Posts Tagged ‘PR pro’

Some PR Pros Are Similar To James Bond

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

I was watching James Bond in a gunfight with bad guys. The bad guys fired bullets everywhere but never hit their target. 007 waited patiently for the perfect moments, fired one well-placed shot at a time, taking out the bad guys one by one.

This reminded me of public relations professionals. When I was a TV reporter, I sensed many PR pros fired pitches to me aimlessly. They hoped they would hit a target. Too often, Dr. No was the answer.

Others in public relations waited patiently for the perfect moment, picked their targets (reporters) wisely and fired. Fancy gadgets were unnecessary.

Bond’s style wins. Are you taking his approach? Otherwise, you might have a license to kill … your own pitch, which means it was for your eyes only.

Media Relations: 10 Reasons To Love TV News Producers

Friday, January 25th, 2013

When reporters don’t like a PR pro’s story idea, reporters can simply pretend to pitch the idea and blame the producers for not liking it. This is similar to husbands blaming their wives when telling a salesman “no.”

Producers are not afraid to come to work in jeans and ponytails, a stark contrast to reporters who walk in daily under a mound of make-up and Hollywood sunglasses.

Producers won’t hesitate to tell you which reporters popular with the public are actually quite lazy.

Managers often think producers are their allies, but producers sometimes mock managers even more than reporters.

Producers can actually move up in their industry for hard work, while reporters often must rely on whether they’re hot enough to turn on some middle-aged executive reviewing resumes in a corner office.

Producers are the first to know about free food and will save you some if you’re not a lazy reporter.

Producers aren’t afraid to laugh at their old anchors who constantly flirt with them.

Because they sit in the newsroom most of the day, they often have the best gossip, especially about managers, who like to pretend everything is amazing.

Producers will go bat s—t crazy on photographers who complain about stories simply because the assignments require them to set up live shots far from the station late in the day.

Producers who find good and reliable reporters aren’t afraid to let them try some off-the-wall story ideas that wouldn’t fly with managers who can’t see past crime and house fires.

Some People Called Our Ragan.com Article Mean-Spirited And Claimed We Have No Idea What We’re Talking About

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Wow! First off, plenty of people liked our Ragan.com article questioning the use of terms such as “media advisory” and “immediate release” on news releases. But others … you would think I wrote a controversial article about taxes, spending and the fiscal cliff. People complain how politicians turn negative and can not respectfully disagree. After reading some of the comments posted about our article, I’m beginning to believe some of the politicians learned such behavior from the public. Several of my critics depicted my attempt at humor as snarky and mean-spirited. I don’t care if you disagree with me, but what drives someone to verbally throw me off the cliff? I don’t dare claim to know the answers about society, but I gather I raised questions about some long-held practices. And instead of some of these PR pros seeing this as an opportunity to question conventional wisdom and at least for a split second consider a change of course, they decided the better approach was to depict me as an empty-headed jerk who must have stolen his awards and graduated by mistake from one of the country’s best journalism schools. But those folks don’t know my story because they didn’t take a few seconds to read it. Hey, the good news is a couple of people I haven’t communicated with in a long time read the article and got back in touch. We exchanged some pleasant emails.

http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/45820.aspx#idc-cover

Take It From A Reporter: Some PR Pros Are Stuck In Past

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

 

Take It From A Reporter:  Some PR Pros Are Stuck In 1960While working in TV news, I once started a Twitter debate with a PR pro after I Tweeted adding the words “For Immediate Release” on pitches to reporters is unnecessary. The conversation inspired the PR pro to write a blog on the topic. I still don’t understand why PR pros add those words or other phrases such as “Media Advisory.”

 

  • Even if you don’t write “media advisory,” no one is going to mistake your news release as an advisory from the U.S. Coast Guard or the National Weather Service.
  • If you’re married to the words “media advisory,” save the phrase for straight forward, nuts and bolts news releases that accomplish little more than share information. Send such pitches to the newsroom’s assignment desk, which can forward the story to the correct reporter.
  • Consider this:  Have journalists ever told you they accidentally deleted your pitch because you didn’t properly label it with “media advisory”?
  • Whether you write “For Immediate Release” or not, reporters assume if you send it, they can use it immediately.
  • Just because a college professor or some PR agency taught you to write “Media Advisory” or “For Immediate Release” doesn’t make it meaningful or right.
  • Those two phrases at the top of a pitch often gave me a heads up I was about to read something coming out of Boringville.
  • If you write “For Immediate Release,” I assume you still type “www” before URLs and get your oil changed every 3000 miles.
  • One final thought:  PR has changed since 1980.

 

Public Relations: Alligators On Reality TV Can Teach PR Pros Something In A Snap

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012
Communications, PR, PR pro, PR pros, pr pros, alligators, reality tv, reptile,
  • If the public generally views a client as someone who viciously feeds off others, portray him as a victim of circumstances.
  • If the public fears a client, transform that fear into fascination.
  • If a client is unattractive with the personality of a reptile, bring out the unknown side that resembles a puppy dog who comes when called.
  • If the public considers your client as not very smart, show how great instincts help her excel in her environment.
  • If the public wants to keep its distance from your client, make people feel sorry for him.
  • If you think TV would never be interested in your client, watch how many reality TV shows turn alligators into stars.

Media Relations: Be A Nag … To Your Clients

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Media Relations:  Be A Nag … To Your Clients

When someone pitched me a story idea, I often asked follow-up questions. The people pitching often didn’t know the answers. I could tell they sometimes guessed at answers. Other times, they needed to ask someone else and get back to me, which took time.

Consider pitching a story to media as simply the start of a conversation. A journalist won’t always read your pitch, shout “That’s it!” and follow up with “Let’s do this!” Reporters often hear ideas and want to mold them into something slightly different. PR pros can’t expect to know all the answers to every obscure follow-up question.

I recently pitched a story that inspired several follow-up questions from several members of the media. I didn’t guess at the answers. If I guessed wrongly, the client and I would look bad and break trust if the story didn’t ultimately deliver what we promised. Before providing answers, I called the client several times. Yes, I felt like a nag. But getting the facts straight is not only the job of journalists. That’s still my job. Ensure your clients understand your business relationship will include days of constant communications.

Also, you might as well be holding up two cans attached by a string if your client doesn’t pick up the phone when you call with a quick question. Often, people in public relations pitching me stories could not reach their clients in a timely fashion. Call it the bat phone. Call it the red phone. Call it whatever you want. But you need to exchange telephone numbers that won’t allow messages to swirl in the depths of someone’s voice mail. Journalists don’t often wait around. Too many other stories are waiting for them.

PR Pros: Don’t Stalk The Media

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Public Relations Pros:  Don’t Stalk The MediaSomeone in public relations pitched me a story idea and I shared it with an assignment editor. The assignment editor told me to tell the person we would file away the idea. To me, the concept of a media outlet filing away an idea is often equivalent to an employer’s letter stating it will keep your resume on file. I asked the assignment editor if she actually planned to cover the story one day. She said no. I responded that I would simply tell the PR pro the station is not interested. The assignment editor seemed uncomfortable with that option.

I told the PR pro the truth and she thanked me as if few in the media delivered her such honesty. If I told her otherwise, we would both knowingly be engaging in an unspoken contract of B.S. I’m tired of B.S. It stains too much of our world’s communications. I personally don’t want to contribute any more B.S. to our planet.

Why are much of the media afraid to tell you they don’t like your idea? Why do many journalists prefer to conveniently forget about your email and claim they will pitch it, knowing it will go “splat!” against an invisible brick wall in the editorial meeting?

The answer is no different than why many communicators in business prefer to engage in spin than straight up, keeping-it-real honesty. At some point growing up, most of us are taught being brutally honest in business is too risky. Instead, we B.S. each other and no one is fooled. We grumbled behind closed doors and each other’s backs.

I pitched the media several story ideas the week I wrote this blog. Some people never responded. Some asked follow-up questions but never responded to my answers. Did my email not get through? Did they love my idea and just forget? Should I remind them and save the day? In most cases, I advise don’t fool yourself. This is the game we humans play. Your idea didn’t make the cut. You can’t expect all of them to hit the air or show up in print. The reporters, producers and editors who didn’t get back to you, in most cases, are not jerks or bitches. They are human. Maybe they’re too busy to respond, but that’s an excuse. Not responding is much easier than writing “Thank you for your idea, but I’m not interested” or “With all due respect, your idea sucks.”

Another reason I told PR pros and businesses the truth was because it inspired new conversations. We talked about what the idea lacked. We talked about other ideas. But many in the media don’t invest in this approach. Don’t take it personally.

There’s nothing wrong with one follow-up email or phone call asking if there’s any interest in your magnificent idea that will thrill your client. But don’t dive deep into an arsenal of arguments and try to persuade producers to change their minds considering they left the conversation long ago. Don’t be a public relations stalker. At that point, the journalist is more interested in the free food someone just brought in.

Media Relations: Pitching Stories About “Old” People In This Day And Age

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Pitching Stories About "Old" People In This Day And Age

 

Some of the most influential people in my life are what younger people would describe as old. My 70-year-old Dad is the closest thing I have to a hero.

So I felt somewhat embarrassed last year when a PR Pro pitched me a story about a service assisting senior citizens. I complicated matters by asking her for interviews with the children of the senior citizens. I wanted the children to explain how the service benefitted their parents. Why did I want these interviews?

Local TV stations don’t miss opportunities to report crime committed against seniors. And I’ve covered cool stories about seniors, such as one who went sky diving to celebrate her birthday. But producers and managers also dismissed many stories about seniors because they were not “demo rich,” in the younger age range advertisers crave.

I tried to maneuver around this group thinking by arguing even younger viewers appreciate well told stories about older people. But some producers and managers eventually dismissed me with a sarcastic “everyone has a grandma” followed by a maniacal smirk.

The “demo rich” philosophy doesn’t make sense to me anyway. Baby Boomers seem to be the demographic buying a strong percentage of HD TVs, Blueray players and iPads. During a staff meeting, I once asked a general manager if we need to rethink the traditional demo-rich audience. He didn’t know and a co-worker afterward told me I asked a really dumb question. People sometimes are not willing to challenge conventional wisdom unless someone sends them a memo.

Not all media are the same. But some outlets will approach with closed minds pitches about senior citizens. Unless you wish to write off these outlets, you need to trick them into covering what are often important stories, especially about healthcare. I don’t simply recommend explaining how the story impacts younger audiences. I suggest coming to the table after already securing “younger” interviews ahead of time. Focus your pitch on the younger audience angle. If taking such steps seems silly, then simply pitch journalists who appreciate stories about seniors. But remember producers and managers sometimes don’t care what reporters think.

Meanwhile, remember this is not your great grandfather’s generation of seniors. Some, including my Mom, complain young people, especially in customer service, talk to older people as if they are “stupid.” Remember we can learn a lot from people with decades more of life experience. And based on my Dad’s ability at working his new iPad and downloading apps, the generation gap might be shrinking … at least in the demo-rich category.

Media Relations: We Press For You Not To Write “Press Release”

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Media Relations:  We Press For You Not To Write “Press Release”

When I scrolled through emails offering story ideas, the number of writers who typed the actual words “press release” on their press releases confused me.

Companies and government agencies might believe adding the words press release makes an email to media more official, separating the information from other informal exchanges. I question even this philosophy considering just about any information relayed to the media is fair game, whether the facts are quickly thumbed out on a Blackberry or reviewed by too many cooks in the marketing kitchen.

But too many businesses and PR pros add press release to their pitches as if a college professor is peering over their shoulders, ensuring they follow protocol. Press release not only seems unnecessary, but the words may actually negatively impact a pitch’s success. When I reported, pitches with press release on top immediately indicated someone was sending me the same information everyone else was receiving. No one was handing me an exclusive or offering me a scoop because I was special. I simply was on somebody’s media list. Someone instead was sending a statement typically filled with jargon and worded too formally. I imagine some classically trained PR pros could impress upon me why the words press release are more necessary than I realize, but I’m pressed to think of too many examples.

 

Media Relations For Businesses: Journalists Have A Need For Speed

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Media Relations For Businesses:  Journalists Have A Need For Speed

 

It’s 10:52am and a TV producer is asking if one of our clients is available for a shoot. But when?

“Before 12:30”

“Today or tomorrow?” I ask.

“Today” is her one-word answer.

I have essentially one hour to contact our client, confirm he is free, ensure he can meet at the producer’s requested location and check if the location will let a TV camera inside.

This is the Bermuda Triangle where many businesses and PR pros get lost. When I reported on air, I often called a business or public relations representative and explained the station wants to shoot today, within an hour or two, a previously discussed pitch. The business often couldn’t fulfill such a request. PR pros couldn’t quickly connect with their clients. They lost opportunities. They asked if the station could shoot the story the following day. The following day, the station typically moved onto the latest, greatest idea.

Journalists have a need for speed. Businesses who are serious about obtaining media coverage must expect the unexpected and be ridiculously flexible. Public relations firms must explain this to their clients ahead of time. Journalists don’t often care about your schedule and the game of musical chairs you must play to meet their requests.

In my case, I reached the client, I got him to the requested location and the location welcomed the TV camera. Maybe I enjoyed some luck. But I also prepared our client for moments such as this. He understood. You can’t be picky. So get ready for a quicky.