Posts Tagged ‘outreach’


St. Louis Rams Tackle a Disengaged Community for a Win

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kevin Demoff is in his fourth year as executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer with the St. Louis Rams. As any football fan, or anyone who lives in the heartland, knows the Rams team is bad on the field but even worse off the field. There is simply no connection to the community.  Demoff’s 100_0763critical challenge? How to get the community excited—even if the team wins no games.

During Demoff’s recent address to the PRSA St. Louis chapter, in a room just off the owner’s office overlooking the practice field as the “boys” wrapped up for the day, he explained that football should be a tradition.With the exit of the Cardinals to Arizona, however, it skipped a generation here as there was no hometown team.

Today, The Rams are now involved in every football league in the area, from pee wee teams all the way up, so they grow up into fans and pass it on. This strategy is not going to gain immediate fans. It’s long-term grassroots planning, including community programs, that will pay off down the line. The Rams only play 16 days per year, yet must be top of mind 365 days per year—what a challenge!

Rams Community Outreach Initiatives

Rams Staff Day of Service is one example of getting involved in the community. One day per month they shut the doors and everyone, from the players to the accounting 100_0759clerks to the upper management, does a community service project.  For example, last summer about 90 members of the Rams staff took a trip to Joplin, MO to aid relief efforts after the devastating tornado. Another example is of how the Rams help build playgrounds. A program started in 2009, the Rams most recent playground build was for “a local town of 2,600, a community with no schools, only a library […].” 

Demoff accepts nearly every opportunity to speak. When I heard him speak (Thursday, August 23rd), he had already spoken to eight or nine other groups. He’s out making the personal, emotional connection with their stakeholders—this doesn’t happen behind a desk. He says it’s crucial to speak from the heart via every medium possible, whether that is in-person, social media, print media, broadcast media, etc.  As a matter of fact, seeing the need to expand their media footprint, the Rams now have their own broadcast team including a film crew. They needed to grow the brand outside the immediate area, and whereas they used to not even be carried in the next market over, there are now nine states on pre-season now.

They produced a community service video, which we watched, and notably there was no football in it. The goal is to make the community better—even if they’re not winning at football—and Demoff leads them to be one of the community’s strongest philanthropic partners. As a matter of fact, in the 35 years of local philanthropic awards, no sports team has ever won. That is, until 2010 when the Rams were named St. Louis Philanthropic Organization of the Year.

They even started a program where players buy tickets for underprivileged kids—they’re up to 28 players now participating in the program. Recently the St. Louis Rams showed appreciation to Scott Air Force Base, where they traded jerseys with the soldiers and held a scrimmage game. Along with all the typical things like hospital visits to soldiers and critically ill children, the Rams have come a long way. 

It’s apparent that hard work and personal dedication has been quintessential to their success. I think the biggest takeaway from Demoff and the Rams outreach program is the sincerity with which they participate. Rather than make it something that a few players do with the hopes of garnering publicity – the program is built in such a way that it becomes a part of team identity on and off the field, regardless of an individual’s role in the organization or team. Demoff spearheads a culture of service that benefits all involved – and it is the authenticity that really fuels outreach success.

Do you have examples of community engagement strategies or techniques to share?

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.

Do

  • 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.

5 Tips for Working with Television Journalists

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

interview

 

November 2011

Broadcast media traditionally refers to television. It may seem people are spending less time in front of the TV these days. But with the media everywhere mentality, broadcast television still remains a viable part of media relations outreach.

In fact, broadcast is becoming even more important today because of its availability online – increasing shelf life and exposure of key content segments. “Today, broadcast is about much more than just television and radio. There is mobile TV, podcasting, web streaming, branded content, and ad funded programming,” confirms Weber Shandwick, a full service public relations agency who specializes in Broadcast PR. “In short, it is all about convergence between traditional broadcast outlets and the new digital kids on the block. A well thought out convergent campaign using the best of the old in conjunction with the best of the new will amplify your messages and give you an important voice […]”

With that spirit in mind, BurrellesLuce put together 5 tips to help you get the most out of working with television journalists and enhance your broadcast efforts.

Read more to discover 5 tips for working with TV journalists in this month’s BurrellesLuce Newsletter.

You’re “Engaging” Oprah… Now What?

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Valerie Simon

BurrellsLuce Fresh Ideas: Your "Engage" Oprah... Now What? (Valerie Simon)There has been much discussion of late regarding influencers. How do you identify an influencer?  How do you measure their value? And how do you talk to people who don’t necessarily understand that influencers aren’t one-size-fits-all? (In fact, Justin Goldsborough, Fleishman-Hillard Kansas City, asked a similar question in a recent post on his blog www.justincaseyouwerewondering.com.)

After hearing Coyne PR’s Dr. Norman Booth, at the PRSA NJ Measurement and Evaluation workshop on Monitoring and Determining ROI for Digital/Social Media, briefly discuss mathematical modeling to help identify influencers and optimize conversation – that evening, I found myself heading over to  the Coyne PR website. I found a white paper he authored, Mapping and Leveraging Influencers in Social Media To Shape Corporate Brand Perceptions. The paper reviews a customizable valuation algorithm to identify social media influencers.

In examining the strategy to optimize blogger outreach, I decided to take a deeper dive into Step Three: “Engage and Socialize.” This critical step offers the potential to transition influencers into advocates and even brand evangelists. Likewise, there is room for antagonizing influencers and actually damaging credibility.  Booth’s key points under this step, as I understood them, include:

Engagement

  • Clearly identify intent
  • Topic before relevance
  • Ask, don’t tell
  • Say “thank you”

Socialize

  • Comment on relevant postings
  • Follow on Twitter and social aggregators
  • Connect on social networking sites

These are excellent points. To them, I would also add “consistency in behavior over time.” The paper concludes, noting, “While the fundamentals of public relations are essentially the same as social media relations, the addition of this new marketing channel allows practitioners to engage with influencers one on one.”

Just as I said in my previous Fresh Ideas post, that no matter how influential a person is reported to be if they aren’t the right one for your campaign or media relations objectives, they’re not going to be able to convince your audience to do what you want.  The same applies for relationships.

Public relations, and social media relations, are about relationships.  So what if you’ve “engaged” Oprah, if you haven’t established a credible rapport? Creating relationships, building trust and loyalty, is not something you can expect to do with a tweet or comment.  And it doesn’t happen overnight. Relationships require ongoing communication (from all parties); social media simply offers you the tools to engage in more frequent and targeted ongoing communication.

Are you using social media to build relationships? What do you think are the essential elements for developing relationships online? Are you using any type of mathematical modeling to help you understand influence and sustain blogger outreach?

Is Your Press Release Guilty of Information Overload?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Working Hard resizeBranding and advertising messages can be both offensive and defensive – which may be why they seem to be everywhere these days.  Added to the barrage of news and posts coming in to your RSS feed, newsletters you’ve subscribed to, social news streams, your email inbox, not to mention your personal communications and – you’ve got information overload.  

According to a video based on the book Socialnomics™ by Erik Qualman, we no longer search for the news but the news finds us or, at least, it tries to reach us. I’ve heard there’s an average of 5,000 attempts to get our attention every day.  That was back in 2006 – the figures are probably even higher by now. But even so, 5,000 messages? Per day? Yikes!  No wonder we feel overwhelmed sometimes.

That’s the “average” person. Imagine how a journalist must feel. Journalists must be masters of information management. According to a Journalistics post, they are receiving hundreds of pitches a day. (Makes my head swim just thinking about it!) As The Media evolves, newsrooms are also switching to more hyperlocal formats and journalists are finding that they are wearing other hats, besides that of journalist, including business person and manager.

Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog that, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.”

To stop issuing press releases isn’t really an option, so how do you keep yours from being lost in the thicket of information and simply adding to the fatigue of digital overload? 

  • Craft the perfect headline. It should clearly epitomize what your press release is about while including keywords (for SEO). Try to get it down to 10-12 words or less.
  • Lead with the hook. The lead (first sentence or “hook”) should be clear and concise.  The news in your news release has to be obvious.
  • Skip the fluff.  State actual facts – products, services, events, people, projects. Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
  • Set word limits. In a recent PRSA Tactics article, Ann Wylie writes, “The recommended length for the average press release has dropped from 400 words in print to 250 words online, according to Internet marketing strategist B.L. Ochman.”  The press release should not tell the whole story but simply an idea of what their readers need to know.
  • Timing is everything. The content should be relevant and fresh – not too far past and not too far in the future.
  • Target distribution. I’m not going to detail in this post, but if you want to revisit why this is so important, you can read about it here and here.

As Wylie states (in the above-referenced article), “The right length for each piece depends on the topic, audience, medium, budget and other factors.” The key is not “smothering your readers with information.”

How are you tailoring your media outreach to fit the ever-changing needs of journalists and bloggers? If you’ve given your press release a makeover, to keep up with the times, how successful have your efforts been? Please share your thoughts with the me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.