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Journalists Sound Off on How PR Pros Can Improve Media Pitches

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While we hear PR pros talk about how often their pitches go ignored – we don’t always hear the other side.

Journalists have some REAL complaints about practices public relations practitioners engage in that make their jobs more difficult. Unfortunately, these missteps can also make it tougher for PR pros to develop the relationships they want – and need – to do a better job of landing earned media coverage on behalf of clients.

We know that securing stories is more difficult than ever (the struggle IS real), but sometimes, those who practice public relations can be their own worst enemies.

During a recent Twitter exchange with Ellen Chang, @EllenYChang, a journalist who writes for U.S. News and other national media outlets, I was surprised to learn of behaviors practiced by some PR practitioners that sabotage those relationships.

In the spirit of helping public relations pros improve their relationships with reporters – and in turn, their results for clients – here are some basic PR 101 tips for those who pitch stories, directly from Chang and a few others who offered tips.

Pitching Tips to Help Land Earned Media Coverage

Continue reading Journalists Sound Off on How PR Pros Can Improve Media Pitches

5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from Oatly’s Outside the Box Approach

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Have you heard of Oatly?

I’ve been an admirer of the Swedish oat milk brand for a while now. No, I’m not a customer of theirs, but I appreciate how they do things differently.

Oatly has been both praised and criticized for its approach to advertising and marketing. It must be doing something right, with sales up 106% in 2020 – and it was named to the 2021 Time 100 Most Influential List. The company is now worth $12.5 billion after its initial public offering in May.

Even though Oatly is newer to American consumers, the company is nearly 30 years old (its founders invented oat milk in 1994). So when CEO Toni Petersson joined the company in 2014, he rebranded it and decided to market Oatly in the U.S. With the plant-based milk market growing here, it turned out to be a good bet.

Oatly is an example of how sometimes marching to the beat of your own drummer can set you apart – in a good way.

How Oatly Is Finding Success by Marching to the Beat of Its Own Drummer

Continue reading 5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from Oatly’s Outside the Box Approach

14 #FreelanceChat Guests Offer Their Best Advice for Freelancers in 2021

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Freelancing has never been easy, but it is more popular than ever. There are now about 1.1 billion freelancers around the world.

Managing your own freelance business involves wearing many hats. As a long-time self-employed freelance consultant, I longed to support other freelancers, so I started #FreelanceChat on Twitter in Sept. 2018. As we head into a new year, I like to ask some of our guests the advice they might give to other freelancers.

Here’s what our expert guests had to say.

14 Tips for Freelancers from #FreelanceChat Guests

Continue reading 14 #FreelanceChat Guests Offer Their Best Advice for Freelancers in 2021

5 Reasons to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences Right Now – and What to Say

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As we catch our breath from the past few weeks of dealing with the coronavirus quarantine, one thing has become apparent – companies are anxious to keep in touch with their audiences. They’re just not sure what to say to them.

With our daily routines as we know them on pause for now, brands are searching for ways to stay in contact with their employees, customers and other stakeholders.

And, some are in doubt about the best way to do this. Should we post on social media? Should we email? Should it be business as usual?

The answers to that question are differ from brand to brand. In this time of uncertainty, no one formula works for everyone.

The worst thing companies can do right now is to stop communicating. If anything, now is a time when you should over-communicate.

5 Reasons You Want to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences

Continue reading 5 Reasons to Over-Communicate With Your Audiences Right Now – and What to Say

My Favorite Posts of 2017

My favorite posts of 2017

As I look back on 2017, it’s been a banner year for my business. I’ve done more writing than ever and attracted some great new clients.

What I’ve learned is that when you do what you love, people notice. I love PR—but I’ve always loved writing. So writing about public relations and the disciplines it touches on—content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, email marketing and others—just makes sense. It’s when I’m at my happiest, delving deeper into topics that are of interest to me and my PR brethren.

So, in that spirit, I wanted to share a round-up of my favorite pieces I worked on this year. Continue reading My Favorite Posts of 2017

Put on your “news hat” when reaching out to media

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I was meeting with a new client today to talk about what we might do regarding media outreach. They were interested in publicizing the anniversary of their business, which is perfectly worthy of a press release and some local media outreach.

Then, we started talking about other ideas and how we might tie those in to trends and topics that are currently hot. During that brainstorming session, we hit on a topic that has the potential to be a bigger story regarding industry trends and how the field is growing, etc. I got excited—and so did they—when we realized we’d tapped into a topic that goes beyond the fact that they’re celebrating an anniversary.

Sometimes, you have to put on your “news hat” when thinking about what the media might find appealing. Yes, there are always those stories that may be interesting from a local perspective, but uncovering topics that go beyond the local media to perhaps an even bigger audience can be a thrill.

Once you hit on a topic you think will capture a reporter’s attention, always consider:

  • What statistics might be beneficial to include
  • What images or video might be compelling
  • What third party sources might you provide

When you craft your email pitch, offer these additional resources to help round out the story. (Just be sure to have what you offer ready to provide, if they take you up on it.)

PR pros with a background in journalism are particularly skilled at uncovering these ideas. We’re trained to think like a reporter and tap into story ideas you may not have even thought of. So, take a cue from a journalist and what started as a routine effort may turn into something much bigger.

Labor Day is lurking–hold your PR activities until next week!

Don’t look now, but Labor Day is lurking just around the corner! While everyone looks forward to a long weekend–and this is summer’s last hurrah–it can throw a bit of a monkey wrench into your PR plans.

As I was thinking of my own clients and the timing of what they have coming up, I thought I’d share my tips for issuing news or contacting media around the holidays. Keep in mind:

  • The Friday before a holiday weekend can be a poor time to issue news or pitch reporters, as many take off early (or may even take the whole day off!)
  • Of course, the holiday is Monday–avoid contacting journalists then or issuing press releases
  • The Tuesday following the long holiday weekend should also be avoided, as many are coming back to inboxes filled with even more email than they’d normally have to slog through

So, bottom line: pitch before or after the holiday weekend, keeping these tips in mind! By the middle of next week, things should be getting back to normal and should be all clear for any media outreach you choose to do.

Enjoy the LONG weekend!

 

Need ideas for your next blog post? 5 free resources

If you’re like me, you have TOO many ideas for blog posts. I keep a running list whenever I come up with a topic that sounds like it might be a good fit. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really inspired, I’ll even start jotting down a few ideas that usually become part of the post.

But alas, I know many struggle to come up with ideas for content. If so, don’t despair! Here from Ragan’s and Entrepreneur is a piece to help:

5 free blog idea generators to liven up your content

These are useful and FREE resources that allow you to type in a keyword (or three) and come up with ideas for topics you can write about. And, they’re easy to use.

Some are content idea generators while others are blog topic generators. The only difference is that the former lets you fill in only one keyword per search while the latter allows you to enter three. I was familiar with HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator but hadn’t hear of some of the others. Might be worth checking them out to see which one you like best.

So, now that you have no excuses, get going on your next blog post!

PR: A Powerful Tool for Startups on a Budget

Is PR worth it for startups? I recently wrote a post asking if startups really need PR. Of course, my take is that they do. Having lived and worked for years in startup land, i.e. Silicon Valley, I have many stories of how the power of PR transformed a company’s visibility. PR can provide this visibility for a fraction of the cost of other marketing or advertising methods. Of course, if you have the budget, it’s great to do all three, but many startups are strapped for cash.

So I came across this piece in the Huffington Post, Why HR, PR and IT Are Worthy Startup Investments, which makes the case for spending the precious cash startups do have on PR. The article makes a couple of important points about PR:

“In the end, the content promoted by a PR professional is free, and the PR service may well be cheaper than a TV ad or banner.”

This is something I often cover in my speaking engagements because it needs explaining. Many don’t understand that all they pay for PR is the cost of the time of the person doing the work. There’s no cost for true PR placements. PR differs from advertising in that you don’t know where or when the article may appear or what it will say. It’s not like placing an ad and knowing exactly what page it will show up and how it will read. But, think of it like this: Are you more likely to believe in a product or service when you read about it an ad or in an article? A study by Nielsen (commissioned by inPowered) concluded that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising in the consumer decision-making process[i]. These stats to back up the fact that more of us are partial to what we read in articles versus ads. So, not only is PR less expensive than advertising, but it’s actually more credible.

Leading me to the second point the article made:

“PR is subtle and effective, working to earn attention instead of grabbing it.”

PR doesn’t hit you over head the way an ad can. “Buy this product! Buy it now and save! Buy, buy, buy!!!” And this is if you even read the ad….how many of us actually stop to read the ads?! On the other hand, if an article is published about your product, service or company, it will probably give an example of the product is being used, quote an actual user or, if it’s a review, give the opinion of the reviewer. This provides immediate credibility with the reader.

Yes, PR may be quieter than advertising, but it leaves a more favorable, lasting impression at a lower price tag—something to consider the next time you look at your marketing budget.

[i] http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2014/07/08/the-real-difference-between-pr-and-advertising-credibility/