Media Relations: How We Landed on the Wall Street Journals Front Page
Media relations is a great profession.
On good days, I earn my living speaking to and learning from knowledgeable experts who ask for help in raising the profile of their cause through the media. In the past few years, I've worked with billionaire philanthropists, a Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and a world famous actor. Mostly, though, I work with unknown but equally impressive professionals regarded as experts in their fields.
When I speak to them, I'm always listening for "the story." Some of the time, the story is immediately apparent. But the most gratifying moments come when a story seemingly devoid of news value suddenly leaps out and surprises me.
Two years ago, for example, I was doing media work for a Washington DC-based environmental organization. Scientists from the group would regularly contact me regarding their latest field work, hoping I could convince a reporter to shine a spotlight on their project.
One day I met with a charismatic field biologist to discuss his project while sipping coffee in a depressing restaurant. As he told me about his project, I quietly became more convinced that he didn't have much of a story. I felt bad, but suspected no reporter would bite.
The West African forest elephant, he told me, was in trouble. The problem was largely one of capacity - no West Africans had been formally trained in protecting the 7,700-pound mammals, which were being killed by the farmers who feared them.
To help correct the problem, he said, they had established a program three years earlier to train six West Africans to conserve the majestic beasts. In a month, they would end their training and begin working to protect the animals full-time.
That's when the idea hit.
I asked the scientist if we could call the group the first-ever graduating class from "Elephant University." When he agreed, I knew we were in business.
I drafted an e-mail with a few highlights to a reporter I had recently met from The Wall Street Journal. The story pitch suggested that this story was the perfect fit for the quirky daily front-page "Column Four" feature. The reporter quickly wrote back. He agreed.
Two weeks later, the reporter was off to Accra, Ghana to report the story firsthand. When the story ran on November 27, 2002, the words "Elephant University" - the ones we had happily stumbled upon over coffee - were emblazoned on the front-page.
This story worked because we didn't pitch it "head on." Remember - the heart of this story was that West African scientists were receiving training - not exactly front-page material. But by giving the reporter an unusual hook, he was able to convince his editors that the story deserved to be told.
If you're speaking to an expert to assess a story's newsworthiness and it doesn't seem immediately obvious to you, keep talking. If they say something interesting, stop them. Ask them to slow it down and provide more detail. Paraphrase their response into something resembling a headline by asking, "Would it be correct to say it this way?" Finally, look for the nuggets. Ancillary parts of the story often jump out and become your lead.
Brad Phillips is the founder and president of Phillips Media Relations (http://www.PhillipsMediaRelations.com). He was formerly a journalist for ABC News and CNN, and also headed the media relations department for the second largest environmental group in the world.
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Business Gifts for Your Clients and Employees
Tis' the season for business and corporate gift-giving! If you believe in the law of reciprocity, and if your business is the least bit successful you must; you know that giving back is not only the right thing to do, but it's very smart business as well. Let's look at some of the benefits and mechanics of Christmas and holiday gift-giving.
Easy to be Foolish About PR
In fact, here are three really foolish goofs made by too many business, non-profit and association managers.If that's you, you foolishly do nothing positive about the behaviors of those important outside audiences of yours that most affect your operation.
Marketing-Minded Financial Planners, the Media Wants to Give You Free Publicity
In this great country of ours, there are basically three ways to get yourself tons of media coverage.You can be a celebrity.
Do You Really Need PR?
The right kind of PR, that is, the kind that puts you in charge of the care and feeding of a lot of people who play a major role in just how successful a manager you're going to be?As that manager, it also helps if you accept the fact that you need the kind of external stakeholder behavior change that helps you reach your business, non-profit or association objectives.And it's also helpful if you believe it's a good idea to try and persuade those important outside folks to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed.
Financial Planners Get Free Publicity With Email
In previous articles for marketing-minded financial planners, I've discussed what to say to a reporter over the telephone.However, if you are phone-shy or time-challenged, it's better to send an email than to do nothing.
Leveraging Your Reputation - Making PR Work for You
We rely on all kinds of tools and advice to help our businesses grow, from accounting and legal advice to graphic design and sales seminars. But what are we doing for the important job of building our business's reputation in the community?Public relations skills and techniques are a powerful part of any growing business, but many small organizations believe that the cost of getting into the PR game will cost them thousands NOT hundreds of dollars.
What Kind of PR Makes Sense?
For business, non-profit and association managers, is it publicity that delivers newspaper and talk show mentions backed up by colorful brochures and videos, combined with special events that attract a lot of people?Or could your business, non-profit or association PR dollar be better spent on public relations activity that creates behavior change among your key outside audiences that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives? And does so by persuading your most important outside audiences to your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?What we're talking about is the kind of PR that lets you do something positive about the behaviors of those external stakeholders of yours that MOST affect your organization. Which means the right PR really CAN alter individual perception and lead to changed behaviors that help you win.
A PR Question For Chinese Managers
As the practice of public relations in China continues to mature, it seems appropriate to ask whether Chinese business managers - tutored as they have been by European, North American and other PR specialists - continue to apply major public relations emphasis to print and broadcast communications tactics. In other words, do they still see PR through the lens of simple publicity, as many in the West still do?Or, do the best among Chinese managers -- as is also true for many businesses in Western economies -- realize they need true behavior change among their most important outside audiences leading directly to achieving their managerial objectives?And, do they then take steps to persuade those key external stakeholders, who have the greatest impacts on their organizations, to their way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help their departments, divisions or subsidiaries succeed?Let us presume that you are that business manager in China, and that you are well aware of the high-impact fundamental premise of public relations.
P.R. Strategies for Professional Service Providers
Promotion for Professional Services Providers requires a different approach than for other types of business people. Here's why:* People buy professional services based on reputation, credibility and knowledge* Advertising works for products, especially ones that can be described; professional services are intangible and the selling points are based on the provider of service* Professionals must differentiate themselves by creating niches and through PR activities that create strong reputations, build credibility and showcase knowledgeLow-Cost, No Cost PR strategies you can use immediately:* Speaking engagements* Guest columns* Radio Expert* Volunteering on charity committees; member of a charity board; pro-bono work for a charity* Award submission* Web Site* Special Events* Newsletter (e-mail)* PublicityHow to decide which PR strategies are best for you:* What do you feel comfortable with? I have an attorney client who doesn't feel comfortable doing speaking engagements or radio shows, but likes to write.
Making Great Announcements
When do you use the newspaper for publishing announcements for promotions or new partnerships?Adding an announcement to a newspaper will only bring further recognition to your business. You should always send items such as the hiring of a new employee, the announcement of a new contract, the change of location or any other item that you would like the world to know.
Managers Need Basic PR
True, because department, division or subsidiary managers for a business, non-profit or association really DO need a dynamic yet workable blueprint for reaching those key outside groups of people who have a big say about how successful those managers are going to be.Unfortunately, a primary emphasis on communications tactics does not take the place of a well thought-out public relations plan for persuading your most important external audiences to your way of thinking, then moving them to take actions that lead to your success.
Got Publicity? How to Become a Household Name
Are you working as hard as you can in your area of expertise? Are you implementing creative ideas? Are you valuable to your clients? And now the tough question: Does the public know about you? If you're like most business people, you answered "Yes" to the first three questions, and then perhaps hesitated on the last question and may have ultimately answered "No," or sheepishly said "Well, not as much as I'd hoped."Getting your name "out there" requires getting yourself "out there.
R.O.I. -- O.K., Heres The Deal!
You can SO measure return-on-investment for a public relations program!Try this.Accept the fact that people act on their own perceptions of the facts, and that this leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done.
Top Ten Tips For Great Sound Bites
If you're an online business using public relations (PR) to help increase traffic at your site, you've found a great way to gain exposure at little cost. And before you know it, the day will come when you are invited to do an interview with a reporter.
Want This Kind of PR?
PR that really does something positive about the behaviors of those outside audiences that most affect your business, non-profit or association?PR that uses its fundamental premise to deliver external stakeholder behavior change - the kind that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives?PR that persuades those important outside folks to your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?Get organized and you could be looking at results like these: prospects starting to do business with you; membership applications on the rise; customers starting to make repeat purchases; fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; community leaders beginning to seek you out; welcome bounces in show room visits; higher employee retention rates, capital givers or specifying sources beginning to look your way, and even politicians and legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities.And the fundamental premise of public relations will show you the way: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done.
Levines Laws For Pitching With Panache
Excerpted from "Selling Goodness- The Guerrilla PR Guide To Promoting Your Charity, Nonprofit Organization, Or Fund Raising Event"Whether you are making a pitch over the phone or in person, whether to a newspaper or magazine journalist or a reporter or producer in the electronic media, there are fundamental rules to follow. To some extent, they coincide with universal rules that apply to all human relations-courtesy, honesty, respect, integrity-but some of them are relatively unique to media relations, such as the advantage of having a topic that grabs by the collar and won't let go.
How Would You Ever Know?
Your important outside audiences behave in ways that stop you from reaching your objectives.Because you haven't paid much attention to their care and feeding, is it likely you'll know they are placing a hammer lock on your business in time to limit the damage?With some luck, you might save the day, but why let matters fester until you have a bad situation like this on your hands?Especially when a proven sequence can help you alter the perceptions, and thus behaviors of your most important external audiences making the achievement of your business objectives much easier.
10 Secrets to Get Your Press Release Noticed
It's difficult enough running the day-to-day aspects of a business, let alone trying to drum up new business as you go. But according to Shannon Cherry, APR, even if you have additional staff helping to get the word out about your products and services, location and prices, delivery and sales support, news releases can make your company grow faster.
How Managers Hit PR Paydirt
As a business, non-profit or association manager, you'll know it's PR paydirt when you're able to persuade your key external stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that lead to your department, division or subsidiary's success.Proof of the pudding will be outside stakeholder behaviors like increasing repeat purchases, more inquiries about strategic alliances, new specifiers of your components, more membership inquiries, or a jump in capital contributions.
Financial Planning Publicity: When Talking to the Media, Dont Fake What You Dont Know
Relationships are based on trust-not just romantic relationships, or doctor/patient relationships, but practically any relationship, even the one with your auto mechanic.That's why the absolute worst thing a financial planner can do in their relationship with a reporter-especially a new relationship-is to give them false information.
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