Press Releases – Swing ‘em Like a Hammer

I have to say it’s a pretty good feeling when a client gets splashed all over Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and MailMountain Trek was featured on the cover of the Globe’s travel section this month and the story resulted in a half dozen direct bookings (worth over $25,000) that they know about and incalculable interest for future visits.


This is how it all came together. Two years ago I was doing public relations for Mountain Trek, a wellness retreat and fitness lodge in south-central British Columbia, and we came up with a campaign that featured the phrase “Hike Your But Off” and the “but” was usually, “But I’ve never been hiking” or “But I can’t take time away from my family.”

The press releases (and overall campaign) garnered good reception and one of the key reasons it did so is because of a mantra I’ve shared with my clients again and again: “A press release is just a hammer; you gotta swing it!” So many times I hear from people who have used other public relations professionals and then complained that they didn’t get more coverage from a press release. The reasons are typically two-fold:

  1. the media personnel  weren’t targeted directly in a way that would interest them and/or
  2. the press release didn’t have enough reach/stamina

A press release is just a tool and you never know how far it’ll reach. For example, I just received an email from a writer who had received the release mentioned above two years ago and wanted to do a piece on the client now. The one thing you cancontrol is how interesting the media professional finds your release and subject matter. Having been involved in the media as a writer, editor and publisher for the past 20 years, I can confidently say I know what grabs a journalist’s interest.

Touch base with me anytime and together we can work out a strategy for  your next campaign and release.

Record Numbers Attend Kootenay Climbing Festival

I was happy to be involved with organizing TAWKROC’s third annual Kootenay Climbing Festival this past weekend.  A record number of kids came out and at one point there was a child on every single top rope on the wall. So awesome!  It was held at the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson and the events included a zipline, slackline, sport climbs on the crag behind the pub and the ever-popular “Tower of Power” crate stacking contest. Here’s a link that explains more about the event and below is a gallery of images taken throughout the day.

Ode to a 7 Year Old Riding a Bucking Bronco

There’s a black and white photograph in a prominent spot in my office because it’s one of the most inspiring I’ve ever seen. In it a blond-haired boy with large ears, who looks to be about seven, wears a striped T-shirt, baggy jeans, and the biggest shit-eating grin I’ve ever seen on a child.

And he’s riding an extremely agitated bucking bronco.

Although not a large horse, the beast is definitely bigger than a pony and it’s in mid-flight – head down, maw agape, all points off the ground. Meanwhile, the kid has one hand in the air and the other grasps a halter that’s wrapped around the horse’s snout. His limbs look like smooth pipe cleaners except for one vein popping out of his left forearm – a hint of strength to come. There isn’t a helmet in sight, nor is there evidence of kneepads, gloves, corral fences, safety nets or concerned-looking adults. It’s just a photograph of a happy child riding a pissed-off steed.

To say this is an incredible scene is an understatement. For one, I don’t know too many pre-pubescent boys who ride bucking broncos. And I certainly don’t know any who, while riding said bronco, have the audacity to stare directly into the photographer’s lens with a smile and gaze that say, “Yeah, I’m owning this.”

With that one look, this one scene, we get a glimpse at everything the seven-year-old is going to grow up to be: fearless, adventurous, cocky, fun, strong, confident, and, it goes without saying, one excellent horse wrangler.

I keep this photo nearby to remind me that this is exactly what life is about ­– it’s pure excitement, thrill and adventure. It is, quite literally, “unadulterated” – no adults, no dilution, just a sense of absolute joy.

Thank you, Monty, for being such an inspiration. This photo may have been taken over 60 years ago, but I still recognize in you an undiluted passion to experience anything and everything. You grab life by the reigns and even when things get rough and you get bucked around a little, we know you’re enjoying­­­ the ride.

Kootenay Climbing Festival Returns September 20th

The Kootenay Rock Climbing Festival is pleased to announce that Australian mountaineering and climbing legend John Fantini will be guest speaking at the event. Fantini, who now resides in Penticton, BC, has innumerable first alpine and rock climbing ascents to his credit around the world and, at 71 years old, is still going strong, putting up hard new sport routes in Skaha Provincial Park.

Organized by TAWKROC (the Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers), the Kootenay Climbing Festival is now entering its third year and will occur on Saturday, September 20, from 2:00pm to 9:00pm. The event will be held by the natural rock climbing wall behind the Lions Head Pub in Robson, BC, and will feature a zipline for the kids, slackline, door prize draw, silent auction, and the always popular Tower of Power competition, which sees competitors try to stack the most number of milk crates… while standing on them!

Different for this year is the fact the Lion’s Head now has a family dining license which means kids can come and go from the restaurant anytime before 7:00pm. (Children must be accompanied by an adult.) Everyone young and old are welcome to the event and there is no coverage charge although, as this is a fundraiser to help new outdoor route development, donations are greatly appreciated.

TAWKROC was established in 2009 to help promote outdoor rock climbing in the Kootenay region by organizing work parties to improve rock climbing areas, both for locals and tourists, and by offering a bolt fund for climbing developers. Every year the organization reimburses climbers who spend time and money putting up new rock climbs in the area. In 2012, TAWKROC became a chapter of the Climbing Access Society of British Columbia and its directors are now committed to ensuring various climbing areas in the Kootenays remain accessible for all.

Last year TAWKROC reimbursed outdoor route developers for $668.48 worth of climbing hardware for new areas developed in Castlegar, Nelson and Creston. Also, later this autumn TAWKROC is organizing a work party to improve access to the Koch Creek climbing area in the Slocan Valley. In addition, the organization’s directors have been busy replacing old anchors and bolts at the Kinnaird Wall in Castlegar, an area that’s been a climbing destination for locals and visitors alike since the early 1960s.

For more information about TAWKROC or the Kootenay Climbing Festival, please contact director Vince Hempsall at vhempsall at

One of my 1st dates with Marley. Beautiful fall riding weather in the Kootenays

Farewell to my Lucy Lawless



A week ago I sold my 1988 Ford Ranger pick-up truck to a friend because the maintenance required on her was getting beyond my limited mechanic skills. It was a hard decision though as Lucy and I had been through some amazing adventures together. I bought her 7 years ago and named her Lucy Lawless because, well, I illegally drove her back to my house without any insurance or license plates and I just got the sense that she was a really tough female truck.

Since then she’s taken me up many a logging road and on countless adventures from first biking dates with my now-fiancé Marley to gay pride parades. She’s shuttled bikes, canoes, climbing gear, spaceships and bodies (specifically mine when I slept on her).

I hope she enjoys her new life as a backroads wood hauler with her new owner, who’s a way better mechanic than I. May she always remain Lawless.

Loading up for the 5-day, 500km Raid the North Adventure Race in 2010

Loading up for the 5-day, 500km Raid the North Adventure Race in 2010

One of my 1st dates with Marley. Beautiful fall riding weather in the Kootenays

One of my 1st dates with Marley. Beautiful fall riding weather in the Kootenays

Full moon sleep-out in the back of Lucy before an alpine start to put up a new rock climbing route.

Full moon sleep-out in the back of Lucy before an alpine start to put up a new rock climbing route.

Hauling La Roquette to the bobsled races in Rossland.

Hauling La Roquette to the bobsled races in Rossland.

Prepping for the Gay Pride Parade in Nelson.

Prepping for the Gay Pride Parade in Nelson.

Backcountry Lodge + Mountain Biking = Luxury

For many of us backcountry skiers, the off season is spent whiling away the hours flipping through back issues of ski porn mags, attending the occasional CrossFit class and dreaming of the white stuff. But for others, the summer and autumn months are an opportunity to take part in another sport that has us climbing peaks and tearing back down them.

Mountain biking is what has brought the Backcountry Ski Canada crew to Sol Mountain Lodge on the southern border of Monashee Provincial Park near Revelstoke, British Columbia. (That and the opportunity to scope out the winter terrain.) It enjoys excellent tenure (30,000 acres), epic snowfall (up to five metres a season) and, importantly, road access in the summertime.

For the entire story about Sol Mountain Lodge, log on to the post at Backcountry Skiing Canada. 

5-Minute Yoga Routine for Rock Climbers

A few years ago I sat down with Nelson, BC, yoga instructor Trish Wilson and asked her what type of poses I should do as a rock climber. She came up with an entire routine for me and it was so good I asked her if we could film it so others could learn from it. She immediately agreed and a few days later we were in the studio.

The beauty of this particular yoga routine is it can take as little as 5 minutes to do. Obviously you’d prefer to spend a bit more time at it in order to stretch and strengthen key muscles but when the clock is ticking and your buddies are waiting to hit the crag, spend just 5 minutes at this and your body will thank you for it.


5 Steps to a Perfect Press Release

For Immediate Release – In response to recent questions about how to write effective press releases, the staff at Wonow Media Ltd. in Nelson, BC, have decided to divulge five important secrets that will help any business produce material guaranteed to be read by publication editors.

“The word has gotten out that we write excellent press releases and so people have been asking what our secret is,” says Vince Hempsall, co-owner of Wonow Media. “My immediate response was, ‘Would you ask a surgeon how to perform a tonsillectomy at home?’ But then I realized that, as a magazine editor for the past 16 years, I know what my colleagues are looking for and it’s time to share some secrets.”

Wonow Media has created the “5 Steps to a Perfect Press Release” guide and it includes the following:

STEP #1: Making Contact. Collect the contact information of as many media people as possible and then send your press release to all of them. Even if you’re a small business in the arctic circle, don’t assume The Globe and Mail won’t be interested in your news because most editors are always looking for good stories outside of main city centers. Of course, there are thousands of publications in North America so you’ll want to get started now collecting their contact details…or hire Wonow Media because the company already has them all.

STEP #2: Lose the ego. Editors are not interested in helping you sell more product or lasso you more customers. They want stories that will be interesting to their readers. Which means your press release needs to present an objective view of your company’s exciting news. Stick to standard reporter prose and avoid “I” and “We” except in quotes.

STEP #3: Just the facts. As with all news articles, the lead (ie: first) paragraph of your press release should stick to the facts. Save the hype and the “sell, sell, sell” for your ads and provide the information that will not only catch an editor’s eye but will also sum up the entire point of the press release in 50 words or less.

STEP #4: Short and sweet. The perfect press release is one page. You could waste time writing more but take it from a busy editor, we won’t read anything beyond one page.

Step #5: Making Contact Part II. The last paragraph of a press release should always include the phrase: “For more information contact…” and list your phone number and e-mail address. Following that paragraph, there should appear four characters that will ensure an editor will take the press release seriously. Want to know what those characters are? Hire Wonow Media and find out.

For more information, contact Vince Hempsall at Wonow Media Ltd., 250-352-0921, info@wonowmedia [dot] com.

Kootenay Climbing Association Coverage in the Nelson Star

My article about the KCA’s AGM and fundraising efforts for a new climbing gym was picked up by the Nelson Star. It garnered a full-page spread in today’s hardcopy issue and an online spread in their sports section:

Money Can Buy Happiness