Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Press Release: Capitol Steps Campaign and Suffering Tour Heads to Boston

DATELINE: 10/29/08
Mike Thornton
Mike Thornton Agency on behalf of Capitol Steps
Mark G. Auerbach
Public Relations


Cambridge, MA--The award-winning musical satire group, The Capitol Steps, will be making a post-campaign stop at The Sanders Theatre, at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA with a Thanksgiving Weekend performance of their new "Campaign and Suffering" tour on Saturday, November 29, 2008, at 8PM.

Cambridge will be one of the first post-election whistle stops on the Capitol Steps 2008 Campaign and Suffering Tour. Be among the first audiences in the country to roast the new President-Elect with some song-and-dance, as 2008's most colorful campaign characters side-step and tap their way through global warming, the recession, foreclosures, and bank failures. Hum along as Caribou Barbie, Joe the Plumber, and Oprah step into history, and as George W. Bush and Cheney perform their grand finales before the American people.

Since they began in 1981, the Capitol Steps have recorded 27 albums. They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard 4 times a year on NPR stations nationwide during their "Politics Takes a Holiday" radio specials. The Brattleboro program includes songs from their brand new album "Campaign and Suffering", as well as melodies spoofing current issues in the news. The show promises to hit both sides of the aisle and the songs change with the scandal of the day. So, if something big happens in the news, you can run to the Capitol Steps show and find out exactly what rhymes with it! To preview some of the Capitol Steps materials and download selections from "Campaign and Suffering", visit

Recently nominated for the prestigious Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics and winner of the 2006 WUSA A-List for "Best Comedy Club", the Capitol Steps have reached many fans nationwide. The New York Times called the performance of music and comedy "A happy evening for those who yearn for the lighter side of the news and derive pleasure from seeing the mighty made ridiculous".

The Capitol Steps have brought new shows to the Boston area for over a decade.

The Capitol Steps performance in Cambridge is made possible with the support of public radio station WBUR.

Tickets, priced $38, $34, and $29 are now on sale at the Harvard Box-Office. Students can purchase tickets at a $5.00 discount. For tickets, call 617-496-2222 or order online at

The Sanders Theatre is at Memorial Hall, Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cool Travel Information Websites

We've provided a series of travel tips and cool websites for Cross-Culture Journey's E-newsletters. Here are some interesting websites that we've discovered for casual travellers and road-warriors. Some have made their way to E-News. Others are sitting amongst my bookmarks.

Airlines and Airports

Today in the Sky. USA Today's well-written air travel blog by Ben Mutzabaugh. On Wednesdays, at 1PM ET, Ben hosts a chat, where people can ask about airline news, trends, and commentary.

Skytrax. Frequent fliers globally rate the airlines, airports, flight itineraries, meals, airport lounges and more.

Flight On-Time Arrival/Departure Information. For most airlines and airports around the world.

Airport Wireless Internet Access Guide. If you're travelling with a laptop, you can surf the web for free or next-to-nothing at many airports, who now offer wireless connections in the terminals. We found two good resources for airports with WIFI. has an Airport Wireless Internet Access Guide.

WIFI Freespot Directory also has an airport guide.

Airline Route Maps: Who flies where in graphic terms:

The Airchive: Something Old In the Air: Once upon a time, air travel was adventurous and glamourous. The Airchive is a web museum of commercial aviation travel with airline memorabilia from old timetables and route maps to display advertising that captured the excitement of real first class air travel. Revisit Eastern Airlines "Whisperjets" or the days of PanAm's "Flying Clippers".

Public Transportation To/From Airports:

Trains, Subways and Metros

Subway Maps Online. We found a site with numerous rapid transit maps for many global subway and commuter rail systems ready for download.
And, another site has several which can be dowloaded to an iPod.

The Man in Seat Sixty-One. Mark Smith is a British career railwayman who developed a travel web site about passenger rail service throughout the world, from the Orient Express and the Eurostar trains, to local routes. From Albania to Zimbabwe, there's a rail adventure waiting.

For American Rail Buffs. Here's a fascinating website where a railway fan took photos of all 528 Amtrak depots in the USA. You can chart the depots by route, state, or city.

Commuter Rail Systems:

General Travel

The Menu Collection of the Northwestern University Transportation Library currently includes more than 400 menus from 54 national and international airline carriers, cruise ships, and railroad companies, with coverage from 1929 to the present.

Old and Abandoned Airport Terminals. Airports in olden days.

World Hum is an ever-changing boutique collection of travel blogs from people who get into the spirit of the travel experience. It's not a collection of "what to do" and "where to go" features, but the kind of travel portraits that redefine travel. Among our favorites in the current editions: "10 Sizzling Hot Travel Tips from Sir Francis Bacon", Rolf Pott's repackaging of the 17th century philosopher's "Of Travel" essay for 21st century travellers and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom's "Sipping Starbucks from Bloomington, Indiana to Shanghai, China". Is a Starbucks a Starbucks a Starbucks ? is a great new online travel store that sells a wide variety of approved travel-sized toiletries, food and drink, and more that meet the TSA's 3-1-1 carry-on rule (3 ounce containers in a 1 qt. plastic bag per 1 passenger). They have extensive selections of items with brands not always available in the "trial size" bins at local pharmacy and supermarket chains. They sell beverage kits, domestics, food, personal care items, colognes, after-shaves, and pharmacy products featuring many popular domestic and imported name brands from Tom's to Calvin Klein.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Press Release from Cross-Culture Journeys: Winter 2009 Tours to India, Indonesia, China and Vietnam

Ati Jain, Cross-Culture Journeys, 413-256-6303 or
Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, 413-733-7095 or


Amherst, Massachusetts--Cross Culture Journeys offers a variety of getaway tours for the Winter 2009 season, featuring warm weather destinations around the world, including North India, South India, Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

According to Cross-Culture Journeys President Ati Jain, "these destinations have pleasant winter climates, exquisite scenery and cultural opportunities, and offer great value, as their economies have not been severely impacted by rising prices."

Cross-Culture Journeys has been an industry leader in providing tours to India. Cross-Culture's "North India: Festivals, Forts, Palaces and People" (18 days, departing February 11, 2009) visits India's cosmopolitan capital, Delhi; Agra and the magnificent Taj Mahal; Rajasthan's vibrant capital of Jaipur; the Amber Fort, and the "blue city" of Jodphur. Travellers can extend this trip with a pre-tour visit to Bhutan or a post-tour extension to the sacred city of Varanasi. (

Cross-Culture's "South India" tour with a Kerala Backwaters Cruise (15 days, departing January 21, 2009) visits Chennai (Madras), the coastal center of Cochin with its Portugese influence, and a three-day cruise aboard the MV Vrinda. The itinerary is highlighted by performances of classical Indian dance performances, visits to palaces, and a city tour of Mumbai (Bombay). (

Cross-Culture will offer a "Yunan & Vietnam Ancient Wonders Tour" (16 days, departing January 30, 2009 or February 20, 2009) with an optional extension to Cambodia. The trip begins in the Yunan province of China and its capital of Kunming; the city of Lijiang founded in the Ming Dynasty, and major sites in North Vietnam including Halong Bay with its 3,000 small islands and the capital of Hanoi. (

In-depth travels in Vietnam are available on Cross-Culture's "Vietnam Adventure" (16 days, departing January 23, 2009 and February 6, 2009), which visits Hanoi; Hue, the former capital of Vietnam; the Mekong Delta, and bustling Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. (

The Mysteries of Indonesia are featured on two Cross-Culture departures (17 days, departing January 23, 2009 and February 20, 2009). Wandering through three Indonesian islands of Java, Sulawesi and Bali, travellers will visit traditional villages, Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines, rice farms, beaches, and the cosmopolitan capital of Jakarta and the resort of Denpasar (Bali). (

Complete itineraries and pricing are available at Cross-Culture's website,

For a free copy of the Cross-Culture Journeys "Unforgettable Journeys" 2009 Catalogue, call Cross-Culture Journeys at 413-256-6303 or 800-491-1148 or email

About Cross-Culture Journeys

Cross-Culture Journeys has been offering a world of travel opportunities and new experiences for over 20 years. For sophisticated and curious travellers, Cross Culture Journeys features all-inclusive, small-group, in-depth cultural travel programs to over 50 unique destinations from Antarctica to Zagreb. From traditional to emerging destinations, from World Heritage sites to picturesque villages, from small-ship cruises to hiking and cycling; Cross-Culture Journey's distinctive itineraries showcase a region's peoples and cultures through their landmarks, museums and fine cuisines. Cross-Culture Journeys customizes itineraries for individuals, families, and groups.

Cross-Culture Journeys has been a group travel partner for public broadcasting stations for over a decade. Its partners include: WAMU/Washington, DC, WFCR/Western New England, KUER/Salt Lake City, WGUC/Cincinnati, and KACU/Abilene.

Cross-Culture Journeys now develops itineraries for some of the nation's most prestigious college and university alumni travel programs including: UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Duke University, Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Lehigh University, North Carolina State, University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, Penn State, Texas A&M, Wake Forest University, University of Washington, Washington & Lee University, and Williams College.

For information, visit Cross-Culture Journeys' website at or call 800-491-1148 or 413-256-6303.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Capitol Steps / Cambridge-Boston

We've been asked to help The Mike Thornton Agency with PR support for The Capitol Steps' upcoming performances of the 2008 Campaign and Suffering Tour on Saturday, November 29, at the Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Tickets are now on sale. Ticket and performance information are now available at The Capitol Steps website:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Road Show Summary

A colleague asked me what kind of outline I use for a typical "intro" marketing seminar. Here's a short outline I used recently at Western New England College.

Marketing explained quickly:

***You have a product or a service that you wish to sell. It doesn't matter if you're a for-profit company or a not-for-profit company. (That's just a determination by the IRS and a company mission).
***There is an audience/consumer base around you with members who may (or may not) be interested in your product or service.
***Marketing is building the two-way bridge that connects product with market.

In order to be successful, one must:

***know your product (service),
***know your competition, and
***know your market (who will buy).

There are three distinct types of potential customers:

***the enthusiasts (just let them know about your product and how to buy it);
***the interested (they might buy your product, but they need a little persuasion); and the
***disinterested (nothing you can do or say will make them open their wallets).

Build your campaign to reach the enthusiasts and convert the interested. Skip the disinterested population.

Good marketing campaigns craft the right message (think AIDA--the Verdi or Elton John version).

***A) attract attention,
***I) create interest
***D) create desire and
***A) make the market take action.

Good campaigns are also well-planned, well-budgeted, well-designed, well-worded and flexible enough to be pro-active and remain fluid.

Marketing tools include: advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, websites, eblasts and all forms of communication. The message is controlled by the client. The message is budgeted and paid for. The marketplace knows that. You can often measure the results of marketing by how much product is sold in relation to the time a marketing component appears.

Public relations

***forges a believable partnership between the organization and the community.
***includes media coverage, special events, and spreading positive word of mouth.
***builds trust and credibility, which is (when done well) unapparent to the consumer.

Good PR is budgeted and paid for, but some of it costs little. (A thank-you note for a job well done on behalf of your company or a kind word said about your product or service creates good will).

You can't often measure the results of good PR in terms of sales at a specific time. But, you hear the feedback. (Example: "That was a great article about you in the New York Times".) With PR, you can't always control the message (that's called "spin" and it's usually transparent), but a good PR team can shape the message. Good public relations is pro-active. Good public relations can turn reactive into future pro-active.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Road Show

I'll be teaching my first marketing/public relations seminar for the 2008-09 year on Wednesday, October 8, at 12Noon at Western New England College in Springfield, MA. (For those who want to attend, it's in Sleith Hall 105).

Since I opened my business in 1986, I always thought that it was important to share my expertise and experiences with others considering marketing and PR. In previous positions, I've mentored interns. A couple have become quality contributors to broadcast and print journalism.

In recent years, I've done marketing and PR seminars for WNEC, Indiana University's Arts Administration Program and other programs. It's a small, yet fulfilling, way to give something back to those who mentored me along the way.