Tag Archives: public relations

When your company stuff is “dusty” and “ratchet”: My teen talks

Having several days away from the office and doing very little but hanging with a triple threat of my kids–teenagers (18, 14 and 10 — he thinks he’s one)–brought new revelation to this world we call communications, marketing, PR and social media. I just had no idea.

Cases in point:

  • Dad, that music is so dusty.
  • Really, Dad, the shirt is so ratchet.
  • Dad, don’t use the word stud, you obviously don’t know what it means.

Well then. I stand corrected and a bit baffled by my apparent ignorance — and command of the English language.

“Pray, tell me oh wonderful fruits of my loins, please share thy greatness and wisdom.”

And so they did.

  • First, “dusty” is the equivalent of “so yesterday.” I’d call that obsolete (Dad, that terms is so dus– …).
  • Ratchet. The shirt, it’s gross, ugly. Really downhill, outdated. Stupid. Ratchet. Thanks for the advice, and the kindness in which you shared.
  • Then there’s stud. What once was a genetically groomed horse with fantastic DNA is no more. It has something to do with bi-sexuals … I stopped their Wikopedia-ish insights. Who cares.

Later that same evening as I lamented my new “ratchet” shirt, I realized I had seen some pretty ratchet websites of late, most of which suffered an overdose of, u-m-m-m, dusty-ness.

uglyshirtIt’s 2013. Now is the time to evaluate your marketing collaterals, websites — and how you and your business are communicating to those who buy your products and services. For those companies that still have a Visitor Counter on the top of the webpage, ALERT! That’s dusty and ratchet.

If your color scheme mirrors the earth tones of the 70s, that’s another sign of problems. Have we mentioned animated gifs, Times Roman fonts and the stock photos you can find on almost any other website within your industry?

Time for a refresh? If your site hasn’t been polished in the last 18 to 24 months, take a look, navigate through it, read it and get the opinions of others (none of which report to you).

With a refresh in look, feel and message, there’s more to consider. What is your marketing mix? Have you been doing the same old ads and direct-mail that’s worked since Devo was the music rage? And if social media isn’t part of your mix, think why and why not. It may not be strategic for you. But it may.

Avoid Dusty. Run from Ratchet.

It’s painful to hear. Acknowledge. Accept.

Truly.

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Filed under Dallas, Dallas PR agencies, marketing communications, PR, Public Relations, Uncategorized

Finding resuscitation with a little inspiration … and discipline

It’s shameful to admit. But I will. The PRacticalPR blog went on life support last year. At one point I almost pulled the plug. In my typical winterland ruminations, I’ve moved to a place where some self discipline is in order–a real goal or two included–that helps me. And you. That’s the goal. So here we go, reinvigorated, re-set and ready to share what I’ve learned and continue to learn about work, PR, communications … and a whole lot about living. Let’s get started.

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November 28, 2012 · 2:21 pm

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

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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 2

In our last post, we began with, ” So how do you know if your agency is working hard, or just playing ring-around-the-rosy with your money and company?” We talked starting with realistic expectations, then pursuing the agency that’s right for you.

So to continue, here’s the bottom line:

  • The number of press clippings don’t matter. Blasphemy, I know. But, would you rather have four news clips in one month, or one big story in a  publication that matters to your customers and prospects? A miniscule mention in the Wall Street Journal (every clients wants to be in the WSJ, whether they have a story or not) is less valuable than Cattle Hide News if you and your prospects focus on beef and hide manufacturing. So, did the agency fail because they didn’t meet the “number of clips standard,” or succeed because Cattle Hide News is the exact target of your business? This is practical PR in progress.

When it comes to PR, here are the practical realities:

  • Expectations. I know, we keep talking about this, but it’s critical at the very beginning of a client-agency relationship. When I meet with a client, this is where we start. First, I listen to their PR perceptions and expectations. Then I explain mine and what’s involved in the PR gig. Quality client-agency communications requires an open-door policy that allows candid conversations that can be refreshing, and sometimes difficult. Bottom line, it keeps everyone accountable, intentional and focused. Transparency eliminates friction, confusion and ignorance.
  • The Control Factor. An uninformed client–usually a field sales representative that works with the client, calls the PR agency:

“Hey Bob (agency supervisor), we have three sales guys who received Top Salesman Awards at our meeting in Hawaii.
If you could place the story on the inside page 2 of the business section, that’d be great. Oh, we’ve got a great photo too.
Could you get that in this week? Thanks man.”

In this case, we remain calm, get back to the client, provide some education and possibly refer the client to the publication’s advertisement department. As PR professionals, we have absolutely no control of media and a publication’s story decisions, or when and where it will be published. We do the best job possible and remain engaged with the media. The reality is that some months reap rivers of life; others yield times when we feel we’re wandering through the wilderness for 40 years … without Moses. Recommendation: Be patient, know your agency is really working newsworthy story ideas, and recognize that some days are diamonds and some days are dirt.

  • Spin, Sin and Doing It Right. High-integrity PR professionals don’t spin or sin  just to get a story placed. We avoid lies and exaggeration. In fact, we abide by codes of ethics from The Council of PR Firms, PRSA and/or IABC. We also counsel clients to focus on quality of news, not quantity of news releases. Quantity results in irrelevant information, not news. Long term, this quality news approach makes the client and agency look a lot smarter to editors and reporters. One alternative news strategy is to identify press-worthy news releases that you actually distribute to media, with others being written but posted only  to your website’s newsroom and being only sent to employees, suppliers, customers and prospects.

Be sure and visit PRacticalPR on Twitter, and Follow.

In our next post, we’re focusing on Serving 2 Masters, Smart Agency Hiring and more.

The PRactical PR Guy, Dallas

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Filed under Dallas, Dallas PR agencies, hiring a PR agnecy, PR agencies, PR ethics, practical pr, Public Relations, Small Business, SMBs PR