Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’

The PR Intern Who Pitched the Media

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Kion Sanders is a recent communications and public relations graduate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the former Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) national vice president of chapter development and a current member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Recently, he officially started his career in Cleveland, OH as an account associate for Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations.


As a student, I was fortunate to have internships that provided me with pitching responsibilities. One of the major roles of entry-level PR professionals is building and maintaining relationships with media representatives. My relevant experience made the transition from student to professional that much smoother because I was properly prepared for future responsibilities.

A model from the Nicholas Lindsey Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show

A model from the Nicholas Lindsey Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Show. (Image Rights: Nicholas Lindsey Brand)

 A few weeks ago, I concluded my post-graduation internship with Weber Shandwick – a global public relations agency. As a consumer brands intern, one of my major responsibilities was pitching the media on behalf of clients I represented. I was able to practice everything from writing and distributing pitch e-mails, using social media tools to engage my targeted journalists, the proper way to pitch bloggers and of course, jumping on the phones to tell my client’s story.

This experience prepared me for one of my most challenging roles to date – serving as a PR manager for a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show. Nicholas Lindsey, a brand designer and one of my fellow PRSSA graduates, was in need of last-minute PR support for one of the biggest shows of his life. Immediately, I jumped at the opportunity; it was a great way to help a friend in need and a way to practice what I learned from my internship.

As PR manager for the show, my main responsibility was media relations. On show day, I had journalists present from Essence Magazine, NBC Universal and fashion bloggers from around the country, including an NYC Fashion Examiner. To solidify these high profile media representatives, I used everything I learned from my internship, especially social media for media relations purposes. My wonderful PR agency allowing me to pitch as an intern led to something I am very proud of – my first national magazine placement: NYFW Designer Q/A: Nicholas Clements-Lindsey.

To answer Tressa Robbins’ question, posted on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, “Should PR Interns Pitch the Media?” … YES, they should – I am a living example of how it can prepare interns for the “real world.” In fact, I recently accepted a full-time position with Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations where I … pitch the media on behalf of clients.

Giving the valuable experience interns can learn from pitching, can you think of any reasons why they shouldn’t? 

2010 PR News Media Relations: Ed Markey, GoodYear North America, and Geoffrey Phelps, Coyne PR, Interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PR News Media Relations Summit. I’m joined by Ed and Geoff.

Will you gentlemen please introduce yourself?

ED MARKEY: Sure. I’m Ed Markey, vice president of communications for Goodyear’s North American tire business.

GEOFFREY PHELPS: And I’m Geoffrey Phelps, vice president at Coyne Public Relations in Parsippany, New Jersey.

BURKE: And you gentlemen just gave a great presentation about targeting your influencers and how you work with them. Can you please talk a little bit about how you target and work with the media in social media, like your bloggers, and the traditional media?

PHELPS: Well, one of the key things that we talked about today was in the past Goodyear had not approached bloggers. And we had a product that was specifically–the target demographic for that was specifically looking for a lot of their information online, on blogs, and they like to discover things.

So what we realized is there were key influencers in the blogs that we needed to talk to in addition to the traditional print media. So we looked at doing two launch events, one for traditional print media and one for bloggers, giving them the same sort of experience, but understanding that we had to treat the online media a little bit different; understanding that they have video-heavy needs, in many cases, that they have very, very fast turnarounds. They need everything electronically. Their time cycle is a lot faster.

MARKEY: It’s very similar to the different way you might treat consumers. You have to be credible. You have to create an environment where your word is credible, it’s believable, but where they can discover what you’re trying to tell them on their own. They can experience it and feel it on their own and really kind of take it and make it theirs, as opposed to you just pushing out the message. You want to create an environment that makes it easy for you to do your business and for them to get the story they need.

BURKE: Those are great tips for media relations and PR practitioners, and thank you so much. Where can people find you online and in social media?

MARKEY: Well, you can follow the Goodyear Blimp on Facebook. Please come and join us there.

PHELPS: And for Coyne PR, you can visit our website, it’s And we also have a blog, and we have lots of other tips and advice up there, as well.

BURKE: Thank you so much.

PHELPS: Thank you.

MARKEY: Thank you. 

Big Media, Mass Media, New Media – Oh My!

Friday, September 10th, 2010

A few days ago, I read NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen’s inaugural lecture to the fresh crop of future journalists at Sciences Pos School of Journalism in Paris. I’m not going to recap the historically rich (and lengthy) address, but will borrow a piece or two for the purpose of discussion here. (Note: his post can be found here if you’d like to read it in its entirety.)  This address was directed to future journalists, but I think public relations practitioners that deal in media relations, can learn from it just as well.

Rosen began with a clip from the 1976 movie Network, which is about a TV news anchor who begins to act out on the air. I realize this was before many of you were born, but please take a few minutes to watch what is probably the most well-known scene in the film.

Rosen believes the filmmakers are “showing us what the mass audience was: a particular way of arranging and connecting people in space. Viewers are connected ‘up’ to the big spectacle, but they are disconnected from one another.” He explains, “But Howard Beale does what no television person ever does: he uses television to tell its viewers to stop watching television. When they disconnect from TV and go to their windows, they are turning away from Big Media and turning toward one another. And as their shouts echo across an empty public square they discover just how many other people had been ‘out there,’ watching television” – concurrently yet disconnectedly. 

I agree with Rosen’s belief that this clip clearly demonstrates the great event we are living through today: the breakup of the mass audience and the shift in power that goes with it. What if today’s TV personality acted like Howard Beale? Rosen answers: “Immediately people who happened to be watching would alert their followers on Twitter. Someone would post a clip the same day on YouTube. The social networks would light up before the incident was over.  Bloggers would be commenting on it well before professional critics had their chance.” 

Cases of where citizens beat journalists to the punch are numerous but a few off the top of my head are: the Mumbai attacks, the Hudson River plane landing, or more recently the Discovery Channel hostage situation.

Rosen goes on to explain, “The media world today is a shifted space. People are connected horizontally to one another as effectively as they are connected up to Big Media; and they have the powers of production in their hands.”

The digital revolution changes the equation, according to Rosen. “It brings forward a new balance of forces, putting the tools of production and the powers of distribution in the hands of the people…”.

From my media relations standpoint, this means the days of blasting out a press release to every big (or small) media outlet are rapidly coming to an end. NO, I’m not saying big media is dead, nor is the press release (sheez, don’t get me started!)

What I am saying is that PR agencies, public relations practitioners, branding/marketing folks, small business owners, etc. now, more than ever, have additional opportunities to reach out to their publics in multiple ways – connecting with their individual audience(s) – and each other wherever they hang out.  Big media and small media alike are still very much part of that equation, but now there are even more possibilities.

That’s my takeaway from Rosen’s speech and the clip. What is yours?

Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

by Crystal deGoede*

There are a lot of us that follow people on Twitter whom we have never met or heard of just because everyone else is following them. “They” must have something good to say, right? We should trust them. Or we like a brand on Facebook just because they are giving away an iPad, or friend someone from high school merely to see their photos. Yet, we never even talked to them – then or now.  (I know people that have over 2,000 friends on Facebook…come on. That number might be ok for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. because we are “networking” with peers and colleagues, but these Facebook accounts are mostly personal.)  

In reality, we all are just building our personal brand. In fact, regardless of the Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?network, these people may not really be our “friends” or even acknowledge our tweets but when we update our status or link to an interesting article, they are seeing it and vice versa.  Our own word-of-mouth marketing is taking place with every post, generating a buzz for ourselves, company, brand or clients.

Since the 1980s, when word-of-mouth marketing became the big craze, the continuing efforts of companies trying to create a buzz, by having people endorse their products, has increased. And with social media, it is easier than ever. All marketers know that the ability to generate word-of-mouth advertising is not something that can be purchased, or so they’ve been taught.

However, that may no longer be the case. Celebrities, along with other influencers are receiving compensation to tweet and blog, mentioning certain products to their millions of followers. Can you imagine getting paid $10,000 just to tweet?

Sponsored Tweets, a new Twitter advertising platform, connects advertisers with twitter users. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word. Along with advertising on Twitter, the company also has a sister site Pay-Per-Post, which pays influencers to blog about certain products. Currently they have 400,000 participating bloggers and tweeters, and over 40,000 advertisers.

Besides paying people to tweet and generate a buzz around your brand, you can also gain followers or friends by simply buying them. One way to gain “fake,” “targeted” friends is Twitter1k, which offers several options for the quantity of followers. If you need Facebook friends/fans, well you can buy them too. (Interestingly enough, the use of such friending or advertising services could potentially get you banned from a given social network – though some claim that they are less likely to do so then their competitors – unless of course you are using a service affiliated with the network. Then it seems to be more “ok.” Go figure.)

Why are companies doing this? Well most of us trust a brand that has a higher number of followers, fans, and YouTube views. If a brand has this, many “friends” and most of those friends are speaking positively about them, then we assume they must be engaging or influencing.  We are also more likely to recommed the brands (personal or business) that have lots of friends and followers.  Those artificial friends that are doing your word-of-mouth advertising have real friends that trust them, and that allows your brand to reach different verticals without much effort. Therefore, for some marketers, the incentive to fallaciously drive-up those numbers is very attractive.

If you found out that a brand you trusted had paid for their followers or for praise from someone that doesn’t even use their products or service, how would you feel? Does the ability to buy friends or pay people to be brand ambassadors go against the etiquette for transparency in social media? How does that reflect on the brands and companies who legitimately build their following, slow and steady, over time? Would you ever consider purchasing friends and followers for your brand? Share your thoughts with BurrellesLuce and our authentic Fresh Idea readers. 


*Bio: After graduating from East Carolina University with a Marketing degree in 2005, Crystal DeGoede moved to New Jersey. In her four years as a member of the BurrellesLuce marketing team and through her interaction with peers and clients she has learned what is important or what it takes to develop a career when you are just starting out. She is passionate about continuing to learn about the industry in which we serve and about her career path. By engaging readers on Fresh Ideas Crystal hopes to further develop her social media skills and inspire other “millennials” who are just out of college and/or working in the field of marketing and public relations. Twitter: @cldegoede LinkedIn: Crystal DeGoede Facebook: BurrellesLuce

What Do You Do When You Find Yourself at the Center of a Negative Story in the Media?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

In ancient China, soldiers would warn against impending attacks by sending smoke signals from tower to tower up to 300 miles away within just a few hours; In 1775, Paul Revere used his vocal chords and a horse on his “midnight ride” to warn of the British invasion and in the 1800’s Samuel Morse used a type of character encoding system to send 20 words per minute via radio.

Today, in just a few typed lines and a few clicks, stories are being spread around the world through social networking sites circling the globe in a matter of seconds. And the vivid details from personal accounts through citizen journalism and the proliferation of camera phones are adding more truth and authenticity to these stories. In some cases the immediacy and extra scrutiny can lead to positive things (e.g., shedding light on last summer’s Iranian protests). In others, it can be

Image: for the main character or brand – causing irreparable harm to their reputations. The BP oil spill in the Gulf, the English goalies blunder against the U.S. team in the opening round of this year’s  World Cup, or any Lindsey Lohan story these days are just a few stories that go against the old PR adage, “Any publicity is good publicity as long as you spell my name right.”   

Celebrities have been putting up with this type of scrutiny, to some degree, for years with paparazzi constantly photographing unsuspecting beach goers wearing unflattering bathing suits or in compromising positions. But when it happens to our politicians, business leaders, corporations, athletes or just everyday people, how does one cope with the instant barrage of viral videos, bloggers, or tweeters, and the repercussions that follow? At least bad weather would force the ancient smoke signalers to take a break every now and then. Barring a colossal Internet crash, today’s perpetual flow of information continues to tarnish reputations worldwide (and many times rightfully so).

 Today crisis communications is becoming increasingly difficult with public relations and marketing people scrambling to keep up with today’s technology.  One lesson that Southwest Airlines taught the PR community back in February is to always keep a close eye on what the media, especially social media, is saying about your company. When movie director Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest Flight on Feb 18, 2010, essentially for being too fat, he tweeted about the episode and the next day the story was all over the Internet. However, Southwest wasted no time and offered an apology to Smith via Twitter and posted an explanation of their policy on its own blog before the story started to trend.

Maybe there should be an island for all the victims of negative social media fall out, where they can live in solitude and where there are no computers, web access, or mobile devices until their names are mercifully pushed down the search engine results list.  Even then, it probably wouldn’t take long before helicopters were swirling overhead taking video and instantly downloading the footage online.  A more practical approach would be to prevent the crisis from spreading further by paying close attention to what is being said in all forms of media and to who’s saying it.

The “who are you with attitude?” is old school now. So how are you preparing your clients and executives for “the every one is a reporter mentality?” Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.