What Matters More than Relationships

What is more important than relationships in PR?

PR Success and Relationships

In media relations respect and relevance matter more than relationships. Many clients believe the key to success in media relations is who the PR person knows. My experience has proved that successful PR is less about how many relationships I have with media and more about how deeply I respect and understand reporters’ needs and their time.

More than going out for coffee or schmoozing at an event, what opens the most emails and gets phone calls returned is a well thought out story tailored to that publication with images and visuals and sources who are available to be interviewed.  Having a reputation as a solid professional who doesn’t waste a reporter’s time will open just as many doors.

Key Skills Your PR Pro Should Have That Matter More than Contacts

1) Does your PR pro start with questions? Do they ask why you are seeking coverage for this story or angle? Can they frame if or why the reader/viewer/listener would care? Can they determine if the story is truly relevant now? Did they ask where you would most like to see the story run? Can they tell you if your desired publication is likely to cover your story? Do they know if the targeted media has covered anything similar recently? Do they know news is breaking right now and will that make it more difficult to pitch? How do they determine who is the best journalist to contact about the story?

2) How does your PR pro do research? Contrary to what you may believe research is needed no matter how many contacts a PR person may have because they all are not right for your story. You don’t want them spraying out a pitch to a standard list, you want them to give it to reporters who may have real interest. To do that they need to find the right journalist at each outlet. Every journalist is different. However, they all expect a PR person to know what they write about, what they have done in the past, and what is appropriate for the publication. They expect us to relate your story to what they are interested in and to what their audience would find worth consuming.

3) How well does your PR person get the story? If a pitch takes more than 4-5 lines to outline, then it needs to be tightened up. Do they have the facts and figures at hand? Are they prepared for questions the reporter may ask and how will they prepare you for the interview?

4) How do they prepare your story for multiple mediums? It used to be that a newspaper was in print and a radio station was over airwaves. With the internet, that is no longer the case. Print, television, radio, and digital media must include the story in written, digital, and visual forms. And often one reporter is tasked with creating stories for multiple mediums. A plain text-heavy press release or media pitch won’t cut it anymore. If you can offer photos, graphics, and videos you have a better chance of getting pick up.

5) Are they professionally persistent? Your PR pro likely will not get a hit the first time reaching out, but a good pro will keep trying. They may have to reshape the story to have a better appeal or offer different aspects of the story to different media.  IThey should be able to keep the dialogue relevant, sharp, and smart, and eventually, they will get that email returned, get that call answered,  or get that coffee date.

When choosing a PR partner, give more priority to how well they can identify and shape a story, versus how many media relationships they claim. We all have ways of building media lists and identifying good contacts, but we obviously cannot build a relationship with every journalist in every beat for every industry in which we serve clients. We can build a solid reputation as a smart professional who respects the role of the journalist. True, when you are regularly working on stories together, relationships are built. But it is upon mutual respect instead of a desire to get covered. There are no shortcuts here.


Content is King in PR

In PR, Content is King but He Has Many Crowns. Think Beyond the Press Clip.

While good content still reigns in PR, Content Delivery Must Go Beyond the News Release

Getting the right press coverage and building brand exposure is important, since third-party endorsements, such as earned media from trusted publications, carries a lot of weight in the minds of potential buyers. However, our definition of media and the ways in which we can ‘be in the media’ have changed dramatically in recent years with the explosion of niche publications, social outlets, mobile technologies, and a huge movement towards brand publishing. No longer are we solely reliant upon a traditional news media gatekeeper to earn that sought-after third-party endorsement. At the same time, decision-makers are also placing increasing value on educational and informative content created by industry and company thought leaders, even on branded channels. It is clear that content is still king, even if the delivery format has expanded.

  • 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Roper Public Affairs, 2012)
  • 75 percent of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. (Demand Gen Report, 2014)
  • The average B2B buyer has completed 57 percent of the purchase process before engaging a vendor’s sales team. (CEB/Google, 2012)

Because there are so many ways to get content in front of your audiences, it’s crucial take a broader approach to your PR strategy that includes traditional media relations, self-published content including articles, social content, blogs, case studies, infographics, and videos placed on non-branded channels, and branded content on owned channels. Afterall, public relations professionals are storytellers, we are your brand’s reporters. So when considering expanding your content arsenal, you need to look no further than your PR partner.

When identifying storylines that would generate interest from media as well as your target audience, here are some key story elements  we keep in mind:

  • Timeliness: News, by its very definition, is ‘new’ information. How can you contribute to cutting-edge discussions in your industry?
  • Relevance: How is your product or service different? What makes it stand out? What problem does it solve and for whom? and What human, relatable, characters and events are involved?
  • Novelty: How is the particular angle or argument unique? Are you saying the same thing as everybody else? How can you make a strong case to be heard in the crowd?
  • Passion: What struggle does this solve, what challenges were faced in its development? Where are the tension and resolution?
  • Proof: How can your story be supported and proven by statistics, data, testimonials, examples?
  • Scope: What segment of the population is affected? Does it relate to a national trend? Can it be localized?

The next challenge we tackle is to tailor the story according to each channel we will publish it in and, in the case of media relations, to personalize your story to the interests and audience of the journalist we plan on reaching out to.

PR professionals can take a good story and give it many lives through different forms of content. This broadens awareness of your brand with a consistent message to ultimately grow engagement, generate leads, increase traffic, encourage customer loyalty, influence behavior, and demonstrate leadership. When developing your PR strategy, think beyond the press clip and identify how many channels and formats your unique story can be told.


When Brand Sponsorship Works

April 19, 2017 – So, I am sure we are all excited and relieved that #ApriltheGiraffe FINALLY had her baby. Perhaps no one is more excited about the whole event than the marketers at Toys “R” Us.

I was not an avid follower of the pregnancy saga. Been there. Did that. Got the t-shirt (and three offspring of my own). But, I couldn’t ignore the live Giraffe cam as it came through my Facebook feed every day. Then one day, I noticed something different. There was a Toys “R” Us logo on the feed.

It turns out that during the baby watch, that seemed to go on forever, the contract for the Adventure Park’s live stream sponsor ran out. Candace Disler, an observant assistant PR manager at Toys “R” Us, took notice and contacted the park. With the Toys “R” Us mascot Geoffrey already a household name, the sponsorship was a perfect fit. All it took was a PR pro who was in tune with the news of the day and had the courage to act on the challenge given her team to look for new ways to grow and extend the brand.

During the two weeks since Toys “R” Us took over sponsorship and the new baby was born, the stream had more than 300 million views. In another brilliant move, when the precious moment finally happened the logo switched to Babies “R” Us. Toys “R” Us also created content and creatively positioned giraffe products on its own websites. The brand’s social channels increased 200% since the sponsorship and the brand got coverage on Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Today, Fox News Channel and CNN.

Well played Toys “R” Us.

Read about it at http://www.campaignlive.com/article/toys-r-us-sticks-its-neck-april-giraffe/1430871#ccQKctFTv7Fd6PyI.99

How to kill the sale

Not too long ago, I had an interaction with a rep from a trade association through which I was trying to book a client for a sponsorship/speaking opportunity. My interactions with this so-called industry “expert,” left much to be desired and provides a good example of how to kill a sale.

You see, in our discussions, he tried to sell his services in order to make our curriculum more of a value to the audience. When I asked for his bio to discuss this option with my client, he got all puffed up and said: “If you read my LinkedIn profile, you would know I am qualified.”

Kill the Sale blog title

 Here is how not to get the sale:
  • Don’t  answer emails or calls.
  • When you do return the call, don’t answer questions about the organization you represent, but pitch your personal services for a fee.
  • Don’t have sales materials that explain what you do.
  • Have a confusing website.
  • Get offended when asked for credentials or a bio.
  • Make the client search to find out why you are qualified to do the work for which they want to hire you. Tell them to “look you up on LinkedIn.”
  • Make yourself more important than your prospect.

So You’ve Been to the Trade Show: What is Next?

So you have recently attended a conference or trade show. You were well prepared. You identified your goals and used your time to make key connections. But the show is over and you are back home. Now what? Don’t let all the preparation and time well-spent go to waste by getting caught up in catching up and not following through. 

An essential part of marketing and networking is the follow through. Here are Ten Tips for Post Conference Follow Through.

Trade Show Season Post

1. Make a top line list of all media that came by the booth or with whom you visited and determine  follow up activities for each. Next determine who is responsible and when  should the follow up take place.

2. Make a list of all competitors that you visited at the show and include any important notes such as products they premiered, their booth or showroom presentation,  sponsorships they took part in and their social media presence.

3. Take note of general observations about you or your client’s booth display/location/activity/overall presence. What worked well? What changes would you suggest in the future?

4. Review the social media from the show? Were there any innovative tactics used that could be of future reference?

5. The show offers lots of client one-on-one time. Make a list of any new developments/news we learned from our clients, colleagues or partners and summarize these insights for people on your team who did not attend the show.

6. Take note, in a place you will remember to reference in the future, of new ideas or opportunities for  the next year.

7. Recap the media connections, social mentions, and placements  made in a report to your boss or client.

8. Send a hand written note to new contacts, old friends and media you met or reconnected with.

9. Make any necessary follow up emails and phone calls within the first week.

10. Review any literature or swag you brought home and file it for reference, pass it on to someone who did not attend and might have interest or get rid of it. This is the pile that is most likely to sit, untouched until next year, so go ahead and handle it now.

We hope these tips help you make the most of your conference and trade show experience.

15 Tips To Maximize Trade Show PR

15 Tips for Maximize Trade Show PR Potential

It is nearly Spring and we are approaching trade shows and conference season. You’ve been there. The frantic rush to get your booth and materials ready, to prepare a presentation you have been asked to speak on, or to set up key appointments. We all know trade shows are a good place to put your goods and services on display and connect with sales prospects and other industry partners. Conferences also offer an opportunity to further your education within an industry or niche, make connections, and garner awareness as a speaker or exhibitor. However, with the sensory overload and many options in which to invest your time at the trade show, one can easily get distracted from the mission.

Once you, or your organization, have made an investment to attend one of these industry events, you want to be sure to maximize the PR potential of attending in addition to the business potential.

15 Tips To Maximize Trade Show PRHere are 15 tips for maximizing the potential of trade shows and conferences:

1. Pre-show promotion

About one month before the conference, you will want to call clients, prospects and media who may be attending to set up appointments and meeting times. Have a written purpose for each meeting and be sure that includes finding out how you can add value for them.

2. Prepare for long days

The convention or exhibit floor is often a long way from your room. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for walking. I often bring protein bars or a piece of fruit to calm hunger pains between mealtimes. You’ll also want to make sure to have your phone charger and a backup charger because cell batteries drain quickly at all day conventions.

3. Research the media audience and the types of companies/attendees that will attend the show

Review the conference website for an idea of who is going to be there and what types of networking and educational events would be important to attend. Ask the conference coordinator for a list of people/media attending, review last year’s list, and follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter to get a sense of who is attending and with whom you would like to connect.

4. Set measurable networking objectives for your team and check in daily

Set objectives for media networking, new business networking, and client relationship building. Determine with whom each of you should connect and map out a strategy to meet with these prospects and what you would like to accomplish with each interaction. Schedule nightly check-ins to give staff a chance to share experiences and capitalize on relational opportunities.

5. Assign roles and responsibilities

Assign individuals attending the show a specific task or role. Don’t assume team members know what to do on the floor. There is often a lot of down time when exhibiting. This is a good time to observe competitors and take notes.

6. Practice your message

Have your elevator speeches ready to roll off the tip of your tongue. What type of people might you connect with at the conference? What do you these people to know about you, your organization, your products and serves? What do you want them to do (the ask)? Don’t wing it. Write it down and practice.

7. Schedule the tasks/have an event run down

A detailed schedule and plan will help us get the most out of each trade show opportunity. Review the conference schedule and schedule time for breaks, potential meet up opportunities and outside events.

8. Train yourself

Become familiar with your organization’s equipment, products, and sales literature so that you can respond to inquiries as needed. If presenting, make sure you are familiar with how to connect your computer to the onsite technology, how to run the presentation and what your back up plan will be should you have a technology fail.

9. Set up early

Arrive early to set up your booth or table so you have plenty of time for an office store run should you be missing any key supplies. Visit the press room, ensure your kits are displayed at the booth as necessary. Double check you items are in the attendee bags. If speaking, test the technology twice!

10. Watch for VIP visits

Alert sales people to possible VIP industry & media visitors to the booth and make sure they have a protocol for handling these engagements. Train them in key messages or instruct them in what to say/whom to call should media begin asking questions.

11. Take Notes

Note the unusual and fresh ideas on the show floor. Qualify the attending crowd, are they your target audience? Take pictures of any display ideas or branding that inspire you.

12. Make the most of meal times

Use mealtimes as a way to connect with new people or further the relationship with a partner. Resist   the urge to escape and eat alone.

13. Attend vendor events that coincide with the conference or trade show

At many conferences, vendors host “after hours” parties and events. Make sure to attend some of  these prime networking opportunities or consider hosting one of your own.

14. Go beyond the trade show floor

Often the best networking is at the meeting itself. Pay the extra fees to be a full conference attendee  and go to the sessions that are most pertinent to your field. Arrive early and introduce yourself to the  speakers and other attendees.

15. Be active on social media

Conferences will likely have a presence on multiple social media channels including Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Pinterest is a great way to find out what to expect in the city you  are traveling to. Facebook groups often form in advance of a conference to plan and connect ahead  of time. During the conference Twitter is used to live Tweet presentations, promote booth contests  and conference events. Find out and use the conference hashtag to track what others are saying and  doing on site.

To help you prepare for your next trade show or conference, I created a Trade Show Networking Planner, which will help you think strategically about the opportunities that may arise.

Download here: 

Download “Trade-Show-Networking-Planner.pdf” Trade-Show-Networking-Planner.pdf – Downloaded 117 times – 152 KB

What would you add to this list?

Five Lessons Nonprofits Should Learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge

August 30, 2014

By now, everyone has heard of the “ice bucket challenge” and perhaps, many of you have taken it on. Nonprofit marketing teams across the country are likely brainstorming what stunt they can perform in the hopes that it goes “viral.”
Before you begin your campaign, here are five things to consider.


1. The Message Always Matters

Who knows anything more about ALS as a result of this challenge?

While at opening day ceremonies for my daughter’s football/cheerleading season, the coaches took on the ice bucket challenge in honor of a coach who had fought the disease. It was a touching gesture for the park and the family. As we looked on, my oldest asked me what ALS is. I could not tell her. We walked away from the stunt, not any more informed and not any more inclined to donate.

While many people are certainly aware that there is a disease termed ALS (also known as Lou Gerhigs Disease), and an amazing amount of funds have been made, most people probably could not tell you what ALS stands for, what the disease is and how the donations are going help. To raise awareness beyond the name of the disease, those making the challenge might have been encouraged to state a definition or fact about ALS when making their challenge or share a website to direct people too.

2. Connect the Challenge to the Cause

To make a stronger impact, make sure the challenge you are asking people to take on makes sense with your brand/message. What does ice water have to do with ALS?

An even stronger challenge would be to get people to do something related to ALS.

Matt Damon muddied the messaging waters even further by dumping dirty water on himself to raise awareness of the countries that don’t have clean water. This stunt would have made perfect sense for an organization that was about clean water.

3. Don’t Distract People from the Goal

Despite its success, the ice bucket challenge was a flawed concept from its onset. They asked people to do the fun (or outrageous) action of dumping a bucket of ice over your head or donate $100. If the donation is the goal, don’t give people a way out.

Participants soon saw the flaw and began to change the challenge by asking people to donate in addition to dumping water on their heads.

4. Make it Sustainable

Happily, ALS raised an enormous amount of money this year. Can they sustain it? They will have to do careful budgeting without the dollar signs in their eyes, so that whatever programs or initiatives they fund this year will be able to continue when next year’s numbers are significantly lower.

5. Timing is Everything

I’ve recently seen an organization I support try a “me too” challenge hoping to get people to video themselves dancing for 21 seconds in support of those with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and challenging their friends to do the same. In some ways, this challenge is more appropriate to the organization than the ALS challenge is but, as they say, “timing is everything.” Don’t launch a “me too” challenge while the original break out challenge is still spreading like wild fire!

We are a few weeks into this challenge and this creative idea has raised $100 million (The ALS Association, and its chapters, collectively raised $64 million last year, as reported in Forbes). The combination of an embraceable cause, a patient-initiated challenge featuring a silly activity and celebrity involvement, caused the stunt to rush through social channels like a tsunami wave. As the challenge begins to wane, some controversy is stirring up about how much of the money is actually going to programs and research and how much is supporting very large salaries. This leads to a sixth, bonus, point to consider when strategizing a public campaign: Explain where the money goes clearly and upfront.

Introducing MarketAbility PR

Helping Causes Communicate.

MarketAbility PR is a scalable approach to integrated communications to help cause organizations increase visibility and engagement through social, marketing and media channels.

Having spent much of my career working with nonprofit organizations of all scopes, issues and sizes, I have noticed a common thread of communication challenges running through all of them. In 2010, I gave birth to a baby boy who had Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, which means he has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. In an instant, I became an advocate for persons with developmental disabilities with the hope that one day inclusion will be the norm and these special people will have better opportunities for a full and meaningful life experience. It is because of this passion, that I decided to combine my communications background with my experience working with nonprofits to develop a scalable approach to help cause organizations better communicate.

This approach includes:


  • Tips and trends to help your cause better communicate found on our blog
  • Webinars and Podcasts
  • Ebooks
  • Virtual training
  • Coaching
  • Workshops
  • Communications Support

  • Advertising
  • Audits and plan development
  • Awareness campaigns
  • Content Creation
  • Digital
  • Grant writing
  • Marketing communications
  • Promotions
  • Social media management
  • Thought leadership
  • Traditional media
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