Can’t We All Just Get Along? Better Understanding the Journo/PR Exec Bitchfest by Morgan Obidowski

From accusations of smug journalists, to the assertion both parties should meet in the middle, to the ever popular bad pitch round up, the hack vs. flack argument while not new, is currently hot. Yes, there is no shortage of less than stellar PR professionals who need to embrace a better understanding of the English language. To counter that thought, for every crappy spinster there’s a vast supply of equally lazy writers who don’t fact check or do their job well. The unfortunate or fortunate (dependent on the spin) reality is PR people need journalists and journalists need PR people. Imagine a world without communicative, resourceful middle persons who respect a deadline to arrange quotes, calls and interviews with a much needed CEO or source.   

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of consideration, and respect of journalists in most PR firms and vice versa.  Bit of obvious intel: things fall apart in execution, not giving enough guidance to junior staff or when people with no training or basic talent, write stuff. Note to press: it’s a tricky skill to learn – how to sincerely approach press with a valid idea, yet not waste time with the added pressure of pleasing a supervisor who in turn wants to please a client who or may not be fully versed in the nuance of the end result. 

On the other hand, there are writers who under perform, rest on laurels and are responsible for a multitude of sins: laziness, sloppy writing, idea stealing from ‘those people’ outwardly lambasted and loathed on social media outlets. Those with inside knowledge can see when large stories with seemingly endless sources, which on the surface look fair and impartial, are handled through a single call to a PR firm.

Bottom line: younger PR peeps need to be more considerate, do their research and slow down to write correct, cohesive sentences. Seasoned PR peeps need to stop and teach the youngins how to do it better, faster and strategically and not just throw them into the deep end and hope for the best. Writers need to understand the value of good PR and not color us all with the same sweeping brush stroke. 

One final end note: one never knows who will end where or who will need whom in the battle of co-existence, so be considerate, kind and well, less bitchy. 

Successful Events = Stronger Media Relationships, Positive Brand Building and Happy Clients by Morgan Obidowski

Ever felt disconnected in a world where gigantic data-mined media lists (which are often not relevant at best or blatantly wrong at worst no matter what software is used thank you very much) texts and online mails reign supreme? The simple truth is, despite communicating ideas, needs and information being pivotal in our jobs, shaking someone’s actual hand or seeing an actual face has become as rare as finding a farm fresh ripe tomato in the Northeast in December.

While the media landscape evolves and changes, we must to but we should not abandon everything. Enter the refreshing, yet crucial, media event. Not only does it assist with bridging what has become a modern day technological gap between client, PR agency and the media it provides an opportunity to get multiple points across in more than 140 character or (gasp) face to face maybe even over a beer, cup of coffee or glass of wine.

A few weeks ago, Victory Brewing Company (an already stellar and well-recognized local and national brand) casually gathered a group media for opening of Victory at Magnolia in Kennett. The event was a success not because just free booze and food was around – that’s a commodity for food and beer writers and trust us, it takes way more than that. 

More than 20 media were in attendance. Yes, we got coverage for the opening, but we could have done that with an alert and a photo. For us, it provided a few hours of breaking bread and getting to know important, key media in a less frenzied way. It will make us better resources (media happy), waste less time overall for us by building relationships as opposed to sending blanketed blind releases we will have to follow up with to the wrong outlet anyway (we are happy) which, in turn means we will have more time to provide even better service to our client (client happy). 

See how all this comes full circle?  It may sound trite or obvious, but events done well and in moderation, work in spades for all involved. Recently wrapped up a great one? Pat yourself on the back and share it with us, we’d love to hear about it.

Q&A with's Tim Reardon by Morgan Obidowski’s Tim Reardon chats with FS about experiences with PR peeps, how he keeps up with the many things to do in Philly, and what events he’s looking forward to most at Philly Beer Week 2015! 

Q: Describe a typical day

A: Scan through my mails, drink about 2 cups of coffee and eat tons of fruit. After that, I’ll plan what the day will consist of (blog posting wise). The down side, there’s never, ever a slow day in the office, the up side its great being able to inform local Philadelphians and visitors what to check out.

Q:  Interactions with PR professionals – awesome or annoying?

A: I have very positive experiences with PR professionals (so far). I met many a friend through working with them, as well as experiencing some really great events I wouldn’t of been able to check out if it wasn’t for them so they play a crucial role in filtering me information. 

Q:  Since you write about a variety of events, what’s the secret to staying in the loop?

A: Connections. You can never have enough. Building relationships with people in the media is always a plus. I’ve been here for a year and three months and in that short time cultivated many invaluable friendships. I’ve also met many great people who have proven to be important resources through constantly networking and going to events.

Q: How many events do you attend a week?

A: It ranges and it’s random. Most weeks, one or two. Some weeks there’s a ton, and other weeks can be quiet.  

Q: What’s most challenging about the job?

A: Keeping up with every mail in my inbox is number one on the list. Also, making sure everything is covered so the reader in the end can l enjoy in my posts or learn something new. Sometimes I miss an event, but I’ll usually add it right away.  

Q: What pitches capture your attention or any insight on how to stand out?

A: Anything timely item that has to do with what I write about and is pertinent, will always be considered. I really do go through all every single mail and read every pitch sent.  

Q: How many mails do you receive from us?

A: Again, random but at least 10. It really depends on what’s going on. Since a lot of my events focus on beer and food, I’ll get slammed with mails during holidays including Thanksgiving or more recently Philly Beer Week. 

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to PR professionals looking to forge a relationship or work with you, what would it be?

A: Short and to the point - all the details in the mail are a major plus. Who, what, where, when, why, and if there’s a picture attached – even better, but please send photo credit- takes one more things off my plate.  

Q:  Last question, are there any 2015 Philadelphia Beer Week events that stand out this year?

A: This is the best time of the year!  As always, Opening Tap is one not to miss.  I’m looking forward to the Deschutes pop-up beer garden in Headhouse Square - they make some amazing brews. There really isn’t one bad event to go to though, just plan out the week, play it by beer and have a great time. Cheers! 

Navigating The Media: Traditional Influencers vs. Non-Traditional Influencers by Morgan Obidowski

Picture from: Lighthouse Insight

Influencers have a new meaning for the PR industry. While it’s hardly a new idea, PR pros are placing a greater emphasis on influencers in the digital age.

In our industry, we are always seeking out influential people to advocate on behalf of our clients, and due to today’s consumption of media, influencers have evolved. Today, PR pros can expect to find themselves in a constant mix of traditional and non-traditional influencers.  

Since the landscape of influencers is growing, Food Shelter wants to help you navigate how to best work with and what you need to know about current influencers:

Despite the similarities of traditional media and social media influencers, its important to recognize the differences between the two to help make decisions on who makes the most sense for your client.  

· Anyone can be an influencer today. If you want to write about a topic, you just do it. The great thing about having access to so many different digital age influencers is it allows you to grow relationships with the best people for their specific markets and industries.

· Information is less centralized then it used to be. Due to the spread of content across the Internet, PR professionals have to dig deeper to find contacts. Luckily, there are powerful tools to make it easier to spot influencers on the web.

· Not all influencers have a journalistic background. Digital age influencers won’t always understand the traditional interactions shared between the PR professional and the media. 

Traditional influencers and digital age influencers are pretty similar, and here’s why:

· We still need to find their niche – finding and following an influential blogger’s beat is just as important as a finding the beat of a journalist in the New York Times.

· They are opinion leaders and trendsetters. Influencers are the people who are always up to date on what’s current and are deemed as a credible and reliable source of information.

· Traditional influencers such as journalists and digital age influencers have the ability to reach mass amounts of people, and hold a great deal of power on how your client can be perceived.  

At the end of the day finding the right influencers in the digital age takes the same diligence and practice as traditional media, yet working with digital age influencers calls for PR professionals to be ready to enter new territory.



Q&A with Founder Tristan Chan by Morgan Obidowski

Food Shelter PR reached out to Tristan Chan, founder of to discuss how he started a national online beer community, his passion for the craft beer industry, and his experiences with PR pros.

Q: What pushed you to launch

A:  I moved to Colorado in the fall of 2009 to serve an AmeriCorps term with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Fort Collins after graduating with a Journalism degree from Miami University. On an AmeriCorps salary (less than minimum wage) all that we could really afford was to camp out at the New Belgium Brewery tap room for free tasters every Friday and Saturday. It was here that I developed my passion for craft beer and fell in love with the collaborative nature of the industry. Two years later, when I realized how much I missed writing I reached out to my fellow Journalism friends and asked if they wanted to start a cool project highlight great stories about craft beer

Q: Do you remember what your first post was about?

A: As an homage to New Belgium Brewing, my first post was a beer showcase of Blue Paddle Pilsner, a super easy to drink, approachable lager that was a bit of a gateway beer. I felt it appropriate to showcase a beer that captures the essence of porch drinking as well as our mission of not being overly pretentious about beer.

Q:  The site has become an influential part of the beer community pulling in writers from across the country to what do you contribute the growth of

A: I believe we’ve been able to grow as quickly as we have because we’ve always focused on great storytelling and our policy on promoting craft beer with positivity. The industry has really embraced our positive outlook and we believe our role is to showcase the great things happening in craft, and we’ll allow other sites to write about the negatives. We’ve also always tried to think outside the box and make craft beer relatable, which is why we did our Fantasy Brewer Draft for GABF and themed six packs each week.

Q: What do you love most about craft beer and the craft beer culture?

A: I love the collaborative nature of the industry as well as the creativity. I love that brewers can call up supposedly “competitors” and ask to borrow hops or grain and their “competitors” gladly lend a hand. I also love that craft beer continues to push our understanding of what beer is and tastes like. They’ve dug up old styles and recipes long forgotten, introduced insane tastes through adjuncts and wild yeasts.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face writing about this specific industry?

A: When it gets to brewery on brewery trademark disputes, that’s when we always have to tread carefully. In the end, both parties are often just hurting themselves.

Q: Do the writers at prefer to come up with site's content for the site or are they open to pitches from PR professionals?

A: It’s a mix of both, we generally like to create our own content but we do rely on PR professionals to keep us up to date on major releases, big brewery news, events, etc. And we love sharing that kind of news to the public. However we generally prefer not to rehash press releases verbatim, but rather follow up with breweries to get more out of the story.

Q: How would you describe your experiences with PR professionals, have these interactions been mostly positive or negative?

A: Very positive, on the whole, in the beginning it was because of PR professionals that we were able to cover events that we probably didn't have any business attending. But that kind of stuff has allowed us to learn and grown in a really short time.

Q: From the blogger's perspective, what advice would you give to the PR firms looking to work with

A: I think it’s important to build a profile and understand the demographic of the blog you’re working with. We often have PR firms who represent Asian macro beers trying to relate their beers to St. Patrick’s Day or restaurant groups trying to push liquor releases at their clubs. None of those are our key demographic and we automatically delete those emails.

 Q: What’s the best beer you’ve tried recently?

A: Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter… it’ll change your life.

Think Well, Be Well, Work Well by Morgan Obidowski

Keeping up with the demands of the workplace is no easy feat. When you’re being pulled in different directions, we sometimes forget what it takes to put our best foot forward. Every now and then, we need to take a few steps back and focus on bettering our daily routines. 

At Food Shelter, we believe you must think well and be well if you plan to work well. 

Think Well

Improve Your Mood: Surround yourself with things that make you happy.  Listen to music, snack on your favorite healthy foods, and be social with the people around you. 

Plan Ahead: Think about little things the night before. Doing so will cut the time you spend in the morning picking out your clothes for a client meeting or deciding what to pack for lunch. When you begin your work for the day, take a few minutes to plan out your day to stay organized. 

Be Well

Eat Healthy, Be Healthy: The foods you eat affect how you feel. Be mindful in selecting foods that benefit your mood, keep your energy high, and don’t leave you feeling sluggish. 

Take Time to Recharge: Remember it’s okay to slow down every once and awhile. Recharging your batteries will reduce stress, and help you prepare for more demanding times on the job. 

Move Your Body: Pay attention to your body. Staying active boosts energy, promotes better sleep habits, and can be a great stress reliever. It’s easy and it’s free. Take a walk, go for a run, or watch a workout video at home. 

Work Well

When you take care of yourself, you’ll be able to make the most of your office time and give your clients and your work the attention they deserve.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: Q & A with Lu Ann Cahn by Morgan Obidowski

Food Shelter spoke with former NBC reporter, and I Dare Me author, Lu Ann Cahn about her new role at Temple University, stepping out of her comfort zone, and her experiences with PR professionals throughout her career.

Q: You have recently started working at Temple University. How are you feeling in your new role and what inspired you to make this move?

A: What inspired me to make this move is that throughout my broadcasting career, I always mentored interns. Nobody asked me to do it, nobody paid me to do it, but it was just something I realized I always loved. When this opportunity was presented to me through a friend. I thought, you know, I really like seeing people get off to a good start in their careers. I had so many people who helped me and believed in me, and took time to launch me. I want to help the next generation. I had the same job for 27 years, so that's a big change,  I never worked in academia except as an occasional adjunct professor. I knew I would love it, and I absolutely do love meeting with students.

Q: In 2013, you released your memoir, “I Dare Me”, and this was inspired because you felt “stuck” in your daily routine, can you describe what have you learned from sharing your story?

A: When you're stuck or making a life transition, you really need to start doing new things. As we get older, we start to feel that we are in a spot where we can't go forward or backwards, you really have to stretch outside your comfort zone. As adults, we stop doing that. There's this buffet of life, and we start choosing from the same part of the buffet over and over again. We realize we're not really so happy, we forget to do new things and forget to bring freshness into our lives. I definitely got to a point where I was stuck and didn't want to change. What I learned is that you have to push yourself, even with simple little things. Take a risk, and say yes to something new. This journey allowed me to open up again, and move forward.

Q:  While promoting your book, what was it like being on the other side of the interview?

A: Difficult sometimes, and I can really appreciate people who are really good interviewers. I loved when we had good conversations. It's hard because I like being in control of the interview. If I had to choose, I like to be the one doing the interview but I had a great appreciation for people who got the book, understood, asked great questions and challenged me. It was interesting being on the other side.  

Q: With many years of experience in the media at NBC10, how would you describe your interactions with PR professionals?

A: It's interesting because every day at Channel 10, I didn't really think about it. It was really just a part of my world. It's a really hard job from your side, pitching to news reporters. It's difficult today to get someone's attention. It's a needle in a haystack to find a reporter to cover or have any interest in your story. Your getting 200 emails a day, and most of them you don't even open. It definitely makes a difference if I know them or have had an interaction with them. Today, you have to tailor it so much to get through the noise and get to a reporters or a newsroom editor who will pay attention to what your pitching.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve when working with PR professionals?

A: Well, probably the biggest pet peeve is when you decide to cover the story and the PR professional wants to manage it. Some of that can be helpful, but sometimes you have to let the reporter do their job. Also, I think inviting a reporter to an event is always a double edged sword. You're hoping for positive publicity, but if they are there and something goes wrong, the reporter is going to cover that as well, and you cannot stop that.

Q:  From a journalist perspective, how do you suggest we better our practices to help journalists?

A: I think gone are the days that you can send out a generic blast email, and obviously it depends. I think you really have to take a personal approach, and if you don't know the journalist personally,  if you know kind of what they do, their brand, and what they do. When I was an investigative reporter, people knew the kind of stories that I did. The more PR people understand who they are pitching,  the better it's going to be.

Q:  If you could tell your 22 year-old self anything right now, what would you say to her?

I would say, be patient, you'll get there. Enjoy where you are at the moment. Don't think so much about where you are going all the time. Take in what's happening at this moment. I think when I was 22, I was in such a hurry to get to the next thing, I often forgot to appreciate where I was. Be in the moment more, and the future will take care of itself.

Q:  What advice do you have for people looking to work in the communications industry?

A: Be versatile, be flexible, and always have plan A, B, and C. I think you must be a good writer. You have to learn all these formats now from TV, Web, Social Media. The truth of the matter is that if you are a good writer you can learn how to do all those things. If you're not a good writer, it's going to be difficult for you. I think you should do everything you can to boost your writing skills, and if you do, you will succeed.


Connect From Your Couch by Morgan Obidowski

Struggling to leave the house this winter? When the weather keeps you from going outside, it's an ideal time to network from home. We encourage you to brew yourself a cup of tea, grab a blanket, and start connecting!  

Using Food Shelter's tips you'll be networking from your couch in no time:

1. Be Social

Create an online presence. Follow new people on Twitter. Take it a step further, and introduce yourself. If you reach out to someone in the media, find out what type of stories they cover and how you could act as a resource to them in the future.  

2. Make Conversations Meaningful

Ask questions, use hashtags, and find out what other PR pros are thinking. Make it your goal to learn something you didn't know before. 

3. Use Your Voice

Don't be intimidated to use your voice. Take twenty minutes and make a phone call, it will create a personal connection with your new contact.

4. Join an Online Community.

Expand your professional circles by joining an online network like Linkedin or Facebook. These sites allow you to join conversations with hundreds of people at once. Who knows, you may leave a lasting impression on someone, and it may lead to a job or new business.  

5. Reconnect With Someone You Already Know.

Maintaining relationships with the media and other professionals is just as important as getting to know new contacts. Make sure the foundation you have with older contacts is solid. All it takes is an email to say hello!

Use these tips the next time you're stuck inside this winter, and keep in mind why it's important to network in our business, even if it's from your couch.