Category Archives: Public Relations

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.

Crisis Communications In Today’s Polarized Society

 

For years, businesses have known that a crisis could arise from an accident, product defect, or random statement by a company spokesperson. Now in this highly polarized political environment many businesses are finding that a crisis can arise from advertising on a polarizing show or sponsoring events that are politically charged. Social media not only goes after shows or events they consider wrong but against the advertisers and sponsors. Just see how JP Morgan Chase was forced to temporarily halt their ads on NBC News because of the Megan Kelly interview with Alex Jones or the hits that Bill O’Reilly’s advertisers took before they pulled their advertising.  As a result, businesses are being forced to rethink their approach to crisis communications.

So what should businesses be doing in this new era of political divisiveness and crisis communications?

  1. Do a risk analysis of all sponsorships and advertising that could potentially cause a public backlash among the right or left. In this analysis review all social media and traditional media mentions.
  2. Develop a prepared response in case your businesses is targeted because of its various sponsorships and advertising, and have it ready.
  3. Engage with activists on social media. Remember, that social media drives narratives not merely on social media but in traditional media as well.
  4. Remember all of your audiences – internal and external.
  5. Stay consistent on the message and response that you have decided for your business.

In today’s charged environment anything can cause a crisis for businesses.  More and more many businesses are finding themselves in a crisis due to indirect association.  That is why crisis communications is more essential than ever before in any overall public relations plan.

Branding Lessons From This Is Us

This Is Us, the drama/comedy on NBC is the breakout hit of this television season.  The show centers on the fictional Pearson story and jumps back and forth from the time that Jack and Rebecca Pearson were raising three children in the late 1970s to present day following the three now grown up children.  NBC has such faith in the show that it renewed the show for not one but, two more seasons.  Brands when developing their brand story can learn from This Is Us on how to develop a strong and compelling brand story that resonates with consumers.

  1. Stand out from the competition. The whole concept of This Is Us is unlike anything else on television.  The concept of jumping back and forth in time with the same family was an unique concept that viewers found compelling and original.  In a television landscape that is filled with procedural dramas, sitcoms, and cop shows, This Is Us stands apart.  The show is not dark and sinister nor does it tap into any of the polarization and politics that fills the news.  It is a feel-good show even if it does cover some of life’s tougher moments.  Brands when developing their story need to follow this concept and let their story be unique and compelling that will appeal to their target audience.
  2. Have compelling spokespersons. Part of the popularity of the show is the appeal of two characters who are spokespersons for the theme of the show.  One is the Pearson patriarch, Jack.  He is the father that everyone wishes they had and communicates in a simple, effective, yet fun manner.  The other is the recurring character of Dr. Nathan Katowsky, popularly known in the show as Dr. K, the replacement doctor who delivers the Pearsons’ children.  In every appearance the character gives a quote that resonates with viewers and is tweeted and retweeted over and over again.  Like Jack, Dr. K is seen as original and compelling.  Brands need to make sure that the person they have telling their story is compelling and one that audiences will relate to when hearing the person speak.
  3. Keep it simple. This Is Us tackles birth, marriage, child raising, death, illness, family conflict, and much more but it does so in a simple and easy to understand way that the message and enjoyment are not lost.  Brands need to remember this when crafting their story message.
  4. This Is Us creates an emotional connection and reaction from its viewing audience.  People report coming to tears when they learned that Jack Pearson, the father, is dead in present day.  Others swoon with the romance of the Toby character courting grown up, Kate Pearson.  Brands need an emotional connection with their audiences as well.  Consumers are not just buying the brand but the brand story and that is why the emotional connection and shared values must be present in the story.

Brands in developing their brand story and communicating with consumers should study This Is Us as it teaches news lessons weekly in communications strategies.  And if your current story or strategy isn’t working, it can offer a lesson on how to correct it, for as Dr. K says, “There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.”

The Difference Between Public Relations and Advertising

One of the things many people ask about public relations is what is the difference between public relations and advertising.  It is a common question that is asked time and time again.  Yet the two should not be confused.  Here are the differences between advertising and public relations:

  1. Advertising is paid placement. The company pays for the advertisement that is seen in the print publication, heard on the radio, or appears on television. The public knows that the advertisement is paid for by the company.  Public relations on the other hand is free and is earned by being included in a story or interview.  It provides an implied third party endorsement of a company’s product or service by the media.
  2. Message control. With advertising, the company pays for the message, controls what, where and when it will appear.  In public relations, there is not the control over the message.  The reporter determines what if anything they will report on.  If a company knows how to make its message timely and compelling, the chances are that the reporter will cover it.
  3. Consumer Perception. With paid advertising, the customer knows that the provided the message with the intention of trying to sell them something—be it a service or a product. When someone reads a third-party article written about a company’s service or product (or sees/hears coverage on television or radio), the message is perceived as non-biased and an endorsement by the media.
  4. An advertisement lasts as long as the company pays for it to run.  After that the advertisement disappears.  With public relations, the story lasts forever thanks to the internet leaving a viral footprint that is discovered time and again.  One client appeared in a newspaper article in 2006 discussing online shopping and that article still appears as a top search engine item for the client.  A television appearance can last forever thanks to YouTube, the television outlet’s archives, and also the transcript of the show.
  5. Point of contact. With advertising a sales representative is the main point contact when fulfilling an advertising campaign. With public relations, the point of contact are reporters, editors, and producers.
  6. An advertisement will never appear on the front page of a newspaper or be the lead on the nightly news.  In public relations, a news story can be on the front page and be the lead story on the nightly news giving a company extra weight in the court of public perception.

Can the difference between advertising and public relations be confusing?  Yes.  But the key to remember is that both are essential for a successful marketing program.

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.

 

 

Knowing The Difference Between Public Relations And Advertising

One of the things many people ask about public relations is what is the difference between public relations and advertising.  It is a common question that is asked time and time again.  Yet the two should not be confused.  Here are the differences between advertising and public relations:

  1. Advertising is paid placement. The company pays for the advertisement that is seen in the print publication, heard on the radio, or appears on television. The public knows that the advertisement is paid for by the company.  Public relations on the other hand is free and is earned by being included in a story or interview.  It provides an implied third party endorsement of a company’s product or service by the media.
  2. Message control. With advertising, the company pays for the message, controls what, where and when it will appear.  In public relations, there is not the control over the message.  The reporter determines what if anything they will report on.  If a company knows how to make its message timely and compelling, the chances are that the reporter will cover it.
  3. Consumer Perception. With paid advertising, the customer knows that the provided the message with the intention of trying to sell them something—be it a service or a product. When someone reads a third-party article written about a company’s service or product (or sees/hears coverage on television or radio), the message is perceived as non-biased and an endorsement by the media.
  4. An advertisement lasts as long as the company pays for it to run.  After that the advertisement disappears.  With public relations, the story lasts forever thanks to the internet leaving a viral footprint that is discovered time and again.  One client appeared in a newspaper article in 2006 discussing online shopping and that article still appears as a top search engine item for the client.  A television appearance can last forever thanks to YouTube, the television outlet’s archives, and also the transcript of the show.
  5. Point of contact. With advertising a sales representative is the main point contact when fulfilling an advertising campaign. With public relations, the point of contact are reporters, editors, and producers.
  6. An advertisement will never appear on the front page of a newspaper or be the lead on the nightly news.  In public relations, a news story can be on the front page and be the lead story on the nightly news giving a company extra weight in the court of public perception.

 

Can the difference between advertising and public relations be confusing?  Yes.  But the key to remember is that both are essential for a successful marketing program.

 

The Two Key Components of Successful PR For A Startup

Startups are emerging everyday.  A lasting impact of the Great Recession is the number of people starting companies on their own.  One of the key things that these new companies need is publicity.

Why?

  1. It gets the company’s name out to the public, creating brand awareness.
  2. It allows the company a chance to attract investors.

Yet despite knowing this many startups struggle over what they need to do to achieve publicity.  Sometimes they launch a publicity campaign before they are ready for prime time or other times they try to incorporate a variety of components in their publicity campaigns instead of concentrating on the two most important pieces of startup publicity – media relations and the company blog.

Media relations and the company’s blog are without a doubt, the most essential public relations pieces for any startup.  Without those two pieces nothing else matters, in terms of publicity.

Media relations is quite simply news stories featuring the startup and its founder.  It informs the world of the new company and the wonders that it can do.  Beyond that, a successful media relations campaign should position the founder of the company as the expert in the field the company specializes in.  The founder should be in all news stories dealing with his or her field and offering solutions to the problems that the media is discussing.  This implies a third party endorsement by the media.  Media relations must be ongoing to create a sense of awareness and repetition.  Media relations is the most efficient way to create public brand awareness and draw the attention of investors.

The company blog is the other critical public relations component for a startup.  Why?  First every blog post attracts traffic to the company’s website and also helps in search engine results.  Beyond that, just as with media relations, it sets the company up as an industry expert that helps in the long-term branding of the company.  Finally, it converts leads into customers.

Public relations is critical to the success of startups.  But knowing what to put the emphasis on in a publicity campaign can determine if the startup succeeds or fails.  Every start-up when executing its public relations campaign needs to emphasize media relations and the company blog.

What Businesses Can Learn From This Year’s Political Conventions – Social Media Is King

The 2016 political conventions are upon us. Unlike political conventions of the past, the suspense is gone on who will be the nominee and no intense battles over party platforms are fought out at the conventions. The political convention in this day and age is in many ways an infomercial for the presidential nominee and their political party. Yet millions of Americans still tune into the convention. Yet the way they tune in to obtain coverage is one studied intensely by businesses so that they can copy the methods to reach the consumer.

Political communications leads businesses in new ways to reach consumers and position their brands. In 1920 and 1924, radio came of age covering the Republican and Democratic conventions. Businesses paid note of that and the increasing number of Americans who owned a radio. The result was that businesses began reaching out to Americans via radio – sponsored shows like Little Orphan Annie(the forerunner of product placements) and direct advertisements. In 1952, as Dwight Eisenhower and Robert A. Taft battled it out for control of the Republican Party, millions were glued to the convention proceedings on television that was just reaching its potential. Again businesses took note that a new way to reach consumers had emerged.

So what can businesses learn from this year’s political conventions?

Social media is king. The television networks have all cut back on their coverage of the conventions (a trend that has been going on for a while now with all of the suspense gone). Americans are paying attention to the conventions not with traditional sources of media (radio, television, or print) but via social media – Twitter and Facebook. This confirms something we have seen over the past several years – social media sets narratives. In fact a tweet or Facebook post often reaches more people than a television broadcast of the proceedings. Beyond that, people react to what they are seeing on social media. The takeaway from this convention season for businesses – social media is only growing stronger as are the ways to use it. A shrewd business leaders will copy what they are seeing at the conventions and use the methods.

Business always follows politics in terms of how to reach consumers. It has been this way since politics became the competitive and partisan profession it is today. Each election cycle offers business leaders lessons on new ways to reach the consumer and make their brand standout. The next two weeks will provide many examples of this – just stay tuned.