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TV Reporter Finds a New Mission

Kristi Piehl
Today I have a guest post from Kristi Piehl.  During her 12 year television career, Kristi worked as a reporter and anchor at 5 television stations. She won numerous awards for her work including two Emmy awards for stories she covered at KSTP in Minneapolis. Kristi has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, Dateline NBC and several national radio shows.  Kristi prides herself on building the most effective media-focused public relations team in the area. In addition to having a team dominated by former TV news professionals and storytellers, Media Minefield also has a graphic designer, videographer and photographer on staff.  Kristi holds a BA in English from Bethel University. She studied Professional Writing and graduated with honors.

 

Knocking on the door of a homicide victim to ask the grieving mother for an interview.

Picking through remnants of a tornado-ravaged home for a prop.

Driving through a snow storm to tell the public that travel is not advised.

Yes, running towards the disasters that other people run away from is the reality of a TV reporter. For 12 years, it was my life. Thankfully there were some opportunities to tell positive stories. However, it always frustrated me when I’d try to do a positive story with a local non-profit, church or ministry and the administrators would decline. I couldn’t figure it out. A journalist teamed up with a talented videographer with the purpose of telling a non-profit’s story to a large audience is a powerful way to bring in donations and volunteers.

Don’t get me wrong, many non-profits make an attempt to grab headlines. Non-profits send press releases by the hundreds to newsrooms hoping for coverage of their gala or fundraising campaign. I’ve seen the pile of releases and I’ll be honest, it’s tough for small or medium sized non-profits to get noticed.

While media will ignore a run-of-the-mill news release, no self-respecting journalist will turn down a powerful story.

So in 2010, I found myself in a strange place – a storyteller detoxing from a career in television news with a heart for non-profits. The timing was perfect; my church was offering a class to teach people how to use the talents they have to help others.

Media Minefield was born.

The company is an intentionally different public relations and video production firm. At first, I had a hand-full of non-profit clients in the Twin Cities. Some wanted their stories transformed into short videos for special events or fundraising campaigns and others wanted their stories in the media.

Two years later, we have both for-profit and non-profit clients in Minnesota and around the country. Our office is in Minnetonka and there are eleven employees. The majority of the men and women on the Media Minefield team have a background in television news. In our front office, it says “your message is our mission” and that is what makes us unique. We work with every client to define and distill their message. That message then becomes the foundation of the kind of story that inspires others to take action.

I’ve heard more powerful stories in the past two years than in the previous twelve. The difference is that I, surrounded by some of the most talented former news minds in the Twin Cities, can now focus on maximizing and telling those positive stories.

We’ve produced videos for local and national non-profits and have watched how a media appearance can bolster a bottom line. After all, a powerful news story or video could be used on social media, at gala events and on websites. For our team, it’s so rewarding to see a non-profit empowered to do even more to help others.

What makes a good story? A main character, a clear purpose and a concise message. For television news, it’s critical to have compelling video to accompany the story. For newspaper, magazine, online and radio mediums, a main character with a powerful story who understands how to communicate with control and speak in sound bites is all it takes.

Tell your story. People want to hear it.

Kristi sent me just a few of the nonprofit stories Media Minefield has done.  I have included these below.

7 Year Old Using Music to Help Hungry Kids

Minnesota Man Skis Again after Being in a Coma

Dan’s Restart Story

Related Post: Storytellers for Good

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Guest Post

 

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Kindness in Business

Today’s post is a guest post in my kindness series.  Previous posts have included Habits of Kindness, Random Acts of Kindness, and Storytellers for Good and most recently a post about being kind to those who are different from you.  Today we learn why kindness in business is important. 

Kindness in Business LaunchHER

Do you mix business with pleasure kindness? If not, you should consider it. Working with business owners on a daily basis, I know two things: owning your own business can be very STRESSFUL and owning your own company can make business a very personal subject. The stress that comes with starting and owning your own business can be overwhelming; you wear every hat within the company. Owning your own business can also make business very personal. Afterall, it’s your livelihood, your dedication, and your income on the line. At LaunchHER, we try to keep all of this in mind and promote kindness with our clients and community. However, we don’t stop there, we also encourage our entire network to do the same.

Instant {and online} Kindness

With so much business happening online – email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – these days, it’s more important {and easier} than ever to infuse kindness into business. It’s the small things like salutations in emails, a Facebook post or a Re-Tweet. You can make someone’s day and it only takes a minute. Literally.

Unfortunately, it’s also easier than ever for bad behavior to prevail. Although we don’t like to admit it, we all know it’s much easier to dish out an insensitive thought, comment, or even rant via email or Facebook {aka hiding behind the screen} than in person. With access to thousands just a mouse click away, I would always encourage you to think twice before you hit send. Yes, you may have a right to be upset, but also consider how your words or actions may make you look and impact your reputation. Not everything has to be solved immediately, take a few hours to think about an issue or discuss it with a mentor/colleague before you respond.

Can businesses have good Karma?

Giving back is an important aspect of business. At LaunchHER, we give back by promoting three women-owned businesses a week in a feature called “Freshly Launched Friday”. For many women entrepreneurs just starting out, they are looking for positive exposure and a supportive community. We are proud to offer both. The result is not only the pride of the business being launched, but also all of the other women that are paying it forward by sharing, commenting, “liking”, and just reading. Positively is definitely contagious! This is not your typical “giving back” – of course, you can support charitable organizations as a business and even host a fundraising event. Businesses can team up to make an even greater impact. There are many ways to pay it forward; get creative!

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the “busyness” of business, and overlook the importance of kindness. Just like we schedule meetings with clients and colleagues, schedule time in the day or week to infuse some kindness. Be intentional. Be kind.

Tracy helps other women build their brands through creative marketing and communications at LaunchHER, a Minneapolis based company. Tracy has always preferred the unique style of small, local and indie brands. She knows first-hand the importance of branding and marketing a small business as inexpensively and uniquely as possible

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Guest Post

 

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Don’t Stare, Be Kind Instead

This year I have added an additional focus on kindness to The Blogunteer.  Recent posts included Habits of Kindness, Random Acts of Kindness, and Storytellers for Good.
Today’s post is a guest post from Mindy Rhiger.  Mindy is a librarian and book reviewer.  She blogs about books and family life at Proper Noun Blog.  
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It’s okay to be curious.
That is probably the most important thing I want to tell people.  The key is how you express your curiosity.
I wear a prosthetic arm.  It isn’t something most people see everyday, and I completely understand that people–especially kids–are curious about it.  I am happy to answer questions people might have about my arm.  I just have a few tips for people (and parents) who don’t quite know what to do or say when they meet someone physically different.
General Tips:
  • Try not to stare. A second glance is completely normal, but if you want more information than you can get in a glance or two, it might be a good idea to say hello. :)
  • It’s okay to ask questions, but look for cues.  I will often smile or make eye contact if I notice someone who looks curious to let them know that I’m friendly and willing to talk.   If you don’t see “friendly cues” from someone with a physical difference, it might be a good idea not to approach them with questions.
  • Keep offers to help reasonable, and remember they probably aren’t necessary.  If someone doesn’t look like they are struggling, they probably don’t need help.
  • Ask before you touch someone’s assistive device, including wheelchairs, prosthetics, or eye glasses.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s disability.  For example, most people assume I lost my arm in an accident, but that isn’t true.  Try to ask open questions rather than specific (e.g. “What happened to your arm?” is better than “How did you lose your arm?”)
  • Be discreet.  Not everyone likes to be the center of attention, especially when talking about themselves.  It might be a good idea to ask your questions privately or in a small group.
Tips for parents:
  • Talk about people with physical differences before the issue comes up.  You might share books from my bibliography or watch the episode of the PBS Kids show Maya & Miguel where they meet their friend Andy, who has one arm like me.
  • Allow kids to ask questions directly of the person with the disability if possible.  Look for signals to see if they seem willing to be approached.
  • If your child does ask a question about someone’s disability, let the person answer.  I find that most people with disabilities understand kids’ curiosity and are quite willing to show them that they are not as different as they might appear.
  • You might make a connection to something your kids know when you talk about physical differences.  I often compare myself to Nemo, who had a “lucky fin.”
  • Don’t be too hard on kids if they do or say something rude.  For most kids–and some adults–it’s a new experience to meet someone with a particular physical difference.
  • Be prepared for repetition.  Younger children (preschoolers, in particular) are likely to ask the same questions about my arm the first several times we meet.  It might feel a bit embarrassing to have them bring it up over and over again, but it’s normal, and it will sink in eventually.
I completely understand curiosity about me–about how my arm works or how I do things one-handed–and I’ll gladly answer questions rather than leave people wondering.  Next time you happen to meet someone who is different, approach them with kindness, and you just might find that they will answer all your questions.
If you are curious about Mindy’s prosthetic arm, check out her Fake Arm 101 page for answers to frequently asked questions.
 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Guest Post

 

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