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.
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!
Media and Public Relations (mediandpublicrelations.com) is introducing a new press release writing service for North America. The service will help those who know they could benefit from a news release but do not have the skills or the time to produce one.
The press release is the best way to communicate news about any type of enterprise to editors, reporters and bloggers who cover an industry, practice, non-profit or charity. Unlike ads, direct mail or blogs, the press release is formatted and written in a no-nonsense way that helps journalists inform their audience about news that will be meaningful to their readers and listeners.
Business writing in general and journalistically styled releases in particular are difficult to produce and then get published. Not everything is newsworthy. Reporters hate it when businesses send them what amounts to commercials in the guise of a news release.
If any information is not right for a release to the news media, the public relations veterans at Media and Public Relations will edit information into a newsworthy format. For those starting with only a blank sheet of paper and nothing written, no problem. The people at Media and Public Relations can do an interview over the phone to draft, review and edit a news release in the format and with the content needed. “I’ve got a soft spot for start ups and entrepreneurs,” said owner Harold Nicoll. “I especially like those who have some very cool product or technology or skill that will make lives better, cheaper, faster, and at the same time reward them for their know-how. So many of these folks know a lot about their respective field but nothing about how to market and sell their wares. I can help.”
Release Basics To Get Me Started
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Your Name’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Email’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Website’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Your Company Name’ type=’text’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Nature Of Your News ‘ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’New Product or Service?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New Location?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Award? ‘ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New Employee(s)’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’New or an important discovery or breakthrough?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Is Your News Time Or Date Specific?’ type=’checkbox’/][contact-field label=’Is Your News Confined To A Specific Place Or Geographic Location? ‘ type=’checkbox’/][/contact-form]
Or Contact Me Directly
My e-mail is email@example.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.
About Media And Public Relations
Harold Nicoll, APR is the owner of Media and Public Relations. He a veteran public relations, marketing communications, content marketing and public affairs expert. He started his career at Hill & Knowlton Public Relations followed by 23 years at The Dow Chemical Company. He is “Accredited to Practice Public Relations” by The Public Relations Society of America. He has a Master of Strategic Public Relations Degree from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from The University of Houston.
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?”
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.
Seven Ways To Leverage News For Blogs. One of the reasons people feel intimidated by blogging is because they’re afraid of running out of new topics to write about. Even if you only planned to post once a week, you’d still have to come up with fifty-two ideas. Intimidating? Probably, at least it is for me. And do not think that you can take a bunch of news articles, plunk them on your site and call it a blog. But there is plenty you can do with that news to populate your blog.
Yes, there is likely news about your area of interest that others will be interested in seeing. News is good. I’m not talking about scooping the wire services or breaking a story. More like taking news from the world of whatever you write about and injecting your insight. The first blog to register about an issue will get linked, bring traffic, and get you labeled a “thought leader” along with recognition for how good your site it.
I wrote a post on my blog The Collectors Show (www.collectorsshow.net) about how a well known actor had lost a fortune collecting Beany Babies. There was an 8 minute video about him and I included a link to that in my post. My site traffic exploded one day and I could not figure out why. I found that my blog about Beanies had been posted on a Reddit site about Beanies and the world was making its way to my blog. Cool!
But why should they read wire copy on your blog? The reason for people to come to your blog is to read what you have to say. Because what really matters about your blog is you. With that in mind, here are a few tips:
Be original. Instead of reposting news, add your opinion about it. No one is interested in “reconstituted” news but will be interested in seeing what you think, questions you have and what the moral of the story is as told through your eyes.
Don’t just copy. Similar to being original, but with a few more specifics. It makes me mad to see when someone lifts my copy, puts it on their site and calls it their own. You would be similarly annoyed. But, if you want to use someone else’s material, use quotes and attribution. Instead of ripping someone off and making them mad, they will feel flattered that you thought enough of them to use and cite them.
Find a news story about your area and blog about it. Tell the readers why you chose this topic, why it is important, a point of view or opinion from you that others could potentially benefit from or even disagree with. Advancing discourse and exchanging ideas are a big reason to blog. If you do not know enough about something to have opinions that draw attention, you should reconsider the idea of blogging.
Be timely. According to my hero, David Meerman Scott, reacting quickly to breaking news in your blog or twitter may earn you the rewards of “a bonanza of media attention” which will also make you more credible, attract more readers etc.
Be a news junkie. Listen to news stations and channels, interviews, podcasts and NPR. Read a daily newspaper. And get into feeds. Lots and lots of feeds. RSS feeds enable you to scan headlines from sources you would likely not come across in the course of a regular day.
“Dig” a little deeper. To find the hidden, unique, cool, hip and trending use social bookmark sites like Digg. Social bookmarking is a service which allows individuals to share sites that they’ve bookmarked. Similar to services like Google Alerts, the key here is the keyword list you generate, as the right list will generate the right kind of news and sites that people are tagging and bookmarking. While many social bookmarking sites double as “news” sites, given how they popularize and list the top sites that have been bookmarked, just like Technorati, you can search for keywords, and follow the result in your feed reader. Unlike Technorati, however, it tracks more than blogs. And unlike Google Alerts, however, it tracks more than just the news. People will bookmark anything. Pictures, video, articles, corporate websites, frequently asked questions, and much more besides. Using a social bookmarking tool to help you discover “stuff” really broadens your search, but you’ll also be able to find a great many hidden gems, particularly if use your keywords intelligently.
Don’t give up. Some days after I have read and listened to a whole lot of stuff with nothing obvious for me to write about something will come to mind. I think that is the definition of creativity. Your brain is working on sifting, collating, editing and reformatting information even when you are not aware of it. Trust your brain. It knows more than it’s saying. At least at the moment.
After all of this remember that the most important part of your blog is you.
Eight Newsworthy Topics For Your Press Announcements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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