Category Archives: Media Relations

The Benefits Of Public Relations

Whether you are a corporate leader, author, entertainer, athlete, or seeking to influence public policy, you know that you need public relations.  Yet despite this, many people are uncertain of what the benefits of public relations are.

First you have to understand what public relations is.  A basic definition of what public relations does for companies, authors, entertainers, athletes, organizations, and brands is it shapes and molds their public image. It utilizes the right strategies to allow for you to be heard and seen, through media outlets.

So, what are the benefits of public relations?

  1. Target market.  A well-crafted and orchestrated public relations campaign targets the media and events that your target market utilizes.  If you are a toy company making board games, a public relations campaign will target the media that people who like board games read, watch, or listen too.  The campaign will also target trade shows and events that will give your product the maximum exposure, as well as, obtain celebrity endorsements that will carry weight with consumers.  If you are a romance author, public relations will allow you to reach readers who purchase romance books through media interviews, book reviews, book signings, and speaking engagements.
  2.  Businesses, authors, celebrities, brands and any organization conduct public relations not just to promote something but to build a better image. Effective public relations allows your brand to attain a positive image both online and offline, which benefits you for the long haul and brands your image in the public’s consciousness.
  3.   Public relations such as a media interview, review, or media profile, carries weight with the public.  It is seen as a third party (the media outlet) endorsement.  The public knows that such media mentions are not paid for by the company, unlike an advertisement.  Studies show that consumers give a media mention over 7 times the credibility they do an advertisement.
  4. Public relations is more cost efficient than advertising.  The rates for public relations along with the results it produces, are between 30% to 50% better than doing advertising.
  5. Lead Generation. The media placement from public relations is long lasting.  This is especially true with Google, company and media outlets websites.  While you will see the greatest number of leads after the media mention appears, the leads continue long after as people find the media story online during searches.

The benefits of public relations are immense.  It is long lasting with the impact felt long after the initial campaign.

Do You Need A Public Relations Agency?

A very common question asked when considering public relations is, do I need a public relations agency?  The answer is yes, you do need a public relations agency for a variety of reasons (and not just because we are a public relations agency).

Why you ask do you need a public relations agency?  Let us count the reasons why:

  1. The media receives thousands of pitches a day.  Having a public relations agency make the media contact adds credibility to you and what you are promoting.  It shows the media that you, your company, service or product are credible and you are placing money behind it to promote it.  Trying to do it yourself lessens your credibility in the eyes of the media.
  2. It saves you money and time.  In business, everything revolves around the bottom line.  In this alone it is smarter to retain a public relations agency.  Public relations is not just press releases, press conferences, and media appearances.  It also includes the social media aspect of maintaining a company’s blog, and social media pages.   This would require several salaried people.  In terms of salary alone, you are losing out as with a retainer with a public relations agency you have a team of professionals on your account that handle each aspect of that public relations campaign.  For small and medium sized organizations, the savings is even greater.  Not only are you saving money, you are saving time and remember time is money.  There are not enough hours in the day for a small or medium sized business to do everything that needs to be done.  And time away from your core business means lost opportunities.
  3. The personnel at a public relations agency are the experts in their field.  They bring their expertise in writing, social media, media relations, branding, and special events to the plate.  They know public relations.  They know how to position a client for the maximum exposure.  They have the contacts with the media.  They know which reporters will cover which topics and also how to package a story that the media wants.  Many people think of an interview in terms of sales, it isn’t.  If a reporter suspects someone is just trying to sell them something through their story it will never see the light of day.  An experienced public relations expert knows how to package a story so that it is newsworthy to the reporter while still being of marketing benefit to a client.
  4. Crisis Communications. Most people think of public relations as positive news.  It is, until disaster strikes. Businesses always have a plan for when a crisis strikes in how to handle things except in terms of publicity.  Working with an agency means a preliminary crisis communications plan has been developed beforehand that can be altered to fit the crisis.  Agency personnel have the skills and experience to objectively evaluate your business, clearly assess its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to use them in crisis communications.
  5. By bringing in someone from the outside you are bringing in someone who can be more objective and doesn’t have the emotional commitment and blinders that an owner or company employee has and can assess what ideas will work and what won’t work.
  6. A public relations agency tends to be more creative in developing story ideas and teasers to induce the media and can think outside the corporate box. An agency constantly monitors the news and often sees opportunities that others don’t.  For example, our agency represented a marriage counseling service and when the Anthony Weiner story broke during the 2016 campaign, went into pitching mode to have our client discuss why powerful men cheat which resulted in coverage on FOX News Channel, CNN, HLN, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and the New York Post.

So, based on these reasons, the answer to whether you need a public relations agency is quite simple and emphatic.  Yes, you do.

Tips For A Successful Media Interview Via Skype

The importance of a good television interview cannot be overstated.  Everyone knows the power of television and that it often reaches far more people than other media forms.  In addition, a television interview can be repurposed for online marketing and social media outlets.  With advances in technology, more television interviews, especially on networks and affiliates in major cities are being conducted via Skype.  For the television networks and stations this cuts down on production costs.  For the interviewee it means more preparation for the interview.

Here are some things to consider when doing a Skype interview:

  • Check Your Connection– Test your Wifi connection in advance.  Make sure that it working and that signal is strong.
  • Make Sure Your Video Is On – The worst thing that can happen on a Skype interview is for the video not to be working.
  • Consider Your Background– Keep it simple and branded, if possible.  A background with the company logo is perfect.  Also blue and green backgrounds are ideal.  Avoid red backgrounds.
  • Avoid Bare Walls– Add visual interest, but be relevant to the topic at hand.  Bookshelves are always a nice touch.
  • Secure Your Location; Lock the Door– Make sure no one interrupts you during the interview.
  • Wear Solid Colors– Busy patterns move and jump on camera.  Dress just as you would if you were in studio.
  • Look Into The Webcam– Look at the viewer; not yourself.  This is critical as you want to come across to viewers as direct and as if you were in the studio.
  • Create Space; Sit Back– Don’t get too close to the webcam.
  • Center Yourself– Be sure you are in the center of the screen.
  • Check Your Lighting– Make sure you are well-lit and not in shadow.  At the same time don’t overdo it.  Shut any blinds or curtains to avoid any sun glare.
  • Turn Off All Notifications– You don’t want your inbox pinging you or sounds going off that will disrupt your flow and distract the audience.
  • Use a Professional Skype Name– Remember this is how the television station or network will contact you.  You want your name to reflect you and your brand.  Avoid Skype names like Partyanimal or OnforaBuzz.

Skype interviews are the way all of television is headed.  By following these simple rules you will guarantee yourself a successful interview that will reach potential customers and be able to be utilized on social media channels.

 

Tips For print Interviews

Here are some useful tips for print interviews.

  • Print interviews comprise of newspapers, magazines, and online news resources such as blogs.
  • Are typically done over the telephone or via email.
  • Unlike live radio interviews, if the interviewer stumbles or remembers something they want to add to the interview, they can go back to the answer.
  • Always make sure you have a clear phone line.
  • If you can’t hear a question ask them to repeat it.
  • In print and online interviews, the more that you provide the better as your answers will be edited. So the more information that you provide, the greater the chance you make it into the story.
  • Some print and online stories will be available the next day, some are for future stories that may not appear for several weeks or months.
  • Never ask the reporter or blogger to read back your answers to you.
  • Never demand to see the story beforehand.
  • Always record the interview.

Tips For Acing A Media Interview

Media interviews are a part of the media relations component of a public relations and branding campaign.  It involves working with the media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies, and practices in a positive, consistent, and credible manner. Positive media coverage reinforces and builds greater brand identity, creates a positive feeling among consumers, and helps build a reservoir of goodwill in case of negative news stories.

When doing a media interview, it essential to remember a few key points:

  • Even in a positive story never consider the reporter as a friend.
  • Nothing is ever off the record.
    • Reporters will often record an interview. Sometimes they will tell the subject.  Other times they will not.  Some reporters use their smartphones without ever telling the subject.
    • A smart rule is to make your own recording. If something is misquoted or taken out of context you have the response ready to rebut.
  • You know far more about the subject than the reporter does. Most reporters do minimal research.  They often get story ideas from social media, tips, or pitches from PR people.  They are interviewing you as the expert.
  • Never lie to a reporter.
  • If you don’t have an answer readily available tell the reporter that and then get the answer as soon as possible.
  • Make sure if a reporter is doing a story that they have all of your contact information.

Successful media interviews go a long way in establishing a positive brand reputation.  Just like anything it takes practice and discipline to be successful.

What Is A Press Release

A press release is an announcement of certain news – a product launch, book release, special event, or promotion.  It is written to receive media mention.  The headline needs to be written in a way that commands attention but isn’t seen as a sales gimmick.  The first paragraph of the press release is the most critical.  That paragraph should be the guts of the press release with the who, what, when, where, and why in it.  With cutbacks in the media it is usually the first paragraph that gets picked up if any of the press release is picked up.  After that first paragraph there should be a quote and some follow-up information included, as well as a link to the website from the business, non-profit, or author the press release is coming from.  More and more press releases are being used for a viral affect with social media and free online press websites available to post a press release.

What Is A Media Pitch

A media pitch is written to get specific media coverage from a reporter.  It is written and geared in a story format.  It is often tied to a news story.  I recommend a two paragraph media pitch.  The first paragraph should list the issue or news story, as well as, critical questions that should be asked or addressed by the reporter.  The second paragraph should include your expertise in being able to address those questions, as well as, how you would answer the questions.  You want the pitch written concisely, with a good soundbite in your answer.  With media cutbacks, reporters and producers love pitches that are written as a news story that they can incorporate into their story and the interview with you.  Media pitches generate the hard media coverage and interviews that brands, authors, and celebrities crave in a public relations campaign.

How To Maximize Media Coverage At Toy Fair

In a matter of weeks, toy makers will descend upon New York City to unveil the hottest and latest toys at Toy Fair.  Toy Fair is the premier event for the toy industry.  Think of the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys combined with Fashion Week, and that is Toy Fair.  For many start-ups and even existing toy companies, Toy Fair is a make or break event.  Be discovered by the media at the trade show and the sky is the limit.  Be ignored and it is hard to recoup.

Why is this? Toy Fair is an opportunity for journalists to notice trends and get a sense of what is changing and new in the toy industry.  That allows reporters to form toy trend stories throughout the year and develop the ideas for television segments and print articles.   This is a way to get a toy in front of consumers and for many start-ups, a way to get the notice of investors (Shark Tank producers attend the show along with many financial analysts).

So how should you stand out to earn the coveted media attention?

Know what the media will be looking for and target your presentation for the specific media that you need to target.  What is the media looking for at Toy Fair?

  1. Toys that are cool (I know everyone thinks their toy is cool). Reporters are looking for good visual toys that will appeal to people instantly.  They are looking for groundbreaking toys.   They also want toys that are easy to demonstrate on camera and can be explained easily. Have a good, appealing, and strong elevator pitch between 30 seconds to a minute prepared.  Don’t overwhelm with technical details.
  2. Reporters like toys that are tied are tied into hot topics and trends.
    • Tech toys.
    • Entertainment tie-ins.
    • Lifestyle themes.
    • Social consciousness.
  3. Compelling business start-up stories (This really appeals to the financial press, analysts, and of course Shark Tank producers).
  4. Toys that are connected to a particular regional market.
  5. Toys that have a strong human interest appeal.

So knowing what the media is looking for, how do you attract them?

  1. Develop key talking points so you are prepared when the media stops by. Among these talking points should be:
  • Who you are.
  • What your company and toy does.
  • Why your toy stand out.
  • Important selling features.

 

  1. Getting the media to your booth:
    • Have the booth look professional.
    • Make sure that you have contacted the media who will be attending Toy Fair and invite them to your booth.
    • Host a special event at the booth just for journalists such a pre-show breakfast or lunch.
    • Have snacks available for reporters.

Toy Fair happens once a year but the impact of the show for a toy company can be felt throughout the year.  That is why for anyone exhibiting at Toy Fair, media coverage is not essential but a must in order to be successful.

 

 

Planned Parenthood in Crisis Mode

Planned Parenthood is in a crisis mode and attempting to launch a public relations counterattack after an undercover video surfaced that seems to indicate that the organization sells fetal tissue from abortions to researchers for a profit. Such action if true would be illegal.

The video was released by the Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday. It shows two undercover CMP activists posing as employees from a biotech company having lunch with Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, and discussing about which body parts are in demand. In the video, Nucatola is seen and heard discussing Planned Parenthood’s policy of donating fetal tissue to researchers. The activists ask Nucatola whether clinics charge for the organs, which she skirts around.

The language is graphic. “Yesterday was the first time she said people wanted lungs,” Nucatola says. “Some people want lower extremities, too, which, that’s simple. That’s easy. I don’t know what they’re doing with it, I guess if they want muscle.”

Nucatola discusses how they are able to get other organs without “crushing” them. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Conservative politicians rushed to condemn Planned Parenthood and demand a cutoff of federal funding and investigations into the organization. But even some in the medical and research community expressed deep reservations about Planned Parenthood and Nucatola. Planned Parenthood is denying it sells organs for profits and is attacking the Center for Medical Progress.

This whole lessons for those in public relations.

  1. In this day and age of smartphones nothing is ever off the record. Someone may be recording a client without the client knowing it and it that tape may appear on social media or in the media. In addition to Planned Parenthood, think Mitt Romney and Donald Sterling.
  2. Various issue advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle are sending undercover members to businesses and associations hoping to catch executives saying something embarrassing or awkward. This trend will continue.
  3. Social media and non-traditional news sites are becoming dumping grounds for stories that once they go viral, the traditional media picks up and reports with a vengeance since they felt they have been scooped and must make up for that lapse.
  4. A good defense is not always a good offense. Planned Parenthood’s response to this video has been more to attack the Center for Medical Progress and conservatives who are criticizing the group rather then to provide a detailed rebuttal and provide Nucatola to the media for questioning. The organization seems to be sidestepping the major issue raised in the video that is leading even supporters of abortion to question it.
  5. Emotional issues such as abortion need to be dealt with sensitivity. Planned Parenthood in its response has come across angry which doesn’t sit well with many people even some of its supporters. A more nuanced response addressing concerns people might have would have served the organization much better.

Social media, bloggers, and citizen activists drive the news in this 24/7 news cycle. Brands and organizations need to realize that and that they may be a target of this and the old rules of journalism don’t apply with these people. Failing to realize that may put you in the same boat Planned Parenthood is in currently.

What Makes A Good News Story

Media relations are a key component of public relations. Companies want positive media coverage to assist them in reaching their target audience. Every CEO believes that they have a story that is newsworthy that will bring them coverage and assist in marketing. Regardless of whether it is business to consumer or business to business, companies want media coverage.

In public relations we hear all the time from clients and potential clients, can you get us in the news? The answer usually is yes we can, if you have a compelling story that will stand out. Today, news coverage is more competitive than ever before despite the opportunities the 24/7 news cycle provides.

What does it take to get news coverage?

Here are the elements for great media pitches and press releases:

  • New – Your company should have something current and fresh to share with your target audiences. Do you have a new product launch, a new spin on an old way of doing something, or a late-breaking development?
  • Timely – Make sure your news is presented to the media in a timely manner. For example, if your company reduced its carbon footprint this year, holding that information until closer to Earth Day (April 21) will give the story relevancy and timeliness; or closer to the season if you work in eCommerce doing stories on holiday sales online is timely starting in November.
  • Local – The rise of hyperlocal news has made this element more important than ever. Your story should be relevant to your locale; and remember, even national media outlets like to see how a piece of news impacts a particular community.
  • Human Interest – You might have a great piece of news, but you’ll increase your chances of coverage if you can put a human face to the story. For example, we represented an author once who after a near fatal accident gave up her high profile Wall Street career to pursue her dream of writing believing that the accident was a sign.
  • Conflict/Controversy – This component often needs some finessing, but if done right, you can position your piece of news as a long-fought victory or a beat-the-odds scenario.
  • Odd – That’s right, an unusual piece of news often makes headlines. Does your organization do something out-of-the-ordinary or quirky?

In today’s increasingly social world, I would add the following component:

  • Shareable – Your news must be worthy enough to be shared on social media platforms. At least six in 10 Americans consume news via the internet; moreover. Indeed more people claim today they get their news via the internet or Facebook than traditional media source. Indeed, Pew reported that 44% of consumers like to read news that is “shareable.” Indeed many companies that become overnight successes credit their success to the fact that their news story was shared on the internet.

News coverage can be obtained if we keep these basic elements in mind. These elements not only help our clients get the coverage they seek but also makes the reporter’s job easier meaning your relationship with them is strengthened and media relations, good relationships with reporters makes or breaks the coverage your client gets.