5 Tips to Keep Your Newsroom Newsworthy

30 11 2012

(Guest post by Leslie Dagg, Account Supervisor)

With 2013 quickly approaching, you might be taking a look back on 2012 to take stock of successes, lessons learned and improvements to be made. During this review, setting aside time to review your company’s website – and most importantly, the online newsroom section – can be valuable.

Having a newsroom and simply posting occasional updates just isn’t enough in today’s 24/7 “I need it NOW” news cycle.

There is an increasing need for accessible, updated content, and journalists – especially digital journalists and bloggers – are in a frantic quest for the information they seek.

If a reporter needs background information, images, video, people to quote, etc. they usually need it FAST. They’ll likely turn to the web first. Even when a reporter doesn’t have a split-second deadline, making your company’s information accessible and worthwhile can help build solid relationships with journalists over time.

So as you look to build momentum for the new year, here are some tips to help make your newsroom a premium asset to your targeted media:

1. Don’t Hide Your Contact Information. Make sure to list contact names, phone numbers and email addresses so reporters can reach the right person. One of the most frustrating things to encounter on a website: a general, nameless, indirect “contact us” form listed as the only contact option. Avoid this at all costs.

2. About You. Post a corporate fact sheet which gives a quick, accurate overview and perspective on the company in terms of size, revenues, employment, products / services, markets served, locations, etc., all in one place. Reporters find facts and numbers like these essential to building their stories.

3. Put a Face On It. Include short biographies and a professional photo for each of your top executives and spokespeople – list their backgrounds, specialties and achievements to help introduce them to media visitors.

 4. Gallery of Options. Don’t underestimate how much hi-res images, video clips and other multimedia options can help you gain media coverage and repeat visitors. Remember our mantra: Everyone reads pictures. Media need these at their fingertips. Maintaining an accessible multimedia gallery section is absolutely key.

5. Update. Update again. Update some more. Be sure to keep your online newsroom current and fresh with new entries to help guarantee more consistent traffic and to prevent media from using out-of-date or incorrect information. Update bio sketches for executives as soon as they’re named to a new position, keep financial figures up-to-date, and post background and images on new products as soon as they are available.

PRSA Detroit Hall of Fame Induction

20 11 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg-Muzik, APR, Vice President – Account Services)

We depart from our usual content to recognize a special event in Bianchi PR’s history — the induction of Jim Bianchi into the PRSA Detroit Chapter’s Hall of Fame. He received the chapter’s highest honor in recognition of his contribution to the chapter, the profession and the Detroit community for more than 30 years. Below are my introduction (JKM) and Jim’s acceptance remarks (JB).

JKM: Those who know Jim are keenly aware that he’s never been one to seek the spotlight. However, the team at Bianchi PR felt that Jim would make an excellent addition to the  PRSA Hall of Fame for many reasons.

Not only has he supported and been involved in PRSA Detroit for more than 30 years, but more importantly, he has encouraged his team to become involved in PRSA Detroit, as well as mentored the next generation of PR practitioners. In addition, Jim is highly respected throughout the profession by clients, colleagues, media and, yes, even competitors.

This, along with his ethical industry conduct, deep-rooted relationships and “roll up your sleeves to get the job done” mentality helps explain why Bianchi PR is celebrating  20 years in business and why Jim received this special Hall of Fame honor.

For every team that excels to greatness is a coach whose mentoring, constant support and encouragement enables the team to thrive. Jim has certainly been that coach for the Bianchi PR team and so many others in the PR profession. It is my pleasure to present PRSA Detroit’s 2012 Hall of Fame award to Jim Bianchi.

JB: Thanks, Jessica, for the kind introduction.

You know, in baseball, a player doesn’t qualify for Hall of Fame status until after they’ve been away from the game for a while … either retired or expired. So I hope someone’s not trying to tell me something!

Seriously, the Hall of Fame is such an incredible honor!

I’d like to thank all those involved … starting with Jessica, who — unbeknownst to me — submitted my nomination … my colleagues on the Senior Council … and the officers and board of directors of PRSA Detroit … and of course, to the heart and soul of PRSA Detroit, Nancy Skidmore.

PR is a team effort, so I’d like to share this recognition with my wife, Laura, who has stood by me through thick and thin … and the rest of our terrific team at Bianchi PR. They are simply the best team ever!

I am truly blessed … and proud … to work with this talented group of people … and to partner with some of the best clients in the world.

Thanks, too, to our vendor partners, media friends and PR colleagues who have supported and encouraged me over the years. And a special thanks go tonight to a friend and mentor who has counseled me for three decades and is still counseling me, Jack Thiessen. He is in Florida celebrating his 91st birthday today … but he can still outwrite ALL of us.

I’m truly humbled to join the Hall of Fame … because it includes some Detroit PR legends that I have respected and admired – and been inspired by — for years … including a few people who, thanks to PRSA Detroit, I have come to know as role models and friends.

You know, in the 32 years I’ve been a member of this chapter, there have been a lot of changes. But one thing has not changed: it has always been an important resource for me and my team – both professionally and personally.

And the BEST thing about this chapter … is that, even more than it honors the past and celebrates the past … it looks ahead and prepares us for the future.

So, with your help, I plan to continue to support the chapter in its mission in the days ahead … and to spend the next 20 years trying to live up to this honor you’ve given me tonight.

Thank you all.

Advice for the PR Student

6 11 2012

(Post by Jaclyn Reardon, Assistant Account Executive)

As a recent grad with one year on the job, I’ve found that there’s a lot more you should know about the practice of PR than you learn in college. 

While college PR courses are an excellent source for the basics of things such as writing, programming and communication theory, there are many aspects to the industry that aren’t covered in your typical coursework.

So it helps if you give yourself a head start by building your knowledge base through internships and by attending workshops and meetings put on by your neighborhood PRSA or PRSSA chapter.

Beyond that, here are a few other things to keep in mind as you make your way to the PR profession:

Computer skills

In school, we all use computers to complete assignments. But do you really know how to use the programs you may need on the job?  Enhancing your computer skills by taking courses on the basic business programs such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint can really help. And honing your research skills and getting experience with both Macs and PCs will also be extremely helpful in your first real PR job.

Balancing a workload

Time management is extremely important on the job, especially if it requires you to deal with multiple clients. Whether you are working in-house or at an agency, you will need to stay organized while juggling several projects. There are a number of approaches and tools you can use, so investigate and experiment with them, and see which one works best for you and your situation.

And while you’re interning, don’t be afraid to ask the professionals you work with what methods they use. When you find a system that works for you, be disciplined about using it consistently.

Relationship building

While most college instructors will remind you to always conduct yourself professionally, they don’t really explain how to build successful relationships. PR, after all, is a RELATIONSHIP business, so relationship building is a must — whether you’re working with the media, clients or colleagues.

Relationships take work … so make the effort, be available and responsive, always follow-up and always follow through. For information on how to create and maintain relationships with the media (one of the most important groups with which you’ll deal as a PR pro), check out Reflect & Relate: Eight Factors for Successful Media Relationships.

The business side

In PR classes, while you may typically practice writing press releases, creating media lists and even developing larger scale projects, you may not get much exposure to the business side of things. If you have an opportunity to work in a PR agency setting, things like the logistics of billing clients and how to keep a timesheet will be necessities.

Also, in the real world, you must always keep a client’s budget and timeline in mind. No longer do you have a professor saying “sky’s the limit” for hypothetical projects. You’ll be working with real clients with real budgets … and often tight deadlines.

In a corporate or non-profit setting, there’s a slightly different aspect to think about. You must have a solid understanding of your organization and its products, services or cause … your key publics and what is important to them, and how PR fits into the enterprise’s big picture.

Next Steps

So take what you’re learning in the classroom, add some practical experience with a few internships and ask a lot of questions. (Our CEO recommends three internships if possible — one at an agency, a second at a news outlet and a third at a corporation or non-profit — so you get well-rounded view of our chosen profession.) If you’re interested in checking out our tips for interns, visit The Freshman 5: Tips for Interns.

If you do these things, you’ll be off to a great start!


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