PR for the Regular Joe

June 24, 2009

Save your pitch from the circular file

Filed under: Media outreach,Public Relations — Big Sky Public Relations @ 11:11 pm
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Recently, I spoke with a new account coordinator who was experiencing frustration pitching broadcast media and was having difficulty placing a story.  She asked me how I managed to consistently produce results in this sector while simultaneously enjoying the work.  I happen to know she works in a fantastic company with talented, accomplished professionals so I was left wondering why she did not understand the flaw in her approach.

In fact, her comments are a common complaint and a serious concern.  Why doesn’t this reporter take my calls or return my emails?  What do I have to do to be heard?  How do I produce the results my client deserves?  The answer is that a strong pitch is developed from listening, not speaking.

I learned this crucial, elemental truth in my first public relations internship.  I worked closely with an experienced professional who delivered me from the traditional coffee making duties, and gave me the opportunity to start pitching.  Before I ever touched a phone, she took time to show me the basics of researching writers before I handed them a story.  She helped me understand listening to the media translates to reading what they write; going beyond taking their title and beat off of Cision and understanding their interests.

With her guidance, I scoured magazines, newspapers and websites to gain an understanding of who was covering issues relevant to our client.  I developed background knowledge on stories written by editors I wanted to approach.   I did the homework and then I pitched my story.  Happy ending? Yes–as an intern, I secured placements with major media outlets including The Washington Post, Family Circle, Life & Style and many more.

For today’s PR newbees, the climate is even more difficult for pitching–the media does not have time for off-target pitches and is quick to share that fact.  Current editors and reporters are doing the job of three people and it is essential to respect their time and provide them useful resources.  If it is not a good approach for their beat, be creative and find a unique angle that fits into their focus or don’t waste your time and their patience.  Through your research, learn to recognize what is and is not newsworthy and work with your clients to develop material that will interest the media.  These strategies will assist you in building a solid foundation of contacts which will serve you throughout your career.

The great news about my friend is that she is resilient, talented and intelligent.   I believe with a little time and direction she will be scoring big hits with broadcast.  I applaud her resourcefulness and desire to try a more effective approach instead of giving up.   She is one of many new to the field and certainly not the first to have legitimate questions.  For all the public relations professionals with years of experience, take time to share a little wisdom with someone starting a career in our industry.  It will certainly make their work more enjoyable and help the public relations field build a stronger relationship with the world of media.

June 3, 2009

Tech-heads reunite with a handshake

Filed under: Business Networking,Social Media — Big Sky Public Relations @ 3:30 pm
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The power of social media sites has made the world more accessible–or has it?  With the craze of new sites launching every day to keep us “more connected,” I am concerned that we may forget the importance of face-to-face meetings and a solid handshake.

This dilemma of proper balance between the old-fashioned approach and the revolutionary networking methods is well-illustrated in the recent hit movie, “He’s Just Not that Into You.” Before you groan, hear me out.  Drew Barrymore’s character laments that men use ten different forms of communication to reject her but what’s the real issue? She never meets any of these potential suitors and the human element is buried in a pile of emails, text messages and MySpace comments.  She finally discovers love with a man she has worked with for months over the phone.  What’s the difference?  They sit  down for coffee and surprise!–we have a happy ending.

I know this is not a traditional communications case study but the film is centered on the basic concepts of human interaction-what works and what fails.  Public relations is based on the foundation of human interaction and certain messages translate through both the social and business realms.  Therefore, I believe this comedy offers wise insight into an increasingly complicated world.   Social media is a powerful and necessary tool but it is not a replacement for developing connections in person.

Charolette Risch recently blogged on the Valley PR Blog about the necessity of networking and how crucial it is to a healthy business plan (http://www.valleyprblog.com/advice/now-is-the-time).  I can’t agree more.  While it is a time investment, the rewards  you reap are likely to be not only personally fulfilling, but professionally fruitful.  So, go on, stretch your legs, get out from behind that computer and practice your handshake.  It’ll give you something legit to tweet about today.

June 1, 2009

ASBA hosts Sales and PR Roundtable June 3rd in Phoenix

Filed under: Business Networking — Big Sky Public Relations @ 6:17 pm
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Arizona Small Business Association, in conjunction with AZSalesPros, is hosting a roundtable on June 3rd entitled “The Bare Naked Truth About PR.”  The event will be directed by Christine Marek, co-owner of Bushido Marketing.  This will be an excellent opportunity to network in parallel markets and meet area professionals while addressing a crucial topic in the public relations industry.

Discussion will center around the following themes: Three steps to the “simple” truth for effective PR; Development of an Effective PR Strategy and Plan; Cast Studies of Truth Based Public Relations; 20 Cost-Saving PR Tips (as stated on the ASBA website).

The event is free for ASBA members, $20 for non-members and will be held from 8:00am-10:00am at ASBA headquarters:

ASBA
4130 E. Van Buren St., Ste. 150
Phoenix, AZ  85008
Detailed Map

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