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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.

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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...]

The Two Most Effective Media Relations Tactics for 2013

two most effective media relations tacticsYou want more publicity, don’t you? Whether it’s for yourself, your organization or the clients you represent, more publicity is a good thing. For many of us, it’s what attracted us to media relations in the first place. It was pure magic the first time I read an article in print that was the result of a story I pitched. In this post, I’ll share what I believe to be the two most effective media relations tactics for 2013 (hint: it’s all about inbound and real-time).

Before I get to the two most effective media relations tactics for 2013, let’s agree that the smile and dial approach doesn’t work anymore.  In the example I shared above, I used the ‘smile and dial’ approach to land that first placement. Back then, if you called enough reporters, you would eventually find a couple willing to listen to your pitch – and perhaps one or two that would write a story. When I think back to what I was actually doing, I was interrupting busy journalists with pitches that probably had nothing to do with the stories they wrote about on a daily basis. While I’ve long since learned my lessons (and taken my fair share of tongue lashings from irritated journalists), I worry about the young professionals who are still calling down a media list trying to get anybody to write about the story they’re pitching. It’s wrong and it gives the PR profession a bad name – even if media relations is only a small subset of all the elements of public relations (for you purists out there). [Read more...]

Every Brand Has a Story To Tell

every brand has a story to tellOne of the first clients I worked with out of college was a toilet company. Granted the company was the largest international manufacturer of bathroom fixtures – products every house and office in the developed world has a need for. But imagine my enthusiasm as a freshly-minted PR professional, being told I would be working to secure publicity for toilets. I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited at first. Some might be discouraged by such an assignment, but I’ve always believed there’s a good story behind anything.

Maybe it was growing up in the plant business that gave me this perspective. After all, in the plant business, you take some seeds and some cow dung and turn it into something beautiful that people want to pay good money for. I think there’s a parallel behind that experience and the work I do bringing brand stories to life today. No matter how strong the smell of manure, I know I can make it flourish with just the right amount of tender loving care. [Read more...]

What Led You to PR or Journalism?

how did you end up in pr or journalism?Time for some reminiscing. Think back (for some of you, think way, way back). What led you to PR or journalism? Did you know you wanted to work in PR or journalism before college, or did you discover the field later in life? If the latter, what did you do before?

If I’m asking you to share your story, it’s only fair I share mine. I wrote for my high school newspaper and loved it. I edited our class yearbook in high school and loved it. I even spent my free time at home working on an underground newspaper (much harder in the days of typewriters) – which I also loved. [Read more...]