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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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Using PR to Raise $9.5 Million

On the weekend of February 18-20, the 2011 Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (a.k.a. THON) saw 708 students stand for 46 hours with no sleeping and no sitting, all to raise money and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. They were successful: this year, THON raised a record-breaking $9,563,016.09 For The Kids, all of which benefits The Four Diamonds Fund.

This was the first year THON has broken the previous year’s record by more than $1 million. Each year, THON sees its total go up, and this is due to the culmination of efforts by all of the Penn State students involved. A very important aspect of this, as I mentioned in my last blog, is the Public Relations Committee, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. And that committee was busy for almost the whole 46 hours of THON Weekend. [Read more...]

Using PR to Fight Pediatric Cancer

The largest student-run philanthropy in the world needs a solid and efficient public relations committee. And that is exactly what the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON, has. Benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund, THON is a year-long philanthropy that raises money fight pediatric cancer. The fundraising season for THON culminates in a 46 hour long no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon in February.

Raising over $7.8 million in 2010, THON has raised more than $69 million for The Four Diamonds Fund since their partnership, which began in 1977. The Four Diamonds Fund is an organization dedicated to offsetting medical and non-medical costs for the families of children diagnosed with cancer at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, as well as advancing pediatric cancer research.

In order to consistently raise millions of dollars each year, THON relies heavily on its Public Relations Captains and Committees to inform the public about its efforts and educate others about pediatric cancer. Here are all the ways public relations plays a crucial role in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world: [Read more...]

Tools No PR Pro Can Live Without

Working in an industry that can evolve in a day, a great arsenal of tools is your best defense. PR pros have to deal with technology changing as well as the transition of new media. There are many tools that PR professionals use on a daily basis, but everyone has their go to tool when faced with a dwindling deadline.

Social Media

What did we do before Twitter? Twitter has been around since 2006 now and most PR folks can be found tweeting everywhere. But what Twitter client is the best around? When you start reaching a good amount of followers, you need to filter out how to get the information you are looking for on a regular basis. Jamie Floer, a Senior Account Executive at Wragg and Casas Public Relations, says her favorite tool to manage social media is TweetDeck.

The great thing about TweetDeck and other similar platforms, is you can integrate your updates to Facebook as well. Making it a one-stop-shop instead of manually signing in and updated multiple sites. You also can track more than one Twitter accounts if you have to tweet for your clients. Byron Gordon, Vice President, Social Media Marketing Programs at SEO-PR, says the one tool he can’t live without is Twitter, and uses Tweetdeck because, “[he has] discovered more using this app than just about anything else!” [Read more...]

Use News Releases for More Than PR

I’ve been down on news releases before on this blog, but only because I think there are better options for securing publicity. That doesn’t mean you should ditch news releases all together. There are other benefits to writing and distributing news releases.

News releases help you maintain brand awareness, keep core audiences informed, improve your PageRank and increase website traffic. Press releases should be a staple of your ongoing communications program, and It would be a mistake to stop writing and sending news releases.

While not all activity in your company is worthy of coverage in a reputable media outlet, you should still consider sending a news release out on a wire service to keep your customers informed, improve your PageRank, drive traffic to your website or maintain brand awareness in your target markets. If these goals are important to you, consider sending a minimum of one news release per month… [Read more...]

PR Tools That Don’t Rhyme with Focus or Vision

I’ve used products from Vocus, Cision, BurrellesLuce, PRNewswire, BusinessWire and Marketwire in the past, and they’ve all helped me get my work done faster and deliver stronger results for clients. There are also a wide-range of free products out there (HARO comes to mind) that deliver tremendous value to PR pros. Despite the popularity of HARO, I still regularly come across PR pros who’ve never heard of it. This got me thinking… what other PR tools are out there that people have never heard of?

Here are some alternatives I uncovered; let me know if you have any additions to the list:

Media Relations

  • MediaSync: mBLAST just launched a FREE media list service called MediaSync. While its price is reason enough to try it out, MediaSync has some great search features that enable you to determine who your influencers are in a particular market and find outlets and contacts that reach them. MediaSync has a database of more than 500,000 media contacts and 9 million articles and blogs. You can search for contacts or opportunities (including editorial calendars) using a simple search box.
  • NewsBasis – one of the newest players in the market, NewsBasis is targeted at helping journalists improve their targeting of sources. It turns the media relations model on its head. As a source, you can add your profile to the database and position yourself for more interview opportunities.
  • MatchPoint – here’s another start-up trying to approach media targeting in a smart way. MatchPoint lets you paste your pitch into a search box and find journalists who write about what you’re pitching. It’s intended to reduce PR spam and improve targeting accuracy. It’s a great concept and I look forward to seeing this one improve.
  • PressWiki: another FREE directory of media contacts and outlets. PressWiki is designed as a wiki, so everyone shares responsibility for the quality of information in the database. While it’s not as developed as MediaSync, its a great alternative for those with no budget for a media database.
  • HARO – everyone reading this should know about HARO (Help A Reporter Out), but every time I do a list like this, somebody comments with a HARO suggestion. HARO is a FREE service (recently purchased by Vocus) that emails you three times each weekday with information on journalists looking for sources to interview. If you have a source that fits, you reply with the appropriate information. It’s one of the easiest ways to get press. PRNewswire has had a similar service for years called ProfNet, but it’s not free.

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The Best Day to Send a Press Release

What is the best day to send a press release? That is one of the most popular questions people ask PR pros – especially from the people that think PR is just writing and sending releases.

You can ask 100 PR professionals this question and get 100 different answers. At least one-third, and typically this is the most-experienced third, will tell you Monday or Tuesday is the best day to send a press release. A lot of this stems out of an age where news was primarily printed on paper or broadcast on TV at a specific time each day. I don’t think there is a ‘best’ day, but that’s just my opinion.

I decided to ask some experts about this topic via Twitter and received some helpful responses from the news wires. PRNewswire suggests sending news in the middle of the week and to steer clear of Mondays and Fridays. Business Wire on the other hand suggests early in the day, early in the week for most press releases. readMedia, a social media release start-up, sees little difference in weekdays, but advises against sending releases on weekends for obvious reasons.

That settles it for me. There is NO best time to send a press release. The ‘best’ time varies depending on your targets and type of news. In some cases, it might not make sense to send a press release at all. If your news is strong – timely, relevant, localized or sensational – you probably don’t need a press release. Just pick up the phone and call the reporter (or shoot them an email). If your press release is weak (be honest), why send it out at all?

Assuming you do have some news of value, and decide to go the release route, you’ll need to figure out the best day for yourself. Here are some suggestions that may help you figure out the best time to send your press release: [Read more...]

How to Make Your Boilerplate Sizzle

You know what a boilerplate is, right? It’s that one-paragraph, “About Us” chunk of copy you slap at the end of every press release you kick out the door.

If you’re like most organizations, this paragraph often gets reused across all sorts of sales and marketing communications, which makes it the most important paragraph in your company. [Read more...]

How to Build a Better Online Newsroom

What makes a great online newsroom? For starters, news. If you have plenty of compelling, relevant, timely, engaging, exclusive or otherwise sensational news to share with the media on a regular basis, it probably doesn’t matter what your online newsroom looks like (just take a look at Twitter’s online newsroom if you don’t believe me).

Twitter doesn’t have an online newsroom – but try to find an outlet that hasn’t covered the company in the past year. Twitter is an anomaly. It can get away with it. After all, Twitter is the media and most journalists are only a tweet away.

But what if you’re organization is slightly less popular than Twitter? What can you do to make your online newsroom more compelling? What information should be in your online newsroom to improve your chances of scoring an interview with your favorite journalist or blogger?

Rather than provide you with a checklist of content you should add to your online newsroom, I decided to take a look at the online newsrooms for some other top-of-mind technology companies. My plan was to find some ideas you might be able to use for your online newsroom. I hope you find a couple of good nuggets you can use to build a better online newsroom for your organization. [Read more...]

How to Write a Press Release?

More than 12,000 times every month How to Write a Press Release is searched on Google, delivering more than 49 million search results. Is that the right question to ask? What about “are press releases effective?” That will yield more than 484 million results for you.

This isn’t one of those “the press release is dead” posts, because I personally don’t think they will die anytime soon. It’s just one tool of many we have to choose from today for communicating with audiences. [Read more...]