Public Relations Projects
In addition to her creative writing, Sharon has been involved in various public relations & non-profit communications projects over the years. Some examples are below:
Jacob's Ladder, the volunteer group that Sharon helped co-found, won a HOPE Award, a national award, for its efforts in promoting the marrow registry to minorities. Above, she and fellow group member Gayle Butzgy (holding award) represented the group in Washington, DC in 1997 where Sharon gave an acceptance speech (see more on Speeches page). Here Sharon and Gayle pose with HOPE award presenter and two DC television anchors.
When Sharon's nephew was diagnosed with a rare leukemia in 1993 (see Good Housekeeping article from Home page),she became very involved as a volunteer for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program and spearheaded donor drives in the Triangle area of North Carolina (called a Marrowthon). She and her volunteer group, Jacob's Ladder, raised money through corporations & individuals, resulting in the addition of over 7,000 people to the marrow donor registry. The group also won a national award for its efforts in getting people from minority groups to join the registry.
For one of the huge Marrowthon events that took place in four different cities in central North Carolina, Sharon contacted singer Darius Rucker (then of Hootie and the Blowfish), who not only was kind enough to make an appearance at the donor event, but to go on the registry as a donor himself (it then required a blood test to join the registry). Click here to see the text of a public service announcement (PSA) Darius recorded that Sharon wrote to promote how crucial it is that minorities join the registry so people of all ethnic groups can find donor matches. In the photo to the right, Darius is having the blood test to join the marrow registry (a blood test was required back then, while now it is a simple cheek swab).
Other volunteer projects Sharon did with the marrow program included getting media coverage for when a marrow recipient met the donor who saved his life (and they turned out to live in the same area!). She also organized a press conference with North Carolina's Governor Hunt to promote Marrow Donor Awareness Week. The photo taken below, right included the governor with donors, recipients, and those still looking for donors.
When Sharon worked as Promotions Director for WQDR 94.7, a country radio station in Raleigh, NC back in 1984-85, she wrote an ad for the station to help introduce country music to the suburban area. QDR is now one of the nation's top country stations, but when it first became a country station after changing its format from a very popular album-oriented rock station, it was challenging for QDR to initially find a place in the market. This was the purpose of this ad. Sharon also organized many promotions and contests for sales & programming for WQDR and also for WYLT and WKIX, an FM/AM radio combo station that she also worked for as Promotions Director.
Sharon was a staff member, consultant, and volunteer for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. One of the projects she organized as a consultant was trying to get the public and the General Assembly to focus attention on North Carolina's high infant mortality rate. She did so by writing an editorial in The News & Observer, contacting other media outlets, writing PSAs about the importance of folic acid in preventing birth defects, and visiting legislators with info about how many NC babies don't survive to see their first birthday. Along with the info for selected legislators, she took along cupcakes with one candle in them to symbolize all those first birthdays that NC babies need to reach. The issue began to get media coverage across the state, including on the front page of a Sunday edition of The News & Observer (to the left). Click here to see other media coverage that was generated and other promotional elements.
When Ashworth Drugs, a Cary, NC icon, planned a celebration for its 40th birthday in 1997, Sharon wrote a newspaper ad for the event and organized festivities for the party; since the business started in 1957, Sharon wanted to give the event a 1950s flavor and did so by having a hula hoop competition among other things. The key to getting media coverage and this photo in the News & Observer was getting the mayor, Koka Booth, to participate in the hula hoop competition!
In 1996, Sharon helped to promote the second Page One Festival of Books for the Town of Cary. The town's Cultural Arts staff wanted to make the event more of family event, which was Sharon's goal. She worked with McDonald's in organizing a pancake breakfast for children complete with costumed book characters in attendance. McDonald's also promoted the event by including flyers in kids meals of local restaurants. Games & children's events were also added to the activities. The News & Observer featured the book festival on the front page the weekend before it. Sarah Sheffield, the town's Cultural Arts Director, was quoted as saying that the goal of being a family event and attracting children had been met. The town had the event one more year after that, and then, unfortunately, discontinued it.
Back in the early 90's, Sharon volunteered for The Concord Coalition, a bi-partisan organization led by a Republican & a Democrat & dedicated to lowering the national debt. When Congressman Tim Valentine spoke about the issue at a Coalition event, Sharon sent out a press release that garnered newspaper coverage.