Raise your hand if you’re a fan of “writer’s block”! (I was kidding – put your hand down. That’s right – I’m talking to you!) Sometimes in life, you just feel like writing or saying something profound and witty. You know exactly how it’s going to look in print and then – it’s gone.
Then a miracle happens (cue the choir). “I’ve got it!” I can’t wait to call my friends, family and staff and tell them about this amazing story idea. It’s Pulitzer time in the city! (Is that enough sarcasm for you? If not, I can keep going.)
As a communications professional, it’s imperative that you’re able to use your voice and writing abilities to tell the story. That’s right – PR people are “storytellers.” We try to find the best ways and angles possible to craft and pitch your story. It’s not just about the press release. It’s also through picking up the phone and personally speaking to media representatives, crafting the perfect social media post and so much more. Be creative.
There are so many incredible human-interest stories all around us. Yes – even in this world of sad and tragic events. You can always find a positive and uplifting story if you look hard enough. Those are some of my favorite stories to pitch to my friends in the media, the stories about someone who has done something amazing for their community and the world.
I spend quite a bit of time flying back and forth from Orlando to Pittsburgh. As I stated in past columns, Markowitz Communications has been in business in Pittsburgh for the past 21+ years. We’ve been so fortunate to have worked on some major high-visibility accounts throughout the years from the national PR for the entire PetSmart chain to promoting the grand openings of an array of restaurants and retail establishments.
But nothing compares to what occurred during the early morning of Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
It all began around 10:38 a.m. on that fateful day. Tragedy came calling to another American city. A lone gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue and slaughtered (no other way of saying it) 11 innocent people (most over the age of 70) – may they rest in peace – while they were innocently engaged in prayer during an early morning Sabbath service. The community and the world were shocked and saddened by this hideous mass murder. In Squirrel Hill? A synagogue? Really? Has the “hate speech” gone too far?
My wife grew up in Squirrel Hill. She was the main Kindergarten teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. Her parents were born and lived in Squirrel Hill for many years. Our first house was in Squirrel Hill. We felt as though we needed to do something to help the community. But how?
One of my first telephone calls that morning was to our contact at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. This incredible organization has been a client for the past few years. On that call, I volunteered our crisis PR services to handle all media calls coming into their offices. It’s the least we could have done. We’ve handled local, regional and national media requests for many years for so many clients – but nothing as intense as this. So sad. So tragic. So overwhelming. Nothing of this magnitude.
So many phone calls – so little time. It was imperative that we try our best to handle each and every media request. From media outlets throughout Israel to every major media outlet throughout the United States and the world (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, Associated Press, etc.), we assisted each and every producer, assignment editor, and reporter with their requests for information, interviews and more.
So many heroes. From the “first responders” who risked their lives that morning to Rabbi Hazzan Dr. Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life, whose leadership throughout this situation has been astounding.
As events have unfolded, it’s been so heartwarming to see members of different faiths coming together to offer assistance and support to the Jewish community. Thousands of letters and well wishes continue to pour in from all across the country and around the world. Neighbors helping neighbors – that’s a story worth telling. And we did.
It’s of utmost importance to post and share these clips and stories about the tragedy in Squirrel Hill and use them to help change the world for the better.
Love is truly stronger than hate.
If you have any questions or comments, Better Call – or email – Saul at (412) 977-8517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.