Tag Archives: News Media

Mylan CEO Bresch Creates PR Nightmare

Move over Martin Shrkeli. Corporate greed and hubris has a new face. While her appearance is only slightly nicer than Shrkeli’s her ability to generate public relations troubles for her company are on an even par. And what of the public relations people who have to provide cover for this wide awake nightmare? Keep reading. Mylan CEO Bresch Creates PR Nightmare.

Heather Bresch 

Mylan is the pharmaceutical company that cornered the market on the life-saving EpiPen and then dramatically increased its price. Not coincidentally Mylan also jacked up the pay of top executives.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is under fire for increasing the price of the EpiPen and taking a raise of over 670%.
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is under fire for increasing the price of the EpiPen and taking a raise of over 670%.

Between 2007, when Mylan acquired the patent for the EpiPen, to 2015, the wholesale price went from $56.64 to $317.82 — a price increase of 461 percent. Similarly, compensation for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch increased astronomically over the same time period. According to NBC News, Bresch went from making $2.453,456 in 2007 to $18,931,068 in 2015, amounting to a 671 percent raise over eight years. Good work if you can find it. While Bresch was not the only executive at Mylan to receive added compensation, hers was the highest and most egregious.

Fortunate Son Daughter

With apologies to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bresch is the daughter of senator Joe Manchin, a Democratic U.S. senator from West Virginia and the state’s former governor. Heather Bresch’s career has risen along with her father’s, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by her critics. Her father got her a job around 1992 when her stint as an aerobics teacher in California did not go as planned. The future senator was elected Secretary of State in 2000 and in 2002 Heather was named the company’s lobbyist. There are plenty of other examples of how Heather’s responsibilities increased as her father won elections. Read them all here: How a senator’s daughter became CEO of the company at the center of the EpiPen controversy.

Bresch had other P.R. gaffes when her MBA from West Virginia was rescinded. Mylan CEO Bresch Creates PR Nightmare

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Bresch did not actually have enough credits for an MBA from West Virginia University, even though the news release announcing her new, high-profile job said she had earned one. The school, through its own investigation, found Bresch had been given grades “pulled from thin air” because of her “high profile.”

Her father was finishing up his third year as governor at the time, and Bresch’s critics were vocal about whether her connections led to this drama. The school took the degree back. But that’s not the end. She reincorporated her U.S.-based drug company in the Netherlands, which cut its tax liability. Ouch. Mylan CEO Bresch Creates PR Nightmare

Flack For Mylan

To their credit the company has a statement on their web site and puts the blame for the increase on ‘the current changes in the healthcare insurance landscape.’ To read the entire statement click here; http://newsroom.mylan.com/access. But the media is not buying it. Mylan and Bresch are buried in bad publicity.

The company’s twitter account makes no mention of the EpiPen but the rest of the twitter-verse is awash in negatives. These come from all parts of the media; left, right and all other ways media leans today. It amounts to universal condemnation. So what can public relations people learn from this?

Easy. Some leaders are terrible. Terrible at understanding the optics of juxtaposing their big raises along side of price increases for medicine that is life saving for millions. Terrible because they failed to learn anything from Martin Shrkeli. Terrible because they spent their lives above the rules based on their ‘high profiles’. Terrible because they have no shame. Could Bresch and Mylan recover? Sure. Reduce the price immediately, say you are sorry for the whole thing and promise to learn from these mistakes. Hands of those who think this is likely? No one? Okay.

What will hopefully happen is that the negative press and government investigations that will follow force the board to fire the well connected but hard to love Bresch from her job as CEO. Bresch will then claim she was victimized because of her gender. But no one will believe that either.

Mylan CEO Bresch Creates PR NightmareMylan CEO Bresch Creates PR NightmareMylan CEO Bresch Creates PR NightmareMylan CEO Bresch Creates PR NightmareMylan CEO Bresch Creates PR Nightmare

Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failures

On August 9, 2016 Delta Airlines experienced a system wide computer failure that caused the cancellation or delay of over 2100 flights. The airlines crisis plan had all the right elements but fell short when executed. Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failures Delta Airlines Outa

For Lack Of A Horse

For lack of a horse the kingdom was lost. But for the lack of a single router, all of Delta Airlines was too. On August 9, 2016 Delta Airlines entire network went down stranding thousands and creating an on line/news crisis. At first glance, it seemed like Delta had managed the crisis reasonably well. CEO Ed Bastian had issued two apology videos. The company waived re-booking fees for those left stranded, gave anyone delayed by more than three hours a $200.00 voucher and had CEO Bastian participate in a Q&A session led by the A.P. At first look, it seems like textbook crisis management, or was it? Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failures Delta Airlines Outage. 

Bad I.T. Infrastructure

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian speaks during one of two apology videos issued in the wake of the August 9, 2016 system wide network failure that stranded thousands.
Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian speaks during one of two apology videos issued in the wake of the August 9, 2016 system wide network failure that stranded thousands.

Scratch a little deeper and discover that Delta does not have the infrastructure needed to manage their I.T. needs including routing, ticketing, employee scheduling, or on line communications with the Delta App. “A single router should not bring an entire system down,” said computer software and Agile Development expert Ryn Melberg. “There should be redundant systems located at different sites around the country or even the world that can take over in the event of a crisis like this. That everything from networks to public relations is all run from a single location is a sign that redundancy is not built in at Delta.” Delta Airlines Computer

Lackluster Customer Communication

Customers complained that they could not get any real time information from the Delta App for several hours. Add to that the stumble and finger pointing between the airline and Georgia Power over who was at fault over the power outage that caused the Delta ‘house of cards’ to fall that ensued. That anyone stuck at an airport cared in the slightest who was to blame for the outage seems doubtful.

Delta later claimed responsibility. But why not delay assigning blame? This only diverted  resources at Delta that could have been better employed. According to a statement Mr. Bastian later made;

“About 2:30 Monday morning, we lost power to our core data center. The reason we lost it was that we had a power control module that failed. That caused a loss of the transformer that was providing the core power to the data center,” Bastian said in the AP interview. “We have redundant systems in place to take into account power failures. … Unfortunately, when the system tripped over to the B source, we did not have certain servers wired to protect against the power outage. As a result, it caused the entire system to come down.” If your redundant systems are wired incorrectly or just not wired at all, then there is not a redundant system. This statement strains credibility and would have been better left unsaid. Instead, Delta confirmed that their I.T. practices were lacking. “This makes you wonder what else is there at Delta that is not wired correctly or exists at all,” Melberg said. Melberg also stated that the computer infrastructures at most airlines was decades old. “All the new technology in the airline industry is inside the planes, not on the ground,” she stated. “From phones to ticketing etc. you expect to hear that screeching modem sound from 25 years ago when you call or log on to one of the airlines.” Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failures

Two Hundred Dollars Not Enough

Consumer advocacy groups representing airline passengers sent a letter to Delta asking the airline to increase its $200 voucher offer, noting some displaced families paid far more than that to accommodate themselves in the wake of the outage, never mind what it would cost to re-plan, re-book another trip. Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failures

In part, the letter read: “Families have missed weddings, organized tours and cruises. Businessmen have missed meetings. And, many others have been faced with financial repercussions because of Delta’s technology failure. Your airline’s customer service response has been disappointing. This event was not a cancellation of choice by passengers, nor was it an “Act of God.” This is a failure by Delta.” The letter goes on to say that the Aug. 21 date to rearrange travel affected by the outage is “unreasonable” and the $200 voucher is “clearly inadequate,” noting that European Union regulations require compensation almost three times that amount.

In a statement, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said: “After this catastrophic, system-wide implosion, Delta owes every passenger a full refund — no questions asked – or rescheduled flights without costs or time limits. This airline must do more than just waive change fees. It must make each and every customer whole again.” Delta Airlines Computer Outage Public Relations Failu

Sincerity Lacking

It takes more than ‘playing like’ you care to manage a crisis. While Delta’s crisis plan had all the right strategic planning and tactical elements, it failed because customers remained far worse off afterward in spite of anything the airline said or did. Choices on domestic air carriers are fewer and fewer, but who of those passengers will choose Delta if another choice exists? Delta Airlines Outage.

Top Radio Talk Shows

The Top Radio Talk Shows & How To Reach Them

Top Radio Talk Shows. Local talk radio used to be one of the best tools available to publicize anything! Every town with enough people had its own AM radio station and every one of those had at least one local host who was always looking for guests. While the number of local radio programs is a mere fraction of what it once was, there are still plenty of opportunities to book guests on national programs. The competition is fierce and you will need a really good pitch to get on any of them, but it can be done. By having these resources handy you will save a lot of time looking for contacts, phone numbers, emails, etc. Instead of spending time on those you can devote energy to crafting the perfect pitch.

Now some shows do not book guests, and that is fine. But you can still get a release or announcement read on the air by a national host. Rush Limbaugh, who does not book guests, once read a news release from me about a new treatment for bone cancer. It was epic. And while Limbaugh has his critics, he may be single handedly responsible for saving AM radio.

Top 100 Radio Talk Show Contacts
Talk radio still offers plenty of opportunities for public relations professionals.

Talk radio as a listener-participation format has existed since the 1930’s. John J. Anthony (1902-70) was an announcer and DJ on New York’s WMRJ. It was located in the Merrick Radio Store at 12 New York Boulevard in Jamaica, Long Island. After some marital troubles, refusing to pay alimony and child support, he sought professional help and began his own radio series where listeners would call in with their problems in 1930. Radio historians consider this the first instance of talk radio. Maybe, but who is going to argue.

Talk radio is not limited to the AM band. “Non-commercial” usually referred to as “public radio“, which is located in a reserved spectrum of the FM band, also broadcasts talk programs. Commercial all-talk stations can also be found on the FM band in many cities across the US. These shows often rely less on political discussion and analysis than their AM counterparts, and often employ the use of pranks and “bits” for entertainment purposes; the morning zoos which started in the 80’s are still around as is Howard Stern though you have to pay to listen to Howard now. In the United States and Canadasatellite radio services offer uncensored “free-wheeling” original programming. ABC News & Talk is an example of “repackaging” for the digital airwaves shows featured on their terrestrial radio stations.

To see our list of the top 100 radio talk show contacts click here: Top 100 Radio Talk Show Hosts. 

 

Martin Shkreli An Awfully Rich Guy Who Is Really Awful

Martin Shkreli An Awfully Rich Guy Who Is Really Awful.

Martin Shkreli Beyond Any Help from Public Relations Pros.

With a smirk that would be the envy of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, former drug company CEO and future convict, Martin Shkreli made his disdain for human kind even more clear during his recent testimony before congress. Shkreli has a future of both prison and anal rape he will experience  sooner than not, which should help reassure people that Karmic justice is real and visited on d-bags like this. But the site is about public relations, so let’s deal with that.

What serious adult would post something like this about his congressional testimony?
What serious adult would post something like this about his congressional testimony?

Is All Publicity Really Good?

No, oh goodness no. Shkreli attracted lots of coverage and all of it was the wrong kind. Revealing to the world that you are a dick of epic proportion is not in your best interest or of your employees, customers or shareholders. Flaunting your success and thumbing your nose at people who have no choice but to buy medicine from you is a bad strategy. A friend or trusted ally would tell people like Martin that his communication strategy was poorly thought out and yielding the opposite of image building. Bad guy wrestlers are more appealing than this former business leader. Of course it is not likely that Marty has many friends.  It’s more likely that those close to him are delighted to see him fail. I know I am.

Martin Shkreli; an awfully rich guy who is really awful.
Martin Shkreli; an awfully rich guy who is really awful.

Pathological?

It’s odd to see someone who has been so financially successful embrace failure on such a grand scale. Maybe there is something wrong with him, like borderline personality disorder or narcissism or something like that? Who knows. Dammit Jim I’m a flack not a head shrinker.

If He Were My Client?

If he were a client of mine I would suggest he avoid any public venues, make no statements about anything and check into some kind of rehab or mental hospital. Change the story from the one out there and make him a victim of some type of mental health challenge. Then get him a puppy from a shelter, make a big donation to same shelter all while apologizing for everything and stating that he will spend the rest of his life ‘working to make things right.’ What are the odds?

No Chance For Marty

I have no sense that Marty is contrite in the slightest. Quite the opposite in that he seems very pleased with himself and how much more clever he is than the rest of us. Until the reality of anal rape starts to register with Marty, I can’t envision him adopting a puppy or being sorry or even pretending to be. I can envision him getting bent over a prison cot often and deliberately, over and over and having to sit on one of those doughnut pillows.

“Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth before Congress but has plenty of snark on Twitter

 

Knowing What You Know Now

Public relations counselors tell clients and colleagues not to speculate. More often than not speculation comes in the form of questions to predict future outcomes. It’s a scheme designed by reporters who want interviewees to say something foolish, improbable, with no basis in reality or all of the above. The advice so many of us give is that no one has the gift of prophecy or the ability to predict the future and that doing so would be silly. Do not speculate, talk about things that you know for certain and stick to that.

Admiral Akbar of Star Wars was not present during the Jeb Bush interview on Fox News.
Admiral Akbar of Star Wars was not present during the Jeb Bush interview on Fox News.

The media has now caught up with the public relations industry and reinvented the speculative question. Instead of predicting the future, interviewees are asked to second-guess themselves about the past. The most famous and recent example was on Fox News when during an interview with Former Florida governor and brother of President George W. Bush the Iraq war came up. Megyn Kelly asked Bush, “knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”

Jeb Bush response to the 'knowing what you know now' was a full frontal fail.
Jeb Bush response to the ‘knowing what you know now’ was a full frontal fail.

Bush is no stranger to media or interviews. He comes from one of the most covered families in history. His experience as governor along should have sent a signal to his brain that said, ‘it’s a trap’. Sadly for Bush, there was a short circuit. He fell into Kelly’s trap. It was a full frontal fail. Here is his quote:

“In retrospect,” Bush continued, “the intelligence that everybody saw — that the world saw, not just the United States — was faulty. And in retrospect, once we invaded and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn’t focus on security first, and the Iraqis, in this incredibly insecure environment, turned out the United States military because there was no security for themselves and their families. By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush. So just for the newsflash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those.”

The news out of this was not what Jeb expected. His answer was covered in plenty of other places, and that is not what this posting is about. Jeb should not have answered the question.

Megan Kelly of Fox News.
Megan Kelly of Fox News.

Instead of talking about what might have been, Bush should have taken the prophecy advice and flipped it around. He could have said, “it’s pointless to discuss what we might or might not have done. I am not able to go back in time and undo any decision or action. Instead of wondering what might have been done differently, we need to concentrate on what is happening now…”

The ‘knowing what we know now’ question has a life of its own. The time traveling/navel gazing type of inquiry is part of the arsenal of passive aggressive reporters, thanks to the ill-advised answer Governor Bush gave. Remember, just talk about what you know now. Not what may come or what you would have done.

6 Recent News Stories and 8 Regular Features That Will Keep Media And Public Relations People Off The Air And Out Of Print And What To Do About It

6 Recent News Stories 8 Regular Features.

Thank Goodness for Weekends, Public Affairs Programs, and Slow News Days.

Most news that public relations people are asked to help make is not earth shattering or life changing. Stop protesting; you know it’s true. More often than not, we are asked to help make “soft news” visible. That does not make you (or me) bad or silly or indicate that we lack discernment. It merely acknowledges what we all know to be a fact of life for the modern public relations person.

The media have limited resources and only certain types of stories they want to cover. Take your story to the weekend if you want to get covered!
The media have limited resources and only certain types of stories they want to cover. Take your story to the weekend if you want to get covered!

Soft news comes in lots of forms that include but are certainly not limited to, new product introductions and demonstrations, new location openings, speeches, new brochures, seminars and other promotions. Occasionally there is an issue on which a client wants to air an opinion pro or con about things like red light cameras, building permits, property and sales tax increases or decreases. Regardless of how interesting or not these are to you, the people paying the bills want exposure. When are you likely to not receive any? On days when something dramatic happens and the news cycle is focused on that happening.

Clients and bosses will not be sympathetic when you tell them that what they want covered is not terribly newsworthy. At the same time, you want to collect a fee for your work or stay on the payroll. You have bills to pay too!

Bad Days for Public Relations People

Newsworthy events that sucked the air right out of the office lately were: disturbances in Baltimore, disturbances in Missouri, the Boston Marathon Trial, Hillary Clinton, the German Wings Airline Crash, the ISIS attack in Garland, Texas, etc. If you are planning an event in a larger media market, you can plan on competing for the limited resources of local news reporters with these and similar events. And do not forget the usual reporting on auto crashes, apartment fires, armed robberies, bad weather, good weather, cute animal stories, cute children stories, and sports that clog the airways and fog the minds of viewers/readers/listeners. What does a public relations person do when faced with normal reportage and hard news? If possible, plan to release your news on a typically “soft news day”.

When you wake up on the day of your release/event and the TV is full of some war or rumor of war, explosion, spill, or natural disaster, move your event to a weekend, or holiday. Yes, there are fewer news crews and reporters available on weekends and holidays. There are also fewer stories to cover. So put your story where the others are not, Saturday or Sunday.

Since news resources are scarce, be prepared to visit the local station (TV or radio) with your news and demonstration. If you go there, it frees the assignment editor to send his reporters elsewhere. Most TV stations have long form news programs on Saturday. Use them as avenues for publicity. For radio interviews, use the phone. Phone interviews are easy to record and re-broadcast. They are also easier to book with the producer you will deal with to get on the air.

In conclusion, take your soft news to a softer time of the week, the weekend!

 

 

 

9 Surprise PR Tactics That Will Make You Irresistible to Reporters

9 Surprise PR Tactics.

This article “9 Surprise PR Tactics That Will Make You Irresistible to Reporters” was published by PRNews and written by Steve Goldstein on April 16, 2015.  Enjoy!

Attend any panel discussion featuring PR pros and journalists, and within five minutes of its commencement you’ll hear one of the journalists say, “I delete email pitches in batches of 20 with hardly a glance at the subject lines.”

Then comes the inevitable follow-up question from the audience: “So what would it take for you to open my email?”

And the answer: “Know my beat, read my articles, give me real news I can use.”

Silently, the PR pros in attendance grumble in unison: “But if you’re deleting everything without looking, then what difference would that make?”

Tania Luna, co-author with LeeAnn Renninger of the new book Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, would encourage those silent grumblers to think beyond the

Follow these directions to be a more sought for interviewee.
Follow these directions to be a more sought for interviewee.

journalist/PR pro dynamic and harness the elemental power of surprise to cut through the noise and make a connection.

“One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working in PR is building relationships with reporters,” says Luna, who will be the keynote presenter on day two of PR News’ Digital PR Conference, which will be held June 1-3 in Miami. “Luckily, things get a lot easier when you have the science of surprise on your side. When you pleasantly surprise people they think of you more often and are more interested in what you have to say.”

Here are nine tips for bonding with reporters from co-authors Luna and Renninger:

1. Jump over the expectation bar: Our brains are delighted when someone exceeds our expectations, disappointed when someone falls below the bar and unmoved when someone meets our expectations. Take the time to learn what each of your contacts expects (what topics do they prefer? what style? what format?) and find ways to exceed expectations at every point of contact (e.g., offer all necessary links before they have to ask; use bullet points so your pitch is easy to digest).

2. Under-promise, over-deliver: Here is a shortcut to exceeding expectations from author Tom Peters. Set expectations just an inch lower than you plan to deliver, then over-deliver every once in a while (e.g., promise you’ll respond in 48 hours, then reply in just two). Pleasant surprises release dopamine in the brain, a neurochemical associated with excitement and interest.

3. Do a scriptease: So many of our interactions feel scripted and formal. Leave your script aside and connect with reporters the way you would with friends (respectful but playful and authentic). Authenticity builds trust but also triggers people’s interest.

4. Give just because: Be helpful or encouraging for no particular reason (even when you aren’t trying to place a story). Research shows that we think about random acts of kindness longer than we contemplate explained kind behavior (and random kindness makes us happier).

5. Bury a cookie: Find ways to tuck small delights into your interactions. Can you sneak a joke into your conversation? A genuine compliment? A funny GIF into your email? In a study, researchers found that even a handwritten Post-it Note can be personal and unexpected enough to double response rates to a survey.

6. Build knowledge gaps: Spark curiosity by pitching your stories in a way that shows readers you know something they don’t. Our fascination with mystery is the reason listicles work so well. (Just compare these two titles and see which one your brain likes more: “These 8 Subject Line Tweaks Will Get Everyone to Open Your Emails” vs. “How to Get People to Open Your Emails.”)

7. Tell stories: Most of us are familiar with the power of story, but it helps to know why stories work as well as they do to remind us that we have to weave stories into our pitches. Because stories have mystery at their core (we want to know what will happen next), they trigger the P3 brain wave—this cognitive shift grabs our cognitive resources and forces us to pay attention.

8. Design experiences: Devise opportunities for your contacts to have an emotional, multi-sensory experience with your company or story (hint: the more senses you engage, the more memorable the experience will be).

9. Harness fortune cookie psychology: A handwritten thank-you note will trigger a burst of dopamine in the recipient, but the same card with the same message sent several times will soon fall flat. Take a tip from the fortune cookie and switch up how, when and why you reach out to say thank-you or offer a tip. In short: Exceed expectations, be genuine, be mysterious and delight often.

Tania Luna will be the keynote presenter on June 2 at PR News’ Digital PR Conference in Miami.

Follow Tania Luna: @Surprisology

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI

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Five Style Ideas for Writers from David Ogilvy

Introduction: Five Style Ideas for Writers from David Ogilvy!

We spend a lot of time on the blog talking about writing. Bloggers typically like to write, I certainly do. Writing is the core of what bloggers, public relations and advertising people do. It’s unlikely that anyone would debate that or try and tell you that your ideas and business philosophy are wrong. Some may disagree but would also quickly acknowledge that everyone has a right to an opinion and we value freedom of expression. And at the end of the day, the marketplace will decide who has the best ideas. Not so, at least in my experience, are the choices about style. I can’t say that the style I use is for everyone. I can say that this style works for me and that I learned it under very stressful circumstances.

When I was first asked to write advertising for a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company I was petrified. Scared beyond reason. Why? Because I knew absolutely nothing about it and because I feared failing at anything more than my own death. What to do?

Inside our local bookstore was a volume entitled, “Ogilvy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy. I had either by accident or the hand of God found the definitive work on advertising by the man most credit with the invention of modern advertising. It turned out that this “David Ogilvy” was the Ogilvy of the world famous “Ogilvy and Mather” advertising agency. His failures in life and business were many. The thing he had learned from them was among other things, the value of research.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy is a classic that helped me greatly and might for you as well.
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy is a classic that helped me greatly and might help you too.

Advertising worked for his and other agency clients. Ogilvy wanted a competitive advantage over those other agencies by writing and designing ads that worked better than those of his competition. So he studied and tested and consulted with the best minds available. Here in brief is what he designed for print advertising.

Style Guide for Print and Web Based Materials

  1. Font: Use the Times Roman font, in 12-point size. This is the same font that is used by newspapers and high circulation magazines. Known as a “serif” font, the differences in thickness in these letters are easier for the eye to literally “grasp” and hold. The use of sans-serif (smooth) fonts allow the eye to “bounce off”. This is less an aesthetic choice than a mechanical one. This font is easier for the eye to read because of the way human eyes are designed.
  1. Line length: Keep sentences to an alphabet and one half in length. Like the font, this is the amount of space the human brain can reasonably process and keep track of, where longer lines are confusing. Our brains do not have the “band-width” for longer lines.
  1. Black type on a white surface: art directors will not like this. You see a lot of reverse (white on black) and other color combinations that are deemed “creative”. Advertising, brochures and other printed materials are not media for creative expression, particularly in business to business sales. Ogilvy and others have found that the reverse type is much harder to read than the black on white. If it is harder to read, it is less likely to be read.
  1. Headlines and photos: The Ogilvy formula was to have a full page ad with a color photo, headline beneath and copy started below, using a “drop cap”. This follows the progression of how the western educated eye will move. The “drop cap” will signal the brain that this is the place to start and direct the eye across and down the page.
  1. Long copy or short? Ogilvy was an advocate of long copy because he said it conveyed the idea that there must be something important to say. This was counter-intuitive 50 years ago and more so now in the age of twitter. I still think long copy is the best way to work because it allows writers the opportunity to share important details, again important for the B to B marketer. So use short sentences on twitter or your web site to attract attention and link them to the longer articles you want to share. The reader self-selects what he/she wants and proceeds accordingly.

Conclusion

There are as many opinions about how to write and how to layout and design a page as there are people who care to share an opinion. I cannot say that this is the absolute and only way to do this. What I can say is that this worked

Eight Ways to Answer Media Interview Questions

Eight Ways to Answer Media Interview Questions.

Be prepared before accepting any media invitation.
Be prepared before accepting any media invitation.

I have a recurring nightmare that there is a You Tube video of me that has “gone viral” because of some incredibly ignorant thing I’ve said and done. In my dream, the details of what I said or did are unclear. What is clear is that I somehow disgraced myself while on camera. I wake feeling flushed, embarrassed and not able to get over whatever it was that got posted everywhere. It is not a good feeling.

The best thing to remember when preparing to answer media questions is that you are there to promote you, or your business, cause or candidate. You are not there to make friends, get laughs, or prove how smart you are. An interview is about getting on the air or in print the facts and point of view you want to read and most importantly you want current and prospective customers, donors or voters to hear, see or read. Here is how.

  1. Know your message points. Write 3-5 short, declarative sentences that are the core of your communications. These are the points that will anchor you to a good outcome. I like to call these message points “must airs” as they are the points that you “must air” during the interview to be a success.
  2. Learn to bridge. There are going to be times when a reporter will ask you a question that you do not want to answer or are not able to answer. Instead of a silent dead-eyed stare, take the question and build a “verbal bridge” to one of the must airs you want to make. Here is an example. Say you are in the pet food business and you are introducing a new type of cat food for people who have a lot of money to spend on pets. This food is made domestically (one of your must airs) and is very high in protein, vitamins and minerals (another must air), and made under the supervision of the U.S. government (final must air). These are the points you want to emphasize for an interview.

You are talking with a reporter about this new cat food and she asks you about concerns that cat owners have about contamination due to ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is used in anti-freeze and is extremely poisonous. A number of pets were killed by it when contaminated cat food made in China was sold here. The last thing you want associated in the media with your new cat food are the words “contamination” or “ethylene glycol” so you bridge. Here is how that answer could look. “Our new food is very high in nutrients and made domestically under the watchful eye of the FDA and other regulators, so our customers can have complete confidence in it.” See what you did?

You re-stated that your food was made here, that it was high in nutritional value and regulated under U.S. law. See what you did not do? You did not repeat any language about China, contamination, ethylene glycol or poison. Instead of a response that would reinforce negative ideas about cat food and remind everyone about how cat food once poisoned a lot of cats, you used this as a place to emphasize positives about your product. That is bridging. It is not easy and not for beginners. To be good at it takes a lot of practice.

  1. Bridge to keep the conversation on track. The time you and the reporter have are limited. There are times when friendly, get acquainted chat can take up too much time. If you find that the conversation has strayed from the topic you want to talk about find a way to bridge back. Here is an example. A reporter has started talking about all the funny cat videos on You Tube that are shared on her Facebook page and just how entertaining they are. This has gone on for about long enough, so bring the conversation back by saying something like, “those videos remind me and other pet lovers about how important these animals are to us and how we have a duty to care for them in the best way possible and that includes how we feed them…” This is not a great example but you get the idea. Gently deliver the conversation back to the thing you want to talk about.
  2. Practice. This is not something any of us was born knowing. To get good at it will take practice. Get a co-worker to ask you difficult or irrelevant questions so you can practice bridging to the answers you want to see or hear.
  3. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. So many times interviewees believe that they have a duty to know every single thing about their topic. No such expectation exists, as no reasonable person would expect you to know every last thing about anything. So if you do not know, say so. It is an honest answer. Promise the reporter to look into their question and to get back to them with an answer, then do so.
  4. Keep your answers short. This too comes with practice. I love to talk, so keeping my answers short has taken a lot of time and effort. Also I’ve spent a lot of time working with technical people over the years. Technicians and engineers are really smart and know a lot and they love to talk about how much they know. This is great for technical presentations but not with reporters. Long answers can be misunderstood and are easy to misquote. If you keep the answer short, there is less chance for a misunderstanding. So if you tend to go on and on, realize it and practice shorter answers.
  5. Always tell the truth. If you tell the truth 99 times and tell a lie 1 time, you are a liar. Getting caught in a lie is embarrassing. Getting caught in a lie by a reporter will end your career. If there are things you are not able to talk about then say so. For example, if there is a court case ongoing or some other information that needs to be kept confidential, then say that. If the results of a study or test are positive, then say that too without embellishment. Interviews with the press are not the time for “fish stories”. If there is some negative to report, then do so. Trying to be cute, clever or spin answers will alienate reporters and they can spot and smell “bovine excrement” for miles.
  6. Practice more. And practice on camera if possible. Speakers will learn a great deal about how to better their performances watching themselves on camera.

There are tons of other articles and even entire books written on just this topic. So do not limit yourself, go and read those too. There is lots to know and plenty of smart people who can help you. The 7 points made here are all techniques that I have used for nearly years and I can tell you from personal experience that they work. Good luck with your interview. Now go practice!

Six Steps To Prepare for a Successful Press Interview

Media interviews can make or brake a business or career. Learn to manage them.
Media interviews can make or brake a business or career. Learn to manage them.

Six Steps To Prepare for a Successful Press Interview. If you read these postings in order you have so far: learned how public relations is better than advertising, built a media list of contacts who cover businesses like yours, learned how to write a press release and how to follow up with reporters via phone. If you missed any of these it is easy to go back and read them. Just scroll down.

With a well-written press release, and targeted press follow up you have persuaded a reporter to interview you. That is a very good thing. Potentially. It can also be an unmitigated disaster if not planned for and executed properly. Anyone, regardless of how much experience they have in life, business or media interviews, courts disaster if not properly prepared. Anyone who says they will just “wing it” for an interview is marked for trouble. Big trouble. Imagine epic, viral failure posted everywhere. You do not want that. And frankly speaking if you are not willing to make time to prepare for a media interview, you are better served to just not do it. If possible postpone the interview or delegate it to someone who does and will make time to prepare.

The outcome of an interview should not be the result of how well the reporter is to interview you or the questions he/she asks. Reporters are busy and probably have several other interviews to do the same day as yours. You cannot rely on being asked the right question to have a positive story. Instead, you have to control the content of the interview. You control the interview based on what you choose to say and most importantly what you do not say. So knowing in advance what you intend to talk about it is vital.

Here are the steps to preparing for an interview.

  1. What do you want to read or hear after the interview? Literally, what do you want the headline or lead to be? Write it down. Nothing is real unless it is written down. Thinking about it is fine, but writing uses parts of the brain that will reinforce your ideas and help you both remember and think harder about the points you want published and/or broadcast.
  2. Think in sound bites or “must airs”. A sound bite is a short burst of information that is easy to repeat, understand, and edit. A “must air” is that point you absolutely need to make during an interview for it to be successful. A point that needs airing that you “must air” during the interview to be a success. Humans who do not have perfect memories edit TV, radio, podcasts, and even written articles. They have lots more on their minds than just your interview. So make remembering the news you want reported easy to remember by writing your “must airs” down in advance. So naturally the next step is….
  3. Write your sound bites/must airs down. Once you know what they are, write them down in the order of importance. A good sound bite /must air is a short declarative sentence. Like this one. Limit this list to between 3-5 items. You will have a difficult time remembering more than this and if you can’t remember them, the reporter you are talking to will have no chance of remembering them either.
  4. With your sound bites/must airs written down in the order of importance, edit them a bit more. Remember that shorter is better when it comes to talking with a reporter.
  5. Stay on message. This is especially important for people who are new to doing interviews and for those who have a lot of experience (see what I did there?). The best way to be quoted saying something stupid is to drift away from those carefully crafted must airs. Never get off topic. Your must airs are your anchor. They keep you moored to the truth that you want published/broadcast. If you find yourself getting off topic during an interview, regroup and get back on message.
  6. Find a friend, colleague, or your friendly public relations person and practice the interview. If you have the ability, video the session and watch it later. Over the years, I’ve found that people I work with learn more from watching themselves on video than anything else.

If people who want to use the media to promote their businesses or causes never read, hear, or learn anything from me again I hope this is it. This methodology and thinking about “must airs” will work for media interviews but that is not the limit. Use this technique for job interviews, meetings with superiors, staff, or any other challenging meeting where you are required to communicate. Anchored to your “must airs” will serve you well regardless of the venue.