Six potential impacts of having your kids “opt out” of state tests

No. 1 – Lower home values. Schools with lower than 95 percent participation rate on the NYS state tests will be labeled in need of improvement and families looking for homes will avoid buying (or even looking) in your district. ( The 95 participation requirement was put in place some time ago because non-participation is an old trick used to make schools look like they’re doing a good job. If you find a way around the weakest kids taking the test you don’t look as bad. Whether you know it or not, when you were in school, some kids were not even given the opportunity to take Regents tests cause more failing kids made the school look bad.)

No. 2 – The majority of kids being opted out are higher performers so the test results will be artificially low which means the teacher evaluations will suffer. So it will hurt the chances of good teachers receiving good evaluations.

No. 3 – A lower than 95 percent participation rate makes for an administrative nightmare. More time will be spent next year on administrative/reporting tasks taking away time spent helping students. Efforts will be directed away from kids toward appeasing State Ed.

No. 4 – Title 1 funds may be at risk.

No. 5 – You will be teaching your children that it’s okay to use kids as political pawns.

No. 6 – Parents will have no idea what their kids learned this year and where they need more support. Educators have worked hard to teach the higher standards this year and parents who “opt out” won’t know how well their children are performing this year.

Got content?

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Amy Poehler & Tina Fey’s Golden Globe Drinking Game

Sheila Carmody:

Oh yes it’s ladies night and it’s feelin’ right.

Originally posted on KYMX Mix 96:

This Sunday (1/12/14) is the Golden Globes. The Hollywood award show will be hosted for the second year in a row by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. You know what that means. Get out those glasses; it’s time to drink!

Last year, the two comedians informed The Hollywood Reporter about a very fun and efficient drinking game the audience can play while watching the Globes. The rules include the following: any time an actress cries in a speech, drink; any time you see a person actively not listening to someone onstage, drink. Any time someone says, “I didn’t prepare anything!” take a drink. There were even strange rules such as, “Any time anyone thanks Harvey Weinstein (studio executive), eat a meatball sub.”

The SNL alums will be hosting the show again this year, and they decided they needed to update their drinking game. When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter

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Increase Your Customer Base Without New Technology

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you're ready to create content that moves your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-6148 or email

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you’re ready to create content that moves your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-614.

Content is where I expect much of the real money to be made on the Internet.” — Bill Gates, Microsoft

Today’s Top 10 list of things Guaranteed Press can do to bring visibility — and customers — to your business.

No. 10 – We can create a message with a story for your organization that resonates with the media and the public.

No. 9 – We can improve employee morale by communicating what’s happening in your business and industry with the people who are working for you.

No. 8 – We can translate what you’re doing into a language that reaches and touches the masses.

No. 7 – We can improve the value of the dollars you’ve spent on IT by using it to disseminate your message.

No. 6 – We can make your organization a local and national media source for your industry.

No. 5 – We can tell you what the media will ask you and the best way to answer them.

No. 4 – We can make you sound as smart as you are.

No. 3 – We can put an end to the constant search for a marketing, PR and media professional who will take you beyond the constant search for a marketing, PR and media professional (so that you can golf more, if you wish.)

No. 2 – We can create content with real value, breath life into existing content and use other people’s content to your best advantage .

And the No. 1 thing Guaranteed Press Can Do for Your Business — we can make the website that you already have — and paid a lot for! — work for your business.

Stop paying for empty containers and modules and start investing in engaging content. We know what it is.

Call Sheila Carmody at (518) 366-6148 or email

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What keeps us going back to “Seinfeld” again and again?

Sheila Carmody is in Internet Marketing

Sheila Carmody is in Internet Marketing

I worked as a journalist and an advocacy journalist for many years and never once wrote a news story based on a press release. They had no news value, no story value. Then I thought: what would happen if the public relations people actually sent me something I could use, a good story?

Twice I had the opportunity to find out. The first time was as the media relations director for a local college. My storytelling resulted in a 60 percent increase in student applications.

The second time was about three years ago.  I was working with consultants to establish public relations and marketing for a national STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education organization.

The public relations consultant wrote traditional press release after traditional press release with no results. That’s when I began to develop the idea for a business called Guaranteed Press.

Eighteen months and $180,000 later the public relations consultant’s contract ended. The COO gave me the chance to lead the public relations charge. I took a storytelling approach.

Within three months I generated major stories in The Huffington Post and The Washington Post.

When that business moved to Indiana, I started Guaranteed Press.

Whether it’s the media, your customers, potential clients, your employees – everybody loves a good story.

We’ve all watched “Seinfeld.” It’s famous for being about nothing. But the reason people return week after week, year after year, decade after decade is they tell good stories. I can do the same for your business – guaranteed.

Call me (518) 366-6148 or email me at scarmody2009@gmail.

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A media relations strategy that causes more harm than good

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you're ready to create content that moves your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-6148 or email

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you’re ready to create content that moves your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-6148 or email

The top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t call the media to pitch your news story?

No. 10 – It’s not about you.

No. 9 –  This is a psychological game and when you pick up the phone — you lose.

No. 8 – Caller ID (They will become familiar with your phone number and ignore you.)

No. 7 – Caller ID (If they do pick up the phone it means they know they can exploit your organization. And to their credit — they will.)

No. 6 – When you call them they’re filling in the blanks but when they call you, you fill in the blanks — with your message.

No. 5 – You’ll gain the reputation for being needy and they’ll avoid you or at best humor you. 

No. 4 – They will use you rather than the other way around.

No. 3 – They won’t be following your lead.

No. 2 – They won’t be able to capture what you’re saying. No matter what they say they cannot write as fast as you speak. You have a better chance of putting words in their mouth if you put your message in their language and send it in an email. (Limit two sentences.)

No. 1 – Effective media relations is proactive; they should be calling you.

If you hire a media relations director whose strategy includes picking up the phone and calling the media, you’re media relations strategy is causing your organization more harm than good.

For more information on media strategies that produce results, contact Guaranteed Press at (518) 366-6148 or email Sheila Carmody at 

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Engaging content has nothing to do with sex — sorry!

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you're ready to create content that moves your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-6148 or email

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you want content that will move your organization forward, contact her by phone (518) 366-6148 or email

I was a little taken aback recently when the Public Relations Director of a large university asked what I meant by “engaging content.”

She’s the head of PR at a university with 15,000 students, and she doesn’t know what engaging content is? Time to put pen to paper.

Let me start by saying: you will not learn how to write engaging content in this brief blog. You will however become a much more successful organization if you hire someone ( who can write engaging content. It takes years of writing to become that kind of writer.

So while this might not be the last word on the subject in this blog, here are some of the elements of engaging content:

  • It’s provocative, seductive and alluring. But it has nothing to do with sex. Sorry!
  • It’s something you’ll be compelled to read all the way through.
  • It adds value.
  • It leaves them wanting more.
  • And perhaps most important — it’s not ALL about you or your organization. It’s primarily about the end user, the reader, the person or group you want to engage.

As marketing entrepreneur Drew Williams recently wrote in Upstart Business Journal: “The goal isn’t to have giga-bytes of useful information available to your prospect to pick through. The goal is to create a den of seduction that deliberately draws your prospect along a path, tempting them at various points to exchange their contact information for the tasty content you’ve prepared—all of which promises to address the burning business pain they’re on your website to solve.”

And an updated search engine algorithm makes high-quality content even more important and integral to a company’s website and overall online marketing strategy. In other words, no amount of html code will make up for boring, bland content.

Engaging content is the opposite of what has passed for PR and marketing for the past several years and decades really. If you understand and move forward with that premise — and hire a writer with a record of engagement ( — you’ll be on the right path. And, better yet, your organization will finally have the reputation you’ve always wanted.

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist for Guaranteed Press. If you have any marketing communication needs for your business, whether it’s unraveling the mystery of traditional media or creating content for strategic digital communications contact her at (518) 366-6148 or

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Going off the grid with cable

A Thursday article in the TU lead to a rash – 40 and counting – of Facebook comments from people who use or once used Time Warner (TW) for cable, Internet and phone and now feel like they’re being held hostage by their addiction to media.

Do we really need thirty million channels.

Do we really need thirty million channels?

Many were downright angry: “We have become addicted to the fast pace of internet. The need to feel ever changing and continuous information being thrown at us is overwhelming. Gone are the days of socializing on the front porch. Wish we could all say screw them all and dump them on the same day.” -TL

I’ve felt that way as well and am in the market for a new TV and some of the comments included interesting solutions for the high cost of Time Warner. (And I offer 21st century public relations services, which it sounds like TW needs. Call me, maybe.)

More importantly — the suggestions:

“I used to use TWC but now I live in a remote area and I’m happy with DISH network. I used to use DIRECT TV but DISH is more accommodating and better customer service. I use my phone for hot spot Internet connections now. It’s cheaper for me.”  – AR

“We went to just basic cable and Internet. It cut our bill in half. Now we pay less than $70/mo. We are thinking of getting rid of cable completely and just getting an Internet TV box instead.” – JD

“We upgraded to a smart tv and stream everything from Netflix, Hulu, etc. Love that you can watch anything you want with no commercials! And it is cheap cheap cheap!!” – BN

“I hate Time Warner more than anything. We are forced to use them for Internet bc FIOS is not available by us yet. We are with direct tv tho and love them. They are always accommodating and easy to talk to. When we had time Warner come “fix” our Internet they didn’t fix anything, and cut our wifi connections in half. They are the worst company ever. It’s not fair that they get away with what they do. Honestly who charges for a router?!?!” – MC

“FiOS is no better, trust me.” – VMA

Subscribe to the blog for status updates from someone who is planning to go off the grid with cable, as long as I can get my Guiliana and Bill on the Style Network, of course.

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David Cassidy and the Decoupage Lampshade

Better Days

Record Albums

My friend Renee had a friend growing up whose mother saw #DavidCassidy at SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) back in the day and she brought a lampshade with her that had his picture on it (her own decoupage* artwork), and she threw it up on the stage and hit him.

To hear Renee tell the story: it hadn’t occurred to her she might hurt him throwing a lampshade at him, she said. She was just trying to get his attention.

Renee who is more of a millenial than me (I’m more the friend’s mother’s age.) was my partner in crime a few years ago post divorce (my divorce), when she shared the story. She hatched a plan one night to look for his house in Saratoga. (We heard he had a house cause he liked the track.)

I, not a millenial, had (have) all his albums. Renee didn’t think anyone could forget being hit by a lampshade while on stage singing. “We’ll take the albums with us,” she said, as though that would somehow give us an in. “After all, who couldn’t forget being hit by a lampshade.”

Sounded like a good idea to me. Saratoga Springs is always a good destination. David Cassidy was my Frank Sinatra, my Beatles, my Backstreet Boys.

Not long after she hatched the plan, we were visiting a friend when Renee started to tell the story about her friend and the lampshade and our plan to track down David Cassidy. She shared all the details.

She got to the part about the albums: “We’re gonna put Sheila’s photo albums in her trunk…” she said.

“Photo albums?!” I said. “Renee, they’re not photo albums; they’re RECORD albums.”


* In case you’re a millenial: decoupage was popular in the 1970s and is the art or technique of decorating something with cut-outs of paper, linoleum, plastic, or other flat material over which varnish or lacquer is applied. 

Look to the lower right hand corner of the page and click on follow to follow Sheila’s blog. Thanks!

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Health Benefits Almost Give Woman Heart Attack

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist in  Internet Marketing

Sheila Carmody is a Content Specialist in Internet Marketing

In 1986, I was sitting at my desk at work when the phone rang. I picked it up and on the other end was someone from my health insurance company, health benefits I had through my employer. It was Friday and on Monday I was scheduled to go into the hospital for a pacemaker.

Right about now you’re expecting me to say they wanted to make sure I was all set for the procedure. Nope: they wanted to make sure I knew it wasn’t covered by health insurance because it was a preexisting condition. Apparently, in a previous lifetime I’d had heart block.

I was shocked. And it’s a shock that continues to reverberate in 2013 in every cell in my body. So when for example I get a notice in the mail telling me my health benefits will be terminated at the end of the year and I’ll have to buy my insurance from the new health exchange — I panic. I hyperventilate. Tears come to my eyes. It happens every time I feel my health insurance is in jeopardy because I know what can happen. Even if for only five minutes I am without health benefits the next time I need a pacemaker “they” can say: Oh well, too bad for you. That has been my experience. That and the experience of being “DENIED” when I first graduated from college and tried to buy health benefits on the open market.

I saw the same panic I experience on the face of then senator Barack Obama when he spoke briefly about his mother’s cancer diagnosis and the panic he saw in her eyes when a change in jobs threatened her treatment. I knew I had a compadre in the future President of the United States. I also knew he would fight to the death on this one. To this day, if you look closely you can see the pain and fear — and anger — in his face when he talks about health insurance reform because he is experiencing similar panic, albeit posthumously.

So now as a result of an employer moving to the mid-west, I run a independent Internet Marketing business called Guaranteed Press and I buy my own health benefits. I was lucky because I live in New York State and the preexisting condition caveat has been unlawful for a while, even before the Affordable Care Act. So when my employer moved I could briefly buy health benefits that I have been able to hold on to at a reasonable cost even as I progressed as an independent communications professional with Guaranteed Press.

Now, I’m back to wondering what happens in October when the plans are supposed to be available for viewing on the Health Benefit Exchange website. I will need to purchase a plan so they better not try to pull anything on me. I know what they’re capable of and I live in fear of it to this day. This is not say I have not been treated very well by my current insure, which I pay for through Healthy New York. The question is how much will it cost, will it be affordable care, and what happens the next time I need a pacemaker?

Stay tuned.

Sheila Carmody received her pacemaker (her cardiologist twisted the arm of the health insurance company) and has received four more since 1986, one recently at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY.  St. Peter’s has some very skilled and caring people working there. Thanks Marion, Bob, Becky, Shy, (the two nurses between 10a.m. and 7 a.m. whose names I can’t remember cause of anesthesia), Reuben, the young tech, the secretary Jackie and Nurse Sarah, who got me out of there by noon. Oh, and Sosa-Suarez, MD.

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How to get the media to pitch to you.

As a journalist, I regularly received press releases and media pitches from organizations eager for good press. Unfortunately, they lacked news value without exception.

I wished they had news value; I could have used them. I needed stories. But they were unusable. I deleted them, sometimes en masse without even opening them. I began to wonder what the impact would be if the PR professionals sending the media pitches actually sent something I could use. Would the good press they received have an impact on their organization’s bottom line?

I was able to test my theory when I took a media relations position at a small private college. I approached press releases, for lack of a better term, the same way I had approached news stories as a reporter. My media pitches quickly drew the interest of news reporters looking for stories. The college became a major source for the media on everything from financial aid to the economy, the medical profession and undergraduate research, even sports. Student applications, which had diminished largely due to the rising cost of tuition, skyrocketed 60% over an 18 month period.

Then one day a well known business publication (The Business Review) called. The reporter on the other end of the line needed a profile for a regular feature in the publication. I paused momentarily and the reporter, trying to convince me to go along with this idea, said: “People call us begging us to do this for them all the time.” I was aware of that. I had been a reporter in a different market, but he didn’t know that. And, no, I didn’t tell him.

I was pretty sure my approach to media relations would be effective. I didn’t know it would be that effective.

The media was pitching story ideas — to me!

Want to put life back into your media relations?

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