Thursday, June 14, 2007

R in PR

Give it to me straight; don't sugarcoat it.
If only it was that easy...

My good friend & fellow newspaper major Josh interns at the Gatezette in Frederick and likes to poke fun at my sell-out to PR. He emailed me Gene Weingarten's Washington Post editorial to me yesterday -- a nice little sucker punch, I'd say.

Weingarten discusses his frustration with PR, focusing mostly on his disdain for their fluffy, jargon-y presentation of press releases.

I thought it was a bit harsh. I've had some issues with PR before... like that one time when a PR agent gave me incorrect information in a press release(.. and I ran it without double checking.. like an idiot) or the other instance where I was told "that's not how it works" after I quoted her in a breaking story (she was the only one who talked, so why not).

If I had read this editorial a month ago, I would have probably agreed with everything Weingarten pointed out. I thought it was amusing, and some parts hit the nail on the head. His "experiments" with PR agencies -- calling them and asking them questions gooped-up with ridiculous details and descriptions -- were hilarious, especially his reactions to their responses.

But I mean, cut them a break. They're not newspaper; they don't have to be objective or concise.

I guess Engage is slowly wearing a soft spot in my heart for PR.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Unexpected News

It wasn't strange that a message from Ra Ra Riot was waiting in my Facebook Inbox when I logged in last night after a long day of work. The Syracuse University-born indie dance band always made it a point to let their fans know when and where they were playing.

Their alerts had become more frequent within the past few months because they hit the road for a tour. (they'll be in DC in August!)

Unfortunately, the message had little to do with upcoming shows.

Friday they played a house party Friday night in Fairhaven, Mass. According to their Facebook message their drummer John Pike "went missing at 3:00 a.m. ... last seen wearing a yellow Dissarano t-shirt and Levi jeans".

When anyone goes missing, I always think the worst. My mind calculates "missing" with murder and abduction. I mean this is a grown man, at a party with friends, what would steer him away?

About 30 minutes after I finished checking Facebook, I received an email from the Daily Orange.

"BREAKING NEWS: Ra Ra Riot drummer found dead"

I felt sick. I had never met Pike, but I had absolutely adored his band since Freshman year. I went to all of their shows. Their shows created this amazing energy in whatever space they played, and you couldn't help but be taken under its spell. Side effects were the inability to stop dancing, or toe-tapping for the less outgoing.

I had tickets to go with one of my best friends Sam to their most recent show at the end of the school year at Funk n Waffles in Syracuse. But I was ill with a virus. Sam's frat was having a party and he was going to go early to his house. I wanted nothing more than to go back to my dorm room and sleep.

And I did just that.

The next day I heard that Ra Ra "brought down the house". I wasn't surprised. Their shows were always packed-house dance-like-you-mean-it singalongs. Some of my favorite memories in college to date stem from them.

I'm horribly sorry for Ra Ra Riot's, Pike's family and his friends' loss.

He will be missed.