November 24, 2008

What a Tool.

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards tagged at 2:58 pm by R

We all rely on the help of well-developed resources as PR peeps, but a post by Dan Wool at Valley PR Blog really got me thinking:

In a world of customization and consideration, how are media resources and reference data bases helping us do our jobs better?

I have used several resources who tout one of their benefits as “distribution.” This means plugging in the info, and hitting send. Not ideal for getting a reporter’s attention. Not ideal for getting coverage. Not ideal for making a good name for yourself as a considerate PR pro.

Services like Bacon’s (Cision), Burrelle’s Luce, Vocus, PR Newswire, etc. would do well to tailor their services to the rapidly changing needs of PR people and reporters.

Things I’d really like to see all of these services offer to compete for my business (may the best man win):

  • Reporter contacts updated DAILY and checked for contact information accuracy
  • Full accounting of recent articles for each reporter/producer
  • BLOGS: contacts, content and RSS feed
  • Up-to-date editorial calendars (It’s the end of November. Really? Really? There’s nothing out for 2009? I call bull S*&%.)
  • Reporter query portals (HARO is superior to all others at this service presently. Why? They specialize and do it well.)
  • News alerts. Google does it (and everything else), why can’t Burrelle’s cross check between news coming out and reporters in my stored media list? Am I asking for the moon here?

The bottom line is that in a lot of ways I don’t feel like the PR services industry has caught up to what we as practitioners are adapting to.

Maybe it’s the case that I’m not using the “best” search terms but nothing, NOTHING is as frustrating as searching for a known broadcaster or heck an entire network (!!) and getting the old “search returned no results.”

In fact, this is sort of what I look like when that happens.

angry-woman-thumb1616327

Long story longer: PR Tools, get up to speed. I’ve got a job to do here and I need help to do it well.

~R

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November 18, 2008

PR’s not dead, but I’m pretty sure the press release is…

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards at 4:22 pm by R

I sent out a press release today on PR Newswire. I got to thinking…why?

A couple good reasons really:

  1. Sending a release across the wire helps it to propagate like crazy. Ninety-five Web hits in one hour is nothing to turn your nose up at.
  2. It’s a great door knocker to publications and media outlets for pitching purposes.

But no one is calling me or banging down my client’s door for more information. Not because the story isn’t great, but because it came in the form of a press release.

To test my theory, I sent two emails: one that just had pitch information and client news, the other included a pitch and the release. Take a wild guess as to which one got a nibble.

The one without a release.

Here’s my hunch.

When it’s a personal email directed at a specific reporter with detailed information, it seems almost like you’re giving the reporter an exclusive. A press release inherently says:

Hi! I’ve been crafted for a plethora of journalists making whatever you write about me seem boring, repetitive and anything but unique. Please use me.

So, where do we go from here?

You’ve got to have client-approved talking points, but you’ve got to make it personal. I say get approved messaging points and dispense with the personal pitches.

For the really big stuff, crossing the wire makes sense. I sure can’t place 95 hits in one hour that will propagate like mad in SEO. But for so many other things, addressing personal relationships, individual needs of reporters and being a tailored resource is the only thing that makes sense.

The press release is dead! Long live public relations!

~R

Is PR Dead?

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards at 3:57 pm by SD

On Friday, I heard Dave Taylor give a presentation titled “PR: 0, Bloggers: 1.” My first thought as he started his presentation was “Awesome, so now my job is obsolete. Just what I need in this economy!” Fortunately, PR is not dead, it’s alive and well if you’re willing to evolve and look at things a little differently.

In order to subscribe this new evolution of PR, you have to understand that:

“PR is not about controlling the message but about influencing the discussion.”

Well said Dave Taylor.

Fellow PR control freaks, we’ve got to let go of the role of the “gatekeeper” of information because no matter how hard we try, we don’t have 100% control of it. The Internet has made information way too available for this to happen. We still have information but we can’t always control how it gets out. Most of the time, the best we can do is try to influence the discussion. How do we do this? We combine our traditional PR efforts with online efforts. This means keeping those relationships with our local print and broadcast outlets but building new ones with online bloggers. It’s having an online presence whether via a blog, video sharing site or social networking site. It’s always asking ourselves, “how can we be part of the conversation?” and “where are people talking about us?” and then going to those places. It’s not asking, “how do control the message?” because we can’t control it, we can only try to influence it. Without this change in thinking, PR will die.

So, as I get ready to start my week, I rest assured that PR isn’t dead, it’s just changing. I’m up to this challenge, are you?

~S

November 13, 2008

Google solves the travel expense problem

Posted in Industry Standards, Social Media tagged at 9:04 am by R

Yesterday I was out of the office from 9:30-12:30 and again from 1:15-3:00.

I had plenty of meetings, but didn’t get a lot done. Oh, and I used plenty of gas zipping around the Valley of the Sun.

Then something magical happened. Gmail debuted video & voice chat — que the angels singing. This wonderful little add on is so user friendly and cool! But more importantly, it makes what still seems like space age technology highly accessible.

I got the chance to test out Gchat Video with a colleague, Len Gutman of Valley PR Blog.

(By the way, Len, great paint choice for your office.)

Here’s how I describe it…

Remember that scene in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion when Michelle dreams about what happens at the reunion; Michelle is successful, she even invents a formula for glue, she and Romy win the “most improved” award, become arch enemies and eighty years later Michelle calls Romy who is on her death bed — via video phone — and Romy gives her the bird and croaks?

Well GChat video is like that…but it’s not a dream…and no one has flipped me off yet.

On a professional level I hope communicators utilize this remarkable tool. Now that video technology has become more common place, people can consider it a viable option for hosting meetings.

With gas prices still high and time as precious as ever, video meetings make perfect sense. It eliminates travel (time) and increases flexibility…and it saves paper, don’t print out agendas, just send ’em on over as an attachment. That being said there are certainly times when only a face-to-face meeting will do. But for a host of others, this option is superb.

I’m very excited to see this catch on and hopefully increase my productivity and decrease the gas I’m using to get to client meetings.

Big fan of that.

~R

November 11, 2008

Which Brands Will Survive?

Posted in Measurment tagged at 11:39 am by R

It’s all about the bottom line these days. The last time I bought a brand name at the grocery store was easily months ago. Even if it’s only a savings of a few cents, chances are I (and the rest of America) am going for it.

These buying habits beg the question: what brands will survive?

Obviously many have. Coke, Pepsi, Tide, Wheaties, Kraft, Brawny, Charmin, to name a few grocery brands, have weathered less severe economic storms. But with the onslaught of new products, will we see new favorites disappear off the shelves?

Not if their marketers or agencies are smart. Now is the time to hit home the point of investment. Branding is an investment in the best of times, and a necessary on during downturns. Telling stories about why the brad is worth the consumers’ additional investment positions the brand’s worth…and hopefully keeps the dollars coming in.

Your brand is your nest egg for a rainy day. If you haven’t invested yet, call me and we’ll start building a great brand.

~R

November 10, 2008

Telling your story in the age of shrinking newsrooms

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:58 am by SD

In the past month, the LA Times announced plans to let 10% of its newsroom staff go and the Star Ledger announced plans to layoff 40% of its staff through a series of buyouts. Additional cuts are probably not far off on the horizon as companies tighten their belts and cut down on advertising budgets in 2009 due to the current economic crisis. As revenues decline, newspapers are forced to answer to the bottom line and newsrooms are shrinking.

Fewer reporters are still expected to cover the same amount of news as before with fewer resources. In most markets, the days of the beat reporter are fading into the sunset and one reporter may cover a company declaring bankruptcy, an aviation company’s quarterly earnings and the latest trend in commercial real estate all in one day. What does this mean to us PR folk? We are facing both our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity.

Beat reporters are a dying breed. With reporters stretched so thin, many are covering several stories across multiple industries each day. Despite their best efforts, they often don’t have the time nor resources to dive deep into an industry. This is where we can be a resource. It’s our job to offer that background information by offering an expert to do an informational briefing or sending over the latest white paper your client wrote. More than ever before, it’s our job to provide the information, without being asked, because reporters simply don’t have the time to chase it down.

In Denver, “fluff” news coverage is gone. Reporters no longer have the time to write a story about a company’s 25th anniversary or an award received by a CEO. While these are still good stories to tell, there is other more pressing news that is keeping their plates full. Do your research and find a way to still tell these stories but find the broader implication. Perhaps your client’s award speaks to a national trend or an anniversary is a result of strategic business decisions that other struggling companies can learn from. Go the extra mile to make your story have a hard news angle, otherwise it simply won’t get covered due to time and space constraints.

Since there is no end in sight for shrinking newsrooms, we have a responsibility to be a resource to reporters. Don’t waste their time with a bad pitch, provide them all the information they need and understand the challenges they are facing. Your efforts will go a long way and ensure that the stories you need to tell get told.

~S

November 3, 2008

My Motherboard, Myself

Posted in Personally... at 9:48 pm by R

My MacBook went down last week. I cried. In the Apple store. In my car. At home. To my husband. To my dad. To my boss. I.Had.A.Melt.Down.

With out my beloved laptop, I had time to think about how much I depend on my beloved laptop.

Technology, immediate access to what’s going on and the comfort of knowing a large percentage of my personal life is on this 13×8 contraption…and then poof. It’s gone.

But a funny thing happened during my displacement to a PC (gross). The familiarity of my email, the media sites I visit every day were still there, like favorite neighborhood haunts. I realized, it’s not about the computer itself, it’s about the places it takes me to. So much of my life is on the Web. Communication, gossip, finances, news – national, international and local – frivolity, videos, this list goes on, they’re all there for me on the Web.

Even as our lives become more mobile and web-based and universally accessible…

Back up your computer.

I don’t care how much of my life I can get to from any computer in the world, there’s no place like my own MacBook.

~R