Off Limits

Crossing the line on Rebel Hill...

"Your advertisement implies that Gregory's is located within Highlands Ranch, when in fact it is located north of County Line Road (and thus outside the boundaries of Highlands Ranch). Your actions violate applicable federal and state law.

"Beyond the locational issue, your advertisement's derogatory nature and negative connotations regarding Highlands Ranch are unwelcomed and offensive, not only to this office but to the approximately 59,000 residents of Highlands Ranch (many of whom I suspect you have done business with in the past, or hope to do business with in the future).

"Please discontinue your use of this advertisement or similar advertisements immediately. Should this advertisement or a similar advertisement appear again, Shea Homes reserves the right to take appropriate legal action."

Cheryl Haflich, a spokeswoman for Shea, says that while the company sends out a letter every time a business uses the Highlands Ranch name without its permission, this is the first time Shea has objected to an ad as 'offensive.' "We take pride in the development and the years of hard work that have gone into turning Highlands Ranch into the beautiful community that it is," she adds, apparently with a straight face.

Shea's letter made Bach laugh -- at first. "I read it and thought it was a joke. I didn't mean for it to be derogatory," he insists. "The connotation is that many of my clients and customers make the reference that Highlands Ranch is very far away to drive...If I have to put in 'near' so that it says 'The only reason to visit near Highlands Ranch,' then so be it."

Meanwhile, he has a few more words for the execs at Shea Homes: "If you have such low self-esteem that you believe any reference to this point is negative, then we apologize for you feeling that way, too."

Hacks and flacks: If you've never heard of Larry Green or Aimee Sporer, then you're not paying attention -- to the local news, anyway. The same goes for radio yakkers Peter Boyles and Tom Martino and ink-stained scribblers Woody Paige and Dick Kreck -- all among Colorado's best-known media types.

But are they among the state's most influential?

We'll find out in September, when TJFR Group releases its list of Colorado's hundred most influential journalists (or whatever passes for one in this state). The Denver-based company, which was founded by a former Wall Street Journal business reporter, is now interviewing its picks. And although the designation will no doubt flatter at least a few who make the cut, the goal is not to boost already-inflated egos but to make money...and influence the influential news-gatherers.

For twelve years, TJFR has been getting the scoop on scoopers and then selling the information nationwide to corporate execs, public-affairs pros, investor-relations people and anyone else who does battle with the fourth estate. "We know journalists," the company brags on its Web site. "A lot of other companies can tell you a phone number, or where to send a press release...But we also believe that there is so much more to know about the movers and shakers of journalism."

Like where they went to college, how many kids they have, and where and when they've worked in the media. Earlier TJFR efforts focused on national-level journalists, providing PR people with critical information -- at about $60 a pop -- that could be used by a cagey interviewee to schmooze an interviewer into refocusing a story in a more positive direction. And TJFR's been successful enough to earn a critical story or two from business publications that didn't appreciate the attention being turned on their own reporters.

But will the same tactics work in Denver? If you want to get the goods on a local journalist here, all you need to do is drop by the Denver Press Club and bend a few ears -- and your elbow. That way, you at least get a beer.

Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes. If you have a tip, call him at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail denver-editorial@westword.com.

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