Pick Up the Phone, Break Away From PR Pack

Notwithstanding Inside Edge PR‘s journalistic style of developing content for dissemination to the media, it’s been more than five years since I regularly committed acts of journalism.

Yet I still remain on a bevy of publicists’ media lists. Almost daily, I get multiple news releases that encompass theater, health and fitness, Indiana tourism, healthcare and more–oh, so much more.

This underscores a PR fundamental that is sorely lacking in the marketplace: picking up the phone and actually calling members of the media. Radical, I know.

But if any of the above-mentioned releases had been accompanied by a phone call, then they’d realize that I’m no longer a viable media target. Instead, I’m just a piece of the wall where they are flinging mud.

For those in the business of trying to get your stories told to a broader audience, that’s no way to get the job done. By contrast, one surefire way to separate yourself from the competitive PR pack is to go beyond the comfort (and relative futility) of relying on mass e-mails.

After all, while one of the easiest things to do is send an e-mail, deleting that same e-mail is equally simple. And the deleter increasingly views your e-mails as white noise or spam–hardly the stuff of building a constructive relationship or well-regarded professional reputation.

Meantime, check out some related Inside Edge PR posts, such as The Real Purpose of Calling a Journalist and The Art of Contacting Reporters By Phone.

Events Offer Three Bites at the Publicity Apple

Stories that are event-based–with a specific time and a specific place–offer three bites at the publicity apple.

If you’re settling for anything less, then you need to work on growing your PR appetite. Not to get too technical, but I like to refer to these bites (or “phases”) as:

1. Before. 2. During. 3. After.

Before: This is a preview that promotes the event, to encourage attendance by media and/or interested individuals. It also lays the groundwork for a follow-up.

Here is an example from this week’s media outreach by Inside Edge PR, on behalf of DivorceIllinois and its Feb. 4 meeting in Oak Brook.

During: This is when you can secure coverage of the event itself, via the presence of one or more media representatives. Serving as an “In-House Journalist,” Inside Edge PR often plays the role of pool reporter for those media outelts unable, or uninterested, in attending.

After: This is typically a news release, often accompanied by video and photographs, that highlights significant developments at the event. It represents an opportunity to break new ground, so should go beyond a re-hash of the preview with a mere revision of verb tenses.

All along the way, too, you should be buzzing things up on social media, through communication portals such as YouTube and Facebook.

Inside Edge PR’s website has a bevy of other resources to help you secure media coverage, including “To Get the PR You Want, Focus First on The Media’s Need.’

The Re-Purpose of PR: Maximize News Value

As a reporter for 20-plus years, there were times when I just knew that I had my hands on a hot story.

What’s more, I had tremendous influence–virtually total control, in fact–over whether the story saw the light of day. All I had to do was coordinate my efforts with an editor, perhaps weaving a photographer and a graphics artist in the mix.

As a publicist, it’s a different story. I no longer have my hands “on” a hot scoop. Instead, I shepherd the story as best I can (largely through writing the news release in journalistic style) and then hand it off to various members of the media.

Sometimes, what comes next is a humbling, head-scratching experience. For whatever reason, reporters, editors and producers do not warm up to the idea quite as much as I thought they would, or think they should.

Fortunately, though, there are times when the media is in full agreement with my assessment, such as those outlined in the Inside Edge PR Success Stories section of my website.

While media placement is never guaranteed, I remind clients to think about ways in which they can recycle and re-use the content we develop for media outreach campaigns.

In that respect, the purpose of PR is to be not only purposeful, but re-purposeful—how can you maximize the value of your communications, even if the media never devote even an iota of coverage?

Therefore, any decent news release ought to contain elements that can be used in brochures, on websites and in other marketing materials that speak directly to the client’s target audience.

For many organizations, particularly small businesses, viewing the media as the primary communication outlet is simply putting too many eggs into an unreliable basket.

This Much Is True: Place a PR Premium on Truth

Last week, I received a marketing letter from a financial adviser who listed “played for the Chicago Cubs” among his bulleted background points.

Hmm. I didn’t recognize his name, so looked him up on the authoritative Retrosheet and Baseball Reference websites.

He wasn’t on either site, though I did find some minor-league stats for him from nearly 40 years ago. He had a .228 batting average in two Class A (low-level minor league) seasons, one in the Cubs’ organization and another in the Tigers’.

Of course, the word “organization” or “minor-league system” makes for an inconveniently cumbersome bulleted point, doesn’t it?

Now, this fellow may well be a great guy. I bet his friends would describe him as bright and hard-working and trustworthy. If so, then it’s a shame that exaggerating this one athletic exploit–and being naive enough to think that people won’t check it out–could undermine those strengths.

Or maybe the inaccuracy is only the tip of the iceberg?

Either way, the simple point remains, and it’s one that anyone must place foremost in any marketing or PR communication. Especially in an era where fact-checking zooms with a blink-of-the-eye Google search, when laying your story-telling’s foundation, it’s always best to start with the truth.

Related Posts:
Setting the (Stilted) Stage: Jussie Smollett Tale Was a Cynical Checklist for Public Outrage
Obama’s PR Problem: Endorsing a Hack