Media Contacts

Heels vs. Flats: The Qualitative Metrics Your Measurement Might Be Missing

Media Contacts - Apr 14, 2014

Heels vs. flats; of course there’s a difference.

No, this isn’t a misdirected post intended for 5inchandup; this is very much about media analysis and intended for those of you who rely on technology alone to gain insights from your news coverage.

How are shoes relevant? Because if you rely on software alone to tell the story of your media results, you’re potentially sawing off the branch you’re sitting on – the branch needed to demonstrate the value of your media relations efforts to your organization.

You see, I love my Jawbone Up Band and app, which tracks fitness, food, and sleep. It provides me a baseline to understand how active or sedentary I am day to day. On any given day I wear heels or flats – some days both. There’s no way to log this into my app, but I feel the difference in my legs and shoulders depending on the weight of my computer and whether I’m wearing flats or heels. My app consistently tells me the number of steps and distance I’ve traveled, but without the ability to qualitatively alert my device to the external factors (heel height, weight of computer bag, flat or hilly terrain), the app is limited to what true insights I can gain.

The same goes for your media coverage.

All media coverage is NOT created equal. Often times an outlet is a primary sorting field for many organizations, but depending on the goal, a hyper-local outlet could be far more influential based on the measurable objective. Example: An organization has a production plant in Bisbee Arizona. The media relations department has a goal to reduce talent acquisition costs by 10 percent for the fiscal year. This includes recruiting more local talent who do not require relocation services. In this example, it’s easy to understand that The Bisbee Observer, the town’s weekly newspaper, would be far more critical to achieving the goal than, say, The Arizona Republic. Unless your goals are aligned with your efforts, it is nearly impossible to show anything more than activity.

One common misconception in the marketplace is that public relations practitioners have to settle for the metrics provided by their software because they either have no extra time to drill into the results qualitatively, or it’s too expensive. That’s simply not true. In order to better understand if you are making progress toward achieving your goals (and ultimately saving money on efforts that are not supporting the end goal), you can work with a random sample of your coverage to glean real insights.

Granted, if you are reporting on only a sample (i.e. Google Alerts) of data, the challenge becomes more problematic. Without a larger purview  your ”sample” could be very limited and as a result, your insights and ability to project future actions and insights is equally as limited. The ”cost” of not doing deeper analysis could be much more costly to your organization if you continue down a path that is not garnering the results needed to achieve your goals.

While I’m not a digital native, I love my technology. I wear it, carry it and I’m lost without it should a battery need charging. At the end of the day there are other factors that let me know my Up Band is really working, and those results are reflected on the scale, in blood pressure results, and in overall well-being, things which my device alone cannot provide.  There’s no silver bullet to health and without adding insights to the fast metrics available, there’s no silver bullet to bettering your communication efforts as they relate to supporting your organization.

Categories: Media Contacts

How to Get Your Product in a Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide

Media Contacts - Mar 31, 2014

How can you pitch magazine editors to get your product in their yearly holiday gift guide? Being featured can not only give product sales a boost, but it can elevate your brand as well. But in-book gift guides are shrinking, meaning fewer slots overall, and each publication has different themes and price points, narrowing the field significantly.

Last week our VP of Agency Relations, Colleen Flood, attended PRSA-NY’s Meet the Media: Holiday Gift Guide Editors , where five panelists, all magazine editors, gave their input on how to make the cut in their 2014 gift guides, as well as general tips for pitching them year-round. Colleen brought back useful, detailed information that the editors shared during the panel.

The event’s moderator was Nicole Chismar, account supervisor of Media Relations at MSL Group. The evening’s five panelists were:

Allyson Dickman, associate lifestyle editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray

Caylin Harris, associate lifestyle editor at Parents

Irene Chang Kwon, associate editor at Working Mother

Catherine Peridis, fashion editor at Natural Health/Fit Pregnancy

Jessica Torres, beauty and lifestyle editor at Siempre Mujer

All the editors agreed that color scheme is a decision-making factor, and it helps if your product stands out or fits in with the scheme. Items should fall within the publication’s price specifications, and if it’s not a luxury magazine, they cap may be $100.

The product should also be nationally available, and when the product is shared with the media, it should look exactly how it will look when it’s on shelves. Know what types of gifts the publication features. Finally, submit early; most gift guides are finalized by early September.

Here are some of the publication-specific tips from the editorial panel.

Start early and know the theme

Torres explained that the Siempre Mujer gift guide encompasses gifts for him, her, home and kids. Siempre Mujer starts their holiday guide in July, does a run-through in mid-August, and closes in early September. (The magazine also does annual gift guides for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.)

Natural Health starts looking for gift guide items in June. At Working Mother, they start looking in July and wrap it up by the beginning of September. It’s a five-page guide that will be a mix of products for everyone, but the magazine strives to simplify the working mom’s shopping list and can include housewares, toys, and fashion products.

Parents and Everyday with Rachael Ray start looking for gift guide items in May. At Parents, Harris says they’ll call in samples in July and final submissions are due in the first week of August. Last year the six-page gift guide was organized by price. But Parents’ guide does not include gifts for children – it’s a gift guide for everyone else.

At Everyday with Rachael Ray, Dickman says it’s a four- to six-page guide, and final submissions are due by the first week of August. She says the guide is not gifts for parenting or kids, and it’s best to pitch by the sections in their magazines.

Know the criteria

At Siempre Mujer, products featured in the gift guide must be in the $5 to $500 price range. Since Hispanic culture also has King’s Day (also known as Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes), items can also be applicable for that holiday. But keep in mind that if your gift guide submission is anything written (like a book) or a movie, it must be in Spanish.

Natural Health loves charitable gifts and experiences tied to a gift. Kwon says that at Working Mother, gifts in the guide must make financial sense. At Parents, editors try to keep prices reasonable, and ask themselves how much a reader would realistically spend on a gift. They like products that look expensive, says Harris, and no gift cards or experiences.

At Everyday with Rachael Ray, budget is very important; the cap is $100, and Dickman says most gifts fall under $50. The gifts must be sophisticated but fun, and fit in with Ray’s personality.

Get picked

Editors from Rachael Ray trend spot at events, and constantly have their eyes and ears out looking for products to feature. Harris says that at Parents press kits accompanying products are incredibly important, and it helps your chances if the editors have product info readily available. Working Mother finds most of their products at events, and at Siempre Mujer, Torres says about 90 percent of their products come from pitches or look books, though the occasionally seek out products themselves.

Pitching tips

Siempre Mujer prefers deskside pitches with hi-res images, and Torres says she’s more likely to remember someone if she speaks with them in person. Fit Pregnancy/Natural Health prefers email pitches with all pertinent information, like images and cost, included in the email. Working Mother prefers both email and deskside pitches, as does Parents, though Harris says not to call. Rachael Ray will only do a deskside if there’s an actual product brought in – not a USB, as those get lost – and if the pitch is emailed, it must include a picture.

Categories: Media Contacts

Four Key Findings from the 2014 Top Media Outlets List

Media Contacts - Mar 18, 2014

by flickr user Sean MacEntee under CC BY license

What’s the most circulated newspaper? What are the most visited blogs and social media sites? Every year, BurrellesLuce publishes its Top Media Outlets list to show the leading traditional and social media outlets in the U.S. according to circulation, visits, authority, market share, or DMA. Below are the four most notable things we learned from the latest Top Media Outlets list, which was published last week.

Want a copy? It’s free –  download it here.

USA Today takes the top newspaper spot

USA Today displaced The Wall Street Journal as the daily paper with the highest circulation. USA Today made a huge leap, gaining over 1 million subscriptions since our last Top Media Outlets List in June 2013. That large spike may be attributed to the paper’s digital editions, which were not reported last year. However, those digital editions are free of charge, and USA Today reported lower circulation revenue in the third quarter due to hotels moving from paper subscriptions to digital ones.

Blogs are gaining ground – especially BuzzFeed

Though The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed retained their number one and two slots respectively, Buzzfeed narrowed the gap significantly; in November 2013, BuzzFeed had its biggest month ever with 130 million unique visitors, which they attribute in part to Facebook’s algorithm change. Interestingly, every single top blog increased in Technorati Authority, so while marketers may bemoan that the algorithm changes hide their organization’s page updates, the bright side may be that it’s driving more traffic to content.

Google Plus is rising, but it’s still behind

Google Plus had a big year, and it jumped from number seven to number four on this latest Top Media Outlets list, displacing Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Yahoo Answers. That’s a big step for a social network still described as a ghost town. But it’s still below Twitter, and virtually light years away from Facebook and YouTube, social networks numbers one and two respectively. And while some researchers are predicting Facebook’s demise, it still posted an increase in visits share.

Instagram made it to the list

The most notable addition to the top social networks list is that of Instagram, which didn’t make it into the top ten on our last list. The photo-based social media site is not only popular with dedicated selfie takers, but it’s also becoming more of a marketing tool, so it might be time for brands and marketers to consider optimizing and leveraging Instagram.

Click here to download the 2014 Top Media Outlets list.

Categories: Media Contacts

Broadcast Copyright Case Headed to Supreme Court

Media Contacts - Mar 11, 2014

flickr user dbking under CC BY license

There’s yet another news aggregator copyright case to keep your eye on – and this one will be in the Supreme Court. In 2012, ABC (American Broadcasting Companies, a consortium of television broadcasters) filed suit against Aereo, a service that transmits over-the-air TV signals using tiny antennas that allow users to watch online streaming broadcasts. Aereo subscribers pay a monthly fee, but Aereo has no paid licensing with broadcasters.

ABC v. Aereo seems like another of the many publisher-versus-aggregator news appropriation cases we’ve covered, only this time it’s broadcast television. The case has been going on for a while, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on April 22.

The most recent press has been full of support for ABC; both the U.S. copyright office and the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief stating that Aereo is infringing on broadcast copyright. Add to that two of the nation’s foremost legal experts on copyright law, UCLA School of Law professor David Nimmer and UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Peter Menell also filed a brief in support of the broadcasters. And then add the amicus brief filed by the National Football League and Major League Baseball, who receive about a hundred million dollars from broadcasters for licensing from cable in addition to potentially billions of dollars in retransmission fees for sports rights.

One would think things were looking good for ABC, but keep in mind that in the initial case in March, 2012, the judge ruled in favor of Aereo, a ruling that was upheld in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Without delving into all the legal rules and technical precedents, this is an interesting case because while it looks like classic publisher-vs-aggregator, the fact that it’s broadcast (which has had to deal with the advent of Beta Max, VCRs, and DVRs) and not written-word news content makes this an entirely different ballgame.

What does that mean for the PR pro? It means that despite the abundance of copyright cases and rulings, copyright is still a convoluted issue, and it’s still of the utmost importance to understand not only fair use, but other copyright implications as well. It’s also yet another reminder that though licensing may seem expensive, it’s important and vital to our industry that relies so heavily on media content and the continued success of media outlets.

It will be interesting to see how the case plays out and how the Supreme Court rules, but either way, the ruling could spell out a new future for broadcasting and copyright.

Categories: Media Contacts

This Week’s Shot of Fresh: Quarantine Your Influenzers, Retail Gets Pinteresting, and Media Relations Doesn’t Change With the Times

Media Contacts - Jan 24, 2014

flickr user Sheila Sund - docoverachiever

Shot of Fresh: our roundup of this week’s Fresh Ideas content.

Jargonology Episode 2: Influenzer

It might be the peak of influenza season, but bad sharing has no season. What’s worse, there’s no vaccine. Check out the second video in our series as we doff our caps to the maligned corporate lexicon and coin a few useful terms of our own.

Follow the Money, Follow the Pins: How Pinterest-ing Should You Be?

Target takes Pinterest into the tactile world with e-Pins on physical shelves. Even if you don’t have store shelves, it’s time to make your site more Pinterest-friendly and create a path from online inspiration to monetary purchase.

Media Relations: Back to the Basics

Has the digital age really changed media relations? Maybe not so much. It’s still about putting in the time, thought, and quality necessary to stay relevant. Is it a move back to the basics, or is it that the best way to do something hasn’t changed?

Categories: Media Contacts

Media Relations: Back to the Basics

Media Contacts - Jan 21, 2014

A few weeks ago as the new year approached, I took a stroll down Fresh Ideas memory lane by re-reading some old posts.  As I did so, I ran across one I penned back in February of 2010, titled The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

Word geek sidebar: Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French journalist, and novelist in the 1800’s, is credited with the epigram “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” (technically,  “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” translated to “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”).

Once again, I was struck that not much has changed in the realm of media relations.  Sure, delivery methods have evolved with technology but really not much else.  As a matter of fact, it seems to be the opposite is occurring—we’re going back to the basics.

It used to be that blasting out a bland press release to a ginormous number of media outlets was the thing to do — not because it was a good tactic, but simply because technology made it easy. We got lazy — and so did reporters. It became not uncommon for a newspaper to publish the release verbatim, passing it off as a story.  So you got the “hit,” you scored eyeballs, people saw it. That means your media relations campaign was successful, right? Um, no, not necessarily—not if those eyeballs weren’t the right ones.

Let’s say your client is opening a new pub and grill catering to the young professional crowd. Are you going to target the AARP magazine? Okay, so that was a bit extreme, let’s try another example. Your local veterans organization wants to notify residents of a memorial for a soldier killed in action, so a release is blasted out to every media outlet and community groups in the area—but no one really looked at the list.  If they had, someone would have noticed the Westboro church bulletin was on it. Essentially, you’ve just formally invited a hate group—known for protesting such events. Oops.

We’ve come to realize that just because it’s easy to do something doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done. We are taking a step back—back to the basics. It’s okay to use the tools available to you (media directory database) but that’s the starting point.

  • Do your research.  Know who you’re pitching to. It’s easier now than ever to quickly look up a journalist’s (or blogger’s) body of work to confirm what they write about.
  • Customize your pitches.  Whether you use mail merge or truly customize each pitch email, there’s no excuse for “Dear Reporter” and other generic communiques.
  • Think broadly. Link your pitches to greater trends, offer up newsworthy angles, tie your pitches into the media agenda, and be sure to seek great visuals. Media professionals are very receptive to thorough on-target pitches.

As this diagram shows, the realistic PR sweet spot tends to be with communications that are more personalized (though not necessarily individually-tailored), and sent to a select few, not just one person, and not massive email list.

Put in the time and focus necessary to make your pitches relevant, timely and of good quality. Or, as Johna Burke would say: “Say ‘No’ to GIGOGarbage In, Garbage Out.”

Categories: Media Contacts

Follow the Money, Follow the Pins: How Pinterest-ing Should You Be?

Media Contacts - Jan 20, 2014

flickr user mkhmarketing

E-Pins are landing on Target’s physical shelves.  When last browsing the store’s home accessories section, you might have noticed Pinterest tags next to certain items. This is one recent example of how hybrid retailers translate digital pins into tags and use social media in their inventory and sales decisions. With top-pinned items selling well online, the question is, will top-pinned items become best sellers on the shelf?

For business and communications professionals looking to Pin-tegrate their social media presence, Target’s evolving Pinterest strategy provides lessons and steps, as Pinterest has become a significant part of their sales and traffic strategy.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Pinterest started driving increasingly significant amounts of traffic to retailers’ websites, becoming a top five source of traffic for several retailers, following Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Yahoo, though search is still all-dominant.

2013 was a significant growth year for Pinterest, particularly among women. In fact, Pew Research data says that Pinterest is used by one-fifth (21 percent) of adults, and that one in three women are Pinterest users.

Inspire and Create a Path from Inspiration to Purchase

Target launched its Pinterest page in March 2012, and introduced the Pin button in the lead up to that year’s holiday season. Bonnie Gross, Target’s VP of digital marketing and loyalty, said last August that Target is in fact “still experimenting … We are in the phase of doing a lot, learning a lot and figuring out what works.” Gross says that Target boards are meant to inspire and then “create a path from inspiration to purchase.”

Target.com users have been pinning (saving) favorite products on their Pinterest boards. Target’s Pinterest approach has evolved into featuring and calling out the most pinned e-items in the physical stores with Pinterest signage.

Other retailers are using Pinterest in creative ways, most recently for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. Steve Patrizi, head of partner marketing with Pinterest, says that Lowe’s created Pinterest boards of items that were about to go on sale. It was a new way of doing digital circulars to ensure they reach Pinteresters.

Retailers are leveraging their Pinterest partnerships because, as President and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc. Mike Duke said, “The biggest opportunity we have is winning the intersection between physical and digital retail.”

Follow the Money:  Your Audience is Diversifying their Social Media Platforms

Is Pinterest a good marketing opportunity for your organization? Marketers tracking markets and their social media behaviors are honing their consumer connectivity accordingly. If your customers are diversifying their social media presence, your social media strategy should reflect that.

The growth of Pinterest does not mean that your audience is abandoning other social networks. Pew found that 42 percent of online adults in the U.S. use two or more social networks and nearly one-fifth use three or more social networks.

“People are diversifying their portfolios when it comes to [social networks],” Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew, told Mashable. “The addition of a Pinterest user is not necessarily taking away a Twitter user or a LinkedIn user.”

Are you Pinnable? Making your Site Pinterest-Friendly

PR and marketing professionals are used to thinking about SEO and search-engine friendliness. With Google’s Hummingbird, which launched in September 2013, SEO stopped being about keyword quantity and link-building and became about content quality strategy. Pinterest, on the other hand, is image-driven and has different rules for directing the traffic to your site.

Pinterest’s visual focus can be a hard concept for some businesses, like news organizations. But even news editors are finding ways to turn text heavy articles into a Pinterest-friendly visual format. The Wall Street Journal has been using Pinterest, in conjunction with Instragram, to cover the New York City Fashion Week.

As with other social media platforms, the idea behind Pinterest is to foster community engagement along with self-promotion. You are more likely to have a follower share on Pinterest if you include a pin on your website. Pinterest has an application to install a Pin It button to the bottom of your page. You can also have the Pin It button appear when viewers hover over images on your site. Conveniently, Pinterest integrates with other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How has your thinking about Pinterest evolved? How much of a challenge is Pinterest’s focus on the visual? Are you finding ways to visually express your business and products? What kind of results are you seeing from pinning?

Categories: Media Contacts

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