When I build my media lists, I always include monthly and industry magazines that are published around the clients area. Although at times it is much harder to get the attention of these highly targeted publications, I view the additional time to tailor a pitch worth it, for three reasons:
1. It allows the client to see how his/her product or service can be translated to ‘fit’ in front of different audiences (readership base) – giving them better appreciation for PR and messaging approach.
2. These publications often have a longer shelf life as well as ‘shareabilty’ due to their quality, targeted demographic and visual appeal – therefore more chances for client to be seen.
3. Because of longer lead times and editorial schedules, it’s always fun to call a client after you have finished up a contract to let them know that they have yet another interview/article.
This happened most recently for a client of mine who was approached by a widely read lifestyle publication out of Georgian Bay area, four months after her initial launch took place.
Why PR people like this:
Allowed me to deliver value to the client MONTHS after our partnership.
Keeps my services on the radar for further engagement
Coca Cola has developed a new digital magazine hybrid which was built to support and eventually replace; corporate website, corporate blog and social media channels – called Coca Cola-Journey. In a recent seminar introducing the new platform, Ashley Brown, Digital Communications Social Media for Coca Cola, stated “If there is one mission I have at Coke, it’s to kill the press release”…. Finishing up in the clip with “we have committed to cut the amount of press releases by half in 2014.”
OK PR and marketing reps, Insert “Grain of Salt” here.
I agree that we are in a time and place where it is imperative for PR reps to think ‘beyond’ a press kit, static website, launch package, and media release for their client. (But then… I have always operated under this belief). I also think that if there is anyone to explore and introduce this innovative, brand-interactive platform it would probably be Coke. But I do feel that language Brown uses in the intro such as “the corporate website it dead” or “the age of Press release PR is ending” … needs to be taken in context and seen in light of individual corporate goals and corporate brand placement.
So before you create all-interactive-all-the-time strategy for your client, take this into account;
Sure, kill the press release – Easy to say when you have had brand domination for over 100 years….! Everyone knows Coca Cola’s story, history, brand, image, not to mention they are one of the most recognizable symbols in the world! (besides the holy cross) Yes, you can probably afford to cut down your releases by half and people will still be talking about you.
But there exists a place for rich storytelling through media, perhaps now more than ever. Every story has been already told (sold), but it’s up to us as PR experts to find the innovative, moral and socio-economic relevance of our clients and tell their stories in a new way. It can’t be on the journalists shoulders to find those angles, nuances, and myriad of possibilities. Too much already, we are bogged down by headline inertia and everything ends up reading like a tabloid – bite sized, shock worthy, sharable and desensitized.
Are we just wanting to ‘hear the facts’ or do we want to learn, grow and be challenged and engaged with our news? I think Coke has been a giant so long that they don’t know what it’s like trying to get your neck out above the fray in this day and age…. and why should they? They’re Coke!
But for the rest of us – I would argue that the press release is still very much alive and an important tool in the spectrum of outreach and creating touch points with customers.
What do you think? – Is social media a means to an end or the end itself, if so WHEN does it make that fundamental shift in a brand’s journey to take on such a life of its own?
So picture the media as a pack of zombies. They are on a mission and are laser focused on one story – Braaaaiiinnnsss.
You are an innocent bystander who hasn’t gotten bitten yet, but you’d love to be on their radar and experience the chase. You do have certain elements of what they are looking for; human flesh, interesting scent – but you lack that enticing …. ‘clincher’ that will get them chasing you down an alley.
Then you think, BBQ sauce! Kinda looks like blood (gross, but stay with me). So you douse a little over your head and make your way to the street.
This entices the zombies. Braaaaiiinnnnss? and they start sniffing your way. Some are curious and come closer to take a look. Excellent!!
But soon, they discover that what you are putting forward is only LOOSELY what they need and now you have wasted their time in getting….. what?
Well, they could let you go on your merry way (unlikely) or they could be so perturbed by your deception that they decide to tear you limb from limb anyway and soon forget about you on the side of the road. Not the experience you were hoping for at all! the end.
So… what have we learned here?
It is rare in the PR world to have your client’s story and mission happen to brush shoulders with one of the hottest scandals-of-the-hour to hit the Canadian (and Global) circuit.
So it could be tempting to align oneself with the news story of the day even though the mission and message doesn’t exaaaactly match up. But when the media come sniffing only to discover that you have misrepresented yourself or wasted their time by trapping them into a sales pitch – they can react one of two ways:
1. Put your name on a list called ‘opportunistic sales hounds, don’t call back, ever’
2. Decide that they are so desperate for a link to the real story that they push you around in a media interview and back you into a spot that you or your public relations team can have a hard time getting you out of.
THE LESSON: Please don’t use BBQ sauce to attract a zombie – it will end badly.
*no actual clients were harmed in the creation of this story.
I love this. Starbuck’s tweet-a-coffee/#! I love it for so many reasons….first and foremost because it’s a great example of giving fuzz factor to the cold, hard internet AND because it bridges two worlds beautifully – PR and promotion.
I will admit that I am not a Starbucks groupie, and while I enjoy their brand, if I had my choice, I would probably select another cup a ‘joe first. However…
I love that they are trying this (in beta), and have found a way to “be” more giving and thoughtful “by way of” their customers. The friend gets the coffee, customer gets the thanks, but THEY get the residual perception and glory.
For a PR person, you can’t say more about ‘living a brand’ than using a coffee shop (a stand alone location) as the means of evoking; involuntary response, (surprise as they open the tweet), emotion (thank you!) and action (walking into shop to obtain gift and hopefully purchase more). It is the epitome of ‘giveaways’ AND they don’t have to give anything away. It’s more than marketing and promotion – this is Emotion in the palm of your customer’s hand…. am I being over zealous? …perhaps.
What does this mean for me as the PR person? It clearly puts social media strategy into a new light and gets PR people thinking outside of the 140 character box.
PR is about eliciting a response which inspires action – in the past we’ve relied on communications, media, events, media interviews – even the odd PR stunt in downtown rush hour. But let’s always be challenging ourselves on how we can make change and change perception using these ‘ego-centric’ and often self-satisfying social channels.
I love the possibilities – I will work to stretch beyond the walls of social media for my own clients also. Bottoms up!
Using the US government shutdown as an example, scientific experts are now saying that the fallout from the lack of activity has not only undercut the efforts of researchers and scientists forced to shut down labs and projects, but has also lost the trust of the people and any patients relying on that data.
It is a grave reminder of what can happen when a brand or company too, goes into MIA status, whether it is forced into shutdown or just taking stock of their branding, PR or marketing approach.
At times there are extenuating circumstances that will force a company to reevaluate or realign its core messages in order to come back with a bigger, better social or public presence. In these cases, it is best to stick to the basics – communicate and share what you know, stick with your core values and make it about your customers.
Other times, you may have aligned your personal or professional profile to an organization that has disbanded or decided to part ways. It is important here to tie up all loose ends – close related social accounts, pages or blogs – continue to monitor any chat groups or forums you may have started or shut them down if appropriate.
Perhaps you are having trouble keeping up with your many communications vehicles and are reevaluating your approach – you might create a very simple posting calendar to take off pressure, and keep you on the radar of your followers who have come to expect updates.
A sudden deep void or MIA status of an account or business not only looks suspicious for all parties involved but can deeply harm your credibility as well as any loyalty from followers you may have worked to build.
There are better solutions than hiding under a rock.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… wait, that’s September – or is it December?
Nope, for PR folks, it’s Christmas PR preparation time! Your PR rep should already be getting their ducks in a row for how, what and when they plan to pitch the holiday Christmas BLITZ.
Here are a few pointers of how to change up and keep your ‘Gift’ pitch fresh this year: The key – timing, timing, timing.
Send samples! – If you have a particularly unique product, pop it in the mail! Remember to give the reporter or blogger ample time to do sampling, assessments and reviews.
Keep it local – If pitching to a specific country (Canada for example) be sure that the product is available in that country! Also, check website shopping cart status (no glitches!) and make a note of additional things like, taxes, shipping and be sure that all is clear to the customer.
One product, two seasons – Is there an application for your product or service outside of the holiday gift giving season? If so, perhaps you can tie 2 pitches into 1 and provide the initial pitch early on in November, while giving plenty of option for the blogger or journalist to feature it along with their holiday products as well.
Gimme gimme – Seems obvious, but include where the product is available. Both online and in stores.
Take a pic – A high res photo goes a long way, be sure that it is print-resolution worthy but not so huge that it bogs down their inbox.
Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While Catalyst communications choreography specializes in key messaging and communications plans for SMEs – we realize that smaller companies don’t always have the funds to retain ongoing PR services.
That’s why Catalyst is offering our ‘PR Launch Kit’ for start ups, new launches and small business. If you have invested the time in a business plan, why wouldn’t you take the time to have your long term marketing bases covered before hitting GO?