooms and assignment desks got the response all PR people hate - Been There, Done That, Excuse me while I Yawn. The Titanic changed all that. Through dive contacts I was able to acquire a bottle of French champagne recovered by divers from a shipwreck in the Baltic. The boat, filled with chamgagne for Russian troops fighting in Sweden, was sunk by German torpedoes in 1911. The Baltic is so cold that the wine was perfectly preserved (and the wave action kept the contents in constant motion). We brought a bottle over, found out it was the same brand and vintage as was served on the Titanic, and suddenly we had our hook. I took the bottle, along with a bulked out security guard to a number of TV shows and we pumped up the interest in the charity auction.
As a footnote, the bottle was bought by a relative of Lord Thomson of Fleet. He paid a couple thousand dollars for the bottle. He opened it right after buying it. He took a drink and gave the bottle to Linda Crane and myself to finish off. How did it taste? The bubbles were light on my tongue, the taste was sweet and then it sank to my stomach like the ship we named it after. It was a Titanic moment in wine drinking.
I don't seek out Titanic work, yet, every two or three years I find myself writing about Titanic topics or doing PR for projects that have a Titanic connection. Younger audiences may yawn at the topic, however, the media will almost always come out and cover a Titanic story, even if it is a Nova Scotia escape artist dressed like Captain Smith yelling at kids trying to touch his deck chair.
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
It is probably a myth, but, I believe there was an age when people had time to be polite. Snoozin' with eyes wide open through a bum numbing lecture in a hot sticky classroom. A neighbour with out-of-focus vacation pictures from Disney World. A door-to-door salesman pitching crap. When there is nothing better to do, and you believe that life is endless, then why not do the right thing and listen to the babble of people you don't know, talking about things you don't care about. In the old days politeness ruled. Not any more.
Take two breakfast events that I attended in the past two weeks. First there was inspirational talk given by a blind boat salesman (and award-winning yachtsman) at the Toronto International Boat Show. And then there was a very embarrassing breakfast lecture given by Ontario's Emergency Response Czar (Jay Hope, Ontario Deputy Minister of Emergency Planning & Management).
Vince Morvillo, is an unsighted entrepreneur who came to the Toronto International Boat Show in early January to speak to boating business leaders at an industry breakfast. In my opinion the Canadian boating industry is in serious decline. Rising fuel costs, shocking sticker prices for new motors and boats, a wonky currency market, environmental concerns about the sport, Canadian branch plants being downsized or closed and a growing public resentment towards personal watercraft, has the industry nervously looking over its shoulder.
The breakfast was staged, in part, to release a document optomistically titled "The Big Splash" -- The Economic Impact of Recreational Boating in Canada: 2006 Summary Report. Over 200 people (and that included the dreaded media) were there to hear the state of boating in Canada.
The report was commissioned by Sandy Currie, the former head of the Canadian Marine Manufacturing Association. Currie, it seemed to me, had been at the head of the association since before the advent of the outboard motor. He was dumped from his job in late October '07 by the industry heads who sit on the CMMA. It appears as though the CMMA is being wound down in favour of the NMMA -- the American parent association -- yet another Canadian institution lost to American financial interests.
The report was delivered by Rick Layzell the CMMA Chairman and a top official with Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd. It was a cut and dry power point reading of the high points of the highly edited slick 16-page financial summary. The news was almost all good. So positive was the news that it just wasn't believable. You can't fudge the facts, but, there was little comparsion with data from previous years and with other well known studies. What information that was released that morning was in stark contrast to very gloomy reports conducted by other private Canadian firms.
Layzell was loud and brief. Neither the industry leaders nor the press were given a chance to ask questions. After 10-minutes on stage, Layzell disappeared and a blind Vince Morvillo took to the podium. Morvillo is an accomplished motivational speaker. He is currently making the rounds at boatshows across North America. It is a positive message that he delivers .... if I can sell boats, so can you! If you are honest, know your product and are engaged with your customers, business can only get better.
Morvillo has obviously given his talk a lot of times to a lot of breakfasts across the continent. Trouble is, he has given them in communities where people have more time to listen to amusing stories about the tribulations of being a sightless salesman. In a 24-hour city like Toronto, the auidence was not prepared to sit through a 30-minute sales talk, no matter how amusing the speaker was. Given that the state of the union for the industry was delivered in 10-minutes, the inspirational lecture lost its oomph somewhere around the 3-minute mile marker.
I was taking pictures of the speaker when he told a story about how it was very important for a salesman to connect with a potential customer. " I kept talking and talking to a man and woman who were intertested in buying a boat. After a few minutes I noticed it was very quiet, I realized that the couple had snuck quietly away." he recalled. "I was pitching to thin air!" The story got a big laugh, but, suddenly a row of light bulb went off in a lot of peoples' brains. The picture above shows a woman shushing her daughter as they tip toed out of Morvillo's talk. He never heard them leave. Dozen followed. I should have done the same. By the time it was over, the CMMA spokespeople I wanted to quiz had magically vanished too. It was just me, the blind man and his long suffering wife. We clapped for 200.
Second breakfast? The Canadian News Wire Group held its first breakfast talk of the new year in late January. The CNW breakfasts are usually great events -- you learn a lot, its quick, interesting and if you feel like it, offords an opportunity to network, network, network. For the most part the events are attend by PR types - overpaid corporate communicators - people who use CNW to send out media releases to the media.
Jay Hope, Ontario's new Deputy Minister of Emergency Planning & Management was there to speak about "Crisis Communications Planning". Hope is the most senior black officer in the Ontario Provincial Police. In my Caribana world he is a God. His halo slipped a bit at the CNW breakfast.
Hope got up, told a few jokes about his wife and then started to criticize the media. You get things wrong, You slow down disaster response by getting in the way blah, blah, blah. This went on, with pictures of Katrina and SARS for 30-minutes.
For the 250 people in attendance, it became evident -- really quickly -- that Hope didn't know who he was talking to. He probably thought that since CNW stood for Canadian News Wire, we must all be journalists. It was deer-in-headlight embarassing. I felt sorry for the guy and I didn't want to be there when someone finally got around to telling him he had brought the wrong speech.
People soon took to checking their email on blackberries, firing off text messages and, at the table next to me, doing the Globe and Mail crossword.
A woman in the audience kicked off the question period. She politely told him she was a communications specialist, not a journalist, and then asked what advice he could give her about handling a disaster from the corporate side. Hope didn't listen. His answer was again, all about what a reporter should or shouldn't ask. She tried one final time, telling him he obviously didn't understand the question. He said he would try again to answer her question. For the second time he talked about her role as a journalist in covering a disaster. People had been trickling out before the dialogue between the two began. After that answer it became a pinstripe parade. At the door I was almost knee capped by a glazed eye communicator wielding an overactive briefcase and talking on his phone. All I heard was "I'm outta here" as he blew by me out the door.
I felt sorry for both speakers. At the boat show, the blind motivator was being used as cannon fodder for an industry that didn't want attendees to ask questions in a public forum. They were happy that he took time to same the same thing over and over and over again. It gave their executive time to disappear without having to answer questions. For Hope, it was probably a sloppy staffer who didn't take time to figure out who their boss was going to be talking to, or was looking for an opportunity to make him look bad in front of corporate Canada.
The biggest loser? Politeness. People tried ( well, a little bit), to be polite and listen. But, in both cases, given the time management pressures that all of us feel working here in the "Big Smoke, we all realised that time was better spent elsewhere even if it meant walking out on a sightless speaker and a clueless policeman.