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.





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.

Why?

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.





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?





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?





Does Your PR Have (AP) Style?

19 09 2012

(Guest post by Adriana Van Duyn, APR, Account Supervisor)

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. AP Stylebook. The Journalist’s Bible.

As PR practitioners, we should (at the very least) be aware of its purpose. The AP Stylebook proclaims itself “a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.”

But what does that mean for PR folks?

Our job is to provide journalists with applicable content in hopes of gaining exposure for our clients. This content needs to be relevant and newsworthy, and it helps if it’s written in the format that journalists use.

In short, we write in AP Style to help journalists do their job.

While few PR pros plan to memorize all 494 pages, one should know the most common AP Style rules. Here’s a list of our most used AP Style entries:

  •  State Names & Abbreviations – spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone, although the names of eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah; states are not abbreviated using the U.S. postal code (MI is Mich.), so always check to ensure you’re abbreviating correctly.
  • Numerals – use figures for percentages, dimensions, money, ages, 10 and above, dates and time; spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence, except if the numeral identifies a calendar year, as well as in casual uses.
  • Academic Degrees – avoid abbreviations; use an apostrophe in bachelor’s or master’s degree, but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.
  • Titles (General) – lowercase and spell out titles when used in commas following a name or when used without a name; generally, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. These general rules may change with the type of title (military, for example), so double check just to be sure.
  • Hyphens – use to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from more than one word; when a compound modifier (two or more words that express a single concept) precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound, except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly.
  • Commas – use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series; this changes for a concluding conjunction      and complex series. 
  • More Than / Over – use “more than” with numerals; use “over” for spatial relationships. 
  • United States / U.S. – United States is a noun; U.S. is an adjective. 

And, remember: when it doubt, check it out … in the AP Stylebook. 

What AP Style error bugs you the most? Which one is the most difficult for you to remember? Let us know … we would love to hear your feedback!

For more AP Style information, check out the following:

And for a little fun, check out @FakeAPStylebook’s twitter feed at twitter.com/fakeapstylebook or its new spoof, Write More Good, at http://thebureauchiefs.com/buy-the-book/.





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

11 09 2012

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

In part one of this blog (http://wp.me/ppqb5-lC), we discussed what data can do for an organization. In part two, we’re sharing the six ways your company can utilize data for a big PR punch:

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

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

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





50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate About Numbers – Part I

5 09 2012

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

As part of a recent PR project, we received a news release that a client drafted for our review. After proofreading, we suggested they add some data to the release. They took our counsel and added in some numbers to give the release further context.

Upon distributing the release, we received an immediate inquiry from a business reporter at a key major daily newspaper. The reporter inquired specifically about the data, which paved the way for an interview the following day.

This is just one of many examples that underscores the importance of research – and the resulting data – to PR efforts. Simply put, media love numbers.

If your organization is not doing research, it should be. And if you’re already doing it, the results shouldn’t be used only for internal purposes. Sharing portions of data publicly can be beneficial in a number of ways.

Consider these four things that research can do for your organization:

  1. Position your company and its people as thought leaders and experts that dig deeper and have special insight into industry issues;
  2. Help your company better understand your customer – or if you’re in the B2B world, your customers’ end customer (the public), therefore making you a more knowledgeable supplier of products and services, and a better business partner;
  3. Uncover new trends and issues that can help not only you, but also your customers, to better position yourselves; and
  4. Demonstrate what kind of messaging is working and what isn’t.

And once you’ve conducted research – whether it’s research on a specific industry issue, a survey of public perceptions on a topic or a partnered study with a relevant association or university, etc. – top line findings can be publicized in a number of ways to help your company.

We’ll talk more about that in part two of this blog post.





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.








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