Tag Archives: media relations

A Hidden Rule of PR – If you don’t ask, how do you know you won’t get it?

Since my first PR job with Ogilvy & Mather PR Taiwan, I’ve discovered this “hidden rule” the hard way. When you’re just starting out, you’re taught to do what you can to please the journalist – and now extending to bloggers. Most practitioners start by asking what the journalist wants but now asking questions that you want to ask on behalf of your client or company.

I understand not wanting to anger a reporter, but if you don’t ask the question, then how do you know? We assume that we’ll be bothering the reporter/blogger but you never know what the answer will be if you don’t ask.

So here are some questions that you should ask:

What’s the timing for the story?

People err on thinking that because you’ve just hung up the phone with a journalist that you have to immediately work on what the reporter is seeking. Agency folks – for your client’s sanity, determine what the time line is. This way, if the reporter needs it in a week, you can build cushion with your client. I used to say I needed something in 3 days because I KNEW it would take my client 5 days to turnaround.

This also sets expectations with the reporter. Otherwise, the reporter may want it tomorrow and you’ll never know.

What is the angle for the story?

I know, I know. This should be apparent from the conversation, editorial opportunity or email pitch. But you should reconfirm as the reporter may have a specific angle that she’s seeking to write about. It’s your job to pull this out if possible.

Do you have specific questions in mind that you would like to ask?

Most briefing sheets include a section where we, as practitioners write questions that we believe that the reporter will ask based on the conversation or previous articles. Why not just ask and see if the reporter is willing to give you a few questions. Better yet…

Provide some sample questions

I file this as being a “helpful” PR person. I include a couple of questions to better identify the focus of the interview. However, you have to be careful about this. While the previous question asks the reporter for her questions, this one inserts your positioning into the process.

I will pose some questions if you’re doing an email Q&A or if there is limited time for the phone interview. This way, the questions help to maximize everyone’s time.

Offer to provide screenshots

As they say, a photo says a 1000 words. Screenshots help to visually augment the story, while reinforcing your company’s visual brand. Regardless of the story, I always ask about providing screenshots. More often than not, the publication will use the screenshot. And if several competitors are interviewed, this helps to visually position your company as the “thought leader” in that space.

Conclusion: Being Polite Won’t Get You Anywhere

Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating rude or clueless practitioners. I’m just recommending that you don’t be afraid to ask questions. Each situation will dictate the type of questions you can and should ask.

What other questions did I miss?

All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

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My Top 5 Blogging Outreach Mistakes

The posts that I learn the most from are by those who are willing to show their mistakes and what they’ve learned. This not only humanizes them but also makes us feel just a little bit less stupid!

 

While there are a lot of posts about how to pitch a blogger, I thought it would be an interesting twist to list the top five mistakes I’ve made a la Letterman style:

 

My Top 5 Pitching Blogger Mistakes

 

Number 5: Oops – I thought that was MISS Blogger, not MISTER Blogger

 

Number 4: Spellcheck is a wonderful technology…when you USE it

 

Number 3: I’m not stalking you honestly. Could you just puhleeze respond to me?

 

Number 2: Sorry – didn’t realize you just wrote about this… yesterday!

 

And the number 1 mistake that I’ve made pitching a blogger:

Who cares about YOUR interests, it’s all about ME

 

What mistakes have you made? Bonus points for your Letterman style list!

 

But if you’re interested in more information about how to pitch, check out my page about pitching bloggers and 8 Practical Tips for PR and Blogging Outreach.

 

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All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

Sarah Palin and Media Training 201!

Vice Presidential Debate

Vice Presidential Debate

Disclosure, while I lean toward Democrats/Independent, this post purely provides insight on Palin’s performance, not the content.

 

Last week, I wrote about the one-on-one interviews Sarah Palin had conducted. I highlighted her weaknesses and provided some media recommendations before the vice presidential debate. Her interviews singlehandedly increased the attention that the VP debate would receive.

 

How Did She Do?

While I watched the debate to educate myself about the candidates, I kept in mind the weaknesses I highlighted previously. To summarize:

– She responded with canned messages to EVERY question
– She allowed herself to be cornered on questions which led to
– Her answering questions she shouldn’t had
– She was
visibly uncomfortable with the speed and style of questions

Based on this, here is where she improved:

 

Visible Presence: I think this format played to Palin’s strengths. She demonstrated confidence and charisma that electrified Republicans, and took Democrats off guard, at the RNC. Palin seemed more comfortable as she could focus on the audience, not just an interviewer.

 

Bridging Responses: The other benefit was the debate format. It seemed that each veep candidate had notes behind his/her podium, which can be reassuring to a person. Furthermore, the 5 minute limit on each question prevented the moderator from digging into each person’s response.

 

While Palin was considerably better with her responses, I think she can improve on how to bridge her responses. In fact, she overtly stated that she would not answer questions that she felt the media wanted, but rather the viewer. Not great, but from a communications perspective, she did what we always counsel – respond to the question that you want asked, not the one that was asked.

 

Preparation: I give Palin 4 gold stars. She was clearly MORE prepared than her interviews. She had 3-4 key points that she highlighted throughout the debate. I only detected 2-3 questions when she seemed to struggle, but she recovered quickly.

 

 

Conclusions

With political pundits and prospective voters watching her closely, Palin did a great job to nullify the concerns that her interviews had raised. I recognize that the expectations may not have been high to begin with but you can’t deny that she provided a great performance.

 

She does have room for improvement regarding how to bridge her response with the question asked. Future interviews won’t be like the debate. But in just one and half hours, she definitely responded to her skeptics.

 

Do you think this debate is enough? Or are the doubts still around?

 

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All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

 

Sarah Palin – Media Training 101!

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Oh my gosh. While I’ve voted mainly Democrat, this post isn’t about the politics of the election. Rather, did you SEE and HEAR those interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson.

Considering that Palin has been out of the public since being announced as the VP pick, I assumed that she’s been undergoing intense media training. There is a huge interest in her that her initial interviews will be a pivotal point in her candidacy. Each response will be reviewed and dissected heavily.

In reviewing the interviews on YouTube, I wonder if her media trainers underestimated the level and depth of questions that she was going to be asked. From her general background and political record to energy and foreign policy, it seemed that Palin was only able to give canned responses.

Now don’t get me wrong. One aspect of media training is how to handle tough questions, respond yet smoothly transition to the message that you want to communicate. Bill Clinton was the maestro at this. Very smooth. Very articulate. And was able to shift the conversation.

The Palin interviews demonstrated her weaknesses
– She responded with canned messages to EVERY question
– She allowed herself to be cornered on questions which led to
– Her answering questions she shouldn’t had
– She was visibly uncomfortable with the speed and style of questions

What’s the net net?

For a woman with so much charisma, it’s confusing that she is unable to match that charisma as a public speaker and interviewee. Eventually, charisma will only take her so far unless she can back it up with substance. It will be interesting to see what progress is made before the VP debates on Friday Thursday.

If I were on her team, the points I would work with her on are:

Visible presence: when Sarah is easy going and relaxed, she can be persuasive with her viewpoint. She will need to keep this cool when pushed for details and better understanding of her views beyond “high-level” sound bites

Bridging Responses: bridging is how to take a question and smoothly transition it to the topic you want to discuss. Again, Clinton was great at this. For example, when asked about foreign policy, a bridge would be:

 – addressing the question: “Foreign policy impacts our country”

 – the bridge: “as we’ve seen this become intertwined with”

 – move to your topic: “our energy and security policies. As the governer of Alaska”

– and respond: “we understand how to protect our energy supplies” blah blah blah

Prepare, prepare, prepare: In the end, it comes down to preparation. Palin’s team NEEDS to ANTICIPATE all questions. They can’t assume that charisma and surpise at her nomination will carry to the end. This requires intense preparation and on-camera rehearsal. Most importantly, they need to replicate the Gibson and Couric interviews. Get her comfortable with uncomfortable situations and questions.  

Conclusions

Overall, Palin needs to overcome her weaknesses before her debate with Biden. The country is watching her and this will be a critical point not only in her public career, but also the direction of the campaign. If she can harness the charisma while competently communicating her experiences, the election will only become more interesting.

What do you think?

 

All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

Brave New World of Media Pitching: LinkedIn

In late April, I wanted to start exploring different ways that we can now pitch media. Besides my page about how to pitch bloggers, I looked into the new way of pitching via Twitter in my post titled,”Brave New World of Media Pitching: Twitter.”  

Social networking is a new avenue for public relations professionals. From my perspective, LinkedIn has some interesting opportunities. Here’s my look at LinkedIn in the brave new world of media pitching:

Make Connections: LinkedIn’s core purpose is to make connections – either with people you know or people you want to know. If you’re seeking to connect with a journalist, you can request a “linkedin” connection to make an introduction. Rather than send a blind pitch to a reporter, what’s better than a friend making the pitch on your behalf?

Research Media: I was recently searching for a reporter to create a briefing sheet and found the reporter’s LinkedIn page. Doh! I can’t believe I didn’t consider this in the past. LinkedIn is rich with information about a person’s background. Leverage LinkedIn to research reporters – where did they work in the past, titles, and other pertinent information. This provides incredible insight before you pitch the reporter as well as to prep your spokespeople.

LinkedIn AnswersLinkedIn Answers provides an opportunty for PR to participate in or start a conversation on relevant topics. Certain topics can also show up high on a Google search, which helps if a reporter is searching on a specific topic. In the end, you never know how a reporter gets her inspiration for a story and if she needs sources.

What other ways are you using LinkedIn for media outreach?

UPDATE: Just saw this post by Lewis Green of BizSolutionsPlus regarding value of LinkedIn.

Other posts in the “Brave New World of Media Pitching” series:

Brave New World of Media Pitching: Twitter

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All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

Brave New World of Media Pitching: Twitter

I have a page about how to pitch a blogger, but I’m realizing that this goes beyond pitching bloggers vs. traditional media. It’s how do we pitch people in general?

 

The traditional standards still apply: get to know the person you’re pitching, understand his or her preferences for pitching, and make sure you’re pitching something relevant. The questions now is, which is better? Twitter, facebook, linked in, RSS feeds, etc.

 

I’ve seen a lot of writing around new ways of pitching. In a first of a series of postings, I will look at different ways to “pitch” reporters and bloggers. For this issue, it’s how people are using Twitter for media outreach and relationship building.

  

Twitpitch: I read about this on Read/Write Web regarding Steve Bowd, a consultant. Consider it the online version of an elevator pitch. With only 140 characters, there’s only so much bullsh*t that a company can give. It forces you to be succinct and get to the point. Steve’s initial experiment is now the only way he wants to receive pitches.

 

Conference Conversations: In an email exchange with Chris Parente, he highlighted how his clients were able to get in front of journalists by following key analysts and reporters at the RSA Conference via Twitter. Chris was able to keep his client updated on issues being discussed and debated during the show, which helped their client be smart in front of key influencers. I see this being a huge trend, especially in early adopter/technology conferences.

 

Follow Key Influencers: Connected to “conference conversations,” I recommend that you start following key influencers now. This way, you can familiarize yourself with the person’s personality and topics of interest. It’s also an opportunity to participate in conversations with the analyst or reporter, especially when they ask a question. You never know when one of these mini-conversations becomes fodder for a blog posting or article. Just don’t get caught in the trap of trying to follow everything 24/7.

 

Update – Create Your Own Conversation: TechCrunch wrote about an interesting use of Twitter for a project wine tasting via Twitter. The company identified key twitterers, sent them some bottles of wine, and invited them to taste the wine and provide feedback online. What made this work? Making sure that the wine tasting conversation ocurred on a specific day and time. And I assume the wine tasted good as well.

 

What about you? Have you used Twitter for media/analyst relations? If so, share your stories below in the comments.

 

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PRMeetsMarketing Weekly Articles: November 29, 2007

Here is this week’s of interesting articles. You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed: 

The Blog Bubble? – R. Scott Raynovich of Light Reading has an interesting post on Internet Revolution. Raynovich believes that there will be a crash in blogs in terms of how one can make money and continue drawing an audience. If he’s correct, then those blogs that provide truly interesting content and insight will continue to stay above the noise. I think we may also see the rise of more blog-lomerates (blogging conglomerates) list GigaOm, TechCrunch, VentureBeat and others.

What Millennials Don’t Know – Advertising Age highlights ten marketing myths and their implications for marketers.  Sorry Mellennials, the world doesn’t revolve around you! 

Hallelujah – The Truth About PR “Relationships” – I read a few PR agency blogs and inmedia is one of the best. In a recent post, inmedia highlight the myth about media relationships resulting in media coverage. As the post concludes: Bottom line: The only thing that has any currency in a newsroom, the only thing any journalist cares about, is the news value of the story. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the news business  

Marketing In is Better Than Out – Brian Hulligan of HubSpot wrote this interesting post about how company websites can become better “hubs” for industry information. In this way, your prospective customers can better find you on search engines, blogs and social networks.  

Spammers Get Sneaky – I had paid scant attention to what seems to be a security hole in WordPress. Wired highlighted a recent sneak attack on Al Gore’s website. I’m assuming this doesn’t impact the freely hosted WordPress, right? 

Consumer Stats for Pitching – MediaPost’s Online Spin blog summarized some interesting data points that were published in Time magazine. Great fodder for those 2008 pitches or for those guys prepping for CES already! 

More SEO Tips for Press Releases – Lee Odden of Online Marketing Blog has some useful tips for press release optimization. Lee has advice from some of the leading press release wires. Also check out my previous post about how to select keywords for your press release.    

Oh My – You Can Be Fired for CARING Too Much – I’ve just started reading Alec Saunders’ blog. Alec usually covers VoIP and VON related issues, but occasionally brings up issues in his native Canada. This recent post about a customer service rep who is concerned about being fired because she spends time with customers. Sorry Sears, you’re getting the “I Hate Customers” award.    

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