Tag Archives: media relations

7 Essential Business Practices for Growing Entrepreneurs

Photo via Susan Ng

Photo via Susan Ng

According to the 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, more than 8.6 million U.S. women-owned businesses account for nearly 7.8 million jobs and over $1.3 trillion in revenue. Despite the tremendous opportunities created by women entrepreneurs, there is still doubt over the impact that female leaders are capable of.  “When women start businesses, the term ‘small business’ is automatically applied,” says Peggy Wallace, managing director at Golden Seeds. The first annual WomanCon event held last week in New York City addressed these challenges with real-life lessons from established women entrepreneurs. The presentations covered a range of topics including how to start a business, pitching the media, raising funds, building stronger brands, and balancing work and family life.

Identify your competitors

Growing entrepreneurs may find it hard to admit that their business concepts are not entirely unique. “Anything you can think of has been thought of by at least 5 other people in the world” says Yao Huang, founder of The Hatchery, “Ideas are useless, execution is key.” Compare your business model with competitors and identify your competitive advantage. Think about what you do that is more effective or cost efficient.

Customize your pitch to the media

“Pitches aren’t one size fits all,” advises JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s It’s Your Business and founder of Goodsearch, “Think about your audience and who you are pitching to.” Find out what reporters are interested in and tip specifically to them. Colleen Debaise, director of digital media at the StoryExchange suggests that writers are typically “drawn to the challenges of building your business and how you overcame them.” However, Christine Lagorio, senior writer at Inc.com, adds that business owners should remember that some journalists write features while others create product guides.

Find investors by networking with friends and family

“The human capital network is priceless no matter where you are in the change of development” says Kay Koplovitz, CEO, Koplovitz & Co. and founder of USA Network. Seeking out friends and family to raise money for your venture puts less pressure on how you choose to manage your business. Be sure to formalize the agreement in writing and do not take out debt unless you can pay it back.

Define a powerful brand promise

BrandTwist founder Julie Cottineau believes that entrepreneurs often neglect their most valuable business asset, which is the brand itself. “Brands are a consistent promise you deliver that makes people loyal” she says, “If you don’t have a promise, you are leaving potential revenue behind.”  This promise defines what the fundamental role and purpose of your business is and how you are able to empower your customers.

Hire based on personality

Your employees are essentially your brand ambassadors and should be hired not only based on experience, but also on how they embody your company’s culture. “Hire for personality, not skills,” recommends Ms. Ramberg, “Skills can be taught, perseverance and ambition cannot.”

Make business decisions based on customer needs

“Every business decision you make needs to benefit the customer in some way” says Janine Popick, CEO and founder of VerticalResponse. Business partnerships may not always be successful. Do what is best for your clients, even if it means dissolving a partnership.

Be flexible between business and personal life

“One thing that is important for me to realize is that not every family looks like mine,” says Pamela O’Hara, co-founder of Batchbook Software. Ms. O’Hara requires each of her employees to take a 5-week vacation to ensure that there is a proper balance between business and personal life. Implementing policies that recognize family diversity can create a healthier and happier environment for employees.

The presentations at WomanCon 2013 highlighted a shifting paradigm in the way businesses are established and maintained.  Today’s age of big data means that aspiring entrepreneurs have more opportunity to focus their brands and build stronger relationships with stakeholders based on greater access to competitive research. New communication technologies like social media allow for open dialogue between business-owners, clients, employees, investors, and the media. Therefore, it is imperative to create promises with each stakeholder and follow through in order to establish loyalty.  With an astounding 59% rise in women-owned businesses over the last 16 years, it is clear that female entrepreneurs will continue to break barriers.

PR Newswire tools such as Agility and iReach can help rising entrepreneurs target the media and creating engaging content to propel brands forward at an affordable cost.  Visit http://www.smallbusinesspr.com/ to learn more.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a proud Brooklyn native, a pop culture enthusiast, and a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

 

8 Simple Rules for Succeeding as an Entrepreneur

The upcoming live event WomanCon 2013 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City will feature powerhouse female professionals who have courageously challenged the status quo to reign as thought leaders within the business, technology, and media industries.  Each panel at the conference will focus on a major challenge of building a successful empire.

Brett Simon of PR Newswire

One challenge that every entrepreneur, marketer, or salesperson must face is effectively executing the classic elevator pitch. Conference attendees will have a rare opportunity to put their elevator pitch to the test before seasoned media relations professionals during the panel, “Pitch the Media Live.” PR Newswire’s Senior Manager, Media Relations Brett Simon (@savisimon), an ex-TV reporter in her own right, will offer her extensive insight on media pitching as she moderates the panel.

“Working at PR Newswire offers a chance to work on ‘both sides of the fence’–with members of the media who use PR Newswire for Journalists and ProfNet to get story ideas and sources, and clients who use our services to send their content to audiences including journalists, B2B and consumer buyers,” she says, “I’m really excited to use this unique perspective as I moderate WomanCon’s Pitch the Media Live panel, which will offer women entrepreneurs and small business owners in attendance the opportunity to use their elevator pitch and get feedback on the spot.”

The accomplishments of this year’s speakers are a true inspiration for aspiring women entrepreneurs who, at times, are still subjected to discrimination within the workplace. Prior to WomanCon 2013, several of the highly-anticipated speakers shared their personal advice with PR Newswire for those who hope to face their greatest challenges and push the boundaries of success.

1. Focus on building a strong brand
“You need to think about your brand promise, what sets you apart, and then use every single touch point at your disposal to communicate a consistent message” says BrandTwist Founder and CEO, Julie Cottineau. Defining a brand and its strategic criteria before website development is most important because trial and error “can end up costing entrepreneurs a lot of money they don’t have, or money could that could be better invested elsewhere in their business.”
Ms. Cottineau will be presenting her “5 Strategies to Build Your Brand” using case studies from global giant, Virgin Enterprises.

2. Be persistent
“It takes persistence to become successful, when you believe in an idea that will never let you go, never, ever give up,” urges Kay Koplovitz, Chairman and Co-Founder of Springboard Enterprises. Ms. Koplovitz endured 7 long years before she saw her dreams come to fruition as the first female CEO in television for USA Networks.

She will be featured in the panel discussion “Angels, VCs and More: Getting Money for Growth” discussing the value of human capital and building out your network.

3. Be confident, not defensive
Yao-Hui Huang, partner at Pereg Industries and founder of The Hatchery believes “It’s not just about how smart you are or how great your business is. It is how you answer the questions, how you interact with others, it is how you respond.” She attributes this lesson to spending over a decade building one of New York’s largest networks in technology through various people, projects and deals.

Ms. Huang will share her expertise during the presentation “Turning Ideas Into Companies,” which will cover how to transition your passions into tangible creations.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
“Many times we don’t tap in to the most valuable resource we have, which is our network and connections” advises WomanCon Founder and Producer, Laura Leites. “People will help you, you just have to ask.”

Ms. Leites founded WomanCon as a way to provide educational and inspirational resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. She credits her trusted and loyal network for helping turn her dreams into a reality.

5. Reach out for support from advisors, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs
“Being an entrepreneur can feel like the loneliest job in the world” admits Geri Stengel, president of Ventureneer and Forbes contributor. “When you hit an obstacle, get out there and talk to advisors, mentors and your fellow entrepreneurs. Your peers in particular understand what you’re going through. Their advice and encouragement is invaluable.”

Ms. Stengel will be monitoring the panel discussion “Angels, VCs and More: Getting Money for Growth” which will educate, motivate, and inspire women to fuel their growth with outside funding.

6. Attend as many networking events for women and entrepreneurs as possible
Colleen DeBaise, director of digital media at StoryExchange, realized the importance of attending networking events after interviewing successful African-American entrepreneur, Judi Henderson-Townsend. Ms. Henderson shared her fear of being mistreated in an industry that lacked diversity, but believed that she learned how to have confidence after observing the behaviors of white businessmen. From this story, Ms. Debaise encourages others to “Surround yourself with entrepreneurs who may have a completely different perspective than you. It can be an eye-opening experience.”

Ms. Debaise will share her insights on how to pitch the media in her presentation “Pitch the Media Live.”

7. Take it one step at a time
After serving as CEO and Co-Founder of BatchBook Software while balancing life as a proud mother, Pamela O’Hara appreciates the value of stepping back and reflecting. “Take it one day at a time,” she says, “understand that entrepreneurship is a constant juggling act and you’ll constantly need to re-prioritize. Change is the only constant, so just embrace it!”

Ms. O’Hara will discuss the challenges of balancing work and life in her presentation “How to Stay Human in a High Tech World.”

8. Be flexible and willing to modify your plan
“It is so important that entrepreneurs validate that they are truly filling a customer need” says Peggy Wallace, managing partner at Golden Seeds. “Listen to the customers and develop products with their needs in mind.”

Ms. Wallace will be featured in the panel discussion “Angels, VCs and More: Getting Money for Growth” addressing the different types of funding for start-up companies

The speakers of WomanCon 2013 prove that while life as a female entrepreneur poses unique challenges, it is not impossible. Their stories are powerful reminders that any goal is attainable as long as you have the confidence in your ideas, the patience for progress, the humility to listen, and the drive to succeed.
To hear real behind-the-scenes stories of accomplished female entrepreneurs and gain practical advice on how to grow your business, register here for WomanCon 2013: http://www.womancon.com/register/

Work smarter!  Hone your pitches and streamline your workflow with Agility, the PR Newswire platform that enables you to target, monitor and engage with traditional and social media, all in one place.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a proud Brooklyn native, a pop culture enthusiast, and a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

Pitching the Media: It’s not what it used to be

Life was so simple back when I was a reporter all those years ago. A pen, pad and a mic were all I needed to report the news of the day.

There were really only two ways someone could pitch a story idea to me for the television station I worked for.

Calling the newsroom was by far the most popular pitching method. My assignment editor was the gatekeeper of all incoming calls.  Amazing guy. He could juggle the phone lines, monitor the police scanner and fax machine all to the steady hum of news alerts spewing from the AP printer in the background. You had to get pass him before you could get to me.

If you couldn’t get through by phone, PR folks simply dropped their release in the mail.  That’s right, good ole snail mail!  A batch of releases and letters were neatly stacked on a designated corner of my assignment editor’s desk waiting to be weeded through daily.

It’s a lot different today. We have email and social media to thank for that. PR folks have a multitude of new tools they can now use to deliver their message to the media.

But some pitching rules hold fast.

“Know what the reporter is looking for,” says JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s Your Business. This is #1 on every journalist’s list I’ve come across as a media relations manager with PR Newswire so let’s start there.

  • Do your research: A journalists can tell right away how much you know about their publication or show. JJ says the tip off for her is when people pitch companies.

“We don’t profile companies or people. We feature lessons in small business. That’s what PR folks should pitch to my show.”  Make a good first impression by learning what the media point specifically covers; who their audience is and the various platforms they report on.

  • Personalize your pitch:  A canned pitch is not an effective pitch. Target your pitch to appeal to the media org’s readers/viewers. Be flexible and willing to change your strategy to fit the needs of the publication you’re pitching. Your objective may be to get coverage of an event, but the publication may be interested in another angle of the story. Be open to switching it up to accommodate the journalist.
  • Keep it simple:  Stay away from industry jargon.  “Journalists are not venture capitalists. Our eyes roll when we hear words like “synergy” or “next-generation” or other management-speak buzzwords,” says Colleen DeBaise, former special projects director of Entrepreneur.com and current digital media director at The Story Exchange.  Colorful words don’t make the story more attractive. In fact, it can be a total turn-off.
  • Be available:  Remember, you are on their time. Though you may not grab their attention at first, they may need you later down the road. And when that happens,  be ready.  When they call, answer. Whatever they need, get it. Believe me, they will be forever grateful that you helped them out at crunch time.

The art of pitching the media is forever evolving and changing depending on the nature of your story and the type of media you’re pitching. This Wednesday, I will be moderating a “Pitch the Media Live” panel at the Woman Entrepreneurs Conference in NY. Attendees will have the opportunity to pitch a panel of journalists on the spot and get their honest feedback.  Here are the conference details, agenda and the place you can register.

Work smarter!  Hone your pitches and streamline your workflow with Agility, the PR Newswire platform that enables you to target, monitor and engage with traditional and social media, all in one place.

Author Brett Savage-Simon is a senior manager of media relations for PR Newswire. 

Media Moves and News for September

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MEDIAware, PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department newsletter, features recent media news and job changes in the industry. Here is a sampling of this month’s edition:

Newsweek Magazine owner IAC has sold the magazine to the International Business Times. According to the Daily Beast, the International Business Times is a global news publication founded by Etienne Uzac and Jonathan Davis in 2006. Newsweek was originally sold by the Washington Post Company to philanthropist Sidney Harman in 2010, and then merged with The Daily Beast in November of 2010; ultimately leading to a shared ownership between Harman and The Daily Beast owner IAC. The short joint venture ended in 2012 when the Harman family decided to sell their investment in the company shortly after the death of Harman. Newsweek will part ways with The Daily Beast once the sale is complete, and continue to operate as a digital publication.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/03/newsweek-magazine-sold-to-ibt-media.html

CBS and Time Warner Cable reached an agreement on the retransmission contract, which had ended in June. The two conglomerates had been at a stalemate causing several CBS affiliates to lose content. More than a dozen stations were blacked out during the dispute. The Federal Communications Commission was poised to step in but did not have to in the end. Read more details at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/business/media/cbs-and-time-warner-cable-end-contract-dispute.html?_r=1&

Patch (http://www.patch.com) is planning to shutdown 300 of its 900 local news sites. AOL, the parent company of Patch, is trimming the 300 that are not creating enough revenue. Each “Patch” (https://twitter.com/PatchTweet) provides news and information for a localized area. They are hoping to sell some of the sites or partner with another company to cover costs in producing the Patch sites in some areas of the country.

A recent study by two business school professors (Feng Zhu of Harvard Business School and Robert Seamans of New York University) showed that craigslist, the online local classified website took a big bite out of newspaper advertising. They state that consumers saved over $5 billion by using craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org) from 2000-2007 instead of the local newspaper. This study puts craigslist at the top of the list as another contributing factor in the decline in newspaper revenues. Here’s more information from the study: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/13/ny-nyu-stern-school-idUSnBw135869a+100+BSW20130813

HD radio set numbers are up: Ibiquity the company behind HD Radio (http://www.hdradio.com) projects over five million HD radios will enter the market this year up from three million previously. Car manufacturers are the impetus in this growth by including HD Radio in their model offerings this year.

The Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com) has put up a paywall. Canada’s largest daily newspaper gives you 10 free stories per month but after that it will cost about five Canadian dollars a month. If you already subscribe to the newspaper digital access is included for free.

BH Media Group, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company, acquired The Press of Atlantic City (http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com) and named Matt Blum (mblum@pressofac.com) Publisher. Previously Blum was the Publisher of the Morning News in Florence, S.C. and is not new to The Press. From 1989 to 1993 Blum was the papers’ Controller.  BH Media currently owns 30 daily newspapers and weeklies in Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska and New Jersey.

Meredith Corporation (http://www.Meredith.com) supports the list of broadcasters approving the TVB analysis who provide local live + same day ratings: http://www.tvb.org/media/file/Meredith-Broadcasting_08-12-13_Live-Plus-Same-Day.pdf

ABC (http://www.abc.go.com) owned stations are to lay off 175 employees within the Disney/ABC Television Group as part of restructuring operations: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-disney-abc-layoffs20130821,0,4888715.story

You can view the entire September Issue of MEDIAware here: www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi… and the Regional Changes here: http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/mediaware/September2013UpdatesByRegion.html

You can also follow all of the latest media moves and news from PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department on Twitter at: twitter.com/PRNmedia

12 Tips for Keeping Control in Front of the Media

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When confronted by a barrage of microphones and probing questions you won’t always have “Just watch me” moments. You’re human. You even make mistakes. It’s understandable: cameras and confusion can make media scrums and press conferences intimidating.

It’s important to engage with media. Dealing with media can be an opportunity to showcase recent achievements, share information with key publics, promote your brand or to showcase leadership.

As communicators, it’s our job to coach the spokesperson to handle all types of media inquiries, one of the most important being the press conference or media scrum. So, where do you start?

  1. Prepare a list of tough questions: You should have a pretty good handle on who your audience is.  Prepare a list of questions you anticipate them asking. Dig deep and don’t assume they won’t ask. It’s better to be ready for anything, so you never have to say “no comment”.
  2. Anticipate audience reactions:  What if some of the questions you’re being asked garner unexpected responses or follow-up questions? Answer the questions on your list from all angles, just in case someone reacts adversely to something you say. Know how to rephrase your responses and be sure to stay on message.
  3. List information not for release: In some sensitive situations, just as important as the key messages are details that are off limits. For example, if the circumstances surrounding the conference are grave, personal information of those involved should not be released. Know what’s off limits before you step up to the microphone.
  4. Distribute material:  You may keep things on track during the conference by having supplementary information readily available to attendees. Factsheets, photos, contacts lists, agenda, maps, company and product information – have these items available in a press kit. This will help journalists covering the story to keep facts straight (timelines, technology specifics) and stay consistent in messaging. It may also cut down on questions and make sure your event runs on time.
  5. Listen:  Now it’s time for the Q&A. This is like the interview portion, so remember to listen to the question. Even though you’ve anticipated a lot of these questions, it’s important to make sure you understand exactly what’s being asked. This will allow you to better answer the question the first time, without having to repeat yourself. Seek first to understand.
  6. Pause: You’ll be answering many questions. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a pause before answering. Make sure you heard the whole question; make clarifications; think about your answer; and respond. If the question has multiple parts, break it up by repeating the part of the question you’re answering. Just take it one step at a time. Pauses are never as long as they seem. So take your time.
  7. Answer the question: Don’t waste time beating around the bush. Listen to the question. Understand what it is that’s being asked. And answer that question. Keep it as clear and simple as possible. Brevity is sometimes the best way. You’re leading the session, so set the standard for clarity right off the bat.
  8. Lead with the facts. You won’t be able to divulge everything at a press conference. Be honest about what you know and what you’re working to find out more about. “No comment” is not an acceptable response. But admitting you don’t have all the information yet is more “transparent” than giving journalists the freeze-out.
  9. Stay on message: It may happen that an attendee at a conference for one event is there to try to inquire into other aspects of your business. Be prepared to get back to journalists with answers to unrelated questions at another time. “Today our focus is _________, but I’d be happy to get in touch with you afterward to answer your questions about __________.” And, sometimes the best way to answer a question is to reiterate a key message.
  10. Stop Talking: They asked. You answered. That’s all you have to do, so stop talking. Make your point and move on. There’s no need to ramble on or jump around to different topics. If someone repeats the question, answer with your key messages and take the next one. Keep things moving.
  11. Watch yourself: In all likelihood, the event was taped. Use the video to coach the spokesperson. What went well? What went poorly? Was their body language appropriate? How was the pace? What could have been handled better? Did the audience identify with the spokesperson? It’s important to conduct a little bit of a self-audit because you might need to consider a new spokesperson.
  12. Learn and correct: Every press conference is a learning experience. Use it to make improvements where you can, in everything from how the event was run to the invitees list and from the venue to the spokesperson chosen. Learn from successes and mistakes to move forward. 

Great preparation can also be the best defense.   That’s why a fundamental aspect of a good media relations program is keeping tabs on what is being published and said about your brand and industry, and to respond quickly when needed.  MediaVantage combines potent media monitoring, measurement and workflow tools to empower your organization to be in control of the brand.

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The 5 Building Blocks of a Media Relations Strategy

So, you think you know media relations. You’ve handled the tough questions, established some good relationships with key journalists and you know most of the how-tos.

But what lies beyond these tactics?

It’s the strategy. Increasingly we, as communicators, are being asked to demonstrate value and prove our worth. Having sound strategies in place is one of the sure-fire ways to do just that.

Here are some helpful tips to build a media relations strategy from the ground up:

1.     GOALS

You can’t achieve success if you don’t know what success looks like. Take some control and outline exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Your media relations goals should be directly tied to your business and communications goals. Are you trying to achieve success in a certain market? Or trying to promote a new product or service? Link your media relations goals directly to that. And make them measurable.

Maybe you need to inform your stakeholders? Educate them? Or influence them? Be specific when planning your goals and objectives. It might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many communicators don’t take the time to outline their goals before jumping in. The key is aligning your goals to the overarching business goals.

2.       WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

A good PR practitioner will tell you that it’s worth determining who your audiences are. Every single one. Segmentation is vital. It’s not enough to say “news media.” You better know which publications, and which journalists you want to talk to.

If you divide your audiences accordingly, it makes it easier to determine how much influence they have on your business or in your market. And, you’ll be better able to tailor messaging that really speaks to each audience.

3.       WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

Overall, your company will have some general messaging to align the business. And, for each campaign, you’ll need to create specific messaging to support your goals and objectives.

If you understand what your audiences need and want from you, you should be able to anticipate what kinds of information you’ll share. For your strategy, stick to three key messages that support your media relations goals. You should be able to fall back on these three if you’re ever in doubt.

4.       WHAT ARE YOU DOING and HOW ARE YOU GETTING THERE?

Tactics are the nitty gritty details of what exactly you’ll be doing to tackle your goals. Will you issue media advisories, host press conferences or get exposure for your key spokespeople during community events? What are you going to do?

How are you planning to achieve these tactics? Is it to build new relationships or nurture existing ones? It’s important to note how you’ll execute. And when? Attach some timelines and a budget to these tactics.

5.       MEASURE

Was one of your goals to increase media coverage from financial media by 20% more than last year? How will you know you achieved that? Make sure that you’ve budgeted for measurement. It’s an ongoing process and it’s the only way you’ll be able to determine success.

Having a media relations strategy in place is just good business practice. You may have mastered the art of media relations. But, at the end of the day, even if you can answer tough questions on the spot, it won’t matter unless you’re tying those media relations tactics to your business strategy.

Another fundamental aspect of a good media relations program is keeping tabs on what is being published and said about your brand and industry, and to respond quickly when needed.  MediaVantage combines potent media monitoring, measurement and workflow tools to empower your organization to be in control of the brand

The Future of Media Relations: Changing Audience Behavior

martinet quoteSocial media has created the unprecedented ability to form direct brand-to-consumer relationships and share news in real-time. Its influence is so powerful that just last month, Yahoo! announced a groundbreaking new partnership with Twitter that would integrate the site’s social media feed as a news source. This rapid shift in relevance from print to online content puts the future of media relations into question. Stacy Martinet (@stacymartinet) Chief Marketing Officer at Mashable.com, joined Business Development Institute and PR Newswire in a roundtable discussion to share her insight on the latest trends in content marketing and the future of media relations.

According to Martinet, most of todays’ content marketing is concentrated online. With a new emphasis on storytelling, PR and marketing are no longer disjointed industries. In fact, Martinet predicts that PR specialists will soon be held more accountable for metrics. However, the number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ on social media is simply not enough to accurately measure ROI or KPI.

“In media relations, ROI is more about asking, ‘have you changed the behavior of the customer?’ ” says Martinet.

Producing customized content is one of the ways to change customer attitudes. mr blurbMashable.com works with brands on building a “custom mission” or goal that embodies the brand’s culture. It is crucial to manage a product content portfolio to sustain a positive brand image with customers.

“Corporate websites are more important than ever,” Martinet says. “Images, info graphics and other rich media are a must.” More importantly, the sites must provide an immediacy of information in order to build trust. Martinet suggests that content be delivered via stream. It should be clear what the stream is about and updated on a regular basis.

Traditional journalism still matters

With the current emphasis of online content marketing, what does this mean for the future of journalism? Now that news is breaking faster on Twitter than other sources, the future of “exclusives” appears to be grim. Although they can offer behind-the-scenes opportunities, “To me, exclusives are the end of an era. [They] tend to only matter to journalists or news outlets” Martinet admits. She also emphasizes that fact-checking is still more important than breaking the news first.

Martinet says that although technology is changing, “Remember, the mainstream media still matters so that’s still a huge get!” Using social media tools in conjunction with mainstream media can provide insight on branding, audience development and purchasing.  Sites like Twitter can also identify consumer influencers who may not be journalists, such as users with a massive number of followers.

Updating your media outreach tactics

Martinet offers a few tips for media outreach today:

  • Even though Facebook is among the most popular social networking sites, journalists rely on Twitter for sourcing.
  • Email is still an effective way to communicate with journalists.
  • Be sure to get straight to the point, offer exclusive content and provide visuals and screen shots when possible.
  • Remember that anything you write can be posted; it is important to explicitly state if none of the information should be shared on social networks.

Martinet believes that mobile technology will lead the new wave of media relations. She says, “In many countries mobile consumption bypasses desktop usage, but the products and platforms currently available are lagging in a changing business model.” Therefore, investing in advanced mobile technology and content streaming is vital to prepare for the future of content marketing and media relations.

Despite the shifts in media relations from print to online technologies, the core approach remains unchanged. As Martinet says, “We still must develop and create a compelling message as always. We just have several tools now to use.”  Conveying meaning through powerful words and images should always be the main focus of a PR or marketing campaign. Strategically pairing a captivating message with technological elements will resonate with audiences and be the driving force for a successful media relations campaign.

Co-authored by PR Newswire’s  Shannon Ramlochan, marketing, and Brett Simon, media relations & audience development. 

The PR Pitch: A Skill that Matters More than Ever

keepcalmAn article Ragan’s PR Daily ran last week titled “Is the Traditional PR Pitch Dead?” flirted with the notion that it’s possible to practice PR without pitching media and bloggers. The author, Rachel Farrell, concluded (and I agree)that social media is a path to news, not a replacement for it, and that pitching thought leaders and who shape opinion is still a good idea. The art of the pitch still matters.

I’ll go a step further and say that the pitch has never been more important to PR than it is today.

The pitch is the art of describing the very core of a story, and it drives right to heart of why the story would be of interest or importance to the audience.

Just as a pitch – whether delivered via email or phone — is designed to attract the attention of a journalist, that same pitch can also be used to attract your brand’s publics.

In fact, we need to think about leaving multiple pitches  into messages, in order to attract the reader keep the audiences’ attention and guide them along the path that we’ve created, all the way to the outcome we intend.

Even if pitching traditional media and connected bloggers isn’t part of the remit of the particular project, ultimately the success of the message hinges on the pitch, and here’s why:

The pitch will win attention: When appealing to online audiences, it’s crucial that you surface that essential why in the story as quickly as possible. Think about starting your press release, for example, with a pitch.

Keep pitching to hold attention: But don’t stop pitching for attention with the headline.  Once you have the attention of the reader (or in the case of a video, the viewer,) you have to keep it.  Keep pitching throughout the message to keep the audience engaged.  How do you do this? Keep surfacing those crucial nuggets that describe why the story matters, and lead your audience through the message, laying a trail with these compelling ideas.

Close the deal with a pitch: What’s the outcome you want the audience to take? If you’ve kept the audience’s attention throughout the whole message, you’ve managed to generate a lot of interest.  Well done!  But now is not the time to take your foot off the gas.  Encourage the reader to take the next step, and use a pitch to do it.

Abandoning the power of the s the last thing I would do. As the availability of information multiplies and attention spans correspondingly decrease, honing the ability to craft messages designed to garner, keep and guide audience interest is important, and the pitch is a tactic that translates especially well to today’s attention market.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .

What Does ‘Off the Record’ Really Mean?

Dear Q&A Team,

I am putting together a presentation for all the journalists in my office. I want to have a friendly discussion about the meaning of “off the record.” Even though I have my own understanding of the term, I would like to learn of its origin, as well as if there are exceptions to when “off the record” information can be published, etc. It would also be great to share some anecdotes with the team.

Clearing the Record

_____________________

Dear Clearing the Record,

That is an interesting topic for a presentation! Here are three ProfNet experts who answer all your questions about the term “off the record”:

The Meaning of “Off the Record”

Donald Mazzella, COO and editorial director of Information Strategies, Inc., explains the origin of the term: “Merriman Smith, the old national UPI correspondent, told me it was a term from the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, where he would bring reporters into his office and tell them stuff and say, ‘Remember, boys, this is off the record.’”

Today, when people say “off the record” to a reporter, they typically mean they don’t want the reporter to attribute the information to them or to use it, says Karen Friedman, former television news reporter of 20 years and author of “Shut Up and Say Something.” Often, says Friedman, people actually do want the information uncovered or reported, “as long as no one knows it came from them.”

Shirley Skeel, a journalist for more than 20 years who reported finance news for papers such as the Daily Mail and The Telegraph in London, explains how this term was similarly understood by journalists in London. “’Off the record’ meant you could not use the information given to you in print,” she said. “However, it might lead you to other sources or a better understanding.”

Establishing the Terms of “Off the Record”

Skeel thinks it is always wise to establish upfront that these are the parameters, as well as explain the meaning of “off the record.”

“Still, as all reporters far prefer information ‘on the record,’ it can be a tricky thing to know if and when you should suggest that this is an ‘off the record’ or ‘for attribution only’ conversation,” she says. “This situation usually arises naturally, as a source will show their reluctance to speak, and the reporter might entice them to speak either ‘not for attribution’ or ‘off the record’ and explain what each means. If this issue does not come up until late in the conversation, I think a journalist should allow the entire conversation to be whatever the source insists upon.”

“But, if you are not going to honor ‘off the record’, you need to make that clear to someone before they start spilling information,” says Friedman.

Ways to Post “Off the Record” Information

When Friedman was in a situation where a source said “off the record,” she would not use their name, but it would typically lead her to find information or sources that would confirm, deny or discuss the information. Though she warns that you consider the original source of the information.

“There are trustworthy sources who will tip you off to a lead, which enables you to pursue the story and break information. But there are other people in the community who may not be close to a situation and use the term (‘off the record’) because they’ve heard it thrown around,” explains Friedman. “It is still up to the reporter to check out every lead, whether it’s on or off the record, to get second and third sources and to make sure the information is confirmed.”

As far as telling the sources you pursue about the original source, Friedman says it depends on the situation: “If Joe Smith shared information ‘off the record’ with me, I would never disclose him as my source to anyone. However, if Joe Smith told me something ‘off the record’ and specifically said, ‘Contact so and so and tell him I sent you,’ then I would do that.”

After getting information from another source, Mazzella goes with the second source for attribution. But as a matter of courtesy and to maintain relationships, he always goes back to the first source and says he has the information from another source, and asks if they want to go on the record. His recommendation is to always keep relationships going.

“Not for Attribution”

Besides “off the record,” there is another important term to understand — “not for attribution.”

Skeel defines it as meaning that you can use the source’s information directly in your copy, “but you have to identify that this person cannot be named, and, preferably, why not.”

As with “off the record,” you have to establish the terms of “not for attribution” prior to having a discussion with the source, advises Skeel. “A journalist should work out with their source exactly which information falls in which category.”

In a situation where a source forgets to ask to be “off the record” but remembers later on after revealing information, you have two choices, suggests Mazzella. If you are dealing with a politician and he/she makes this mistake, “you can burn him/her or get an IOU.”

Mazzella continues, “On a beat, unless the story is too good or too important to ignore, you give the source the benefit. For people who are less press savvy, I always try to err on the side of letting them off the hook. Every situation is different, but we’re all in for the long haul — especially on a beat.”

Consequences of Sharing “Off the Record” Information

Skeel describes the possible repercussions for sharing “off the record” information:

  • Loss of a source, maybe even many sources if word gets around.
  • Loss of reputation among his or her peers, if they learn about this.
  • Depending on the editor and publication, there is a chance the journalist might even lose their job. (That would be an extreme case, but it is undoubtedly a serious breach of journalistic ethics.)
  • Even worse, the person quoted could be seriously damaged. They might lose their job, their reputation, etc.

“In a lighter story, it may only result in a personal grudge by the source — but the breach of ethics is still serious,” says Skeel.

Friedman agrees with Skeel, saying, “The bottom line is you have to protect your sources or they will no longer be your sources. They may also tell others that you are not trustworthy and then others will not share information with you either.”

“Off the Record” Anecdotes

Here is Skeel’s anecdote from when she was a cub reporter:

“I remember being at a party where someone I met, who knew I was a journalist, told me a great story. When I said I’d like to publish it, they quaked and insisted this was all ‘off the record.’ In my book at the time, information was only ‘off the record’ if you agreed on that ground in advance. Some journalists will simply ‘burn’ their sources and run with such a story, but I am pleased to say that I did not. Despite his promises to let me run the story when the time was right, he never came through. I think any reading of ‘off the record’ should be combined with your personal moral values. Rules are not a moral shield.”

Friedman also shared an anecdote from her days as a reporter:

“Back in the ‘80s when I worked in Milwaukee, there were rumors surfacing about drug use in baseball. The assistant news director knew I was friendly with a few players and their wives and asked me if I could find out what was going on. Some of these people shared confidential information with me but made it clear they did not want their names associated with the story. As a reporter, I knew it was a great story as well as how to get it. As a professional and a friend, I didn’t want to betray anyone’s trust ruin relationships or damage my own credibility. So I refused to cover it or share what I knew with my newsroom. I simply told my superiors that it could be a story worth pursuing but they would have to assign someone else. I never shared what I was told or where the information came from. When the story broke, my sources who had provided some direction were never mentioned, because the reporter who ended up covering the story didn’t know them. He got information from different sources on his own.”

Mazzella’s advice to remember: “The press is the watchdog and we need to do the best job of getting information to the public.”

I hope your presentation turns into a great discussion among your team. Good luck!

- The Q&A Team

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources.  The Q&A Team is published biweekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Every other week, The Q&A Team answers questions from ProfNet readers with advice from our large network of experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you’ve been wondering that none of your colleagues can answer? Please send it to polina.opelbaum@prnewswire.com

Media Moves and News for June

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MEDIAware, PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department newsletter, features recent media news and job changes in the industry. Here is a sampling of this month’s edition:

Politico (http://www.politico.com) has lost Political Reporter Jonathan Martin to The New York Times. Martin has been with Politico since its debut, just 6 short years ago. During his time with the political news outlet, he covered major stories such as the accusation of sexual harassment against then Republican presidential candidate Hermon Cain. The announcement comes as a major acquisition for The Times, where he will serve as National Political Correspondent, a position held by legendary greats such as R. W. Apple. It is unclear how the change will affect Politico as Martin was considered one of its major strengths, but with a plethora of young talent his departure will surely lead to the birth of a new political reporting giant at the paper.

ESPN (http://espn.go.com/ and https://twitter.com/espn) is currently in the process of cutting about 300-400 employees or between 5-10% of its staff. This is the first time since 2009, where 100 staff members were laid off, that the network has made such a massive reduction to its workforce. ESPN stated that they were making changes across the board in order to manage costs effectively and improve continued growth.

In a memo to The Rolling Stone’s Editorial Team Publisher Jann Wenner announced the promotion of his son Gus Wenner to Editor, taking charge of the magazine’s website. The twenty-two year old Brown graduate spent time interning with the magazine during his undergraduate years, and was officially hired just a short time ago. Though many outsiders have responded negatively to the announcement, in a statement to the International Business Times a former Stone’s staffer stated accusations of nepotism towards Gus Wenner may not be well deserved. According to the anonymous source “he’s a good kid who came in with a lot of great ideas, he shadowed [chief digital officer] David Kang at the website for a while, and he was pretty deep in it.” Although his rise may be unconventional, Gus Wenner seems to be the most promising heir to the family owned magazine. For more information — http://www.ibtimes.com/rolling-stoned-gus-wenner-janns-son-ridiculed-nepotism-twitter-it-deserved-1273599

Baton Rouge’s The Advocate (http://theadvocate.com) is expanding its coverage and content of New Orleans and has added a few top former employees of The Times-Picayune to its staff. New Editor Peter Kovacs (pkovacs@theadvocate.com) has hired George Russell (grussell@theadvocate.com) as Managing Editor/Investigations, Martha Carr (mcarr@theadvocate.com) as the New Orleans Bureau Chief,   and Claire Napier-Galafaro (cgalafaro@theadvocate.com) and Andrew Vanacore (avanacore@theadvocate.com) as Reporters all covering New Orleans. With Carr in place as Bureau Chief Sara Pagones (spagones@theadvocate.com) is now the Bureau Chief of St. Tammany. Pagones, Carr and Russell were part of The Times-Picayune’s staff that won Pulitzer Prizes for their Hurricane Katrina coverage.

Foreign Affairs magazine (http://www.foreignaffairs.com) is growing in numbers on the web with over a million visitors a month. They even have a fun new app titled “Foreign Affairs on TV”. This app takes users on a spin behind the government affairs on TV shows that include “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey” after each week’s episode.

Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com) Reporter Kenneth Weiss (http://www.twitter.com/KennethWeiss) and Photographer Rick Loomis were recipients of the 2012 Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Environmental Reporting. A $10,000 check and the Edward J Meeman award was presented to Weiss and Loomis for their five-part series on preserving the planet’s ecosystem called “Beyond 7 Billion.”http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/population/

The Chicago Sun-Times (http://www.suntimes.com) has decided to lay off its entire photography staff, a total of 28 full-time staffers, effective immediately. The paper plans to use freelance photographers and reporters to shoot photos and video as they shift their focus to meeting the demands of online video and multimedia.

CQ Roll Call (http://www.rollcall.com) has bought out five employees in a cost-cutting move at the company. Those that took the buyout include Weekly Editor John Bicknell, Politics Editor Lauren Whittington, Executive News Editor Randy Wynn, Senior Editor Robert Healy and Leadership Editor Melinda Nahmias.

The New York Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com) staff listing underwent a significant change at the beginning of May.  Around 15 employees of the Daily News were let go. This is the largest number of layoffs since November 2011 when Editor-in-Chief Colin Myler took over. The paper is undergoing a reconstruction focusing on making the paper more digital.

UK native Deborah Turness has proven to be a great influence for all women in the broadcasting journalism industry. Nearly a decade ago she first shattered the glass ceiling in the UK, becoming the first Editor of a network television news division when she was appointed Editor of ITV News. Fast forward just a few years, and she is done it yet again, this time in the US. Just a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that beginning in August Turness will be the new NBC News (http://www.nbcnews.com). President. She is the first female to be named president of a network news operation in the US.

Popular HLN Morning Anchor Robin Meade is also a country music singer. She recently sang the National Anthem prior to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. on Memorial Day weekend. Meade has been involved in NASCAR events in the past as she also performed at Daytona last year. Meade’s new album “Count on Me” is out this month.

Digital Editor for The Post-Crescent (http://www.postcrescent.com), Joel Christopher (jchristopher@postcrescent.com), has been named Digital Editor for Gannett Wisconsin Media. He will continue at The Post-Crescent, in addition, he will be responsible for digital strategy, implementation, training and practices at the following publications: Green Bay Press-Gazette, Wausau Daily Herald, Oshkosh Northwestern, Sheboygan Press, Fond du Lac Reporter, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Stevens Point Journal, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune and Marshfield News-Herald.

Edible Milwaukee is a new quarterly magazine highlighting local and sustainable food. It centers on the manufacturing, distributing and consumption of food in Milwaukee and the Midwest. Jen Ede is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of this publication. You may follow the magazine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EdibleMKE or go to http://ediblemilwaukee.com for additional information.

You can view the whole June issue of MEDIAware here: http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/mediaware/

And all of the Regional Updates here: http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/mediaware/June2013UpdatesByRegion.html

You can also follow all of the latest media moves and news from PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/PRNmedia