There has been a lot of discussion in journalism circles about the role that the Tampa Bay Times played in a protest flight in which a postal worker flew a gyrocopter into restricted airspace at the U.S. Capitol.
The newspaper knew ahead of time that mailman Doug Hughes planned to fly his aircraft onto the Capitol grounds to draw attention to campaign finance reform by personally delivering letters to members of Congress.
Reporter Ben Montgomery wrote the story ahead of time and the Tampa Bay Times posted him in Washington to cover the story when the Florida mailman landed last week. The paper posted the story as he took off and promoted it on social media.
Although the paper reportedly called the Secret Service and Capitol Police to ask if they knew about Hughes' plans, a Secret Service spokesman claimed they were never told Hughes was actually on his way.
This is the time of the year when I become motivated to clear through the clutter and do some spring cleaning. Last weekend, I plowed through files that had been piling up on my shelves. There were old notes from stories I had written years ago, clips from old newspaper articles, bills that had been paid, but not filed: You get the picture. Needless to say my shredder got a workout.
Now that the real clutter has been pared down, it’s time to clear through the virtual clutter in my life. I recently read a story on LinkedIn about how you should go through past invitations sent, but never accepted, and withdraw them. There have been a few occasions when this has happened. For whatever reason people have chosen to ignore my request, or perhaps (and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here) they simply forgot to click the accept button. I found a few and withdrew.
Next, I decided it was time to go through my own existing connections, which are in the hundreds, and see who needed to go. It was a daunting task, but after I started reviewing them I realized I needed to take my spring cleaning to the next level and start the "unlinking" process.
When I was a reporter many of my LinkedIn connections were made because I interviewed these people for stories I wrote. Others were public relations people who pitched stories to me. Still others were people I met in passing and the next day I received an invitation to connect. That’s not to say these folks are not worth keeping.
Two years ago I decided it was time to strike out on my own and launch my own public relations firm. It was a period in my life that was filled with angst and trepidation. It was something I had thought about doing for more than a few years, but it was never the right time, nor the right circumstance. But circumstances were such that I needed to be there for one of my kids, and I needed a job that would provide me with the flexibility to accomplish that goal, while not exiting the workforce entirely.
I can't say it's been easy, but it hasn't been all that hard either. It wasn't like I was getting into a business I had no experience or knowledge about. I had already been working in the field of journalism and later public relations for more years than I would like to count. I didn't have much of a learning curve when it came to writing and public relations. The true learning curve came in the form of having to run a business. My dad had his own business for more than 40 years, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy. You often are the chief cook and bottle washer. I had to learn some accounting (I hate math and frankly I am not very good at it) but I had some sage counsel (my accountant) to help me. I had to file all of the proper paperwork that allows me to pay myself, and Uncle Sam. Some days I questioned my decisions and even considered going back to work for someone else.
Before I started handling public relations for Seafarers' House in Fort Lauderdale, I really didn't give much thought about how of the goods I rely on each day make it to our shores. I bet you haven't given much thought as to how those oranges in your fruit bowl or how that chocolate you are hiding from the kids in your desk drawer arrived. And, if you are like me, you likely haven't considered how tough the life of a mariner can be -- spending months at a time at sea without family, friends and the comfort of their own bed.
The Seafarers' House has spent the past 26 years catering to the needs of mariners who arrive at Port Everglades every day - seven days a week. They serve an estimated 150,000 mariners each year. Many of them who come to port don’t have visas. Without them, they can’t leave the ship. Imagine being in port for 10 days with nowhere to go and nothing to do! That’s where Seafarers’ House comes in, they will come aboard, they will bring items back to the ship, conduct religious services, and provide other much needed assistance.
I went on board a ship that had come to Port Everglades after a 20-day voyage across the Atlantic and only four of the 19 men had visas. Seafarers’ House was providing the men – all Filipinos – with whatever assistance they could.
As the organization prepares for its 26th anniversary celebration, Maritime Executive sat down with the organization's executive director and port chaplain to learn more about the organization's mission.
When I was a journalist I had to ramp up quickly and learn subject matter that the day before I knew nothing about. The same goes for those of us in public relations. One client may deal with divorce law, while another -- as with the United States Maritime Resource Center -- trains mariners in matters relating to safety.
Before representing USMRC, I knew little about Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Today, I know a lot more, and so do the mariners who undergo training by USMRC in how to safely bunker and transport it. One of USMRC's training partners, Harvey Gulf made history, thanks to USMRC's training. Click here to find out how.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.