Interviewing seniors, listening to their stories, writing down the experiences they have lived through including their birthplace, family history, experiences in their childhood, and any experiences throughout their lives that they want to share with their children or with a wider audience. This interview was done with Mary Winners of About Senior Solutions in Pasadena, California on September 24, 2020. I’ve been writing senior memoirs for several years now. It’s a great gift for seniors to know that their stories will not be forgotten.
Over the years that I’ve been a news writer and PR person, I’ve educated hundreds of clients in the use of press releases. When there is a proper occasion to use a press release, it can bring your company a number of benefits, including: clients who WANT your business, clients who are willing to PAY MORE for the services you offer, and overall admiration by your peers and business associates.
Here are two examples of press releases I recently wrote and issued for my clients:
Note that the headlines indicate an action being performed in the present time. In other words, whatever you are announcing must be timely and indicate some sort of news-oriented angle.
These releases generated between 1,500 and 2,500 views from readers, worldwide. Since both of these business professionals do a specialized type of service that caters to clients, both nationally and internationally, having a news headline that was read by that many viewers put them into a new orbit for business referrals. This is exactly the type of action you want with a press release.
Apart from that, both releases will act as a bookmark to their websites for the key search terms that describe them. So when people are Googling those terms, they will find them quickly and be able to read their press releases, which will provide further creditability.
If you ever have a question about what constitutes a good reason for doing a press release, or you would like my help in suggesting ways we can angle a press release to bring you more business, I’d be happy to hear from you.
You are also welcome to read the dozens of press releases I have on my web pages. If you need any further information, feel free to reach out to me any time. There’s a reason why I’m called “Writer For Hire.”
Today, I attended a Zoom meeting for business advisors and when I was asked for advice on what marketing strategies to use during the coronavirus age, I stated the following:
First, make time to post and blog every week on LinkedIn. This is critical now as our online presence is really all we have. What should you write about?
I’m a news journalist so I’m always thinking of ideas for this. To keep it simple, brainstorm with your staff, once a week, and write down what you know about your industry or your business that could be helpful to readers. For instance, share some strategies you are utilizing to make the work you are doing for clients more efficient, more economical, or more valuable.
Second, reach out to current and former clients and take an interest in how they are doing. Find out what resources they may need and offer to connect them with others whom you know. But don’t use this time to “sell” your services. Make it about them, not you. By doing so, you may be able to deepen your relationships beyond just a “service” capacity.
Third, spend time looking at the online presence you currently have. Is your LinkedIn up to date? When was the last time you refreshed your website content? What could you add to what you already have to improve your online materials and make them more reader-friendly?
While many of the business advisors I know are working harder than ever right now, other people are experiencing lots of downtime. See if you can use that downtime efficiently and productively to take on projects that you haven’t had time to do before.
For me, Covid-19 has been a sad time – hearing about the struggles family and friends are having with the loss of their loved ones. But rather than getting anxious or angry, sad or depressed, I’m grateful that I have a business that operates primarily online, and that can readily service my clients at a moment’s notice.
All in all, I’m pretty grateful most of the time and ready to help anyone who needs help with finding a trusted advisor or someone with a certain specialty for their business or personal life. I’m always happy to help anyone who reaches out to me. I hope you and your loved ones are well and that your business survives this challenging time.
My business, like every other, has had to undergo changes since the Stay at Home order came about in California last week. That meant not attending business networking meetings, giving professional presentations to large groups, and cancelling my in-person meetings with potential clients. That was one month ago. Today, everything is different.
Since last week, I’ve attended four online business meetings where I’ve been able to share my ideas and expertise with others in a format that saves time, mileage, gas and the cost of parking. It’s been an overwhelmingly good experience.
I expect that if we are to continue observing social distancing, I will also be scheduling professional presentations in this way. This change is forcing me to learn new habits, which once learned, will be far more efficient and economical.
As far as getting together with potential clients, I’m finding that I have to be patient and wait for the economic downturn to flatten out. Some of the business people who had verbally committed to moving forward with hiring me to write new content for them are now putting their projects on hold until their businesses are restored.
However, others are moving forward with the projects they need because they realize that an online presence is not only powerful, but it is pretty much all they have to work with. With the downtime that they suddenly have, they are finding it is a fruitful time to work on new content, creating speaking presentations, or even writing the memoir that they said they would “one day get around to.”
The times we are in requires being adaptable to change – we need to utilize online apps, as difficult as that may be for some of us.
So I’ve decided to look at the glass being half-full rather than half-empty. By doing so, I can accept the changes more easily and learn whatever I need to learn to make my time more efficient.
For those who would like help in setting up or improving their social media profile, or creating new or updated content for their business, I’m here to help – and now is as good a time as any to get started.
This week was a banner week for making connections with new members of my family. After doing an intensive search last October through various online databases for anyone related through my dad’s great-grandfather, I finally heard from a woman who I had never previously met. We share a common ancestry and yet our families had never met. Her great-grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers.
Then yesterday, another new family member popped up. This time, the connection came through an email sent to me three years ago through ancestry.com. I happened to be online on that site yesterday doing some research when I saw this man’s email asking if we were related. When I saw his grandmother’s last name, I realized that she was my maternal grandmother’s older sister – and again, we had never met or known about one another.
With the tools available now for research, one can trace their ancestry back well beyond what the memory remembers.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking to my mother’s 94-year old second cousin – someone who remembers my late grandfather and can tell me stories about him. My grandfather passed away when my mom was just a child so I’ve never known much about him. I’m excited about the possibility of recording this distant cousin’s stories and adding them to the memoir I originally wrote about my mom’s family several years ago.
Why is this important? Because every year, my family gets smaller as the older folks pass on. These are the people who remember those who came before us and can hopefully paint a vivid picture of who my ancesters were, how they lived, and what they were like.
As a memoir writer, I’m always looking for new information to add to my stories. With the addition of these two, recently-found family members – on my dad’s and my mom’s side of the family – I get to take a guided walk into the past to learn new information about people who were once close family members to my elders. This is an amazing gift and one that I hope more people will take before they lose these priceless resources.
As I finish this week, it’s the beginning of a new journey that I’m looking forward to taking, and the start of what I hope will be new friendships and ongoing relationships with long, lost family members who I never knew before.
By Pat Kramer
On Thursday, February 27, 2020, California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Vince Ramirez presented “Age Well, Drive Smart” at Sunland Senior Center to share information on safe driving to mature drivers. Over the next hour and a half, PIO Ramirez presented helpful information and answered questions including, when it is safe to give up your driving priviledges. Here’s a summary of what was presented:
The Baby Boomers (post WWII babies) are a very large population group which is now reaching (or have reached) retirement age. According to CHP statistics, there were 3 million people 65 and older in the State of California in 1990. By 2,000, there were 3.8 million and now in 2020, there are approximately 5.2 million people 65+. By 2020, that number is expected to reach 9 million in the State of California.
The impacts of living:
When a driver is aged 70 or older, it’s time to rate your reaction time, vision and hearing and to understand whether you are impacted by medication or physical issues affecting your legs, feet, hands, back or neck as these can impact the ability to turn, brake or accelerate.
Multitasking is never a good idea!
Additionally, with the advent of Smart Phones, we can now text to others in real time and get phone calls through our Blue Tooth devices. However, it’s never a good idea to multitask – at any age! Looking down at your device, even for one second, can lead to a collision when someone in front of you stops suddenly. You can also swerve into another lane and cause someone else to have an accident.
Why is it so hard for seniors to know when to give up driving?
- Because driving provides seniors with a feeling of self-worth and independence as well as the ability to be social, enjoy recreational opportunities, travel and see friends and family.
- It’s not always easy to use public transportation. Waiting for a bus can expose you to the elements, you may have to walk a distance, and it often means you will have to allow more time to get to your destination.
- Using the Metro system may mean having to drive to a parking lot to get a train, and that can be confusing.
Another reason people don’t give up driving when they are not fully capable of driving safely, is because they don’t necessarily know when their driving is unsafe. It often requires a person’s physician, family member or close friend to intervene.
How do you intervene to get someone off the road?
If you believe that someone should not be driving, you can report the unsafe driver to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Tressa Thompson is the DMV Senior Driver Ombudsman who says if someone is an at-risk driver, a written report needs to be filed with the DMV called “Request for Driver Reexamination” (DS699). The DMV will then initiate an investigation and they will keep the reporter confidential if asked to do so. Both she and CHP Officer Ramirez said this is a serious issue that usually involves the individual’s doctor, who is mandated to report inability to operate a motor vehicle safely, and often friends or family, who may have observed warning signs.
How to report someone as being unsafe behind the wheel?
Tressa says you can get the form at: www.DMV.CA.Gov by searching for “Request for Driver Reexamination” or report DS699. You can also call Tressa if you need more information at: (310) 615-3552
For those who are still healthy and fully functioning, here are some ways to ensure longevity and maintain alertness:
- Get regular exercise
- Engage in brain teasers like puzzles or games
- Stay active – walking, dancing, etc.
- Maintain good nutrition and hydration
- Control alcohol intake
- Take required medications at needed
- Don’t get behind the wheel if a medication affects motor vehicle skills
- Don’t drink and drive
When driving, always use the three second rule: Stay a pace of three seconds behind the car in front of you to avoid sudden stops.
- Drive during off-peak hours.
- Don’t drive at night.
- Use surface streets to avoid freeways.
- Know how to reach your destination before you leave home.
- Have the address and phone number of where you are going written down on paper, not just on your Smart Phone (in case your phone goes dead or gives you wrong info).
- Use public transportation – seniors get a discount on Metro.
Enter ICE information on your phone.
ICE means “in case of emergency.” This information should be put into your phone for emergency responders to use if something should happen and you are unable to speak.
Maintain your vehicle.
Keep your vehicle in good working order, check your tires to see if they are getting low, have your oil checked at regular intervals, make sure you have washer fluid for your windshield, and make sure your headrest and seat belt are adjusted correctly. The headrest should be directly behind your head, not your neck.
When to Call CHP:
While Sunland-Tujunga is part of the City of Los Angeles and is patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department, the California Highway Patrol can also be called if there is an emergency on the road. CHP oversees the freeways, county roads, state highways and some unincorporated areas of the City of L.A. They also oversee accidents incidents involving school buses when children are injured.
CHP can also write traffic tickets if they see something illegal occurring in our community!
If you see an incident involving property damage (such as a hit and run) or witness any violence occurring on the road, call it in to either CHP, LAPD or both at the following #s:
- CHP, Altadena Office: (626) 296-8100 (during the day).
- LAPD Valley Traffic: (818) 734-2223 (For hit and runs or other property damage)
- In an emergency, always call “911” or if you spot a drunk driver.
By using an ounce of prevention and caution, most mature drivers can continue to drive safely until it’s time to let others take over by using other means of transportation such as: public assistance, private transportation, buses, Metro or friends and family.
At some point, you may also decide that it’s just “not worth it” to drive long distances, at night, or on the freeways at which point, you can explore other options.
Letter received January 13, 2020
On behalf of the Angeles Chapter, it is our pleasure to inform you that you have been selected to receive the Special Service Award given to Sierra Club members who deserve special recognition for noteworthy service to the Angeles Chapter. You are known for your outreach work on issues in your community. You have been named Woman of the Year for Sunland-Tujunga by Congressman Adam Schiff. You serve on the neighborhood council in S-T, examining traffic patterns in the area. You have been active on the Management Committee of the Crescenta Valley group, most recently serving as secretary.
Please be our guest to receive your award at the Angeles Chapter Awards Banquet on Sunday, May 3, 2020. Beginning at Noon, the reception and buffet luncheon will be held at the Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Dr. LA 90027. http://angeles.sierraclub.org/about_us/awards_banquet
Congratulations and thank you so much for all the work you have done for the Angeles Chapter and the Sierra Club.
Paul Cooley, Donna Specht, Cathy Kissinger
Angeles Chapter 2019 Awards Committee Officers
Occasionally, I like to check my Yelp account to see if anyone I’ve worked with has posted any reviews. I’m delighted to share these twenty new five-star ratings that my clients were kind enough to write about my service.
(For whatever reason, Yelp has chosen to hide 14 of the 20, so if you look for them, you will only see six of them. Why they do this is the great unknown question – perhaps someone reading this has insight into Yelp’s policies regarding hiding reviews).
Anyway, I’m pleased to share all of them here. I am dedicated to providing great service to my clients and whether they need my help once or on an ongoing basis, I give everyone the same level of service.
“Thank you Pat! I really appreciate your awesome service and professionalism. My husband and I felt right at home with your charming hospitality.” Celeste S., Sylmar, CA
“Pat took one look at my Linkedin profile, and in very little time, I went from a very basic profile to fully professional presence. Clients often comment on having visited my Linkedin profile, and been impressed. I would recommend Pat to anyone, such as myself, who doesn’t have the time or skill let to create professional marketing media.” David H., Oak Park, CA
“Pat is a very competent, conscientious writer. She researches her subject matter; homes in on what the client wants, and provides a final document with which her clients are satisfied. She is comfortable writing biographies, marketing and advertising literature and articles for newsletters, newspapers, and magazines. A big plus for Pat is her expertise in the social media arena, where she develops material across various social media sites.” Bettie P., Sunland-Tujunga, CA
“Pat did great work for our not-for-profit. I highly recommend her. Her professionalism, talent and creativity are awesome.” R G., Culver City, CA
“Pat is pleasure to work with and a total professional. She is very dependable and produces quality work, she really knows what she is doing. Her expertise in regards to content creation, press releases, blog writing, LinkedIn and many other marketing functions. I recommend you give her a shot when you require her various professional services.” Eddy M., South Pasadena, CA
“Website owners often overlook the importance of language and the writing craft to their online presence. It’s about the marketing message, well presented company information, and the use of words –key words and key terms in page content– to enhance search engine rankings. That’s where Pat Kramer excels. In addition to a broad range of writing projects, she has helped my website design business provide well-crafted written content for mutual clients that meets all these requirements. I highly recommend her to my clients, not only to those who struggle with writing but to those who need to “polish” their message.” Paul H., Los Angeles, CA
“Professional, reliable, easy to work with, and delivers quality work. Pat wrote a :60 radio spot for our company within a tight timeframe. She listened to direction, made helpful suggestions, and confidently completed a final product that we were pleased to air.” Holly T., Pittsburgh, PA
“I used Pat Kramer for our company web page, bios, resumes, linked in profile, etc. and we will be using her again in the near future. Pat is an excellent writer and has a natural talent for bringing out the best qualities in you and your company. She’s the best and I highly recommend Pat Kramer for all your writing and editing.” Charles B., Pasadena, CA
“Pat has that rare combination of being a gifted writer and easy to work with. She is patience yet moves the writing process forward. I always looked forward to our calls because I knew she would capture the exact word that was creative and expressive. She was very helpful in writing the content for my web site and blogs. I would encourage anyone who needs a gifted writer to contact her.” Bruce H. Santa Monica, CA
“Can’t recommend Pat Kramer enough, she is smart, kind, knowledgeable, professional, and really cares about her clients – when I was updating my bio and linked in, she was instrumental in showing me off in the best light – Pat Kramer is worth her weight in gold!” Scott N.
“Pat recently wrote a press release about my new book, “Appraising Manufactured Mobile Home Communities and Recreational Vehicle Parks,” and then distributed it on the newswire service where it was picked up by over 100 media. She wrote it in such a way as to highlight my expertise in the area of appraising this select market, and in doing so, has helped both my company – Valbridge Property Advisors, and myself to gain recognition in a major way. I highly recommend Pat for anyone seeking a press release to announce an accomplishment, whether it is writing a book, winning an award, speaking at a major conference, or even putting on a charity event. She knows how to do it in a way that will generate referrals and put you and your company on the map.” Rob S., Glendale, CA
“Pat has put together a monthly newsletter for our non-profit agency for years. Her newsletters are always interesting, readable and well-crafted. Pat’s courtesy and level of professionalism are a breath of fresh air. We highly recommend her.” Larry B., Van Nuys, Los Angeles, CA
“Pat Kramer is a low key person (she eliminates stress) who, nonetheless, has a powerhouse way of getting things done. Without fuss or bother Pat has edited some of my written work in a style that reads like my own. Pat is quite OK that I take most, but not all, of her edits. I have never given Pat a piece of work she has not made better. Pat has also helped me and others I know with our LinkedIn pages. She has both suggested things for those pages and helped me understand new rules on that site. Thank you Pat.” K.C. V., Los Angeles, CA
“I am a busy commercial real estate broker who has worked with Pat Kramer on numerous occasions. She is not only a highly skilled writer but really knows the media business. The level of her contacts at newspapers and magazines is amazing and invaluable. If you are looking to promote or burnish your brand or your activities through the written word, you need to hire Pat.” Aaron W., Downtown, Los Angeles, CA
In my bedroom I have an upholstered chair known as a “rocker recliner.” My dad was in the furniture business as a manufacturer and this blue, velvety upholstered chair came from his factory, Mechanics Furniture Manufacturers, in Worcester, Massachusetts back in the 1970s. The rocker recliner was a popular item back in the day. It allowed the person using it to rock or to recline and it swiveled side-to-side.
It was originally owned by my aunt Ronnie Kramer who lived in North Hollywood, California. Ronnie was the pride and joy of our family because she worked in “the industry” as personal assistant to Danny Thomas and later, his daughter Marlo Thomas (of “That Girl” fame), before starting her own recruiting agency for film production workers.
Ronnie was my dad’s younger sister and with just a 20 year difference between us, we related as if she was my older sister. I moved to Los Angeles at her invitation in 1988 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Together, we braved some of the hardships she underwent during the short time we had together. When she died in November 1989 it was up to me to dispose of many of her personal possessions.
I kept the rocker recliner as a memory of her and also of my father’s furniture business. As a child, I spent many weekends exploring the four floors of “the factory” at 306 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA, playing hide and seek with my brother and sister. When I was a little older, I was allowed to work there sweeping the floors around the double rows of sewing machines where the Italian ladies worked.
I loved being there and over time I got to know all of the longtime employees pretty well. There was Frankie Pelligrino, the shop foreman and his wife Vickie, the head seamstress. There was Angelo Pelligrino – Frank’s brother, who was an upholsterer and who I considered my friend. Then there was Emil, the German fabric cutter who was stern but always nice to me. I also remember Jimmy Mitti, the shop’s truck driver (although my Uncle Arnie would sometimes fill in when a delivery needed to be made) and Joe, the African American driver who worked there at one time.
It was at the factory where I developed an appreciation for people of all cultures and in doing so, I always felt like we were all equal in stature. I may have been the boss’s daughter but I felt just as much at home with the people who worked there.
Most every night now, I sit in that rocker recliner because it brings me comfort to think back to those days. That chair is all I have to remind me of the factory. It closed in the early 1990s after the furniture manufacturing industry moved, first, to the southern United States, and then, to China. I know my dad was always very disappointed that he wasn’t able to leave us more of an inheritance from the more than 50 years of the factory’s existence.
The building, which my family owned, was sold to a records storage facility which now anonymously occupies that location with its chain link fence and padlocked front door. It’s no longer the friendly place I used to visit as a child with its well – worn wooden stairs leading up to the office or down to the furniture showroom.
The last time I stopped by the old factory building, the security guy motioned me to leave and wouldn’t allow me to take a quick look inside.
I won’t ever go back there again, but I will hold onto that rocker recliner until it falls apart. Every night before I go to sleep, I sit in that chair and I enjoy the legacy of this 50 year old upholstered chair, now well – worn, and I get to hold onto a piece of my past.
In 1993 I was asked by a well-known Los Angeles publicist to contribute my expertise as a news journalist for publicists attending an industry event held at UCLA. It was my first public speaking event and I was nervous but I knew my topic area very well, having served as a news journalist for nearly ten years for radio and print media. In fact, you could say I was at the “head of the pack” when it came to getting elusive or difficult people to give me an interview.
I laugh now when thinking about my first “real” interview while still a student at Emerson College in Boston. My professor had assigned the class to interview the person who most influenced us in our careers. I had chosen Hunter S. Thompson, known as “the Gonzo Journalist.” Hunter had written the controversial book on the Hells Angels motorcycle club, which I had read while in high school. He later went on to write “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and several other books which defined him as a rather edgy and (some would say “weird”) and always intoxicated journalist.
I managed to get a ticket to see Hunter, who happened to be speaking at U. Mass, Dorchester that month. I brought my trusty little tape recorder with me with its little plastic mike and I hung out backstage waiting for Mr. Thompson to arrive. He was late. Very late. And when he did show up, he had a fifth of Jack Daniels with him which he nipped off of behind the podium.
While I didn’t really have any journalist credentials, I did have to do this assignment and it was the last minute before it was due. When Hunter raced off the stage rather abruptly, I followed him down the hall. He jumped into an elevator – and I jumped in with him. I recall him saying, “Oh God. What do you want?”
I explained that I was a student trying to complete this assignment and I told him that I admired his style of journalism and wanted to get a few quotes from him. Honestly, he was trapped. He couldn’t avoid me so he mumbled something that I used in my paper and then he got out of the elevator.
After saying my goodbyes to his staff, who had been so kind to arrange my ticket, I realized that I couldn’t get back to campus because the MBTA had stopped running for the night. I was in kind of a quandry as I didn’t have the money for cab fare and this was not a good neighborhood to be walking at night. So I did what any young journalist would do – I asked his staff if I could catch a ride with them back to Boston.
Again, they took pity on me and said they would squeeze me in their car. What I didn’t know was that Hunter was also going to be riding in that car, and boy was he surprised when I jumped into the backseat right next to him – actually, almost on his lap! I remember what he said to me: “Oh God. Not YOU again!”
And that was my first interview, of which I was very, very proud!
I went on to become a news reporter for radio – a broadcast journalist – and later, a print journalist, as well, writing for Variety, the Los Angeles Business Journal, San Fernando Valley Business Journal, Boxoffice magazine, Pasadena Weekly, Insurance Journal and many other publications.
My career has given me access to some very interesting and successful people, among them: Jerry Rubin of “Yippie” fame, film actress Ginger Rogers, King Carl Gustav of Spain, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Rick Wakeman, keyboardist for Yes, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, bluesmen John Mayall, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, and the list goes on.
So getting back to my first panel as a journalist, I wrote a speech outline where I listed every tip I could think of as I went through the process I used to prepare for an interview. Some of it was common sense tips but it all derived from my, then, 15 years of experience in interviewing people for news stories.
The speech went well and after doing it I was excited to do it again. In 1997, I took an extensive course to become a Certified Seminar Speaker and with that added boost of confidence the floodgates opened up: I started giving workshops for the L.A. Community College System called “Jumpstart Your Business with Free Publicity.” At the same time, I hit the road, whenever I had some free time, to give a speech to business associations called “Self Promotion for the Self Employed” and “Do’s and Don’t for Media Success.”
Since that first little speech in 1993, 26 years ago, I’ve developed several more, very popular speeches such as “Utilizing LinkedIn to Maximize Your Business” which I have presented to high-level business associations, including: Vistage, Worldwide, ProVisors, NAWBO-LA, American Association of Daily Money Managers, Pasadena Bar Association, the San Gabriel Valley Financial Planners Association, Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce, Entertainment Publicists Professional Society, Bruin Professionals, Asian Business Association, German-American Chamber, Glendale Chamber, Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber, Lions Clubs and Rotary Clubs all over Southern California.
Since I believe in giving back to others, I also speak to high school and college students seeking journalism or business degrees. To date, I’ve presented at Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, UCLA Extension, the University of Southern California and UC, Pomona as well as at 15 high schools in Los Angeles.
While I’ve been out doing speaking engagements, I’ve received my own fair share of publicity through interviews with hosts from KCKC AM, Bill Black’s Exit Coach Radio and Eszylfie Taylor’s “Ask the Experts” show as well as the Los Angeles Daily News, Crescenta Valley Weekly, Inland Empire Business Journal, and for my alma mater, Emerson College.
My newest speaking engagement takes me into the hearts of those living in retirement homes where I speak about “The Importance of Writing Your Memoirs.” I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of those who attend as they think about their own beloved memories.
If you are thinking about the virtues of speaking on a topic of your profession, I highly encourage it. You may find, like me, that you like it and it may lead you to even greater experiences in life.