Posts Tagged ‘Media Relations’


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!

*****

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).

 

 

Your Media Interview Worksheet

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Media Interview Worksheet Media Relations Interview tips Public Relations PR software BurrellesLuce Press ClippingsIf you’re a media relations pro giving media interviews or the public relations pro arranging such interviews and prepping clients, you know that preparation is a huge factor in making a media interview a successful one.

There are a slew of factors to consider in the preparation process, including defining aligned key messages and prepping for easy and hard questions, as well as staying on top of headlines, being confident, looking polished, and being adept at bridging so you can maintain your composure and control of the interview.

We cover all this territory and more in our most recent newsletter, Media Interviews: The Before, During, and After, but we know that what media relations pros need is an easy-to-use resource that reflects the basic media preparation needs. If there are ways these can be enhanced and you want to share with your colleagues, please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. We’re open to creating different versions of this worksheets for different mediums and making them available in our resource center.

You can download the worksheet from our resource center.

Mia Moo Fund: A Media Relations Dynasty

Monday, July 28th, 2014
MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR

L to R: U.S. Rep Trent Franks, Mia Robertson, Reed Robertson, Missy Robertson, Jase Robertson. Photo by Johna Burke

A couple of weeks ago I attended the press conference and media event with U.S. Rep Trent Franks and Mia Robertson and her parents (part of the Duck Dynasty family) for the Mia Moo Fund. My niece, who also attended, was born with a cleft lip and palate, so the Robertsons’ admirable charity and the congressman’s invitation for Mia to speak was particularly meaningful. Amidst all of the Duck Dynasty fanfare I was most impressed by the master spokespeople, Mia’s parents, Missy and Jase Robertson.

The Scene: Your beloved daughter was born with a cleft palate and wants to help other kids with the condition, so you help her start a foundation. A congressman born with the same condition helps raise awareness of the condition’s struggles and provides leadership support to the many children affected. Your daughter writes a speech for the event and you take your family to Washington, D.C. The media interviews begin and you are asked about abstinence before marriage and your family patriarch’s controversial remarks. This IS media relations.

MIa Moo Fund Media Dynasty Johna Burke Duck Dynasty BurrellesLuce Media Relations PR Trent Franks

Rosie Fox (front), U.S. Rep Franks, and the Robertson family. Photo by Johna Burke

While it’s always imperative to prep answers to easy questions before a media interview, this event reminded me about the importance and potential perils in lack of preparation on the really tough questions. Mia, Missy and Jase all have strong conviction for their subject matter and their passion resonates in every syllable. That kind of conviction isn’t as easy for the average spokesperson, so in lieu of family conviction and faith, make sure your spokesperson is mindful of these quick tips:

Relevant news topics: If anything is trending in the news even tangentially related to your industry make sure to address the affects to your organization’s mission.

Key messages: All messaging related to the topic and also key messages as they relate to other potential topics that could arise during an interview. Always have strong sound bites.

Importance of rapport: Being relaxed is the goal, but looking relaxed is essential. Body language on camera can indicate when a spokesperson isn’t prepared. While you can’t avoid the tough questions your spokesperson’s ability to build rapport will translate into a more confidence which translates to their ability to control the interview.

A stand-out moment from the interviews was when Mia was asked “What is the coolest part of having a new lip or new palate for you?” Eleven year old Mia responded “I don’t know” and the reporter followed up with “So, no comment. But you’re much happier now.”

No, she didn’t say “no comment,” she answered a bad question honestly. Based on her initial interviews I have no doubt Mia will be bridging and saving reporters from their own bad questions in no time.

The Mia Moo Fund tagline is “Every kid deserves a smile,” and this event gave a proud aunt and PR person a lot of reasons to smile too. Thank you.

How the World Cup is like Media Relations

Monday, June 30th, 2014
How the World Cup is like Media Relations Johna Burke BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR Media Relations FIFA World Cup

flickr user warrenskl under CC BY license

Did you have to Google an explanation of how the US Soccer team lost last week and still advanced to the next round of the World Cup? I did. While I was delighted with the result – the home team advancing – it wasn’t initially clear how they had pulled off such a coup. Once I better understood the brackets, that all ”wins” are not created equal, all “goals” weigh very important and that someone else losing helps, it made sense. It’s actually quite similar to the media relations ecosystem and enforces the importance of having qualitative and quantitative elements to any analysis program.

Brackets: Each day there’s a lot of competition for quality editorial real estate. Depending on your industry or vertical market and what’s happening that day, there’s a built in demand for certain types of coverage and dominant ”players” will get a lot of attention. I’m sure we all feel like we are in our own ”Group of Death.”

Win: While you may get some coverage, a true ”win” is subjective. For many organizations certain qualitative elements – i.e. positive tone, appears in a key outlet, features key messages and builds your organization’s reputation – is required for a true win.

Goal: When building your brand, every story is a brick in the foundation. Not only for the obvious SEO, but also for learning and developing messages that support overarching business objectives.

Someone has to lose: No matter how amazing your story, event or issue, a breaking issue will take precedent. When everything goes perfectly and all of your interviews lined up go through without a hitch, it’s a good day, but some days you’re Portugal.

Almost any aspect of business can be placed into these same elements. The real takeaway is to always do your best and play to win. Even in the toughest groups those teams who are conditioned and wholly prepared for the elements along with the slings and arrows of circumstance will prevail. Always keep your eye on the goal and with your best players at peak performance you’ll increase your chances to score.

If you don’t make the goal initially, you’ll ideally develop your strength where needed or identify the weakness that gives you an advantage and succeed the next time. Manage expectations and have contingency plans. One real dire risk of only using quantitative metrics in media analysis is on any given day you could be Portugal (look equal to a former campaign or program) but the overall score does not reflect comparative ”results.”

Disclosure: I write this as a former coach. I coached the Sharks (my brother’s soccer team for five-year-olds) to a winning (6-2) season, so I know a thing or two about the game and what it takes to win. :)

 

When Prepping for a Media Interview, Don’t Forget the Easy Questions

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

When Prepping for a Media Interview, Don’t Forget the Easy Answers Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasWhen someone well-known puts their foot in their mouth, the media delights but the public relations pro cringes. The reps for Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow had very good reason to cringe this week when they both made ill-thought-out remarks about the nature of fame.

When SkyNews brought up her Google results, Theron replied, “I don’t [Google myself] – that’s my saving grace. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped.”

A few days prior, remarking on harsh online comments lobbed at her, Paltrow stated that such attention is “a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience.”

In case you needed us to point it out, fame is not like war or sexual assault. So why did they give these answers to what were certainly not hardball questions? Herein lies a very important public relations reminder: when you prep a client or spokesperson for a media interview, prep them on the hard questions and the easy questions.

No one is too good for prep

No matter how accomplished a person is at being interviewed, they’re never too good for practice. Jim Miller, formerly SVP at Dentsu Communications and current president at Momentum Communications Group, says that “the best value you can provide is to cover the basics: review anticipated questions, reinforce key messages” and get in a practice run. A good rule of thumb is one hour of prep for every minute of air time. If someone is interviewed frequently, prep them regularly to keep them sharp and prevent any lapses.

Consistency and Sincerity

Interviewees who get a lot of coverage are likely to be asked the same questions multiple times, and even if they’ve answered a question countless times, it could be the first time a particular audience hears the answer. In order for the audience to be compelled to care about the interviewee, he must be sincere and relatable. Sound bites, even for the repeat questions, are a great aid for avoiding feigned interest or any perceived defensiveness. Your subject needs to connect to the audience and if they get stumped on the “What are your plans for the holiday?” then the rest falls apart quickly.

Rephrase common questions

When you’re prepping, always reframe the same questions to ensure you don’t fall prey to reiterating a negatively asked question and fumbling your response to fit into how the question was asked. practice tailoring canned responses. For example, “Do you Google yourself?” and “How do you feel when you Google yourself?” or “What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen when you’ve Googled yourself?” Using the same talking points with different delivery will keep your interviewees thinking.

Keep everyone up-to-date

Your client or spokesperson may be asked to comment on a topic that is related, even if tangentially. Make sure they know how to respond with a key message or are adequately trained to bridge back to the primary topic.

Assess what works, then build

The post-interview debrief is equally as important as the preparation. You can get the best assessment of “what we can do better next time” of “need to hit that issue harder” of “have more resources about X to demonstrate expertise on the matter.”

Storytelling is a very powerful tool in the media relations arsenal; unfortunately, when placed in the wrong hands can be lethal. Work with subjects to make sure the images they conjure are relevant and on target. What other tips do you have for prepping answers to the easy questions?