Five Christmas Clichés to Send Over the River and…You Know

Christmas cliches, Santa Claus, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Tis' the Season, The Knight Canney Group, public relations

We get it. It’s a busy time of year. You may be trying to get everything done so you can take time off over the holidays. Or maybe the client is insisting on a “funny parody” to promote an event or product. Whatever it is that’s pushing you toward any of these clichés, resist—and instead insist on a little more imagination. Be firm and say “no” to:


  1. Any parody of any line from “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Commonly referred to as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Clement Moore’s poem has been parodied to sell everything from mobile phone plans to men’s underwear. (Nothing says “Christmas” like a pitch to package the family jewels.)
  1. It’s beginning to look a lot like… We love Meredith Willson’s holiday song, but we don’t love it as an intro to the weather forecast or copy for a department store sale. It’s tired and uninspired. So, no. Just no. (And helpful tip: “a lot” in any context is two words: a and lot. Never alot.)
  1. The white stuff. While we’re mentioning weather, please just call it snow.
  1. The Grinch who stole… the money for the homeless shelter, the donated toys for tots, the wise men from the crèche—just fill in the blank. Sad stories all, made all the sadder by the same words we heard and read last year. And the year before.
  1. ’Tis the season. This is, hands down, the laziest of holiday copy writing. Whether it’s promotional, sales or news copy, anyone older than 12 who uses “’tis the season” is guilty of gross lack of imagination. ’Tis the season? ’Tis the reason you’re fired.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, what a Grinch!” But no, we’re not stealing anything other than the opportunity for taking the easy way out in holiday copywriting. The principles that work all year round, work especially well during the holidays: tell a story, keep it simple, make it personal, know your audience.

One other helpful tip—no one actually likes fruitcake.



Community coalition reaches agreement to move forward with the purchase of Saddleback Mountain

Saddleback Mountain, Saddleback Community Foundation, Peter Stein

RANGELEY, MAINE | October 27, 2016 -New life is being breathed into Saddleback Mountain this week as a group of ski lovers have joined forces to purchase the mountain in Maine’s High Peaks. The Saddleback Community Mountain Resort, LLC is now moving forward with a plan to raise enough money to purchase the mountain and re-open the ski area.

Peter Stein is leading the effort and said: “ We have been working with the owners of the mountain, the Berry Family on this for awhile and we now have their verbal agreement on the terms of a transaction and a roadmap to acquire the ski area. We need to raise $4 million and we will close on the deal. When we originally looked at the community purchase we had immediate interest with several people making financial commitments – now we will turn that passion into power to buy the mountain.”

People interested in participating can go to beginning later this week to contribute to the purchase. In the meantime, a team of people will be re-contacting interested participants to convert their financial interest into commitments. A survey and other fund raising probes conducted over the last year between July and September, showed more than 800 people interested in keeping the mountain open and more than $5 million in commitments.

Meanwhile, the impact of another idle season at Saddleback has hit the Franklin County community hard. Bald Mountain Camp owner Steve Philbrick says, “With Saddleback closed Rangeley and the greater surrounding area as a whole suffers because we have less to offer the tourism industry. When Rangeley suffers, the state of Maine suffers, Franklin County suffers and the economic wheel in Maine suffers. In short, Saddleback Ski Area is a crucial part of Maine’s economy as well as Rangeley and Northern Franklin County.”

Part of this deal includes the Trust for Public Land, which, partnering with the New England Forestry Foundation and others, intends to purchase 3249 acres of adjacent forestland as a separate but related transaction. Conservation partners want to see that the land is permanently conserved for long-term sustainable forestry and habitat values. Maine State Director Wolfe Tone said, “This is the coming together of the benefits, of land conservation, community economic development and community well-being. Conservation today is more than dollars and acres, our work is about focusing the outcomes of land conservation to benefit people and communities.”
Peter Stein added, “We are now poised to build a great foundation for Saddleback and the surrounding community. We are ready to go!”

Dinosaurs Unearthed Opens at the Portland Science Center


Exhibit of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, skeletons, and fossils

Added Attraction: Art exhibit by local artist Philip Carlo Patatore

Dinosaurs Unearthed, Portland Science Center

PORTLAND, ME | NOVEMBER 17, 2016 – For the ultimate “Throwback Thursday” Portland Science Center today announced that its exhibition of animatronic prehistoric life, Dinosaurs Unearthed, will open tomorrow.

Dinosaurs Unearthed is a multi-media, interactive immersion in dinosaur discovery. Its arrival at the Portland Science Center marks the first time this immensely popular exhibit has ever opened in New England.

The exhibit opens November 18, 2016 and will run through early Spring.

(For information on the exhibition and to purchase tickets, please visit

“Thirteen of the dinosaurs are fully animatronic,” says Joe Gold, President of The Gold Group, which owns and operates The Portland Science Center. “The creators of these dinosaurs consult with paleontologists and researchers to ensure the most scientifically accurate result. The dinosaurs move smoothly and realistically—it’s really riveting.”

Powered by customized mechanical technology and a dynamic jointing system, the dinosaurs, ranging from a Velociraptor to a Triceratops to a juvenile T-Rex come to “life” in Dinosaurs Unearthed. The exhibit places each creature in naturalistic indoor landscapes and challenges our understanding of how dinosaurs lived, looked, and sounded in their pre-historic time. In relatively recent years, paleontologists have come to believe that some dinosaurs are the ancestors of modern birds—leading to the hypothesis that some dinosaurs may have been feathered.

“The exhibit includes a feathered Tyrannosaurus Rex,” added Gold. “This may be one of the most striking for people to see.”

An added, unique component at the Portland Science Center will be an exhibition of work by University of Southern Maine art professor, Philip Carlo Patatore, whose “Dinosaur Portfolio” is evocative of the spirit of exploration and the science of discovery.

In addition to the animatronic creatures, the exhibition will feature full-sized skeletons: a Yangchuanosaurus and a Tuojiangosaurus, as well as myriad simulated—and real—dinosaur fossils.

Dinosaurs Unearthed also features interactive stations such as a “Kids Dig Table” and “Dinosaur Digestion.”

Since the very first bones, teeth, and fossils were discovered, dinosaurs have fascinated humans. Dinosaurs Unearthed is designed to appeal to all ages.

The Knight Canney Group Manages Communications for Two Successful Referendum Questions on Maine Ballot

Knight Canney Group is strategic communications partner for Questions 2 & 5

PORTLAND, ME | NOVEMBER 10, 2016The Knight Canney Group, led by political and public relations veterans Felicia Knight and Crystal Canney, served as the strategic communications partner for two of the four successful referendum questions on the Maine ballot.

Question 2 will adequately fund Maine’s public schools and Question 5 will establish Ranked Choice Voting in Maine. (Of the five citizen initiatives on the ballot, four of them passed.)

The crowded November ballot held five citizen initiated referendum questions and one bond issue—each vying for the spotlight in a year where a Presidential election stood to garner much of the voter attention.

“We needed a strategic partner who could help us articulate the need for Maine to fund and sustain quality public schools and to communicate what that means for individual students, families, and the future of Maine,” said John Kosinski, Campaign Manager for the Yes On 2 campaign. “The Knight Canney Group stepped in and gave us that critical expertise.”

“The Knight Canney Group helped to guide our communications strategy. Their professionalism and hard work helped to deliver a historic win to give more voice to Maine people,” added Kyle Bailey, Campaign Manager for Yes On 5.

Is the Kim Kardashian Brand in Trouble?

Kim Kardashian, Public relations, Kardashian brand, Kardashian paris robbery, Kanye West

What does it mean when a popular brand is in distress and a considerable percentage of public response ranges from “It’s probably a publicity stunt” to “That’s what you get for showing off?”

As we all know now, Kim Kardashian, at whose PR savvy we have previously marveled, was recently the victim of an armed robbery while in Paris for Fashion Week.

Kardashian, with 48.3 million followers on Twitter and 84.2 million on Instagram, is the antithesis of shy. She generously shares every moment of her life with her fans and they with her. You may well wonder why she has fans, but that would just reveal your card-carrying membership in the Society of Crankypants.

While her reported ordeal at the hands of masked gunmen who tied her up and helped themselves to $9 million of her well publicized jewelry did elicit an outpouring of sympathy for the mother of two small children, it also unleashed a storm of scolding and outright skepticism. Everything from “Who travels with $9 million worth of jewelry?” to “Well, you know, Kanye West is $53 million in debt…”

Despite the tens of millions of fans, Kim Kardashian’s is a love/hate brand. Her fans love her. And, as they say, the haters gonna hate. In this era of living out loud and bilious anonymity, where everyone’s a pundit (yes, the irony of writing this in a blog abounds), love is all around, until it isn’t.

Is the Kim Kardashian brand in trouble? Does her crisis communications team need to swing into high gear? (The Paris Tourism bureau’s certainly does.) Will her new status as crime victim eclipse her image as CEO in charge of her fame and growing fortune?

Probably not.

With a net worth pegged at $51million derived from reality TV, and a mobile app, her savvy goes beyond being a PR machine. Her brand will withstand the raised eyebrows and the doubters, and likely will emerge stronger than ever—especially if the culprits are found and brought to justice.

One piece of advice for Kim: Get a new security firm. The one you have now has a real PR problem.