Posts Tagged ‘online’

Pitching Tips from Washington, D.C. Assignment Editors

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

3/13/12 Know your subject, know the outlet you are trying to pitch and its audience, and have some “news” sense—that was the message from four of Washington’s top editors to over 100 public relations professionals attending PRSA-NCC’s “Meet the Assignment Editors” workshop at the Navy Memorial. Shown in picture are Lois Dyer, CBS News; moderator Danny Selnick, Business Wire; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal; Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post; and Lisa Matthews, Associated Press.

Keep it simple and to the point and avoid jargon. This sage advice from Washington, DC assignment editors should not come as a shock to most seasoned PR pros, but listening to the panel at the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA-NCC) March 13 event, you might be surprised.

The panel was moderated by Danny Selnick, Business Wire, and featured  Lisa Matthews, Associated Press, planning editor; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal, assistant ,managing editor; Lois Dyer, CBS News Network, futures editorand Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post, deputy political editor

Platforms for Pitching

  • Email: All of the panelists agreed email is the best format for pitching them. They suggested using a short subject line that highlights the story. They do not like it when the main subject is hidden and hate pitches that start with “A great story idea for you.”
  • Voicemail: Ginsberg does not check his voicemail, but Dyer does. Most said they would respond to your email or voicemail if they were interested (and sometimes if they were not), so the follow-up “Did you get my email?” call is often not needed. If you don’t hear from them, a call with a fresh reminder of the subject in a day or two is acceptable.
  • Twitter: Twitter can be an effective way to pitch your story according to Ginsberg. He said all the Post reporters are on Twitter most-of-the-time, and you can learn about their needs from their tweets. You should consider becoming an expert on Twitter for the subject(s) you pitch most often.
  • Multi-Channels: All panelists reminded the audience they have multiple platforms to fill with content. For example, the Washington Post is not just the print paper, but several websites and apps. Matthews says all the AP reporters write and shoot their own stories for various sites and platforms.  

Top Pitching Tips:
The PRSA-NCC audience actively shared many tips and highlights of the event. I’ve created a Storify of some of the top tweets and posts.


  • Know your audience (the media outlet’s audience) – Sinha stressed the Washington Business Journal covers only local business news. They do not care about national stories.
  • Respect deadlines – Sinha also hates pitches coming in right before her Wednesday afternoon deadline for the print edition. Early Friday afternoon is an ideal time to pitch her.
  • Know what you are pitching and have answers for questions.
  • Give the editor or reporter access to your client (spokesperson). Offer experts who can speak around issues of breaking news
  • Include current contact information on the release.
  • Think about and pitch stories for future happenings or trends.
  • Understand the need and provide visuals which can enhance the story – Both Matthews and Dyer confirmed outside video content is only used in extreme cases, where there is no other place to get the footage.

Do Not  

  • Send pitches to someone else in the newsroom if you are turned-down by the editor.
  • Send multiple separate emails.(However, it is OK to copy relevant reporters on a pitch).
  • Say you just got coverage in a competitor’s publication
  • Sound like a commercial, you can bet your pitch or press release will be deleted.

Want more tips on writing effective messages and pitches? Check out the latest BurrellesLuce Newsletter: Writing Effective Messages – 5 Timeless Tips. And be sure to share your hints for contacting editors with  BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

Discovery – Using Social Media to Drive Social TV Experiences

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Today’s TV now needs to be “social TV,” where the online experience allows viewers to share their experiences with other viewers and the world. Fans no longer have to wait to discuss the latest episode at the water cooler the next day; they are doing it in real-time and all the time.  

Discovery Communications’ main social media strategy is engagement says Gayle Weiswasser, vice president, social media communications, during an American Marketing Association’s Washington, DC (AMADC) chapter program in January. Additionally, Discovery looks to build community, drive fans to tune-in, increase website page-views, and gather insights.

Most social media strategies contain the big three platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but not all platforms are right for every organization. For Discovery, YouTube and GetGlue are also essential platforms. It even started a Pinterest page for TLC because TLC shows are very visual and tend to attract a lot of female fans. As quoted from this Desert News article, “If you’re an American and you know about Pinterest, chances are you’re either female or someone who heard about Pinterest from a female – because no fewer than 83 percent of Americans using Pinterest are female.”   

(For tips on adding Pinterest to your integrative communications efforts, check out this BurrellesLuce newsletter: Understanding Pinterest and Your Audience and my BurrellesLuce colleague Tressa Robbins recent post about Pinterest and how companies and the media are using the site.)

Tips for Creating Social Experiences to Enhance TV Fan Bases

  1. Give fans exclusive content. This is a great way to drive engagement, Weiswasser says. Discovery offers additional scenes and other insights as rewards for comments and sharing. The content is usually only available for a limited time and is not available during the broadcast time for the show it promotes.
  2. Use multiple platforms to interact with your audiences. Weiswasser suggested making “co-viewing” apps available on multiple platforms to promote a linear TV experience for user who following the conversation on a number of different social networks.
  3. Think before you post. Weiswasser tells her team to ask, “If I were a viewer/fan, would I really like this post?” If the post is mediocre, she says it’s best not to post.
  4. Be aware of trends and hot topics. A great way to gain some momentum for your organization is to embrace the culture at the moment.  Animal Planet, for its show “Hillbilly Handfishin’” tweeted, “@OldSpice & @FabioOldSpices – Are Either of You Brave Enough to Try Noodlin’? We Triple Dog Dare You!” Both of Old Spice’s spokespeople, Isaiah Masufa and Fabio took the dare for a couple of fun April Fool’s Day jokes on YouTube.
  5. Increase outreach success by having (celebrity) spokespeople interact with your communities. When Clinton Kelly of “What Not to Wear” took over the show’s Facebook page, they had the most activity in eight years.

Some other great takeaways from Weiswasser:

  • Give the social media team authority to make real decisions.
  • Listen and talk to fans.
  • Build on the engagement you’ve made.
  • Accept that not all audiences are alike.

What lessons have you learned from your social media fans? How do you encourage more engagement? Which new social networks are you adding to the mix?

Hollow-Point Bullets Prompt Solid Online Response Tips

Monday, February 13th, 2012

By now most of you have seen the “Dad uses Facebook to teach daughter a lesson” video where a frustrated father shoots his daughter’s laptop with hollow-point bullets. Yeehaw! But have you all seen his response to the media requests? There are several interesting things about this response. First it prompts my apologies to the IT world as a whole — contrary to popular belief, some of you DO understand media relations as demonstrated by the father’s response to the media. Most importantly, he provides transparent and clear, written communication.

How does this domestic squabble translate to business? Other than being a teenager’s “crisis” I don’t know that it does, but it does strike me to remind everyone the importance of responding to negative comments online.

Here are my top tips for dealing with negative comments online:

1.  Stay calm. Don’t let your adrenaline (fight or flight urge) get the best of you and cloud your judgment.

2. Respond publicly. Mirroring the original format is very powerful. Dominoe’ss Pizza is probably the best case study of this when they had their viral video crisis in 2009.

3. Be courteous*. Offer acknowledgement or an apology, whichever is most appropriate, with sincerity and gratitude for the opportunity to address the matter. *If you run into a troll refrain from calling them out until you have done your due diligence of their misdeed or erroneous feedback.

4. Provide resolution. In some cases this means a refund or some other compensation for the problem. In other cases this will mean “agreeing to disagree” on what is fair and what you can do based on the feedback.

5. Reflect.
a. Why did this person take their grievance public?
          b. Was this the only forum available to address the concern?
          c. What are the opportunities you have to improve your product or
          service to strengthen your relationship with all of your customers?
          d. Did you provide resolution to the issue?

6. Be thankful. REMEMBER: Negative can be positive. Your public response will demonstrate your commitment to your clientele. Also, when a customer is talking to you, even sometimes negatively, you are still communicating and can improve the situation.

 At BurrellesLuce public comments are primarily responded to by either our account managers or the marketing team. These are the people who are closest with our existing clients and who manage the external communication and social media interactions. This post by Mack Collier further reinforces the importance of public responses and provides additional resources of how companies have fared much better when they respond to negative feedback. This list is meant to be a primer and I welcome your feedback and additional tips for the Fresh Ideas readers.

2012 Social Media Trends from IABC DC Metro

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Even though we know digital and online media continues to change, IABC/DC Metro started 2012 with a chapter meeting tackling the latest Social Media Trends.

The panelists included:

Emerging Social Media Trends
Each panelist brought different industry point-of-view to the discussion. Radick took government. Horowitz gave the agency perspective, Steigman reviewed the small business view and Dunham brought insight from publishing and the media.

  1. Government Use: Radick dispelled the myth that the government is behind the curve, but he did see them stalling in advances for 2012 because it is an election year.
  2.  Internal Communications: Radick also thinks there will be more enterprise 2.0 or social media behind the firewall to internal audiences.
  3. Integrated Efforts: Both Radick and Horowitz confirmed they see more integration into all lines of communications.
  4. Influencers: They felt the days of the “social media guru” are dying fast. Horowitz said it’s time to look for persuaders or influencers who can help persuade others to your thinking or agenda.
  5. Small Business: Steigman sees social media platforms as a reliable ecosystem and wonders how they can be used to make it easier to reach customers. She suggested reading Phil Simon’s The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business. She also feels it will be key for business to understand search and the data around it.  
  6. Digital Skills: Dunham is amazed by the use of tablets for tweeting, video, etc. Because many of his colleagues are not digitally inclined, he relies on interns to provide new ideas for using social media to drive more readers to their media properties.  

Social Media Best Practices for 2012
As with all social media discussions, some great best practices come out. Radick reminded us, “Don’t concentrate on social media tools, but concentrate on the principles behind them.

“When asked how to best measure social media, Horwoitz said, “You need to measure based on business goals, don’t measure on tactics.”  

For more helpful social media best practices, you can read Steigman’s highlights of the session on her blog.

What social media trends do you see for 2012? Please share them with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.  

Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell the difference between Fox and Hulu, HBO and Netflix, or CNN and YouTube.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

sneetchesThe recent jockeying for position and struggle to find an identity within the crowded and competitive world of network, cable, streaming video, and online television reminds me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories, The Sneetches. The Sneetches were a group of yellow creatures, some with green stars on their bellies (a sign of distinction) and some without, until a character named Sylvester McMonkey McBean offers those without stars a chance to add them by going through his Star-On machine. In order to stay special the Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in his Star-Off machine. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next, and to quote the good Doctor,

“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one… or that one was this one or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

The last few month, the news out of the “television” world has been very Seuss-like to say the least:

At this year’s winter TV press tour Kevin Reilly, entertainment president, Fox Broadcasting Company, revealed that his network plans to use web content as a development tool for the airwaves. “Something that starts in digital could be the next big primetime hit… We have an expertise, and a history, and proficiency, and a primetime audience base,” he confirms in this article about 5 Ways the Networks Want to Change How You Watch TV. Reilly goes on to use Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow (of Friends fame) as one example of a web-only series that has successfully made the switch and is now aired on Showtime.

In an effort to kick start their declining subscription base, Netflix is beginning to act more like a network rather than your average streaming video provider. By jumping into the original programming waters, Netflix plans to release three new series in 2012 – starting with Lilyhammer, a crime comedy set in Norway’s former Winter Olympics headquarters, starring The Soprano‘s Steven Van Zandt. Not to be outdone and fresh off a year where they realized 60 percent revenue growth in 2011, the web streaming service Hulu is launching its first ever original scripted series. Battleground, a mockumentary series described as “The Office meets The West Wing, premieres February 14, explains, this opinion brief on

And remember when YouTube was just a site where you could watch short clips of people doing funny and unusual things? Well, last week Reuters joined CNN and the BBC by unveiling its own channel to be shown on the popular video sharing site. The channels will show original content from Reuters on YouTube, which will allow them to leverage an army of over 3,000 reporters worldwide.

I doubt all the players involved with getting content to the masses will end up in blissful harmony like our friends the Sneetches, but it should be fun watching them run from one machine to the next having their green stars removed and re-added over again.

What are your thoughts? Please share them with me here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.