Today is the fifth of July.
Yesterday was the fourth of July. It also was Independence Day.
Though I'm too curmudgeonly about such things, I wish we'd spend more time each year celebrating "Independence Day" rather than merely "the fourth of July."
Just saying the correct name helps to remind us that we're cooking all that barbecue and shooting those fireworks to celebrate freedom, not just the arrival of a date on the calendar.
Incidentally, we should celebrate the fifth of July, too; that's the day in 1946 when fashion designer Louis Reard introduced the bikini. Mark Sanford says thankya.
A peek behind the scenes:
Last week, we brought you the story of Evans being named one of 10 "best towns" in the United States by the venerable Family Circle magazine.
We heard about it when a local Family Circle subscriber received a copy in the mail and alerted us. Staffer Valerie Rowell wrote a brief story for The Chronicle, and The News-Times made it our main front-page feature Wednesday.
Family Circle pays a public relations firm to help spread publicity about such happy things - getting the word out beyond their subscriber base, ginning up excitement in the towns named, arranging interviews with Family Circle staffers.
Or, at least, that's what it's supposed to do. Valerie couldn't get them to return her calls seeking comment. We soon found out why.
Five days after subscribers got the magazine, three days after The Chronicle story and on the day The News-Times was printed, we saw this memo from the New York PR company to its staffers:
"I just wanted to touch base to remind you all not to release any information about Best Towns to the press. I've already received a few calls from reporters asking me to confirm stories. At this point, any early press of any kind jeopardizes our opportunity to offer a national morning show an exclusive on the announcement. If they don't have the exclusive they will not do the story. I already fear this is the case.
"I will be in touch with you by Wednesday afternoon with a confirmed date for next week's official announcement. Right now I am targeting the 7th or the 8th.
"If you have any questions, please call or e-mail me. Also, if you are planning on putting out a press release, I will need to receive it for approval by 10 a.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, July 2nd."
So: No press release until a week after the magazine hit mailboxes, a day after The News-Times story hit driveways - and no "official announcement" until a week after that. If we were waiting on "official" word from the PR company just to stoke their hopes for a slot on Good Morning America, we wouldn't have been able to tell you the story until it was fully two weeks old!
I sent a note to the PR flack letting her know what I thought of her attempts to stifle the good news. I didn't get a response.
Valerie did, though. Later that day, she received a chirpy call from the PR agency offering to put her in touch with a Family Circle editor.
Thanks, but no thanks. The story was printed by then, with no help from the "public" relations firm.
And it was a very nice story, too, with a great photo of Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Beda Johnson cheering and holding up a copy of the magazine that we, apparently, were supposed to ignore until next week.
Speaking of next week, if you're looking for something to do in Atlanta on Wednesday, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel invites you to join dignitaries under the gold dome to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Georgia Capitol.
"The ceremony will feature a tour of the Capitol and birthday cake, and attendees can sign a birthday card to Miss Freedom, the statue that crowns the Capitol dome," says the announcement from Handel.
I wonder who's going to climb up there and hand Miss Freedom that card?
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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