More Bang for Your Trade Show Dollars

24 03 2014

(Guest post by Kayla Brown, Intern)

When it comes time for your company to take part in a trade show or an event just showing up isn’t enough and it won’t guarantee the media coverage you are looking for. So this time around shake it up and try something new.KB Headshot

Trade shows offer prime opportunities to showcase your newest products, as well as opportunities to extend and amplify your messages to a broader audience.

Your company has already spent thousands of dollars on a booth, developing messaging and creating a unique experience for your customers and prospects. Why not enhance that by inviting and interacting with the media?

Engaging reporters with interviews and demonstrations will help reinforce your message by earning media coverage, which can add to your credibility and also reach thousands of customers and prospects who could not attend the show.

Best of all, this can be easily achieved. Here are some simple tips:

1. Reach out to media several weeks before the show. Let them know what you’ll be offering such as new products, demonstrations and who will be available for interviews;

2. Set up interviews or demonstration appointments a week or two before the show;

3. Prepare press materials and brief your spokespeople;

4. Have a PR expert handy during the show to engage and pitch reporters on the spot; and

5. Conduct follow-up with the media after the show to answer any questions and make sure they have all the materials they need (press kit / images / etc.).

Of course, social media is another great way to generate extra buzz before, during and after a trade show. Here’s how:


Create and promote a #hashtag for your show presence so users can find all related tweets. Also, tweet links that lead media and prospects to where they can find information, especially if they were unable to attend.


Post coverage and links on your company’s Facebook page and encourage attendees to “like” your page, so they can post replies, share feedback and learn more.


If you have any videos from the show or press conference, edit the footage into short, exciting segments then promote and link videos to your website and other social media sites.

Integrating traditional PR and social media with your trade show activities can maximize your reach, credibility and impact for enhanced marketing ROI.

Making Personal Connections on a Professional Level Can Lead to PR Success

17 03 2014

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

Not that long ago, I had the opportunity to pitch “key” national and regional media in other parts of the U.S. for a client, which can be a challenge when you don’t already have solid, established relationships with target reporters in areas such as Washington, D.C.JK FB color

Rather than look at this task as daunting, I broke it down into manageable pieces and began my approach. When I pitch, I typically start with a high quality media list that is researched and developed internally at our firm. I research the reporter and study their previous stories. Then I work on drafting my pitch. Now it’s not a “one size fits all pitch,” I customize if for each reporter and, when possible, on a personal level.

Why personal? PR is very much a relationship-based business and when you can find a common personal denominator to break the ice … it simply WORKS!

For example, I needed to pitch a Pittsburgh, PA-based reporter from a major national newspaper. The reporter didn’t know me. However, one of my husband’s best friends works for the local NHL team there, the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a result, I once had an opportunity to visit the area to attend a game. Thus, my note to this particular reporter took on a conversational tone, mentioning the recent Penguins visit, with my pitch later being woven in. It worked. The reporter got back to me immediately. We chatted back and forth a bit and I was able to book a media meeting for our client’s executive with this key reporter. Thus, a very happy client.

So at the end of the day (I hate that phrase, but it works here), we are all just people and making connections on a personal level in our professional life can mean all the difference.

Why Media Don’t Respond and How to Change That

10 03 2014

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

As an intern, I’ve gained an ample amount of experience and learned many important lessons in the professional world of public relations.

One lesson CV FBI found particularly valuable came from a senior executive here, following her interaction with the bureau chief of a major wire service: there’s a reason the media don’t always respond.

While media pitching is integral to the function of PR, it doesn’t always garner the desired results. In fact, countless emails and pitches go unanswered by reporters.

For PR folks, this is maddening, to say the least. Yet, it’s a common practice we’ve yet to truly understand. So, why do reporters ignore us?

After one of our senior staffers pitched an opportunity to meet with a visiting CEO to various national and regional outlets, the previously mentioned journalist, along with many others, declined. As a sign of good faith, our staffer replied, thanking this reporter for at least taking the time to respond.Why Media Don't Respond Image

In response, the reporter provided a reasonable explanation as to why some media don’t respond at all: they don’t have time. As he explained, he receives around 30 pitches and invitations per day. If each takes roughly three minutes to read and reply to, that’s 90 minutes spent reading and responding to pitches every day.

On top of that, as he stated, declining a media pitch or invitation often results in yet another pitch to reconsiderwhich wastes even more of the journalist’s precious time.

So, it’s hard to argue with the practice of ignoring an invitation, especially when saying “no” might result in additional pitches.

Once you understand this happens, here are three ways to help prevent it from happening to you:

1) Target your pitches: For many of us, this is a fairly common practice; however, it may be that you’re pitching to media that don’t cover your client’s industry. To avoid this, double-check each outlet to make sure they’re appropriate for your pitch.

2) Research the reporter: Before adding a reporter to your media list, do some background research on them. Find out what this reporter typically writes about, read his/her previous stories, and make sure your story is related to their beat. Otherwise it could lead to you being banished to their spam folder.

3) Customize your pitch: Instead of blasting a generic message to everyone on your media list, personalize the message for each recipient, based on his/her needs and preferences. While this may sound time-consuming, it makes a big difference.

And to enhance future pitches, take the time to build a relationship with the reporter — when they have some time. Don’t pitch … just ask them what they’re looking for, what they’re working on, and how you might help.

12 Things to Expect from Your PR Agency – Reprise

29 05 2013

In an earlier post, we outlined a list of seven things a client can do to make its PR agency great – our thoughts on how a client can make its PR firm more effective and a better partner ( here’s the link:

Based on our firm’s 20-year history – and a few client relationships that have lasted more than 16 years – we’ve learned there are also a number of things an agency should do to make its relationships with clients mutually beneficial.

Of course, results are ultimately the most important thing in the client-agency relationship.

Generating solid results, however, is just the start of a great relationship, according to many of the clients we’ve talked with over the years.

If you’re a client, your peers think you should also be able to expect your PR firm team to:

1)      Be attentive – they should be responsive, accessible and pro-active, and they should feed the relationship

2)      Think long-term and strategic – not just about short-term activities or easy billings

3)      Offer ideas and opportunities that are good for your business – even if they are outside of the PR realm and don’t add any revenue or work for the agency

4)      Be a good steward of your budget – they are prompt and fair with billing and are thrifty with your money

5)      Keep you informed – they strive for transparency and no surprises

6)      Anticipate your needs – and they work hard to meet them before you’ve asked them to

7)      Provide a realistic view of what you can expect – honest, accurate, puffery-free predictions about cost, timing, impact and/or results

8)      Demonstrate that they are always thinking about you and looking out for your best interests

9)      Make you the hero – and not seek or take credit for a program’s successes

10)   Know, and cater to, your preferences and priorities – instead of forcing you to accept theirs

11)   Communicate with you candidly, honestly and frequently – better too much than too little

12)   Make it pleasant, friendly and fun for you to work with them – everyone does better in a positive environment.

I’ve always believed that if we, the PR agency team, take care of the client, the client will take care of us. So far, in the majority of cases, that has proven true. It can for you, too.

Clients: What other expectations do you have for your PR agency?

How Journalists Find Quotable Experts

7 05 2013

Ever wonder why one of your competitors – perhaps even someone who is less experienced or less knowledgeable than you – is frequently quoted as a “subject matter expert” in news stories? 

In many cases, as in other situations in life, it’s not so much a matter of what you know or who you know … but who knows youreporter

A reporter’s livelihood depends upon developing good sources. And today, good sources are more important than ever, as reporters are expected to produce more stories in less time, because of smaller newsroom staffs.

Here are six methods reporters use to find the expert sources they quote:

  1. PR people they trust – Often, reporters will go to the PR people or firms that have delivered quickly and appropriately in the past.
  2. Online searches – Journalists sometimes conduct Google or Bing searches to see what experts are tied to the subject or issue they’re writing about.
  3. ProfNet – Reporters sometimes turn to ProfNet (, an online database of experts  companies or agencies can use to expose their experts to a wide array of reporters.
  4. Conference speakers – Reporters like to note which executives have spoken (or are speaking) at major conferences related to the topic at hand.
  5. Other reporters – Many times, reporters will turn to the same sources their colleagues, competitors and trade publication counterparts are quoting.
  6. Trial and error – Sometimes reporters will go to new sources because they just stumbled upon them, met them at a reception or sat next to them on an airplane.

In short, reporters first go to sources that are known and visible, because they’re the easiest to find.

As a business-to-business PR firm, we spend much of our time and effort positioning key executives as experts with the appropriate trade, local, regional and national media.

We make introductions; we identify the topics, trends and issues these experts can address; and we strive to keep these experts top of mind with the right reporters, because, sooner or later, we know each reporter will be looking for an expert source.

But beyond that, once you’ve connected with a reporter, what else can you do to enhance your likelihood of becoming a “go-to” expert for key journalists?

  1. Credential yourself – Demonstrate how your education and experience give you authority and a unique perspective.
  2. Make it easy – Be responsive, make it easy for the reporter to interview you, and offer good, useful quotes and information, quickly.
  3. Be accessible to talk – Reporters want more than just emailed responses to their questions. They want a conversation, so they can ask follow-up questions, they want the nuances and tone that can’t come through on email.
  4. Deliver the real deal – Reporters want expert sources who shoot straight … and don’t play them or make them look bad. Burn them once and you’ll move from “go-to” status to “never again” status.
  5. Offer depth – Journalists want experts who go beyond their basic talking points or key messages to provide real background, perspective and insights.

There’s an old American adage that an expert “is someone who is 20 miles from home.” To that definition, we might add the words: “… and is widely quoted by the media.”

Are You a Thought Leader?

29 04 2013

Since the term “thought leader” was coined in business circles some 20 years ago, many business-to-business companies and executives have yearned to be thought leaders in their industries.

By definition, a thought leader is a person (or entity) who is recognized by peers for having progressive and innovative ideas, and who shares these ideas and helps to effect change with those ideas.

Note the key words “recognized” and “share.” scarecrow-wizard-of-oz

It’s not enough to develop great ideas. To be a thought leader, you need to be recognized for having great ideas, and you need to share and champion these ideas through effective communication.

Of course, in today’s world, this communication includes a full range of earned and owned media activities – PR approaches such as publicity, social media, speaking and blogging, to name just a few. And ultimately, recognition of a thought leader builds and gains momentum as media coverage and visibility are generated and sustained.

Here are seven things that can help you (or your boss) to become recognized as a thought leader:

  1. Create a viewpoint – Thought leaders have a viewpoint that helps shape their story and puts the facts and numbers into context. They provide insight and perspective on key issues, they offer opinions, and they foster a discussion around an issue.
  2. Lead a movement – Thought leaders become advocates for a cause that can help a group, an industry or a country. They educate us on a problem or issue, shed some light for us on the pros and cons, and lead us to explore the possible solutions. They urge us to take action.
  3. Show us the future – Thought leaders show us their vision, offer a forecast or make a prediction … and they persuade other people to share it, embrace it and support it.
  4. Make it personal – Thoughts leaders build their viewpoint and vision around their personal beliefs and life philosophy. They are credible because they are authentic; they don’t just talk about someone else’s solution, they own it, they feel it, they live it. They are committed.
  5. Get yourself out there – Thought leaders are pro-active; they put themselves out there. Their PR teams can help them find opportunities to push their viewpoint – such as speaking engagements, op-ed placements, guest columns, articles, blogs and vlogs, news releases, media interviews, etc.
  6. Make yourself available to media – Thought leaders take on the mantel of experts; they make themselves accessible to journalists and analysts and are ever-ready to provide quotes, color, context, clarification and perspective.
  7. Capture their attention – Thought leaders use word devices to gain attention and stay top of mind. They prepare sound bites, use controversy and paint mental pictures. They employ plain language, analogies and anecdotes to bring their point to life. They create a buzzword or catchphrase that capsulizes their view in a memorable way.

Think of the executives you view as true thought leaders. Which of these tactics do they use? And which of these tactics could work best for you?

Getting Quoted and Noted in the Media

5 02 2013

(By Jaclyn Reardon, Assistant Account Executive)

It’s no secret that one of the goals of PR is to get your company’s executives and experts quoted in articles. You want it, your company wants it and your PR firm wants it. JR

Having your executives seen as expert sources in the media’s eyes should be an integral part of your communications plan, as it helps to strengthen media relationships and helps pave the way for future coverage and interviews.

Even when your experts aren’t talking about the company or product, it’s important to build a reputation as a knowledgeable source on industry trends and issues.

Here are some things you and your spokespeople should keep in mind when talking to the media:

  • Background Check – You want your spokesperson to know everything they can about the reporter they’ll be talking to, in advance. What is their writing style? Their background? Do they typically cover companies like yours? This information will help you be more prepared going into the interview and also ensure you’re giving the reporter exactly what they need.
  • Why You? – If you or one of your spokespeople is uniquely qualified to speak on a certain topic or trend, be sure to emphasize that fact when talking to reporters. Not in a sales-y way, but rather weave-in expertise and distinct qualifications when you talk about what your spokespeople know and how they know it.
  • Offer New Angles – Often when talking to a reporter, you might recognize another angle to the story that might help the reporter. Even if the angle doesn’t directly pertain to you or your product, be sure to suggest other avenues for journalists to investigate. They’re always looking for ways to round out their stories and will appreciate the ideas.
  • Build Reliability – Reporters work on tight deadlines and when they need something, they need it yesterday. If a reporter reaches out to you, try to respond promptly and have succinct, approved key messages and facts ready. Your communications team can help by preparing messages surrounding potential topics and trends in advance and always keeping them on file.
  • Add Some Spark – Think of interesting ways you can get key points across so they come out as memorable soundbites. Use an impressive or alarming statistic or find ways to use humorous examples or real-live stories to tie in to today’s trends and issues. Reporters are used to typical canned quotes. If you can give them something memorable and engaging, you’ll move to the top of their go-to list.
  • Bring Energy! – Try and crank up your enthusiasm about 25 percent during an interview. Reporters are trained to be critical and if you don’t treat your topic as if it is important or exciting, how can you expect the reporter to? 

For some additional tips, check out our past E-newsletter: Why Media Training is a Must! and tipsheet: Whether by Phone, Radio or TV: 7 Media Interview Tips for Any Medium.

Do you have more ideas on how to maximize a company’s interview opportunities? 

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.

Positive Language Works!

23 10 2012

Which phrase works better: “Don’t be so negative” … or …  “Be positive”?

Most people see the first comment as accusatory or critical. And they see the second comment as more encouraging, more helpful.

And so it is with most communications, whether written or spoken.

Negative language tends to create barriers to effective communication, while positive language tends to create a bridge and to encourage more effective communication.

Negative language can have many harmful – and often unintended – effects. For example, if I tell you: “Your idea won’t work” …

1)      You become defensive, hurt or mad

2)      You stop listening, even if I follow-up with something positive

3)      You become argumentative, poised for battle, and

4)      Communication breaks down.

However, if I had said: “That’s an interesting idea. What do you think will make this idea successful?” …

1)      You’d feel I respected and was interested in your idea

2)      You’d be more open to discussion and more likely to listen to my thoughts

3)      You’d feel cooperative, and

4)      We’d ultimately communicate more effectively.

To communicate more strategically, more powerfully and more effectively, strive to use positive, instead of negative, phrasing.

It may mean breaking some bad habits, and recognizing the need to rethink our choice of words when we feel the need to use not, no, don’t, can’t, won’t and their nay-saying counterparts. For example, use:

-          “I agree” rather than “I don’t disagree.”

-          “I prefer something else” rather than “I don’t want this.”

-          “Please contact me” rather than “Do not hesitate to contact me.”

-          “Most people prefer to …” rather than “No one does that anymore …”

-          “Our approach is …” rather than “That’s not how we do it.”

As respected crisis PR guru Jim Lukaszewski says: “Negative language is the language of losers. Positive language is the language of leadership and candor.” For more on negative language and how to eliminate it, visit Lukaszewski’s 2001 paper  at

50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate about Numbers – Part II

11 09 2012

(Guest post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

In part one of this blog (, we discussed what data can do for an organization. In part two, we’re sharing the six ways your company can utilize data for a big PR punch:

  1. Get the Word Out: Having data to share gives you a reason to send out a press release to announce your findings, where you can tie the results back to your company’s products and services. This not only helps to position you as an expert source in the public eye, it also helps demonstrate to your customers that you’re dedicated to going above and beyond to understand the challenges and perceptions of your industry.
  2. The Big Event: If the study is large and groundbreaking enough, it may warrant a press conference to announce the findings to the media and other interested parties, which creates an atmosphere of excitement and importance.
  3. Speak On: Your data can also be used over time as the basis of speeches given by executive spokespeople and used during panel discussions at trade shows and conferences. It might even be the key to getting your foot in the door at certain conferences or being a keynote speaker at events or awards programs. Conference planners are always looking for speakers with new and newsworthy content.
  4. Equip The Sales Team: Relevant, more detailed findings that you’ve share publicly can be used by your company sales teams during customer meetings, to illustrate why your products or services help them to address the needs of their customers. Nothing speaks as strongly as empirical data when trying to make your point – especially detailed data that has been cut to meet their company’s interests and customer demographics.
  5. Take it to the Newsroom: Overall findings can be posted on your company website for visitors and media to check out. You don’t want to give everything away – but using a few relevant points to create some facts, figures, graphs, infographics, videos, etc. can go a long way in catching someone’s eye and inviting deeper engagement.
  6. And Take it Social: Same thing goes for social media – facts, figures and announcements related to your study can be used to create blog content, shared on Twitter, Facebook and discussed in online forums.

The media love data and numbers. Having good numbers that you’ve culled from a research study to share with reporters during interviews can make your spokesperson a star in their eyes.

It may seem simple, but sometimes simple is best. Percentages, comparisons, dollar values, any numerical facts that lend a sense of magnitude and credibility … if you have ’em, share ’em.


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