Category: Media Relations

Top Five Blogs You Missed Out On Because I Didn’t Include ‘Top, Most or Least’ in the Headline

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I’ve been doing the blog thing for several months now and I’m very happy with how it has been going. Cathartic. Good networking. Nice back and forth.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed, is diving down deep into the analysts behind the posts – – best days to post; relevant topics; countries viewing.

The highest viewed posts all had one thing in common:

Don’t think it is a love for the number five. Seems to be an affinity for lists. People love list. Letterman’s Top 10 List. Healthiest Cities. Best Movies. You get the idea.

As I reviewed other blogs appearing on LinkedIn, I saw many list-centric headlines receiving more comments and feedback than those blogs without.

But what about those blogs that did not use those aforementioned list-centric headlines? Where’s the love?

Okay without further ado, here is my list of Top Five (maybe there is something to the number five) Blogs That Didn’t Get the Attention They Should Have Received:

#5 – Controlling the Controllables (or the Time I was Confused for Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Johnson….No, Really) – In a profession where we rely on third-parties to tell our messages, how can we best control those things that are within our grasp.

#4 – When it Comes to Covering the News, Who is the Boss? – Are the news outlets covering social media or is social media reporting on what is news.

#3 – The Evolution of the Placement: Taking “Crawl, Walk, Run” Up a Few Notches – Today, the savvy public relations professional doesn’t and shouldn’t solely rely on the media to reach his/her audience. Blogging, creating relevant videos, posting appropriate content socially, helps create a direct line to the people you want to reach.

#2 – When a Great Placement Isn’t: How and Why To Manage Expectations – When it comes to managing expectations, it comes down to two things: Understanding the media and understanding your client (and your client can be your boss/CEO if you are on the corporate side of things or, if you are on the agency side your client can be…your client).

#1 – The New Company Spokespeople are on Social Media Sites and Instant Chats; Should Execs Be Afraid? – Are the people who are talking to reporters and producers, responding to social media inquiries?  Should they?

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Five Sure-Fire Ways to Better Measure Your PR Campaigns (Or How to Prove Value to Your Clients)

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I must apologize for being away for a little bit – – combination of life and writer’s block. That said, I’ve recommitted myself to my blog and I’m excited to get back on track. My goal is one blog a week.

I have several topics I want to discuss:

  •  Measuring media relations and public relations
  • Branding and PR – – developing and protecting your brand; and the relationship PR needs to have in sustaining a healthy brand
  • Social media – – not sure if everyone is sold on the role PR should have with social media

So, let’s start with measurement. I’ve been away from the agency scene for seven years and the ideas behind measurement have since evolved. Seven, 10 years ago aside from circulation, readership, listenership and viewership (as well as all the ships at sea) it was all about ad equivalency and public relations value. Ad equivalency was pretty straight forward.

The thinking being, how much it would cost you to place an ad with the given media for the placement. In other words, my client was part of a three-minute segment on the local news station. An ad on the local station cost X dollars for a :30 second spot, the ad value would be 6X. A quarter page ad cost X dollars in the local paper. We were part of a half page story. 2X.

Publicity Value factored in the third-party credibility of the story appearing in a trusted outlet as opposed to an ad. And this is where it got tricky. Depending on whom you would ask, the ad equivalency would be multiplied by two or 2.5 or three or – I had some “peers” say – 3.5.

Now back then, we would also factor in tonality and messaging when talking measurement, but the pervading thought was to provide the client with a dollar figure to reconcile the cost of the campaign.

For me, it seemed like the industry had an inferiority complex and was trying to rationalize existence. I had several issues with the thinking. For example, it seemed disingenuous to always include the full ad equivalency for a segment that wasn’t completely about us (or an article). We were affixing the same value to a front page story and a paragraph on page twelve. The same value for a lead segment versus part of a kicker. What were we doing if we were mentioned in a tease? Or if we didn’t get all of our messages across?

Looking at today’s landscape, one could see more challenges with measuring and determining the value of a placement. What do you do with an online story? Or a blog? How do you measure the value of a Facebook post? A retweet?

While this could be looked at as more opportunities for PR inferiority and insecurities, I truly believe this is the time for PR to shine and show our value. For the last seven years, I’ve been on the corporate side of the house and the best chance for anything PR to be viewed as valuable is when we have “a seat at the table” and are part of the process in determining the following with company executives:

  • What are the desired results of the campaign? Whether it is increased sales, brand awareness, positioning the company as a leader, issues management, etc., get it out and agreed upon ahead of time.
  • Embrace the story you are going to tell. Make sure you created the compelling messages for the appropriate audience. Will you attain your desired results with these messages? Is there a call to action? Is everyone on the same page?
  •  Agree on the messaging; what are the most important messages (“If I can only get one message in, it is X”), and make sure your spokesperson goes through good spokesperson training (I’d recommend having your main client contact and whatever executives you can, go through the training – – even if they aren’t your spokesperson. They will better understand the value of the placement).
    • Tier the placements. Is your real audience reading, listening and watching the outlets you are approaching? What is the home run placement and why? Single, double, triple (sorry, baseball season – – go Yankees). Not necessarily suggesting a pay for play schedule. Understanding and agreeing on what is important is vital. This is also an opportunity to manage expectations and, if applicable, talk Crawl, Walk and Run.
  • Discuss the marketing of  the placement. Is there a sales force that can use the segment? Do you have a Facebook, Twitter or other social page that the story can be posted on?  Are you able to monitor those who may post on their own or comment on the story (there are many services that do this)?
  • Is it appropriate to survey before and after a campaign? Best to do so for issues management or brand awareness.

Ad equivalency can still be used (I wouldn’t) but it doesn’t provide a complete picture and – in many ways – undermines the true value of public relations. Stay clear of publicity value. You’ll find yourself arguing why you are multiplying two or three instead of relishing in the greatness of a placement.

As an industry, we need to strive to get into the board room (real or virtual) and have the ear of management. Not doing so will doom us to being a communications afterthought.

When “Telephone” Isn’t A PR Person’s Best Friend

ImageShow of hands. Who remembers the game telephone? You know, a group of people whisper in the ear of the person next to them whatever a different person whispered in their ear. Invariably, by the time the last person repeats – out loud – what the first person said, it is very wrong.

Whether the saying was difficult to remember, someone heard it wrong, intentionally said it wrong or wasn’t paying that much attention to begin with, the message started with ends up very different from what the last person said. The game was always good for a few laughs.

There is an adult version of telephone going on these days, however I don’t think it is very funny. This version features many more people and the ramifications for getting it wrong are no laughing matter.

In this game, when news happens some less than “calling it down the middle” is happening:

  •  More and more commentators are reporting the news without true training and – sometimes – with a preconceived bias are getting the facts wrong, ignoring them or putting their slant on things.
  •  Television news teases – wanting to draw viewers into a story coming up after break and put together by someone other than the reporter we worked with – could be somewhat inaccurate/dramatic.
  •  A headline, written by someone other than the reporter we worked with, would be sensational so the reader would…well, read on.

Now, for the most part, I don’t think the media tries to get it wrong – – it only hurts them in the long run – – but the result  becomes magnified in this social world.  The real audience who may not be paying full attention/not read the full story/etc., are tweeting, blogging, posting, etc., the story as gospel.

The reality is technology is facilitating the journalists who “need” to be first in reporting “facts” for a myriad of reasons and the non-journalists (you and me) who “need” to be first in letting their friends/acquaintances know that they are in the know.

The good news is technology also helps people like me. People like me whose job – in part – is to control the message.  We can:

  • Monitor posts to see what is being said, who is saying it and who is listening.
  •  Respond, when appropriate, to those who are getting “it” wrong with the facts and a link to relevant information/data/etc. that substantiates your point.
  • Determine who the big voices are and who should be contacted.
  • Create blogs/post with relevant content telling your side of the story.

While technology has many upsides, don’t forget to go to the source if they’ve gotten it wrong. There have been several times where I’ve reached out to the media when a headline wasn’t accurate or a tease a bit misleading. The key is to always deal with facts.

While responding to everyone may not be practical, reaching key people is certainly viable. Like anything else, we aren’t going to be able to reach everyone, but technology will allow us to establish our side.

The “New” in the News Release

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A little over a month ago I wrote a blog called The Days of Major Media Using Your Release Verbatim are Over (Not That They Were Ever Under). My premise was pretty simple (for those who have been reading my blogs, know I excel in simple) – – major media aren’t waiting for a news release to come over the wire so they can just “copy and paste” onto their outlet.

Responses I received were at times passionate and always thoughtful. First off, what do I mean by major media?  Second, U.S. media is different from media across the world. Some outlets will use parts of a release verbatim – – government, medical, sports, etc. The goal of the release is to illustrate what a possible story could look like. And on and on and on…

Awesome feedback. Couple of things that I took from the comments and, in some instances, ensuing back and forth:

Doesn’t matter if the release gets used verbatim. What matters is getting the attention of the reporter by providing her/him with a compelling story for her/his readers/listeners/viewers (who are your real audience).

How you write the story does matter. It is everything. Yes, AP Style. Of course, proper grammar. But what is going to make or break you is creating a story that is written for the media, not your client. This means thinking like a reporter and not worrying if your client’s name is in the first sentence or first paragraph when it doesn’t fit. It means using a quote only when it truly moves your story forward, otherwise not using it all.

This is not always going to be easy, and there will be instances when you shouldn’t fall on your sword over this, but for those times when mentioning “Company X” right away doesn’t make sense – – stick to your guns.

When would this occur? Lots of examples:

Perhaps a technology release where you are going to talk the benefits of the innovation first and follow that with what made it possible.

Maybe for the anniversary of a restaurant, you want to start with a story of a couple who were engaged at the eatery 50 years ago.

I think you get the idea. Bottom line is we are the experts in how to best secure coverage and how to best utilize the news release which, by the way, does not and should not just be used for going to the media. Blogs and social media are great venues for news releases/stories. And just like the media (who are taking your story to your real audience), those individuals who are reading your blog and social pages don’t want to get hit over the head with repeated corporate plugs.

The Evolution of the Placement: Taking “Crawl, Walk, Run” Up a Few Notches

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I coined a phrase many years ago, describing a strategy for building a successful media relations campaign. Wasn’t relevant for every situation, but I thought it sound, and a good way of managing expectations.

The idea was “Crawl. Walk. Run.” Pretty self-explanatory and an easy way of illustrating the process.

Crawling would take place when you secured a trade placement. Calling a trade placement crawling was not intended to diminish the placement. Trade media and analysts covering a particular industry can be critical in the foundation of coverage.

Walking would occur when you took that trade placement to an outlet like a beat reporter at a daily newspaper. The thinking was, the beat reporter would be familiar with the trade outlet and your pitch would hold more credence. A couple of daily hits and well, you are now walking.

We would be running when national media – – broadcast, print, magazine, etc. – – would do a story based, in part, on those daily newspaper placements.

While I still believe the strategy to still hold true, new times and technologies have added opportunities as has a more sophisticated way at looking at your real audience.

Today, the savvy public relations professional doesn’t and shouldn’t solely rely on the media to reach his/her audience. Blogging, creating relevant videos, posting appropriate content socially, helps create a direct line to the people you want to reach. In most instances, less total people – initially – than a huge media placement, but – if done correctly – just as much impact because you are hitting the right people.

What you lose in third-party credibility, you gain in controlling the messages and interacting directly with your consumers. That said, creating content is not as simple as talking about your latest and greatest product or service.

Sure, individuals who follow your company, product, service, etc. do want to receive some information/coupons/offers, etc. specific to your company, but they want more. It is about providing relevant, compelling content that will keep your real audience interested and coming back for more.

For example, the smarter/better retail companies are probably blogging about their given expertise and posting it on Facebook (along with coupons, etc.). To be clear, the content is not a commercial. You are telling an interesting story without bombarding your real audience with your company name, product, service.

The great thing for PR folks is, that content (and it could be a blog, video, etc.) can and should be used as possible pitches for media. Producers, reporters get a good idea of what the story could be and if your content spurs comments, more the better.

More and more, the media are covering what is happening socially. During a talk at Vanderbilt, a student asks Billy Joel if he can play New York State of Mind on the piano. Many YouTube views later, the student ends up talking on TODAY and appearing on other media outlets. As PR professionals we should be doing the same thing – – asking Billy Joel if you can play piano for him… No, not that, but we should be building relevant content and using that content as a tool for pitching the media.

One of our responsibilities is establishing positive relationships between our client and their real audience. Building great content that the real audience can use directly and the media can use to create new content to a broader (if done correctly) real audience comes down to a Matter of Trust (see what I did there, used another Billy Joel song to reinforce my point, I know a bit cheesy, but what can I tell you, I’m a fan).

Controlling the Controllables (or the Time I was Confused for Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Johnson….No, Really)

JOHNSONOn more than one occasion, I’ve been told I can be intense at work. Not the “I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam” intense, but the “get out of his way when he’s coming down the hall” intense.

Whether it is my “game-day” face, the New Yorker in me or “get it done” mentality, I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m being intense. I would say, I’m controlling the controllables.

So, what does that really mean? Well, one of the aspects of public relations and media relations that I enjoy the most is the art form (yes, I believe it to be an art form) of creating the news and seeing/hearing it online, on the radio, television, print. For me the fun is in as much the journey as it is in the end result. It’s great to see/hear the reporter encounter the “Oprah Ah-hah Moment” and reap the rewards of that third-party credibility.

After all, in so many ways, that is the name of the game – – third-party credibility. It is one thing to have me tell you how compelling/important/awesome something is, but it is so much better else to have Robin Roberts, Katie Couric, your favorite reporter/columnist, the morning radio host, etc., say so.

However, one of the inherit challenges that goes along with this, is a little thing I like to refer to as Breaking News.

We all have tales of our stories being bumped, preempted, postponed because of breaking news. Our stories, events, news conferences, etc. compete with the real word and sometimes, the real word happens. And try as we may, the real world isn’t controllable. Therefore it is incumbent on us to control the controllables.

Below are some thought on how to do so. For the sake of this discussion, I’ve included thoughts when dealing with an event, news conference or story.

  • Be vigilant – If you are planning a media event or news conference, the real work starts days/weeks/months before the event. Is it the right story? Is an event or news conference the best way of getting your message across? How accessible is the event/conference to the media? What type of media are we targeting? Don’t rely on lists. Have actual one-on-one interaction with the media. Can materials be developed in case the media get called away day of the event? Spelling counts in whatever we do as does Associated Press style.
  • Ask questions of the media – Our work doesn’t end when the media say yes to our pitch. The more information we can get the better. Participate in the process of developing the story. How is the client plug going to be included? Is this going to be a roundup story or a feature? Interviewing other people? Will a reporter be attending the event or a camera person alone?
  • Update your client/manage their expectations – It is one thing for us to know that Breaking News happens. It’s another to make sure our clients understand it too. The more relevant information you can provide, the better.
  • Never say never – Now, just because breaking news bumps your story, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are finished. Consider producing your own b-roll of your event. Can a photo be used online? Can you do the interview a different time? Can you blog about your story? Post video or pictures on your company Facebook  Page and Twitter Feed?

So, when was this slow, not shall I say “cut” man (that would be me) confused for Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Johnson? And how does it relate to controlling the controllables? Prior to the Sydney Olympics, my client at the time was hosting a press event in Atlanta with spokesman, Michael Johnson. We had area kids at the press conference and Michael was going to introduce my client’s program that would feature Olympic hopefuls.

We had worked long and hard on the event. Two junior staff members (who I’m very proud/happy to say are now anything but junior; both are well-respected and quite successful) and I had spent the better part of a month developing the logistics behind the conference and worked the phones in making sure the media were well aware of the details.

As “luck” would have it, disgraced Major Leaguer, John Rocker, chose the same time as our event to call a news conference to discuss some “controversial” comments he had made. I received the call in the car service from my teammates who told me the news. I could hear from their voice that they were not only disappointed but a bit apprehensive as to what my reaction would be – – in retrospect, I guess I had my “game day” face on for a couple of weeks.

I believe – much to their surprise – I was calm. I knew we had controlled everything we could, and both the client and Michael were well-briefed on what we had done to prepare.

The news conference ended up going well and we had good media coverage (I guess Rocker really didn’t have all that much to say). As I was wrangling the press and letting Michael speak with different reporters, one woman came up to me with her son and asked me for an autograph.

I looked curiously at her and asked why she would want an autograph from me.

“You are Michael Johnson,” she asked.

No ma’am. The athletic looking gentleman in the Olympic sweat shirt, flanked with all sorts of media, THAT would be Michael Johnson.   Me, I’m just a PR guy who, like James Cagney, is a song and dance man (even though I can’t sing or dance) at heart.

Five PR Pet Peeves: Rolodex, Spaghetti, Spin, No Such Thing, and Taken Out of Context

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I thought it might be fun or at the least a little cathartic to write about some of my “favorite” pet peeves regarding my given profession.

So, without further ado, I present to you – in no particular order – five of my all-time “please don’t say that” pet peeves:

#5: Client or prospect says, “I want to hire someone that has a good Rolodex” insinuating that the relationship we have precludes the story we are pitching.

Not so. This is a business and it is about creating the compelling story for the appropriate audience. The story is going to determine who we contact. These days with email, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, the phone, etc. it is easier than ever to reach the media. But reaching the media is one thing, providing them with a great story is something else. And that is how you build a relationship. Doesn’t matter how big my Rolodex is, if I don’t have the right story and the good PR person isn’t going to reach out to a reporter/producer just to reach out to them.  This leads me to another peeve of pets –

#4: Those who want to send the pitch out to everyone and see who picks it up.

Now this can be a client, account executive or anyone who isn’t interacting with the media. I call this the spaghetti theory (throw it on the wall and see what sticks) and it is one of the worst things you can do. The media get bombarded with pitches. It is our job to act as a gatekeeper for them in determining what pitch makes sense to the right media. Consistently sending out the wrong pitch to the wrong media will alienate your client and your credibility. I understand saying “no” to a client can be difficult, but managing expectations and explaining your rationale comes with the territory.

#3: Let’s spin that. Put a positive spin on that. Go do some PR on that.

Spinning something to me sounds like we aren’t telling the entire truth; holding something back. I hope that’s not what we do – – not sure I’d be able to look at myself in the mirror. Public relations is about getting all sides of the story out. You may not always agree, but a good public relations pro will illuminate a situation. We don’t lie, hold information or mislead.

#2: There’s no such thing as bad PR.

No. No. No. No. Not true. There is such a thing as news cycles and it has been shown that many societies can be forgiving (or somewhat forgetting). Really rather not be in a situation where how I react to something will dictate someone’s future. I could not disagree more with this. Or this –

#1: I didn’t say that. The reporter took what I said out of context.

Actually, odds are you did say that and the reporter just included what you said. Reporters don’t want to be called out for getting something wrong, not good career moves for them since they rely on being reputable. More often than not, those who have been “quoted out of context” did say it, but did not plan out what they were going to say. Before any interview, everyone should go through some form of media training, or – as I was taught – a Strategy For Answering Questions. Doing so will “amazingly” stop those “I didn’t say that” moments.

Surely you have your pet peeves (and don’t call me Shirley). What are yours? You agree with mine?

When a Great Placement Isn’t: How and Why To Manage Expectations

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I was thrilled. Front page of USA Today’s Life section. The “Featured Story” that went onto another page.  Cover picture of my client’s book and another picture from the book on the second page of the story. Client was the expert, quoted several times throughout the piece. Made me and everyone who called, emailed, and reached out to congratulate me, want to buy the book. Really was beyond my wildest expectations.

Problem was, it wasn’t beyond my client’s. Problem was, my client was looking for a book review. Problem was, I didn’t manage his expectations.

This was more than 15 years ago and I’m quite confident my client was happy with the placement, but was looking for any excuse not to pay. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. He was not a standup guy. That said, I didn’t do my job. That said, even more of a reason to manage expectations (unfortunately it is sometimes covering yourself). A lesson learned. A lesson I will never forget.

When it comes to managing expectations, it comes down to two things: Understanding the media and understanding your client (and your client can be your boss/CEO if you are on the corporate side of things or, if you are on the agency side your client can be…your client).

  • Understanding the media – It’s not good enough to “just” get the placement. Our work is just starting. We really need to fully understand what the media is thinking so we can provide the best opportunities for our client. Research the media ahead of time so intelligent questions can be asked and ideas to better the story can be offered. Who else are you interviewing? Would you consider talking to an industry expert who covers our company? When is the story going to run? Is it a round up story or are you featuring us? What segment will we be featured? How long will the segment be? Will the host be mentioning my client or is it the responsibility of our spokesperson to give the mention? The point is, there is so much leg-work that takes place after the media’s, “yes” that can impact the quality of the placement and set the expectations of your client.
  • Understanding your client – How much does our client understand the media and how much do they want to understand? This is important – – need to make sure we are talking the same language. Before any campaign or effort involving the media, it is critical to determine what the client wants to get from the placements. Sales? Brand awareness? Facebook likes? Increased employee good-will?  Communication of key messages? Our ability to successfully table-set what can be done and how it can be done will dictate the quality of the relationship.

Managing expectations is something every level public relations professional should understand and practice – – even if you aren’t the main client contact. Arming the client lead with the appropriate information can only be of a help.

What about you? Any stories of managing expectations gone awry? What was the one question you asked a reporter that you never thought you’d ask?

When it Comes to Covering the News, Who is the Boss?

alg-singer-bruce-springsteen-jpgLately, I’ve been thinking about the evolution of the media and what constitutes media. In its simplest form, the media tells/reports the news. Well, what is news? Again in its simplest form (hey, I know simple; some friends regularly call me simple), news is something that is noteworthy because it affects your head, heart or wallet. It may be newsworthy for one person, but not so much for another.

In this fast-paced, remote control, surf, sound bite society, headlines, teases and  tweets are more about attracting and drawing people in, and less about the true point or takeaway of the story. Not an issue for those who take the time to read, watch or listen to the story, but for those who just digest the appetizer (headline, tease, etc.), you may be getting an inaccurate account that you forward socially.

Wasn’t always this way.

It used to be the news was reported by journalists. Daily. 5pm. 6pm. 11pm. The thinking was they “called it down the middle.”

That begot 24 hour news which led to the need for more content. More content led to diversification. Might not be newsworthy to you or you, but definitely you and you. Not so much down the middle, but for those who it catered to, gospel. Journalists and commentators.

Online and social media. More content. More diversification. More passion and more involvement from you, you, you and me. Even less down the middle and more about first. Economics affecting some journalism. We all cover and forward what we deem to be the news to our friends, colleagues and in many instances people who “if you follow me, I’ll follow you.” In essence, “everyone” reporting the news.

Now, for someone like me, this can cause more than your fair share of challenges. Want to share one.

After my “I’m with the New York Times, Nobody Likes You. I’m on Deadline. Care To Comment?” blog, a former colleague commented:  “Good piece. I have to wonder: In the age of social media, when companies can comment directly to the end audience via social media channels and without the reporter filter, is failure to comment directly to the journalist as big a deal anymore? Not suggesting that social media completely defanged the traditional media; but the new dynamic is intriguing.”

Intriguing, indeed.  That said, I do believe you need to still respond to the media. When appropriate, you can dig deeper by blogging about the topic, posting on Facebook, Tweeting, etc., to get your message/side of the story. In other words, you need to be consistent in responding to the press and addressing your real audience directly through, among many channels, social media.

What you wouldn’t want to happen is not to respond to the reporter and just do your own thing. The reporter/outlet is going to be contradicting or not including your side and that message will reach the initial audience plus ensuing audiences the outlet or reporter may have socially.

Speaking of consistency, your messaging needs to be the same for all audiences – internal and external. Singing one tune to employees but a different externally can/will cause similar issues. Employees are hearing mixed messages and may be sending out contrary points to their social networks.

So, when it comes to covering the news, who is the boss? Not Bruce…not even George Steinbrenner or Tony Danza. Technology allows us all to be our own versions of the 4th Estate without those little “annoyances” of fact-checking or multiple sources. I hope I don’t sound like “old grumpy guy” here, but it is the world we live in now and the role of a public relations person is more critical then ever.

The Days of Major Media Using Your Release Verbatim are Over (Not That They Were Ever Under)

ImageLast week a good friend of mine who owns his own business asked me about sending out a news release. His concern was sending out the release the day after the Pope announcement – – would the media avoid the news release because of the Papal appointment? (as a funny aside, I saw several Tweets and posts from PR folks “advising” to send out your bad news today since the media was covering the news from the Vatican)

My feeling has always been the news release does not equal news coverage from the media. The only wire a reporter at The Denver Post is looking at on his or her computer is from the Associated Press, Reuters, etc. However, 15 years ago it was difficult to disprove that because news releases were routinely seen – verbatim – on sites like MSNBC, New York Times, Denver Post, etc.

The somewhat dirty little secret at the time was, because of relationships the press release companies had with different aggregators, client releases would be seen on high profile sites.

That was the good news. The bad news was the release was so buried within the site that it would take you – literally – seven or eight clicks to get to the release. This was before the days of Google (yes, there were days before Google) so the real likelihood of being seen was…what is the word I’m looking for…small.

This is less indictment and more comment on the times. For me, if you wanted to get a story in print, on television, etc., you needed to reach out to the media and build a relationship by (for those who have read my blogs before, here it comes) developing a compelling story for your real/appropriate audience.

Well, times have certainly changed, but some things remain the same: the best way to get a story out to your real/appropriate audience via the media is by developing the compelling story and unless you are a publicly held company, the media aren’t waiting for your news release.

Does that mean the news release is dead? Absolutely not. Like many who have aged, I believe it has gone through a facelift of sorts. I would categorize a press release as a type of content that can/should be used to help tell a story, build a brand, etc. Distributing the news release has benefits. It can rank on the search sites. It can be a part of your company blog. You can Tweet about it and post on your Facebook Page.

Along the same lines, the way we reach the media has most definitely changed, but whether it is Direct Messaging them on Twitter, following their Facebook Page, calling, emailing or texting the one thing remains the same – – the media want/need compelling stories. And, given the increased access to what they are looking for, there are no real excuses as to not pitching them something appropriate.

But what about the media itself? Media has changed over the year with bloggers, social sites and news aggregators altering the landscape and not necessarily following the “rules” of…your mother’s media. Today, someone may post a story without checking sources, Tweet it to his followers and – when he/she realizes a mistake was made, sends a correction that isn’t “consumed” by everyone who received the first Tweet.   Well, this is a topic for another day.

Another friend of mine shared a great infographic talking about the changing face of PR.  The bottom part of it was my favorite. Those elements that remain: relationships, storytelling, thought leadership, authenticity, facts, speed, preparedness and credibility.