Sunday, April 12, 2009

Island Press Podcasts

More podcasts from my work at Island Press. . . One of my favorite interviews that I conducted was with Bob Musil, contributor to Ignition: What You Can Do Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement. LISTEN NOW.

Another favorite: Chris Leinberger, author of The Option of Urbanism. LISTEN NOW.

And if you listen to nothing else, listen to Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb and The Dominant Animal, who was adept at delivering the soundbites. LISTEN NOW.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"The Publicity Show" Interview

I'm interviewed on "The Publicity Show," which airs on WGSR Atlanta live every Tuesday, and airs online as a podcast at Click here to listen online.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Georgia State University, College of Arts & Sciences Story

Georgia State alumna helped launch Rachael Ray's career
Thursday, August 23, 2007 – Ann Claycombe

Every time you see celebrity chef Rachael Ray on television or on front of a cookbook, you have Georgia State alumna Jennifer Pullinger partly to thank for it.

Pullinger graduated from Georgia State in 2003 with a master’s degree in communication with a concentration in screenwriting/film. She worked as Ray’s publicist for two early cookbooks: Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals and Veggie Meals: Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals. Pullinger describes the campaign she designed in a recent interview on the web site

Pullinger said she focused her pitch on Ray’s personality and likeability, focusing on television and radio rather than print. She sent videos of the chef to about 20 different contacts at the Food Network, and sent the rest to network shows that had regular guest cooking segments.

The pitch paid off with an appearance for Ray on NBC’s The Today Show. Within days, her cookbook had shot to the top five in sales on, and the Food Network had called to discuss setting up a show.

“The publicity plan involved equal parts strategy, a talented, charismatic author, and luck,” Pullinger said. To read the interview in full, go to

Source: Georgia State University, College of Arts & Sciences

Wednesday, August 22, 2007, August 9, 2007

Hey, How'd Your PR Plan Introduce Rachael Ray to the Food Network?
This former publicist describes how she ushered the popular chef to TV stardom
By Jennifer Pullinger/ Rebecca L. Fox – August 9, 2007

While she may make near-hourly appearances on the Food Network these days, there was once a point when the nascent network aiming to reach home cooks didn't have the ebullient E.V.O.O. slinger-cum-magazine editor on their radar. Back in 2001, then-publicist Jennifer Pullinger was charged with getting Ray TV and radio appearances to promote the cookbook she'd just released. With an aggressively strategic approach and lots of videotapes, Pullinger scored Ray a coveted Today Show segment and a meeting with a Food Network programming exec. She tells us just how she did it, and shares her key tips for crafting publicity campaigns to catapult promising unknowns to stardom.

In 2001, as a publicist at National Book Network, you were assigned to work on two early Rachael Ray cookbooks, Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals and Veggie Meals: Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals. How much publicity work had you done prior to that assignment? Did these books/Rachael Ray represent any special opportunity for you?

At that time, I was new to book publicity. Before I was hired to be a book publicist at National Book Network (NBN), my professional experience in the media consisted of working as a volunteer media and marketing director for a small film festival in Orlando, and as a radio news reporter at WINA-AM in Charlottesville. Both, however, prepared me for the fast pace of book publicity. The "foodie" craze then wasn't what it is now, but it was gaining popularity.
I had been with NBN for less than six months when I was assigned to work on Lake Isle Press' Comfort Foods and Veggie Meals. Since the publication date for Veggie Meals was pushed back, I was primarily publicizing Comfort Foods.

To start off, NBN's publicity director and I met with Rachael and her publisher in New York City (we were based in Lanham, MD) to discuss the publicity plan. I think everyone in the room, including the NBN sales rep who attended the meeting, knew that Rachael had the innate talent and personality for TV, so it was a great opportunity for me to develop a publicity plan that had lots of potential.

Describe the publicity plan you crafted for Rachael and the two books she was releasing at this time. What kind of resources did you get from Lake Isle Press to do this?

The publicity plan involved equal parts strategy, a talented, charismatic author, and luck. The publicity plan was about being in the right place at the right time, and hitting the right synergistic notes. I like Woody Allen's quote: "80 percent of success is showing up," and I think that applies here. It wasn't quite that simple, but the plan was successful in part because I got the information about who Rachael was into the hands of the right people. Rachael took it from there by just by being herself.

The cookbook itself was the kind that wouldn't daunt your average cook. That's part of the reason why people like Rachael—her style of cooking is fairly easy and doesn't intimidate. My pitch focused on Rachael's personality and likeability, and how compelling she was on camera and in person.

My assignment was to secure Rachael radio and television interviews and appearances—no print. I also set up some book signings for her in upstate New York, where she was from, because they loved her there. At the time, she was a local television personality with WRGB-TV in Albany where she hosted a weekly cooking segment. So she was known regionally. I was given roughly 25 to 30 video cassettes as a demo to send to television producers. I sent about 20 of them to the Food Network. I just blanketed the place as much as I could, and started with follow-up. I sent them to shows that I thought would be open to a guest host or guest cooking segment. I also sent the tapes to the three major network morning shows, among others. For radio, I used the contacts that Rachael provided me, and also researched other topical radio shows that I thought might be interested in having a cookbook author on to talk about such.

(For the rest of the story (if you have a account. . . If not, continue reading. . .) Source:

What exactly did it take to land Rachael an NBC appearance? Walk us through the back-and-forth between you and the network, as our understanding is that nabbing a publicity opportunity like this is no small feat.

As any good book publicist does, they send their titles to the book producers at the major morning news outlets—The Today Show,Good Morning America, and The Early Show. I did that, but the book producer at The Today Show turned Comfort Foods down at first. She must have passed it on to a colleague, because shortly thereafter, a special projects producer from the show called me to see if Rachael was available to do a cooking segment. It was winter, so it was the right time for Comfort Foods. It's just the kind of stuff people crave when it's cold outside. I don't mean to make it sound that simple, but the back-and-forth kind of was. Because it wasn't that long before the book producer passed and the special projects producer called me to book her, at that point it was just a matter of nailing down the date and time, and then Rachael getting to the Today Show studios. Seeing Rachael on tape was likely what cinched it for the producer, as well as the timeliness of the release of Comfort Foods. Any time you have good video that shows how well your author presents themselves, make sure to include that in the press materials you send out.

At the time, how did you and Rachael think her first TV appearance went? Did it seem to either of you that she had great TV potential? Why?

Within days of her Today Show appearance, Comfort Foods shot to the top five in sales, so I think it went really well! As a publicist just starting out, I couldn't have been more thrilled. You could tell Matt [Lauer], Katie [Couric], and Al [Roker] liked her a lot too. She came across as real and approachable and full of energy. But as I said, even before her Today Show appearance, I thought she had national TV potential. She was a natural before the camera as demonstrated by her WRGB tapes and I always got positive feedback from the booksellers who wanted her at their store for a signing—nothing like I had experienced with the authors I had worked with up until then.

How did the NBC spot lead to a meeting between Rachael and the Food Network? Back in 2001, the Food Network had a far more minor media presence than it does now—how did Rachael, in that stage of her career, and the network complement one another? What was the original thinking on what a collaboration between Rachael and the Food Network might look like?

It was synergy. As mentioned, I sent as many demo tapes as I could to the Food Network, so if they hadn‘t heard about her by then, then they would by the time I started follow-up. That "blanket" strategy paid off, I believe, because a day or two after her Today Show appearance, I scheduled her to be on WAMC Public Radio's "Vox Pop" in Albany. This was a contact of Rachael's. Someone associated with the Food Network was listening to the WAMC interview, liked what they heard, and called some other folks at the Food Network, who, fortunately, had already heard about her because I had sent them the tapes and press materials. So her appearance on The Today Show, coupled with her next-day WAMC Public Radio segment, led to her first meeting with Food Network executives. Right place, right time. Right around that time I also got her an interview on WHYY radio in Philadelphia, and I'm sure that didn't hurt either.

It was a day or two after her Today Show segment that I got a call from Bob Tuschman, vice president of programming and production at the Food Network, inquiring about scheduling a meeting with Rachael. This meeting would involve discussion beyond the scope of publicity—it was to talk about a possible opportunity for Rachael to host her own show. So I had accomplished my goal for Rachael, the cookbook, and more. The 2001 publicity plan for Comfort Foods was what got her foot solidly in the door at the Food Network, and she took it from there.

What's the nature of your relationship with Rachael Ray, currently? Do you keep in touch? Does she acknowledge that you were instrumental in connecting her with the Food Network? What is your title/affiliation now, and how did it evolve from what you were doing at National Book Network back in 2001?

A few months after the Comfort Foods campaign, I moved to Atlanta to attend graduate school at Georgia State University, where I studied communications. I didn't keep up with Rachael, other than what I saw or read in the media myself. In her book, Rachael Ray: 30 Minute Meals 2, which came out in 2003, she does thank me. As to what I do now, not long ago I was a freelance writer and book/film publicist, but soon I will join the staff of a publisher in Washington, D.C.

Are there any other clients you've seen since Ray whom you believe has the same kind of star power, and is poised to break out as significantly as she has? What are the qualities or elements that lead you to believe someone has this kind of potential?

I have worked with some authors who have a great story to tell, but may not be as compelling as an in-person interview. And there are others who have something unique to say, but beyond the release of their book, will only be of value to the media as news warrants. Some of the recent breakthroughs for me professionally have come from the publicity campaigns I contributed to in the indie film arena when I was a full-time freelance publicist.

I think the most important quality in an author or potential media personality is to know what you are talking about inside and out, because people can tell when you are full of hot air. Having a certain presence is important. It doesn't hurt to be likable on some level too. Then again, there are a lot of unpleasant personalities in the media today that people are drawn to, so maybe it's not always critical to be likable. But overall, it's hard to list specific "star power" qualities, because I imagine it's the same instinct that casting agents have when they see talent. They just know.

Jennifer Pullinger holds a BS degree in marketing from Virginia Tech and a MA degree in communications from Georgia State University. She has been a media professional for over 10 years.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007, August 1, 2007

Xeri-ously Green
Growing in popularity, water-conserving landscape design is recomended as a smart boost for your yard and the environment.

Living "green" is fast becoming more than a trend; it's becoming a way of life.

Homeowners are incorporating eco-friendly practices into their household routines and altering their lifestyles in the name of conservation. This mindset also applies to outside the home, as people take heed to the same old tips we hear from local officials every summer, such as "water your lawn in the early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation."

While that is important, homeowners can take outdoor water efficiency to the next level by xeriscaping their yard, a water-conserving landscape design method that's quickly gaining popularity.

With the dreaded "dog days of summer" here, water conservation is more important than ever. Incorporating xeriscape techniques into your lawn, however, can help you save water year-round. The core principle of xeriscaping is the use of drought-tolerant, native plants that don't require frequent watering.

"Anything that helps the environment nowadays is trend, and a good one," said local landscape designer Susan Schlenger of Susan Schlenger Landscape Design.

When drought-tolerant landscape design comes to mind, many might imagine lots of rocks and gravel and a grass-less yard. Not so, however. Low-water plants are also attractive.

(For the rest of the story. . .) Source:

Thursday, August 2, 2007, August 1, 2007

48-Hour Film Project
Local filmmakers work with little time and resources to complete a film in two days

The crew filmed one last shot under the pergola in Maymont Park's Italian Gardens before quickly packing up and moving on to the day's next location at Virginia Commonwealth University. The clock was ticking loudly, and there were more scenes to get on film, and still another day full of editing yet to be done. Such is the pace of the 48 Hour Film Project, coming to Richmond -- and a theater near you -- for the first time in its history.

Last weekend, Richmond area filmmakers teamed up to take part in the 48 Hour Film Project, created in 2001 as a challenge to those across the country to get out there and make films instead of just daydreaming about it. The mission: write, shoot, edit, and score a short film in two days.

"So many film projects linger and get drawn out or don't ever get finished," said Ellie St. John, the local coordinator of Richmond's 48 Hour Film Project. "This is something that you know -- boom -- you are going to get it done."

The 37 teams who signed up for the Richmond 48 Hour Film Project will vie for "Best of…" and audience awards this Saturday, Aug. 4 when their finished products will be screened to the public at the Byrd Theater. By comparison, more than 100 teams participated in Washington, D.C.'s event.

"They told me initially that my goal was to get 24 teams, and I thought they were crazy," St. John said. "Well, I got the 24 the first two weeks of registration." The screening schedule was soon expanded to accommodate an overflowing waiting list of additional teams.

(For the rest of the story. . .) Source:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brick Weekly, July 26, 2007 Issue

Brandt Identity
By Jennifer Pullinger

You can almost hear Don LaFontaine’s ominous voiceover introduction to the film now: “In a world where your identity and quality of life depends on corporate sponsorship, losing your sponsor could mean the difference between upscale condo living and West Virginia public housing.”

In his new comedic short film “nyc 2057ad,” Richmond animator and commercial ad designer Stephen W. Brandt explores what the future may hold if corporations are allowed to run our lives. The two-minute short recently made its television debut on Logo Network’s “Alien Boot Camp,” a show featuring gay and lesbian-themed animation.

39-year-old Brandt is part of Richmond’s creative community, and like many, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. And like so many more creative types, he paid his dues with stints in Los Angeles or New York City. In the early 1990s, he worked on the west coast in broadcast design at E! Entertainment Television and Turner Entertainment Networks. Later, he freelanced in New York City as an art director for such companies as PBS, Showtime and The Movie Channel.

Brandt held on to his freelancer status when he moved back here in 2001, but now his domain is animation and television commercial production. He says transitioning from broadcast design to what he does now wasn’t difficult to do artistically.

“I actually feel like I almost have—even doing television commercials through ad agencies—more freedom than I did before, simply because when I was in broadcast design, I was expected to work in the style of the television networks,” Brandt says.
Since then, Brandt has created commercials for the likes of Bojangle’s Chicken, The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation and World of Mirth. He’s also written, produced, and directed some short films, in addition to “nyc 2057ad.” If that wasn’t versatile enough, he also composes the music for most of his animated shorts.

While he says he enjoys experimenting with a variety of looks and techniques, he is drawn to a few visual styles in particular. One of those Brandt describes as “the penny arcade look,” which is abstract, mechanical, contemporary and reminiscent of Betty Boop cartoons all at once. It is perhaps what TV ads would have looked like in the 1940s if advertising executives had access to today’s modern software. If commercials were fun to watch, as Brandt’s are, then viewers wouldn’t flip the channels in between breaks as much as they do.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Brick Weekly