Publicity services/PR

For the past two years, I have operated a small but thriving publicity writing and distribution service for inland Mendocino County. I write articles on cultural and arts-oriented events for arts and nonprofit organizations, and distribute them to a 700-member email list as well as to newspapers, radio stations, and websites. My articles normally range from 500 words to 1000 or more and strive to inform as well as entertain. Clients include the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, the Mendocino County Museum in Willits, the Mendocino Book Company, and the annual Mendocino Film Festival. I also forward e-blasts and other prepared notices to media.

One of my recent articles, printed in several local newspapers, is below; links to other articles are forthcoming. I’m available for writing assignments on a wide range of issues where I combine my poetic and precise eye with a deep and abiding curiosity about the world.


My writing strives to inform and entertain while it creates interest in an event.

My articles provide background perspective on a person, historical era, or cultural movement which deepens the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the event being publicized.

Article length can range from over 1,000 words to a facts-only paragraph of about 250 words.

I also write informational articles to create general interest in a subject, independent of an event.

I employ AP style, the standard for newspaper writing, and also follow usage and grammar guidelines as outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style.

I have a private 700-member mailing list of residents based mainly in inland Mendocino County (Ukiah to Laytonville, and points between), including prominent business, cultural and community figures.

I have a solid roster of print and online media contacts throughout the county and Northern California as well.

How it works:

  • Initial meeting with client, in person or via phone or email. Ideally, we start four or more weeks before the event. Client relates nature of event and any points they do or do not want to emphasize.
  • Initial drafting of article, including relevant research. Event is “calendared,” with reminders for what media source to notify when.
  • After fact-checking and copy-editing, the draft is sent to the client for review.
  • Changes requested by the client are made, proofread and rechecked. The notice is then assembled with photos or other graphics and distributed.
  • A second notice is sent the day before the event, with follow-up calls to editors a day or two after notices are sent.

Initial consultation/discussion up to half an hour is at no charge; charges for services begin thereafter.



In general, I follow standard rates based on norms established by the Editorial Freelancers Association. [link:] Special rates are available to Mendocino County residents and businesses. Please contact me ( to discuss your interests and needs.

Publicity services can include anything from getting the word out for an annual barbeque to ongoing work for health, human services, arts, and other institutions and individuals.

The following special packages are offered to publicize one event:

$50Mendocino County rate: Distribute and publicize articles that are already written. Includes light editing for grammar and standard usage. Client provides all relevant names, dates, and other info.

$75All other areas: Distribute and publicize articles that are already written. Includes light editing (for grammar; no fact-checking). Client provides all relevant names, dates, and other info.

$150Mendocino County: Write a short (350-word) notice for your event and email it to my standing 700-member list for inland Mendocino County.

$200All other areas: Write short notice and distribute to up to 100 contacts of your choice, plus posting on area bulletin boards and newspapers.

The rates quoted above include:

  • Downloading, cropping, and resizing photos as needed; inserting in notice
  • Distribution to local newspapers, radio stations, arts councils and chambers of commerce
  • Postings on community bulletin boards, radio stations, and arts/tourism websites
  • Distribution to my local mailing list or one you provide (see rates above)
  • Follow-up calls to editors and others as needed
  • Producing a PDF flyer with photo of the article I have written
  • Fact-checking and research as needed ($150 or $200 rate only)

Initial consultation/discussion of up to half an hour is at no charge; charges for services begin thereafter.

Invoice is sent within one week after an event has occurred or monthly for ongoing accounts. Payment is due within 30 days. All other policies follow in general the EFA’s Code of Fair Practice. [link:]

There will be a 25% surcharge for rush jobs.


“Golden Gateway to the Redwoods” celebrates 75 years of shared history

Ties between San Francisco and Mendocino communities emphasized
Mendocino County native Andrew Tahja on the Golden Gate Bridge on Pedestrians' Day, 1937. Courtesy of the Mendocino County Museum

Mendocino County native Andrew Tahja on the Golden Gate Bridge on Pedestrians’ Day, 1937. Courtesy of the Mendocino County Museum

An exhibit entitled “Golden Gateway to the Redwoods: 75 Years of Bridging San Francisco and Mendocino County” opened at the County Museum in Willits on May 19 and runs through the summer. A series of display panels takes the viewer from the natural history of the Golden Gate through the growing recognition of the need for a bridge, planning stages and political controversies (see below), and on to its completed construction. Original black and white photos of the Golden Gate before, during, and after the bridge by Ansel Adams, Life photographer Peter Stackpole, and anonymous contributors are on display, as are mementos such as an original photo signed by Bridge dignitaries and strands of suspender cable from the construction site.

Mendocino County’s history, economy, and ongoing vitality owes much to the engineering and aesthetic marvel known as the Golden Gate Bridge, lying 100 or more miles to the county’s south. It’s even more marvelous to consider that the bridge was built entirely without federal and state funds between 1929 and 1937, when this country was in the throes of the Great Depression.

That’s where the “cow counties” (as they were sometimes called), the rural areas lying north of the bridge, came in. In 1923 the Golden Gate Bridge Transportation District was formed to create a tax base and enlist Californians in the cause of building a bridge to span the Golden Gate Strait, a project that had many detractors (not least the ferry companies). Mendocino County was the first to  join the Bridge District, in 1925, ahead of even Marin. Property owners in these diverse areas quickly realized their values would soar with the advent of tourists, new residents, and increased commerce. Those in the timber industry thought differently, for membership in the Bridge District would increase their property taxes and bring more visitors to witness the cutting of old-growth redwood forests. Humboldt County voted to stay out of the Bridge District, while Mendocino County underwent a backlash that almost reversed its vote. Three out of five supervisors, pressured by Southern Pacific, Muir & Irvine, and other timber interests, rescinded their vote, setting off a legal battle that went all the way to the California Supreme Court. (The “yes” vote then hopscotched, when Del Norte County became the sixth and last county to join the district.)

Locally, A.R. O’Brien, publisher of the Ukiah Republican and key member of the Redwood Empire Association, lobbied for the bridge’s construction and used the paper as a pulpit for the cause. He had to contend with Edward Morris, another member of the Redwood Empire Association, who was also a co-founder of Frontier Days, a popular annual celebration in Willits. One county resident who was pro-bridge was John McNab, from a prominent family whose holdings included present-day McNab Ranch. McNab served as a lawyer for Joseph Strauss, chief engineer of the bridge, and had to sue the bridge district at one point to complete the payment due to Strauss.

Securing approval for the mammoth project, after years of wrangling among citizens and officials from San Francisco to Crescent City, was only the beginning. Building a bridge of this magnitude that would  span a major harbor had never been done; for one thing, the structure had to be high enough to allow for the passage of large ships. The Golden Gate is geologically wild and unique, a gap in a mountain range linking ocean to bay, 12 miles from the volatile San Andreas Fault, and subject to gale-force winds.  So much steel was required that planners were unsure whether suppliers in Pennsylvania could keep up. To construct the underwater pier on which the towers would rest, scores of workers were loaded into a chamber the size of a football field and lowered 107 feet beneath the bay. Near the end of the bridge’s construction, a safety net collapsed, killing 10 workers.

In the end, after years of high-wire and deep-sea labor by hundreds of skilled workers and the wizardry of engineers Joseph Strauss, Charles Ellis, and Irving Morrow, the bridge materialized, its red-orange towers soaring skyward while its elegant, streamlined spans allowed generous vistas of sea and sky to fall on the traveler’s eye. The opening day for the Bridge, May 27, 1937, was designated Pedestrians’ Day, when a jubilant crowd of 200,000 walked, danced, skated and stiltwalked the 6,700 feet between the San Francisco Presidio and the Marin Headlands for the very first time.

The Mendocino County Museum is located at 400 East Commercial St. in Willits across from Recreation Grove Park and the Rodeo grounds. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm. For more information please call 459-2736 or visit

Unbearable weight: Exhibit documents California grizzly’s journey from icon to extinction

Lecture, reception by author Susan Snyder


by Roberta Werdinger

Before the advent of European settlers, over 10,000 small-eared, humpbacked, highly intelligent half-ton creatures roamed California, their grey-tipped fur lending them the name “grisly” (as much for their temperament as their color, which actually can vary). Grazing on berries, nibbling on seaweed, wrangling a fish out of rivers with their mighty paws, these creatures basked in the mild weather and abundant food sources of mellow pre-Columbian California. In the late 18th century, Spanish settlers started colonizing the future state, followed by successive waves of immigration. A little over a hundred years later, the mighty California grizzly was gone, hunted to extinction. Only its image remained, gracing the flag of the new republic. What happened?

The dizzying and contradictory parade of awe, aggression, fear and cold-blooded practicality that comprises modern and ancient peoples’ relation to the grizzly bear is well-documented in “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly,” opening at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah on October 15, 2011.  A lecture, booksigning and reception by author Susan Snyder, of UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, whose book inspired the exhibit, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 2 to 4:30 pm. Hudson Museum curator Marvin Schenck will also lead a free docent and member tour at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The exhibition is divided into three themes: “The Loss of Grizzlies,” “The Truth about Grizzlies,” and “Bears in our Imagination.” Text panels are color-coded and include text for children. There is also a children’s tent with interactive puppets and other games, a display of the grizzly’s impressive pelt, some amusing and revealing bear kitsch, and a painting by Gualala artist Heidi Endemann of the bear’s hold on our postmodern imagination.

Seldom has an animal inspired such a range of contradictory emotions as the grizzly bear. Rearing on its hind legs to fight a foe or pick fruit from a tree, it was startlingly humanlike; indeed, some drawings delight in showing the bear face to face with a human being, arms locked around each other in an intimate death embrace. In captivity, bears were made to perform and behave like people; stuffed bears, rearing up with teeth bared and claws raking, were placed in front of settlement stores. The bears’ qualities were thus both displayed for maximum effect and kept at a safe distance, a fitting icon for a young civilization struggling to define itself.

California Indians’ approaches to bears differed. Some actively hunted them, while for others it was a taboo. But all seem to have shared a similar reverence for and yet wariness for the grizzlies, who were considered potent carriers of magic and were often invoked in rituals.

In the late 1700s, Spanish settlers arrived, establishing ranches which soon displaced the bears. Vaqueros (cowboys) proved their skill and bravery by flushing out bears with the help of their horses and then lassoing them, where they could be slaughtered for meat, displayed as trophies, or saved for the sport of bear-fighting. Grizzly bears were pitted against bulls and other wild animals, a practice continued with Anglo-Americans until later outlawed. Witnesses and enthusiasts of the time describe the fight with pungent relish, as the two ferocious animals fought each other to the death, one by goring upward with its horns, the other pulling the opponent down with blows from its massive paws. The different ways the animals would defeat each other gave rise to the terms “bear” and “bull” market, thanks to the imagination of journalist Horace Greeley.

The early 1800s saw the advent of the first Anglo-Americans. As they settled in farms and ranches, they were fond of building tall tales featuring rather improbable encounters with “Old Ephraim.” Some explorers humorously and realistically described being “treed” by a bear. One Mendocino County trout fisherman surprised a grizzly assiduously washing its face in the midst of the stream. He retreated, explaining that he was fishing for trout, not a bear.

Then there’s Grizzly Adams, one of a series of quintessential “mountain men” meditating between culture and still-wild nature. Starting out as a hunter and trapper of grizzlies and other wild animals, Adams transformed his skills into a circus trainer and performer, forming a close alliance with one particularly feisty grizzly, Ben Franklin. Heartbroken after his companion’s death, he died soon after himself.

The Gold Rush spelled the beginning of the end for the California grizzly. A new and massive wave of settlers took up land the bears used to sustain themselves. Regarded as pests and a danger to a rancher’s livestock, they were hunted with relish. Bounties were placed on their heads; tales abounded of how many bears a hunter could kill in one day.

Bears made their way into popular iconography, appearing as adorable and cuddly creatures in products for children, cavorting in an idealized wild. Artistic depictions are by turns humorous, mythic, down-to-earth, droll, and tragic. Violent and painful encounters are depicted, as well as quiet and humorous scenes.

It is no wonder, then, that this powerful yet threatening icon should make its way onto the California flag when a “Bear Republic” was first declared in 1846. Decades later, the last remaining California grizzly in captivity, Monarch, stood as a symbol for resilience when it survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Captured by journalist Allen Kelly at his boss’s William Randolph Hearst’s insistence, Monarch lived 20 years in captivity and served as a model for the present state flag.

“Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” will be on display until February 12, 2012. The exhibit was produced by Exhibit Envoy in concert with The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and Heyday Books and was made possible by generous grants from The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Bank of the West, and the James Irvine Foundation. Local sponsorship of the exhibition is by the Sun House Guild. The Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a part of the City of Ukiah’s Community Services Department. General admission to the Museum is $4, $10 per family, $3 for students and seniors, and free to members or on the first Friday of the month. For more information please go to or call 467-2836.