It's all just a matter of confidence

March 03, 2010|By Laura Vozzella laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

Back when Towson PR guru Sandy Hillman was in league with the gang trying to bring slot machines to downtown Baltimore, she came up with a plan.

She called it, "The Confidence Campaign."

"SHC [Sandy Hillman Communications] is prepared to launch what we are calling 'The Confidence Campaign,' an effort aimed at raising the profile and bona fides of Baltimore City Entertainment Group in order to help secure the license for the Baltimore City casino," reads a memo from her firm.

"Our plan is to build broad-based confidence in the location, the property, the management team/ownership. This campaign will require very targeted outreach to key audiences: Elected officials; Influencers: community and business; Media; General public; Civic boards and commissions involved in licensing, e.g., Don Fry Committee; the Lottery Commission; law enforcement officials."

Now Hillman is in court with the leader of the failed gambling venture, and her Confidence Campaign memo is part of an exhibit in the lawsuit. She and four other vendors say Canadian home builder Michael Moldenhauer failed to pony up for their services. Hillman, who charged a $30,000-a-month retainer, says she's owed $121,125.

Though the PR campaign apparently failed to work its magic, I think Hillman deserves kudos for her use of the word "influencers." Reminds me of George W.'s "decider."

I'm less charmed by the idea that someone was being paid - or thought she was being paid - $30,000 a month to sway "law enforcement officials."

Best of all was the Confidence Campaign name, given the other meaning of confidence, as in confidence man.

I wondered if that struck Hillman as funny now that she claims she's been swindled.

Said Hillman: "I think I probably would not have thought of the double-entendre."

Twenty-eight Loyola MBA students and two professors were on their way to Chile for a weeklong class when Saturday's earthquake struck.

They started out at BWI on Friday afternoon, changed planes in Dallas and were about five hours into their nine-hour flight to Santiago when the American Airlines pilot announced they were turning around and heading for Miami.

"We were all asleep and they made an announcement, there was nothing wrong with the plane, we were all safe, they would let us know [details] in three minutes," said MBA student Allison Broglie, 26, of Federal Hill. "I think they wanted everybody to wake up before they said what it was. And then they just said the Chilean air space had been cut off due to a substantial earthquake."

Some passengers with loved ones in Chile became upset, but most remained surprisingly calm - perhaps because they didn't know the earthquake's magnitude, Broglie said. That changed after the plane touched down. In the Miami airport, Broglie said, "there's TVs all over the place. It was really sad because all the people who were from Chile were all standing by the TVs."

The Loyola group had to fly back home by way of Dallas for reasons having to do with luggage and finally got back to BWI on Saturday night, more than 24 hours after starting out.

Now Broglie and the others are trying to figure out how they can make up the class credit they would have earned in a week of touring Chilean manufacturing plants, including those making products for Johnson & Johnson, Black & Decker and General Motors. Broglie was counting on the three international course credits to graduate in July.

The trip cost $4,500. Of that, $2,100 was for the course credits, the rest for airfare and hotels. It's not clear whether they'll recoup any of the hotel and airfare money.

Broglie said she and the other students are disappointed, but they know things could have turned out far worse.

"A few hours later, we would have been there."

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