Best Profnetter of 2007: Lenore Skenazy


Morris+King‘s award for the Best Profnet Queries of 2007 may have been dominated by a single journalist had they not given separate recognition for the extremely prolific Lenore Skenazy, columnist for the New York Sun, AdAge, and the Creators syndicate.

Skenazy has a ton of column inches to fill and wisely keeps her queries spicey so they grab attention. She asks mosquito experts to “come and bite me,” and ponders “How can you tell if your city is being targeted by God (or gods) for imminent destruction? Just curious.” Easy Gawker.

According to Morris+King VP Lane Buschel, co-compiler of the list, “Each of her queries has a hook, a voice and a defined request. Journalists and PR professionals alike can stand to learn from her colorful use of the system.”

“I love ProfNet and am so grateful for all the great sources and stories it has led me to—including stories that led to other stories,” said Lenore Skenazy.

You can pitch her at lskenazy at yahoo, or just wait for her next query. In the meantime, check out Skenazy’s Top 10 Best Profnets for 2007 after the jump. Up next is the Dishonorable Mention Award.

The Best Lenore Skenazy ProfNet Queries of 2007:

10. NON-EXPERT: Apologizing: When Have You Done it and How Has it Changed Things?

As the holiday Yom Kippur approaches, Jews (like me) are commanded to make apologies to all the people we’ve wronged this past year. This is hard to do, and I congratulate myself if I even make one sincere apology for something I really feel guilty about (this year I apologized to a woman I insulted about 12 years ago, so, I don’t rush). Anyway, what I’d like to hear about are stories of apologies made either by you or to you. How long before you got around to it, what was the impetus behind it, how did it change things (or you)? I have a feeling apologizing is a way bigger deal than we think it is, perhaps because in this day and age of “instant” insincere apologies (“I’m sorry if anyone misconstrued my remarks likening my opponent to a bald, bloated badger as an insult”) the whole area of “I’m sorry” seems tinged with insincerity. Anyway, let’s hear those stories.

9. BEHAVIOR/TODAY: How Societies (Human and Animal) Have Adapted to Heat

I’m researching how societies (human and animal) have adapted to heat. When it’s 95 degrees and I see Muslim women in long, hot robes, or Orthodox Jews in thick, black suits, I wonder: How come they are so much less whiny—and possibly even less sweaty—than me? Then I wonder about civilizations that live in the desert and giant worms that live near the superheated sea vents and I wonder: Why are they less whiny than me, too? (Well, the giant worms have no mouths. But still…) What have all these groups learned about adapting to the heat? Anything they could teach me? Have we evolved into a nation of one-temperature wonders, who can only exist between 50 and 83 degrees? Tell me fascinating heat facts, before I melt.

8. WOMEN’S ISSUES: Imperfect Moms

Are we having an up-with-imperfection moment, especially when it comes to motherhood? It feels like that to me, but I’d sure like some evidence. You don’t hear a lot about “supermoms” anymore, except as the kind of person we all hate. (I’m actually not sure supermoms ever really existed, or whether the media made them up.) But anyway—I’d like to hear of any examples you’re noticed of society saying to moms: You’re good enough the way you are. (And by the way, moms: You are!)

7. CULTURE/TODAY: Why Are Dragons So Popular All of a Sudden?

Looks like dinosaurs are draggin’ while dragons are breathing fire. There’s the “Dragonology” book, of course, and “Eragon” and “Harry Potter.” How—and why—did these mythical creatures take over the brains of all the kids who knew every denizen of the Pleistocene era? Gotta hear it soon, for a column for tomorrow on the year(s) of the dragon. (I know it’s not *the* year of the dragon.)

6. BELIEFS: Did Anyone Ever Worship the Mosquito?

I’m looking for anyone steeped in mosquito lore and legend. Come and bite me. Or, actually, I’d prefer an e-mail.

5. ADVERTISING/TODAY: The Story Behind Mr. Whipple and Friends

I don’t know about you, but I always suspected that Mr. Whipple and the Ty-D-Bowl Man were more than just friends. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. What I’m writing about today (I hope) is the history of some of our favorite ad icons, including Mr. Whipple, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean and anyone else you can think of. I’m looking for historians and ad industry folk who can furnish me with stories about how these great icons came about. Any good anecdotes about disasters or setbacks are, of course, very welcome. Tell all and we shall mourn Mr. Whipple with a salute to his creed.

4. BOOSTER/TODAY: What Children’s Book Characters Besides Dumbledore Are Gay?

Calling all literary types and gender-studies majors. Now that J.K. Rowling has informed the world that Dumbledore is gay, I’m wondering what other famous literary characters were gay too? Ahab? Jo in “Little Women”? One or more of the Seven Dwarfs? And, what evidence do you have? I really am looking for thoughts—outrageous *or* scholarly (or both)—as to which characters may some day come out of the closet. I’m on a tight deadline. Let’s talk.

3. FOOD/TODAY: Is Fancy Food Really that Much Better Than Fast Food?

Is fancy food really that much better than fast food? I ask because for a while I used to do restaurant reviews, and then I’d find myself eating at the salad bar for lunch and think “Mmmmm” as I ate my steam table stew. And it was always hard for me to understand why a $28 entree was considered so much “better” than this $5/lb salad bar feast. I also found myself thinking, “Boy, if I lived in medieval times and someone showed me this amazing spread—or even the menu at McDonald’s—I would faint at the freshness and opulence of it all.” Anyone else think that way? Like—quit bashing fast food, we’re lucky to have it? That’s all. I’d love to hear from food historians and regular folks. Off to breakfast.

2. HEALTH/TODAY: Fun with Circumcision

Clip and save. That is the message New York is considering giving its men (and new parents, I think). Since circumcision seems to be preventing some cases of AIDS in Africa, New York is considering pushing it here, too. My angle: What will be the ad campaign? I’m doing a column on fun ideas for subway posters, radio ads, TV spots. Yes, an excuse for all sorts of jokes. Feel free to join in.

1. RELIGION/TODAY: How Can You Tell if Your City is Being Targeted by God?

How can you tell if your city is being targeted by God (or gods) for imminent destruction? Just curious. As a New Yorker whose town was just whipped by a near tornado—third huge storm this year—I would like to talk to theologians, clergy and professors about how you can tell when/if God is fed up, when Armageddon is starting, what signs God is supposed to give before wreaking destruction, etc. Also: Are plagues always the way to go? This year we have had floods, a blackout, stifling heat and, of course, ridiculously high rents. Call soon, before I’m zapped for blasphemy.