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Can journalists work without social media? Nearly half say no

How much do journalists rely on social media?

You know reporters use social media–but do you know HOW they use it?

Having this insight helps you leverage social platforms to work with journalists more effectively.

Cision’s Global Social Journalism Study, conducted annually, sheds light on how journalists are using social media and how they view its impact on journalistic practices and the profession. Here, we look at some of the findings. Continue reading Can journalists work without social media? Nearly half say no

Having these 4 things ready before you contact a reporter will make you more successful

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You have a great idea for a story to pitch a reporter. You decide to call or email the reporter with your idea. He or she responds with interest. Good news, right? But, have you thought through what the reporter may request in addition to your pitch?

Having a strong pitch is, of course, vital to your PR effort. The trouble is, no matter how great the idea is, if you aren’t prepared to provide the elements to back up your story, it may never see the light of the day.

Reporters who do a thorough job will always look deeper and want more than your side of the story. This validates what you’re saying. Because part of PR is to make things as easy as possible for them, before you ever hit send on your pitch, you’ll want to be prepared with information to back up your story.

With that in mind, here’s a helpful guide for what you need to have ready when you contact a reporter:

Continue reading Having these 4 things ready before you contact a reporter will make you more successful

Forget the resolutions: 5 ways to get started on PR in 2017

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2017 is here. As the New Year begins, resolutions are being made. That includes resolutions for your small business.

But, what if you don’t believe in making resolutions? And even if you do, for some of us, they simply don’t work.

That’s OK. How about we just focus on getting it done this year? If you’ve been thinking about doing some public relations for your small business or startup, there are some simple ways to get the ball rolling.

Here are five ways you can make it happen for your small business when it comes to PR:

Continue reading Forget the resolutions: 5 ways to get started on PR in 2017

Doing PR over the holidays? What you need to know about timing

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The holidays are indeed upon us.

Though many may be in denial—Thanksgiving is NEXT week, people!—they are coming, and coming fast.

In talking with clients about their imminent public relations plans, timing over the holidays has to be taken into consideration. Not only might potential readers be tuned out to product announcements, but many reporters are also out of the office enjoying holiday time with their loved ones. And, adding yet another hurdle, one reporter I just spoke with mentioned that the holiday changes his newspaper’s production schedule.

As you might imagine, between your schedule, the reporter or publication’s schedule and potential readers’ or viewers’ schedules, it can be a challenge. So, if you have news you must pitch over the holidays, what’s a PR pro suggest you do? Continue reading Doing PR over the holidays? What you need to know about timing

How to get more bang out of your public relations efforts

Get the most bang out of your PR efforts

If you’re reading this, you probably understand the value of public relations. It’s cost-effective and credible. Its power in winning over prospects to turn them into customers is unquestionable. PR is about telling stories—and even getting others to help us tell our stories. Think customers, influencers and, of course, reporters.

While it’s always been a valuable tool in the marketing mix, in today’s content marketing driven world, public relations has taken on an even greater role of importance as companies seek to fill the pipeline with relevant, compelling material.

When we reach out to reporters with a pitch, we sometimes get the desired result—a story! Or we pitch a speaking gig—and we secure a speaking engagement! Or, maybe we’ve entered our company to win an award—and we win!

But then what? Continue reading How to get more bang out of your public relations efforts

Timing Your News Over the Holidays to Get the Most from Your PR

The holidays are indeed upon us.

Though many may be in denial—Thanksgiving is NEXT week, people!—they are coming, and coming fast.

In talking with clients about their imminent PR plans, timing over the holidays has to be taken into consideration. If you have news unrelated to the holidays, not only might potential readers be tuned out, but many reporters are also out of the office enjoying time with their loved ones.

So, what’s a PR pro suggest you do? Well, for anything that can wait until the new year, that might be the best plan of action. If it can’t wait, look at the calendar to choose the best timing given the options.

First, let’s look at the calendar for Thanksgiving:

  • We know Thanksgiving is next Thurs., Nov. 26. If you MUST issue news that week, issue it Mon. or Tues. at the very latest. After Tues., all bets are off as far as reaching anyone or grabbing eyeballs. Of course, as a colleague pointed out, if your news has to do with Thanksgiving or with Black Friday, then by all means, pitch or promote away.
  • Then, looking at the week following Thanksgiving, keep in mind that Monday should be avoided. Folks will just be getting back to their inboxes, which will be jam-packed with messages that came in over the long holiday weekend/break. Go with Tues. or Weds. to issue news or reach out to reporters.

The next holiday hurdle is Christmas. Again, if your news is related to Christmas or to New Year’s, this isn’t as much of a concern. But, in many cases where this doesn’t apply, here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Christmas day falls on a Friday this year. So, the week of Dec. 21, you might be able to get away with an announcement on Monday or Tuesday (although I suggest always avoiding Mondays). As we move closer to Christmas day, just save it, unless it’s relevant.
  • That week between Christmas and New Year’s is notoriously quiet for any news that isn’t related to the end of the year or New Year’s resolutions, so do yourself a favor and wait until the week of Jan. 4. Then, try Jan. 5 or later to increase your odds of getting the media’s attention.

After that, it’s all clear—although the standard guidelines still apply. Always check to see what’s coming on the calendar as far as holidays and be aware of other news in your industry that might steal the spotlight (I know this to be true in tech—happens all the time). Avoid Mondays (too much email) and Fridays (unless it’s news you don’t want anyone to see). And, issue press releases in the morning, if possible.

Those are my tips for making the most of your news over the holiday period. Any questions? Let me know!

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Pitching Your Startup to Reporters? Here’s What to Avoid

Today, I wanted to share media pitching tips for startups and small businesses. Not from me but directly from a journalist.

This piece from PRNewser covers a TechCrunch editor’s suggestions for pitching. While some of this should be common sense to anyone who reaches out to reporters—c’mon, no email attachments is something that should be drilled into our heads by now–and, just forget the email inviting a journalist out for coffee–some of his other suggestions may not be so obvious. For example, he talks about startup founders trying to do their own PR:

“He is concerned, first and foremost, with startup founders and app-makers who try and fail to handle their own self-promotional duties; you may be shocked to learn that many do NOT double as well-trained PR professionals.”

Yes, while they may be strong in many areas, startup founders may not be the best at media relations. In fact, there are several reasons why entrepreneurs and small business owners may not want to do their own PR (see my piece, “6 Reasons Not to Do Your Own PR”).

Another point he makes is that it’s a mistake to assume that simply because a company or product exists, that warrants media coverage. Yes, gone are the days of simply saying, “We have a startup—therefore, cover us.” And, to echo his sentiment, I recently attended a panel on pitching your startup to the media, during which reporters explained you must go deeper if you expect them to be interested in your news.

I even agree to a point with his take on press releases—which he says are “dead.” While I wouldn’t go that far (see my piece on that, “Enough with the death of the press release already”), it’s true that you need to bring something more to the table, something beyond the press release. Simply sending a press release saying, “Please cover this,” doesn’t really cut it. We need to tell a story. Yes, press releases can play a role in this, but you need to actually explain WHY this should matter to reporters and their readers. Of course, YOU think your product or service is great—you created it! But why would a reporter and his or her readers care? For example, here’s some of the advice he gave when pitching a product. Think about:

“Was it created to solve a specific problem? What is that problem and how is it solved? Does the product fit with a separate trend piece? How so, and why should this particular outlet’s readers care?”

And, tell your story succinctly. Offer data and resources, while you’re at it, to make the reporter’s job even easier. After all, isn’t our job as PR pros making it easier for reporters to cover our clients? That means providing the information they have to pay attention to, the information that will make your pitch stand out in a sea of pitches.

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Press release timing: Does it _really_ matter which day of the week you issue news?

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There’s always been debate among PR professionals about which day of the week is best to issue press releases. An interesting study came out last week regarding this. PR.co looked at 50,000 releases and published this infographic that shows which days press releases get the most views.

I always advise Tues. or Weds. for press releases, as Mondays are the day when everyone’s inbox is flooded with messages and Fridays have long been associated with issuing bad news (so that no one notices it…). Turns out this study seems to support mid-week releases….but it also talks about issuing them on weekends, because so few releases are issued on Saturday and Sunday. The rationale here is that there’s much less competition for reporters’ attention.

What does all this mean? I’d stick with mid-week timing (and I always issue releases in the morning, whenever possible—usually early morning, say 8 a.m.’ish). Weekend days seem like a stretch, although I have seen an increase in the number of reporters who seem to be catching up on their email over the weekend and respond to pitches that were sent during the week.

Most importantly, we can’t lose sight of the key factors that make a release successful. I’d say the bottom line is that the content and news value are still what makes the difference as to whether or not a release is viewed. If you have a poorly written release, it really doesn’t matter which day of the week you issue it. Or, if you issue a release that isn’t newsworthy, you can’t expect the day or time you issue it to make it any more worth the reporter’s time. (Read more about the power of press releases here.)

So, what should you focus on to make sure your press release is read? If you do your best to make sure each release is newsworthy and well written, this is by far the biggest factor in ensuring an audience for your news. Then, issue it on Tues. morning at 8 a.m.! <grin>

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For You! Free Resources to Help You Do Your Own PR

With the holidays upon us, I thought about what I could give readers as a gift this season. What better than a list of my favorite resources, many of them free, that I often use and tout in my PR talks. If you’re interested in doing your own PR and are on a budget, check these out before spending any money on pricier solutions.

Here’s hoping they help you achieve great results with your PR efforts in the coming year! Happy holidays to all!

1) Free press release distribution services: If you need to distribute a press release, you may want to consider using what we in the biz call a wire service. There are MANY free wire services out there, but the two I use—and find get good results—are PRlog and PR.com. I use both in tandem. Here’s why: PRLog allows the use of links and even video within the release at no additional cost. PR.com gets the release on the search engines.

One additional note: Reporters who’ve seen a client’s release on PRlog have contacted me directly, so they DO work! If you have no budget for pricier services, this is the way to go.

And, if you do have budget to spend, PRWeb usually offers a discount on your first release. Look online for a $50 off code. PR Newswire is also good, but another notch up the ladder as far as pricing.

2) If you’re looking for editorial opportunities, there are a number of free resources to help you:

The most popular is probably HARO (Help a Reporter Out). This is completely free—and it works!! I’ve gotten my clients (and myself) in stories through HARO.

Founded by branding/PR expert Peter Shankman, here’s a description: Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Here’s how it works: Reporters who are looking for sources for their stories post opportunities that are then sent out a few times each day via email to HARO subscribers. You can follow the instructions to submit yourself as a source. There’s a deadline, so pay attention to that when responding. It’s best to read these as soon as they hit your mailbox and reply as quickly as possible, as they do receive many, many responses in some cases.

Two others I don’t use as often, but they are free, are PitchRate and SourceBottle.

3) Related to #2, if you’re in need of editorial calendar opportunities, you can try using Cision’s free ed cal site, http://us.cision.com/edcals/edcals.asp.

You may also visit each publication’s site. Many list their editorial calendar online (sometimes it can be found under “Advertising” or “Media Kit”), so it’s possible to build your own calendar of opportunities that may be a fit for free. Paid services (e.g. Myedcals) are also available: http://www.mymediainfo.com/myedcals.html

4) For awards and speaking opportunities, try ITDatabase’s TechCalendar, a great free resource geared toward the IT industry. You can sign up here: http://itdatabase.com. http://itdatabase.us1.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=e179f3d5fb981a768db456f5c&id=6a0dfa05f0

5) For research, use Google News or Bing News. Type in your company name or whatever search term you like and news stories will come up. I use these to track announcements made by my clients, as well as to do competitive research, all completely free!

For those on a budget—and so many smaller businesses are—these resources can definitely help get the job done. For more tricks, tips and helpful advice, keep following!

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Where’s Your Press Release?

I’m mystified by something. Twice today—just in the few hours I’ve been at work this morning—I’ve run into situations with companies who seem to lack press releases. Both cases occurred when I needed to pull up some basic info quickly and thought, “Oh, no problem, I’ll just pull the press release from their site.” Wrong!! And this isn’t the first time it’s happened! In my mind, this underscores a bigger issue. This is too commonplace an occurrence these days. Which leads me to ask: Where are the press releases?

For the life of me, I will never understand why press releases are so underutilized. They provide the who/what/when/where/how at a glance and give a quick overview of an event, announcement, etc. In today’s “We need the details quickly” world, press releases are the perfect vehicle to get the word out about whatever you want to share.

Designed to whet the appetite of a reporter, they contain only the “need to know” info so anyone intrigued enough can then visit the site to learn more. They’re simple to write and easy to post to your site (and you can go beyond that—see my article “5 Ways to Make Use of a Press Release”  on how to use a press release once you have one). So, why aren’t more entities leveraging this valuable communication tool?

The next time you want to get the details out about a new product or service, an event, an award or countless other pieces of news, remember our friend the press release, a multi-purpose tool designed to help you get the job done.

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