Tag Archives: Media Relations

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.


What’s Your Soundbite Strategy?

“We don’t have a strategy yet.”  Those six words may define the Obama presidency more than the Affordable Health Care Act, more than the economy or anything else the President has said or may do and say while in office.  That soundbite reinforced and may have cemented the public perception that has formed that his Administration is rudderless and lacks any strategy on a host of problems.  This was also a case study on how a soundbite or in this social media age, a tweet can define a brand, celebrity, CEO, or politician.

Soundbites and phrases defining a public persona or a brand is nothing new.  Often, a catchy phrase or soundbite cements the exalted image the public already has of the person or brand.  Abraham Lincoln is recalled for his “with malice towards none” phrase that reinforces the perception of strength with gentleness.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is remembered for his “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” that led generations to consider him a fearless peacetime and wartime leader.  John F. Kennedy is fondly memorialized for his “Ich bin ein Berliner” that was a testament of his eloquence and fearlessness during the height of the Cold War.  And Ronald Reagan is immortalized with his “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” that reinforced the image of his strength and the West’s triumph in the Cold War.  Even Donald Trump is forever fondly immortalized for his trademark “You’re fired” from the Apprentice.

Just as phrases can celebrate a person for good, they can cement a negative perception that never goes away.  Richard Nixon during the height of Watergate uttered the infamous “I am not a crook” that put in concrete the image of crookedness and sleaze that many had come to feel about Nixon.  Bill Clinton will always be remembered for his “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  Or on the corporate side, there is Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan defending a $5 fee on debit cards by saying, “we have a right to make a profit” that too many defined all that have come to dislike about the banking industry.

In this age of Twitter, a soundbite takes on an even greater meaning.  Not only can an ill-conceived remark reach the public via the media, it is carried to a larger audience through Twitter and other social media platforms.

Often as in the case of President Obama, comments are made without thinking of the long term consequences that the remark may have.  For brands, celebrities, and CEOs, just as with politicians this is important to remember.  Long after a crisis or event has passed the remark made will still be recalled by the public.  Regardless of years of good service, a poorly chosen remark will be remembered more than anything else.  That is why I always tell clients that words matter and think before saying anything because one remark may define you forever.

How To Tips: Reaching The Media At Trade Shows



Trade shows like Toy Fair and BookExpo are great places to meet buyers and also gain public exposure through media coverage.  News stories that come out of a trade show can make a company’s entire year.  Many smaller sized or new companies put most of their public relations and marketing budget into a major trade show.  Media coverage from a trade show can make or break a company.  For a new company or product, it can put them on the road of success.  Lack of coverage can often mean the end of a start-up company that was banking on media coverage and spent all of their public relations and marketing budget on the tradeshow. 

Here are six tips for trade shows to help you be successful in getting media coverage to make it worthwhile:

  1. Don’t cheap out. You’ve already spent tens of thousands (or millions) on your exhibit. Spend a few extra bucks and bring a public relations professional. Your sales team is there to meet buyers, partners and to sell, not handle media walk-bys, demos, interviews, social media posts and press room activities.
  2. Stick to your schedule. Reporters hate it when you decide to cancel or reschedule an interview at the last minute. They’ve already booked other appointments and you’ll risk losing the story. Don’t throw a hand grenade into a schedule that your PR team has spent weeks finalizing. Having a PR pro on-site will solve the inevitable sales meeting or customer drop-by conflicts that pop up. 
  3. BYO. Don’t rely on the show’s registered media list; qualify and build your own. Show media lists are notoriously out of date and often incomplete because many Tier 1 media simply don’t pre-register. They decide to attend last-minute. Advance media calls, confirmations the week of the show and reconfirmations during the show will ensure you connect with the right reporters. 
  4. Help media cut through the clutter. We’ve landed major national news stories by offering producers and reporters the opportunity to walk the show floor with a client who really ‘gets’ the category and can offer sound data, insights and opinions on what’s hot – and what’s not. Most trade shows are overwhelming, and the 24/7 news cycle makes them even more unmanageable for skinnied up editorial staffs.
  5. Brand the press room. If you’re spending a small fortune on an exhibit, why neglect the place where most media gather even if they skip your booth? There are 1001 smart and not always costly ideas for establishing a branded presence in a press room – from supplying a masseur to massage tired feet to sponsoring coffee breaks, note pads or back packs.
  6. Stock the press room. Don’t count on media to find you. Even if it’s just a humble jump drive, make sure your latest product info is available in the press room. No matter how old-fashioned it sounds – media still congregate in ‘their’ area to talk, post stories and get re-caffeinated, and they will scout out available materials. Even if they missed you on the show floor, there’s a good chance you can get your message in front of them.

Remember just as you plan every detail of your booth at a trade show, so should you plan your media strategy for the show.  Indeed the media coverage may at times be more important than how the booth looked.

Where Self-Published Authors Should Invest Money



More and more authors are turning to self-publishing.  In 2013, Bowker reported over 391,000 books were self-published.  That was up 59% from 2011.  This trend is expected to continue. 

With the increase in self-publishing, many authors wonder where they should invest their resources when undertaking this endeavor.  They know the cost of self-publishing can be astronomical.  I recommend that any author who is self-published spend their money on:

  1. Editorial
  2. Cover design
  3. Marketing and publicity

A good cover will catch a reader’s attention.  People are visual.  They react to what they see.  When competing against thousands of book in your genre, a good cover is essential to grab the consumer’s attention and get them to pick up the book and look at it.  Getting a consumer to look at your book is half the battle in selling the book.  This means a striking cover design that will arouse the reader’s interest.  A good cover conveys a sense of what the book is about and lends a sense of intrigue as well.  You don’t want to use clip art.  You want a graphic artist who has expertise in designing cover art and understands what your book is about.  A good graphic artist will provide you with several samples to select from after going to work on your cover.  Sometimes the perfect cover may be a combination of all the samples.  No matter what, work with a professional who has worked with authors before and can show you samples of his or her work.

Once a reader’s attention has been spiked, they will skim through the book to determine interest.  A book with spelling errors or grammatical errors will turn off the consumer and probably cost the sale.  Beyond that, you are struggling with the mindset (an unfair one) but one that still exists that self-published books are subpar.  A badly edited book will reinforce that mindset and hurt your sales.  Reviewers will pounce on any grammatical mistakes in the book.  Spending money on a good editor prevents that from happening.

So you have written the world’s best book, yet if you don’t publicize it, no one will know that it exists.  Getting the word out about your book is a lengthy process, sometimes as long or if not longer than writing the book.  It means book reviews, interviews, websites, collateral material, press releases, social media, speaking engagements, book trailers, blog tours, and book signings.  An average marketing and publicity campaign for an author takes between six to sixteen months.  It encompasses developing an author brand and reaching readers.  Don’t forget your competing not just against other self-published authors but also authors published through traditional publishing houses.  The challenge to get your book to stand out is immense.  That is why investing in a strong marketing and public relations plan either with an agency or individual who has worked with self-published authors in the past is essential.

Writing a book and taking it to market is a fulltime endeavor.  Making is successful can even be more challenging.  That is why know where to make your investments as an author is critical.


The Difference Between Press Releases and Media Pitches

I am often asked how press releases differ from media pitches.  It seems everyone has heard of a press release and believes they need one for their public relations campaign.  But beyond that they are not sure what a press release does and how it differs with a media pitch.

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.

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.

Why You Should Hire A Public Relations Agency

One of the age old questions about public relations has always been, do I need an outside public relations service provider or can I do it in house or by myself?  This question has never become more meaningful than in this age of Google, the 24/7 news cycle, and social media.  The answer is yes for a variety of reasons.

The first reason that comes to mind is cost in 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, Twitter and Facebook page.   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.  In retaining a public relations agency, you have their team assigned to your account handling your social media, your media coverage, your branding, and your press releases while you do what you do best – run your business.

Just as you go to a doctor or a lawyer because of their expertise that is yet another reason to hire an outside public relations service provider.  Just as you are the expert in your field, the personnel at a public relations agency are the experts in their field.  They bring their expertise in writing, in 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 experiences 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.

Public relations agencies know to think of all public relations contingencies including when disaster strikes a client and how to begin planning for any event.  Businesses always have a plan for when a crisis strikes in how to handle things except in the terms of publicity.  Working with an agency means a preliminary crisis communications plan has been developed beforehand that can then 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.

Public relations agencies are familiar with and use all of the public relations tools available to generate attention for their clients. These tools include pitches, press releases, media kits, media interviews, seminars, webinars, social media, ezines, and more.  Many people don’t know the difference between a media pitch and a press release.   A press release has a definite format and conventional style. It’s written in a journalistic tone and is on specific news be it a new hire, a new product launch, or any specific related news.   A media pitch, on the other hand, has the main objective of catching a reporter’s attention — enough to want to call you for an interview, product demonstration, or whatever call to action you’ve indicated. It has all the most important information, but not all the details. It isn’t a complete story. Rather it’s a teaser for a story.   A public relations agency knows the difference and how to use both to their client’s benefit.  Finally many unless they are with a public relations agency don’t understand the importance of a media kit.  A media kit includes information on a company, product or service, includes FAQ’s, bios of key company personnel, pictures that can be used in news stories, and a sampling of previous media coverage.  It is essential to any public relations campaign.  Unknown to many is the fact that if you don’t have a media kit, most of the major media won’t touch you.  The major media grades potential guests and interviews on a scale of 1 to 10 without a media kit, you don’t get beyond one.  A public relations agency knows how to develop and constantly maintain a media kit.

There are other reasons to work with an outside agency.  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.  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 company represented a marriage counselor and when the Eliot Spitzer story broke, went into pitching mode to have our client discuss why powerful men cheat which resulted in coverage on CNN, HLN, and Oprah.  An agency knows how to make use of the news to a client’s benefit.

The answer to whether you need an outside public relations vendor is quite simple.  Yes.  An outside public relations agency saves money and time, they have the expertise, they know how to employ the tools needed for your public relations campaign to succeed and having them do the public relations allows you to do what you do best – your business.