To Con A Mockingbird

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By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

 

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps my favorite book of all time. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel has become a modern classic, and rightfully so. Most of us are familiar with the adventures of Scout Finch, her brother Jem and friend Dill, and the wisdom imparted upon them their father Atticus. The book does a brilliant job of bringing attention to difficult issues such as rape, race, and inequality while telling the tale through the eyes of an innocent child. Many readers saw themselves in Scout and idolized Atticus as a hero.

So when news broke that Lee would be publishing a sequel of sorts, legions of the book’s fans, including myself, were brimming with anticipation for the opportunity to revisit our beloved characters.

According to The New York Times, “The narrative of Go Set a Watchman unfolds in the 1950s, 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, as Scout travels to Maycomb to visit her aging father Atticus Finch.”

Not set to publish until mid-July, the book is already in high-demand. The book has earned so many pre-orders pouring in it has already achieved best-selling status.

Once the excitement died down a bit, fans started raising questions and something didn’t quite add up.

For decades, Mockingbird was Lee’s only published novel. A notorious recluse, the author publicly stated that she would never write another book.

She was even quoted as saying there were two reasons why it would never happen:

One, I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.

Fans of Lee quickly turned from thrilled to concerned.

Given these bold statements from the author in the past, did it make sense that she would all of a sudden change her tune now? Friends questioned whether, with her poor eyesight and hearing, she unknowingly signed papers allowing the book’s release. Some even questioned her mental state – though the Alabama Securities Commisson closed the investigation on elder abuse claiming she was of sound mind and there was no reason to intervene. Given the recent death of her sister, Alice, who handled her affairs, many believe that Lee is being exploited by someone else. Statements released by her “dear friend and lawyer” Tonja Carter, who allegedly discovered the manuscript, just don’t seem like something that would come from Lee herself.

So while I can’t help but be excited at the chance to see what may have happened to Scout and Atticus in this fictional world, I also can’t help but wonder if it’s a world Lee would have wanted us to visit at all.

Why has the manuscript been hidden for so long? If it wasn’t fit for publication when it was written, what makes it fit now? Why discount all previous claims to never release another book? Who is really behind it all? There are just too many questions, and the answers that we’ve been receiving don’t make sense.

Perhaps The Telegraph’s Frances Wilson put it best:

The publication of Watchman seems, from where I’m sitting, to be a sorry and a cynical affair. Writers are only as good as their last book. Why not let Harper Lee remain a mystery?

I think curiosity will get the best of most of us, and if the book is available, we can’t help but want to read it. Unfortunately, the mystery of Harper Lee and her stories may just prove to be too great to resist!

 

Related: 10 “Spring Cleaning” Must-reads

 

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Will ‘YouTubers’ Decide the 2016 Presidential Election?

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By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

In January, the White House announced that YouTube personalities, like education blogger Hank Green, YouTube comedian GloZell Green, and 19-year-old style and beauty vlogger Bethany Mota, were scheduled to interview President Barack Obama in the days following the State of the Union. According to The Hollywood Reporter, while Obama has been participating in Google+ Hangouts with the public, and on occasion YouTubers, for quite some time now, this is the first time the interviewers were flown to Washington, DC to interview the President in-person at the White House.

It was immediately clear that some members of the media were baffled by this new approach.

The most buzzed-about reaction came from CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, who asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest the following during a daily briefing: 

Just noticing that these folks who are going to be conducting these interviews are not professional journalists, they’re people who post videos on YouTube, and I’m just curious, was ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ or ‘David After Dentist’ not available?

For those unfamiliar with those titles, “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “David After Dentist” were two wildly popular videos on YouTube, arguably the first videos to ever go viral on the Internet.

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10 “Spring Cleaning” Must-Reads

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By Cori Cagide, Publicist

 

Spring is almost in the air! After having our fair share of snow this Winter season, I think I can speak for everybody in the northeast when I say, “Bring on the warmer weather!”

With warmer weather and sunny skies also comes our seasonal desire to start fresh. Whether that means kicking your workout regimen into high gear for the Summer, shedding winter coats for light raincoats, or day dreaming about your next beach visit at work (not me, of course), tis’ the season for Spring cleaning!

Spring cleaning doesn’t necessarily mean swapping out your seasonal clothes or finally being able to open the windows for some fresh air without developing hypothermia – it can also mean updating your reading list. While you’re at it, why don’t you add some literature to that list that will be adapted into a movie this Summer.

 

Here’s my top 10 picks for must-read books for Summer 2015 (these selections were pulled from a longer list on Buzzfeed):

 

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Okay, let me start off by saying the most important thing – Chris Hemsworth. *Swoon* Based on the book that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea is the true story about the tragedy that fell upon the Whaleship Essex in 1819. Twenty crew members aboard the ship left Nantucket bound for the South Pacific. While on their journey, the ship was attacked by a sperm whale, leaving the crew members to survive horrific weather, avoid starvation and disease, and rely on drastic measures to survive for over 90 days at sea. This is sure to be a Titanic-esque film, equally as exciting of a movie as it is a heart-racing read.

Release Date: March 13th

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy & Charlotte Riley

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Museum of Public Relations Founder Discusses the Evolution of PR

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Shelley Spector has been on a mission to establish and expand the Museum of Public Relations. She founded it in 1997, and recently moved into a space at Baruch College in New York City.

Our own firm has recently celebrated 50 years in the Public Relations industry, and has seen a lot of changes. We spoke with Shelley about the museum, the state of PR, and how she sees the landscape of the industry changing:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: Shelley, what was the motivation behind the Museum’s creation?

Shelley Spector: First, I think that it was an entity that needed to be created. Very few people truly understand the evolution of the field and especially, how the field has helped shaped our history. They might know certain names– like Bernays and Ivy Lee– but beyond that, practitioners today have little knowledge of the why and how modern PR began 100 years ago.

Besides which, unlike most professions, there are very few existing documents or records of the early days of PR, so there is hardly a way for people today to truly get a sense of our beginnings. As Harold Burson said at the museum’s opening, “Public Relations is one of the few professions with no institutional memory of its history.” I know Bernays, too, thought the same. He also felt it was important to preserve the records of that history for future generations. Bernays lived in a Victorian mansion near Harvard. Most of the first floor was lined with bookcases, and these were filled to the brim with very old, very important books, many from turn of the century social scientists. In the study on the second floor hung about 250 original photos and letters, going back to the early 1900s:  Sigmund Freud, Enrico Caruso, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt– a pretty impressive collection.

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Author Q&A: Kay Koplovitz Shares Her Expert Tips For Entrepreneurs

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Kay Koplovitz, who founded USA Networks, served as its CEO and was the first woman to serve as the president of a TV network, is the co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, a non-profit dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs raise funds.

They raised 6.6 billion dollars over 15 years for 562 companies, including ZipCar and MinuteClinic. In 1998, President Clinton appointed Kay Koplovitz to chair the bipartisan National Women’s Business Council. She is also an honored member of the Cable Hall of Fame and the Babson Academy of Entrepreneurs.

MEDIA CONNECT is promoting her new book, Been There, Run That. Here is an interview with one of the nation’s leading businesswomen and authorities on entrepreneurship:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: You are among an elite group of what we call Unicorns – people who have built multibillion companies.  Your book highlights the lessons and learnings of entrepreneurs who share similar entrepreneurial DNA. How does Springboard help others?

Kay Koplovitz: Springboard has created an expert network of advisors, investors and influencers who help to guide women entrepreneurs through capital-raising and growth phases of their company all the way to liquidity. This is powerful human capital backing them all the way through liquidity.

 

MC: Been There, Run That, is an actionable collection of advice-filled essays from you and several dozen entrepreneurs. What is its lasting message? 

KK: There are very few technical barriers to starting a business these days, as there were when I started USA Networks but still the most precious resource driving success is human capital.

 

MC: You were a pioneering force in cable television, having been the first woman to found – and serve as president – of a Cable network (USA Network).  What were the drivers that led you to disrupt an entire industry?

KK: I was inspired by Arthur Clark and wrote a Master’s thesis on satellite communications in 1968 and was driven by a vision for opening up the television landscape through satellite connectivity. There were only three broadcast networks then, and I knew expecting to fight my way to the top at those companies was a barrier too high. So I had to build my own. It took seven years of hard labor to get earn my way in, but I always had confidence that I could do it. I had mentors that added much value and I truly believe that if I had had access to the advisors available to the Springboard entrepreneurs today I would have built a 10 billion dollar business.  That’s why we want to share this knowledge network with others.

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#AuthorSay: How a Simple Hashtag Propelled the Biggest Debate in Publishing

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist

 

Self publishing versus traditional publishing: the debate has been raging in the publishing industry for some time, and the embers of each new argument only further kindle the conversation. For most of the life of the publishing industry there was only one route to publication, but digitization forged a new path, and in doing so created a choice.

But how does the existence of an unprecedented choice translate into overall impact when it comes to the landscape of the ever-changing publishing world? All that was missing was the numbers.

Until #AuthorSay.

#AuthorSay is the hashtag created for the “Do You Love Your Publisher?” survey of traditionally published authors, created by UK-based author Harry Bingham and US-based publishing analyst Jane Friedman. The online survey aims hopes to both quantify and qualify a better understanding of authors’ experiences with traditional publishing.

The survey is only 32 questions long, and is aimed only at traditionally published authors to ask them about their experience of the business model. The survey is available worldwide until March 31st, giving authors four weeks in total to weigh in, and the results will be released April 10th in time for the London Author Fair.

The latest report released on the ongoing survey reported that more than 630 traditionally published authors have taken it. Among other results, of those 630 surveyed so far:

  • 80 percent are “happy with their cover design.”
  • 75 percent are “either neutral or horrified at the thought of taking control” by self-publishing.
  • 70 percent are “happy with the copyediting received.”
  • 50 percent “had self-published at least one title.”
  • 45 percent said they would stay with their current agents if offered a chance to move to another.
  • 31 percent: indicated that they would stay with their current publisher if that similar deal were offered by another.

While the results released so far are compelling, I’m interested in how the digitization effect, the seed that led to the catalyst of self-publishing in the first place, plays a role in the conversation. The #AuthorSay hashtag has been buzzing with authors, both self-published and traditional, who are lending their voices and opinions to the discussion.

The hashtag itself has become a microcosm for the effect of digitalization on the publishing industry. Where there once was only a traditional way to be published, there are now various avenues. Where the survey only echoes the opinions of traditionally published authors, authors of all platforms are taking to Twitter to spread their blog posts, predictions and theories.

Out of the top 300 tweets posted using the #AuthorSay hashtag so far, here are the results (courtesy of TweetBinder):

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6 African-American Writers to Read for Black History Month

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By Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist

 

February is Black History Month, the annual celebration of the contributions of people in the African diaspora. The event started as a week-long observance in 1926 and was founded by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was expanded by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent University in 1969 and then officially recognized on a federal level by President Gerald Ford in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial. The month is now recognized in Canada and the United Kingdom.

It honors the past and present contributions African-Americans have and continue to make to our daily lives and culture, from Garrett Morgan, who created the first traffic signal and the gas mask, to George Washington Carver, who created peanut butter and 400 other plant products, to Lewis Latimer, who created the carbon filament.

In honor of Black History Month, here are six notable African-American writers and authors to read this February.

 

Toni Morrison is a novelist, editor and professor and the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Morrison’s notable works include The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She played a pivotal role in bringing black literature to the mainstream, editing the works of Henry Dumas,Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Gayl Jones. Morrison also wrote children’s books with her son Slade before his death in 2010.

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Four Ways to Embrace a “ScreamFree” Approach to Your Relationship from a New York Times Best-selling Author

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

I am proud to say that I have worked on and off with Hal Runkel and his Scream Free Institute for the past decade, helping him to successfully launch ScreamFree Parenting into a New York Times best-seller, and then to promote his sequel, ScreamFree Marriage. The Atlanta-based LMFT founded a non-profit organization to help couples, parents, teachers, and leaders to embrace a scream-free world.

Runkel believes that it takes a combination of clarity and commitment to help us stay cool and find clarity, both in our relationships and within ourselves. As a dad of two and a husband of two decades, he always strives to practice what he preaches while being open to learning more: “What my wife says I do best, along these lines, is ask for feedback, and ask for help.”

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This Valentine’s Day Make a Pledge to Try the New “72-hour Rule”

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

​ “To have a successful relationship, both partners must adhere to the 72-hour rule,” says marriage therapist Dr. Margot E. Brown, who is represented to the media by MEDIA CONNECT. “This means that, from this moment forward, they are only allowed to talk about the upsetting behavior or situation if it had happened in the past 72 hours.”

Too often couples who are discussing one topic bring up past situations and make it a part of the conversation, and it inserts itself negatively between the partners.

“Forget the past and your conclusion as to what negative impression you have about how your partner keeps doing that same behavior,” says Dr. Brown in Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out! “Make today a new and fresh day – free of agendas – just this conversation at this moment. Try it as an experiment. The goal is to focus right on what you are thinking and feeling now. When your partner starts talking to you (and you are both facing each other, not doing something else with your back to each other), tell your partner what you heard, how you feel, and what you need, right now! You have nothing to lose except perhaps a large and looming past that always comes between you every time you sit down and talk.”

If couples can abide by the rule, they can bury the hatchet on the past and permit themselves to only focus on the present. It’s like a statute of limitations for crimes, only this applies to marital complaints. On a romantic day like Valentine’s Day, pledging to keep this rule in mind for the future can help ensure future relationship success.

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Beyond Book Trailers: 4 YouTube Strategies For Authors

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist

 

“Booktubers.” A foreign word to some, but for the savvy author it’s a monicker that can’t be ignored – readers and the media alike have YouTube on their radar, because video hasn’t even come close to killing the star author. Especially when you consider that YouTube is the second largest search engine, right behind Google, and is owned by Google.

Many times we hear from the media that writing a book “isn’t enough” on its own, and that an author’s platform and visibility, both online and offline, are the keys to gaining media coverage.

So creating a YouTube channel is a way to attract more media attention while simultaneously making your own coverage, and to further leverage yourself as an expert on your subject matter through your content. Consider YouTube an extension of your brand beyond your book.

John Green is an excellent example of YouTube done right for authors.

We launched our MEDIA CONNECT YouTube yesterday, which will eventually showcase our authors’ media clips among other things, and it made me think about the ways in which each author can each use their own YouTube channels to further our publicity work together. The following four strategies can help achieve that:

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