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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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?

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.

Should PR pros get accredited?

By Matt Wilson| This post can be found here

 

Of the Public Relations Society of America’s 21,000-plus members, only about 3,800, or 18 percent, hold the organization’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification. The number of professionals seeking the accreditation is on the decline, too, according to PRWeek.

That’s likely why the PRSA is re-examining the APR. In a Monday night email to members, Mickey G. Nall, chairman and CEO of PRSA for 2013, announced plans to work with a consulting firm and the Universal Accreditation Board to “enhance the profile and prestige of the APR credential” for the 50th anniversary of the credential next year.

“Rest assured, abandoning accreditation is not an option that PRSA is considering,” he added.

Yet plenty of PR pros have clearly decided accreditation isn’t something they need. To find out why—and whether they’re mistaken in that assumption—PR Daily talked to a handful of accredited and non-accredited PR professionals.

The reasons why 

Brian Lee, president of Revelation PR, Advertising and Social Media, says he got his APR credential in 2011 for a very simple reason: It “helps distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, to put it bluntly.”

“You can only earn the designation after you have proven mastery of areas such as research, ethics, media relations, crisis communications, and management,” he says.

Bad apples, such as the PR firm that helped Facebook plant negative news about Google back in 2011, can give the PR field a bad name, Lee adds. Accreditation can help separate those bad apples from the bunch.

“I’m hopeful that no APR-trained practitioner would ever agree to do something that unscrupulous, and that’s reason alone for the need for more accredited PR professionals,” he says.

Crystal Smith, director of integrated media for public relations at Strategic Communications and president of the Central New York chapter of PRSA, says it’s tough to explain to people outside the PR industry what PR professionals actually do.

“I relate the APR to a CPA for accountants,” she says. “You don’t need a CPA to do business as an accountant. But if a business or consumer has a choice, they’ll pick the CPA—especially for their more serious and significant accounting needs.”

Philip Chang, partner at the PR firm Carbon, says firms benefit from managers having APR credentials, as a shorthand way to prove the company means business and cares about PR and its history.

The reasons why not 

Chang says he can see the other side of the coin, though. To the untrained eye, one certification—APR—isn’t all that different from any other, such as the Business Marketing Association’s Certified Business Communicator credential.

“Where there are competing organizations, there are competing credentials and consequently, it diminishes the value of the credential,” he says.

Jenni Gritti of branding firm Wyatt Brand says she had every intention of gaining accreditation after graduating from college in 2009, but it’s become less and less important to her over time.

“APR at the end of my name doesn’t make anyone open my emails any faster, get back to me any quicker, or approach me with ideas and business any sooner,” she says. “My hard work makes a name for itself, and I personally don’t need the three letters at the end of my name to prove it.”

[RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Josh Cline, president and CEO of The Cline Group, seems to confirm Gritti’s suspicions.

“I find no need for anyone to be accredited,” he says. “Anyone can pass a test, but work experience, accomplishments and understanding how PR is only a subset of marketing and marketing needs to map to business objectives.”

Is it worth it? 

PRSA hasn’t explicitly tied APR to higher earnings for professionals, though the organization has done surveys that found the accreditation has been beneficial to those that have earned it. Most, 91 percent, view their APR as a source of pride, and large majorities have used theirs to develop professional skills (78 percent) and resolve ethical dilemmas (58 percent).

Even so, Bob Birge, director of marketing at Blue Pillar, says accreditation seems to have simply gotten buried under other priorities in the past decade or so.

“Those in hiring positions often are looking for the best people available, with the right background and at the right price,” he says. “Whether or not APR appears after their name is somewhat irrelevant.”

Smith, who earned her APR as soon as she was eligible—which is after one gains five years of experience—says the roadblock she sees most PR pros encounter is the cost involved in becoming accredited. An application fee, an online course fee, and the cost of textbooks are all part of the deal.

For that reason, she’s starting a scholarship program for professionals in Central New York.

What do you think, PR pros? Is there significant value in having APR after your name?

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

5 things not to expect from an unpaid intern

Don’t be surprised if they come in late or don’t give their all. Without being paid, they have less motivation to do either and can damage your business, argues this PR pro.

By Hannah Stacey

 

 

Ah, the PR internship.

That much-maligned rite of passage for anyone hoping to make their way in the communications world.

It’s a bit like that inevitable bin-dunking you get on your first day of junior school (just me, then?) or learning to drive: Painful and a bit degrading at the same time.

Hopefully you emerge from the whole sorry mess a better, more enlightened person (or, alternatively, a sniveling shadow of your former self).

Those bewildering weeks spent shackled to the photocopier, the tea-making, the media-list compiling, the general skivvying—and without being paid—that’s all a massive favor, isn’t it? No, not on the intern’s part, silly! It’s an act of kindness from PR agencies, giving career-thirsty 20-somethings extremely valuable lessons in the workings of the illustrious communications industry (and hot beverage-making too, of course).

If anything, these interns should pay PR agencies for such an enlightening induction into public relations, right?

Wrong.

My cheekiness aside, unpaid internships can potentially be harmful to your business. At the very least, you’re probably not going to get the very best. And they could prove detrimental to your business.

Unpaid interns can’t do it all

Here are five things you can’t expect from an unpaid intern.

1. They get out of bed on time. We aren’t all morning people. It takes a wildly irritating alarm clock and the comforting reassurance that Starbucks will be open to get me out of bed on time each morning—and I love my job. If you’re not paying someone to get to work on time every day, chances are they won’t.

While punctuality may seem nitpicky to some, rocking through the office door at 9:15 a.m. just isn’t cool; it massively de-motivates everyone on your team. Hitting the ground running at 9 a.m. sharp is crucial if you want to maintain a professional working environment.

2. They give it their all. Okay, so your new intern might start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but anyone who seriously expects them to arrive with a smile on their face, ready to bust a gut every morning when they’re not getting a dime in return, probably needs their head examined.

If you’re not offering your intern money or job stability for their efforts, you can’t really complain when they dedicate some of their working hours to finding someone else who will. When you pay interns, it’s not unreasonable to expect they’ll put a decent amount of effort in. The result? You’ve got someone who’s genuinely adding value to your business rather than sitting twiddling their thumbs.

3. They’re a team player. Your intern might be as altruistic as Robin Hood, but working day-in and day-out with people who are getting paid when they’re not earning a cent isn’t going to make them feel like part of the team. No matter how much they smile and laugh when you give them another media list to compile, chances are they’ll resent you. When everyone’s hard work is recognized and remunerated, they’ll feel more team-spirited and you’ll be free of office bad vibes.

4. They’ll hit the ground running. Having an “extra pair of hands” around the office sounds nice, but an intern is another person to manage (this is particularly true if they haven’t been through the company’s full selection process). I’ve said enough about how paying your interns will encourage them to work harder. It’s inevitable any intern will cost you in management time. Why not invest this time in someone who brings value to your business rather than someone who doesn’t feel like they owe you anything?

5. They’ll be the best of the best. Unpaid internships make the PR industry silly and elitist. Effectively they say: “You can only work for me if you (or your parents) are willing to fork out for food.” That’s nearly as absurd as saying: “You can only work for me if your surname begins with Q and your dad’s called Nigel.”

You’re shooting yourself and your business in the foot because, as we all know, being rich or influential doesn’t make one good at managing public reputation. Justin Bieber is walking proof of this. Give your interns enough to live off and you’ll likely attract the talented ones—not the ones whose mommy and daddy own a home in the countryside and let them crash at the penthouse in the city rent-free.

Not paying your interns is tempting, but will ultimately damage your business and prevent you from finding those hidden gems who could prove to be your best next hire. What are your thoughts? Are you pro or con paid internships?

Hannah Stacey is an account manager at integrated B2B marketing agency TopLine Communications. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.

20 pieces of advice every young professional should follow

After 30 years in the working world, a onetime ‘big-haired career rookie’ offers tips and tactics for surviving and succeeding in the workplace.

By Reba Hull Campbell This post can be found here

May 23 marked the 30th anniversary of my first day in the working world.  Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee

That day in 1983, I started my job as a receptionist on Capitol Hill after a local congressman hired me, sight unseen, over the phone three weeks earlier. I had a head full of big permed hair, big expectations, and little idea of what I was supposed to do as an employed and responsible adult.

Looking back, I didn’t have specific career goals in mind at that point, but I did know what I was good at and the type of work I wanted to pursue. Here, 30 years later, I’ve been fortunate to have a rewarding career that gave me 10 great years on Capitol Hill and took me back to my home state of South Carolina for jobs that combined my love of writing, communications, and politics with my curiosity about people and places.

In 1983, I never dreamed my work would give me the chance to travel with a congressional delegation to Taiwan; raise money for causes I believe in; lobby the legislature and Congress for millions of dollars; ride in a fire truck; bike the Golden Gate Bridge; get published in national magazines; pick tobacco; work with great South Carolina mayors; have my picture taken with famous people like Tip O’Neill and Mister Rogers; visit 38 states; work on national, state, and local campaigns; stand at the podium in the White House press room; or be in the State House dome the day the Confederate flag came down.

I’ve figured out a few things along the way that I wish someone had told that 22-year-old with big hair walking into her first day on the job. Maybe the thoughts below will help others just starting out. I write this with huge thanks to all the bosses, mentors, friends, family, and colleagues I have had the privilege to work with and learn from over these 30 years.

1. Establish your personal brand. Decide what you want your reputation in the workplace to be, and let your actions define you. Keep promises, and make deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver. Avoid behavior in your personal life that could hurt your professional life (even more true today with all the risks of social media in the mix). Remember that details count, especially when getting the details right sets you apart from others. 

2. Seek out a mentor. I’m guessing many busy professionals may say, “I don’t have time to be a mentor,” but most mentor relationships happen naturally rather than being established formally. Be on the lookout for them. I bet my best mentors probably don’t know they even served in that role.

3. Keep up with the news every day. Read the paper, check news websites and blogs, listen to NPR on the way to work. Know what’s in the news about your organization or industry before your boss or client asks.

4. Get away from your desk, and walk outside. Even if it’s just to walk around the block or grab a sandwich, at some point during the day your brain needs natural light and a whiff of fresh air, and your body needs to stretch.

5. Plan the work before you work the plan. Having no plan gets you nowhere. Plans will change either by force or circumstance. Be flexible, but have a plan regardless of whether it’s a work project, a trip, a major purchase, or an important life decision.

6. Don’t pass up a chance to learn. Find out what your boss or leaders in your profession are reading (books, professional publications, websites, etc). Seek out professional development opportunities; pay for them yourself, if necessary. Join professional organizations, and get involved.

7. Go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Your boss is solving problems all day. Make her life easier by presenting a solution when you present a problem. Even if it’s not the solution that ultimately solves the problem, it keeps your boss from dreading the sight of you at the door.

8.Write thank-you and follow-up notes (handwritten, not emailed). Collect cards from people you meet at events, in meetings, or just out and about. A handwritten “nice to meet you” note will set you apart and help the people you meet remember you. Technology is good, but the personal touch still matters.

9. Travel any chance you get. Travel to small towns and big cities across the country and around the world. Don’t put off travel. You’ll never tell your grandchildren about that great trip you didn’t take because you were too busy at work.

10. Be interested and inquisitive. Ask good questions, and ask them often. Young professionals have a great deal to offer a work environment. Speak up when you have something to offer, but remember to balance your enthusiasm with senior-level colleagues’ experience.

11. Remember that everyone carries their own sack of rocks. You never know what type of personal issues the co-worker who missed a deadline is dealing with at home or with his family.

12. Create your own personal style. That doesn’t mean wearing flip-flops in a formal corporate environment. However, you can set yourself apart from the pack with a twist on the ordinary. To each his own, but just find your own.

13. Stay in the loop, but avoid the gossip. Be a “boundary spanner”—someone who is respected and trusted by people in all parts and at all levels of the organization.

14. Look for “reverse mentoring” opportunities. You can be a resource to your older colleagues. Seasoned professionals can learn a great deal from their younger peers.

15. Looking busy doesn’t equal being productive. The co-worker who crows about his heavy workload and long hours is probably much less productive than the one who is organized and prioritizes his days.

16. A good editor will make you shine. Don’t look at having your writing edited as you would look at a teacher correcting a paper. Editing is a collaborative process, and there’s always room for improvement in your writing.

17. Don’t come to work sick. No one appreciates the stuffy-nosed martyr. That’s why you’re afforded sick days.

18. Cultivate contacts outside work.
 Your next job will probably come from someone you know through church, nonprofits, alumni groups, friends, and professional organizations.

19. Take risks. It’s OK to mess up occasionally. No one can expect perfection. You can often learn more from mistakes than successes. Yes, really, you can.

20. Strive for work/life balance. The “balance” will probably fluctuate daily, but creative outlets, exercise, and hobbies make you a more valuable (and saner) employee.

Reba Hull Campbell promotes the interests of South Carolina cities and towns as deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. She can be reached a rebahcampbell@gmail.com.

Photo  credited to PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee.

How To Get An Internship

 

This post can be found here

 

Lauren Berger, 27, has become an authority on landing internships. She runs a website,Internqueen.com, and just published a book on the subject: All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building a Resume, Making Connections and Gaining Job Experience. But she started out as a clueless college freshman at Florida State in Tallahassee, whose only work experience was waitressing at the Red Lobster, and a minimum wage job at The Limited II. Berger’s own tale of landing her first internships with zero connections, offers excellent pointers for students who want to get started on the internship track. It worked for Berger. She did 15 internships while in college.

1. Cold calling can work. Berger’s saga started in 2002 when her pushy mother, who had just seen a “Today” show segment about the importance of internships for college students, called and said she had to get one. It was the spring of Berger’s freshman year. Berger headed to Florida State’s career office, but was told that she needed to be a junior or senior if she wanted help. “They said, ‘come back and see us in three years,’” she recalls.

2. Take immediate action when you get a lead. Thinking it was a long shot, Berger did some more Googling, for help putting together her materials. She sent them in that evening. The next morning, her phone rang at 8am. “I thought I did something wrong,” she recalls. The coordinator was so impressed by Berger’s promptness, she offered her an interview. “She said, ‘you don’t know how long students take to send in their materials,’” recalls Berger.

3. Prepare for the interview. Before her meeting, Berger poured over the company’s website, including the firm’s mission statement and executive biographies. “Look for things you have in common with the people who run the company,” she advises. “If you run into the head of the company on the elevator the first day, greet him.”  Berger recommends incorporating buzzwords from the mission statement into your interview.

4. Ask what the internship would entail.Don’t use the interview as an information-gathering session about the interviewer. Instead, Berger suggests applicants ask, “can you describe a day as an intern at your company.”

5. Say you’re ready to start immediately. Especially for unpaid internships, employers often tell applicants they can take time to think about whether they want the job. Berger says you should break in and say, “I know I want this.” Berger’s eagerness and persistence came through and she got the Zimmerman internship.

6. Volunteer to be the company’s first intern. Berger’s second internship, in the summer of 2002, was also prompted by her mother. “She called and said all her friends’ kids were going to New York to intern,” says Berger. But Berger had no contacts in New York. She asked the Zimmerman internship coordinator for advice, and the woman helped her use the firm’s media guide. This time Berger wanted to work for a publication. But she got rejections or no responses from half a dozen big magazines like Us Weeklyand Seventeen.

Finally she stumbled on a theater publication called Back Stage. Berger’s cold call reached the editor in chief, but the woman said they didn’t hire interns, and wanted to get Berger off the phone, insisting Back Stage didn’t hire interns. Berger persisted. “I said, ‘I can be your first intern,’” she says. The editor was persuaded.

7. Make a dream list of companies where you want to work. Once Berger had a few internships under her belt, she was ready to shoot for a job that focused on her interest in celebrities. She started looking up her favorite stars and checking which PR firms represented them. “I saw most of them were coming from five different companies,” she recalls. Berger put those firms and five others on a list that included internship coordinator contacts and deadlines. She went through her list methodically. One of her top choices, BWR, expressed interest, but said she had to interview in person. So Berger accepted an offer for a part-time internship with a boutique PR firm that agreed to interview her on the phone. When she got to L.A., she interviewed at BWR and that internship came through as well.

8. Follow up. Berger recommends checking in about your application two weeks after you have send it. Write a short note asking whether your materials arrived and offering additional information. If you applied through a website, call the company and ask to speak to the internship coordinator. If you can’t get through, send an email to the coordinator.

9. Ask for a letter of recommendation two weeks before the end of your internship.Berger suggests you leave every internship carrying one or more letters of recommendation, which can help you land your next internship. Her advice: get the process going two weeks before your job ends and offer to write the recommendation yourself. “Say, ‘look, I know you’re extremely busy. I’d love to get a recommendation from you. I’ll write one and you can take a look at it.’”

10. Work hard and send handwritten thank-you notes after your internship concludes.Berger says she plugged away at each of her internships. During down time at her summer 2005 Fox television job, she and another intern reached out to eight senior executives and asked for informational interviews. Six said yes, and Berger was able to add those contacts to her network. After each internship concluded, Berger says she wrote to her employers by hand, thanking them for the experience. She kept copious notes of all her colleagues and superiors, and sent snail mail notes to each one.  Her rule about staying in touch: email is fine for subsequent contact, but do it three times a year, in the fall, spring and summer.

One of the most intriguing things about Berger’s story is how far she got with cold calling, diligence and sheer persistence. Since she started as an intern back in 2002, she has tirelessly built a network of thousands of contacts. But she got her first internships without a single connection.

Post script: After college, Berger used her Los Angeles connections to land a job at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills. At that point, she wanted to start a business helping students find internships. She talked about it to everyone she met through the job, including producer Marshall Herskovitz (Thirtysomething, Traffic, Blood Diamond), who wound up funding her company with a 12% stake. Berger charges $100 to companies to post internships for a semester, and $250 for a year. She says she has 800 clients and she also does multiple speaking engagements. Internqueen specializes in fashion, PR, marketing, entertainment and production companies in New York City and Los Angeles.

13 Books Every PR Pro Should Rread

By Brad Phillips-  This post can be found here

 

 

 

I’ve read dozens of books that focus on media training, crisis management, body language, and public speaking. Many are quite good; a few have become favorites.

Below are some of my all-time favorites. This isn’t a comprehensive list, as there are surely great books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. So if you have favorites that are not on this list, please leave them in the comments section below.

Public speaking

You Are The Message” by Roger Ailes: A true classic chock full of smart thinking and “ah-ha!” moments. Before Roger Ailes was hired to run Fox News Channel, he was a high-profile communications consultant. (He coached Ronald Reagan in 1984 before the second presidential debate that cemented his re-election.) If you want to learn how to be a more effective public speaker, this is a perfect place to begin. This book was originally released in 1989, but it’s still as fresh and relevant as anything being published today (with the exception of a few pages that offer a rather outdated view of women in the workplace).

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery” by Garr Reynolds: Many communications consultants advise their clients not to use PowerPoint. I disagree with that absolutist stance, because the problem isn’t the tool, but the use of that tool. Garr Reynolds gets that, and strikes the perfect balance by offering a visually stunning guide that helps presenters design minimalistic PowerPoint slides that enhance presentations and reinforce verbal points. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book changed the definition of “best practices” for presentations that use PowerPoint.

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story” by Jerry Weissman: This classic offers a detailed, almost technical, guide to public speaking. This is the type of book you’ll want to highlight and come back to before every speech you deliver. Although you should read it cover to cover, you’ll eventually get more out of it as a must-have reference title. Mr. Weissman’s examples come almost exclusively from the world of high-tech IPO road shows, but anyone in any sector can learn just as much as his tech clients.

Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun: This book isn’t a public speaking book, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s not particularly granular or tactical—you won’t find much here about proper posture, slide design, or ways to begin a speech, for example. Instead, this book focuses on some of the bigger issues speakers get wrong, such as failing to maintain the audience’s attention, work a tough room, or manage their own fear. Oh, and it’s the funniest book about public speaking I’ve ever read. (Read my full review here.)

Body language

What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People” by Joe Navarro: Reading body language is notoriously difficult. Sure, some “tells” are more certain than others, but even rather obvious tells usually require other, complementary tells—known as clusters—in order to accurately assess their meaning. That’s why I so thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is filled with all of the responsible caveats but is still an easy read full of fascinating tidbits. Navarro rests his conclusions on the most recent science, but impressively avoids the pitfall of weighing down the book with dense prose. (Read my full review here, and five body language tips from Navarro’s bookhere.)

The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Barbara and Allan Pease: A terrific starter’s guide to body language that covers all of the basics—gestures, eye contact, and deceit signals—and some unexpected material, including the hidden meaning of certain seating arrangements, physical space, and courtship displays. An easy-to-read and highly accessible book.

Crisis management 

Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control” by Christopher Lehane, Mark Fabiani, and Bill Guttentag: Preparing in advance for crisis is more important today than ever before. This book helps readers do that by detailing “Ten Commandments” of damage control, the purpose of which are to help restore trust to companies in crisis. But the greatest strength of this book lies in its case studies. The authors went into great detail on numerous recent scandals—ranging from those affecting Toyota, British Petroleum, Penn State University, Tiger Woods, baseball’s steroid users, and a few politicians. (Read my full review here, and an excerpt here.)

RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Damage Control: The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management” by Eric Dezenhall and John Weber: This book got a lot of attention upon its original release, as it gleefully tore much of the prevailing crisis communications “wisdom” to shreds. Among other memorable moments, the authors discuss why “getting all of the information out early” is often impossible, why sometimes companies have to do reporters’ jobs for them, and why the oft-cited Tylenol “best practices” crisis response is badly outdated. If you like hearing a smartly argued counterargument, this book’s for you.

The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media In the Digital Age” by Jane Jordan-Meier: Jane’s straightforward prose, expert sourcing, relevant data, and instructive case studies make this detailed book an easy read. Her international perspective (she cites cases in Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United States) makes clear just how universal these crisis communications truths are. (You can read excerpts here.)

Media training 

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath: The Heath Brothers practice what they preach. Two years after reading their book (for the first time), I still remember many of the anecdotes they shared; those case studies make their underlying and more substantive points even stickier. Their SUCCESs formula is an easily-remembered way to create more effective messages. This is not a “media training book,” but I’ve included it in this section since much of their advice can be applied brilliantly to your media interactions.

The Sound Bite Workbook” by Marcia Yudkin: In her short workbook, Marcia Yudkin offers some terrific advice to help spokespersons create the all elusive “sound bite.” You can use it to create captivating quotes for the media, presentations, website taglines, and marketing messages. This book is only available for the Kindle—and at $2.99, it’s a steal.

Your Public Best: The Complete Guide to Making Successful Public Appearances in the Meeting Room, on the Platform, and on TV” by Lillian Brown: This book, which was updated in 2002, is a bit outdated. Its strongest section—about clothing, makeup, and hair—predates the era of HDTV. So why am I recommending this book anyway? Because Brown’s section on how to dress, apply makeup, and wear your hair is still the strongest on the market. If you plan on making television appearances (or serve someone who will), buy this book and read the first 60 pages. (You can preview some of Ms. Brown’s work here.)

The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview” by Brad Phillips: OK, this is my book. I’m not going to review it myself, because I have an obvious conflict of interest. The book is organized as 101 two-page lessons and covers message development, media interviewing, body language and attire, and crisis communications. I hope you’ll consider adding it to your book collection. (You can read independent reviews here and find free sample lessons here.)

Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He tweets @MrMediaTraining and blogs at Mr. Media Training, where a version of this story first appeared.

A Hollywood Publicist’s Six Tips for How to Build a Lasting Movie Star

Talent is God-given, and demands humility; fame is Man-given, and demands gratitude — especially to a publicist. For 40 years, Susan Patricola has seen Hollywood fame both flow and ebb. As press agent to current stars like Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, she is especially qualified to assess what puts (and keeps) you on the right lists — like our roundup of the 100 Most Valuable Stars, for example. Vulture recently caught up with Patricola at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, where she offered up a few insights from her decades in the red-carpeted trenches. She may not pick her clients’ roles, but her advice on how they should act when off the set is just as important to figuring out how to make it to the A-list — and not fall off.

1. Train them to keep an eye on their mouths.
The first step for up and comers is media training. Without it, they should not be allowed anywhere near a reporter, because, as Patricola insists, today, “nothing is off the record.” If a publicist has done their job well, there will come a point when everyone is hanging onto every word that the client says. And that’s when you really have to be careful. “For Jeremy Renner, when The Hurt Locker came out, we were at every award show,” says Patricola. “And at one, he was having a private conversation, but someone overheard it and printed it. You have to be aware.”

2. Know the TV talk show landscape.
Generally speaking, which morning talk show you see a star on has less to do with the star and more to do with the movie they are plugging. For example, ABC’s Good Morning America “gets the lighter movies, and the comedies,” while NBC’s Today “has some weight behind it” and goes for more serious, dramatic films. Late-night talk shows, of course, have distinct demographics: Kimmel is more popular with young men 18 to 34 (which is likely why you see Ben Stiller hyping his bawdy comedy The Watch there); Leno does better in the middle parts of the country; Letterman is more popular on the coasts, etc. But which ones her clients appear on, Patricola says, has as much to do with personal chemistry between guest and host as the targeted audience. If you have a client new to the circuit, take stock of their conversational strengths and weaknesses and try to match them with a host who might best play off of them, or vice versa. This ineffable quality matters so much, Patricola says, because the late-night couches “often insist on exclusivities” — that is, doing Late Show With David Letterman means your client likely won’t be doing The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and also won’t get a second chance elsewhere if they tank their first appearance.

3. Strike surgically, don’t carpet-bomb.
The mistake many publicists make with new movie stars, Patricola says, is trying to get as wide a reach as possible, mistaking breadth for depth. Take a gorgeous, waifish actress in her early twenties with just a few movies under her belt: “We could put you on the cover of Shape magazine in a bathing suit, but that would be a terrible idea, because while it would get more impressions, they would be the wrong impressions. There’s a big difference between being photographed on the beach in Santa Monica for Self, and getting Mario Testino to shoot you on the French Riviera for Vogue.

4. Don’t always be afraid of tough questions.
The knee-jerk rule of publicity is that you should never let a journalist ask a client too many probing questions. But even though the reflexive approach for some publicists is to steer toward puff pieces, you should not be afraid of in-depth coverage. With big enough stars, “Their joy lies in the work; they don’t want to talk about making their last movie,” Patricola explains. “So that leaves their personal life, which they don’t want to talk about either, and the ideas that the movies are about, which they do.” Say yes less frequently, and reserve those yeses for places that will also devote column inches to exploring the ideas the celebrity wants to address — The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair. There, the star can muse on the things they want to while gaining the imprimatur that comes with the publication.

If your star is a little quirkier, this approach can also work well … with the right person. Know your star. If they can handle an in-depth piece, let them go for it. In 2005, Patricola agreed to let Phoenix be interviewed by the notoriouslyprobing Lynn Hirschberg for the New York Times leading up to Walk the Line.Addiction, recovery, and deeply held personal religious beliefs are all commonly avoided in polite conversation and celebrity profiles — which is why they made for a riveting read in the penetrating (and glowing) interview that resulted. “After I put Joaquin with Lynn Hirschberg for that New York Times profile, [his William Morris Endeavor agent] Patrick Whitesell said to me, ‘You’re either a genius, or insane.’ But I knew Lynn, and I knew Joaquin, and I knew they’d get along great.”

5. When an actor can’t follow the rules, adjust the rules.
Some actors, no matter how much media training they receive, are simply intractably bad interviews. In that case, Patricola pairs them with publications with which they can’t fail, often because the interview isn’t really about them. “You put them with someone who’s not going to skewer them, like InStylemagazine,” she says, adding, with mock enthusiasm, “‘Show us what’s in your closet!’”

And what about an actor who can’t stay out of the clubs and is constantly popping up in unseemly paparazzi photos? “I never say, ‘You can’t party anymore,’ but I have told clients that there are certain places and events where they just can’t go. You have to find your space within fame,” she says.

6. Tell your star to be a star.
“Clients sometimes don’t want to look the part of a movie star, but if you want to be a movie star, you have to care about appearances. You can look good, or not. That’s truly your choice. But do we want an actor who looks like he hasn’t taken a bath? Why should people care about you if you don’t care? Look like you care.”

Even more important? Don’t speak ill about the downsides of fame. Yes, celebrity comes with its downsides — being unable to go out for groceries or dinner without being hounded by paparazzi — but dedicated fans can’t relate to that, and never will. All they see is someone glamorous and wealthy, and there’s a form of aspirational adulation there that you shouldn’t try to quash, no matter how well-intentioned you may be in trying to show people we’re all the same. “People want to revere their stars,” says Patricola. “I tell clients, ‘They don’t want your money, but they do want to revere you for a certain amount of time; let them. They can’t do it if you’re whining all the time.’”

9 Things Every Publicist Does (Differently) That You Should Do, Too!

By:  Post can be found here

People will ask me all the time, “Why do I need a publicist?” If you have to ask the question, chances are you probably need one. Why? Because there are too many stories, too many angles, and too many opportunities you might miss by not knowing the rules of the game, so to speak. Authors, speakers, small business owners (turned authors) often launch headlong into their marketing campaign with little or no regard for the steps and the process of getting media. Some authors stumble into success after success, and that’s great, but it’s often not the norm. Why? Because in our zeal to tell the world about our story, we often stumble over our own efforts. We send pitches that are too long, or send them to the wrong person. Or we get a media person on the phone and fumble our elevator pitch. All of these things can rob authors of the chance to get some coverage for their book .

Over the years, a lot has changed in publicity. Players have come and gone, pitching windows have narrowed, and with so many stories vying for airtime, your 15 minutes of fame often seems like 15 seconds. To be successful, not just once but continually, you need to understand how publicity people view each facet of their job (and the pitch) and how they garner the media they do. Generally it’s not one thing, it’s a collection of tasks publicity people do over and over that gets them traction on a story.

Let’s look at some of the things we do on an ongoing basis and how you might be able to apply them to your own marketing efforts:

    1. Think like a journalist: This is probably the most important and the most difficult. When I say “think like a journalist” what I mean is thinking objectively and not thinking about yourself, your book, or your pitch because those don’t matter. The only thing a journalist cares about is “Will this interest my readers.” If you can work using that objectivity, you’ll gain greater access to media, both online and off, than you could have ever imagined.
    1. Know the rules: When I say rules, I mean not just the rules of your industry but the rules of pitching. When to pitch, who to pitch, how to pitch. A good publicist knows this, updates her information constantly (because media changes, moves, etc.) and lives and dies by these rules. Why? Get a reporter angry and you’ll see what I mean. Turn in a story late and see how much media coverage you end up getting. A lot of authors think they are special and different, and the rules don’t apply to them. Yes, you are special and different and yes, the rules still apply to you.
    1. Read outside of your market: They say that, eventually, everything ties into everything. This may or may not be true for all industries, but when it comes to promotion you’d be surprised how much a ripple over there can affect what you’re doing here. Reading outside of your market, mostly related to changes affecting other markets, serves a couple of purposes. First, the importance of creativity when you’re pitching can’t be overstated and sometimes to be creative, you have to look through your world using a different lens. By digging into and outside of your market, you’ll be able to gain access to information that could affect your message long-term, or perhaps give your brain enough juice and insight to bring a new set of ideas that will create some great pitches.
    1. Google Alerts: You can’t possibly follow every thread of discussion around your topic, or know where and when it’s being covered, but you do need to stay up on all of it; that’s where Google Alerts comes in. Yes, there are more elaborate tracking services, but Google Alerts is a great way to know when and where your topic is being featured. Also important, you’ll see who’s getting quoted and which media is covering your industry.
    1. Understand the importance of local media: Many times clients want to overlook local media. It’s not as glamourous or as big as national media. Well, that may be true but there’s gold in your back yard. We love local campaigns and local media loves their regional “celebrities.” If you haven’t done a local outreach you should. Additionally, network with local media by going to media events like Press Clubs (which anyone can register for). You never know where this will lead you, and you never know where your local contact may wind up on the media food chain. Years ago I worked with a producer for a local (small) Los Angeles station. We stayed in touch over the years and now she’s one of the head producers at CNN.
    1. Local vs. National: And speaking of local publicity — local media loves a local angle on a national story. If you can hook your book into something that’s going on nationally, then I suggest you pitch it to your local market. Good publicity people are always on the look-out for regional tie-ins, they make for great media!
    1. Media leads: I subscribe to several media leads services and I scan them, not just for existing clients, but to note trends nationally. Doing a quick scan of leads is a fantastic way to see what’s piquing the media interest. As you start doing that, you will also find that you’re responding to more and more stories because you’re starting to see tie-ins that you may not have seen previously (which is helped along by #3).
    1. Realize the importance of a subject line: I know that the topic of subject lines in email pitching has been covered (a lot), but I can’t state enough how important it is or how much time a good publicist can spend agonizing over it. Don’t just willy-nilly point and click your way through your media pitching — subject lines are extremely significant, and most publicity people I know spend a lot of time crafting, redrafting, editing and tweaking them. You should, too.
    1. It’s all about relationships: Once you start getting media, remember that staying in touch with the person who interviewed you is important. Find them on LinkedIn, thank them for the story they did on you (I still send hand-written thank you notes) and then stay in touch a few times a year. Perhaps you can comment on a story they did or send them a quick update or a copy of your latest book. If you can become a reliable media source for someone, you’ll likely always be in their rolodex even when they move on. Just like the example I gave above, media can move, and if you’re lucky, your information will keep moving with them.

Being a publicist is more than just knowing how to craft a snazzy email, it’s a process and an ongoing effort. If done right, you can really pull in a lot of great mentions, features and even reviews. Building media relationships takes a while, and there are no shortcuts, but if done effectively, these relationships can grow and flourish throughout your career. And remember: Media loves media. The more you get, the more you’ll get. Know the rules, honor the rules and perhaps if you’re lucky, the media will beat a path to your door.