PR for the Regular Joe

December 29, 2010

Public relations should save lives

What would you do if you were dying? If thousands in your sphere of influence shared your plight and you found a simple remedy, would share it?  If so, read on and use your power to promote to change lives.

Justin Wilbert was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in October 2005. Like thousands of others with this disease, his body began to fail him.  The severity and speed with which his symptoms progressed quickly left him two options–fight or die.  Left intermittently blind and bed-ridden by the disease, Justin refused to be beaten and spent what energy he possessed aggressively researching treatment options.  During this time he endured every prescription drug and alternative treatment currently used for MS patients.  The only relief he found was in Tysabri, a drug with a risk of a brain disease.

In November 2009, Justin’s perseverance paid off.  Through extensive research, he discovered the liberation procedure.  He has since traveled to India to undergo the simple procedure.  The experimental procedure, only recently available in the United States, and not supported by most insurance plans, has  led to dramatic improvement in his condition.  Though he has not made a full recovery, Justin has regained his vision, a dramatic reduction in pain, and the ability to enjoy regular daily activities.  Essentially, he got his life back.

Now, Justin has one objective–provide the hope of recovery to others faced with this debilitating disease.  Currently, the liberation procedure is gaining momentum in the United States but awareness of this treatment is low.  Few have the opportunity to share the news of a life-saving treatment.  I hope you will join me in telling Justin’s story and changing the lives of thousands.

Below is an article from the newspaper in Justin’s hometown as well as the link for re-posting purposes.

http://dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_7a773bde-f2a7-11df-b179-001cc4c03286.html

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Local MS patient finds help far away

Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake Justin Wilbert, 31, of Kalispell, at his home on Tuesday. In the background is one of the sites Wilbert found providing information on Liberation Therapy. Wilbert traveled to India in August to have the experimental surgery and has had a marked improvement in his condition. 

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June 24, 2009

Save your pitch from the circular file

Filed under: Media outreach,Public Relations — Big Sky Public Relations @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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.

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