Feb 23 2012

Joanne Taylor of Boise writes grant to train and help employ Shoshone-Paiute tribe members

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Joanne Taylor of Boise: Federal grant applications aren’t so bad. Especially when you consider the number of people you could help, and the impact on a community when the government funnels $5 or $6 million into it.

I’ve been working on a “Workforce Innovation Fund” application for the Employment & Training Administration of the Dept. of Labor. The lead applicant is the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The idea behind our grant proposal is to reduce dependence on government assistance programs by providing tribal members access to workforce training programs that are proven to result in jobs and long-term employment prospects.

Our approach is a cure to lasting unemployment and poverty, rather than a band aid. And, it addresses the needs of the local construction industry, currently challenged by a lack of trained, skilled workers.

The training will be conducted by the Heavy Equipment Operator School of Idaho (HEOSI) and will consist of two programs: Heavy Equipment Operator and I-CAN (International-Construction Academy Networks) training. Both programs offer industry-recognized certification, and boast a 99% graduation rate.

We hope to put 200 tribal members through HEOSI training programs and, eventually, to work. This would have a significant impact on a segment of population currently dealing with a 47%+ unemployment rate. Not bad. Not bad at all.


Oct 31 2011

Joanne Taylor of Boise: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Makes Sense

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is fresh-minded.Well-spoken, too. At Joanne Taylor PR in Boise, there’s been lots of talk about what needs to be done to fix the mess our “great nation” is in. The real thinkers, though, and those that we should have turned to long ago are successful business leaders–Chairmen and CEO’s of some of the world’s biggest businesses. One in particular has made me take note. It’s Schultz.

He’s been in the news a lot lately, speaking loud and clear about his loss of faith in the federal government’s ability to, as he was recently quoted saying in Newsweek, “reverse the fear and uncertainty currently plaguing our country.”

In the Newsweek article referenced above, Schultz says he’s been able to pursuade more than 100 top executives to take a pledge to cease political donations and instead use the money to continue to invest in strategic, collaborative moves to accelerate job growth.  This, I think, will have an impact, and might get the attention of some…. if not politicians, those who contribute to politicians.


May 9 2011

Joanne Taylor of Boise is Development Manager at Children’s Home Society

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Joanne Taylor of Boise has taken her grant writing skills, mixed them with 20+ years of experience in marketing and PR, and taken on the role of development manager at Children’s Home Society of Idaho. The Children’s Home provides emotional and behavioral health counseling and therapy to children, and the families that care for them, regardless of ability to pay. As development manager, I am responsible for grant writing, fundraising, and community relations.

The Children’s Home used to be the state orphanage. One of the first projects I got involved in, way before I actually started working at the home, is the historic preservation of the Children’s Home adoption records. An in-depth story about this appeared in the Idaho Statesman today. Click here for more. Since the story was published, I’ve received several notes from people who want to help, donate money, or retrieve their adoption records.

Silver locket left at Children's Home Society in the early 1900s for "Baby Johnson." Photo taken by Darin Oswald at the Idaho Statesman.

I can’t say I haven’t loved the work I’ve done as a PR and marketing person in the for-profit world, because I have. But this work, and those who are affected by it, have changed my path forever more.


Mar 14 2011

Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR to donate $3,500 worth of BSU merchandise

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What do you do when a friend calls from Vegas and says he has six large boxes full of Boise State merchandise left over from the Maaco Bowl and asks you to sell it for him in a place where more people would be interested in buying it–a place like Boise.  Makes sense, right? And easy enough to do. Turns out, though, that not that many people are interested in BSU football gear once the season is over and, in this case, the bowl game is history.

Out of six boxes, I still have four. Great looking, high-quality hats, t-shirts and hoodies. I didn’t want to ship it back and my friend wasn’t too enthused about taking up space in his warehouse. So, I bought it for one lump sum, on behalf of Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR, so I could donate it to a local, youth-based non-profit.

My first thought was the Treasure Valley Boys and Girls club. There didn’t seem to be much interest there, though, and I started to think that it would be better to give it to a group that is less visible but in just as much need. The merchandise, worth about $3,500 at retail, could either be given away to the kids that the non-profit serves or sold to help fund programs.

I’m still working through this so let me know if you have any suggestions…


Feb 21 2011

Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR, writes winning grant for Children’s Home Society

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I recently got word that the very first grant I wrote received funding–$25,000 from The Lightfoot Foundation to the Children’s Home Society of Idaho for its Pre-Doctoral Internship Program at the Warm Springs Training Institute.

With this grant, the Lightfoot Foundation makes a significant impact on the ability of the Children’s Home Society to provide valuable, hands-on training to pre-doctoral interns that fosters the development of skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to provide competent and ethical psychological services to children, adolescents, adults, and families. The Children’s Home offers these services to low-income children and the families that care for them regardless of their ability to pay, thus giving hope to people in our community who traditionally have had few choices in obtaining counseling and assessment services due to overwhelming costs.

So, a note of thanks to The Lightfoot Foundation for its dedication to The Children’s Home Society and its unwavering devotion to the well-being of students, children and families in Idaho. It is a privilege to work with organizations like Lightfoot, and the champions of the causes they support.

Joanne Taylor of Boise at a recent Children's Home Society fundraiser, along with another CHS supporter, Mary Anne Pace


Feb 9 2011

Boise-based Joanne Taylor PR weighs in on Tom Luna’s public education reform plan

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Auto Tech online?

Below is a copy of a letter Joanne Taylor of Boise (that’s me!) wrote to Idaho legislators that represent District 16.* The letter voices concerns about Tom Luna’s proposed public education reform plan.  Many thoughts and opinions have been expressed about the plan but there might be a few new ones here. Please feel free to comment and, if you feel strongly about this issue, please consider writing to your legislators.

Dear Representative Higgins,

My name is Joanne Taylor. I live in Boise (District 16) and have two children who attend Cynthia Mann Elementary School.

I do not take writing to you lightly. It is the first time I have done so, as I have reserved my voice for a time when needed most.

That time is now.

I am very concerned about the education reform plan Tom Luna has proposed. There are many reasons for my concern, but I will focus on three.

The first is class size. My 4th-grader, a straight-A student this year, has 29 classmates. While she maintains good grades, she, like all the other students in her class, gets very little attention from her teacher. This isn’t because the teacher is not adequate or caring. It’s because there are only so many hours in the day, and just keeping order in a classroom that size is a full-time job. In order to keep up, the teacher arrives early and leaves late–oftentimes, after 7 p.m.

This situation is not uncommon. Before making a vote on the proposed education reform plan, I urge you to sit in on a classroom of this size for one day, so that you can get a clear picture of the dynamics of an over-crowded classroom, and the challenges it presents to the teacher and the students.

My second concern is the provision of laptops to high school students. I ask you to consider whether careful consideration has been given to the cost of maintaining thousands of laptops throughout the state. IT support, a help desk, software upgrades, laptop repairs, losses due to theft and/or damage, virus fixes, and recovery of identify theft should be among the time and costs that are tallied and accounted for in Luna’s plan.

In addition to maintenance and repair costs, questions of possible abuse must be addressed. Porn sites, social media networks, and online dating services are among a host of distractions that unsupervised use of laptops will put at the fingertips of teenagers.

My third concern is lack of motivation on the part of state leaders to find alternative solutions to close the budget gap in order to minimize public education cuts. I’ve heard of two such solutions in the past two weeks–the sale of the empty and costly “Governor’s Mansion,” and privatization of state liquor stores. Both ideas have been rejected.

Another alternative, which there is very little talk of but great need, is the pursuit of federal and private grants. The federal government and private foundations are offering hundreds of grants to help fund public education. Grant funds are used for school programs, curriculum development, professional development for teachers, technology equipment and software, and technological training. One school district in Nevada, the Washoe County School District, raised $63 million dollars last year through the application of grants. If every student does indeed come first, perhaps the state should explore how it might work with Idaho school districts to develop a strategic plan to apply for and win federal and private grants.

As a Representative for District 16, please take into account these concerns, as well as others voiced by your constituents.

Thank you,

Joanne Taylor, Boise

*District 16 legislators are Les Bock, Grant Burgoyne and Elfreda Higgins.


May 14 2010

For PR Pros, Digital Media Does Not Change Rules of Engagement

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I’ve been gearing up for a somewhat unusual product launch the past couple of months. The product—autopitch.com—is sort of like reverse eBay. People post the car they want, and dealers and sellers compete for their business. If successful, Autopitch could change the way people search for and buy cars online.

The launch plan called for direct outreach to auto, tech and mommy bloggers, print media, and industry influentials. Communication vehicles included email, twitter and Facebook, chat rooms, community forums and discussion boards.

How different this scenario is from something typical of 3 or 4 years ago. The product, and the communication methods being used to introduce it, would have been completely foreign to most in the PR profession.

The approach, however, is the same. We researched the automotive industry, our targets, their news outlets, and their readers. We became part of the auto industry’s most popular social media circles. We developed a couple strong news hooks, and identified several outlets beyond the obvious where the story got some play. Simply put, we did the groundwork. At launch (May 3), we were prepared.

For the most part, journalists want to talk to PR pros who can offer story ideas and resources. But they expect you to know the rules of engagement. They want you to know when their deadlines are, and they assume you will respect them. They appreciate a brief conversation that has more than just a bit to do with the topics they cover. They expect you to spell and/or pronounce their names right. The only way to ensure you get these things right is by doing your research.

Before you send a single text or direct message, post a tweet, or comment on a blog post, you must do research. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you aren’t knowledgeable about the product, service, trend or topic you are pitching, it will be noticed. If you aren’t familiar with your target and his or her audience, you’ll be mocked in the newsroom or, worse yet, exposed online. (See related TechCrunch article here).

Steve Casimiro, editor at Adventure Life (www.theadventurelife.org) and former West Coast bureau chief at National Geographic Adventure, backs this up.  “Social media, twitter, texting, email all support your message but the most powerful tool is still going to be your relationship with the press,” he said. “Direct, informed contact is always best.”

Pitching profiles posted on the likes of Media Atlas are also telling. BusinessWeek’s “Technology and You” Columnist Steve Wildstrom writes, “The best PR pros read my stuff so they can pitch me on the sorts of things I write about. Don’t send unsolicited products. Don’t call to find out if I got your email. If I don’t respond it’s either because I’m really busy and will get to it later or I’m not interested and don’t have time to respond saying so. The key,” he says, “is understanding how a product or service you are pitching fits into the themes I write about.”

Also remember that despite the brevity that digital communication begs and current generations accept, writing skills are still important. Jill Kuraitis, an editor at NewWest.net, says, “Grammar and punctuation absolutely still matter. The format of your pitch, not so much.”

“Remember,” says Casimiro, “PR people are valuable to the press because they help us do our jobs by providing information we can’t get or can’t get easily elsewhere.”

This was true before the digital age and remains so today.