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A Piece of Us Dies with Them

I write this as I mourn the death of the musician, singer, artist, guitar god and legend who I have idolized for more than 50 years — Leslie West.

“Leslie who?” you say. Admittedly, unless you are a hard core rock music aficionado, you would have no idea who Leslie West is. But to me, Leslie West and his music have been woven into the fabric of my life and soul since I was 16 years old. More on Leslie later.

I write not to talk about my Leslie West, but rather, yours.

We all have our favorite musician or…


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Write for the Media, not your CEO

One of the biggest mistakes corporate public relations departments make with their news releases is that they write their news releases the same way they write in-house communications and memos. These communications are formal, wordy, boring, have lots of clutter (unnecessary information) and don’t get to the point until about the middle of page two.

This style of communication is not received in a newsroom the same way it is received inside your company. At your company you have a captive audience. …


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Why Your Release Made it to the Trash Instead of TV

It’s time to find out if your public relations firm or in-house PR department is getting you results or if they’re just taking up space and salaries. Ask your PR folks to show you the last five news releases they sent out to the news media.

Now ask them to show you specifically the resulting media coverage be it television, radio or newspaper. What did you get? Odds are you got nothing.

But you already knew that, didn’t you? Did any of your local television stations do a story about one of the releases? You know they didn’t because you…


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How This Underhanded PR Trick Inevitably Backfires

Public relations firms are in the business of garnering media attention for their clients. Most firms have a good professional relationship with the local and national media. But a select few resort to underhanded tactics that are inevitably discovered, exposed and dismissed.

A tactic that some PR firms and corporate PR departments have tried for years is what I call the “Let’s not tell ‘em’” ploy. This tactic is met by news media personnel with a mixed dose of amusement and irritation.

This trick involves sending the media a text, email or letter in which the PR folks herald “an…


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Don’t Be A Fair Weather Friend to the Media

There is a wooden sign posted in the kitchen in my seaside ocean cottage that reads “You Never Know How Many Friends You Have Until You Get A Cottage At The Beach.” How true! When you have a cottage at the beach you have friends you didn’t even know you had. They love to visit because lodging and parking are free, there is access to a beach plus food and drink are plentiful.

Isn’t it interesting, however, that your guests somehow never schedule their visit so that they’re around on the day you have to pack up and leave to…


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The Price of Lies and Half Truths

When a corporation or organization is faced with an in-house crisis that is certain to go public, their respective public relations departments immediately go into damage-control mode. They are under pressure to minimize the damage at all costs — even if it means disseminating misleading information, twisting the truth or even outright lying.

Public relations departments would do well to understand that the lie will do the company more harm than the transgression being lied about. Lying is what earned Martha Stewart and Michael Vick mandatory invitations to be houseguests of the federal penal system.

Celebrity style-setter Martha Stewart was…


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The ‘Could it happen here’ story

Wouldn’t it be great if you could predict exactly when and why the news media might call you? Well you already have that ability at your fingertips, you just didn’t know it! Of course there are the obvious instances when you can expect a call. If your company experiences a strike, a product recall, an environmental disaster or a fatality you can pretty much assume the news media will be looking for answers and information.

But what about those times when the media catch you totally off guard, calling you about an issue that you didn’t even know was an…


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Be the Local Connection to a National Story

Why wait and hope for media coverage? Don’t wait — create!

Most companies and organizations send news releases to the media only when they want to publicize an event, a new product, a stock offering, an expansion or a groundbreaking. But since these things don’t happen too often, your contact with the media is limited.

So instead of waiting for something to happen at your company that you can publicize, look for national stories that pertain to your company and offer yourself as the local expert. News organizations love local angles to national stories! …


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“I Know The Perfect Time to Send the News Release”

Corporate public relations departments and public relations firms treat this issue much the same way casino-goers treat slot machines. The slot machine player is convinced he knows which machine to play, on what day and at what hour. He also believes he can tell if a machine is about to hit based upon the activity of the previous player.

PR types have their own can’t-miss strategy when it comes to sending news releases to the media. Some believe that sending the release well in advance of the event works best. Others believe two or three days notice is most effective…


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Are We Seeking a Vaccine for A Virus that doesn’t Exist?

I got Covid. I hadn’t had a sick day in more than 40 years. I felt weak on a Friday night, the weekend was worse and I finally decided to get a Covid test the following Wednesday.

The Sunday after my test the county health department sent me an email that said, “Your test results indicate that you have Covid-19.”

Ironically, by the time the county health department told me I had Covid my 10-day isolation period was over. I didn’t have Covid anymore. I was cleared to return to work.

What was 10 days of living with Covid like…

Tom Zalaski

Tom Zalaski is a television news anchorman, speaker, emcee, author, grandpa, guitar player and #1 fan of Leslie West and Mountain.

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