Friday, October 31, 2008

Adventures in Dentistry

As a PR person I tend to shun publicity, preferring to focus attention on my clients and their impressive accomplishments. That being said, I realize I rarely mention clients in my blog. So please allow for a commercial break as I introduce two of the best dentists in Michigan (the country?): Kurt Doolin and Jeff Haddad.

I first met Kurt Doolin in the spring of 2001 when I was hired to promote his new dental office in downtown Rochester. Kurt has a special place in my heart not only for being such a skilled dentist and all around good guy, but for taking a chance on me and continuing to retain my services without a break throughout 9/11 and the economic halt that ensued immediately thereafter. In 2004, Jeff Haddad joined the practice and Kurt and Jeff became the dynamic duo of dentistry, enhancing their skills and their practice, now called Rochester Advanced Dentistry,and having far too much fun in the process.

So why the walk down memory lane? Yesterday, Jeff Haddad received the "Young Professional of the Year" award by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce and was feted, along with winners of various other community awards, among a crowd of nearly 500. A richly deserved honor, Jeff was recognized for being a top notch dentist, of course, but also for the tremendous generosity the practice has shown towards the Rochester community. Kudos to Jeff and Kurt and their entire team!

P.S. If Kurt had a fake ID, he and Jeff would have been co-winners.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Save Darfur" is Challenging Pitch

In the PR world, some pitches are easy and some are difficult. PR pitches for discounted designer purses: easy. Pitches for virtual colonoscopy: difficult. (Well, at least it was in 2002, although I did ultimately land a front page story - with photo- in the Detroit Free Press.) Charitable efforts and events are typically easier pitches. After all, who doesn't want to help cure childhood cancers, be considered a patron of the arts or shelter and feed the homeless? There are exceptions,though. Save Darfur? Difficult pitch. Too far away, no personal connection, too many domestic issues in the United States that need our attention, emotion and dollars. Besides, doesn't the United Nations handle tough issues like that?

Carrie Hall,who may actually be an angel but is also a photographer in metro-Detroit, invited me to a Save Darfur cocktail party last weekend at the Rochester home of her friends Catherine and Gar. There were minimal details on the invitation so of course I fretted over what to wear. I didn't want to appear insensitive and over-dress. ( Was it black tie?? I knew the home was in a lovely neighborhood.) I opted for jeans with a black leather jacket so I could have a clothing defense statement prepared. "Black tie? Oh, I thought it was black jacket!" Thankfully, I knew enough to bring my checkbook because I immediately spotted a silent auction table to my left when I entered. Carrie served as first hostess and immediately greeted guests with the announcement that Jacob Atem, one of the famed "Lost Boys of the Sudan" was on his way to the party but, alas, was lost. (Apparently, the Sudan is no match for northern Oakland County, directionally speaking.) Oh my gosh, I'll admit I did a little bit of homework on Darfur to refresh my memory on the causes of the genocide there, but I immediately recognized the "Lost Boys" reference. Why weren't there 100 people at this party with such an honored guest and a humanitarian cause? Catherine said that 80 had been invited but my guess is the number of attendees was close to 20 (albeit 20 of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet). As I said, Save Darfur: difficult pitch.

It shouldn't be, though. Catherine graciously said that economic times are tough and she understood the absences. While $2000 was raised at the event, one could have not spent a dime and still made an investment in Saving Darfur. The greatest contribution one can make is free: raise awareness about the atrocities in Darfur (so far, 2.5 millions people have fled Darfur and are living in displacement camps and 450,000 are dead; hundreds of thousands of women and children are being raped;) write a letter to the editor; write your congress person; talk to your children; visit, a website run by Michigan's leading grassroots Save Darfur citizens, Dr. Tim Page and his wife Jill. Do anything, but do something to Save Darfur.