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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…]

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…]

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…]

How to Prepare for Press Interviews

As the next installment in my series on message planning and delivery, I’d like to focus on preparing for media and analyst interviews – a critical component to generating brand awareness for your organization (or clients) and taking your message to the masses, one journalist at a time. Here are the steps I recommend you take in preparation for media interviews, in order to consistently deliver your key messages to the influencers that reach your target audiences. [Read more…]

Are Blog Posts Better Than Press Releases?

Why are we still writing press releases? If press releases are part of your work life, you’ve probably asked this question once or twice in the past year (or more). Really though, press releases require a lot of time and effort to produce and distribute. There are hard costs associated with the process. And I’ll go out on a limb here and challenge the return on investment from press releases – the results tend to be pretty lackluster, even from those fancy multimedia or social news releases. There has to be a better way, and I think that way is a news blog.

What would happen if you stopped writing press releases and instead started a blog dedicated to your company news? If I were working for a brand new start-up today – a company that’s never issued a press release – this is the path I would take. If you build an audience around your news blog, you create an earned media channel for instantly sharing your news with the most-interested audiences. This could be your most-trusted and most-likely-to-be-interested journalists and bloggers, but also could include customers, prospects, employees and all the other key audiences interested in your news.

A blog doesn’t charge you by the word length of your post, or try to upsell you on additional distribution. Distribution is earned by the quality and relevance of the information you share through the blog. Here are a few suggestions for using a news blog as an alternative to writing and distributing press releases. I think you’ll at least consider that blog posts could be better than press releases.

1. Make It Official – let all your existing contacts know that you’re no longer going to be sending out press releases. Send an email to all your contacts and encourage them to subscribe to the blog (make this announcement your first news post on the blog). If you have different types of news announcements, offer segmented subscription options to give your contacts more flexibility (this will drive better conversion, but also allow you to segment your distribution to the best targets).

2. Plan Your News Calendar – you’ll want to publish more frequently on the blog than you would probably send out press releases. This is your opportunity to play editor-in-chief of your own news blog. Develop some themes that will build interest for your content. You’re no longer limited to the tired press release format – you can write news stories on your blog. For example, maybe you have a monthly Q&A column with the CEO about what’s going on in your industry. You can profile a different person in your company each month. You can post your comments on major news and events going on in your industry. You can share insights into internal decisions guiding the development of new products, or share success stories your current customers want to share. Of course, you can post graphics, images, video and other multimedia to the blog as well. Maybe you have your product marketing leader discuss your latest product in a video, supported by an overview of features and a demo – that has to be more engaging than a press release. Over time, this content will lead to interview requests from journalists and bloggers.

3. Build An Archive – before you launch the blog, publish all of the past year’s press releases as posts on the day they appeared. These back-dated posts will serve as your news archive, but also give you valuable content to encourage search engines to rank your posts. This will help you pull more traffic to your news blog. Be sure to enlist the help of your interactive marketing or search engine marketing resources to optimize your posts for the relevant keywords you’re trying to rank for. The archive also invites new contacts to subscribe to your blog, because it gives them some history on the types of news you’re capable of delivering over time (granted, the quality will only get better from here).

4. Solicit Reader Feedback – unlike press releases, your blog is built for comments. Let people comment on your news – you’ll be surprised by the feedback you receive. It’s great to get instant feedback from your audiences on your news announcements. This also enables you to address any issues across your audiences that you might not have learned about through the traditional PR process.

5. Encourage Sharing – with integrated social sharing, your news will have equal or greater reach than before (depending on how social-friendly your releases were). You benefit from this sharing, versus the place your press releases used to be hosted. All the traffic comes back to you, providing you with more opportunities to engage your audience.

6. Track the Results – when all your news is on the blog, you’ll be able to tap into more in-depth analytics on the reach and interest surrounding your news announcements. You’ll know which outlets wrote about your news and linked back (great for SEO), but also be able to report to management (or your client) about the success of various news announcements. If you’re using a lead management or automation system, or an email service provider, you’ll be able to track the reach of your news down to specific journalists (and know whether or not the received the news, read it or read it several times). This type of intelligence is incredibly valuable for your media relations team that is responsible for securing coverage. With this gauge of interest, your team will be able to make better real-time decisions about who to call and follow-up with to secure coverage.

7. Save Money – how much did you spend last year on sending out press releases?  I bet it was more than the cost of hosting the blog. Sure, you’ll still have to pay people to write your content – and pitch those stories in some cases. If you do a good job building your audience, the press requests will come to you and not the other way around. This is inbound PR 101.

8. More Likely to Be Read – finally, press releases just aren’t that interesting to read. Blog posts stand a better chance to be read, provided you write them as stories. When you share a link to a blog post with a journalist about your latest news, I predict you’ll get a much stronger response than if you send them a press release. Try it on your next announcement and see what happens. I suspect you’ll make the switch.

This is a crazy idea, isn’t it? It’s not that crazy really. There are a lot of smart companies moving to the news blog as an alternative to traditional press releases. Google and HubSpot are two companies that come to mind. Both use their blogs as the primary channel for communicating their news – and it’s worked really well for them. You too can find success switching over to a news blog as your primary channel for communicating your news. If you’re not ready to jump in full force, you could always launch a news blog to test the waters and compare the results you get there versus your press releases. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

What do you think? Can a blog replace the traditional press release archive on your website? Is a blog post better than a press release? Do you still think a press release is the better option? Share your thoughts.

 

Getting Coverage for Your News Should Be Easy

If you work in media relations today, and you’re having a hard time getting coverage for your news, you’re doing something wrong. Journalists exist to write about news. If you have a legitimate news story, you shouldn’t have a hard time getting coverage. When I reflect on the 15 years I’ve been doing some aspect of media relations as part of my job, I can’t think of a single instance where I had a hard time getting coverage for news.

When I’ve had problems getting coverage – while I didn’t realize it at the time – it was because the story wasn’t actually newsworthy, or I was talking to the wrong journalists. The purpose of this post is to help you figure this stuff out much sooner than the 15 year mark in your career.

First, Are You Talking to the Right Journalists?

Who covers your news? Which reporters write the most about the topics related to what you do? You should know who they are off the top of your head. If you don’t, start there. Subscribe to the publications they write for. Read the stuff they write. It only takes a couple of minutes a day to do this, and you’ll quickly find that you know exactly who to talk to when news bubbles to the surface in your organization. [Read more…]

Introducing ExpertEngine

Journalistics has launched a new service called ExpertEngine. ExpertEngine will help journalists (eventually) quickly (and anonymously) search for, find and contact experts for the stories they are working on. Before I give you the full scoop (and the sign-up info), here’s a quick story about why we – a blog about journalism and PR – decided to create ExpertEngine.

One of the best and worst things about working with start ups, particularly if you’re entrepreneurial like myself, is you inevitably find yourself wanting to do your own thing again. As some of you know, I majored in public relations and journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University. It’s one of the few colleges that combines instruction for journalism and PR – so since college, I’ve learned about both sides of the fence. I’ve always thought of starting a business related to PR/journalism – but not a service business like I did with my agency, but rather a product business.

Somewhere in the midst of Web 2.0, but before the social media craze, I started thinking to myself, “There has to be an idea I can take to market that PR people will love?” PR is hard work… how can I make it easier? What problem that hasn’t been solved yet? Surely there is an outdated or overpriced service that could be updated for the 2000s? I mean, what independent PR professional can afford $5K a year (at the time) for a media database? I ultimately settled on creating a FREE media database. You know, Vocus/Cision meets Wikipedia? If you ever read Wikinomics, you know there are plenty of examples of peer production and mass collaboration successes out there – I was sure it would work if I built it. I did start to build it, but then… [Read more…]

The Top 11 Journalistics Posts of 2011

best journalism posts 2011This is the third year I’ve written a “Top Journalistics Posts of the Year” post. The greatest hits meme is a little overdone, I know – but when you consider about half our readers are ‘new visitors’, a lot of these posts are new to them. I personally enjoy the exercise of reviewing our best posts from the year. Reflecting on my work from the past year gives me renewed focus for the coming year.

This couldn’t be more true this year. I took a look back at our Top 9 Posts of 2009 and Top 10 Posts of 2010 to see how the blog has changed over the past few years. The first thing that jumped out at me is how good the posts from 2009 were. Three or four of those first posts remain the most-viewed each year on the blog (I won’t reveal which ones they are, mainly because they’re great resources – but in desperate need of updating).

The popularity of these posts tells me two things:

1. Those posts were great – and well worth the effort that went into them (some of the more labor intensive posts to date)

2. If I was writing great content, posts from 2009 wouldn’t still be the most popular content in 2011

We have a lot of great content lined up for 2012. As always, we welcome your feedback. For now, without further adieu, here are the top posts of 2011: [Read more…]

Smile and Dial

Smile and dial gets a bad rep. I rarely hear the term used positively. You should know by now that I’m against annoying journalists, whether through PR spam or telemarkety phone pitches. If you’ve got a good story to pitch, and you need to score some coverage fast, the phone is the only way to go.

“But wait…” you say, “Don’t journalists prefer phone as their #1 method of contact?” Yes, journalists want to be pitched by email more than 80% of the time. Well of course they do. Most journalists view PR people as telemarketers, and the rest are lying. It’s much easier to click delete than reject somebody in person.

Most media relations pros assume working the phones isn’t worth the effort. There’s a reason you get those calls during dinner – the phone works better than email. Here are some tips for making the most of working the phones: [Read more…]

Media Has Changed… It’s Time for PR to Catch Up

Let’s face it. If you you’re stuck with business as usual, this won’t be your year. Brands are racing to catch up with social consumers who have adopted new ways of shopping and recommending. And similar trends of change and adaptation hold true for the PR industry.

In the past, the PR professional led a relatively peaceful and predictable existence. Securing coverage mainly entailed forming close relationships with ‘A-list’ members of the media who reported on one’s company, industry, and competitors. Now and again, you could look beyond the typical rotation of journalists for new reporters covering related beats. Schedules were punctuated by the ebb and flow of editorial calendars planned far in advance. Time was measured in months, or years. Contacts were held in a single Rolodex.

Not any more. The world of media has irrevocably changed. Social media, blogs, and other self-publishing tools have sparked an explosion of content and voices ⎯ at a scale and pace we have never seen before. Over the next 30 minutes, approximately 22,000 blog posts will go live, 2.3 million Tweets will fly, and Facebook users will post 2.77 million status updates and 41 million pieces of content. Then, factor in the steady stream of online articles from traditional media outlets, and an untold number of niche sites and other networks. [Read more…]