Tag Archives: media

Five Tips for Media Relations Success

success

My last post – Relationships Don’t Matter MOST in Media Relations – sparked some spirited conversations last week. Most people who commented agreed. A few disagreed. One asked if I would share more about what I believe DOES matter most in media relations.

Here’s my take on that. It’s based on what has helped me hit media relations home runs so far in my career. These are the tips I’ve used to land a couple thousand great stories for my clients in places like Good Morning America, People magazine, The New York Times and The Today Show.

T-1. The Silver Platter – This is one of the two most important ingredients in media relations success. It involves going beyond developing a great story angle to pull together everything a reporter would need to tell the story. Dig up stats and trends to support your angle. Find a third-party expert willing to be interviewed on the topic and offer them up as part of the pitch. Make it hard for the reporter to say “no thanks.” Serve the story up on a silver platter.

T-1. Relevancy – Relevancy is the second of the two most important ingredients. The perfect pitch doesn’t matter to the wrong reporter. Don’t trust Cision or Vocus blindly. Before calling a reporter, look at the last five stories she’s written. What does she cover? Is your story relevant to her? Is it relevant to her readers?

3. Relationships – Relationships are very important. You build them by delivering on the first two tips above. Relationships get you returned phone calls, opened e-mails, incoming calls when a source is needed and, sometimes, allow you to mitigate or lessen potentially negative news. (Hey, I didn’t say relationships DON’T matter. I said they don’t matter MOST.)

4. Resourcefulness – Your ability to come through in the clutch will save stories from getting scrapped. I once worked with Good Morning America on a story that took a span of two months to pull off. It almost fell through three different times, but I kept sharing alternative ideas with the producers to keep it going. Don’t easily accept missed opportunities if you believe they are worthwhile. Hustle. Be creative. Be resourceful.

5. Guard the Gates – Protect the reporters you’ve built working relationships with during your career. Don’t hand off their contact info at the request of everyone in your department without first finding out what they are pitching. If it’s a poor pitch, tell them your contact wouldn’t be interested. If you must share the reporter’s info, insist that your colleague NOT use your name as a way into the conversation. Too many poor pitches that start with “David Mullen said I should give you a call” will quickly be bad for me.

What about you? What are your tips and tricks for generating more news coverage for your brand or your clients?

*Image by Rick Harrison.

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The One Thing I Would Change About Marketing

sunrise

You have the power to change the status quo in marketing. It’s true. Even if you’re not in a position to direct much change today, you will be soon enough. Which leads me to wonder about your answer to this question.

“What if you could change one thing about our industry. What would it be?”

What would I change? I often wonder why marketers and media don’t wield our powers for good more often. Don’t get me wrong. Most agencies take on a few pro-bono clients and our ranks our chock full of good-hearted people who make the world a better place. But there are times when I see work across every marketing channel that makes me feel like we as an industry are playing a major role in the growth of our hyper-selfish, imperfection-obsessed, fear-charged society. And, to be honest, I don’t always know what to do with that thought.

Sorry if that’s a bit heavy. There are other things I’d change that would not make me sound like a Debbie Downer. (Really, I’m not!) But I’m interested in your thoughts.

If you could change anything about our industry as a whole or your day-to-day work, what would it be? After you get it off your chest, let’s start working toward changing it.

*Image by Indy Kethdy.

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Five PR Trend Predictions for 2009

the-crystal-ball

Predictions are always dangerous. People way ahead of the curve throw jabs about how such and such changed a long time ago. People way behind the curve yell “hypocrisy!” Of course, you always stand to be wrong at the end of the year. But why should that stop us?

These predictions are for the industry as a whole. Since you are a marketing rock star, you may think one or two of them are old news. Trust me, they aren’t. For example, a friend in the industry was asked the following question by an executive vice president who oversees the internal and external communications of his Fortune 500 company.

“What exactly is a blog?”

That wasn’t in 2004. It was eight months ago.

On with the show. Here are five trends to watch in 2009. They aren’t the only changes that will happen this year. But I believe each will change how we look at and practice PR, both strategically and in the day-to-day execution.

People RelationsI’ve said it before. I think the P in PR is changing from “Public” to “People.” We’ve always targeted publics by pitching media outlets based on the demographics and interests of their readers/viewers/listeners. Thanks to social media tools, we can target people based on their interests. The difference – and it’s a big one – is that now we can have actual conversations with consumers more easily than ever before. That puts the focus on people as individuals instead of simply the larger group they may belong to based on their household income or gender or hobbies.

This year, we’ll see more PR folks wrap their arms around that reality and understand the power of helping brands connect and build relationships with people in ways that are even more compelling and meaningful than a USA Today story on page D13.

Measuring People – This won’t be new for some. Katie Payne and others have been preaching this stuff for years. But I think the way we look at measurement will continue to shift at a much greater pace in 2009. More agencies will challenge their clients to see the value of measuring more than just impressions and advertising value equivalency. More clients will push their agencies to do the same. Both will begin to understand that having 65,000 people read their online news release is as or more valuable than 15 million impressions that may be buried deep in an online news site or at the back of section F.

I think that more clients will get comfortable with these types of results even though they are seemingly smaller because of the great work being done on the digital advertising side. Marketing clients know the value of a page view and a click-through. Communications departments will begin catching up with that mindset.

The Death of “Viral” – Every client wants its agency to produce a viral whatchamacallit these days. And, of course, agencies are happy to chase after it. The truth is, though, that you can’t predict – and therefore, create – “viral” campaigns. You can create online campaigns that you hope will go viral. But we know that most don’t. As more clients experience the letdown of that and better understand the difficulty of achieving success at it, I think we’ll see more of them get over the “let’s do something viral” knee-jerk reaction and concentrate instead on creating smart integrated campaigns that include compelling digital work.

More Story Opportunities – With the seismic changes going on daily – even hourly – in the traditional media realm, it may seem that news coverage opportunities for brands are dwindling. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Actually, we’ll have more opportunities for coverage than ever in 2009.

More media outlets are expanding their online presence, which means more opportunities for coverage. Web editors don’t have the same page space limitations as their newsprint counterparts. That doesn’t mean they take crappy pitches and turn them into stories. It means you have a better chance of not having a good story get left on the editing room floor.

Also, more journalists are using social media tools as part of their jobs, which provide more outlets for stories – especially by those who blog. Your story may interest a particular BusinessWeek reporter who also blogs on businessweek.com. While the story may not make the cut for the print edition, said reporter can still write a blog post about it.

PR pros who look beyond traditional media outlets – even beyond general online coverage on a news Web site – will land more stories and help their clients look like superstars.

The People’s Choice – This is where you share what you think will change about PR and communications in 2009. What will be new and different this year? What will cease to exist?

*Image by Mark Norman Francis.

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The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People”

people-relations

This week, Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.

Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.

Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.

I believe PR is well-positioned to lead the charge in creating more powerful connections between people and our brands. But we have to look for ways to foster those relationships, which goes beyond a great story on cold newsprint.

That’s not to say that those news stories aren’t worthwhile. They always will be. But we can’t stop there. Those brands that do stop there run the risk of losing out to brands that pursue ways to engage with people. I think this will become more noticeable as the social media sphere grows, along with the opportunities it presents to connect directly with people.

Have we gotten so focused on media that we’ve elevated placements above the people we’re actually trying to reach?

Do we pitch stories to outlets that don’t target our “people” for the sake of increasing impression numbers?

Do we send stuff out on newswires because you get some automatic online “placements” and “impressions” that real people could never find by searching the news site, even with perfect keywords? (We can only find them because we’re sent a direct link.)

I agree with Shannon. Media outlets are vehicles – tools, if you will – not the end goal. But I think the conversation needs to take an even bigger step back. In Yesteryear, we could get away with simply thinking about “publics.” I think, though, that might not cut it these days. Today, it’s all about People Relations.

*Image by Jairo.

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Should Marketers and Media Wield Their Power for Good?

I shared a few videos with some friends this weekend as I led a discussion on the impact media has on defining beauty and sexuality in our culture. Aside from being incredibly well produced, the videos – and the larger campaign that they are a part of – are a great example of how brands can differentiate themselves in a meaningful way by having the courage to buck their industries’ status quo marketing trends and look at key consumer insights through a different lens.

I wanted to share the videos with you.

After watching them, the reminder for me is that we don’t always have to focus our marketing efforts on telling people how our product or service will help them become who they want to be. That they are incomplete without product X, which will make them whole. Showing that you understand their insecurities and empowering them to recognize that they are already amazing can create incredibly powerful connections between brand and consumer.

So I found myself asking “do marketers and media have actual influence over how consumers’ view themselves and the world around them?” I say, “yes.” That led to a bigger question. If so, do we have a responsibility to use that power for good more often? I’m interested in what you think about that.

Okay, on to the videos… My personal favorite is “Amy,” because it sums up how 99% of men feel about their significant other, even though they usually don’t believe us.

Enjoy.

“Evolution”

“Onslaught”

“Amy”

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The PR Pitch Dilemma

Jeremy Pepper wrote a post yesterday about how we in the PR biz have become slaves to technology. He believes it’s caused many of us to abandon the phone and in-person meetings with reporters thanks to the ease of email pitches. Lost, he says, are the real relationships that make us valuable and, subsequently, many press clippings for clients.

His post got me thinking. There’s a PR pitch dilemma going on in our industry and reporters and PR people created it.

In short, it boils down to this: Most journalists want to be pitched by email, but a good percentage of pitches are sold only after picking up the phone and calling. So what’s a PR pro to do?

Many reporters these days prefer to be pitched by email. That’s great. But email pitches present two problems. First, we need to know if reporters are interested in a pitch or not. Bosses are asking and clients are asking. Since journalists often don’t reply to most email pitches from PR people they haven’t worked with yet, you have to pick up the phone and ask. Either that or you assume they aren’t interested and report that. But then you look like an idiot if a story shows up two weeks later and the reason the reporter didn’t let you know he was interested is because he didn’t need any further info from you.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called to follow up on an email pitch I didn’t get a response on and the reporter was interested AFTER we talked. “I didn’t see that email, can you send me more info?” Many of those calls turned into stories for my clients.

See the dilemma? So, I offer a hearty apology to journalists, but if you don’t respond to my initial email, I have to pick up the phone and call. But I promise to only send you emails and give you phone calls when I’ve got an angle I believe is truly newsworthy.

And that’s where PR people have contributed to the dilemma. I’ve heard from several of my media connections that they often don’t see and respond to good email pitches because they get lost in the sea of daily emails they receive, many of which are pitches that are completely irrelevant to their beats, their interests and their audiences. Hopefully, those with the good stuff have the wherewithal to pick up the phone.

Do you see the dilemma? How do you navigate it?

*Image by Dan McKay.

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Readers Vote on PR Pitches They Want Reporters to Cover

We sometimes open media pitches by saying something about believing it will be interesting for that outlet’s readers/viewers/listeners. FastCompany.com is taking PR people up on that in a new way that turns the assumption of what readers want covered into the reality of what they want covered.

Now, PR folks can submit their pitches publicly to Fast Company’s “The Killer Pitch” blog and readers vote the pitches up or down based on what they’d like to read about. If you’re trying to get an idea of it in your head without clicking on that link, think Digg.

This is the first I’ve heard of this, but I could see other media outlets doing it moving forward. Why wouldn’t they?

Why it’s Great for Media
1. It involves readers in the editorial decision-making process. Giving your audience some ownership in the finished product helps make for more loyal readers.
2. It ensures that Fast Company covers topics its subscribers want to read about in its pages and online.
3. It could cut back on the number of pitches individual reporters receive and reserve more of their time for researching, interviewing and writing.

Why it’s Great for PR
1. Whether the story is written or not, readers who participate in the process see your pitch and learn a bit about your new product, service, etc.
2. It requires more time spent crafting the pitch to as close to near perfection as possible, since it will be made public.

What do you think about this move? Does it provide a great opportunity for media relations? Do you think others will follow?

Thanks to my friend Mark Tosczak for the tip-off. I’ve cross-posted this from relentlessPR, the Mullen PR team blog, where I also post regularly.

*Image by Daniel Morrison.

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