Monthly Archives: October 2013

Street smarts or book smarts?

streetsmarts
Many public relations students and new professionals ponder the question, “Should I go to graduate school or get more work experience?”

Essentially, the answer comes down to this: Which is more valuable?

The fact is, both are crucial to success. Let’s start with street smarts. PR, like journalism, is a deadline-driven environment. Public relations professionals often work in a fast-paced environment. On any given day, they are posting comments on their company’s social media sites, fielding questions from the news media, updating their website, and performing many other tasks.

In PR, sometimes you have to react quickly to events of the day. The more experience you have, the better your instincts for finding PR opportunities, as well as managing risks to your company’s reputation.

Experience prepares you to survive and thrive in this fast-paced environment. It gives you the wisdom, judgment and intuition needed to know when – and how – to react to events of the day.

Book smarts, or education, is equally important. In order to thrive in PR, you need both higher-order thinking and technical skills. By that we mean you need to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to analyze a situation, think through alternatives, and make sound decisions.

You also must develop specific technical skills, such as multimedia storytelling and writing for various types of platforms (i.e., the web, newsletters, etc.). A good education can help you become a better writer and editor, and help you learn to write for different audiences.

Education can also expose you to some of the best thinking in your profession.

The bottom line: PR and communications are constantly evolving. Both education and experience can play a huge role in your success.

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

Telling your story to investors or donors

present
Whether you’re a business or nonprofit, at some point you’ll need to tell your organization’s story to potential investors or donors. How do you most effectively do that?

Here are 3 communication tips that can help you tell your story:

  • Create a presentation that provides an overview of your business or nonprofit. Make sure your presentation is clearly organized into logical sections so that investors can easily follow. Begin with an overview, or roadmap, of your presentation. Your audience should always know where they are during your presentation. Your presentation should tell a story — such as what your organization does, who it serves, how it got started and how it has grown or evolved. Explain your vision for the future.
  • Develop a one-page backgrounder that describes what your company does, who purchases its products, etc. Include brief bios of your key management team and any advisors. Print up copies of your backgrounder, preferably in color. There’s something to be said for having an actual handout to give to potential investors or donors. But be sure to have a PDF available for download on your website.
  • Meet and greet. Face-to-face is still the best form of communication (in our humble opinion). There’s no better opportunity to connect with a potential investor or donor than by telling your story in person. Go into your meeting or networking event with a clear set of talking points that explains the advantage of investing in, or donating to, your organization.

Remember that through all of these materials you are telling a story about where you’ve been and where you’re going. If you’re trying to raise funds for a nonprofit, stress the advantages of donating. Will the donor get anything in return, such as recognition or awareness?

If you’re seeking capital for your business, make sure you include an overview of important financial information such as historical sales revenue, income, etc. as well as future sales/revenue projections.

Good luck with your pitch!

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Filed under DIY PR, Investor Relations, Presentations, Public Relations

Where does publicity (and PR) fit into the marketing mix?

Planned Obsolescence - New Product Stands Out
Marketing is more complicated than ever. From search engine optimization to content marketing and traditional advertising, opportunities to communicate key messages to your target audience abound.

Where does news media publicity fit into the marketing mix?

Just like social media, working with the news media is one way of getting your message out. A well-placed feature or news article can increase awareness of your organization or product.

Like other marketing vehicles, news media coverage can be very broad or segmented, depending on the media outlet.

In addition, so-called earned media coverage can help you build credibility and develop a strong brand. It doesn’t shout out, “Look at me!” in a way that other forms of promotion might. And media coverage can come at a lower financial cost than advertising, promotions, direct mail, etc.

But remember that as part of their story about your organization or product, reporters will often call customers or others in your industry for comment. What they say about you can shape the story.

That’s why good public relations — distinct from publicity — is so important. Ongoing communication with your customers, vendors, suppliers and others (keeping them informed of new developments and responding to their concerns) can help solidify a good reputation and ensure that when a journalist calls, others say positive things about your organization.

That is one of the best ways to market your organization.

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Filed under Branding, DIY PR, Marketing, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity, Social Media

Do you need a policy on media relations?

You may think that only larger organizations need to have a formal policy on media relations. But in reality, even smaller businesses and nonprofits can benefit from having a policy.

First, a policy clarifies procedures for working with the media. It specifies the contact person at your organization for the press, as well as who should serve as spokesperson for your organization in interviews.

For example, the contact person could be in marketing and the spokesperson could be the CEO. Or, one person could serve as both the main contact and the spokesperson.

We recommend having one point of contact so journalists or bloggers know whom to contact if they would like to speak with someone from your organization.

Second, a policy offers consistency. It helps ensure that people within your organization deliver a consistent message during media interviews. Having two people within the same organization provide a journalist with different answers in response to the same question gives an inconsistent message and shows a lack of coordination.

No matter what size your organization is, taking some time to develop a media policy is well worth the effort. It can help you develop a stronger brand in the long run, and prepare you for media coverage as your organization grows.

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Filed under DIY PR, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity

Are you a good spokesperson for your business?

spokesperson
Media coverage can generate greater awareness of your business and enhance your credibility (since you are being cited as an industry expert). But when the media calls, who should speak on behalf of your business?

If you have a designated communications person, that’s great. But if you’re running a small business, you probably don’t have someone dedicated just to media relations. And often, the media will want to interview you, the small business owner, anyway.

So, how do you prepare to meet the press? Follow these 3 rules to put your best foot forward:

Rule #1: Know your stuff. Because you own the business, you most likely already possess one of the most important characteristics of a good spokesperson: you know your business – and your industry – inside and out.

Rule #2: Know your audience. To whom are you speaking during the interview? You should know the audience of the media outlet. Is it a local television station that reaches the general public in your geographic region? Or is it an online trade publication that serves a more technical audience? Most importantly, know how the media outlet’s audience matches up with your customer base.

Rule #3: Know your message. What do you want your audience to remember? You should always go into a media interview with three key points that you want to communicate to your audience (and to the journalist). Emphasize those points throughout the interview by repeating them and coming back to them if necessary.

Follow these 3 rules and you should be on your way to representing your business well.

Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @MyNewsWizard.

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Filed under DIY PR, Leadership, Media Relations, Public Relations, Publicity

What would a PR agency do?

If you’ve ever sought media coverage of your organization, but don’t have a big budget to spend on public relations, you could always ask yourself, “What would a PR agency do?”

Well, here’s our answer:

First, they would try to find something about your business that interests a reporter. Something that is newsworthy. For example, they might tie your business to something already in the news, or find something truly interesting about your business.

Second, they would find the right reporter at your local or trade media outlet and send them a press release or an email summarizing the story about your business. They might include a list of people the reporter could interview at your business, or perhaps customers or others who have a relationship with your business.

Next, they would draft up a list of “talking points” for you to use during your interview. These are key messages about your business, product, event, etc. that you want to communicate to your audience.

Last, they might follow up with the reporter to see if he or she needs any further information for the story. So, for all you do-it-yourself business owners and nonprofit leaders out there who wear many hats, what else would you like to know?

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Filed under DIY PR, Entry Level PR, Media Relations, Press Release, Public Relations, Publicity