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Having these 4 things ready before you contact a reporter will make you more successful

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You have a great idea for a story to pitch a reporter. You decide to call or email the reporter with your idea. He or she responds with interest. Good news, right? But, have you thought through what the reporter may request in addition to your pitch?

Having a strong pitch is, of course, vital to your PR effort. The trouble is, no matter how great the idea is, if you aren’t prepared to provide the elements to back up your story, it may never see the light of the day.

Reporters who do a thorough job will always look deeper and want more than your side of the story. This validates what you’re saying. Because part of PR is to make things as easy as possible for them, before you ever hit send on your pitch, you’ll want to be prepared with information to back up your story.

With that in mind, here’s a helpful guide for what you need to have ready when you contact a reporter:

Continue reading Having these 4 things ready before you contact a reporter will make you more successful

Forget the resolutions: 5 ways to get started on PR in 2017

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2017 is here. As the New Year begins, resolutions are being made. That includes resolutions for your small business.

But, what if you don’t believe in making resolutions? And even if you do, for some of us, they simply don’t work.

That’s OK. How about we just focus on getting it done this year? If you’ve been thinking about doing some public relations for your small business or startup, there are some simple ways to get the ball rolling.

Here are five ways you can make it happen for your small business when it comes to PR:

Continue reading Forget the resolutions: 5 ways to get started on PR in 2017

Doing PR over the holidays? What you need to know about timing

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The holidays are indeed upon us.

Though many may be in denial—Thanksgiving is NEXT week, people!—they are coming, and coming fast.

In talking with clients about their imminent public relations plans, timing over the holidays has to be taken into consideration. Not only might potential readers be tuned out to product announcements, but many reporters are also out of the office enjoying holiday time with their loved ones. And, adding yet another hurdle, one reporter I just spoke with mentioned that the holiday changes his newspaper’s production schedule.

As you might imagine, between your schedule, the reporter or publication’s schedule and potential readers’ or viewers’ schedules, it can be a challenge. So, if you have news you must pitch over the holidays, what’s a PR pro suggest you do? Continue reading Doing PR over the holidays? What you need to know about timing

PR Is No Picnic in the Summer — 5 Tips to Plan Your PR Efforts Around Vacations & Holidays

PR is no picnic in the summer (4)

Ah, summer…a time for getting outside to enjoy the warm, sunny days with picnics, margaritas and relaxing by the pool…but, what about your PR plans? Summer can be a challenging time if you have PR initiatives that need to move forward. With many reporters on vacation, your media outreach can take even longer than usual. And, of course, the 4th of July is right around the corner.

So, what does this mean for your public relations efforts? PR can be anything but a picnic during the summer months. Here are some tips to try to make the most of this season when it comes to PR:

  1. Planning is imperative: Trying to choose the best date for an announcement? Study the calendar. Avoid the major summer holidays, the 4th of July and Labor Day, as well as the days before and after. That is, unless your news has a tie-in to these holidays. If you’re making a tech-related announcement, for example, you’d certainly want to time it so it doesn’t coincide with the 4th to achieve maximum visibility. On the other hand, if your news involves a holiday-related trend, you’d want to pitch that a week or two before the holiday.
  2. Allow extra time: As we know reporters may very well be on vacation, it’s a good idea to build in some extra time on pitches during the summer months. For instance, if you usually pitch news a week before an announcement, allow two weeks. That way, if a journalist is out of the office, you’ll still have time to follow up.
  3. Avoid the dead zone: Per the point above, as the 4th of July and Labor Day each fall on Monday, you can expect the Friday before to be pretty quiet (you can almost hear the crickets chirp!). Some may even take off the Tuesday after to create an even longer weekend. And, once they return, their inboxes may be filled to the brim with pitches. You don’t want your pitch to get lost in that sea of email, so maybe wait another day or so before sending it.
  4. Think Christmas: Believe it or not, it’s not too early to think about the holidays. Gift guides for many print magazines are already in the works. If you have a product that fits in that category, you’ll want to start pitching those gift guides now. Be ready with a product description and high-resolution photos.
  5. Cover your time off: Lastly, if you’re in charge of working with the media for your company or client and are planning to take a vacation, have a plan in place should a reporter get in touch during that time. Ask someone to cover for you and be sure to have basic resources ready for them to use if a reporter needs anything. If you have a press area on your site, all of these materials should be posted there (that makes it easy for the reporter AND for anyone trying to cover for you).

And, be sure not to leave your clients in the lurch. Give them plenty of notice so you can complete any work they need done before you go. If you’re a consultant leaving for an extended period of time, e.g.               more than a week or two, consider asking someone to fill in for you. Perhaps you have a trusted consultant colleague who could be on call, should your clients need anything.

I hope these tips help you make the most of your summer PR initiatives. Now, time to get back to your sunbathing!

 

 

For New PR Grads—Advice from an Editor

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I recently wrote a piece for Muck Rack, “7 Questions NOT to Ask a Reporter,” which garnered some of the best feedback I’ve ever received. An editor at an industry publication actually took the time to write me about how much he enjoyed the piece—and how every new public relations grad should read it.

With many new PR pros graduating this spring and entering the ranks of those who pitch the media, I thought I’d share his words of wisdom. Whether you’re new to the PR field or have been at it a while, you can always learn from the mistakes of others. Continue reading For New PR Grads—Advice from an Editor

Entrepreneur features my latest, “6 tips for handling a failed media pitch”

My piece, “6 Tips for Handling a Failed Media Pitch,” which explains what to do if your media pitch falls flat, was featured Monday by Entrepreneur:

This significantly increases its reach. When Entrepreneur runs my pieces, I always see a jump in followers and activity. This underscores the value of creating great content!

Real-world PR lessons: Never give up!

Today’s post is based on living life in the PR trenches.

As a PR consultant, I often work with clients on media relations and frequently write about tips and tricks to help companies get ink. This post stems from two recent real-world experiences I had while pitching story ideas for small business clients. The takeaway is: never give up!! Tenacity wins the day when it comes to media outreach.

Here a couple of recent examples to illustrate:

1) I’ve been working on getting one of my clients into a major publication for over a year now. When I first reached out, the editor responded to the pitch and we sent a product sample. After going back and forth for about six months, the editor let us know that the product was tentatively slated for coverage in the Sept. issue. (WAHOO!)

Unfortunately, the editor went on leave, and we struggled to get an answer from anyone until she returned. When she did respond, she said the piece “took a different turn” and the product wasn’t going to be included. (BOO!) However, she did say, in what seemed like a very sincere email, that she would keep working on getting it in the magazine.

And that could be the end of the story. But no! At the end of last week, we got a call from the magazine to fact check a piece for November! And this is a MAJOR publication with a circulation of over 4.3 million readers! What a huge win for this small business that could turn into major sales, especially with the holidays approaching and this piece slated for the November issue.

Of course, I never relax until I actually see the published piece—but WOW! Sometimes, it does take time, but if you hang in there, it CAN happen.

2) I’ve been pitching a media outlet for various clients for some time without much in the way of a response (it’s notoriously tough to get a response from this particular program). However, in just the past month, I’ve placed TWO clients on this program! WIN! Both clients are small businesses (one is a nonprofit) who were looking for some publicity opportunities that would open doors for them.

Again, sometimes it takes time—and the right story/right pitch—to make headway, but it CAN be done. Now, this producer is much more likely to review pitches I send in the future, as well, which will help me open this door for even more clients.

These examples illustrate why PR can be a challenge–but it can also be extremely rewarding! I’m not sure who is more excited–my clients or me!

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Do Reporters Prefer to Receive Pitches Via Email or Social Media?

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As those of us in PR know, reporters don’t always like to hear from us, preferring to gather story ideas and sources elsewhere. But, when we do contact them, they have preferences as to how we do it.

While social media has come into play when pitching journalists, according to this recent survey conducted by Cision, good ol’ email still wins out, coming in at the top of the list,. Yes, 81 percent of the reporters surveyed say they prefer to receive pitches via email (and without attachments, please!).

The surprising finding here isn’t about the email preference but about social media, which many seem to think is “destroying” journalism by “undermining traditional journalistic values.” 54 percent of U.S. journalists who responded agreed with that statement. And, although they increasingly use social media to find sources, promote their stories and monitor breaking news, they still prefer to receive pitches via email.

Perhaps even more surprising, the phone was preferred (30 percent) over social media (24 percent) as a way to hear from PR pros—now, that’s saying something when they would rather hear from us via phone than social media (many reporters detest phone calls).

So, even though email is far and away still the preferred way to contact reporters, the debate will continue as to the use of social media for pitching. Read more on that topic here.

 

Do reporters _really_ think PR pros are liars?

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Last week, I wrote a piece for Ragan’s PR Daily about the relationship between PR pros and reporters—while many see it as adversarial, I’ve often had a different experience, so I wrote about some ways to foster good relations with reporters:

“Can PR pros and reporters be friendly?” http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/18779.aspx

Then, just after my piece was published, I saw this piece:

“Journalists still think PR pros are liars”: http://www.prdaily.com/mediarelations/Articles/18789.aspx

This was based on a study, “The D S Simon Media Influencers Report,” which claims a majority of reporters feel that a PR practitioner has lied to them. A majority. Hmmmm…. While this doesn’t come as a complete surprise, it seems somewhat hard to believe that the issue is this widespread. There’s commentary on the piece that says regardless of any study, PR pros understand this is the perception—and that sometimes, the perception is, in fact, reality, as PR folks will lie to save their jobs.

Maybe it’s me being naive, but PR practitioners should not—and do not need to—lie. Maybe those in corporate roles feel this pressure, but having been on that side of the fence prior to striking out on my own, I’ve never felt the need to lie to a reporter. After all, as my mother (and probably your mom!) always said, when we lie, they find out the truth anyway. If you work in a situation where you feel you need to lie to protect your job, perhaps it’s time to move on.

Being genuine and transparent in any situation is generally going to get your further, so if you approach media relations with the attitude of honestly wanting to help reporters share the story of your client or organization and giving them the resources to do that, that’s at the heart of it. Anything less, and you may be lumped in with the crowd of PR practitioners the media would prefer not to deal with.

 

 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! But, wait to pitch your news…

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Memorial Day weekend is upon us, marking not only a time to remember our veterans, but also the official start of summer! Woo hoo!

While I wish you all a relaxing LONG holiday weekend, I want to share a tip regarding issuing or pitching news next week. Avoid it. That is, if you can wait, it would be better to hold off until the week of June 1.

Many reporters (along with the rest of us) will be playing catch up when they return to the office Tuesday with a much fuller than normal inbox. And, it’s a short week that will have everyone feeling as though they’re behind anyway. So, my advice is to wait until things die down a little. If you can wait until June 2 or 3, you may be more likely to get a response.

Enjoy the three days off and see you next week!

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