- Get rid of the one-size-fits-all pitch. Don’t assume journalists are waiting for your fill-in-the-blank releases without requesting them. As an experienced journalist and blogger, let me tell you that they feel like spam and get deleted as soon as they appear in my inbox. (Check out the views of Social Media Explorer’s Jason Falls on email pitches.) Only use your old-fashioned press pitches for regulatory reporting reasons.
- Build a social media following. Engage on a variety of social media platforms and expand your circle of acquaintances. Connect with family, friends and business colleagues. Actively participate in the conversation, such as Twitter chats and Meetups. Your goal is to have a base of followers and associates who can help you spread your message when needed. Remember, social media is a two way street where reciprocity matters. For example, Ford’s Scott Monty was able to diffuse a potential PR crisis because he had a large Twitter following and he sent 138 tweets in one day.
- Become a go-to resource. Take a page from Peter Shankman, founder of Help-A-Reporter, and help get journalists the information they’re seeking and introduce them to other resources, even if they’re not your client. Leverage your social media contacts to help journalists and get them a bit of press. Be succinct and to the point. When I need information, I have a set of contacts I go to and they turn around my requests with lightening speed.
- Forget the “Oprah or Bust” approach to media attention. Don’t just focus on getting a mention on major television talk or news shows. Expand your media horizons. Plant lots of smaller stories to build word of mouth and don’t underestimate your story’s ability to have legs. Think in terms of getting exposure to new audiences. Consider adding a blog to your organization’s content mix to create your own media entity and following. Additionally, use social media news matchmaker Help-A-Reporter. It’s a free, thrice daily emailing containing media requests. Use it for yourself and your clients.
- Add to the action. Leverage hot topics and current trends to create related hooks for your clients. These stories can be used on your blog and Facebook as well as by journalists who are always looking for new angles.David Meerman Scott calls this newsjacking. You can publish these stories on your own blog as well as third party media sites.
- Intrigue people with your story. Build an irresistible story around your product or business. Then seek opportunities to share your tale and extend the narrative. Understand what pulls your target audience into your message. Share different variations of your tale on your blog, Tumblr or Facebook. For example, the Woods Hole Inn created a blog about their red chair’s travels across different inns on Cape Cod making it a ready-made local news story.
- Engage with the press on social media. Many established media outlets both online and offline use a combination of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with readers and viewers. Use these outlets to engage directly on topics of interest to your business and connect with the journalist in the form of following them on Twitter and commenting on their blog posts.
- Get into the picture. With the meteoric rise of photographic sites like Pinterest and Instagram, consider how you can get your business, client or product in the picture. Use photographs of your product to intrigue prospects and customers. Also, get your customers involved by having them send in their images. A number of news sites like the Weather Channel display viewers’ videos and photographs.
- Do their work for them. Another way to leverage the media’s audience is to write guest blog posts. This works well for blogs in your category as well as for some media sites that solicit guest posts. Understand that you must supply the guest blog post in return for being exposed to the blog’s audience and getting a link back to your website. When contacting a blogger, make sure you check whether they have guest post policies before sending them your story.
- Test new social media platforms. Find ways to get your client featured in different forums. Social media options include being a guest on a Twitter chat, creating a video interview, and uploading your latest presentation. Don’t underestimate the value of emerging social media platforms. This works very well for smaller companies that are willing to take more risks. For example, Exude lipstick tested a photo spread using social commerce site, Svpply.
- What principles does your company stand for? This goes deeper than a PowerPoint presentation. It’s at the heart of your organization and reaches across departments. Why do you sell your products? How do they help people? How do you treat your employees, customers and the public? Beyond pushing your products, what are you doing to make the world a better place?
- What’s your firm’s positioning? What image do you want your firm to project? Consider this from a variety of viewpoints since your positioning extends beyond marketing and communications. It’s how you represent your firm to the public.
- What’s your firm’s human resources policy? Do you have guidelines for how your employees treat each other regardless of title or rank? Does this also apply to your customers, prospects and the public? Does this include civility and the absence of discrimination across a wide range of factors? Even more important, does your company practice what it preaches?
- Is your legal department on board with regard to relevant regulatory and other governmental organizations? Depending on your business, the specific role of legal will vary but it’s a good idea to get them involved with a cross-section of functional areas early. For examples, JetBlue had to work with the FAA and the flight attendant’s union when Steve Slater decided to grab a beer and slide his way to fame; Cook’s Source had to consider the intellectual property rights of the blogger whose article they reprinted without permission.
- What are your company’s social media guidelines? A corporate social media policy applies to what employees say as firm representatives and what they say in their private life that may reflect on their firm. It also covers what customers and the public may say on your website and related entities. Etsy has edited their Facebook page and deleted messages about the incident.
- Is your PR team ready to engage? Do you have staff focused on PR, media relations and social media to ensure that you’re on top of evolving stories and issues in real-time? Do they have access to the appropriate staff and information to respond quickly? Etsy’s being deaf to the press and bloggers didn’t make the problem disappear, instead the lack of response becomes the news. Do you have an online press center? Can the media and bloggers get through to your team via email address, mobile phone number and/or social media contacts? Further, do your people respond quickly?
- Is your customer service department proactive and empowered to handle customer interactions and feedback before they grow into issues? Is your customer service team trained to diffuse potential problems? Can they escalate difficult problems for special handling? Are they available across various platforms including social media? Can they detect potential issues that need broader corporate response?
- Is your senior management plugged-in or tone deaf? Senior management plays a critical role in real-time communications. They need to be able to respond quickly and on message. Are they empathetic to what’s happening and the people to whom it’s happening? This includes external and internal audiences. You don’t want to sound like BP CEO Tony Hayward who was more focused on his personal life than the BP employees who died or the Gulf residents affected by the oil spill. Further this means having someone senior ready to respond 24/7 in today’s never-ending news cycle.
- Do you listen to and learn from your community? In today’s social media connected world, most companies have at least one social media presence where they connect with customers, fans and the public. Use this platform to find out what’s on participants’ minds. Are they looking to you to take specific actions? Remember that you can’t choose just to have positive comments appear. Etsy removed comments related to this greeting card incident further fueling speculation.
- Are you paying attention to your competitors? While you’re monitoring the social media environment for mentions and conversations about your firm, brand and products, track your competitors as well because a discussion about them could easily spread to include your organization.
- Are you socially responsible? If your firm is using social media platforms, it’s especially critical to think through how individuals and other organizations may interpret what’s appearing on your sites and in your name on various networks. At a minimum, treat everyone with respect and don’t taunt anyone. You don’t want to be an online bully. It detracts from your company and your brand.
- Do you have a crisis management policy? Develop a crisis management policy and keep it up-to-date to ensure that your firm is able to meet unexpected challenges. Ensure that your staff knows who to contact in case of emergency and has other important contact information readily available.
Posted by Heidi Cohen on December 10, 2010
6 Tips to Improve Your Media Relations
Bringing your food in thirty minutes or less, Domino’s Pizza is known for speedy delivery, good quality and reasonable prices. As a columnist and blogger, these characteristics are equally important in a PR professional.
Here are six ways that PR professionals are like Domino’s Pizza.
- Make it easy for me to contact you. Be accessible across communications devices. As a writer, let me decide how I want to contact your firm. The more options, the easier you make it for me. Among the alternatives are phone, email, text, social media or online PR center. I’ve tried using PR Centers and corporate PR email addresses that took days to get a response. If your firm falls into this category, you should consider whether you really want press coverage and set expectations for inquiries.
- Be ready to take PR requests when journalists call. While Domino’s Pizza has employees ready to serve during their store hours, you must have a PR professional ready to respond when a story breaks in today’s 24/7 news cycle or the media may go to your competitor. (CheckDavid Meerman Scott’s new book, Real Time Marketing and PR.) Further, media can encompass a wide variety of formats including bloggers and e-zines. If you want to be part of the news, you can’t just wait for old media, print and television.
- Provide useful information quickly. Like Domino’s deliver what the press wants swiftly. As a columnist, when I’m on deadline and need help, there are a few resources that I turn to because I know that they will turn around my request in my timeframe. Empower and train your PR staff to be able to provide timely turn around without a lot of red tape.
- Know where I live. Just as Domino’s Pizza doesn’t ask for directions to get to your house, PR professionals should read my columns, examine the media for which I write, and learn what topics I cover. By doing your homework, you become a valuable resource to me and I’m likely to contact you when I need information.
- Offer me additional resources. Like the condiments that Domino’s Pizza adds, present other information or sources that might be useful for my story.
- Just deliver my order. Only give me the information for which I’m asking. Don’t send me useless press releases because, to me, they’re spam.
A great PR person is worth their weight in gold, even at today’s ever increasing rates. Follow these six easy steps and you’ll quickly make your way to the top of journalists’ autodial and get your story placed more broadly.
Do you have anything else to add to this list? It would be great if columnists, bloggers and PR professionals contributed their perspectives.
Social. Mobile. Visual.
As founder Pete Cashmore says: “Social networks have evolved beyond personal updates to become venues for news discovery.” In his business, failure to be social, mobile and visual would be a recipe for failure in the super-competitive global media marketplace.
Mashable: more social, mobile,visual
As soon as I saw it, I knew Mashable’s tagline would form part of my 2013 PR trends to watch.Mashable struck the perfect chord for media, as a “social business”, and in staking out its positioning for the future.
No better statement for public relations professionals to embrace in 2013 too.
PR as Social Business
Our profession has already become a social business. In his New Year’s message, Toronto PR agency CEO Joe Thornley says we must be prepared to reinvent ourselves constantly. He reflects on the changes at his agency:
“Today, only about half of Thornley Fallis’ revenues are from what would have been considered traditional public relations services. The other half? Video production, public engagement, content marketing, design and development.”
“You’ve probably noticed the absence of social media from that list. Where’s social? Integrated across everything we do. What was hot a few years ago has become simply the common entry fee.”
This is the year that PR people will prove their value by helping their organizations or clients evolved into social businesses.
Mobile Forces Constant Change
Mobile will continue as a powerful force in the New Year. Its influence is far-reaching in every business including PR. Last year, we ensured our messages and content were visible on smartphones. We recognized our content had to be laser-targeted, shorter, more scannable. Suitable for the “many screens” consumer.
This year, watch for new power apps. Designed to increase your efficiency and productivity. Look for continued growth in mobile phone usage for everything from banking, payments, web search and more. You may want to create your own app but only if it has real value and you keep the marketing department’s hands off. And, your mobile content better include visuals and video. Which leads me to my next trend.
Carlos Santana live at Montreux 2011
Videos Rock, Visuals Roll
YouTube is now the second largest search engine world. Organizations from IKEA to Home Depot, charitable organizations to sports teams, have embraced video. Spending on it in the marketing mix is growing quickly for one simple reason. Results.
Most PR people have expertise in video or know how to direct it or buy it. Big budgets and high production values are not yet a barrier to entry. Creativity, storytelling and focus matter the most. This is the year to use it or lose it.
Visuals will be even more important this year than last. We know visuals double or even quadruple news release pickup for example. On a cell phone, in the marketing mix, in news or social media, visuals are critical for impact.
Look no further than Pinterest, Instagram, Slideshare and other visual social media channels for new opportunities and ways to extend your reach.
Two Final PR Trends to Watch
Storytelling and content marketing will drive and complement most of our communications in the future. Storytelling instead of “story selling” will assume huge value for its ability to engage, retain and motivate audiences. Content marketing has become hugely popular. It’s a marketing buzzword and our challenge this year is not only to break through but to differentiate ourselves from the “marketers.”
You know the type? The screamers and yellers. I call them the Sham Wow charlatans. With every new technology or shiny new social media they arrive soon after the earlier adopters. Barking and scamming their way while the rest of us run in the other direction.
We’ll win by making our storytelling so compelling and our content marketing so effective, they’ll be left in the dust behind us.
Want Social PR Results? Integration Rules
My final and most important trend is integration. That’s where we can add value most as PR and marketing communication pros. Management and clients are frustrated with a lack of ROI on social media spending. Integrators will be critical to success.
Coordinate your social media efforts. Force your marketing partners to listen and then respond. Lead by listening and showing how social media monitoring is critical to research. Gear up for quick response.
Yes, you’ll need to listen, engage, interact, talk, tweet, like, pin, tell stories and take action. You’ll win by managing and integrating traditional PR tools, experience and strategic thinking into your social business. Most important of all, help your organization or clients stay on the path to becoming a social business.
That’s not just a trend for 2013. It’s a reality for business and organizational survival and success in the future.
Resource: The PRCoach Blog. Referred 20.4.2013. http://www.theprcoach.com/five-social-pr-trends-to-watch-in-2013/