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Jason Chupick

Amtrak Announces Writers’ Residency Winners, Keeps Romantic Sentiment Rolling

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Just goes without saying
That everybody loves a train
Go ahead and call us insane
But we all just love a train

-- Perez Hidalgo, Los Lobos

Amtrak announced the 24 winners of the Amtrak Writers’ Residency program (a.k.a. #AmtrakResidency on social media) today from pool of 16,000 applicants. Flip through the list and you’ll find prominent writers who have significant social followings and commercial success.

There’s Chris Taylor from Mashable, Marco Werman from PRI’s “The World,” Jen Carson from Gothamist, fantasy writer and social media marketer Ksenia Anske, and poet/performance artist Saul Williams (to name a few).

All are very influential on Twitter. No surprise there.

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Doug Ulman Finally Moves on From Livestrong

livestrongLivestrong — a one-of-a-kind case study in branding, PR, advocacy and damage control — has lost its long-time CEO Doug Ulman.

Ulman’s 14 years at Livestrong included both a period of stunning growth fueled by Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories and the little yellow $1 bracelets that helped carry an aggressive message about beating cancer and a subsequent descent as rapid as any of Armstrong’s own Alpine passes.

Ulman will take his talents to Pelotonia, an organization in Columbus, Ohio with a very similar mission. Pelotonia is successful in its own right, having raised more than $60 million through bike rides. (The money helps fund research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.)

This is a good move for both Ulman and Livestrong, because Ulman literally gets to leave town (Austin) and put the best of what he knows to good use. The cancer community will never hold what happened in France against him, and there’s no one more experienced in managing the operations of non-profit driven by cycling.

Livestrong gets to move on too.

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‘Fake Steve Jobs’ Takes a Shot at Departing Apple PR Head

Sniper

Dan Lyons–one of the most colorful journalists to become a marketer i.e. “hack turned flack“–took one final pop at Katie Cotton, the retiring VP of worldwide corporate communications at Apple, by posting a photo of a female sniper on his Facebook page. He joined HubSpot last year from ReadWrite.

Lyons, the former “Fake Steve Jobs” blogger and longtime tech journalist frequently “dispatched” Cotton to control and punish journalists who didn’t fall in line with his personae’s wishes. Lyons spent considerable time balancing satire with his other work, and managed to blog anonymously for about a year till he was outed by Brad Stone.

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Patagonia’s Dam Movie Is an Unbranded PSA for Raze Awareness


Outdoor gear and apparel brand Patagonia made a damn movie.

Never content with its own sterling position in corporate sustainability, the privately held company is releasing “DamNation,” a documentary to raise awareness for the environmental consequences of the nation’s 80,000 dams.

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Coke Makes Rainbows for South Africa

Need an antidote to the sad, ridiculous, ridiculously sad racism playing out in the news here in America?

Check out how Coca-Cola literally brought rainbows to the people of South Africa on the eve of Freedom Day, the 20th anniversary of its first democratic election when Nelson Mandela was elected President. The term “rainbow nation” was coined by Mandela’s friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe the diverse country emerging under the leadership of the African National Congress after the end of Apartheid.

The stunt was developed by FCB South Africa, Johannesburg for Coke with the help of “Rainbow Maker” Fred Stern.

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Groupon Goes Medieval on Amazon’s Drones

Proving Groupon still has some of the old magic, check out their response to Amazon’s buzzy announcement on the use of drones for rapid shipping.

“Groupon is about great deals, great service, and Medieval catapults,” said un-chyroned dude spokesperson. They may not win the game of thrones, but they play well.

(h/t Gennady Kolker’s Twitter feed. Kolker is senior press officer at The Guardian in New York)

Party Like You Don’t Have a Website: Annual Sunshine & Sachs Invite Shows 33% Growth

For the 7th year, it is this blog’s tradition to pre-announce the Sunshine & Sachs holiday party with the location redacted. And as is tradition we will measure the growth of firm helmed by PR sages Ken Sunshine and Shawn Sachs by comparing the number of names on the invitation with last year’s (each staffer’s name is included, and each invites their own list of guests). Rounded up for good measure, the firm grew 33% by headcount, crossing the 100 person mark.

In an email exchange, the affable Sachs reminded me of the firm’s wins this year: adding a creative services department, a DC office, a new New York headquarters, and most aggressively, the launch of Madica Productions, a full scale production division for film, TV and digital content.

Last year it was the 47%; this year the firm leaned into their own mystique, noting their lack of a website in the midst of some big thing going on with Obama.

Sunshine

Nudists Remind Us it’s National Mammography Day

In what could have been a wildly shareable piece of social content, the American Association for Nude Recreation mentioned in passing on their Facebook page to the tune of just 5 Likes at presstime: “Today is National Mammography Day.”

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Now that we have your attention, here’s something of note from FactCheck.org:

Q: Does the Affordable Care Act restrict my ability to get a mammogram?

A: No. In fact, the law requires insurers to cover mammography, with no cost-sharing, every one to two years for women starting at age 40. Medicare fully pays for mammograms once every 12 months with no upper age limit.

Read through the entire post for more information on the critical need for regular mammograms, including links to resources, and misinformation to avoid on the subject.

Thank you nudists for propelling this message. For the record, the AANP, established in 1931, provides advocacy, public education and improved conditions for letting it all hang out in North America. They boast 40,000 members (and 7,349 fans on Facebook) who enjoy the “relaxed, all-natural environment” offered at 260 clubs coast-to-coast.

Dial 1-800-TRY-NUDE for more information.

Time‘s Rick Stengel Named America’s New Publicist

Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel is leaving journalism for a job at the State Department. The very likely title is Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, one we’ve characterized before as “America’s Publicist“. Stengel, the oft-face of magazine on shows such as Morning Joe, and nominee of many National Magazine Awards (including a win for Magazine of the Year in 2012)  has the following job description:

The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs leads America’s public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism. The Under Secretary oversees the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs, and International Information Programs, well as the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, and participates in foreign policy development.

Stengel replaces Tara Sonenshine, who served under both Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. The position has been occupied by a number of big names in recent history including James K. Glassman, Karen Hughes, and Judith McHale.

[h/t Capital New York]

Happy Birthday to The Onion

Happy 25th birthday, America’s Finest News Source. Now get a job and move out of your parents’ basement.

To the delight of Area Men everywhere, the weekly newspaper-turned Internet phenomenon has survived and flourished by speaking truth to bullshit since 1988.

Modeled on the classic daily paper, The Onion‘s mastery of reporting, opinion, factoids, news-you-can-use, sourcing, quotes, and photography makes it a must-read for PR pros. Why?  Because we all need to level our judgement with a bit of satire from time to time, the tone is always perfect, and it makes for a highly entertaining teaching aid for new executives looking to tighten their writing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

It’s also with pride that the Onion’s content marketing arm Onion Labs uses a PRNewser quote on its site for promotion. Hat tip to my colleague Patrick Coffee for writing it.

Peel back the layers further and listen to NPR’s interview this morning with Onion Editor-In-Chief Will Tracy:

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