Category Archives: Media

It’s Not Practical. It’s Personal.

I’m proud to call myself the PRactical PR Guy. Through one lens, I see this week’s baby killings as a crisis of epic proportions — a crisis of community and literally dozens of organizations ill equipped (perhaps) for an unexpected slaughter–police, a school district, hospitals and health care organizations–even politicians with their callous opportunism.

The reality is, none of that matters to this Guy, for now anyway. I’m a Dad first. A human being who can’t fathom the shock and horror of a Dad getting a call on his cell to be told that his little one may be dead. The long commute and the bank account with that loud sucking sound just don’t seem that important anymore.

How much does it matter  that there’s a medical examiner who may be seen as  “too giddy” to be in the limelight, or whether police could tell us what the children were wearing when they were gunned down (Did a reporter really ask that question?). I’m the Dad of a high school senior, a 9th grade daughter and a 5th-grade boy. They are the Triple Crown of my life. They are the treasures that will always shine bright in this ornate chest called life. Losing any of them for any reason at any time is unfathomable. But as 6-year-olds, just as they throttle me with “why Dad?”, learn to tie their shoes, giggle through  goobersmooches–and sing along to Barney (let’s not go there). Well, it’s too much to handle. Seemingly. My sister and I have always agreed. “You can mess with me, you can mess with my spouse–you can mess with anything EXCEPT, do not mess with my kids.” Doing so will reap a grave response. First response. Hellish response. Good or bad, right or wrong, It Just Is. It’s that simple.

It’s time to grieve, reflect–and to pray for every parent who faces a gaping wound much more painful than those blasted by a mentally ill boy. The parents face a lifetime of loss. That’s why we pray. That’s why we feel rage and sadness. And disgust.

Sleep little children. Sleep.  Horror found you, but it is no more. I see your faces high in the blue yonder somewhere. A heavenly site. Little ones romping and rolling through the grass, hiding from Peek-A-Boo Dad, discovering a lizard on a brick (Why shouldn’t Heaven have lizards?).  And waiting on Mom and Dad to come join the fun.

That’s what I choose to see. It helps. And brings a little smile to my face.

Blessings to all those in the whirlwind of tragedy.

My kids rock. May blessings and safety be upon you forever.

kids2

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under journalism, Media, PR, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized

What’s Newsworthy? Execs, listen up

it’s IHOP and a 1:1 coffee break with a colleague–a company founder and executive–and he’s excited. His $5 million tech company has secured three new clients in the last two weeks. And the new website and partner portal are one pinch from being launched.

“I want us to announce it big–do a news release. Let everyone know that our website is spiffed up. It’s sweet.”

I fight back a yawn while remaining intensely focused on my colleague. How many times have  I sat face to face with a company leader who wants to announce a website re-launch. Dozens of times.

ImageSo my executive friends and business colleagues, please know that your communications consultant isn’t being cynical or superior when he or she resists your suggestion–or dictate–to do a news release about websites or version 3.4256758 of your software.

They’re doing their job. They’re making you look smart while advancing their reputation. Reporters receiving useless “news” go Pavlov when consistently receiving junk from a specific PR person or company. The more crap you send, the louder that Pavlovian “bell” rings and they react: Delete. Deny. Junk it. The DANGER: When you do have real news–real news–that bell will dispel your coverage opportunity.

Newsworthiness matters. It takes diligence, questioning, examining, pushing for validation and key points, identifying what are newsworthy elements–and what will the reporter/writer consider news? A Dallas Morning News reporter wants local relevance; A reporter at Supermarket News wants industry relevance. Your PR person knows the story angle, hooks, and what individual reporters really want.

What did my news radar target when meeting at IHOP with my CEO friend? Not “news release about our website.” I heard New Customers. That’s the news, especially if it’s in a niche industry, the customer offers innovation or is a top brand or publicly held company.

Executives, listen to your PR rep. Leverage their expertise.

PR friends, don’t crank a release out just because the boss “expects it.” Do your best to be strategic, to advise–even politely resist. Let your boss–and his or her boss–know there are other ways and better ways to Tell The Story.

Discover the real news. It matters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, news release, PR, press release, Public Relations, Small Business

Don’t use Media Advisory or FIR, and what really matters

Interesting LinkedIn chatter about a recent Ragan.com article, 8 reasons PR pros shouldn’t use “media advisory” any more. The premise is that media advisory and terms like For Immediate Release are unnecessary, perhaps antiquated.

My big problem is the author’s ongoing term of “story pitch” and “news release” and “media advisory,” all of which seemed to be referenced as the same thing. They are not synonymous terms.

  • Story Pitch: I write and e-mail a specific story pitch to a specific reporter at a specific publication. It’s personal, substantive (idea, sources, facts, etc.) and designed to entice the reporter into a solid story.
  • News Release: I send a news release to an editor and/or reporter (and others within his or market, industry, etc.). It starts with a greeting, shares a key point or two, then directs them to the news release (below) or to a specific weblink. It usually includes “For Immediate Release”  for good reason. It’s news. It’s timely.
  • Media Advisory. I like what the author said about media advisories: “… save the phrase for straight forward, nuts and bolts news releases that accomplish little more than share information …” except that, well the media advisory is a … media advisory . Not a news release. Sigh. The advisory is short and sweet, provides the Who/What/When/Where/Why and support info.

Bottom line, PR pros better know the difference between a story pitch, a news release and a media advisory, and how to best communicate news, ideas and insights to editors and reporters.  Twenty-five years of PR work tells me that reporters getting good ideas, newsworthy content and quality story sources don’t care if you send an e-mail with “BingaBangaBoom” in the subject or text window as long as the BingaBangaBoom relates to their readers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Copywriting, Media, PR, practical pr, Public Relations

Make-Up Monday: Info You Need

Stories you may have missed.

Enjoy!

4 Ways to Integrate B2B Social Media into Marketing Plans

Click here to find out more!3 Stats to Think About When Crafting Your Social Media Campaign

New Research: 60% of B2B Decision Makers Use Social MediaClick here to find out more!

Managing Stress and Other Small Business TroublesClick here to find out more!

Women Owned Businesses Have Come a Long Way But It’s Not Far Enough

B2B Technology Collateral Consumption Declines YOY

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, PR, Public Relations, Small Business, Social Media

More Power to the Press Release, or Not?

The press release is to public relations what cows are to hamburgers. The press release takes raw information and grinds it up (re-formulated sounds nicer) to share a story that has news value to readers of the media.

News releases follow a specific style and approach that editors and reporters expect. They tell a story with facts and quotes, and avoid exaggeration, clichés and corporate baloney. The press release is the ever-loyal, ever-useful news-sharing tool. It is a Deity in PR.

But the world is a’changin. So what is the news release in today’s world? Increasingly, they are more concise and have an uber-immediacy to them.

So is the press release an ol’ tired dog? I think not. It’s adapting and still alerting the media. But there are other ways—better ways—to share your story, even when it’s not hard-breaking news. One source says Business Wire and PR Newswire send out 1,000 news releases every day. PRWeb? It shows 300 per day, according to the source. Essentially you’re in a knife fight for a reporter’s attention.

Share Your Story in Other Ways

The Story Idea. So what exactly is the story and “news,” and will it pass muster with a reporter or editor? That’s where PR practitioners must do the tough work and talk tough with clients. For example, is it news when a company receives an award? Should a news release be written and distributed to media? Probably not, unless it’s the Nobel or Baldridge Award. What can make this award a relevant and compelling story? Can a story be formulated that broadens the story into a trend, with the award a sub-fact that serves to qualify your client as an innovator? Is there a story direction that delivers valuable insights about how a company–or companies–demonstrate quantifiable excellence and innovation?

The Story Idea–a written and/or verbal pitch–is the PR professional’s primary skill (quality writing and a “news nose.”)  We build the story with key players and potential trends, then back them up with interesting elements and/or hard data. The story will be best with multiple story sources, such as your client, an industry expert and at least one other (a customer).  A solid pitch in writing or in a call with a reporter is often worth more than 100 news releases.

The Bylined Article. The monthly issue of Banana Growers Today magazine is published. Go to page 12 to see Abe Gorilla’s photo next to a headline and page header named “Opinion.” Abe is your client. He’s a banana grower and he’s addressing the issue of “Green & Yellow Bananas: Too Ripe for Consumers?” You placed the story, wrote it for Abe, had him review and tweak, then you submitted it to the publication. They like it. And now it’s published. Now Abe can use that story to promote the company to prospects, customers, even employees. The bylined article turns company executives into subject-matter experts.

The Editorial Calendar. Why write a press release that may get marginal coverage (or none at all), depending on news value, media deadlines, breaking news and more? An alternative approach that often yields results is to identify the most relevant publications read by a client’s target market, then review each publication’s Editorial Calendar, a document that tells exactly what subjects are being covered by a publication. They are usually listed by month or issue date.  This generally gives the client a bigger presence and a stronger story.

Blog Posting and Bloggers. Reaching out to bloggers isn’t secondary anymore. They are as influential–even more so–than traditional media. Whether they are “citizen journalists” with expertise, or personalities from newspapers or analyst firms, they can draw interest to your client’s expertise, insights and announcements. In addition, make sure the client is using social media effectively as well. They can propagate their presence among prospects, customers, employees and suppliers by reaching out to them online.

Customer Braggarts. What’s better than someone tooting your horn? It’s sure more tasty for a reporter to hear how great you are from external sources than hearing you or your paid PR person to brag about you. Get customers involved in your PR efforts. Write case studies. Even consider writing a news release, story pitch or other means that come directly from them to the media. You do the work. They get the glory. And so does your client.

So, is the press release still the Lord of the Corporate World? Just how potent or impotent is it today? Our opinion: It’s overused and often a waste of money and resources. But dead? Not so much.

The PRactical PR Guy

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, news release, PR agencies, press release, Public Relations, RGM Communications, Small Business, Social Media

The PR Agency: Results or Ring-Around-The-Rosy? Part 3

We finish up the agency ring-around-the-rosy with part 3, which offers practical advice for practical seekers of quality PR agencies.

The madness of two masters. A PR agency serves two masters: You’re the client and you’re paying the bills. The media control the flow of information and whether you are part of a story they are writing. We strive to make you happy AND the reporter happy. We walk a tightrope between you both. We can’t shove a story idea down a reporter’s throat, nor can we disregard your requests.

Smart agency hiring. So how should you hire an agency? Go national, local, big agency or small? Do they need to be experts in bio-engineering since your company focuses on biotech? Not so much. Most PR professionals are generalists who may write, pitch and parlay their general understanding to the media and others. PR professionals often jump from sharing information about point-of sale-systems for one client, online education for another, and remote monitoring systems for yet another. Check out an agency’s portfolio of projects and writings.

To find the agency best for you:

  • Ask for referrals from colleagues
  • Check what agencies your competitors are using (size, locale, specialties, etc.).
  • Ascertain what you want from an agency–and how much you have to spend. Create a general scope of work.
  • Do your interviews, not just with agency VPs, but the entire team, oldest to youngest. Is there rapport, smart thinking meshing personalities? All of these matter.

Does industry experience matter? Industry experience is not always critical when choosing an agency. You may evaluate their knowledge of your company and industry by reviewing their agency’s strengths, team members and client rosters. A key consideration is to evaluate whether they focus on business to business clients, or business to consumer, or are they ad agency/social media agency pretending to do PR and be “everything to everybody.”

Seek agencies by generating a formal Request For Proposal. Don’t! Formal RFPs are often required because of corporate and/or government guidelines, but if you don’t have to generate an RFP, don’t. They’re time-consuming for the client and difficult to complete for the agencies. Nobody wins, and you get answers “you want to hear” vs. what agencies can do–and will do.

Matters of magic. Often, a client thinks a PR agency can start the job without one iota of background or information.  How many times in 25 years have I shared the reality that PR experts aren’t magicians just whipping up really cool ideas and stories. Well, we can, but that doesn’t justify or maximize your PR spend. Creative ideas are great but if they are not tied to business strategy and goals, what’s the point? Don’t expect magic. Expect commitment and upfront time with your PR team to brainstorm, bounce ideas off each other, talk key corporate initiatives, product and services launch plans and more. Encourage your agency to build rapport with executives, managers and every-day employees that have golden insights and information. Ultimately, the PR team is a group of translators and news hounds that take company information and use their expertise to achieve results. We always emphasize that YOU are the subject-matter experts.

Good luck or good approach? Playing black jack requires good luck. PR does not (usually, although a little good luck is always a joyous occasion). PR requires a plan: Goals, objectives, strategy, tactics, and a tie-in to company sales and growth plans. A PR plan is written and consistently updated. Want a SAMPLE COPY OF A PR PLAN? Just ask.

R-E-S-U-L-T-S. That’s always the first sentence out of the mouth of every client. Yet, often, the results aren’t defined. Define them upfront, make sure they tie back to the initial expectations and plans discussed on day one. Often results will change forms over time. Just make sure you’re all on the same page. Results also require more than agency sweat, tears, story pitches and success. It means clients must engage, share ideas (even if they seem crazy) and connect with the team.

PR Land. So often, it’s like Lost in Space. We’re always discovering new planets, people and opportunities, and occasionally we face the difficult ones like Dr. Zachary Smith. PR Land is like going to the moon–full of energy and excitement, often mysterious and rarely boring. PR Land is a great adventure that’s usually a mix of chaos, adrenalin and getting ready for a crazy ride. One caveat, PR, unlike Lost in Space, usually does not require flying into forbidden zones, crashing into alien planets, talking robots or sniveling, double-minded dingbats … Usually.

Public relations. When done well, done right and done honestly, PR is core to your success, in marketing and business. Especially when it’s personal, professional and practical.

The PRactical PR Guy, Dallas

Leave a comment

Filed under Dallas, Dallas PR agencies, Media, PR agencies, Public Relations, Small Business, Small business PR, SMBs PR

The PR Agency: Results or Ring-Around-The-Rosy? Part 1

When it comes to PR agencies, you hear one of two things: “We got burned,” or “This agency is better than baked bread.” The question for any organization seeking a PR agency is to start with realistic expectations, then pursue the agency that’s right for you. One of the first questions every potential clients asks is, “Just how many press clippings should we expect—and get—for the money we pay?”

We also hear:

  • How many hours are you working per month? How do we know?
  • What kind of account service should we expect and receive?
  • And, candidly, how do we know how to pick a quality PR agency that fits our organization, people and goals for business and communications?

So how do you know if your agency is working hard, or just playing ring-around-the-rosy with your money and company? The quandary rests on both sides of the fence, for client and agency. Clients must gain some return on their investment, yet PR benchmarks are largely qualitative and rarely quantitative. PR News reports, “Executives expect PR professionals to provide measurement illustrating the impact of their work on business outcomes. However, many are hindered by the high cost of measurement tools and lack of resources, according to a 2011 measurement and practice survey.” In more than 25 years of doing public relations and working with hundreds or organizations, large and small, I’ve rarely had a client want, expect or desire to pay for quantitative metrics, i.e., messaging evaluation, competitive positioning, quality and rank of publications, perception analysis and more.

DISCLAIMER: Granted, most of my experience is working with privately held small businesses. Most clients are happy with press clippings–story “tonnage” that shows progress in getting the news out to the right audiences, publications and online influencers. This seems just fine by small businesses.

So, what’s the magic formula and number for press clippings? Well, besides working smart, working hard and knowing the art of “polite persistence” with reporters, I know of none. Sorry to disappoint. The real-world question is, “How can a PR agency promise press clippings when they have absolutely no control over the story, a reporter’s interest in the story, or the editor’s decision to run the story or not? I’ve had great, strong news stories bumped because “hard news” erupts and has to be covered. I’ve had absolutely worthless “news” (in my humble opinion) picked up and put on page one. It’s an insane world, this PR gig. But always interesting and surprising.

Back in yesteryear—the 1990s—one agency boss expected each account executive or supervisor to secure a minimum of four placed stories a month per client. Period. It was a great expectation, motivator and accountability factor. Today, I wonder if this is still relevant as print publications dwindle and online sites grow (but with different editorial opportunities). It’s a good debate.

Tell us your opinion. Take our poll, then be sure to visit PRacticalPR on Twitter and Follow.

In our next post, we’ll talk about press clips and some practical realities of working with a PR agency.

The PRactical PR Guy, Dallas

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging experts, Dallas, Dallas PR agencies, hiring a PR agnecy, Media, practical pr, Public Relations, RGM Communications, Small Business, Small business PR, SMBs PR, Social Media, social media experts