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?

You Don’t Need a PR Firm

21 05 2013

A few times a year, some former PR exec or recovering journalist writes an article or a blog post  with a title like “6 Reasons You’ll Regret Hiring a PR Firm.”

Very sensationalized. Very negative. And often, very bad advice.

In practicing PR for more than 30 years, I’ve seen how PR firms can deliver great results for their clients. I’ve also seen that, yes, there are instances where a client may regret hiring a PR firm … but usually, it’s due to one of three reasons:

1) The client didn’t really need a firm,Young Man with His Hand on His Forehead

2) The client hired the wrong firm, or

3) The client didn’t live up to its end of the relationship.

In this post, let’s look at Reason #1 – whether or not you really need a PR firm.

There are generally a few trigger points that may signal you need to hire a PR firm. These are times when you’re making a major change  … times when your PR dollars can help  ensure a significant return on investment and help your organization meet its immediate goals … times when your staff lacks the time, the manpower and/or the expertise to hit the mark … and times when you can’t afford mistakes or do-overs.

When might hiring a PR firm be a good idea?

You might need a PR firm when your company or organization is:

  • Launching a new product, service, pricing scenario, promotional campaign or social media presence
  • Changing your name, logo/identity, direction/strategy, mission/vision
  • Naming or promoting a new CEO or other high-level executive
  • Facing the prospects of some potential negative media coverage due to strikes, litigation, plant closings, layoffs, accidents, product recalls, environmental spills, etc.
  • Acquiring or merging with another company or organization
  • Breaking ground for, or opening, a new facility … or entering a new market
  • Exhibiting at a trade show or having a key executive speak at an important industry event
  • Missing major media opportunities because your communications department was downsized or  eliminated during the downturn
  • Reviewing or revamping your communications strategy, website, key messages, and/or social media approach
  • Finding that many of your target prospects don’t know much about your organization
  • Noticing that your competition is getting more than its fair share of positive media coverage and online buzz
  • Experiencing wins that are worthy of being shared … such as new contracts, expansions, community donations, awards, environmental achievements, equipment investments, employment increases, etc.

But what does a PR firm offer that your internal staff may not?

Here’s how a PR firm may help you:

  • Provide an objective viewpoint; act as a sounding board; offer strategic and/or tactical communications expertise that you won’t get from one of your employees
  • Apply broader experience/lessons-learned from other clients/industries
  • Leverage established credibility/knowledge/relationships with important reporters and bloggers
  • Provide additional experienced manpower and expertise when and where you need it
  • Tap into an established infrastructure for distribution of information and feedback
  • Train executives to maximize the benefits of media interviews or presentations
  • Stretch your marketing budget with stellar ROI.

So, if your situation fits any of those mentioned above, it may be time to start the hunt for the right PR firm.

Check out our “Finding a Perfect Agency Match” tipsheet on our PR & Social Media Resources webpage ( ) for help. We’ll tackle how to help your PR firm succeed in a future post.

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.”

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.

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 .


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