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:

Twitter

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.

Facebook

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.

YouTube

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.





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 (http://wp.me/ppqb5-sA), 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.





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?





Roll with the Changes: The New B2B PR Landscape

3 07 2013

(By Jaclyn Reardon, Assistant Account Executive)

The past recession and the digital revolution have turned the world of journalism upside down. Not just for general consumer media, but also for trade media, which serve as the arbiters of credibility within an industry segment … and that traditionally could make or break a B2B company’s PR efforts.Landscape

When the media landscape changes, PR has to adapt, or else we’ll be left behind. Here are just six of the changes B2B PR is faced with and how they can impact tactics and results:

We Must Do More with Less – Many companies and clients have not regained their full budgets from pre-recession levels, but are expected to spread their smaller budgets out over more options. Choosing where you focus your energy is imperative.

Media Relationships: Never More Important – Smaller newsroom staffs mean fewer experienced journalists onboard, and those that remain have less time. This means B2B PR staffs must build solid equity with key journalists in order to keep dialogue going.

Deliver the Goods, Fast – Many media outlets have replaced staff reporters with freelancers, who often focus on generating stories fast and don’t have the same kind of in-depth expertise as beat reporters do. This means we need to be able to package and convey our news for a story quickly.

In the Event of an Event – There appears to be more industry events, at least in the automotive industry, but fewer reporters have time to be onsite covering them. This means we have to make the most of it when reporters do attend and provide those offsite with materials they need to cover the news.

Platform Proliferation – The increased number of social media platforms, which can spread news globally and instantaneously, means it’s more difficult to control our messages. Preparation here is key, in the form of social media policies, key message development and crisis communication planning.

Bonus: We Get More Mileage – An upside to the multiple forms of media channels is that news content is more often repurposed across formats, such as print, digital, online, blog, etc.

How have you been affected by the changes in the media and PR world?





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: http://wp.me/ppqb5-iF).

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 (http://www.bianchipr.com/pr-social-media-resources.html ) 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 (http://tinyurl.com/bsrgswh), 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.”








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