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.

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? 

Favorite PR & Communications Quotes

2 01 2013

(Guest post by Account Supervisor Leslie Dagg)LDPhoto

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good quote to succinctly make a point or generate a smile.

Below you’ll find a sampling of favorites that our staff has collected.

Overall PR Quotes:

“Advertising is what you pay for. PR is what you pray for. – Unknown

“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR.” - Bill Gates

 “Public relations is a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens.” – Alvin Adams

“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” - Richard Branson

PR Being the Best Bang for the Buck versus Advertising:

“Historically, PR, Marketing and Advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis. In a downturn, aggressive PR and communications strategy is key.” – Doug Leone, VC, Sequoia Capital – Silicon Alley Insider 

“Other than word-of-mouth advertising and other than the one-in-a-million breakthrough commercial or ad, backed by huge spending budgets, the best way to build positive brand awareness is through publicity.”  – Sales guru and author Jeffrey S. Fox

Importance of being prepared for crisis communications:

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

“If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.” —Henry Kissinger

Importance of being prepared for a media interview or speech:

“The questions don’t do the damage. Only the answers do.” —Sam Donaldson

“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” —Mark Twain


What quotes would you add to this list?

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

Maximum Exposure: Press Release Distribution 2.0

3 10 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP- Account Service)

If your typical press release distribution process is like ours, it probably goes a little something like this:

  • Issue the press release on the newswire;
  • Email it to a carefully crafted, customized media distribution list;
  • Post the news to media sites that allow image / news sharing;
  • Post the news to social media sites; and
  • Monitor for coverage and share the results with our client.

Simple enough, right?

But no matter how many times we’ve successfully conducted this process over the years, we’re still asked every now and then: Do we really need to use the wire? Can’t we just email the release? If we’re using the wire, why do we need to email it too? You’re going to share our news via social media? Isn’t this all a bit redundant?

My response will typically begin with a question: Do you want maximum exposure of your good news?

The typical reply back: Well yes, of course we do.

When you’ve got good news to share and you’ve taken the time to carefully craft your message, gained executive approvals, etc., why wouldn’t you take the same amount of time and effort with the distribution process?

Let me address those “why we need to …” questions:

  • Newswire – The wire has become a standard for issuing most news, as you can select exactly which areas your news is released – a particular city, state, country, etc. The reason for using the wire is simple, it’s how our industry typically shares its news with the media and public at large. Another benefit of using the wire is the increased online search visibility it creates for your company and its products / services. This is due to the database links and news aggregator sites that pick up the release this way.
  • Direct Email to Media – Creating a customized media distribution list and emailing it directly to media is critical to making sure that your news it getting to the right publication, reporter / editor, instead of just hoping that they’ll catch your news on the wire.
  • Posting News Online – With the slimming down of editorial staffs, more publications are beginning to allow you to upload your own news and images to their sites. This is especially ideal if you have images to go along with your news, as it can allow for guaranteed online media exposure.
  • Posting to Social Media – Utilizing sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. will extend the reach of your news with your contacts, who (in many cases) are media covering your industry, as well as customers, potential customers, industry influentials, etc. My suggestion is to post your news release on your website, so that you can share a link to it on these social media platforms, thus increasing your company’s potential website traffic as well.

Over the years, we’ve continued to find ways to carefully hone and perfect a pretty basic – yet critically important – part of the PR process. The result: increased media hits; increased circulation; and, ultimately, increased client satisfaction.

Execution, as a legendary championship coach so aptly put it, does indeed win it.

How have you tweaked your release distribution process? And what were the results?

Reflect & Relate: Eight Factors for Successful Media Relationships

29 08 2012

(Guest post by Account Coordinator Jaclyn Reardon)

As I celebrate my one-year anniversary at Bianchi PR and my first year in the PR industry I’ve come to realize a major part of the firm’s success after 20 years stems from the relationships the BPR team has developed with industry peers and (especially) with the media.

So, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far and create a “back to the basics” list as a reminder of how important starting, developing and keeping relationships with the media can be.

1. Get to Know Them

In any new relationship, you always ask questions about the other person in order to get to know them better. Getting to know the reporter you’re pitching is just the same. Research the publication and the reporter’s articles to figure out what beats they cover and make sure your story will be of interest.

 2. First Impressions

Your first time contacting or meeting a reporter, whether it’s in person or by email, sets the tone for your relationship. Make sure you have your ducks in a row. Reporters are always working on tight deadlines, so you don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

 3. Show What You Have to Offer

Start with a specific opportunity and stick with the facts. Reporters don’t have the time to go through long pages of text. If you have a strong, news story don’t inflate it with filler and fluff. Get to the point.

 4. Exclusivity

When pitching a reporter it’s important to be exclusive. Avoid pre-packaged stories. Reporters have competition (just like you do) and tend to look for stories they can develop as their own.

 5. Invest Time and Energy

To be successful in media relations, you need to focus on making your relationship with a reporter grow. It may be a while before your pitch. The first time you pitch a story, they might not be interested. Try to find out why and keep at it. Read what they write, follow their work.

 6. Follow-up

If your pitch is a success and you get an article/interview opportunity, be sure to follow-up as soon as possible. Provide any additional information they need or asked for…and don’t forget to thank the reporter.

 7. Take Initiative / Plan Ahead

A reporter will almost always have more questions or need more quotes, images, examples, facts or figures for the story. Always think across the board – from words to visuals. Have these materials ready and easy to access. This will continue to build a stronger relationship if they know they can count on you to come through.

 8. Communication is Key

Be available and responsive. Reporters are busy, so be quick and ready to respond to inquiries and requests that same day – if not within the hour.

Relationships with the media are the same as any others. What you put in is what you get out. You have to work at them. It takes time and effort, but the reality is you should treat media the same as you would treat a client, because in a sense, they are your customers.

Where Did THAT Reporter’s Question Come From?

21 08 2012

Your news conference is tomorrow. You’ve prepared for all kinds of questions around your announcement topic. You’ve nailed your key messages. You’ve rehearsed your speech. You’ve prepared your press materials. You’ve learned a little about each reporter who will attend your event. So you’re all set, right?

Right … but ONLY if you prepared for the unexpected … the off-topic question that comes out of left field.

Frequently, PR folks and the executives they support focus so intently on the subject of their news conference, on getting the key messages just right and being able to handle the tough questions related to their newsworthy topic, that they forget about being ready for those crazy questions that can come out of left field … and can throw an otherwise well-prepared executive off his or her game.

How often does it happen? More often than you might think.

I was surprised to note that, for the past few news conferences I’ve attended, one-half of the questions that reporters asked had no direct connection with the main topic of the event.  And in a few cases, the speakers were a bit rattled by these off-beat questions.

Although you may have organized your event to announce your news, reporters often have their own agenda – and their own story – in mind.

Although they may accept your invitation to attend your news event, you cannot expect that reporters will limit their curiosity to the subject of your announcement.

They can, and often will, use your event as an opportunity to gain access to your executive … to pose a question that has nothing to do with your news.

So, to keep your executive from getting tripped up by an off-topic question, we suggest you:

1)      Make sure to include a few potential off-beat questions for your speaker(s) in your pre-event briefing Q&A document;

2)      Conduct a mock Q&A session, complete with a few off-topic questions, as part of your speaker rehearsal – to help the speaker(s) learn to retain composure and control in unexpected situations;

3)      Identify, if possible, which reporters might be most likely to ask the off-beat question, based on your (or your PR agency’s) knowledge and experience; and

4)      Have your speaker(s) practice the use of bridging techniques to smoothly transition from the reporter’s odd-ball question to one of your key messages.

The key is to prepare your speaker to handle the “unexpected” with confidence and composure.  For more help on dealing with difficult media questions, see .

Off the Record, Embargoes and Other Media Relations Pitfalls

18 07 2012

If you’ve been doing PR for any length of time, you’ve received a call like this: “Why did that reporter use those market share numbers? I thought you called him after the interview and told him all of that information was off the record.”

Executives are sometimes confused about what is fair game for a reporter, and what is not … and exactly what off the record, as background or embargo mean. Let’s help them clear up the misconceptions and boost their understanding of some of the subtleties and use of these media tactics.

First, the generally accepted definitions of the terms:

  • On the record – all statements made are directly quotable and attributable by title and name to the person commenting;
  • As background – all statements are directly quotable, but not attributed by title or name, to the person commenting;
  • As deep background – all information revealed in the interview is usable, but not as direct quotes and not for attribution to the person commenting by name or title;
  • Off the record – all information provided is for the reporter’s understanding of a subject or issue only and is not to be made public in any way; and
  • Embargo – The providing of news releases and information (and often access to experts) in advance of the intended release date, in order to provide journalists with more time to understand and develop their stories.

All of these media relations techniques have value, but they also have risks, partly because different people and organizations have different definitions.

Generally, we counsel clients not to say anything that they don’t want to see in print, on the internet or on the air right away. Period.

Now, there are some very rare cases where the advantages of using these techniques may outweigh the inherent risks, but you have to be cautious.

For starters, before considering using any of these tactics, make sure you:

  • Have an established relationship with, and trust of, the journalist;
  • Can agree upfront  with the journalist – before the information is passed or interview is conducted – that she/he will honor the off-the-record or background status or embargo timing; and
  • Can agree upfront with the reporter on the definition of the approach you use. What “as background” means to the reporter may be different from what it means to you, so spell out your conditions in advance so there’s no misunderstanding.

If you don’t have all those assurances secured before the interview, you’re putting your executive – and perhaps your own job – in peril.

Beyond that, take extra care to make sure everyone involved is operating by the same set of rules. And then go the extra mile to make sure there is no room for misunderstanding.

For example, in an off-the-record situation, one way to mitigate risk is to clearly identify during the interview when off the record starts and stops, as in: “Everything I say from here on out is off the record, until I say we are back on the record.”

It also helps to tell the reporter than you will clearly signal when the off-the-record comments start and stop with a symbolic gesture, such as putting a pen down during the off-the-record comments and then picking the pen back up when going back on the record.

A few additional warnings about these special situations:

  • Some reporters and media outlets will not agree to your terms or conditions. If that’s the case, respect their rules, and make sure they understand why you won’t be able to provide the information or interview;
  • Many reporters use social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter – so make sure that they understand that those outlets are included in your agreement as to what is on the record, what is on background and what is embargoed;
  • When you go off the record, unless you get an agreement explicitly prohibiting this, you have to assume that the reporter will somehow try to get the information you provided confirmed by another source.
  • With bloggers and citizen journalists who are not trained in journalistic practices or bound by professional ethics, embargoes are riskier than ever and, therefore, much less common.
  • During an embargo period, you have to assume that the journalist may share embargoed information with a third party in order to get quotes or analysis, usually with some assurance that the third party will also honor the embargo.
  • Once embargoed information becomes public – even if it’s because a citizen journalist or blogger didn’t honor the embargo – it’s fair game for publication or broadcast by everyone. So realize that one errant Tweet by a blogger at your event can destroy your timing plan.

How have off the record, as background and embargoes worked (or not worked) for you?

Just Say “No” to the Nasty “No Comment”

25 04 2012

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

We’ve all been taught to avoid saying “no comment” in media situations – as it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

So what’s a company spokesperson to do in a situation where he or she would rather not comment, is unsure of exactly what to say or, worse yet, is unable to answer a question?

No matter how tempting using the phrase “no comment” might be, to the media “no comment” can be considered an admission of guilt, dishonesty and lack of regard for the news they are trying to cover.

If you’re considering using “no comment” as a way to avoid dealing with an issue, forget it. You’re better off to deal with it … and the sooner, the better.

A key point to remember is that if you’re tempted to say “no comment” because you can’t answer the reporter’s question, you can almost always say something,  which in most cases is better than saying nothing at all.

We posed this question to our PR colleagues across the country: “What are the best substitutes for ‘no comment’ that you’ve heard or used?” And the response was overwhelming … and out of hundreds of responses, all but one recommended saying something other than “no comment.”

As media trainer Eric Bergman ( says, there are three possible situations relating to every reporter’s question, each with an acceptable answer:

1)      You know the answer to the question and can share it – I have the answer and here it is.

2)      You don’t know the answer – I don’t have the answer but I’ll get it for you.

3)      You know the answer, but are not able to share it for one of several reasons (confidentiality, prematurity, privacy, litigation concerns, disclosure regulations, policy, etc.) – I know the answer but I cannot discuss it, and here’s why.

Note that the answers are based on honesty, not on subterfuge.

After gathering and distilling our colleagues’ responses – and tapping into our own experiences in this area – here is what we see as the five best approaches for avoiding “no comment”:

  • Share what you know as fact – “I cannot speculate, but here is what I know and am able to share with you at this time …”
  • Admit that you do not know – “I don’t have that information…” (or “That’s a good question.  I wish I knew the answer.”) “Let me look into it and get back to you …” (And, by all means, make sure you do.)
  • Explain why you are unable to comment – “We cannot share the details on that as it’s proprietary information (or premature … or against our policy to comment on ongoing litigation, etc.)”
  • Bridge to what you can share –  “We are still investigating that, so I don’t have complete information at this time, but what I can tell you is …”
  • Provide a written media statement or hold a press briefing – “I’m unable to answer your questions at this time, however I will be sharing a media statement (or holding a press briefing today at 3 p.m.) regarding this issue …”

Another colleague, Patrick Gibbons, a PR executive with a leading non-profit R&D organization, suggests remembering the acronym ACC to make the best of a “no comment” situation:

A – Awareness – Express your awareness of the issue or lack thereof.

C – Concern – Express your concern about the issue and/or the people/organizations involved.

C – Commitment – Express your organization’s commitment to do the right thing when the facts of the issue are better understood.

The beauty of this approach, Patrick says, is in the flexibility it provides a spokesperson in the face of uncertainty.

In today’s fast-paced social media environment, sooner or later your organization will have to deal with the issue at hand and the resulting publicity that will follow.

In the long run, wouldn’t it be better to handle it honestly, directly and on your own terms rather than on someone else’s?


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