Tagged: publicity

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 This public perception of publicists going to glamorous events every night is outdated and unrealistic.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).

 


Top 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire a Publicist

PR requires patience, dedication, and practice

 

There are a ton of articles floating around about why you should hire a PR firm. I wrote an article on it last year. But what I didn’t delve into is all of the reasons why not to hire a PR firm. Having run a PR company for almost a decade now, I can quickly assess who is going to be a good client fit. If I sense certain red flags, nine times out of 10, I will walk away from the business prior to the start of a new client relationship.

Here’s why: PR is not for everyone. PR is expensive, time consuming, and it requires a lot of work from the client as well as the agency.

If you fit one of the below, I recommend not hiring a publicist.

You want instant, overnight results. If you are someone who likes instant gratification, you will be unhappy with any publicist you hire, unless their rolodex is made of gold. As a PR practitioner, I rarely meet other publicists who pick up the phone, dial an editor at Vogue, and instantly get their clients written about. That kind of myth is a remnant that still exists from the old days of PR. Publicity takes work. No matter how strong the publicist’s relationship with an outlet is, if the story isn’t strong enough, then the reporter isn’t going to cover it.

You don’t want to do any work. This is the biggest issue that I encounter in the PR industry today. People hire a publicist the way they hire an accountant. They think that they can hire a vendor, speak to them a few times a year, and that publicity will magically happen. In reality, PR requires daily engagement from the client side. The clients who are happiest with PR results put the most amount of time into driving the client-agency relationship. They read the news, send stories to their publicists to pitch, and write back to their publicists with thoughtful responses to HARO queries. In short, they put in the time. PR is like a sport. It requires patience, dedication, and practice.

You don’t have the time to provide the necessary thought leadership content. As an industry, PR has shifted. Most clients don’t want press placements anymore; they want digital placements. To do this, a solid amount of time is required from the client side to provide thought leadership tips for content creation. For example, if you are a neurosurgeon and you hire a publicist, it is not their job to ghost tips for you. They simply can’t because they don’t have your knowledge base. Unless you’re looking for low quality work from a content farm, you need to send your PR person what they are asking for. They can’t promote your greatness without the core knowledge that only you possess.

You expect PR to translate into sales. Your PR person is not your Director of Sales. This is the number one reason most agencies get fired: clients are unhappy that the placements didn’t generate a massive uptick in sales. The role of a publicist is to formulate stories that get the media’s attention and result in a placement. If a publicist is getting you consistent placements, then they are doing what you hired them to do. The problem is when clients start complaining, “I know you got me a three-page spread, but it didn’t translate into new business.” That is the equivalent of saying to your dentist, “I know you filled my cavity, but you didn’t fix the pain in my jaw. The pain in your jaw should be seen by a doctor, not your dentist, and it’s not the dentist’s responsibility. The same goes for sales and PR.

You want to be “famous.” If you want to hire a publicist because you aspire to be famous, please don’t. Clients who hire publicists because they want to be famous are the worst clients. Saying you want to be famous is like saying you want to be President some day. What qualifies you to be famous? What is interesting about you? What star worthy quality do you have that makes you press worthy? Ego driven PR is not a strategy; it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. Fame is the end product of many years of work in a specific industry. The publicist’s job is to bring attention to what you makes you special, not to make you special. 

You have nothing newsworthy to promote. I get that you have a new business. So does everyone. What makes it different? Why should the media write about it? If you haven’t thought these answers through, you need to. Unless you are looking for a one hit wonder PR campaign, you will be unhappy. Granted, it’s the publicist’s job to come up with these angles, but if you don’t have newsworthy content, the media won’t write about you. If you hire a PR person and have convinced yourself how newsworthy your story truly is, please don’t blame a publicist if they can’t get it placed. Your Mom thinking something is great is not the same thing as a reporter at Forbes thinking something is great.

You think PR will solve inherent business issues. A lot of people hire publicists thinking it will fix a core issue in their business. PR can’t solve these issues. If anything, it can make them worse. For example, if you are a Fortune 500 company and have constant turnover, chances are greater something pertaining to this story will come out while working with a PR person. The reason being that if a PR person secures a story on your company, any journalist worth his salt will start digging around and notice certain discrepancies. It’s best to have everything buttoned up before hiring a PR firm.

You saw a competitor on TV and now you want to be on TV. Believe it or not, this is one of the most commonly listed reasons that prospects come to me. They see someone else doing it, and therefore, they think they should be doing it. If you hire a publicist to get you on TV and they get you a hit, you are expected to drop everything you have for the day, close up shop, and run down to the city to do the hit. If you say no, the chances of the opportunity coming up again are slim to none. Are you really prepared to close your business for the day just because you saw someone else on TV?

You aren’t good with long-term commitments. When you hire a PR firm, you have to be in it for the long haul. The average agency retention rate is incredibly low; at the typical agency, every six months clients seek new agency representation. Clients run from agency to agency, thinking the problem was with the publicist. The truth is that you will be happier with your results if you stick with one firm for long enough. Most publicists won’t work on engagements for less than 6 months. If they are pitching long lead editorials, some of the placements may not even come out until after your relationship ends. The first one to three months of any new engagement requires a lot of upfront prep work, the next three months require heavy pitching. I rarely encounter a new client who is ready to go to media from day one. The best PR client I have has stayed with me for 6 years. They understand the business and are in it for the long haul.

You aren’t willing to drop everything for a press hit. When a reporter does answer; they want to speak to a client immediately. If you work in an industry where this just isn’t an option, then PR may not be the best approach. There is no worse feeling than getting a client a hit and not being able to do it. In the PR world, there is nothing more important than getting back to a reporter or producer. If you aren’t ready to drop everything to speak to them, then PR may not be right for you.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com

Follow Kris Ruby on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2017 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to Score Local Publicity in Westchester County

westchester PR firm owner shares publicity tips for your small business

Photo credit: Lauren Kallen

When it comes to maximizing your publicity efforts, scoring a national media hit is usually a major goal, but if you are a small business, you may only need hyper-local publicity placements. For example, you’re a Westchester County doctor or owner of a small coffee shop and only want to establish a strong presence in your local community.

Here are ideas on how to get your business in the newspaper:

  1. Pitch trends: Are there new trends in the area or is the community undergoing a revitalization? Pitch a local business editor an article or segment about the revival. Ask other local businesses to participate and provide sources to interview.
  2. Give back: The media loves feel good stories. Raise funds for a local non-profit. At the event, take photos of the actual donation and invite the media to cover the event.
  3. Show me the money: Speaking of money, has your company saved by converting to energy-efficient light bulbs or using a technique that is environmentally friendly? The money or environmental editor of the might be interested in an article or segment.
  4. Cook it up: At holiday time, pitch recipes, ideas and cooking tips or tricks. For example, if you own a small coffee shop, pair the best foods and wine or share ideas on specialized coffees that you can give.
  5. Look around: What are other local businesses doing? For example, The Cecil in Harlem recently had an event with Esquire Magazine where they hosted a large party with top editors, who were able to taste their food and get to know and understand the restaurant’s concept. It was followed by a brunch with a DJ. Guests took photos and posted them to Instagram with specific hashtags.
  6. Pitch an employee: Maybe an employee has achieved something spectacular, so pitch them to the features section for a profile. You could also pitch them for relevant award nominations and submissions.

Here are ideas on how to get your business in regional broadcast media:

  1. Visualize the story. Pitching Westchester broadcast media is very different than pitching traditional Westchester print media. What will make your story stand out are your visuals. Think about how you can visually bring the story to life for television. Go out of your way to make your story aesthetically appealing to a producer. You can even add some props, such as a stunning table display, if you think it will add to the story.
  2. Tie it in. Give the producer a compelling reason to run the story now. For example, your pitch has a strong tie-in to a Westchester calendar event. For example, Ruby Media Group, a leading public relations and social media agency in Westchester, NY and the New York metropolitan area pitched and secured a story on The Cooking Realtors’ Tomato Sauce. It was the featured package on News 12 Westchester on Saturday at 5 pm. The larger trend was that this was a behind-the-scenes peek into one Westchester resident’s annual tradition that hundreds of Westchester residents participate in all weekend. By mentioning the fact that hundreds of county residents also do this, the appeal of the segment suddenly became a lot larger.
  3. Walk the producers through the process. After you’ve secured a segment, walk the producers through it. For example, we stirred the tomatoes and let the producer taste the sauce. We also had b-roll opportunities available to show the entire process from beginning to end to visually walk the viewer through it.
  4. Provide sources. Producers like when you have additional sources available. If you are hosting an event, have other attendees or sources available to talk to the press.
  5. Don’t forget the 5 Ws. This goes without saying, but if you want Westchester media to show up, be sure to provide them all of the relevant details in one condensed email: who, what, where, when and why. Also, provide correct spellings up front for all town names, resident IDs and interview names. The address of the location shoot and a phone number of a point of contact are also critical.
  6. Graphics. Be sure to capture tons of graphics before, during, and after the event. Many of these graphics can be used to promote the segment on social media (a must!) and to include in a post-event release for extended coverage. If you want to re-pitch the same segment when the event takes place next year, it is good to have accompanied graphics to help show what the finished product will look like. Get super creative with your graphics by combining screenshots of the press coverage with photos of the displays you created. We recommend using some of our favorite apps to create these pieces: PIP Camera, Photo Mirror, FotoFus, InstaMag.

Most importantly, get to know your local reporters and what beat they cover. By building a relationship, you will score more media hits because the journalists will remember who you are and include you in their next article or segment.

Like this post and follow me to read more posts like this one.

For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com and follow me on Twitter: @sparklingruby and @rubymediagroup 

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to Stay Relevant to the Media

westchester PR firm ruby media group

In order for your business to succeed, you need steady media exposure. To do this, it’s important to stay relevant. Stay in touch with what is currently going on in the media and utilize that to create new, timely angles and ideas to pitch to journalists and producers. It’s best to review and update your media campaign to make sure it is not outdated. This audit will help to secure more placements in the media and, ultimately, achieve your goal of increasing business exposure.

Identify Target Media Outlets 

What magazines and newspapers do you want to write about your business? Do you want to see your business featured in Forbes or Wired magazine or is your local newspaper the best place to reach your audience? Do you dream of being on The View or hope that, one day, your restaurant will be profiled on The Food Network? Before you can audit your campaign, you need to decide who your target media outlets are and, then, how to best stay relevant and get their attention.

Target Audience

You daydream of being on the cover of Widget magazine, but is that the best publication to reach your target audience? Does it establish you as a leader in your industry? To determine this, you first need to know who your target audience is. For example, your ideal customer is male 20-somethings, so ideally you want to be featured in a magazine such as Men’s Health, but if you are trying to reach a more upscale gentleman, your target audience would be more along the lines of Esquire magazine.

Now that you know your customer and your target media, it’s time to see what you can do to stay relevant in the media’s eyes.

1.    What are you doing right now and what has it accomplished? Has your business been featured before? If so, why was the media interested? What success have you already had? In publicity, history can repeat itself, because if a publication was interested in your business once, chances are that with a more current angle, they may be interested in featuring you again.

2.    Are you establishing yourself as a thought leader? Do you have a blog and are you consistently providing content for your customers? Journalists and producers often scroll blogs for ideas, so reaching out with valuable, educated content can draw attention to the media.

3.    Have you met the media? Do you know the local business editor? Have you been in contact with the local news producers? Do local bloggers know about your business? If possible, arrange a media event at your site to meet the media. For example, a restaurant can open the doors for a media dinner to promote the launch of a new head chef. A winery can offer media wine tasting days, while a country club can offer the media passes to try out the new golf course and learn about what’s new at the club.

4.    Propose relevant sponsorship/advertising opportunities. In today’s publishing world, sponsors are important. Once you commit to a sponsorship, your company could receive perks including advertorials and article placements. Yes, you’re paying for a feature, but it does open doors.

5.    Don’t dismiss blog power. Not only can your blog attract your customers, but other bloggers can draw attention to your business too. For example, if you are a fashion business, reach out to fashion bloggers to talk about your new product or clothing line. If you’re the author of a YA book, there are a wide variety of YA book bloggers with tens of thousands of followers. Approach them in a respectable, professional manner and pitch to them the same way you would pitch to the editor of O or Esquire magazine. Again, however, make sure your target audience matches the blog.

6.    Hold monthly topic meetings. Every month, evaluate where your market is and what topic you need to write about to get attention. For example, if you are a lawyer and are pitching an article idea to a journalist about the legal ramifications of deflategate on the NFL, it’s best to either tie it into the Super Bowl’s anniversary or when another similar incident happens. Any other time and the pitch just isn’t relevant.

7.    Spread the word. Once you get a placement, make sure you spread the word about it so that other publications, bloggers and producers can hear about you. If your subject is timely, make sure to stop posting about it when it looks like it might be out of date.

Finally, keep at it. To stay relevant, you have to stay on top of media trends as well as trends in your business and your competitor’s business. By doing so, you’ll be able to spot the right time to pitch the media about a timely topic, and you just might score the most successful placement possible.

Like this post and follow me to read more posts like this one.

For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com and follow me on Twitter: @sparklingruby and @rubymediagroup 

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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