Feeding the Media: Turning One Strategic Placement into Multiple Big Hits*

Written by: Jess on Monday, June 23, 2014 | Leave a Comment 

Photo: Newspapers, Jon S, Flickr Creative Commons

These days producers, editors and reporters are under constant deadlines. The pressure is on to fill digital and cable news sites with fresh content 24/7 and reporters are often asked to file three or more stories a day. So how do journalists continually feed the beast? By sharing content.

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study finds that nearly 76 percent of stations are involved with other media in newsgathering and sharing agreements. Almost a third of news directors (31.2 percent) said they ran news on another local station, and the study finds that content ran on an average of 1.4 stations. The majority of stations also have cooperative agreements with outlets in other mediums including local newspapers, radio stations and websites.

Read more…

The Importance of PR Pitching Via Phone*

Written by: Jess on Friday, November 1, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

We posted a blog post a while ago on the importance of picking up the phone in PR, especially when pitching stories. We, as an industry, have begun to rely too much on email as a sole form of communication. However, the reality is, phone pitches can produce some very powerful results.

Here are a few thoughts about phone pitching that our director of media relations Aaron Kellogg brought up in an earlier blog post, which serve as a good reminder of the power of phone conversations:

Email gets stuck. A journalist friend of mine once said to me, “My email just piles up! I probably get 20 pitches a day. I don’t know what to do with it all, so I don’t do anything.” His advice? “It’s annoying to get a phone call. But, once the person starts talking, I usually have to listen.” Sure, there’s something irritating for journalists who get phone calls: it’s an interruption. But, those who call immediately have the journalist’s ear. Then, it’s up to the PR representative to make the pitch work.

The open discussion. Sometimes it’s good to lend your ear to the journalist. What does that mean? A couple months back we were pitching a high-level legal publication. But, we weren’t sure if the editor would be interested in the topic we were pitching. After all, we also weren’t sure what angle we wanted to take. So we had a discussion. And upon getting the editor on the phone, our conversation went something like this:

    “This is Susan” 
    “Hi Susan, I’m calling on behalf of (my client). We realize there’s a lot of news about (a program the IRS is undertaking). Is it something you’ve given a lot of coverage to?”

Two things were interesting about this pitch:

One, this discussion would likely not have taken place over email. By having a telephone conversation, we were able to open up the conversation to get a better idea of what the editor wanted – we lent her our ear to do a bit of listening. Why is it good? Because sometimes I feel like email pitches can be like throwing darts at a dart board. You have a specific, physical idea in your possession. And once you fire off the pitch by clicking “send,” it’s fingers crossed. Instead, the phone conversation is malleable.

Two, there wasn’t really a pitch in this example. Some people might deem this “lazy PR.” After all, our job is to develop firm, targeted pitches. But, I’d argue that tightly-positioned pitches can sometimes be overwhelming for a journalist. In fact, during my days as a news reporter, I didn’t always want a complete story idea. And, as was the case here, by not presenting definitive story idea, the editor had a few moments to consider the topic and absorb it. By walking through our ideas together in conversation, her interest grew with every word, and we ended the discussion with a definitive idea of where both she and I wanted to end up. Sometimes, soft pitches amount to greatness.

You’re kidding me right? These are the words a New York Times marketing and advertising reporter used when I told her I was calling on behalf of a software company. After all, top-tier reporters want colorful characters, interesting anecdotes and stories with a twist. Such details are seldom found in software development stories. And, had I emailed, the reporter would likely have never responded.

But, my voice on the other end of the line forced the reporter to listen to my pitch (as much as she probably didn’t want to). And, surprisingly, she asked a few questions. In fact, her questions amounted to a five minute conversation. And surprisingly the reporter responded to our follow-up email, leaving the door open for future interaction.

Is the telephone conversation the end-all to public relations? Absolutely not. I would be remiss in saying that Twitter, Facebook, Help a Reporter Out and other electronic channels are powerful tools.

But, for those who dread reporter phone conversations: confront your fear. And, for those whose love affair with the phone needs rehabilitation: rekindle your love.

Because sometimes communication by voice can be most effective – and – in the examples above, it produced remarkable results.

Contributed by Aaron Kellogg. Follow him @KelloggAaron

The Art [and Science] of Mobile, Security and Healthcare Storytelling*

Written by: Jess on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

Storytelling is the most common and memorable form of communication. In its simplest form, storytelling allows us to share experiences and create emotional connections. Today, many businesses claim that they’re storytellers, but few truly understand the art (and science) of storytelling.

We’re fascinated with the science of storytelling, so much so that we’ve studied it for years. In our “2012 Prevailing Storylines Study,” we ranked the ten prevailing narratives that appear regularly in mainstream business media. But that wasn’t enough, so in our most recent study of industry-specific media, we trained our eyes on journalists covering mobile technology, IT security and healthcare/ healthcare IT, to look for patterns and potential differences.

The 2013 Prevailing Storylines Study looked at nearly 1,500 articles across 30 business and trade publications spread across three core markets: mobile technology, IT security and healthcare IT/healthcare. The study not only confirmed the prevalence of the ten recurring storylines/narratives, but also showed that certain narratives do indeed appear with regularity in each industry. Within media coverage of mobile technology, for example, “Things Not What They Seem” appeared most frequently. In coverage of IT security, on the other hand, “Recipe for Success” appeared more often, while in healthcare/healthcare IT the most common storyline was “New Kid on the Block.”

Mobile: Top Storylines

IT Security: Top Storylines

Healthcare: Top Storylines

What this research showed us is that the science of storytelling is even more nuanced than we thought. In other words, there are enough noticeable differences at the industry level to recommend unique approaches to storytelling in these markets. And, if companies understand what narratives resonate most within their industry and within the media, they can better position themselves for continued growth and success.

Phil Greenough, CEO of Greenough 

Does Local TV News Get You Talking?*

Written by: Jess on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

According to a new study, 55% of all “News of the Day” conversations were sparked by local broadcast news, while online media only triggered 18%. As a former local journalist, I am both thrilled and somewhat surprised by this statistic. In recent years, the television business has been hit hard.  Audiences are shrinking. Demographics are graying. And social media has made the breaking news race nearly impossible to win. So is local broadcast news really the top driver of watercooler talk?

Conducted by TVB, the study asked more than 2,000 American adults 18+ to detail more than 9,000 online and offline conversations in April 2013. According to the findings, “local broadcast television delivers the news that feeds most of these conversations with 82% of people talking daily about Weather, 75% about National and International News, 63% about Local News, 49% about Sports and 42% about Traffic.”

At first glance these results seem to signal a shift in the way young adults consume news, but upon closer examination, they really just reaffirm what local TV broadcasters have known all along. First, weather has always been and will likely always be the number one reason for watching. Secondly, viewers like feeling connected to their communities and while technology makes it easier to report national and international news, local reporters and producers will always seek out an angle that will resonate with their market. And finally, local broadcast outlets are getting smarter about the way they disseminate news. At this point, nearly all local stations have a website, a mobile site and an app.  By distributing their content across a wide range of platforms, broadcast outlets are making it easier for loyal and younger viewers to stay informed and connected throughout the day.  It also allows the most-trusted stations in the market to maintain their status as news leaders and capitalize on the brand equity they’ve built for years.

So what does all this mean when it comes to strengthening your company’s media footprint?  Don’t count local TV news out. Young adults are still watching.  Instead, look to create a broad media strategy consisting of broadcast and print coverage on a national, trade and local level.

Contributed by Media Account Supervisor Christine Williamson. Follow her on Twitter: @ChristineDBW.

Three Media Relations Misperceptions*

Written by: Jess on Monday, July 1, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

After well over a decade working as a journalist, I am now approaching my third year in public relations. Even during that relatively short time period, the media landscape has changed dramatically. Breaking news is now a commodity, as stories zip around faster, thanks to the Internet and social media. Still, I’ve noticed that many traditional impressions of the media and media relations haven’t changed a bit. Here are three common misperceptions I’ve encountered:

1)      It’s Who You Know 

Not Really. Some PR professionals namedrop and brag about their media connections, but in reality, you don’t need contacts, you just need a good story. That’s not to say having strong relationships with journalists doesn’t come with benefits, however. A media relations pro whom reporters trust and respect, can always pick up the phone and at least get a hearing. Having friends in the media can also be invaluable when it comes to getting feedback on story ideas, which can ultimately help shape a pitch that yields results.

2)      Make it “Pitch Perfect”

A mistake in your email? (gasp!) When I first started in PR, I was trained to triple check every message before hitting send to ensure there were no typos or grammatical errors. That’s certainly an important practice when it comes to interacting with clients. But the media? Not so much.  Case in point: below is an email I received from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal:

“Ok sure thatd be great thanks Andrea”

And another example, this one from a journalist at the New York Times:

“ok, thanks, i’ll do a people item for a future roundup”

Media relations isn’t a black tie affair.  It’s not even semi-formal.  At best, it might be business casual. What it’s really all about is being real and personable. The more authentic and conversational you are, the more likely you are to be successful.  If you’ve ever interacted with reporters, you know they would never disregard a story because you messed up your spacing, used the wrong font, or had a typo or misspelling.

3)      Print is King

I can’t tell you how many “clip craving clients” I’ve heard sigh with disappointment when they learn their story “didn’t make print.”  We can debate the advantages of print, but in my view Web wins hands down almost every time. According to the Pew Research Center’s statistics on print vs. online media, more than half of Americans receive their news from digital sources, and the number of people relying on social media exclusively for their news has doubled in the past two years. In addition, the majority of online outlets now have higher circulations then most traditional print publications.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I remain a huge fan of print. There’s just something about the sound of rifling through the pages of newspapers. But when it comes to publicity, we should stop worrying about getting ink on our fingertips and start focusing more on what is really going to deliver results: page views, likes and shares online.

What changes have you seen in the media landscape? Do you have any stories to share or misperceptions that you’ve seen?

Andrea LePain is VP, Media Relations at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @alepain  

Financial Advisers: Why You Should Get Into The PR Mix*

Written by: Jess on Monday, April 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

At any age, a working man or woman wants to save money, which is why so many of us grind out 9-5 jobs, right? Unfortunately, many workers cannot effectively manage or save their money, which explains why Suze Orman rose to prominence, providing simple financial advice to millions.

The simplicity of Suze’s advice makes her successful, since her guidance is expressed in layman’s terms. Suze’s financial directives are clear, and the “to-do’s” are obvious, which allows individuals to make decisive choices about their own personal finances. What’s more, Suze built a powerful brand on something basic: financial advice. It’s the type of advice every American needs. Why isn’t every financial adviser like Suze? Why not invest in strategic, brand-building PR?

It’s unfortunate that so many financial advisers sit on the sidelines, while their competitors lure customers who might otherwise be their customers – if only these “sidelined advisers” chose to connect with the right reporters. So many reporters are dedicated to reporting on personal finance. In fact, they’re so hungry for ideas and sources, editors at the Wall Street Journal Wealth Manager blog can’t find enough qualified advisers to write a 500-700 word blog for their site.

It begs the question: if you are a financial adviser or banker, why sit on the sidelines of financial planning, while others are so easily building their brand with advice that everyone needs. Suze Orman did it. What’s holding you back?

Aaron Kellogg is an Account Supervisor at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter: @KelloggAaron

Where Did You Get Your News Yesterday?*

Written by: Jess on Friday, April 26, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

In the battle between traditional and digital media, the facts don’t lie. Newsweek moved to an all digital format. The Boston Phoenix shut down permanently. And percentage of people reading a daily newspaper fell 18% from 2002 to 2012. It would appear digital is winning the war. Yet, more often than not, clients ask me “is this article for the print edition?” and then seem disappointed when I mention that it will only be online.

But digital has many advantages:

Now, this is not to say that companies should focus solely on digital media. Traditional print and broadcast outlets still have enormous value. During the recent Boston Marathon attack, people turned to their local broadcast affiliates for live reports.  Marginal news viewers came out of the woodwork and flocked to Boston’s legacy station, WCVB Channel 5.  Even though all stations were running constant live coverage within 10 minutes of the tragedy, WCVB captured an 11.3 rating (35 share) – more than double its competitors.

The battle between traditional and digital media may never be over, and the solution is clear. A well-rounded public relations strategy, including print magazines/newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital media is always best. Focus on trusted outlets rather than the method of distribution. After all, the numbers don’t lie – a “post” on the New York Times Bits blog can reach as many – if not more – of your target audience as a print story in the paper’s Sunday tech section.

Christine Williamson is a senior consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineDBW

It’s Halloween and ‘Tis the Season for…Infographics?*

Written by: Jess on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

Infographics are a fun, creative way to visually present information and data that is complex and/or lengthy. They appeal to today’s Internet users who demand information at their fingertips, but also tend to have a very short attention span. If executed correctly, infographics have the potential to help companies break through the clutter and get their messages front and center. They are also much more likely to be shared via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., compared to traditional articles. Below is a roundup of a few of our favorite Halloween infographics.

This first one covers a wide range of fun topics.  It’s incredible to see how much spending for the holiday has increased over the years, and we love the section that analyzes social media costume inquiries. Take a look:

(Source: http://dailyinfographic.com/halloween-freakynomics-infographic)

By the way, if you’re dressing your pet up, like this infographic predicts, be sure to enter our client Arbella’s photo contest!

This next one is great for the green tips it gives.  We love the idea of DIY costumes or holding a costume swap with your friends after the holiday to reduce waste. Check it out:

(Source: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/halloween-what-if-we-recycled-infographic)

While the zombie profiles of these social media users are humorous, there may actually be some good underlying social usage tips in this infographic:

(Source: http://socialtimes.com/social-media-zombie_b108631)

If you haven’t explored the possibility of using infographics to strengthen your marketing initiatives, it may be time. Have a very happy and safe Halloween!

Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter:  @lucymuscarella

See How Clients Rate Our Passion for Their Business*

Written by: Paul on Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

Surveying your customers in order to gauge their satisfaction with your products or services is nothing new—and applying that same principle to a PR, marketing and communications agency such as ours makes perfect sense. And we’ve been measuring client satisfaction for 11 years.

The results, as you might expect, help us assess our strengths and weaknesses, and they form a strong foundation for determining the agency’s to-dos, whether that’s to build on our ability to drive new sales for our customers or polish our storytelling capabilities.

Instead of purely bragging about our results, however, which you can see a select sampling of here, we challenge you to assess your own PR/marketing/communications agency on the following criteria:

1) Is your agency an extension of your own team? By this I mean does your agency work efficiently and effectively with your staff? Do the two teams have a solid rapport and bullet-proof communication? Does your agency enhance your own capabilities (versus creating redundancy) and complement your existing skillset (versus replicating key abilities)? If it didn’t violate any contracts or policies, would you hire the staff at your agency as employees? Do they have the same (or complementary) core values, work ethic, personal style (and even sense of humor) as your strongest team members?

2) Does your agency demonstrate a passion for your business? Let’s face it—it’s difficult for anyone to know your business as well as you do—but a good agency can come damn close—and should. Your perfect agency should demonstrate complete immersion in your industry, including knowing your competitors, understanding the key issues and having a familiarty with the major players, trends and developments. We’re not talking about a quick refresh before your next in-person visit or conference call—we’re referring to a deep  and ongoing knowledge of all your strengths, weakenesses and paint points—internal and external. In a word, your agency should be a subject matter expert in your company and your industry.

3) Does your agency work proactively on your behalf? Someone once said you can’t teach people to be proactive—they either are or aren’t. In my opinion, the best employees are wired to take charge and think ahead—they try to solve problems ahead of the curve. The flip side, naturally, is less desirable—the reactive (versus proactive) employee waits for your orders before they move. Seems pretty clear which type makes a better partner, don’t you think?

4) Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, does your agency help drive new sales? Is your agency connecting you to qualified leads? Yes, a large part of PR, marketing and comuinications work involves building a brand, whether that’s through thought leadership (contributed articles), social media (Facebook likes) and/or media coverage (Wall Street Journal). But is your agency working from a strategic point of view, directing, managing and integrating all the efforts, from content creation and media outreach to social media, ongoing measurement and reliable follow-up, in order to drive new business into your hopper?  At the end of the day, just answering that one simple question may be the truth you need.

Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1

Making the Transition from Journalist to Marketer*

Written by: Paul on Monday, January 30, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

I’ve seen several blog posts of late referencing the trend for PR and marketing agencies to hire journalists. Having recently made the transition myself, I’ve got some advice for journalists considering the move and agencies considering the hires.

Seven reasons why journalists make good marketers

1) We understand the concept of audience. Any experienced editorial person knows one of the first questions you ask when you’re handed an assignment is this: Who’s the intended audience? We’re familiar with changing the format, tone and length, among other things, depending on the audience and where, when and why they’re reading our content. That skill is critical in marketing PR content development, as you might be crafting a contributed article for a trade pub, assembling a press release for the business press, editing a case study for prospective customers, creating pithy copy for a Facebook posting or writing a white paper for prospective business investors. Not only does the audience, tone and type of writing vary between each of these, you also need to understand the underlying messaging and the correct voice for the client.

2) We’ve been pitched articles by agencies. As a result, we can give our colleagues tips for what works (and what doesn’t). We’re also used to researching story ideas, and that’s often an easy way to start a dialogue with writers and editors on the media side. Having sat on the other side of the desk, we can tell you how the editorial process works, what we’re often looking for and what really turns us off. We also bring an assortment of media contacts to the agency, which usually gives us an inside edge on landing a story or nailing coverage for our clients.

3) We understand the need for context. No successful journalist would ever show up to an interview (or input session, as we call them here at Greenough), without doing our research. We’re used to casting the net very wide, then distilling that information to assemble the story. The first step in casting that net is a basic understanding of the company, its customers, the problem it’s trying to solve and the industry it competes in. We like doing research—it’s part of the journalistic process—and it’s critical in developing compelling and accurate marketing PR content.

4) We’re usually very detail oriented. What, exactly, does that mean? Three sets of skills rolled into one person: We’re expert proofreaders, solid copyeditors and seasoned fact checkers. I’ve worked with and for established publications, where fact checkers doubled back to verify my quotes, titles or statistics, but most of the time the job of fact checking my own work fell to me. This is critical when assembling materials for clients, which should be perfect.

5) We like variety. A journalist’s job is never boring. One day you’re writing a piece on weight training for Women’s Health; the next day you might be updating small business owners on the current lending market. We’re used to diving into a topic area, getting up to speed quickly, churning out an authoritative piece and moving onto the next topic. Sure, many journalists develop an expertise (or, if you’re coming from a newspaper background, a beat), but even within a particular subject matter we enjoy the variety of changing topics. We’re naturally curious, and we ask a lot of questions. Most of the time these skills translate nicely into understanding what our marketing PR clients need.

6) We like to write. Enough said.

7) We’re on top of the news. Part of a journalist’s job is spotting trends—and that means staying on top of current events. That skill translates perfectly to agency work, where finding opportunities for your client’s CEO, for instance, to comment on current events or trends is a nice win.

The #1 thing journalists need to know about working for an agency

1) The client is always right. Pleasing them comes first. Forget about writing the pieces you want to write—your job is to understand the client’s messaging and strategy, then craft the right words to relay that message across multiple channels and readers. Got something else to say? Channel your opinions to your personal blog or do freelance work.

Barbara Call is director of content for Greenough. She can be reached on email at bcall@greenough.biz or follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1

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