Instead of ending with a PR tip, I’m starting out this spring missive with one: it’s not just what we do, but why we do it that matters. That’s true in life but also in journalism. Every (good) story I produced during my 13 years as a TV arts/entertainment reporter was a human interest story driven by the subject’s passion for his/her pursuit.  So, to put this advice into very concrete PR terms: pitch that passion as part of your story.

I think about why I do what I do quite a bit actually, because mine isn’t an easy or high-paying job. I also do more than my share of pro bono work, and sometimes it really takes a toll on my personal life, especially as I (and I hate to say it) approach what used to be considered “retirement” age.

My first dirty little secret:  I’m a sucker for artists. I was one – a singer, songwriter and actress (above photo from my rock band days, by the way). I understand the passion that keeps artists struggling to survive in a world that undervalues their work, and I have a passion for helping them to succeed.

Take Airigami, for example. I’ve worked with them for 10 years now, getting them local, national and international coverage along the way (and, yes, they are world-renowned artists). Were you one of the more than 40,000 visitors who viewed Airigami Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee this past January/February in the Sibley Building? That was the seventh, massive, 40,000+ balloon installation that Airigami has created in Rochester, and here’s dirty little secret #2: Airigami always loses money on these amazing projects (and so do I)! They are currently struggling to get more financial support in order to make the 2017 Adventure a reality. To find out more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Michael Hardy at

PUSH Physical Theatre is another hardworking arts group that struggles to survive, which is why I’ve gone from merely the company’s publicist to the president of its board of directors. In between performing all over the U.S., PUSH premiered its Jekyll and Hyde at Blackfriars Theatre in January/February.  A couple of weeks ago, we held its first-ever fundraiser, and coming up in July is PUSH Pins Summer Camp, Teen Training, and the Summer Intensive, which attracts adult students from all over the world.  DLS #3: after 16 years, PUSH is FINALLY able to pay company members a regular salary – albeit a very low one that still requires performers to have other jobs. To donate, visit the PUSH website.

Prime Time Funk, an amazing 10-piece band celebrating its 20th anniversary on April 30, will once again be the official house band of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame awards ceremony in Kodak Hall this Sunday. Full disclosure: my husband David Cohen has been the group’s drummer since it began.  He and I met and played in many bands together over the years, and I know first-hand what it’s like to be in the music business. DLS #4: I don’t miss it at all (except the singing part).

New client CORDANCIA, a local chamber orchestra, closes its sixth season this weekend with two performances of a French-inspired program called April in Paris. Embarrassing DLS #5: I like to think I’m pretty aware of what’s going on in Rochester’s arts community, but had never heard of them before I met with founders Pia Liptak (violin) and Kathleen Suher (oboe). I hope that our efforts will pay off in well-deserved audience attendance this weekend and going forward!

Every arts organization struggles to survive, and that includes the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, one of our area’s most venerated institutions. I’m not sure that there are any dirty little secrets left that the media hasn’t already covered, so I won’t even go there. 🙂 Some good news though: Music Director Ward Stare announced a great 2016/17 season in February with a free, live concert in Kodak Hall, and subscription sales are running 20% above last season already, with Yo-Yo Ma selling out in presale to subscribers.

The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival is heading into Fringe No. 5 this year, Thursday, Sept. 15 through Saturday, September 24.  Even though we’re now one of the most successful fringe festivals in  the U.S., one thing that we struggle with – besides fundraising and logistics – is actually kind of a humorous DLS: our name. Something that makes all of us cringe is when people call us “the fringe fest.” We remind media every year to call us simply “Fringe” or “the Fringe” – as fringe festivals all over the world are called – but Rochester (bless her heart) is an ingrained “fest” town! PS: Stay tuned for the announcement of the entire lineup on Tuesday, July 12 at The Little!

Speaking of why we do what we do, I’m going to steal Brother Wease’s sign off for this blog: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice!” Have a great spring and summer, folks!