4 reasons why PR pitching is an art form

By Scott Signore   This Post can Originally Be Found Here

Editorial pitches are opportunities for expression.

Artists have paint, clay, marble, video, mosaics, and many other media with which to express themselves. PR pros have email, direct messages on Twitter, InMail on LinkedIn, and plenty of other communications channels. Editorial pitching provides us PR professionals with a creative channel for securing a story.

It’s an art form, too, and here are four reasons why:

First, a PR pitch offers the practitioner unlimited creativity. You know the charge at hand and can accomplish your goal—connecting with a key writer or editor and seeing that they give attention to your story idea—in any manner that is appropriate.

The words you use count so much. You might be succinct or detailed, punchy or rich with metaphor or vignettes. Each pitch is a clean canvas and every outreach an attempt to inspire a specific reaction. It’s exciting, as every communication is another opportunity for success.

Second, like an artist working on a commissioned piece, it’s crucial that you consider the audience before getting started.

That’s typically both the audience (reporters) and the audience’s audience (editors and readers). The better you capture the imagination of the reporter with your initial outreach, the better the chances he or she will be inspired to “sell” the idea to editors and, ultimately, disseminate the story to legions of your client’s preferred readers.

Third, just as when you see a painting and are moved by what it attempts to convey, you know right away if your PR pitch struck a chord when you hear back (immediately and positively) from your editorial target. It’s a thing of beauty when your creativity captured the interest of your intended subject and inspired action.

Fourth, the preceding point is particularly true if your pitch was highly personalized for and delivered to a priority writer or editor, whose coverage often results in a landslide of other writers covering the same topic. It’s valuable to create the pitch that keeps on giving, paying dividends long after the client’s last check has cleared.

Can you think of other ways that editorial pitching constitutes an art form? Please off your thoughts in the comments section.

Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s PR Whiteboard blog

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11 Things the Media Does That Piss Off PR

By Patrick Coffee  This post can originally be found here

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But you said you liked the pitch!!!

Last week we ran a guest listicle about the top things public relations flacks do that piss off our media contacts. We’ve seen a lot of these lists, and the whole thing sometimes feels like a bit of a one-sided conversation, so in a follow-up post we asked our readers to suggest some points from the other side of the screen. Here, without further ado, are eleven things the media does that really irritate PR.

1. Greeting pitches with total silence:

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We know you have more important things to do, but unless we’re pitching you something as ridiculous as the “woman-proof car” you could at least write a simple “No, not interested.

We know that PR can be annoying sometimes and that a few a fair number of bad apples threaten to spoil this bunch, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to ignore all of us. You can be snide if you want (we expect it) and you don’t even need to include a fancy salutation or a “thanks so much for sharing!”

2. Answering the phone like a jerk:

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At a party this week, we spoke to a prominent tech journalist who said he’s perfectly happy to answer the phone but that the junior flacks tasked with calling him are often so nervous that he has to give them some “take a deep breath and read the script slowly” guidance. This is OK, but some writers take it much further by behaving like reps are tax collectors or divorce lawyers. Do you really want to confirm your own negative stereotypes?

3. Refusing to use the phone at all:

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Not taking cold calls is one thing; we know how bad those can be. But insisting that we contact you via email and sit on our hands waiting for you to email us back? Come on, people. If you don’t follow up after promising to do so, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to call.

4. Evading us completely:

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Dude. If you don’t like the pitch just say it. We know you’ve been crazy busy, but there’s a reason we want to make sure you plan to quote our client in your upcoming trend piece: by the time you publish it’s too little, too late.

5. Forgetting the client’s name during an interview:

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PRWeek says this happens nearly half of the time, because what the hell? Could anything be more dismissive than making clear that you don’t know or care who you’re talking to after the interview begins? Were you planning to brush up on names, addresses and “what the hell you do for a living” info during the call?

6. Deviating from the topic at hand:

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Why do you think we insisted that you not ask about our client’s pending divorce, rehab visit or failed business venture?! Do you know the meaning of the word “conditional?”

7. Expecting us to deliver resources at the last minute:

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Yes, you have a deadline. Yes, you’d really love for us to give you a quote in the next 15 minutes. No, that is not a realistic request. There’s a reason we pitched the source three days ago!

. Not letting us know when a story goes live:

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How can we promote the story you posted when we don’t know that you posted it? It’s not like we Google stalk you every hour; you’re not the only writer we know.

It is always comforting to hear the calming sounds of a pissed-off client who gets home in time to see the last five seconds of a three-minute interview filmed earlier in the day. The DVR wasn’t set, the reminder wasn’t in the iPhone and, most importantly, the PR rep didn’t call. Appreciate that help, guys.

9. Agreeing to an interview/product review and never writing about it:

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Hey, where did you go?

It is fun when we can secure a spot, jump through hoops of fire to send you the product or schedule the interview, follow-up to confirm that—against all odds—you actually liked it…and then wait five months for you to kindly let us know that it got “bumped” while we try to tell our clients why the story never appeared. If you just want free stuff, you can make that clear up front.

10. Procrastinating on writing an “exclusive” story and then getting mad when we pitch it somewhere else:

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Yes, the agreement was “exclusive” when we discussed it, but you know these things are time-sensitive. As far as next week or month, we have a job that relies on securing that placement rather than watching you drag your feet. If you have other obligations we totally understand, but you could have shared that news with us.

And waiting until the “exclusive” shows up somewhere else to get upset? Just look at how sorry Peggy Olsen feels for you.

11. Generalizing about how much “those people” suck:

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Yes, some of us are eager beavers who can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to take our ridiculous story. And some of us are condescending old-school haters ready to tell anyone who’ll listen that you wouldn’t even be able to do your jobs without us. Most of us, however, are neither of those things—and complaining about how much you hate PR isn’t going to make things better. We have feelings too, you know? (Well, the ones that are good at this job. The rest of us are cold-hearted bastards.)

Now we have to make a confession as members of “the media”: this blog is guilty of a couple of these cardinal sins, primarily #1 and #3. We also sometimes pull #2 and #8 and, after a few drinks, a tiny little bit of #11. We apologize and we promise we’ll do better.

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Sound good? OK.

Now come on, readers: we know you have some points to add to this GIF-athon. Don’t be shy.

DISCLAIMER: This post was written as a light parody of the relationship between hacks and flacks and the stereotypes each side holds about the other. We thought the tags and GIFs would give that away.

What to Consider as you Plan for Next Year

By:   This post can originally be found here

Early December is generally the time you start presenting PR plans for the next year. Pulling together a yearlong PR plan is a boatload of work. Last year, I pulled together some tips for planning for the New Year, but also found the below tidbits to be extremely helpful this year.

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  • Results of 2013. What worked/what didn’t work. Replicate and revamp tactics that worked.
  • Next year’s trends. What’s going to be trendy next year? In food, fashion, beauty, art. Categories beyond just your clients.
  • National holidays. Make note of those that your client should get involved in. Including national food and beverage holidays.
  • Movie premieres. Look up movie premieres in 2014 and see if there’s anything your client can tie into.
  • New social platforms. Thinking beyond just Twitter and Facebook – what are those other social platforms that are on the rise? More and more brands are joining Snapchat for example.
  • Media you haven’t tapped. What media is your target audience reading/ watching. Where haven’t you been featured? Brainstorm ideas on how to be a part of these outlets.
  • Brainstorm everywhere. The subway, in the shower, at the gym. Sometimes you come up with your greatest ideas out of the office.

What other factors do you consider when developing ideas for the new year?

8 tips for getting your press releases read and shared

By:Russell Working  This post can originally be found here

 

The press release is dead—or so we keep hearing.

But somebody forgot to tell Sarah Skerik, vice president of content marketing for PR Newswire.

“No one reads press releases?” she says. “I’m sorry, I have data otherwise. People read them by the millions.”

The thing is, press releases can be written well or handled badly. In a session titled “Proving the Value of PR Across the Organization,” she explains that press releases are content that can be widely shared—if you make it interesting and shareable.

“People are tweeting the daylights out of press releases,” she says.

Her comments come as many in public relations express doubt about the value of the press release. In a recent piece for the HubSpot blog, a former Newsweek reporter states that he deleted nearly every press release he received.

He quotes one industry pro who says: “The simple press release should have died years ago. In my mind, they’re dead already.”

Skerik, however, says press releases keep pulling in readers. Ten years ago, she would have told you that most of the people who will read your press release do so within 72 hours.

Today, press releases accrue only half their reads over the first four days. The rest of the readers continue to find the press release over the next four months and beyond.

Here are some tips from Skerik:

1. Write the way you talk.

Search engines prefer natural language, not jargon or marketing-speak. So do readers. Write naturally and use good grammar, Skerik says.

2. Cut back on links.

Skerik analyzed the worst-performing 500 out of a set of 20,000 press releases to figure out why these were the bottom feeders.

“I did find that the duds almost to an item had a preponderance of links within the release,” she says. “Every other word it seems has links, and it’s really annoying to the reader. And search engines saw it as spam.”

3. Avoid the use of Unnecessary Capitalization.

Copy littered with capital letters “in weird places … are a turnoff for a lot of readers and really will make your press release underperform,” Skerik says.

4. Recognize that content recirculates.

Ever puzzle why a friend on Facebook posted that same damned cat video you saw a year ago? That’s because content now is available to people on their own time frame, enabling them to recirculate it, Skerik says.

What’s old hat to you is new and interesting to the person who Googled it five minutes ago. Treat your press releases as part of your permanent content archive.

5. Always include something tweetable in your pitches.

Fans, bloggers, and even journalists can be willing to your press releases—but not if you make them work at it. Always include something they can tweet or share. Make it easy for them.

“They just hate it when you send a text-only pitch and attach a press release, and that’s it,” Skerik says.

6. How about issuing a press release in tweets?

In September, @AmazonKindle issued a press release in a series of 14 tweets. This allowed followers to retweet the parts that most interested them, such as the music or extended battery life, Skerik says.

She adds that a tweet about music might not have elicited a reaction from her, but because she provides tech support for an out-of-town parent, the tweet about a new “mayday button” for such support caught her eye.

 

The Mayday button revolutionizes tech support. Free and 24x7x365. Preview the TV spots: http://t.co/trvKced6oh #firehdx

— Kindle Team (@AmazonKindle) September 25, 2013

Caveats: @AmazonKindle lost an opportunity by not including additional images or media with every tweet, Skerik says. We at Ragan Central also noticed that at least one irritated Kindle follower responded to the stream of tweets with the words, “BLOCK FOR SPAM.”

7. Feed your influencers.

These hungry critters require regular doses of information to survive. They thrive on attention, and multimedia content is their favorite snack food. Exclusives make them purr.

“Give them the star treatment-give them the media treatment-and you will win an enthusiast for life,” Skerik says.

8. Interaction matters.

The Google algorithm has moved beyond merely scanning pages for words, Skerik says. Google now places a high value on people interacting with your content, and this can include old press releases.

Do people like the content? Do they link to it? Are they interacting with it? Do they continue to share it over time? That’s how you gain visibility in searches.

Russell Working is a staff writer at Ragan Communications.

Three Things PR Pros Should Do To Get The Most Out of Social Media

By: Kristina Markos and Maria Baez

Video Companion of this Article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhAvcgt7yOo

It’s no secret that public relations and social media are synonymous in today’s viral landscape.   Consequently, clients are expecting that a lively social media presence will play a role in public relations initiatives alongside media relations, digital strategy, and event marketing.  Because of this, it is our job to make sure that our clients’ brands are known, respected, and connected to beneficial and influential conversations taking place on the web and on social media.

However, social media is a tool that we can use internally as well as for the benefit of clients— social media actually helps us to be creative, communicative and effective PR mavens. When properly executing social media campaigns for both consumer and professional services clientele, we post relevant content, interact with influencers and connect with others using hash-tags. When properly executing social media campaigns for ourselves and for our company brand, our goals remain the same.

Seasoned PR professionals who are constantly connected should know the three ways to most advantageously use social media:

  1. Breaking News Can Cramp Your Style, but Don’t Let It:  The news is unpredictable, so it can be challenging to plan a full social media strategy when the news is changing every day.  But where there is an element of surprise, there is an opportunity.  For example, when major media outlets and publications were covering the government shutdown, Ebben Zall Group took to our company blog  to discuss the situation. We found a way to incorporate our business objectives into what was going on nationally so that we stayed in the conversation.  Bottom line: the art of maintaining relevancy is easy if content stays timely.
  2. Monitoring Headlines Means Monitoring Handles:  Every morning, we monitor headlines from national and local news sources to stay current with trending topics and expert insights.   To go the extra mile, we find reporters on Twitter and follow their respective feeds. When we communicate directly with these reporters, RT their status updates or stories, it demonstrates goodwill and usually opens the door for further communication. We have found that kind of communication can lead to relationships with journalists who are vital to a PR campaign’s success. We also make an effort to keep a close eye on hash-tags that industry gurus are using to ensure that the most popular tags are included in our original tweets.
  3. Active Social Listening is Smart Listening:  Social listening is defined as simply monitoring popular social media outlets to see what is trending, gaining popularity, and sparking conversations on the internet. We actively listen to social conversations so that we can be smarter PR professionals.  When we know what is popular, we are able to craft our content in a way that it is positioned as a conversation starter. Being an active listener also means tracking social media updates from our clients’ competitors. When we monitor competitors, we are better equipped to help our clients stand out from the crowd by starting new conversations and sparking lively interaction.

Social media is a tool that provides a transparent environment for us to monitor what brands are communicating; what reporters are talking about; and which trends are emerging. PR professionals are known for quick thinking and capitalizing on timely opportunities. This is the essence of social media: it is about engagement through audience-centric content and conversations, and it underscores the need for us to stay nimble and fluid.

Without social media, campaigns would not have the digital amplification that they do in today’s communication landscape.  However, rampant conversations on social media can be perceived as loud and noisy; and good PR pros like us know that we have to filter the noise — so that you don’t have to.

Kristina Markos:  

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Account Supervisor at Ebben Zall Group, is making her mark in all facets of public relations, creative services and content creation. She has worked for digital design agencies in Chicago and Miami, which has given her a sharpened edge in digital strategy implementation.

Prior to joining EZG she launched and led Kayvee Publicity in Chicago (a public relations firm focused on fulfilling creative needs for financial services clients). She was also a writing and communications instructor at Indiana University Northwest.

Earning an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting, Kristina graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree in 2006. She also earned a Master of Liberal Science from the University of Toledo in 2010.

Maria Baez:

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Maria Baez is a PR Account Executive at Ebben Zall Group where she works with clients to develop and execute engaging campaigns that incorporate elements from traditional and social, and new media tactics. A graduate of Marist College (Go Red Foxes!), Maria earned a degree in Communications (2010) with a concentration in Public Relations. She was a four-year member of the Division I Marist Women’s Soccer Team and credits her ability to thrive in fast paced environments, deliver quality content with pressing deadlines, and effectively multitask, to her lifelong commitment to athletics. A Long Island native, Maria now resides outside of Boston. In her spare time, Maria is committed to utilizing her skills and experience in PR to help up-and-coming young professionals – who are interested in the industry – through various mentor and leadership programs.

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HIRING A PUBLICIST? READ THIS FIRST…

by  This post can be originally found here

So, you’re the next incredible brand on deck and you’re ready to hire a publicist? Read this first:

Know exactly what a publicist does.

A publicist/PR pro is a public relations practitioner. And, public relations is the art of influencing public perception using strategic communication. “PR” is commonly used to describe the practice in general, not the practitioner. If your potential publicist refers to herself/himself as a “PR”, run.  It’s the equivalent of Metta World Peace saying he is a basketball. He didn’t say that, by the way.

Side note: Publicists don’t like to be called publishers either, unless in the rare instance he or she actually publishes books too.

A breakdown of a publicist’s tasks include:

Creating exposure: Your publicist should craft or oversee your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Draft press releases to announce news worthy happenings. Pitch you to media and schedule interviews. Scan the media for new mentions of your brand, negative or positive.  Oversee your image and have a good relationship with a fashion stylist. Manage, plan or review your social media activity. Coordinate photo shoots and video shoots. Assist you on the red carpet, but not actually pose for photos with you. Assist with speeches. Plan events and press junkets. Make sure your branding is cohesive.

Brand protection: He or she should conduct media training for your print/radio/TV interviews. Manage a crisis, if one arises. Think Olivia Pope. Or, Judy Smith. Although most PR pros don’t soley specialize in crisis management, they should have a working knowledge to craft an effective plan in case you ever need it.

What’s your budget? 

Now, that you understand publicists aren’t hired to put your name on a list at a party, pick up your laundry or babysit your kids… know your BUDGET. Before you go to a car dealership, you have an idea of the amount you want to spend. Do your research before meeting with a publicist to avoid wasting your time, and theirs. If you want to hire a big time agency– who may actually assign a first year account executive to your account– expect to pay at least $10,000 per month as as minimum rate. Some big name publicists with boutique size firms and huge clients are also in this range.

Boutique firms and reputable freelance publicists charge around $5,000 per month on average, although more demanding clients may spend up to $10,000 per month. They may also take on a few smaller budget projects here and there if they believe in the particular brand, especially if the brand is a start-up, rookie, new artist, etc. On the flip side, corporate brands are hiring more and more boutique and freelance pros to ensure account attention and around the clock accessibility.

If a publicist is charging under $900 per month, what are the surrounding factors? Smaller geographical market? Seasonal or start up special? Scaled down services? Inexperience? Ask.

Oh, it’s not uncommon for publicists to ask professional athletes and entertainers to provide game/event tickets. It makes sense for them to observe you in your element. However, being in your element should not be a payment substitution.

Does the publicist have a passion for your field? 

Once upon a time a publicist with NFL clients asked me what a first and tenth was. That wasn’t a typo. Someone representing professional football players really asked what a first and tenth was. That’s like a book publicist asking what a book outline is. Or book hotline, to keep it consistent. Anyway, passion breeds research. Financial services & technology publicist, Samantha Savory, studies trends in the financial and tech world with the same intensity level she studies PR trends. Kristen Hopkins, who specializes in non-profit, knows her niche’s trends like the back of her hand.

It’s not unfair to ask for a fashion publicist’s thoughts on Isabel Marant’s spring collection to test their engagement level. Or, ask a sports publicist to pick Ovechkin or Crosby. If I were a musician, I would want my publicist to have a favorable opinion in my genre. Or, understand the complexity of current political issues before running my political campaign. A film publicist shouldn’t be required to have Roeper level movie knowledge, but a Varietysubscription shouldn’t sound far fetched. Regardless of the niche, it doesn’t hurt to check out your potential publicist’s tweets. If it’s truly a passion, they can’t help but talk about the subject.

Goals.

During the first meeting with your potential publicist, 80% of the conversation should be about your brand and its goals. If a publicist gives you a million ideas prior to hearing the brand’s goals, run. If you believe your brand is unique and trendsetting, PR ideas should be tailored. The publicist may have a few initial ideas, but the exciting ideas should be in the proposal you receive after the consultation. Even if the publicist knows all about your brand through research, hearing your goals is the main objective in the first meeting.

Side note: Speaking of the consultation, some publicists charge an hourly fee similar to attorneys, some do not.

Ask to see his or her portfolio. 

Don’t be afraid to ask to see their work. Even a newbie should have a portfolio with entries from internships.

Look at the types of brands included, the level of media exposure, writing skills, and the quality of the presentation. If their brand isn’t represented well, why should you trust them with yours?

Know how 2 protect urself as a publicist

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Know how 2 protect urself as a publicist

Know how 2 protect urself as a publicist. Join @womeninpr1 2night on blogtalk radio w/ atty @miamientertainmentlaw http://ow.ly/qvAbd

Know how 2 protect urself as a publicist

Know how 2 protect urself as a publicist. Join @womeninpr1 2night on blogtalk radio w/ atty @miamientertainmentlaw http://ow.ly/qvAbd