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Advice for PR and Journalism Students

Advice for PR Journalism StudentsI recently heard from an old friend (a former CMO) who is now a lecturer at a university up in British Columbia. She dropped me a line to let me know she was happy to see I was blogging again, because she thinks my posts are relevant for her students. I believe they had to take a quiz about one of my recent posts. Nothing makes me want to write more than hearing somebody learned something from one of my posts. For that, I thank all of you.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve heard from a dozen or so other professors who have done the same thing – encouraged their students to read Journalistics. That’s nothing short of awesome in my book. Since my friend reminded me of this all-too-important audience segment, I figured it only fitting to write a post just for you (the college student reading this post right now).

Here’s a list of the things I wish somebody had told me when I was studying in college (or not studying if you want to know the truth). The list also includes some new additions – things I wish people would tell students today, that weren’t necessarily relevant when I was in school (but are more appropriate for this generation). Finally, there are some things on this list that I was probably told, but didn’t listen to at the time. If you suspect you fit into this last category, I encourage you to pay attention this one time to what you are reading. [Read more…]

How to Get More PR Results

How to Get More PR ResultsDo you want to generate more publicity results for your media relations investment? You’re not alone – every public relations professional working in media relations wants to generate more publicity. We’ve all had to deal with the client or boss that complains about the lack of coverage, or worse, marches into your office with a recent article and asks why we weren’t in it. Ever notice they rarely march into your office with the story you were included in?

It’s not easy to score publicity. Media relations is difficult, thankless job. Unless you’re fortunate enough to work for a brand everyone wants to write about all the time. Media relations requires a lot of hard work, and a lot of long hours – with no guarantee of success, no matter how good the pitch is or how much effort one puts into the work. We stick with it though, because on those rare days when we land the cover story, or the story everyone has been hoping for, and it’s all worth it for a couple of hours.

NOTE: Before you read on, you should know that I sometimes have a tendency to write long blog posts. This is a subject that merits the additional length. If you read on, I promise you will find a thorough overview of how to get more coverage for the stories you’re pitching. Consider yourself warned… [Read more…]

How To Write a Great Headline

how to write a headlineYour headline is the most important element of any article you write. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what happened right before you clicked through to read this post. If you’re still reading this post, you’re either bored, very polite or you want to learn how to write a great headline and you believe I’m going to deliver on that promise for you. For me, the purpose of a great headline is to get the reader to read what you’ve written. For others, it’s all about the click. I’m going to assume that most Journalistics readers care more about the former.

So how do you write a great headline? I’ll get to that… but first, a quick story… In one of early journalism classes, our professor used to make us read all the headlines in The New York Times throughout the week. Why? Because The New York Times employed the most talented journalists. It was great advice honestly – it’s amazing how good some of those headlines are, and how instructive that exercise has been in teaching me the art of headline writing. I encourage you to try this exercise for yourself. For the next week, read the headlines of the print version of The New York Times’ front page. You’ll notice a couple of things. First, I’ll bet you find more than a few articles you want to read. Second, I’ll wager you learn a new word or two – those journalists have pretty incredible vocabularies. [Read more…]

How to Create a Communications Strategy

how to create communications strategyA lot of organizations have separate documented communication strategies for each communications discipline. Your organization may have a public relations strategy, marketing communications strategy, social media strategy and sales strategy, all operating in parallel to accomplish often similar (or exact) goals. I suggest having one, clear and cohesive communications strategy that covers all communications activities within your organization. If there are different people responsible for each strategy, get them all in the same room to create a single one (this goes for any organizational-wide plans as far as I’m concerned).

With communication plans, you’re ultimately developing and delivering messages to target audiences for a desired outcome – that is the fundamental formula. If you’re new to creating communications strategies, or want to match your approach up to an alternative approach, I’ve provided some suggestions below for creating your comprehensive communications strategy. [Read more…]

It’s Time to Get Real About Real-Time Marketing & PR

real-time marketing prWhen David Meerman Scott was kind enough to let me review his first pass at Real-Time Marketing & PR a few years ago, I remember thinking how amazing some of the stories were in the book. There were case study after case study about how powerful the consumer has become in the age of social media – and how ill-equipped most brands were to deal with issues in real-time. David has since added to the real-time discussion with his Newsjacking book, which further reinforces the need for brands to respond quickly to breaking stories or trending topics, to insert themselves into the news cycle when appropriate to earn incredible brand awareness. [Read more…]

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Editorial CalendarMost magazines (print and online) publish an editorial calendar – a detailed summary of the cover story, feature stories or overall focus of each issue. Weeklies, dailies and quarterlies all provide an incredible amount of detail as far as a year in advance about what they plan to cover in future issues.

The editorial calendar is primarily a vehicle to help the publishing staff of these publications to sell ad space for future issues, since brands are most likely to advertise in an issue that focuses on a topic its core audiences will be most interest in. Over the years, editorial calendars for magazines have also been useful resources for clever PR professionals – useful guides to targeting PR opportunities for clients around major coverage areas. Most major PR software vendors now incorporate publication editorial calendars into their products, further simplifying the process of targeting PR opportunities based on what publications are writing about.

[Read more…]

Taking a Newsroom Approach to Content Marketing

content marketing trendsBrands have never cared more about content marketing. It is the hot topic for 2013, as brands look to leverage great content to expand their reach, drive more engagement or improve their search engine rankings – to name a few. Don’t believe me? Search any content marketing related keyword in Google Trends and you’ll find a spike in conversation this year around the topic (the graph to the right is for “content marketing” news headlines). [Read more…]

Your Brand As Media

brand-journalism-typewriterThree years ago, using the “earned, owned and paid” organization for media strategy sounded cool. The earned-owned-paid slide in my presentations generated eyebrow raises, versus the eye rolls that are more common today. Like any good marketing catch phrases, this one has probably run its course. I’m not saying the underlying principles aren’t still incredibly relevant – in fact, they’re probably more relevant today. That’s not the point of this post though…

When I first started talking about earned, owned and paid (and no, I was far from the first to start talking about it), I would describe the owned channel as brands owning the media channel, and would use the example of Nike being its own ESPN. In other words, you would eventually go to Nike’s website for news and information on all things sports. When we talk about content marketing trends and brands AS media today, that’s what we’re talking about. [Read more…]

Let Me Ask You a Question

question markIt’s much easier to answer questions when you have time to prepare. When you’re being interviewed by a journalist, grilled on the stand a trial, or trying to convince an HR manager to put you through to the next round, it helps to know the questions in advance. More often than not, you won’t have the questions in advance… or will you?

As a continuation of my series on messaging and positioning development from earlier this year, I wanted to make my next installment about how you can prepare for interview questions journalists might ask – but this advice could help you prepare for any interaction where you want to have exactly the right answer queued up. [Read more…]

Skills Entry-Level PR Hires Should Have

starting lineThree months from now, the class of 2013 will walk across the stage to collect their diplomas and immediately have a panic attack when they realize it’s time to look for that first job out of college. First, let me give you a piece of advice – you have the rest of your life to work, take the summer and explore the world if you have that luxury. That’s something I wish I had done (I started my first job the day after graduation).

For those of you that need to get a job – you know, like yesterday – I thought it would be helpful to share my perspective on the skills I believe most employers are looking for in a PR hire. The reality is, if you’re a recent grad and don’t have these skills, you’ll have a harder time finding that first job. If you’re an undergraduate, learn from this post – so you’ll be in a better place 2, 3 or 4 years from now. [Read more…]