A key element of successful PR is getting your client’s story told in the media. It’s as simple as that. But for many PR professionals, particularly newer ones to the industry, piquing an editor’s interest in a story pitch can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be.
As a former magazine editor for more than 15 years, I can honestly say I have a wealth of experience being on the receiving end of press releases and pitches from PR professionals promoting their clients and hoping to pique my interest in a story. And let me tell you, those releases and pitches came in all forms: short, long, appropriate, inappropriate, totally off base, spot on, weird, wacky and wild. You name it, I got it.
Read more »
Healthy media relations involve building your media relations strategy and earning your media coverage. The process begins with developing a media policy or guidelines for your organization, and evolves to the point where you create a media strategy. Below, find 16 steps to developing an effective media strategy:
- Describe the issue: Create a document and write a paragraph outlining why you want to engage the media and the general premise for your strategy.
- Analyze the media coverage: Summarize media coverage your organization has received to date, with a focus on the trend toward positive or negative media coverage.
- Analyze the issues: Drop the media coverage patterns or issues into “buckets,” such as crisis, proactive, incident, or technical stories. Crisis issues are the most important and urgent; technical are least urgent and important. Proactive issues are important and less urgent, while incidents are less important and have more urgency. Segmenting these issues will help you prioritize your effort.
- Set issue management goals: Determine what you are trying to achieve. State a few goals to developing a media outreach strategy.
- Develop strategy: Decide which strategy is appropriate for the subject matter of each issue. Examples might include developing an “educate the media” strategy, or developing a “local media”strategy.
- Develop target audiences: Determine who needs to know about this issue or issues, and determine how they receive their information. Decide what they should do with this information if you engage the media. Segment your audience as well for clarity.
- Determine stakeholders: Stakeholders are often overlooked in developing a media strategy. They can be supportive and influential in your success. Outline who you need to engage before you reach out to the media, and brief them on what you are doing.
- Develop media targets: Build a list of media outlets that should be interested in your issue. The more specific the media contact to your issue, the better your results will be.
- Develop a media team: Decide who will talk if the media is interested. It is good to have a point person, but also consider subject matter experts for technical topics.
- Train spokespeople: Make sure the folks who will speak have their story straight, and that you arm them with accurate, relevant facts. They should practice with question and answer sessions.
- Develop messages: Develop a few key messages that you and the media team should consistently use. One to two sentences for each.
- Gather your facts: The media will want – and deserves – facts. Anticipate what reporters will request and gather it in advance. If you don’t have an answer, know who you can go to get it after the media interview.
- Develop media tools: Create some media tools in advance, such as a press release, backgrounder, video b-roll, or whatever will succinctly support an accurate story.
- Create a timetable: Develop a timetable for implementing your media strategy.
- Determine budget: Determine what you will need to implement the strategy in terms of resources, time and money.
- Measure results: Evaluate how your efforts have panned out once you’ve begun, and at increments afterward. Measure by polling opinions or perceptions before and after media outreach; by measuring media coverage; and evaluating whether the media outreach is influencing sales or behavior toward your organization.
For an excellent resource on developing a media strategy, read “Encountering the Media” by Barry McLoughlin. This pocket-sized book is loaded with helpful tips.
We’ve written before about the benefits of having a blog. Check out our previous post on anxiety about blogging. From improving your site’s SEO to raising your presence to positioning yourself as a valuable resource, there are a slew of reasons to either embark on your blog writing or hire a professional to do it for you.
Not all blog posts, though, are created equal. If you’re writing too much – or too little – or if your blog post headlines are lacking, your efforts will go largely unnoticed by Google and thus by any potential customers searching for you. Here are a handful of tips for getting the most SEO “bang” for your blog writing efforts, specifically by using keywords to boost your blog post’s value.
Good writers never stop learning and evolving. You read, listen, borrow and blend to develop a voice that is comfortable and informative. News writers have evolved from writers of hard news stories – give me the facts fast and straight – to using techniques that are more creative. In fact, news reporters would often “phone in” their stories remotely, so they got to the point immediately in case the connection was broken. They also focused on the most essential first, using the inverted pyramid method of containing the who, what, why, when, where and how at the top of a story to avoid having a typesetter trim important details at the end of an article. In recent years, news writers can be less concerned about having their stories trimmed, especially in the era of online journalism, where stories can be as long as necessary.
If you’re like many businesses, the rapidly growing and constantly evolving world of social media probably has your head spinning, and for good reason. It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a new platform to experiment with and new updates to learn on the more well-established sites (here’s looking at you, Facebook timelines). The web was abuzz about Google+ months ago when the hype leading to its premier was at its peak, but lately you don’t hear as much about it. That’s most likely about to change.
If you’ve been paying even cursory attention to tech news lately, you’ve heard of it. The platform called Pinterest exploded onto the social media scene last year, and has gained a following of 12 million+ users. It was the fastest site to reach 10 million users in the history of social media statistics, beating out giants Facebook and Twitter to that No. 1 spot in the social media annals.
Creating a logo design is an exercise in communicating a company’s or product’s core principals. There are countless combinations of colors, letters, illustrations and styles used in logo design, but all logos can be sorted into five categories. Understanding the strengths of each type of logo will help you select the best approach for your next logo design project.
Logo Design Categories
A wordmark is a text-only design that illustrates a brand’s message, philosophy or position. Effective wordmarks often feature a unique typographical style or custom typeface to create a brand that is simple yet distinctive.
Advantages of Wordmarks
• Name Recognition
A letterform mark uses one or more letters as an iconic symbol to represent a brand. Often, these symbols are highly stylized so the mark is distinctive enough to stand alone.
Advantages of Letterform Marks
Pictorial (Iconic) Marks
Pictorial marks, often referred to as iconic marks, are an illustration of a brand metaphor or its product. It is common for companied with pictorial marks to select a tangible item, such as an animal, as the basis for their illustrated brand.
Advantages of Pictorial Marks
• Promotes Brand Culture
• Anthropomorphic Potential
Abstract marks use non-representational symbols to convey a brand’s message. Abstract symbols are often the best way to illustrate complex or intangible products, issues or services. These marks are reliant upon the emotive qualities of shape and color.
Advantages of Abstract Marks
Emblems are a sole entity comprised of a marriage of inseparable pictorial elements and typography.
Advantages of Emblems
• Perceived Strength
Check out Pivot’s design portfolio.
Blogs can give people anxiety. Honest, I’ve seen it.
Some people get squeamish when you talk about blogs because they don’t really know what one is or where to find one (not everyone will admit that, and this is less common with younger people).
We encourage a many of our clients to blog. We explain it’s a platform to offer a glimpse of their expertise. We tell clients that a good, consistent blog can help raise the visibility of their business. We explain that it lives on their website and it improves the website’s visibility overall. That usually gets them to seriously consider blogging.
There are people who are scared of committing to a blog because they don’t know what to write about, or they can’t imagine where they’ll find the time. Legitimate concerns. Who wants to start something you can’t finish? Truthfully, I’ve read several public relations and marketing firm blogs in recent years, and I’ve seen some casualties. Where there once was a blog, now there is none. And you don’t want your blog to languish (which reminds me of our Facebook page, but that’s another blog post). So, what are some tips to overcome blog anxiety?
First, if you have a team to participate, it spreads out the work. With just four people, if everyone contributes one blog a month, that’s one post a week. That’s a great start.
What to write about? Something you’ve noticed, experienced or seen that might be valuable to people in your industry, clients or potential clients. That’s a pretty broad category. I’ve started to notice “blogs” in my day-to-day business. Something that a client does or says, an event, a piece of news, results from a project, trends that emerge. There are potential blog posts everywhere. Jot them down. Blog posts are short, maybe 300 words. Write one on the airplane or in the dentist’s waiting room. Write three; unless it’s a timely event, they’ll keep.
I’ve seen firsthand that blogs improve website visibility and traffic—it’s worth overcoming the fear and taking the leap.
I’ve often read, and been told, that the easiest way to build your business is by growing existing clients, especially if they have been happy with your work to date. I recently learned firsthand that clients don’t always know when you’ve added services or products, and they only think of your business as offering what you’ve always offered.
We recently met with a long-time client (10 years) to make plans for 2012. In that meeting I clearly heard that the client only thought of us as a PR firm, when in fact we’ve added so much in the last few years. Pivot provides social media tools, marketing support, design, and more. It may take some time to change a client’s perception of what you do, but it’s key that you educate them when you add services or products.
Something we’ve started to do to remind people of our capabilities is sending out a short, bi-monthly e-newsletter. It highlights client projects and successes while illustrating what we did for the client.
Remember, your existing clients are the low-hanging fruit for increasing business. If you’ve added services or products, be sure to let those who are closest to you know about it.
Websites should contain content to attract and answer visitors’ questions efficiently and effectively. Attracting visitors to your site is only half the challenge, though. For most individuals or organizations, the goal of a website is to help generate customers, now or in the future.
To convert visitors to leads, a first step toward creating a customer, you must create compelling and appropriate calls to action. To move viewers forward, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, authors of “Inbound Marketing, Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs,” say ask the following questions:
- “Why should I click this button (or link) and give my information?”
- “What’s in it for me?”
- “Is the value of the thing I am getting worth giving up my email address for?”
To engage your visitors and get them to say yes to these questions so you can follow up with them, create a series of calls to action that appeal to them on a direct or indirect level. Direct calls to action are for visitors who need your product or service now. These might include questions like: “Call for a quote today,” or “Add to cart.” The person who clicks one of these buttons is ready to move forward; they are not looking to be convinced to move to a next level of the sales cycles.
Indirect calls to action are less intrusive, but designed for individuals not quite ready to make a transaction. These folks might be trying to research their options or gain general knowledge about a product or service. For these folks, you can offer links to items such as webinars, white papers, tip sheets, trial demos. To access information you have created – in the form of a white paper, for example – you will ask for information from visitors. If they are not interested in providing an email address, at minimum, they are probably not very serious regarding your product or service. For these low-level prospects, provide a link to an RSS to allow them some level of information with little friction.
Good calls to action should be clear and simple, and they should tell the visitor what action to take and the result of that action. For Pivot, it might be: “Free Trial: 2 press releases in the next 20 days,” as an example. Every page on a website should include a call to action, says Steve Krug, author of “Don’t Make Me Think.” Additionally, you should track what calls to action visitors are clicking, test locations on the page for performance, and even test button colors, graphics or size in an effort to optimize results.
Getting people to your site is important. Converting these visitors to qualified leads and paying customer should be equally as important. Carefully consider your calls to action, and monitor their success.