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.
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