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.

Never Lose Your Keys: Tips for Developing Strong Key Messages

18 02 2014

Image(Guest post by Kayla Brown, Intern)

Good communicators don’t just wing it! When you have a concise, powerful idea of what you want to say about your company or product, your audiences are more likely to be engaged, more likely to understand you and more likely to remember you. In order for that to happen it is imperative to take the time to prepare and develop strong key messages.

What Are Key Messages?

Simply put, they describe how and why you exist as a company. The goal is to have your audiences understand the same basic message. Well-crafted messages should be tailored to the specific audience and also support your mission, explain what your company is aiming for and include a call to action.

One way to think of it is, what are the main points you want your audiences to remember?

To Be Effective, Key Messages Should Be:Image

  • Few in number, usually three or four;
  • Simple, short and concise;
  • Compelling and believable;
  • Focused on one idea each; and
  • Written down and practiced.

How to Create Strong Key Messages:

Remember the “Who”: Think about who you want to receive your message, and what’s important or of interest to them?

Do You Have Data on That?: Use brief, credible, easy-to-understand facts with figures and statistics to back them up.

Test It Out: Your key messages do not flow off the tongue easily, rework them.

In a nutshell, you should start any form of communication with your key messages, return to them throughout, and then summarize them at the end.

Key Message Examples:

Social Media Company:

  • Foursquare turns your life into a game.
  • Foursquare helps you discover new places.
  • Foursquare lets you make the most of where you are.

Technology Company:

  • 3M is a diversified technology company.
  • 3M applies innovation systematically to anticipate and respond to customer needs.
  • 3M is a global company with local presence throughout the world.

Keys to Success – Seven PR Practices to Follow

12 02 2014

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

In nearly every field, professionals are continuously searching for the keys to success – a short-cut to business savvy that otherwise only develops through years of practice.

Although no one has all the answers – because we’re all still learning – we’re sharing a list of practices every PR professional should follow, adapted from Steven CV FBCovey’s influential book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.”

Here are seven simple practices to help every PR professional succeed:

Be proactive – As opposed to waiting for new opportunities, successful professionals create them. One way to do this is to identify “spark events” – or emerging changes and activities within an organization, market or industry that stimulate consumer need for a product. Use these opportunities to create new content, engage an audience and attract new customers.

Look at the bigger picture – It’s easy to get carried away while developing a program or campaign, but successful PR pros begin with the end in mind. As a quick reminder, ask yourself these questions: What are we hoping this campaign will achieve?

Get organized – Juggling multiple assignments from internal or external multiple clients with multiple deadlines is risky business, even for the seasoned PR professional. So, how do you alleviate this chaos? Prioritize tasks based on their level of importance and tackle each assignment systematically.

Think win-win – Networking is essential for any business professional, and for the PR pro, this is especially true. However, business relationships must be forged on mutually beneficial terms in order to work successfully. Prior to making a request for either yourself or your client, think of how the partnership can benefit both parties.

Do your homework – Instead of blindly pitching a client’s story, do some digging: What types of stories does that reporter typically look for? What have they published in the past? What are their interests? A little effort goes a long way in media relations.

Work together – Public relations is a collaborative effort, and accepting your role within a team is crucial. Remember: successful public relations is the result of successful teamwork.

Stay sharp – As communication tools continue to update and transform, so too should the practices of PR pros. Commit yourself to a lifetime of learning, and know there is always more to learn from other people, other industries and other disciplines.

How PR Can Turn Data into Gold

27 12 2013

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

Many companies are unaware of the power of research as a professional communications tool and only use their findings for internal purposes. However, research can have a great effect on your public relations and communications strategies – if conducted and shared the right way.Image

In order to get the most out of your research, be sure to share the results both internally and externally.  Why? Sharing your research results:

  • Publicly positions your company as a thought leader and expert in the industry;
  • Helps your company develop a greater understanding of your customers, enhancing your knowledge as a supplier and increasing your value as a business partner;
  • Helps you identify new trends and issues, which will benefit you, your customers and the media; and
  • Underscores your  company’s commitment to your customers and industry.

Here are seven ways you can use your research as a part of you PR strategy:

AnnouncementsUse your research results as material for external communications, such as news releases.

EventsDepending on the quality and implications of your company’s research, a press conference may be in order.

SpeechesData from your company’s research may also be used for an executive speech or presentation at an industry venue.

SalesUtilize the findings from a research study to add value by sharing details with your best customers.

NewsroomPosting research findings to your company’s website can attract new attention. However, instead of posting all your data online, use only a few relevant points to create facts, figures, graphs, infographics or videos.

Social MediaShare selected highlights of your research findings on social media, to drive prospects to seek you out to learn more.

InterviewsShare your data during interviews with reporters. Not only will this build your reputation and credibility, but also provide the reporter with potential graphics for a news story.

For more tips on repurposing your company’s data for PR content, check out our past e-newsletter, The Hidden PR Goldmine.

Play It Cool – How Media Pitching is Like Dating

6 12 2013

(Guest post by Brandon Burbank, Intern)

Recently, I read an article illustrating the similarities between media relations and dating. How true this can be, especially for new graduates just entering the professional realm of PR. Not knowing what to say, worrying if you’re coming on too strong or playing it too cool, the fear of rejection … one might wonder how the pros in this industry manage to do it every day.BB

Pitching media can be an adrenaline rush that is reminiscent of asking someone to prom. We’re never sure what the response will be, even when we’ve planned ahead and put our best foot forward. We just hope the response will be a resounding “yes” or even a “maybe!”

There will be times your story will be picked up. Other times, a reporter will decline for any one of many reasons: the story isn’t right for that audience; lack of unique ideas has your pitch being looked over; or bigger news bumped your story. When journalists pass on a story, one breakup cliché comes to mind: It’s not you. It’s me. It might just be your story is missing an element that is attractive to reporters.

Here are some tips to help make media pitching go a little smoother:

Find common interests – Identify how your idea will relate to the reporter’s audience. What do the readers you’re targeting care about most? What makes your pitch newsworthy?

Avoid being a wallflower – What makes your pitch unique? Presenting noteworthy facts or data will grab a reporter’s attention. Stand out or be left unnoticed.

Don’t use the same pickup line – Pitch different aspects of your story to different reporters. Fresh angles will help to avoid your pitch being overlooked.

Eyes forward – Pay attention to how your pitch relates to overall trends and emerging issues. Show reporters how you’re connected to larger trends arising through statistics and anecdotes.

Arrive on time – Your pitch needs to be timely. Reporters have deadlines; stick to them. Journalists are more willing to work with you if you help make their jobs easier.

Dress to impress – Stories with interesting photos, videos or graphics are appealing to journalists. Visuals can add a new dynamic to your pitch that otherwise weren’t there before.

When need be, compromise and adjust – Breaking news will forever bump other stories. Know how to evaluate when this will happen, and find a way to tie your idea into the breaking news.

Be yourself – A personal story makes for some of the best news stories. These descriptions give new life to the story, adding color and depth.

Bringing Credibility to Your Content Marketing

1 10 2013

In the last post (, we discussed how Gartner’s Three Cs of Content Marketing – Creation, Curation and Cultivation – hinged upon what we see as the fourth, and most important, C – Credibility.

Ultimately, if your content is not credible, it could end up ineffective … and your effort wasted. But how do you gain credibility?

Because credibility is in the eye of the beholder and because it is earned, not manufactured, it can be HARD to come by.

But there are ways you can help your company earn it. Consider that credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise.

You or your company earn trust by proving your integrity and worth over time through your performance. You perform. You do what you say you’re going to do. You demonstrate you can be relied upon. And you keep at it. Every time. Every day.

As you start to win trust through your performance, there are ways you can enhance and extend it by demonstrating your expertise using some “traditional” PR and media relations approaches, such as:

  • Conducting research that will benefit your target audience and sharing the results with them, demonstrating your company is willing to go the extra mile to understand the environment in which your audience must operate;
  • Pro-actively reaching out to reporters, analysts and bloggers who follow your industry to volunteer as a source of information, insight and perspective;
  • Taking (and promoting) advocacy positions and offering perspectives on industry trends and issues that are bigger than your company;
  • Speaking at key industry forums and events – and focusing on your audience’s concerns, not your own key messages;
  • Working to generate media coverage in the outlets and platforms that your audience already uses and trusts. No need to reinvent the wheel — the implied third-party endorsement that comes with positive media coverage in trusted media is invaluable. (For example, one story in BusinessWeek magazine generated a C-level meeting and ultimately millions of dollars of new business for one of our clients.); and
  • Leveraging opportunities to secure and share endorsements, testimonials, likes and shares throughout the various media platforms that your audiences uses,  to harness the amazing power of endorsement.

Credibility doesn’t come quickly … or easily. And that’s exactly why it is invaluable to your content marketing and your customer relationships.

Want to be a successful marketing storyteller?

4 09 2013

Many marketers approach storytelling backwards.

They create their story based on the facts, features and benefits they want to convey to the audience … they focus on what they offer, what their expertise is, how their product or service works … they select or create a platform they’d like to use to tell that story … and they hope they’ll find and engage their audience.

Then they wonder why it falls flat.


The simple truth is: Your target audience really isn’t interested in you. They ARE interested in themselves.

So, the best way to be successful at storytelling is to start with listening to your audience. Identify who you really want to reach and what makes them different. Uncover what’s important, interesting and engaging to them. Explore and ask them:

  • What do they want and need?
  • What problems, issues or concerns do they have?
  • Who do they identify with or relate to?
  • Who do they believe or find most credible?
  • What point of view are they operating from?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • What will make an emotional connection with them?
  • What is their personal payoff from your story – that is, what’s in it for them?
  • What format, vehicle and media do they prefer to receive their stories in?

To be a successful storyteller, build your story around your audience’s preferences … not your own.

Tell it in a way that meets their wants, needs, desires and interestsnot your own.

And tell it in the form, format, media and channel that they prefer to view, listen to, read and/or follow … not your own.

Before you start creating your story, put yourself in their shoes. And remember, it’s NOT about you or your product, it’s about them.

To succeed, make their story yours.

Networking Do’s and Don’ts for College Grads

26 08 2013

(Guest post by Intern Witney Withers)

One of the most valuable skills no matter what field you work in is the ability to network. In a world where, as the old saying goes, “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know,” networking is vital for new opportunities and advancing your career. witney withers

Although public relations is a field that revolves around communication and making connections, networking can be intimidating even for experienced professionals. Yet, done correctly, networking will bring valuable connections for years to come.

Here are some tips to help you be a more effective networker:

  • Do research: If you are attending a specific networking event, research those attending. Find out if it will be new professionals in the field or more experienced people. Research some of the attendees and their companies. Find things that could be potential conversation starters.
  • Do set goals: Before attending any type of networking event or opportunity, decide what your goals are. Are you networking to find a job, build relationships with others in the PR world or just for fun? Setting simple goals will make networking more beneficial. 
  • Do follow-up: The single most important thing to do after a networking event is follow-up. The main purpose of networking is to build meaningful relationships. Exchange business cards, use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to stay connected. If you made a significant connection with someone, e-mail them and include a memorable point from the conversation. Following up also includes staying in touch on a periodic basis.
  • Don’t talk more than you listen: People love to talk about themselves and even more, they love someone who will listen. Take advantage of this by being an attentive listener and asking quality and open-ended questions. You never know what types of things you could find out, especially if you are surrounded by more experienced professionals.
  • Don’t cling to one person: The main purpose of a networking event is to meet new people. It’s okay to attend events with a colleague or close friend to reduce nervousness. However, it’s not okay to talk to them the entire time. You can miss out on valuable connections. Move around and work the room. 

What networking rules do you follow?


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