Tips for PR pros planning a 2014 editorial calendar

By Carrie Morgan  This post can originally be found here

If you’re the kind of uber-efficient PR pro who organizes Outlook into client-specific folders, keeps client folders for years after they’ve evaporated, and alphabetizes books and CDs, this post is for you.

If you’re a new PR professional still learning the ropes, this might help.

It’s October. If you aren’t thinking about 2014 editorial calendars, it’s time to shift into gear.

I’m talking not about creating editorial calendars for your blog or social content, but about the traditional PR tactic of using editorial calendars created by magazines, trade publications, and other media for securing placement opportunities. Newspapers and broadcast media generally don’t provide editorial calendars.

Editorial calendar searches are a basic PR skill, but one that way too many pros gloss over, only do annually, or forget entirely. That’s a mistake, given how aligning your pitches to an editorial calendar bumps your success rate way up.

It’s time to kick off the process for next year. If you wait much longer, it will be too late to pitch January/February issues. You don’t want a client calling to ask, “Why am I not in this issue? It’s a perfect fit for what we do.”

For newbies

Magazines and many other media outlets, as well as the larger blogs, publish an annual calendar of upcoming articles or topics they’ll be covering. It’s a smorgasbord of opportunity and a foundational public relations skill. It’s also an opportunity for you to let your PR skills shine, because most agencies and PR pros don’t spend enough time with them to gain maximum benefit.

1. If a team is handling the client, ask whether editorial calendars have been collected, and what agency or department procedures typically are for handling this part of PR. You don’t want to re-invent the wheel if someone is already on top of it, but you do want to show everyone that you are getting the foundation in place for fantastic results, that you are covering the basics.

2. Assuming you’ve already built your client media list and/or a list of publications you’ll be targeting, check their website first to see if it is available for download, then contact every outlet on that list and ask for a media kit. Generally this includes the editorial calendar, demographic information about readership, ad sizes and specs, and ad due dates. Why is this better than asking for just the editorial calendar? Because the ad due dates tell you when the publication goes to press. It helps you plan the timing of your pitch so it isn’t too late to be considered.

3. Keep a spreadsheet so you can easily track whom you’ve spoken with, which ones you have, and which ones you are still waiting on. It also gives you a tickler file to get started on the next year.

4. Print out the editorial calendars, put them in a clearly labeled folder and keep it on your desk. Plan on referring to it often. Tuck a copy of your spreadsheet in the folder, too.

5. If you don’t already have a relationship going, contact each publication individually to discuss their print schedule. When do they typically close out their issue? How far in advance should you pitch them? What is too late? Do they prefer to be pitched via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or phone? Do they have special issues with different print schedules? If it’s a blog or e-zine and not a print publication, look at their website to see if they prefer post submissions that are ready to publish. (It’s usually an obvious page.) Note all this information on your spreadsheet.

Next steps for advanced PR pros and newbies alike

6. Spend time going over each editorial calendar and writing down story ideas to pitch. Match the ideas to the issue, and then schedule each individual pitch in Outlook. Don’t assume you’ll remember; schedule it as an appointment using the timing determined in No. 4.

7. You’re not an Outlook user, or you want a secondary tool to be sure important dates don’t slip your mind? Create your own calendar that flags specific dates and publications you should pitch, and look at it every Monday so you know what’s coming up in the next week or two.  Print it out and pop it in that folder with the printed editorial calendars; make it a habit to review it frequently.

8. Every time an Outlook alert goes off and it is time to pitch a specific issue of a publication, glance over the entire folder anew to see what opportunities you have for that month. This might seem too often, but it helps you get intimately familiar with these magazines and their upcoming topics. It also helps inspire creativity, because you’ll notice something new or gain fresh inspiration with every review. Many pros look at their editorial calendars once or twice a year, which isn’t nearly often enough. It also forces you to plan far in advance.

9. If you supervise a team, sit down and review the editorial calendars together. Brainstorm or review their story ideas that the editorial calendar stimulates, then don’t forget to look at the actual pitches. It seems like far too many agencies don’t supervise the team or work with them to improve their tactics—an epic failure for everyone involved. Pitches and the processes we all use are not a big secret; they should be continually improved and fine-tuned for optimal results. Don’t hesitate to get involved.

 

10. Start collecting next year’s editorial calendars in early fall. This helps you to avoid missing out on great opportunities early in the year simply because your timing is off and you start too late. Magazines, trade publications, large blogs, and e-zines—round ’em up and get those opportunities scheduled.

Time to share. What tactics do you use for editorial calendar searches? Any fabulous tips?

Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Rock The Status Quo blog.

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16 networking mistakes that can derail your career

By Jim Dryburgh This post can be found here

Networking is a skill that can help you develop long‐lasting business and social relationships.As with most skills, you can network well or poorly—perhaps to the detriment of your career.Here are the 16 most common networking mistakes to avoid:1. You think you don’t know anyone.

You are connected to more people than you realize.

Take 10 minutes and write a list of past and current work colleagues, industry contacts, friends, family and acquaintances. You will likely be surprised by how many people you know. Store these names in a file and add new people as you meet them.

Once a month, go through your list. Call at least one person, and email three. The key is to stay in touch. Find out what’s new with people personally or professionally, react to news in your industry or set up a lunch. Put a note in your files to remind yourself what you talked about.

Now check out some social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are powerful ways to expand your network. If you have a blog or website, check out who’s been corresponding with you lately.

Continuously reach out to new people and you’ll see networking possibilities grow.

2. You wait for a reason to network.

A network is a social and business resource that you must cultivate and nurture.

Your network supports and sustains you in good times, but is the key to your survival in bad times. Too often people start networking only after they need something. Imagine a friend or relative who only calls when he needs money. Do you take his call? Do you look forward to hearing from him?

Effective networking means creating contacts and relationships now. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as Harvey Mackay says.

3. You fail to create a networking script.

Avoid fumbling and stammering for the right words by practicing what you’re going to say about yourself, your job or another topic of interest.

Practice it. Practice smiling as you say it so people get a sense of excitement and energy about you. Then think about questions that might come up and how you’ll respond.

Whether you call someone or talk in person, consider what you want and what you can realistically expect from the person. Think about the purpose of your conversation—is it to find out information or seek other contacts? Being clear about what you want will be a more effective use of everyone’s time, and will create a better impression than a rambling speech. Be aware that the person may not be in a position to do much; be gracious if all he can offer are ideas, advice or experience.

Requesting a job isn’t appropriate at this stage, and may result in you losing the contact. For networking emails, be personable and upbeat, but make sure your tone is appropriate to the person you are contacting. For example, don’t go into networking mode if you are just reaching out to an old friend.

[RELATED: Ragan’s new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]

4. You’re unprepared.

Thinking you know what you want is not the same as knowing it.

Treat networking the same way you would an appearance at Carnegie Hall. Practice your pitch as well as your answers to questions that might arise.

Knowing what you want to get out of a conversation will make the best use of everyone’s time. Do you want a new job? Sales contacts? Information about a competitor?

If you don’t know what you’re after, you’ll either embarrass yourself or walk away having accomplished nothing.

Do your homework and plan ahead to avoid arriving unprepared. If you’re meeting with someone or attending an event, know why you are going and the types of people who will be there. Research specific contacts who may be there and prepare some conversation topics ahead of time.

5. You talk about yourself too much.

When networking, listen to what everyone else is saying. People help by offering advice; they’re not interested in hearing how much you already know.

While a big part of networking is marketing yourself, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Give others some room to get a word in. Prompt them to tell you a little about themselves. This way, not only will they feel like they are part of the conversation, but you’ll learn a little about them. The more you know about them, the more you’ll know what they can do for you, and-brace yourself-what you can do for them.

6. You monopolize someone’s time.

At a networking event, everyone wants to mingle and meet different people. Although making a connection with someone and getting into an interesting discussion can be a great experience, you should keep conversations at networking events short and sweet.

If you’re networking over the phone or by email, remember that the person you’re speaking with has a life beyond you and your needs and interests. A good rule of thumb is that if the person is carrying less than half of the conversation, it’s time to move on.

7. You lack etiquette.

Etiquette can extend from table manners to punctuality to your approach to social networking. If you think people don’t notice, you’re wrong. Committing this blunder is self-destructive, so mind your manners!

There are a number of things that violate networking etiquette:

  • Showing up late.
  • Interrupting people when they are talking.
  • Talking for an extended period of time about yourself.
  • Not asking other people who they are and what they do.
  • Barging into a group when it is clear they don’t want to be disturbed.
  • Blatantly looking for the next person to talk to.
  • Drinking too much.
  • Talking with your mouth full.
  • Not keeping your emails and your social media profiles professional.
  • Sharing a person’s contact information without his permission. (This is a huge no-no that will quickly land you a top spot on the blacklist. Always check with people first, even if you’re doing them a favor.)

8. You forget to bring business cards.

In one of his books, Jeffrey Gitomer argues that the main purpose of a business card is to get the other person’s card. When you hand people a card, they usually want to do the same. The key is to get their cards so you can respond after the meeting with a note that connects you and the conversation you had.

Always carry business cards with you—especially if you’re attending a networking event. It’s unprofessional to give out your contact information on a scrap piece of paper or napkin. Doing so may discourage a contact from getting in touch with you in the future.

9. You have an unprofessional email address.

Your friends may know you as “Daddys1Girl,” “HotStud4U,” “Cougarlady” or “RumAndCoke47,” but when you’re building a network, use a serious email address—preferably one with your real name. And when you use this email address, make sure you have a complete signature at the bottom.

Make it easy for people to remember and contact you later. Your email, LinkedIn profile and standard messaging are key parts of your brand. Consider getting a website and using your email as the address. You can do this for the cost of one business book, and it’s another way to expand your brand.

10. You forget you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Dress sharply when you attend an event. Give firm handshakes, stand up straight, make good eye contact, repeat names back to the owners and show respect to everyone in the room. Never say anything negative about any person, event, company or organization, regardless of your personal views.

Remember that a networking event can be like a first interview for your next job, but no one will help you get your foot in the door if you put forth an unprofessional or negative attitude.

11. You don’t know how to work a room.

Men and women with contacts and power meet many people, but they only remember those who stand out from the crowd.

If you “just aren’t very social” or if networking “just isn’t in your personality,” then be someone else for the networking event. Be assertive and act like a leader you admire. How would your hero handle this situation? Communicate self‐assurance and confidence. Don’t let your introverted preferences get in the way of building the network or career you want.

The good news is you can learn how to network. The news you probably don’t want to hear is that in today’s communication‐driven world, just about everybody has to do it. There’s no sense trying to avoid it.

12. You don’t ask follow-up questions.

If you’re networking for a job opportunity and someone says, “I wish I could help you, but I don’t know of any openings right now,” take a minute or two to ask some follow-up questions:

  • What’s the outlook for the future?
  • Do you know anyone else in the industry who might have something?
  • Do you have any thoughts on what my next step should be?
  • Who would you contact if you were in my shoes?

Follow‐up questions show interest and may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise have overlooked.

13. You lie.

Would you ever recommend someone who you knew stretched the truth?

A wise man once said, “Always tell the truth. That way you won’t ever have to remember what you said.”

It’s tempting to say, “So‐and‐so gave me your name and told me to call.” It might even get you a meeting. But eventually such‐and‐such will learn so-and‐so did not tell you to call, and you’ll have burned not one, but two, bridges.

Building relationships is all about building trust. If you don’t trust someone, you’ll hesitate to contact him when it’s time to make an important business decision. You don’t want someone to hesitate about you.

14. You don’t follow u p.

You’ve gone through all the trouble to make a contact, so why let it go to waste?

You need to follow up after every meeting or job interview to reiterate your interest and ensure you remain at the front of the person’s mind.

Remember, people are busy, and you probably aren’t their top priority. But they are your top priority. Make sure they know it.

Always thank a contact for her time and advice via a handwritten note or follow‐up email or call. Let your contact know whether her suggestions panned out. You may think your networking is over, but your paths may cross again.

Don’t be afraid to get back in touch with someone. Send her an article or notice of an event that might interest her. Keep in touch through social media or drop her an occasional email telling her how you are.

What goes around comes around. Follow up with contacts who helped you. Keep them up‐to‐date about the company you are now working for or whether the information or leads they provided you were helpful.

This will help you to maintain people as contacts in your network, and allow you to return the favor when they’re in need.

15. You don’t tie up loose ends.

Too often when people in your network help you and give you the opening you need to achieve your goal, you think “It’s finally over.”

Not quite.

After any business meeting, you should document what actions people committed to—particularly you. In most cases, sending a note regarding your commitments will make you look professional and competent. You will probably need those people again in the future.

Write the person a thank‐you note for her help, and let her know what you ended up doing. Don’t just do this for the person or people who helped you find a job or a client. Do it for everyone who offered to, as well.

16. You don’t pay it forward.

Networking is a two-way street.

If you reach out to your contacts every time you need a something—a job, sales lead or favor—without ever giving back, people will stop being so willing to help. A good networker is ready and willing to help their contacts whenever they can.

Did you meet someone who would be a great contact for your colleague? Introduce them! Do you know of a job lead that might be perfect for your contact’s unemployed son? Hook him up!

If people see you as a resource, they’ll be more inclined to nurture and maintain the mutually beneficial relationship.

If you know what not to do, you can network with purpose, add value to your network and become outstanding at the art of networking.

Jim Dryburgh is president and founder of The Balanced WorkLife Company. A version of this article originally appeared on Careertopia.

Video Catches Publicist Rudely Denying Interview

By Matt Wilson  This post can originally  here

Big events where PR pros accompany clients can be really stressful. Sometimes, the pressure can have an adverse effect on one’s mood.That seems to be what happened to ID PR’s Bryna Rifkin, a publicist for stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others, at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. As she accompanied Oscar winner Marion Cotillard down the red carpet, French-Canadian reporter Catherine Beauchamp asked for a quick interview with the actress.Rifkin shut the reporter down with a heaping helping of condescension, and it was all caught on video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SxtbBeFPcno

When Beauchamp says she was told she could ask one question, Rifkin replies: “Nobody told you that. Either way, I’m saying no.”
Rifkin’s rudeness has made her the center of the story. Business Insider called her smirk near the end of the video “cringe-worthy” and Defamer commented, “Let’s hope this behavior doesn’t continue.”

Reporters can seem like pests sometimes, but they’ve got cameras and recording equipment. If you swat one away, odds are you’ll see or hear a recording of it somewhere online soon after.

Instead, as the song goes, “try a little tenderness.”

HOW TO WRITE SO EDITORS DON’T HATE YOU

 

This post can be found here

As a writer, it pains me to say that I don’t always know exactly what people will gravitate to and read, instead, I try and identify the type of story a publication would choose to print, or not. While editing yesterday evening,  my frustration became so intense that I recalled  a post from Women in PR, “PR Pro habits Journalists Despise”,  which prompted me to write this piece. The WIPR post stems from Katie Burke’s “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate”.

Now, I’m no Katie Burke, but as a young editor, I feel compelled to express the s%*t writers do that makes me hate them.

1. Write with purpose.
There is nothing worse than being handed an article with all the meat but no veggies or complex carbs. We’re hungry for compelling material, so make a healthy balanced meal out of it. Create a general outline of your story, then decide on its purpose.  If you are having a hard time populating your outline, that could be an indication to either, choose a new angle or trash the story.

2. Ditch the question marks.
Only ask a question when it is a legitimate one.
How would that make you feel? Could this path be for you? You as a writer should write to make me feel, however that I should or convince me that path is my destiny. Stop the “what if?” madness and give us all something to chew on.

3. It’s all about me.
If you are writing a narrative, by all means, recount your journey and experiences, but if your article is supposed to be about herbalism or the history of pancakes—which is quite interesting if I may add—don’t make it about you. It seems it takes an eternity to turn those egomaniacal comments into quotes or supporting facts. I don’t know about you, but who wants to take an eternity on anything.

4. Going comma crazy.
Gone are the days of commas and semi-colons. When appropriate,  connect long thoughts, with a long dash. The article will appear more neat overall.

5. Pay attention.
Review the general writing style of the publication you are submitting to. If the articles don’t contain bullet point lists, first person narrative or funky fonts,  don’t bother sending your story over in poor shape. Great writers have the supreme ability to adapt, don’t be afraid to show off.

6. The guessing game.
Don’t write as if you were talking. Your ideas should be communicated clear and concise, so they won’t be misinterpreted. Also, avoid the use of seemingly common phrases—no one wants to Google every quirky thing you have to say, to determine if it’s tasteful.

7. Act like a writer, think like an editor.
Friendly and accessible writers, that are understanding and genuinely open to improve, get first priority in my book. These writers win you over with their persistence, charisma and of course, precise writing style. Before you have the chance to ask, they already have the answer—be it a quote, supporting graphic or the occasional reminder that any piece they submit comes with a “no piss off” guarantee.

Writers and editors, what are some other things that drive you crazy? How can we fix them?

PR DIARIES: TWEETING YOUR FEELINGS

by   The original post can be found here

In the world of PR, we juggle back in forth on what I like to call the ‘personality aspect’ of branding. As we all know, Twitter has become an every day essential for proper business branding. Not only has Twitter become one of the most rapid and effective ways to interact with your following, but it sets across your message to the public instantaneously. Whether you’re announcing a new story or showcasing a new product, our tweets speak to and attract an audience targeted to your brand. In our world, let’s just say Twitter is one of our best friends. And if you haven’t heard, the rumor is true. Personality does sell. But when managing Twitter accounts for numerous clients, how do you incorporate an individual message with a personable aspect for each brand? And when is personality too much personality?

blackberry-gyaru-onyx-pink-twitter-ubertwiter-Favim.com-105758

For one, before beginning social media management for a client, get to know the brand and who you are aiming to interact with. In example, if you are tweeting for a beauty brand, know your stuff! Research all aspects of your client’s products because people will ask! Twitter can be a highly effective way to transform words into sales and this is your pitch. As for the personality, utilize your tagline, if applicable, and research any fun images and quotes that may fall into the brand’s message for postings. Don’t be afraid to tweet to your niche! With our beauty brand example, you would want to maintain a ‘twitter relationship’ with beauty bloggers first and foremost! Join in on live chats and twitter conversations. Twitter is one big popularity contest and we are all aiming for the clique.

future-pr-girl

Ultimately, we are after one goal. Connect your client to the consumer. How are you interacting with your consumer? To most effectively converse with your followers, you must learn to think like a consumer, a publicist, and a client all in one (And usually for ten different companies at the same time). As the PR Girl, what is your goal? To make the deal, the sale, or the relationship! As the consumer, it varies. Who are you targeting?! If you are live tweeting with single moms in business, then you better act like a single mom in business! What are those single moms looking for in a product? Learn the day in the life of a single mom beauty guru, and the mission is accomplished. Public Relations is all about relations after all and the capability of relating with ease is a necessity.

images

Now to dig deeper: The personality aspect of tweeting. Your followers will easily relate to a company they feel that they know on a personal level. In addition to researching the brand that you are representing-thoroughly, take the time to get to know your client. Who is he/she? What do they stand for? If your client is philanthropic, interact with philanthropists on Twitter using the interest as a common ground. You want to show the person behind the brand because 9 times out of 10 it is the person that sells, not the company. Ultimately, they care about the company message, who you are, and what you are trying to do. Shine your client’s personality through a PR voice on twitter.

Use the personality aspect to your advantage, but please keep in mind the disadvantage. DON’T: Tweet about a client’s weekend adventures on their son’s soccer game sidelines. DO: Tweet an eye-catching picture of a client at an event. Be personable, yet effective! Showing a person behind the brandcan make a company or break it. Your followers want to see who you are and want to feel related to you and your company, just don’t tweet about everything you’ve had to eat that day! ;)

PR pro habits that journalists despise

By Kevin Allen | This post can be found here

Katie Burke has penned the post that many have been waiting for.

On the HubSpot blog, Burke’s post, “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate” provides a fantastic indictment of all the lazy, annoying, and stupid things that PR people do to try to get journalists to write about their clients.

Among the complaints:

• Calling on the phone, ever.
• Pitching canned and boring story ideas.
• Using all caps.
• Spamming.

All the complaints are collected in the following SlideShare:

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/shitprpeopledo-130710113630-phpapp02/95/slide-1-638.jpg?1374087602

It’s begging for a response, so the challenge to PR pros is to offer enough material for “S%*t Journalists Do That  PR Pros Hate.

7 underrated skills every PR newbie needs

By Jessica Malnik| This post can be found here

 

In an ideal world, nascent PR pros and neophyte journalists should know how to do a variety of things before they walk across the stage and get their diplomas.

 

There’s no need to be an expert in everything, but it helps to have some familiarity with a variety of tasks and programs. As someone who’s been in the workforce for a few years now, I offer seven underrated skills that all aspiring PR pros and journalists should have:

1. Basic HTML knowledge

By this, I mean basic. There’s no need for PR pros to know how to code websites, although it could be helpful. There is a need to know to how to post a blog post using WordPress, Blogger, or Posterous. Knowing simple HTML commands for headlines, body copy, bold, italic, and bullet points is HTML 101.

 

2. Video editing

This can be daunting to learn. I’m not saying everyone should be fluent in Final Cut Pro or Avid, but there is no reason that a marketer or PR pro should not have some familiarity with iMovie, Animoto, or Jaycut. These are simple programs that enable you to upload and edit videos, often in minutes.

3. Excel

Creating simple spreadsheets and tasks in Excel can be difficult for newbies. Though it may be a tough program to learn, there’s no excuse to do so. You will use it more than you think.

4. Proper grammar

Writing well is a staple of just about any career. Good grammar and spelling are at its root. Channel the advice of your middle school English teacher whenever you construct a sentence, paragraph, white paper, presentation, or blog post. Good grammar matters.

5. Basic math

Whether you’re analyzing statistics, comparing percentages, or helping prepare a budget, simple math skills come in handy more often than you might think.

6. SEO

Understanding how SEO affects your site’s search rankings is important. At the very least, you should know to craft an SEO-friendly headline and keywords for site content. Any added knowledge is gravy. For additional SEO resources, check out SEOMoz blog, a phenomenal resource.

7. Social media familiarity

It’s mind blowing how many marketers and PR pros handle “social media tasks” professionally when they have no or little experience using those platforms. You don’t have to be super active on Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc., but you should at least be on the sites and know how to use them.

 

What other skills should marketers and PR pros have? Please leave them in the comments section below.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist, videographer, and an avid Gen Y blogger. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.

Building the perfect email ‘pitchwich’

By: By Ashley Halberstad This Post Can Originally be found here
Like anything worth knowing, PR is all about the fundamentals. There are building blocks, key pieces of knowledge that make the difference between being a PR practitioner and being a PR professional.

One of those fundamentals is the pitch. We hear a lot about bad pitches, especially via sites like Bad Pitch Blog and Pro PR Tips that were inspired by the sheer volume of off-topic pitches received. But, what about the relevant, timely pitch topics that still go unanswered?

After you’ve accurately identified what you’re pitching and to whom, you still run the risk of sending a bad pitch. Truth is, the structure and approach of the pitch itself are often overlooked, and they can make or break your chances of a response from a media representative—regardless of how well targeted and relevant your message is.

Enter the “pitchwich.” Like a delicious and satisfying sandwich, the pitchwich feeds the media you’re reaching out to by providing them with the information they need in a clear concise way. Check out the ingredients:

Bread slice

Say hello, but keep it short and get straight to the point. Greet the recipient of your email in a friendly—but not overly personal—way, and let them know right away why you’re sharing this information. Often this can be either a “problem statement” or a reference to a recent article by the person you’re emailing. Here’s an example bread slice: 

Hi, Ashley—

Hope your week is going well! I saw your recent article on cats, and I completely agree with your thoughts on shedding. 

Mayo (or condiment of choice)

This is where you should mention how you or your client would tie in to the introduction. Are you the solution to the problem introduced? Does your client have a connection to a recent article? Check out the use of mayo:

Are you familiar with the ShedBed (www.FakeShedBed.com)? It’s a new way to keep pets from shedding all over the house by containing it in one spot—the pet bed.

Meat (or veggies)

After you’ve connected the dots, provide relevant details that the person must know about you or your client. Keep it brief, but include key details such as what specifically separates you from the competition. Link to images and product pages if more information can be found on the site, rather than spelling it all out in a lengthy email. Meat/veg in action:

ShedBed is a pet bed with a purpose. Using a new proprietary technology to gently massage and groom cats and dogs while they lie on the bed. Unlike manual brushing, all the stray fur is collected and contained by the ShedBed so you can easily throw it away. You can see it in action here: http://www.FakeShedBed.com/videodemo.

Bread slice

The pitchwich should never be an open-face sandwich. Conclude your message with a clear call to action. What do you want the media person to do with this information? Offer an interview, product sample, additional information, or images, but be sure you’re asking them to take action. The capper to the perfect pitchwich:

I think this would be a great solution for Mr. Boots’ shedding issue. Are you interested in learning more or in receiving a review unit to try for yourself?

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

[RELATED: Register for our PR Writers Summit by Aug. 1 to get an early-bird discount.]

The pitchwich is only a guide. Everyone is different, and it’s important to be familiar with who you’re pitching, personalizing your messages to him or her as much as you possibly can. PR is about building relationships, and the way you communicate with media will change as you develop those relationships.

In the meantime, the pitchwich can help keep your messaging simple and effective.

Ashley Halberstadt is the director of digital media relations for digitalrelevance, an online marketing agency in Indianapolis. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency’s blog

10 things clients get wrong about the media

By: Bruce Serbin                           This original post can be found here

 

I’ve been infuriated lately.

I’m sick and tired of all the bad ideas and strategies I’ve heard from some of my clients and the clients of fellow publicists. I figured I would redirect my frustration by sharing with you the top 10 things anyone working with a publicist needs to understand.

Yes, I’m being blunt, but I’m doing it with the best intentions to keep you from making stupid mistakes that will cost you interviews or, worse, your credibility.

1. No, we can’t ask for the questions ahead of time. 

I will never, ever, ever ask a reporter or TV producer for the questions they plan on asking in your interview ahead of time. So don’t ask me. It will make you and me both look like idiots. If you want to completely undermine your expert status and credibility, go ahead and ask for the questions yourself. You’re supposed to be the authority on your topic, and that’s why the media is talking to you. They expect you to be able to handle anything they throw at you. Asking for the questions tells them otherwise. While we’re at it, no, I also won’t annoy the busy reporter by asking when the story will run. Of course I’ll be happy to check in with him or her after some time has passed.

2. You’re probably not going to get on the “Today” show, so stop asking. 

It’s still laughable to me whenever a client asks, “When will you get me on the ‘Today’ show?” The reality: If you and your topic are a good fit for “Today,” know that I am pitching “Today” and other similar shows. Also realize that just because I have put other people on “Today” and similar national TV shows, that doesn’t mean I can automatically place you there. Yes, my relationships and credibility with producers will help somewhat, but only to a point. The competition is extremely fierce at that level, and although breaking in is possible, it won’t happen for some people.

3. Stop telling me you don’t care about local TV. 

If you don’t care about local TV and are interested only in national TV, you’re an idiot. If I hook a national TV producer on the idea of having you as a guest, the first question he or she will ask me is, “Does this person have any other television experience?” Local TV helps lead to national TV, plus it’s still major credibility in its own right. When someone looks you up on the Internet, what do you want them to see: only things you’ve written or produced about yourself, or credible TV interviews with you, even if they are on local TV?

4. You’re probably not going to sell a lot of books. 

Unless you name is John Grisham or James Patterson, don’t expect to sell a lot of books from appearing in the media, and don’t ask me how many books you’re going to sell. You might sell millions. You might sell none. The one thing I’ve learned about forecasting book sales is that there is no good way to forecast book sales. Being in the media is about building credibility through a third-party implied endorsement, not about selling books. It’s about leveraging your media coverage to help build multiple income streams. Your book might turn out to be one of those streams, but it is more likely to help you earn other income than to be a major profit center in its own right.

5. This isn’t a short-term strategy. 

People call my office and say, “Can I hire you for a month?” The answer is no, because you can’t do this for one month and expect to get big-time results. If you want to hire someone for a month, hire someone else who is happy to take your money and doesn’t care about disappointing you and undermining their own reputation. Publicity is a long-term strategy that takes time and the ability to develop new story angles and play off current events. Those events will happen, but they might not coincidentally happen during the first few weeks. Just as you might advertise for the life of your business, publicity should be approached the same way to continue to build your credibility.

6. Your product, book, or service isn’t going to change the world. 

I believe in my clients and their messages. I really do. Otherwise I wouldn’t be representing them. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “The media is going to eat this up! This is really going to change lives! It’s a ‘game changer’!” I believe in you, but I hear it every day. Take a step back, and understand that the competition for precious minutes of TV time or inches of print is fierce. Although you probably have a very good idea, it’s not the only one out there, and just because you and I think it’s good, you can’t expect every media outlet to agree.

7. Stop wasting your time with expensive press releases. 

You don’t need a publicist to write a press release and distribute it through a service such as PR Newswire or BusinessWire. You can do that yourself. Most press releases are self-serving and contain no news value. If you still want to pay these companies a lot of money to have your release lost in a sea of press releases so nothing much comes of it, I’m happy to help. I just think there are better ways for you to spend your money.

8. Excuse me for trying to make you interesting. 

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. You might be the expert of all experts in your field, but if you’re boring, nobody is going to care. My favorite example of what I’m saying is my client Steve Siebold’s book, “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People.” His premise: If you’re fat, it’s your fault. That one phrase has resonated on television show after television show all over the world. Of course, he also has plenty of useful but more mundane advice like “eat better and exercise more.” But if he led with that, do you think he would have been featured all over the world? Nope. Spice it up!

9. Lack of results isn’t always the publicist’s fault. 

With anyone I work with, have previously worked with or will one day work with, I give it my all, 100 percent dedication and commitment to doing the best I can. But after all, I’m selling you and your message. I’ve worked with really strong messages and others that aren’t as solid. If you’re not getting the media coverage you believe you’re entitled to, don’t always blame your publicist, but instead take a look at the goods you’re bringing to the table. Not all clients are created equal. Having said that, though, I won’t take a client whose message I don’t think I can sell.

10. I don’t care what your branding strategist or social media team is doing. 

Many of my clients and the clients of other publicists have independent branding consultants, advertising teams, internal marketing people, and social media teams they work with as well. Though I’m always happy to jump on a call with them or hear what they’re up to, it’s usually a big waste of time and doesn’t concern me. I don’t care how many Facebook and Twitter messages your social media team is putting out; I care only about generating a lot of media coverage for you to help you build a massive amount of credibility that you can leverage forever.

Bruce Serbin is president and CEO of Serbin Media, Inc. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press, League of American Communications Professionals and the Public Relations Society of America.

A PR fee for your thoughts?

By Donn Pearlman This post can originally be found here

Airlines, banks, and even Las Vegas hotels are all pounding the public with various fees for services that used to be free. Perhaps the public relations profession should consider adding surcharges, too.

Many hotels in Vegas tack on so-called “resort fees,” so I think the PR profession should have “last resort fees” to compensate for wasted time and tears of frustration.

Here are four you might consider:

We’ll have to chase our money fee: Automatically add 20 to 30 percent to the invoices of clients who you suspect will delay payments for 90 days or more. This fee is on top of any lawyer fees or court costs if you have to sue to collect money owed.

Unrealistic expectations fees (part I): An additional 10 to 20 percent will be tacked on to each month’s invoice for every three times you have to tell the client their routine, 300-word “new hire” news release is not going to be on the front page of The New York Times nor attract 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Unrealistic expectations fees (part II): A flat fee of $500 will be added to the invoice in any month during which you have to yet again explain the meaning of an editor’s prerogative to edit and the differences between a news story based on a press release and an actual paid advertisement for which the text you submitted is used verbatim. This usually occurs when the client again asks, “How come the (name of news organization) didn’t print the news release exactly as we wrote it?”

General aggravation fee: A 30 to 50 percent surcharge will be added to the invoices of clients who incessantly call, email, or text every 15 minutes to find out what’s happening with their project and argue each time that their cousin “who used to be in PR [in the 1970s] doesn’t think you’re doing it right.”

Donn Pearlman is an award-winning former Chicago broadcaster and journalist and is president ofDonn Pearlman & Associates Public Relations in Las Vegas. He says he has not charged any of the above fees—yet.