Tagged: journalism

5 Misconceptions About Publicists & Public Relations

A publicist is responsible for generating exposure for your company/brand. Publicists help define your corporate public “persona” by crafting story angles, pitching stories to the media, coordinating interviews with journalists, writing fact sheets and electronic press kits, keeping updated media lists and monitoring your public image. Additionally, they help to craft that image and pitch strategic messages and storylines on behalf of you and your company.

However, there are many misconceptions about what publicists do and how they do it. Here are the top 5 misconceptions people need to understand about PR professionals:

MISCONCEPTION  # 1

Publicists have a….

MAGIC ROLODEX.  Clients believe that their publicists have a magic rolodex that they scroll through. While the traditional rolodex has been replaced with email lists and texting, the theory still remains the same. Publicists cannot email, call or text an editor and automatically get a story placed. That isn’t how real PR or journalism work. The publicist may have a very close relationship with a journalist, but if the story has no legs, there is breaking news, or the journalist simply doesn’t like the story idea, it’s not getting placed, and it doesn’t matter if you hired a Park Avenue PR firm or if you pitched the story on your own. The newsworthiness value of the story is all that matters. Breaking news dictates the storylines, and publicists pitch stories that tie into the news cycle. It is not the other way around. The media dictates what is covered- publicists do not.

MISCONCEPTION # 2

Publicists live a….

‘SEX & THE CITY’ LIFESTYLE. Another misconception is that publicists go out every night to events and are surrounded by glitterati and a Sex and the City lifestyle. As a publicist, I spend the majority of time in front of my computer writing, editing, pitching and communicating with clients and the media. Every time I am at a networking event, I could be missing an important email from a journalist who may be requesting an interview with my client or needs answers to their questions within the hour. This public perception of publicists going to glamorous events every night is outdated and unrealistic. Perhaps it is true in entertainment PR where red carpet events still reign supreme. But corporate and healthcare PR? Not so much.

MISCONCEPTION #3

Publicists… 

CONTROL THE STORY.  After you are interviewed by a journalist from a print outlet, the interview is done. Sometimes the media will have follow up questions and you can go back and forth several times. However, you cannot take back what you said, so be sure to think carefully before you shoot off a quick email or provide a sound bite.  As a general media relations rule of thumb to live by, when in doubt, keep it out!  Publicists can’t take your quotes off the record.   If you say something to a reporter that should have been off the record (or not said at all), we can’t fix it unless we are close with a reporter and even then there’s no guarantee. If you don’t want something in print — don’t say it. This is why media training is so important. Additionally, please don’t ask your publicist to ask the reporter to see a copy of your quote before it runs. This is not standard practice and the answer is most likely a resounding no. Earned media is not the same as paid media. You have to earn it for a reason.  When you pay for media, you control the narrative. When you earn media, you do not control the narrative, and neither does your publicist. They can certainly pitch an angle, but after you speak to a reporter, it is up to the journalists discretion on what the story is. Remember, it is their story, not yours! You are a source that adds subject matter expertise to something they are reporting on.

MISCONCEPTION #4

Publicists can…

FIX  REPORTING ERRORS. Occasionally, articles are published with a source’s name spelled wrong or some other minor error. You may think, “If my publicist was any good, they could get the reporter to fix the spelling of my name!” That’s not always the case. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  If the print edition has already gone to press, nothing can be done except for a correction that will run in a future issue. Any time I have asked a reporter to fix the spelling of a client’s name in a digital article, the request ends up annoying the reporter. In the old days of journalism, everything was fact-checked several times before it was published. Today that is unfortunately no longer the case with the rapid pace of digital journalism and the increased demand for content. So yes, while some publicists may be able to get the spelling of your name corrected, it is not guaranteed. It depends on the outlet and their editorial policy with corrections, not on your publicist’s ability.

MISCONCEPTION #5

Publicists can…

CONTROL GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS. People often ask if we can change Google search results for their company or personal brand. Perhaps one bad story or review tanked their corporate reputation, and they now want a publicist to fix it. A public relations program that incorporates organic earned media coverage does have the ability to alter search results. However, this is a long-term effort, and it is never guaranteed because it depends on so many outside factors including the domain authority of the sites that new coverage is secured on, and most importantly, the domain authority of the sites that the bad press is written on. Often, if those sites are ranked high, it becomes very difficult to lower the results, regardless of how many earned media placements you secure. Additionally, a digital advertising campaign and paid media would have to complement the PR efforts as part of the long term reputation management campaign to alter search results. Publicists can make a valiant effort at getting more positive coverage for you, but the one surefire way to change search results is through Google directly (or with the help of a good attorney that specializes in defamation).

 


Pitch Perfect: Pitching the Media

How to make sure your story gets picked up

pitching the media

Making connections with broadcast and print media is vital to the success of your public relations campaign, but as the old saying goes, ‘you only have one chance to make a first impression.’ Just because you have what you think is a great pitch doesn’t mean that you are ready to start pitching the media. Before you do so, there are several steps you should take to make sure that you maximize your chance at scoring coverage.

Get the name right: It sounds simple, but editors move around frequently and you could be pitching an editor who moved on to another publication six months ago. Take a few minutes to call the newspaper or TV station and make sure that the journalist is still on staff and that you have the right spelling of his or her name. While you’re at it, ask if you have the right gender too. Does “Kelly” want to be called a Mr. or Ms.? Is Charlie a man or is it short for Charlene?

Title confusion: You want to start pitching the media a great segment about your newest product, but the name on your list is actually the name of the entertainment editor. Make sure that you have the right person for your pitch and their correct email address. Do not assume that the entertainment editor will send the pitch on for you. On the other hand, sending a blanket pitch out to everyone on staff is a bad idea. Make sure that your pitch is targeted to the right editor.

Watch and read: Pitching The View? Make sure you’ve watched a few episodes. Pitching The New York Times travel editor? Read the section before pitching. Refer back to previous articles written.

Timing is everything: At most, you should confine your pitching to the media to once or twice a week, but make sure that day is Tuesday-Thursday . Friday night emails will get pushed down by all the other emails that will come in during the weekend.

Pitch perfect: Make sure that you actually have a newsworthy pitch. Sending an email to a producer asking if they want to do a segment about your company will have the producer pressing the delete button before you’ve had your morning cup of coffee. Your pitch should include a specific idea and everything the producer will need, including quotes, photos, background information, etc. In other words, make sure your press kit is ready to go when an editor or producer comes calling.

Don’t oversell: When pitching the media, leave out the jargon and, whatever you do, do not tell a journalist that you’re the first company to ever do so-and-so unless you can back it up.

Write a great headline: Editors won’t click on emails unless the subject line interests them, so make sure you create a compelling one. Oprah Winfrey reportedly received 15,000 emails a day from people pitching various products and ideas. That’s a lot of emails! Make sure your story idea stands out.

Social media snafu: Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote your hits, but not to pitch editors. Mikal Belicove of Forbes says that pitching him through Twitter isn’t ‘cool.’ Instead, he says in this article, pitch him privately.

Lead time: A Mother’s Day story idea shouldn’t be pitched the week before the big day. Newspapers and broadcast media need a few weeks of lead time while magazines work even further ahead. Plan your pitch calendar accordingly.

Call me, maybe: In the past, public relations professionals were encouraged to follow up with a phone call to the media to see if their pitch garnered any interest, but today, thanks to technology, editors are so bombarded with calls and emails that the protocol has changed. It’s okay to send one follow-up email, but if you do not hear from the journalist, assume that they are not interested or that they will get back in touch with you if they are.

nyc media relations

nyc media relations