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Six Tips For Reporter Follow-Ups That Get Publicity

The silence of the media recognition you crave, is just part of the landscape unless you are smart enough to change it. Six Tips For Reporter Follow-Ups That Get Publicity.

The Press Release Is Out & Time To Follow Up With Reporters;

To Call Or Not To Call?

If you work at or own a public relations agency, are starting a new business, expanding an existing one, introducing a new product or something else that you believe is newsworthy you will have written and distributed your press release. Now what? Why isn’t my release on the front page of the paper, the top of the web site or page 1 of Google? Why isn’t the phone ringing?

If you are a public relations veteran, then this is nothing new for you. The silence of the media recognition you crave is part of the landscape, but it does not have to be. If this is all new to you, hold on. Just because the phone isn’t ringing or the computer vibrating off the desk with pick-ups does not mean that your release was not well received. It probably was, or maybe it wasn’t. So here’s the deal with following up with reporters.

We’ll Call You

Every reporter you will ever speak to about “follow up” from a public relations person will tell you that if they are interested in your release, they will call you. When they tell you that, they probably really believe it. But we all know that in reality this is not true. Consider the sales person.

If selling was easy and did not entail a lot of follow up, no one would ever need to make a sales call. Because, if you follow the string of logic that says “if I’m interested I’ll call” you can just wait by the phone for all those calls from prospective customers, right? Similarly, if a reporter will call when or if they are interested then that phone will start ringing any second now, won’t it. Of course not.

What our reporter friends really mean is, that they do not want calls from people who do not have anything meaningful to them. Reporters also do not want calls about topics they do not cover, because it wastes their time. Any reasonable person would acknowledge the reasonableness of this desire. Sound reasonable? Of course it does. But I still do not know what to do. I’m supposed to make follow up calls, aren’t I. Yes, but read these tips first.

Calling Tips For Follow Up With Reporters

Do not treat media follow up calls like telemarketing. And put that coffee down!
Do not treat media follow up calls like telemarketing. And put that coffee down!
  1. Don’t be stupid. Calling a reporter to ask if they received your e-mail, is it stuck in your spam folder, would you like me to resend it, etc. are just annoying and pointless. The e-mail is working fine. A call like this will earn you the label of amateur, and you do not want that. You might as well call and ask “whatcha doin’?”
  2. No breeze testers. If you call a reporter after a release is out and say you are putting out feelers or testing the wind or testing the waters about what you already wrote and sent it signals to the reporter that: you did not think about this topic very hard until you pressed send, not knowing if it was newsworthy or not; and you have no idea who you are calling or why or what they actually report on. Would you call the sports writer to ask if he/she were interested in a story about predicting the weather? Of course you would not. So why are we (public relations people) put off when we call the new technology editor to discuss a story idea about crime prevention and he or she hangs up on you? Would you ask the plumber to work on your teeth? So resist the urge to call about feelers or to circle back or see if the e-mail works or not. All these tactics are pointless and a waste of everyone’s time and your company or client’s money.
  3. Do some homework. Before you sit down to make those calls, look at the background or “beat” that individual covers. Read, watch or listen to some of their stories first and know in advance whether or not there is a chance of any interest on the other end of the phone. If your client is peddling a new software solution for pet trainers and the reporter or blogger has never covered anything like this and for all you know does not even own a dog, the chances are good that this is not the person to call. Past is often prologue. On the other hand, if the writer/reporter has a column called “Pet Scene” and is known to volunteer at the SPCA, you’ve got a shot of getting a returned call and maybe even an interview. Again, past is often prologue.
  4. Put the coffee down. I get annoyed with public relations leaders who treat the follow call and the follow-up callers like boiler room telemarketers. A call to a reporter need not remind us all of Glengarry Glen Ross. Mitch and Murray from downtown did not send you. So allow your people the time needed to research those reporters and find the ones you at least have a chance of placing a story or scheduling an interview. This is a better approach than making a barrage of calls that all go to phone mail and are never returned.
  5. Go slow to go fast. This is one of my favorite phrases because while it sounds counter-intuitive, it is not. While you are researching the best places to make those pitch calls, the hours slip by. The boss is annoyed because you are not on the phone. You have made no placements. But the value of the research comes later when you make calls to those who report on and have a demonstrated interest in your release. No doubt there will be more interviews, more column inches, more awareness and calls to action because you took the time to find the right people to talk to and congratulations to you when you are the boss instead of the Alec Baldwin wannabe from downtown.
  6. Add worth. By making a more thoughtful approach to your reporter follow up, you added value. You made the reporters’ job easier because you introduced him/her to a story that will resonate with the audience he/she reports to. You did not waste his/her time with a pointless call. You did not waste the company or agency’s time and money by making silly calls nor did you exhaust yourself with this pointless exercise. Finally and most importantly you contributed to the reputation of your company or client. Those results will show up as added business because of the thoughtful approach you took. Well done!

 

 

 

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Eight Newsworthy Topics For Your Press Announcements

Eight Newsworthy Topics For Your Press Announcements.

Writing releases and finding topics takes practice, but can be done.
Writing releases and finding topics takes practice, but can be done.

So, what do I write about?

With the media list built for free from on line resources and the steps for constructing a release known to you it is time to get down to writing that first release. But what should you write about? That question gets asked a lot. The things that you see as routine and well known may be both of those things to you and your colleagues. But there is a planet full of people who could benefit from you and your expertise that never heard of you or know the first thing about what you can do. Those are the people to write for. Here is a list of newsworthy topics to consider.

  1. Events are newsworthy. Events are occurrences that are punctuated by a noteworthy happening that is not routine, and there are a lot of them for you to write about. The event you write about for your business does not have to be a cosmic spectacular to garner the attention of editors, reporters and bloggers. Routine happenings can be positioned as news with the right perspective.
  2. Tradeshows are newsworthy. Exhibiting at a tradeshow (which is an event) is news to the members of the media who will travel to and cover the show and to your prospective customers and clients you want to meet with while there. In you press release, tell the media that you will be exhibiting, what the booth number is, hours of the show, and any other business themed data you will emphasize. Is there a new product you are introducing at the show? Sounds newsworthy to me.
  3. New product introductions are newsworthy. I used to wait to do new product roll-outs at tradeshows because (at least at the larger events) there were plenty of reporters there who were looking for something newsworthy to report. But if you are not attending trade events of any type or size, the new product introduction is “money” when it comes to press coverage. Always have a color photo and caption to accompany the new product release. Releases with photos are more likely to get read, and ultimately published. You want that. If you are introducing a service or something that is not geared for photos, you will have to be a little creative. Photos of people are interesting, so if you can deliver a picture with people using, learning about or engaged with your service in some way then do that. Only bad news releases should not have a photo.
  4. New literature is newsworthy. Particularly if your market is business-to-business and technical, the offer of a free brochure, white paper or position document via a press release will be published as part of on line news stories and in traditional trade journals. Most of these have sections devoted to “new literature” and will be happy to report news about your new piece of literature.
  5. Promotions and hiring is newsworthy. I am sure you have seen these articles in newspapers, business and trade journals. If someone in your company was recently hires and/or promoted, consider a short release about them and their new position. Of course a photo of the person is practically mandatory.
  6. Records and achievements are newsworthy. Whether you made and surpassed a safety goal, sales amount, recycling record, most pints of blood donated ever, best month of production/sales/deliveries, energy saved, water recycled etc. are all newsworthy. These all fall under that “routine” that everyone at work knows about, and that is fine. But you are trying to build up a brand and business that all the people who do not work do not know about and do not find routine at all.
  7. Doing something new with an existing product, technology or service is always newsworthy. The prescription medicine known as Vyvanse is prescribed for the treatment people of ADD and/or ADHD. Recently, researchers announced that it was also effective treating people who struggle with binge eating disorders and made an announcement about it. This was quite a discovery. What discoveries like this are there in your business? More than you think. You can open up whole new markets like this and show the world how gifted and creative you and your people.
  8. New branch, office, plant openings. Nothing calls for a press release more than a ribbon and a big pair of scissors. Make the most of these events with a press release. Good news like this does not come along every day. If you miss the chance to pose with those big scissors you suffer lost business. A missed opportunity to put a good foot forward like this is an unforced error. Do not be guilty of missing this opportunity.

I am sure there are plenty more examples of what are considered newsworthy by reporters, bloggers, editors and most importantly the reading, listening viewing public. I can say that I have written releases from all 8 of the examples above and 3rd party media covered them all. All these releases about “minor” news happening swill add up and before long, lots of people and potential customers will know who you are and be calling you.

To get help with a media list just for you and your business, click here http://mediandpublicrelations.com/affordable-customized-media-list-for-you-and-your-business/ and send me the form. Easy!

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Six Steps To Write A Press Release That Gets Attention

Six steps to writing releases that will get covered. Do this and let me know how you do!
Six steps to writing releases that will get covered. Do this and let me know how you do!

Six Steps To Write A Press Release That Gets Attention. Now that you know the value of public relations and constructed a list (see the posts from February 19 and 20, 2015 respectively in case you missed them) it is now time to get down to the serious business of writing your release. I am pretty old fashioned when it comes to writing, and by old fashioned I mean by the book. Here are those writing steps in the order they should be written

  1. Who. Who are you, what is your name and/or the name of your company, service, cause or charity? Put that first. I have talked with public relations beginners who feel like this is boring and not terribly creative. Maybe. But when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time, you tell him or her your name, right? The same thing applies here and is especially important if you are a newcomer to business. What’s in a name? Everything so put this first.
  2. What. What are you selling, offering, suggesting or advocating? If you are not peddling something, whether a product, service, or idea, then you need to reconsider whether or not writing and publishing a press release is the best vehicle for you. The “what” is the place where you introduce the way what you do will make someone else’s life better, easier, more affordable, convenient, or faster. The “what “ is the place where you can tell the reader that you have something new, better, more advanced, less expensive, faster, etc. The “what” is the identifier for requests your customers will make when they go to buy your offering.
  3. When, Time is not relative. Days, dates and times occur with regularity. More to the point, if your press release is not telling the audience something new, then the release is not “news”. I once had an employer who insisted that I write a press release about a product that had been around for a decade. It failed the “news” part, so I had to work with him to find an attribute about this product that was new and had not been previously revealed. Reporters and editors and even bloggers want to know what is new so they can tell their readers about it. It is the way they stay relevant and important. If your information is something from the ancient past, it is not news, more like history.
  4. Where. Much like time, destinations and locations are well defined. When you are announcing something for sale and the potential customer has to go to your store or office to make a purchase, you want to make sure that location is readily identified. The same applies on line too. If you are offering a product or service for sale, and it can be accessed via the web, tell your audience the location.
  5. Why. Why should reporters and their readers pay careful attention to what you have to offer? Is your product less expensive, more advanced, bigger, smaller, faster, or better in some way than what was previously available? This is the place in the release where you can “sell” by offering information that describes why prospective customers and readers lives are incomplete without what you have to sell. And in case someone thinks that selling only means merchandise, think again. Instead of an offer of money in exchange for goods and services, selling can involve advocating a position or point of view. Why should you vote, contribute, download, or buy my thing? Tell them here.
  6. How. The “how” section of your release defines the way what you do does it, delivers or accomplishes the thing you are suggesting. For example, if you were in the dog training business and wanted to convince dog owners to hire you, your “how” might describe your training methods, “I use rewards and sound to train your dog, I never use force.” When you read that in the “how” section you know better about the expertise offered. And when you write it, you know what you want the reader to know about your abilities and/or expertise.

Press release writing is not the same as forms of creative expression, nor should it be. Press releases are for informing the public or target audience about what you have to say, offer or suggest. They are written like news stories because you want them reported as news in papers, web sites, blogs, radio, TV or other media. The audience for press releases is reporters, so write for them. They are the audience. If you want to be a creative writer, and express your creativity, press writing is not the appropriate place.

 

 

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Five Steps To Build A Media List

Five Steps To Build A Media List.

If you want to get covered, know who to talk to.
If you want to get covered, know who to talk to.

An essential component of any media relations’ effort is the creation of a media list.  A media list is, as the name suggests, a list of journalists, reporters, editors and bloggers that you want to connect with about your news. There are lots of ways to define this list. I once worked with someone who would not consider media part of a target list but insisted that they were merely a conduit to the real audience. He may have had a point but it seemed like hair-splitting to me. Oh well, now on with the story.

I like to use fishing analogies when I write about different types of ways to promote a business. There are fish you can catch with a net and fish you catch with a line. The fish that come up in the net are every fish. No discrimination about the type of fish in the net, just pull up every fish that is unlucky enough to be under the boat when the net is thrown out. To catch fish on a line requires more skill, specialized equipment, the right kind of bait and knowledge about where and when a particular variety is more likely available. Sending out press releases is much the same. You can broadcast a release to everyone via one of the popular and expensive services and it will get published, no question. But will it be seen and appreciated by an audience that could better appreciate it? Do you need a “line” to the reporters and editors who are specifically interested in your topic? You already know the answer.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

Or another way of thinking about this is to define who are your customers or potential customers? Where do they live? How old are they? Are they married or single? Are they college graduates or not? How much money do they make? What magazines do they read or subscribe to? These are a few of the demographics about who your audience/customers are and how to reach them. If you do not know this then you will not be able to build a good list or market to potential customers successfully. Know your customer!

Step 2: What Do You Read Or Listen To Or Watch?

So who are those reporters you want to reach and how do you start to look for them? Well, what do you read and listen to when you are thinking about work or looking for solutions to problems on the job? Many professionals and business owners have their favorite writer, podcaster, and/or commentator. The one who covers your business and the one(s) you pay attention to are also the same people who should show up on your media list. Since you already know who they are, finding them on line will be easier than if you did not. So while researching your own favorites, pay attention to others who show up on your favorite search engine feed. You want to be sure that you have access to all media in your selected categories—print, online, TV and radio—and that your list isn’t exclusive to one area. Be inclusive.

Step 3: Find Others Who Cover The Same Beat

Look on line for others who cover the same “beat” as your favorites. These people may not be your favorite, but they are someone’s favorite or they would not have the jobs or following that they do. Are there more places to look? Absolutely.

Step 4: Investigate Other On Line Resources

There are online services that have absolutely everything there is to know about every media outlet in North America whether, print, on line, radio, TV, or blog. Vocus and Cision are both excellent. They are also expensive and not everyone can afford to subscribe to one of these. Here are some other places to look that do not cost anything but time.

The Internet Public Library

The Internet Public Library includes a list of popular magazines and newspapers organized by their respective subject area or geographic focus. Each individual listing includes a brief description of the outlet’s coverage area, along with a link to their website. Other similar directories include World Newspapers & Magazines (some of these listings are outdated, but it’s still a good starting point), the Yahoo! News and Media directory and Mondo Times.

Linked In

I was looking for producers of radio talk shows in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago and turned to Linked In for help. You can dive very deep into contact information about the people you need by using Linked In. It has its limitations, but is the best source I have found and did not pay for.

Media On Twitter

I have communicated directly with individual reporters sending messages to them via Twitter. Of course you have to know their names and who they write for to make use of twitter, but never fear, there is a site for that. You can learn more about the MediaOnTwitter wiki from PRSarahEvans.com. While MediaOnTwitter is the most comprehensive list, there’s also a Media People Using Twitter wiki developed by Jeremy Porter and his staff.

Congress.org Media Guide

This is a useful directory of media outlets organized by your geographic area. You can click on an interactive map to find newspapers in different areas of the country. Each listing includes a description of the outlet, along with some contacts for the publication (geared toward those that cover politics, but still useful).

Audit Bureau of Circulations

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) lists its members on its website, including Business Publications, Consumer Magazines and Newspapers.

Regator

Regator aggregates the best blog posts on different subjects. While Alltop will show you the best blogs on a subject, Regator shows you the best posts, saving you even more time. It’s useful for finding the most relevant posts on subjects I’m interested in. The best posts are hand-selected by experienced journalists, so you’ll find nothing but great quality here.

TradePub

TradePub works with business and trade magazine publishers to market free subscriptions to qualified professionals. This is your one-stop-shop for subscribing to a wide-range of free business and trade publications of interest to you. It’s also a great place to find outlets you’ll want to add to your media list.

TVA Productions

TVA Productions is a top independent studio that just happens to have an awesome directory of media outlets in many different categories. The directory is well-designed and easy to navigate. The only downside is the directory only lists the name and location of each outlet per category, so you’ll still have to find the outlet’s website to continue your research from there.

Step 5: Manage Expectations

None of these resources will provide anywhere near the volume or accuracy of information found in commercial media databases like Vocus or Cision. It’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to media research. If you’re managing media relations for several organizations, consider investing in one of these solutions. If you just need to create a media list for your small business or startup, you can do this for free with a moderate amount of effort, using the resources above. I have used Vocus (and still do) and done this using the other tools listed above. Give yourself plenty of time to do it with the free resources and know that the results will not be as complete as they might be.

Step 6: Let Me Help

Contact Me Directly

My e-mail is haroldnicoll@gmail.com and my phone number is 979 292 8026. Or, fill out the form and I will go to work for you. Payment is via Pay Pal. But first things first, fill out the form or call or e-mail me and I will get back to you within a single work day or sooner.

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Your Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your E-mail’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Name of Your Business’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Phone Number’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Your Publicity Goals’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Keywords for Publicity’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Timing for Your Publicity’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’When Should I Call You?’ type=’text’/][/contact-form]

 

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Public Relations How It Can Help Any Business

Public Relations How It Can Help Any Business. Anyone who owns a business or dreams of owning one will have to know how to market it to have any chance of success. I decided to write about different marketing techniques that could be leveraged by anyone at any business regardless of the size of that enterprise. So I decided to start with my personal favorite, public relations.

Public relations can be a help to any business of any size.
Public relations can be a help to any business of any size.

What is Public Relations?

For this discussion we will limit to business promotion using the news media. So here ‘media relations’, is about getting free publicity for yourself, your business or your product. The difference between advertising and publicity is that with advertising, you pay for the space so you can make that space look and say exactly what you want it to. With publicity, you need to convince a journalist that your business provides an interesting story for their readers but you do not pay the media outlet.

What Does Public Relations Look Like/How Does It Work

You are doing several things at once or at the same time. Introducing yourself to a reporter as a source of expertise for future article input is one example. Additionally you help journalists create newsworthy articles about your product or service via your media release or with an interview that you or your agency representative initiated. The journalist receives your media release, decides to include you in a piece they’re doing and then mentions your business in their article. This is best case. If you are a newcomer to any given field, it will take some time for you to build up some credibility or be remembered as someone who is able to contribute.

It often takes a month or longer before you start to see your results in the media. Most monthly magazines work 2-3 months in advance and newspapers can take at least a couple of weeks. Radio and online media such as websites and blogs can be more immediate. Think of your work in public relations as a front-end loaded investment. There is a lot of cost at first with the payoffs coming later.

Who Can Benefit from Public Relations?

It would take less time to mention who cannot. Regardless of the business or service you offer, there are few that cannot leverage public relations as a viable promotional tool. Does it help if you work for a large and well-recognized company? Honestly, and based on my experience, it does but the reason is not what you might think. Big business cannot buy news coverage, but big brands will draw the eye of the reporter before smaller or lesser-known brands. It’s a matter of identity and not credibility. When I worked for The Dow Chemical Company I knew that my releases would get read and published just because of the Dow diamond logo on the letterhead. When I worked for TIC Gums, a family owned food ingredient company, I had to be more creative. So I helped invent a new language to describe “texture” in food and beverages. It was clever enough to garner a lot of attention. We were competing with a lot of other, much bigger companies but got a lot of recognition because we were wiling to take a chance and risk ridicule with “the texture revolution”. The only thing really revolutionary was the way we used words to describe something that was thought to be difficult to describe.

So do what we did with your own business. Be more visible more often than the big guys. Find a niche topic within your industry that will set you apart from them and then, tell an interesting story. It is not easy and I do not mean to imply in any way that it is. But like all things that are difficult, the payoff is worthwhile.

Why Choose Publicity and Public Relations Over Advertising?

First, I am not opposed to advertising. I love advertising and would use it a lot more often except that it is expensive. When putting together even a modest ad campaign there are costs for copywriters, photographers, illustrators, lay out and design. This is before anyone ever buys the space in a magazine, newspaper, or electronic media vehicle. Another reason is that for advertising to work, it has to be repeated. The axiom in advertising is reach and frequency. Reach is the audience that will be interested in the advertising message. Frequency is the number of times the ad must appear before anyone in the audience takes the action that advertiser wants. Those actions can be anything from a product trial, sample request, or further investigation all before anyone goes to make a purchase. On top of this, the cost of advertising is added to the cost of the product or service thus raising the price. Since a lot of merchants sell on offering the lowest price, the cost of ads can put them at a competitive disadvantage. Not so public relations.

The cost of public relations is less, as there are never any space or time purchases. Good press releases can be written in-house or by an outside vendor. And while all good press releases will have a color photo with them, these publicity shots do not carry the cost of most commercial photography. In fact, I took a lot of my own pictures while at TIC Gums. But there are other reasons to advocate for public relations besides cost saving.

Credibility. Everyone acknowledges (if unconsciously) that companies pay for ads and can say whatever they want as often as they can afford it. Similarly, they know that articles that are published as news are accorded 7-10 times more credibility and memorability than any paid space ad. Further, the media outlet that covers your company is effectively endorsing you and telling everyone how great you are. When advertising, you are saying how great you are. And isn’t it better to have others praising you?

What Do You Need To Get Started?

You need to be able write reasonably, be a good speller and able to do punctuation and grammar. Keep it simple, just who, what, when, where, why and how. For begginers and even veterans, realize that this is news writing and not a creative writing assignment. The more concise your release, the better.

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Measles Vaccine Controversy: Public Relations Nightmare

What do vaccines, public advocacy by the pharmaceutical industry and the “tin foil hat” crowd have in common? We’ll get to all of this. Measles Vaccine Controversy: Public Relations Nightmare.

First, skipping your measles vaccination is not a good idea as measles are contagious and can lead to complications up to and including death. Getting a measles vaccination is easy, affordable and just about guarantees you will not catch the measles. So what’s the big deal? And where are the pharmaceutical companies and why are they not advocating for the vaccine?

Drug companies should be more aggressive in their advocacy for vaccines and drown out the "tin foil hat" crowd.
Drug companies should be more aggressive in their advocacy for vaccines and drown out the “tin foil hat” crowd.

Plenty of others have written about the bad data from a
vaccine study in the U.K. but I have another theory about why so many are not considering this or the vaccines. Trust, or a lack of trust.

Not trusting government is as American as the 4th of July. But it seems that lack of faith now extends to business. The “drug companies” seem to get the most attention in this space. Perfectly reasonable people believe that drug/pharmaceutical companies are actually in the business of perpetuating illness as a way to prolong diseases and increase their revenues. Views like this that were once only the views voiced from the “tin foil hat” and talk radio crowd are now more main stream in the era of Face Book and Twitter. If Mee-Maw saw it on the “Interwebs” then it must be true, right? Wrong.

This kind of nonsense will make you dead. It will also make other innocent people dead, sick or permanently disabled. The pharmaceutical industry has an opportunity to advocate for good health, vaccines and their considerable abilities. So where are they?

Big companies are big targets, and attract a lot of attention when they step up or step out. A lot of that attention is going to be negative and no one likes the bad kind of attention. You can understand why they would choose to remain silent and let the controversy spin itself out, as it likely will. Add to that lawyers who “contribute” to the public relations strategy by telling their internal clients to “not say anything” as part of their response to public discourse. Remaining silent is a good idea at the police station, but it is terrible public relations strategy.

Without advocacy from the pharmaceutical industry, bad information, bad policy and more sick people will be the result. It does not have to be that way, which is a real shame. I hope that people who are in a position to do so decide to come out on the side of science, advocate for measles and other vaccines and drown out the voices of ignorance that seem to receive a disproportionate amount of attention. I’m looking at you, Mee-Maw.

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What’s Hijacking News; How Does Small Business Benefit?

What’s Hijacking News; How Does Small Business Benefit? Hijacking the news is also known as “Newsjacking” and Newsjacking is:

“the process of injecting your identity into the day’s news, creating an alternative but related story angle that grabs eyeballs in big numbers when they’re open widest, posted to social media sites and often linked to a longer narrative.”

David Meerman Scott’s book “Newsjacking” made the term more popular. It is worth noting that “newsjacking” and “hijacking the news” are used interchangeably but they both mean the same thing. Public relations people have been doing this same sort of thing for some time, linking events, openings, and soft news announcements to bigger news or events of the day. Newsjacking is the natural evolution of public relations for the Twitter/Instagram era.

Solid Public Relations Roots Support Newsjacking

The man who claims to have invented and coined the term “public relations”, Edward Bernays, was once hired to promote cigarette smoking. An activity unthinkable today, this happened just before the great depression. Bernays wanted to short circuit traditional channels of communications that he knew would never carry any message encouraging women to smoke. He knew that smoking among women was discouraged and not thought of as “lady like” and that the editors and reporters he typically counted on for covering his clients would not help him. He knew also that women represented a great and un-tapped market for cigarette makers to recruit. What to do?

During the traditional Easter Parade in New York City, Bernays hired women to march in the parade who were all wearing traditional Easter bonnets and springtime fashion. They were also all puffing away at cigarettes provided to them by Bernays. To lend legitimacy to the public display, he framed the issue around women’s’ rights and dubbed their smokes “torches of freedom” and the rest is history. Some find this a clever way to leverage a traditional event and others found it a cynical ploy. But either way it worked.

Traditional public relations does not have to be so earth shattering as persuading millions of women to start smoking. There are plenty of less controversial examples. If you want to introduce a new type of ice cream, do it on “National Ice Cream Day” which is Sunday, July 19, 2015. If you are in the hot dog or picnic business, launch a new product on July 4 or Labor Day. It’s natural to link hot dogs with July 4 (pun intended).

Newsjacking takes this concept and expands it, giving content marketers the chance to turn the days events and the spotlight of positive attention on to them, even if only for a short time. Of course there is room for traditional public relations campaigns and no one should think that newsjacking is a substitute for it. What newsjacking does is augment what your ongoing public relations work does, but with content relevant to current events. Newsjacking can have an immediate impact.

Help for the Start Up

When I worked for large and well-known companies I knew that their respective logos on my business card was enough to get me into print or at least get a phone call returned. I had the advantage of their brand identity passed to me via the work and positive heritage those places already had, well before I ever showed up. But for start ups, hijacking a news story creates a level playing field that in the age of Twitter and Instagram allows anyone to inject him or herself into the public eye. Newsjacking can make big company attention available for those who do not have massive resources or well-established identities. The same playing field is particularly level for people who are constant observers of the news in their respective industries, locale, nationally or globally, are quick to act and are reasonably good communicators.

Get More of the Type of Attention Wanted

Marketers should try to hijack the news for lots of reasons. The main and only important reason is to draw positive attention to you and what you have to offer. There are other benefits.

Newsjacking can also help boost SEO and position you as a thought leader in your field, which is one of the top objectives of many campaigns. Newsjacking helps blog content and social posts to instantly reach interested followers and attract new ones. Effectively, this means newsjacking can have an immediate impact on you and your brand. Your start up can become part of a trend, drive traffic to their site and get ahead of events even as they are happening. Hijacking the news means aligning your expertise with breaking news.

What Does A Newsjacked Story Look Like?

What does hijacking the news or “newsjacking” look like?

Think of it as “real time marketing” or a rapid response content generator. In the era of content marketing there is, well, a lot more content. Niches are narrower and windows of opportunities for positive exposure fewer and closing faster with less time available to leverage them than even a couple of years ago. But for the creative, brave marketers who are quick on their feet, there are possibilities. Here are a couple of examples:

Oreo-Twitter-B charmin-oscar-nominee-tweet

Charmin toilet paper got positive attention with bathroom humor during the 2013 Oscars with this tweet. Obviously the Charmin people planned to do this well in advance, evidenced by their staged photo. But they hijacked the event nonetheless.

To see an example of more spontaneous newsjacking, turn to Oreo Cookies clever tweet which came during the 2013 Super Bowl, when the lights went out.

Valuable? Well neither Oreo or Charmin paid to advertise during either event which saved each company millions of dollars. And their humorous and spontaneous messages resonated because they were not well-orchestrated corporate blather, but felt real, sincere and credible.

Here are the steps to implement a newsjacking program:

  1. Knowing that breaking news adds a different element to newsjacking, stay tuned to news and popular culture. If you want to leverage the news, you will need to be plugged in.
  2. Choose a handful of news outlets to watch, listen to, or read. Be certain of the credentials and bona fides of those outlets you choose. The Onion or Fark are not good sources.
  3. Pick some outlets that are strictly for business some for general news and others for local news.
  4. Since most of your business will come from geographically close businesses and people, it is really important to know “what’s what” in your area. Newsjacking local stories is probably a better alternative for local businesses.
  5. Be ready to act quickly. To get the most exposure be ready to move. And remember that you are not the only one out there who is looking to enhance their reputation by linking themselves to a news angle.
  6. Make a list of things and events that are relevant to you and that will attract the right people to your site.
  7. Brainstorm some possible opportunities and how you might leverage them.
  8. Make obvious connections, never strain to stretch an analogy or make a false comparison. Like linking measles to governance would be a mistake: “XYZ’s spotty record on corporate governance not part of measles concerns.” Funny, but probably not appropriate.
  9. Plan in advance. What are things we know that are coming up that might be commented on? Quarterly earnings reports, court appearances, and speeches from people you know are going to make the news are part of that planning.
  10. Get pre-approval ahead of time to create content in real time.

What To Do Next

Start with steps 1-4. Once you have those handled, move to 5 and 6. Since you are new to this I would consult with me, or someone else who is qualified to judge on the connection. There are plenty of potential problems with newsjacking that can have the opposite impact wanted.

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Public Relations for Small Business

Public Relations for Small Business; yes you need it!
Public Relations for Small Business; yes you need it!

Public Relations for Small Business. NOTE: This article appeared on line in “Small Business Computing”. It is well done and so I wanted to share it with all of you! Enjoy.

By Julie Knudson | Posted February 06, 2015

Public relations can be an intimidating concept to small business owners. Talking with the media, branding, networking—how and when are these things supposed to happen? The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed, by Jennefer Witter, is here to helpFor a couple of years, Witter, CEO of The Boreland Group a boutique public relations agency based in New York City, posted a PR tip each week on her social media feeds (you can follow her on Twitter: @JenneferTBG). She received so many requests for more tips that she decided to create one easy-to-digest book. Witter’s guide covers everything from speaking engagements to social media, cause-related marketing to networking, and offers small businesses the skinny on a host of public relations strategies and techniques that really work.

Public Relations Tips for Small Business

The very first chapter dives into an element of PR that many entrepreneurs haven’t quite embraced—self-branding. Also often referred to as personal branding, self-branding really came into its own in the late 1990s, when CEOs and other high-level executives put significant energy into putting a human face (typically their own) on their companies. “This can be done for small businesses, too,” Witter says. Her book offers tips for connecting with customers on this self-branding level. “It really helps to define who you are and what you stand for, what your values are,” Witter says. “Those are then translated into the company.”

As you might expect, Witter’s book covers social media extensively. She says entrepreneurs should engage more fully with social media. “These are free tools for the most part, and you can use them at your discretion in order to raise your visibility and to generate revenue,” she says. As a small business owner herself, she attests to the value of social media, saying she has generated tens of thousands of dollars in business revenue through her use of Facebook.

“If you are an entrepreneur who’s saying, ‘There’s no value for me in social media,’ shake that from your head, because your competition is out there,” Witter says, adding, “And if they’re using it, that means they’re taking away your own market share.”

Witter encourages small business owners to identify which social media channels fit with their business’s audience and objectives, and then dedicate their energy to those platforms. She also stresses that social media can’t be something that just happens when you have a few spare minutes. “Don’t ignore the page once you set it up,” she says. “You need to post on a regular basis.” Whether it’s linking to articles that you think will interest customers, or your own version of a tip-of-the-week, routinely offering posts relevant will help to build those virtual relationships.

The Need for Small Business Networking

Another PR component that can sometimes seem overwhelming to small business owners is networking, but Witter says it should absolutely be part of their business tool kit. “Will your business be a success if you don’t network?” she asks. “Yes. Will it thrive? No.”

She sees networking on the same level of importance as building client relationships. Making the time for networking is often viewed as an insurmountable challenge, one Witter says you can tackle with some thought and planning. “If you have only four or five hours a month, look for a networking opportunity that will take advantage of those five hours.” This could mean a couple of chamber of commerce luncheons or an industry conference, whatever makes sense for your business.

With her book, Witter gives small business owners ideas to overcome what she sees as some of the biggest hurdles. “Public relations is rather nebulous,” she says. “You don’t get the returns right away.” By themselves, the efforts small businesses put into public relations won’t generate additional revenue. Instead, they’re supporting players in a wider strategy.

“PR must be a part of your overall business plan,” Witter says. By using solid public relations tactics to ensure that your business has a presence online, on social media, at industry events and conferences, she says, “The returns will come.”

This isn’t the kind of book you need to read all at once, or even in order. Witter says entrepreneurs can pull out those chapters that fit their needs. “If you think networking works best for you, you can focus in on networking,” she explains. She wants readers to understand how what a powerful tool public relations can be in helping their businesses move forward. “To overlook it means you’re overlooking an opportunity to generate revenue,” she says.

Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine

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Employee Communications Work Inside Out

If your employees do not believe in the company what chance is there that outsiders will?
If your employees do not believe in the company what chance is there that outsiders will?

Employee Communications Work Inside Out.

There are no “silver bullets” when it comes to motivating and engaging employees. But there are things any business of any size can do to connect with their workers. Here are a few specifics. When I worked with employee communications and external positioning I found the best strategy was to make the people who worked at our site, in our business or even across continents at big companies the primary audience. As within so without.

Use Employees For Branding

Build a brand identity with employees. Recognize that employees deliver the identity of the company when they leave the site. Their collective experiences as employees are communicated to friends, neighbors, family members and acquaintances everywhere they go. They communicate about the company at the PTA, at the ball game and when they go to church. Nurturing them while they are “behind the fence” at work is critical to success with customers, recruiting new employees and retaining existing ones. Word of mouth is a very persuasive method of communications. It is more credible and memorable than any ad or article. You certainly do not want employees who are discouraged by a lack of timely or accurate communications talking to customers. I’ve literally taken press releases and changed the headings and sent them to the Intranet editor first. Re-purposing external announcements for internal audiences cuts down on writing, approvals and expenses with vendors.

Emotionally Connect

Making an emotional connection with employees will have further benefits for external positioning and contribute positive business results. This is a powerful communications asset that too few companies utilize. Employees hate hearing news about the company second hand, like reading about it in the newspaper, hearing it on the radio or from a friend or relative. Respect and value your employees enough to make them your most important target audience.

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When Writing Successful Strategies Consider Outcomes First

When Writing Successful Strategies Consider Outcomes First. I recently wrote a proposal to draft a strategy for a company that sells and installs spas. It is a little cool out (even here in Texas) for me to think about contact with water of any kind or temperature in the out of doors, but that’s just me.

 

Start at the end and work backwards.
Determine what success looks like first and work backwards.

Here is what I suggested.

Start at the end. Define what success looks like and in what period of time. If you want to sell and install 500 spas in 12 months, what has to happen to achieve that goal? Find out the following:

– How many prospects does it take to convert a paying customer? If you need 4 prospects before you make a sale, then you need 2,000 prospects.

– Where will your prospective customers come from? How much money does a household typically need before they can afford a spa? How old are they? Do they have children and if so how many and what ages? Are they professional people or do they work for someone else? Once you know the background of a typical prospect it is a lot easier to send them messages about why they need a spa and why they should buy one from you.

– If you are going to recruit those 2,000 prospects how many messages will it take to cause them to take action? What is the best way to reach them? Is it newspaper ads, radio, TV, direct mail, direct e-mail, or social media? Is it one or all or some of each?

Writing and executing a successful strategy starts with knowing what you want and by when. If you have that, then rest is easier than it is if you do not.