Monthly Archives: September 2013

Building media relationships…


For all of you businesspeople, fundraisers, sales and communications professionals out there, you know that in order to be successful you must do one thing really well: Build relationships.

The same is true in generating media coverage for your organization. It takes time to build relationships with journalists. But when you do, the rewards can be great. Here’s some advice to start building relationships with journalists:

Learn who covers your industry for your regional and trade media. Local print reporters often have so-called “beats” such as business, health and fitness, arts, sports, and so on. Find out who is writing about your area of expertise and follow their stories.

While some television stations have beat reporters, most broadcast media rely more on “general assignment” reporters — meaning that one day they may be covering a court room trial and the next they may be covering a fire. Regardless, be familiar who covers what topics in your local media. The same holds true for trade media. Know the major trade media outlets in your industry. Keep an eye out for who covers topics that relate to your business.

Once you have identified journalists of interest, read or watch their stories and follow them on Twitter. Keep an eye on the kinds of stories they cover and what topics interest them. This will help you tailor your media outreach efforts toward the right reporter.

Building relationships in any endeavor takes time. Begin the process with reporters by passing along items of interest, providing information about your industry, and letting them know that you’re willing to offer comment on breaking news in your industry.

Over time, the journalists you reach out to may call on you to provide context on developments in your industry. In the process, you will not only build relationships, but awareness of your organization and its efforts.



Filed under DIY PR, Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity, Social Media

3 questions to consider before taking that new PR job

Are you an entry-level or early stage communications professional looking to start your career or move to another job?

We’ve gathered our wisdom on a few items you should consider before jumping at that job opportunity. All of these items can affect your day-to-day activities — and your job satisfaction.

1. How does senior management view communication? It helps to know as much as possible about how the top brass views the role of communications. Do they see public relations as playing a strategic role in the organization’s growth and success, or do they see communications as a supporting role in the company’s larger sales or marketing efforts? Similarly, find out as much as you can about how management views media relations and social media. Are they willing to meet the press and put themselves (or the organization) out there on social media? Do they see value in these tools?

2. What is the organizational culture? This is basically the day-to-day environment in which you will work. Does the organization spend a lot of time planning things in advance, or does it act more spontaneously in response to events of the day? There is always an element of spontaneity in public relations — sometimes, you have to react or respond quickly to events. You have to be nimble and seize the right opportunities to obtain media coverage or get your message out to your audience. However, spending all of your time reacting and little time planning can eventually result in burn out — and loss of quality control.

3. What is the communications mix? Does the workload fit well within your skill set, yet still provide growth opportunities? Ideally, you should be familiar with the main communication tools the organization uses to reach its various constituencies. For example, if video production is a key component of the organization’s communications mix, you should be familiar with how to write a solid script and visualize a story. However, you should have opportunities to learn new skills. Along these lines, consider whether you will have a mentor who can help you learn the industry and navigate you through the organization, or if you will be left to your own devices to learn the ropes.

There isn’t any right or wrong answer to any of these questions. How you answer depends on your work style, how you learn on the job, and what makes for a satisfying work experience. Good luck!

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Filed under Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity

5 steps to get press coverage

Getting media coverage for your business or nonprofit can be difficult. Newsrooms can receive hundreds of press releases per day. How do you make yours stand out? Follow these five steps to help you get that much-coveted coverage.

1. Pick something you want to promote. Is it a product, event or cause? Is it something happening within your organization or some action you are taking?

2. Decide if you want press coverage in your local or industry media. Are you selling your product locally, or promoting something that is happening locally? Or does your outreach effort extend beyond your local region? Are you selling to the general public, or to a specialty audience (i.e., electronics manufacturers)? For specialty audiences, you’ll probably want to focus more on trade media outlets.

3. Find a news angle for your story. That means finding something to interest a journalist in your product, event, issue, etc. – whatever you are trying to publicize. Think about what makes your product or event different. For example, is your product new and does it solve a problem? Are you using some unusual materials or process to make it? Is there an interesting story behind your product? Or, are you hiring new employees (and contributing to the economy in your region)? Are you donating something valuable (including your time) to a community group? (A brief aside: For those wanting more, our main application points you to 17 different news angles – or ways to make news for your organization). When finding a news angle for your story, remember two criteria: First, your news item must be of interest to people in your region (if you want local coverage) or industry (if you want trade press). Second, you should be able to describe the effect or impact of your product, event, issue, action, etc. on your region or industry.

4. Summarize your story. You can do this in an e-mail (or better yet, a press release). Include what is happening, who is involved, where and when the story takes place, and why it is meaningful.

5. Send your story to a journalist. Send your summary or press release via e-mail to a journalist at your local or trade media who covers your region or industry. There are lots of media lists out there, but to make things easy, if you have a media outlet in mind (local or trade), look up their website and find the contact information for submitting a story. You can always call the main news desk, tell them what your story is about and ask who you should contact about covering the story. Follow up within a day or so to make sure the journalist received the info.

Write to us at and let us know if this helps!

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Filed under DIY PR, Media Relations, My News Wizard Proprietary Technology, News Angles, Press Release, Public Relations, Publicity

The Art of the Sound Bite

press conference

Being quotable can earn you a top spot on a journalist’s list of go-to sources.

So, what makes a good sound bite?

Ideally, it should be something your audience can remember. That’s why making a good comparison or conjuring up a strong visual image can make for a compelling sound bite.

But you also want to make your point. A good sound bite should deliver your message in a powerful and easy-to-understand way.

A quick caveat: If you make a comparison, make sure it is a valid and appropriate one. It must apply to the situation — not be too dramatic or overstated, and certainly not something inappropriate to the situation.

The next time you prepare for that big media interview, here are some tips for mastering the art of the sound bite:

Keep your responses short. Television news packages can run on average from about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Within that time, the reporter needs to explain the story and provide reaction. That means your air time may only be 10 seconds or less. Even in print and online, your comments are likely to be given no more than one or two sentences in a story.

Practice before the interview. Always go into an interview with three key messages that you want to deliver. Write down your messages and then refine what you want to say. Ask a colleague to conduct a mock interview with you so you can practice delivering the responses and thinking on your feet when the reporter asks follow-up questions.

Don’t talk too fast. Talk slowly enough so that the reporter can get everything down. Longer, complex sentences can be hard for busy print reporters to write down, especially if you continue talking after you’ve expressed the thought. A television audience can miss your point as well if you talk to fast and do not speak clearly.

The media will return to you for comment if you can provide pithy, succinct quotes that capture the essence of something, and you will be representing your organization well if you are delivering a key message at the same time.

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Filed under Crisis Communications, Media Relations, Public Relations

A recipe for getting your message out

The Daily News

What is the right mix of social and traditional media to use in public relations outreach?

Should you forgo news media in favor of communicating through social media? Can a tweet or Facebook post replace a news release?

The answer comes down to one simple factor: reaching your audience.

PR, marketing and communications professionals all want to deliver specific messages to their audience. They then want their audience to understand, remember, and act on those messages.

Will you reach every potential customer, donor, stakeholder, business partner, taxpayer, etc. using just one channel of communications? Probably not.

Do most organizations have the reach they need on social media to communicate with the constituencies that are important to them? How effectively you reach your audience via social media depends in large part on the size and composition of your following, as well as your ability to get retweets, likes and other interactions. Reaching an audience through social media can be hit or miss, but when you do, social media gives you the ability to interact with your audience online.

Traditional news media outlets still have the audience and credibility. Look at the number of Twitter followers for CNN Breaking News (over 13 million), The New York Times (more than 9 million), Wall Street Journal (greater than 3 million), and the Washington Post (over 2 million). That does not include the number of people who read these news outlets in print and online.The best communications programs use a mix of vehicles to communicate.

So the next time you’re looking to get the word out, go ahead and throw some social and traditional media into your communications blender, mix, and serve.

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Filed under Media Relations, Public Relations, Social Media

When a crisis unexpectedly hits…

Can you really prepare in advance for a crisis? A crisis can occur unexpectedly and take many forms — financial issues, industrial accidents, community opposition, employee actions, and many others.

Business and nonprofit leaders must know how to react in a crisis, especially if the crisis is public. In fact, how you respond to a crisis can be more important than the crisis itself. But a crisis presents unique communication challenges. Events happen quickly. The pace of communications can be swift.

Your organization should be the best source of information about what is happening. Honesty and transparency should be your guiding communication principles. You can anticipate how you might react in a crisis. Our latest info-graphic provides tips for communicating in a crisis. Keep this handy and hopefully, you will never need it.

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Filed under Crisis Communications, Leadership, Media Relations, Public Relations, Social Media

Presenting financial information

Whether you’re pitching your business to an investor, proposing a sponsorship to a donor or reporting financial results to regulators, you must know how to succinctly summarize complex financial data. Here are five tips:

1. Know your audience. Always start with a higher level overview, then base the rest of your presentation on your audience. More technical audiences, such as investors, may expect more detailed financial information. Less technical audiences, such as the general public, will only want major highlights.

2. Use visuals. More specifically, use pie charts to illustrate percentages or proportions. Use line graphs to illustrate financial trends.

3. Compare results. For example, you can compare your financial or operating results to a previous year, a forecast, or another organization in your industry or region. This provides context and aids in understanding.

4. Break down your information into digestible units. For example, if you are running a hospital, present dollars spent per patient; a school would present per pupil spending, etc. Businesses often do something similar to this when they present the cost of purchasing an item on a per day, per week or per month basis.

5. Don’t get too complicated. Focus on major takeaways – what you want the audience to remember.

Financial Planning and Review of Year End Reports

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Filed under Media Relations, Public Relations, Social Media