Posts Tagged ‘Media Outreach’


Pitching the Media – The 2014 Edition

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Pitching the Media BurrellesLuce Public Relations PR Software Media Monitoring news clipping

L to R: Hammerand, Drew, Putz, Lebens. Schwartz, Ojeda-Zapata and moderator Rachanda Hall. Photo by Debbie Friez

by Debbie Friez*

Your pitch needs to be a great relevant headline in the subject of your email. (“Yes, I know,” I think as I listen to yet another media panel. But, do I always follow this advice?) So, I continue to listen to the panel of six journalists for this combined Minnesota PRSA, NIRI Twin Cities and Business Wire event. The 2014 edition of this annual event turned out to be one of the best media panels I’ve attended.

Let’s get it out there. Do I call, email, tweet, Facebook, Google Plus message or text a journalist? They all agreed, email is the best option. Duchesne Drew, managing editor for operations, Star Tribune, reminded the audience you can usually find reporter’s emails on the publication’s website, and getting to the right reporter will make all the difference.

The follow-up call to see if they received the press release, on the other hand, is usually annoying. (And all PR folks hate that call!) But, several panelists agreed, they are extremely busy with very full email boxes, so reaching out via different means (even a phone call) is not a bad idea if you don’t get a response in a few days. Andy Putz, executive editor at MinnPost, says you can call him, but avoid calling him in the morning. Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a technology writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, is actually quite active on Google Plus, and, if you follow him on Twitter, he’ll follow you back, so you can direct message, if needed. Other panelists said it is OK to find them on social media and text (yes, text!) them if you have a relationship and their cell phone number.

As young PR novices, we learned we should take reporters out for an informational coffee to develop a relationship for future stories. It seems the practice is still worthwhile for most reporters working a beat. Jim Hammerand, digital editor at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, says his day is very busy, so he finds breakfasts or happy hours work better for him.

Embargoed releases are fine, if the reporter has agreed to it ahead of time. (Wow! I’m thinking about all the times I’ve seen these go out blindly!) But Ojeda-Zapata says he doesn’t have a problem with embargoes.

The sportscaster of the group, Dave Scwartz, KARE-TV, doesn’t usually use bloggers for sources. In the sports world, he finds most are just big fans. He also assured us that sports guys do wear pants. (I’m not sure we found that information relevant?)

The actual hard deadline is less relevant in the 24/7 newsroom, although some still exist. Hammerand commented on the need to fill the Business Journal’s 3 p.m. daily email and the paper edition needs information one to one-and-a-half weeks in advance. Nancy Lebens, editor for Minnesota Public Radio News, has about 30 newscasts to fill, so she is always looking for stories at all times of the day.

Reminders from the panel for your own organization’s website media room:

  • Include complete contact information (not the generic media@domain.com) on their organization’s website.
  • If you don’t want your mobile number on your website, be sure to have it in your voice-mail.
  • Remember to post press releases as you send them out, so they can confirm information.
  • If your company has a product, post easy-to-find and downloadable images and background information.
  • Don’t make your media room password protected, where the reporter is required to sign-in. They may not do it.

Even in this digital age, reporters and PR folks still need each other, and we can continue to learn from each other. Happy pitching!

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Debbie Friez serves as tech editor for the Capitol Communicator and is also a consultant. Previously, she worked as Vice President, Major Accounts for BurrellesLuce. She originally joined BurrellesLuce at their Minnesota Clipping Service affiliate.

Friez was a senior account director for West Glen Communications, a broadcast PR services company. While at West Glen Communications, she was a frequent contributor to the DC Communicator newsletter.

She has a broad understanding of the technologies that are transforming the marketing and communications profession. She serves on the advisory board for the Capitol Communicator, the membership committee for the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the national marketing committee for the Association of Women in Communications, and is a member and past president of Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR).

 

 

Media Contact Lists and the Perils of Reckless Pitching

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
Media Contact Lists and the Perils of Reckless Pitching Johna Burke BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas public relations PR Media Contact List Press Clipping Media Monitoring

flickr user A DeVigal uner CC BY license

Media contact databases have long been considered a critical tool in the public relations pro’s arsenal. But such contact lists must be used with discretion, careful targeting, and common sense.

The purpose of a media contact list is to provide PR pros with contact information for relevant journalists, not to provide a recipient list for an impersonal press release blast. This may sound like Public Relations 101, but when journalists receive press releases that aren’t relevant to their beat, location, or publication, they get frustrated, and it gradually erodes the quality of relationships between public relations and journalism:

 

Media lists should be but one small component of our outreach efforts. Especially in 2014, when within minutes we can call up all the articles a journalist has written, take a look at his or her Twitter, and assess whether our information is of interest. Media lists cannot and should not be a substitute for meaningful, personalized connections.

Here are things you must consider for every journalist before sending them a pitch or press release:

  • Does this pitch pertain to their specific geographic area?
  • Does it pertain to the journalist’s specific reporting areas? i.e. an investigative reporter will have no use for the announcement of a new restaurant location opening
  • Does the publication run the types of story you are pitching?
  • Is this really newsworthy? Yes, it’s frustrating when clients demand coverage for something we know isn’t really news, but sending a journalist an irrelevant release just so you can tell the client you sent it will not help your case when you have something of true value in the future

It’s time to stop taking the short view of just sending a press release to say it was sent to X number of people. If it’s not relevant to most of those people, it’s not only the same as not sending it, it’s worse. Think of the long-term implications of repeatedly sending irrelevant press releases: it trains journalists to tune them out. It’s a classic Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf scenario: no one will listen when you finally have something valuable to say.

Though it might not seem like it, journalists and PR pros are fighting the same battle. We’re all fighting to do more work on less time in a saturated medium. So instead of using the challenge as an excuse, use it as a way to better relate to our journalist counterparts. It can only make it better for all of us.

Media Relations: Back to the Basics

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Media Relations Back to Basics Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasA 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.”

A Poetic Holiday Message From BurrellesLuce

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Poetic Holiday Message GIGO Goat BurrellesLuce

Everyone at BurrellesLuce loved curated content a lot,

But GIGO Goat at Goat Inc. thought he did not.

GIGO Goat hated quality! The whole curating scene!

Garbage In, Garbage Out was his professional mien.

It could be he thought the GIGO solution all right,

Or it could be his budget was three sizes too tight.

But I think the most likely reason of all

Was his frustration with content behind the paywall.

Though he stuck with Garbage In, Garbage Out as his scheme,

About BurrellesLuce WorkFlow he would secretly dream.

“Their content’s so relevant!” he lamented with a sneer.

“And their WorkFlow portal is intuitive and clear.”

Video clips of broadcasts just aired,

Online and print articles carefully prepared.

His GIGO content unlicensed, GIGO content just text,

He never met goals and felt totally perplexed.

One day down at good old Goat Inc.,

GIGO Goat, PR pro, on his hooves had to think.

There erupted a crisis of enormous magnitude

But many stories his GIGO solution would exclude.

So he called BurrellesLuce, in a huff of despair,

And immediately from GIGO solutions did he foreswear.

BurrellesLuce services, so comprehensive and bold,

Were surprisingly affordable, and he was consoled.

And what happened then? Well at Goat Inc. they say

That GIGO Goat’s performance improved ten-fold that day.

With a new strategy and overarching PR solution,

Goat Inc. created a new resolution:

Say “No” to GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out,

BurrellesLuce is the solution, beyond any doubt.

From us all at BurrellesLuce we wish you the best,

And that your holidays and New Year be most generously blessed.

May good health and cheer in your home overflow,

And in 2014, to GIGO, say “No.”

How to Engage Journalists and Influencers on Social Media

Friday, December 13th, 2013

flickr user Rosaura Ochoa

flickr user Rosaura Ochoa

by Alfred Cox*

Yesterday I attended the PRNews Media Relations Next Practices Conference in Washington, D.C., at which BurrellesLuce was also a sponsor. Some of the most persistent questions in media relations center on reaching out to journalists in the most efficient and effective manner.  I attended the session “Find and Engage With the Right Journalists and Influencers on Social Media,” which addressed these issues and more.

The sessions guest speakers were Kathy Grannis, senior director of media relations at National Retail Federation; David Ringer, director of media relations at National Audubon Society; and David Wescott, director of digital strategy at APCO Worldwide.

Grannis started out with her suggestions, and emphasized the importance of building relationships with journalists and influencers; she recommended keeping in touch through Twitter, to reach out and congratulate a journalist when they move organizations and positions. Such communication not only sustains a relationship but helps you stay on top-of-mind. Of course, communicating is key, but Grannis stressed that learning how to communicate correctly requires full-time dedication.

When it comes to relevant conversations on social platforms, Grannis recommends contributing transparently, positioning your brand as an expert on the subject matter. But Twitter is also about more than your message; Grannis point out you should be using Twitter to keep up with your competitors and what they’re tweeting, as well as what they’re publishing on other social media sites.

Finally, she advocated blogging. Content marketing has become integral to marketing, PR, and media relations strategies, but Grannis also pointed out that blogs are a tremendous source for getting your statement out there, and even stated getting your message out in your blog is just as important as getting your statement in The New York Times.

Ringer offered his insights next, and pointed out that too much email is boring. He said that Twitter is the best tool to interact with journalists, and that it’s important to find and engage with the right journalists and influencers on social media platforms. He strongly suggested following new journalists right away, and thinking of Twitter not as your personal account, but as your new Rolodex. The list-making function is a great organizational tool to make that happen.

Ringer suggested that once you’ve selected those key journalists and influencers, you should care about what they care about, even their more personal tweets, and interacting with those more personal tweets, and retweeting their tweets, helps build a relationship. But he also pointed out that everyone likes a name check on Twitter, so be sure to credit people for their work by @ing them.  And don’t limit yourself to interacting with well-known, established media figures; befriend those bright new media stars, too.

Wescott followed with his observations, saying that Twitter is the best tool for PR people, and that they must have a presence. Something else that enhances your presence is having Twitter public conversations as well as private conversations, which also helps build relationships that will get new business.

Wescott advised that Twitter and blogging are excellent tools for presenting yourself as a thought leader and a bridge builder between PR pros. He also advocated for citing sources with @s, as well as using hashtags for context and engagement. Wescott recommended finding journalists not just on Twitter, but also on sites like LinkedIn and Muck Rack.

What other social media strategies do you have for engaging journalists and influencers?

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Bio: Alfred Cox is a rare commodity of a performer who combines a relentless drive to succeed with the ability to provide “first-person” touch to his clients, creating loyalty and repeat business. He has a hard-nosed work ethic in a results- driven environment and he is often called the “Network King.” Alfred has been in the PR industry for the past 18+ years and joined the BurrellesLuce team in 2011. Connect with him on Twitter: @shantikcox Facebook: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: Alfred Cox