If youre a public relations professional, this has happened to you: You convince a key media outlet to take a briefing with your client. Your team extensively prepares the client with talking points and background and the interview goes off without a hitch.
And then you just sit back and wait for the story to run
but it never does.
The writer ceases to respond to you and what seemed like a surefire media hit is now stuck in limbo the client keeps asking where their baby of an article is, and you dont have any answers. Suddenly, what looked like a great opportunity has made your life hell. So what happened?
Truthfully, there are a million-and-one ways to derail a solid interview, and only a few are under the control of the public relations professional; the rest fall into the murky haze of editorial control, a vehicle that is responsible for killing more stories than an out-of-control paper shredder. But you can, however, prepare your client for the possibility of a non-story by not only locking down the variables that are under your control but also by making them aware of the entire editorial thought process.
- Logistics Often ignored, the time and date of an interview is key for a variety of reasons. If its during a busy news week and your client is only offering a company introduction or proactive story idea, youll be lucky to get the interview, let alone a story. Dont forget that the act of scheduling is also important the smoother the call goes from a logistics standpoint (everyone has the dial-in information, people dial-in as scheduled, both parties know what the interview is about, etc.), the better the chances of a story.
- Client Education Does your client know what he/she is talking about? Did you fully prep them on the reporters writing style/editorial background? Is the client listening to what youre saying? Any fault here will likely mean a stumble in the interview, which can hurt the clients image as a thought leader to the writer.
- News Value Tying back to my first point, be perfectly honest with your client about the news value of the story. If its an introductory interview, the odds of a story coming out of it are slim if the interview is a proactive pitch with a timely news hook, the odds go up exponentially. Make the client aware of the value of the interview, but if theres no news, tell them as much and explain how it will impact the likelihood of a story.
- Editorial Control Finally, break down the editorial process (at least in general terms to your client) explain that its not the writer/reporter who has the final call in whether a story runs or not (unless theyre a lone blogger), but rather an editor or editorial team. Ultimately, your clients story is going to be weighed against any other potential stories from the week, so if youre trying to hit up TechCrunch during Google+s launch with a story about virtual infrastructure
the clients chances are slim and none, and slim just logged off.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is not to use any of these reasons as excuses be upfront with the client from the time that the interview is secured with how the process will likely shake out. And definitely never, EVER, promise a story. Its just not in your control.
Last week, while gleefully skimming through the nerd news spilling out of Comic-Con
, my lovely wife sent me a link to Lev Grossman’s Techland piece
, which puts the screws to the event, saying that it has ceased to be a barometer for the American entertainment hive-mind and is no longer what Grossman imagined the show to be. My wife is not a nefarious individual, but I’m certain her sending me this article was an attempt to curb my ever-voracious appetite for all things geek.
I’m certain that there is a glimmer of truth to Grossman’s article, in that Comic-Con’s influence on the mainstream entertainment spectrum is waning. I’m not arguing this; I’m actually elated by this concept – nerd shows are for nerds and the things that they care about. I couldn’t care less about, for example, the Phineas and Ferb movie
(I didn't even know what this was) and I’m certain that the vast majority of attendees at Comic-Con couldn’t care less either, but it was still previewed at the show.
Luckily, shows just for nerds still exist: In just over a week, I’ll be attending one that refuses to kowtow to America’s media masters and gleefully revels in the geek/nerd (take your pick here) subculture: GEN CON
My point is that marketing to my nerd brethren is still a viable strategy, particularly in the technology space. Forget about getting in front of your buyers – if CIOs don’t have time to read trade publications, then they REALLY don’t have time to watch your 30-second advertisement about ROI on virtual infrastructure.
Instead, embrace the nerds like SolarWinds
has. In full disclosure, SolarWinds is a SpeakerBox client, but their marketing campaigns are developed entirely in-house.
For Example A, I give you the SolarWinds Virtual Film Festival
, a series of spoof trailers that add virtualization into a wide variety of popular movies, from the Matrix to Ghostbusters. It’s funny, brilliant and appeals to nerds, the very people who are influencing the purchase of SolarWinds’ products. If you need still more examples, check out Greg the Architect
, the riveting web series focused on SOA.
So marketers, heed my words: Don’t ignore the nerds, especially when they’re your customers.
Thissummer, Meghan Jackson has been working at SpeakerBox as afull time intern. We hope that shes enjoying her time with SBX as much as weenjoy having her, and we thought wed let everyone learn a little bit more abouther. What school do you go to and what doyou like most about it? I go toIndiana University in Bloomington and I'm in a sorority called Alpha Phi. Ilove everything about being a Hoosier: the Hoosier pride, the tailgates, thebasketball games, the campus, the weather in the fall and the academics. What are you looking forward to mostafter graduation? I'mlooking forward to starting my career after graduation. I am anxious to seewhat's out there and how I can learn more and move forward in the field ofpublic relations. Why are you interested in PR? I lovepublic relations because I enjoy communicating with people and the field is sointeractive. I love coming up with new, creative ways to get something done andlove the challenge of having to be able to think on your feet. It's alsorewarding to be able to make your client happy. What is your favorite publication ornews outlet and why? I followCNN the most, just because I grew up watching it with my mom on TV. Ilove watching HLN and I LOVE to watch Nancy Grace, just because her commentaryis so entertaining. I also consider E! News a major part of the daily news(just kidding, but I do watch it everyday). One of our past interns could beatbox, any interesting hobbies you enjoy? I enjoyyoga and meditation, and spending time with friends. I am a big fan of baseballand love going to games. I am also OBSESSED with every show on Bravo and E! ThanksMeghan for all of your hard work! Youve been indispensible this summer andhave fit right in around the office. Were going to miss you come September!
As several of my colleagues have already blogged about, we're all trying to figure out what's the real difference between Facebook and Google+? This chart from Quora
compares not just Facebook and Google+ but also Twitter.
Personally, I don't see Google+ as a competitor to Twitter so to me that column while interesting is somewhat pointless. I also disagree with the infographic that only Google+ and Twitter allow re-sharing (retweeting in Twitter). You can share in Facebook - however it's limited to links.
Seeing this comparison side-by-side-by-side, I guess I'm not in a big hurry to make the move to Google+. It's nice but the two features it supposedly have that Facebook doesn't, doesn't make it a worthwhile move for me at this point. What about you? Are you ready to give up Facebook and make the move to Google+?
As I wrote about earlier this month, the New York Times’
Public Editor ArthurBrisbane recently publicallyscolded
tech columnist David Pogue for giving a speech in which he admittedmost of his ideas came from public relations folks.
In my first post, which you can read here,I addressed the New York Times’concern that reporter David Pogue revealed too much information on how tosuccessfully deal with the news media (for the record, in my opinion, hedidn’t). What I didn’t discuss however was Pogue’s admission that most of hisideas came from public relations folks and the Times’ objection to this, because in their words, “Times readersdeserve to be assured that journalists don’t get too cozy with the P.R.professionals who strive to influence coverage.”
Brisbane followed up his scolding ofPogue with a post that asks, “P.R.professionals: bane or boon?” In his post Brisbane asks the Times’ readers if they are concernedthat its reporters rely to some extent on P.R. professionals for ideas. He alsoasks the P.R. community what are the benefits that we provide to reporters andare there any problems.
I read a few of the comments thatpeople had and then, as I typically do when I read any comments on any newsstory, I quickly grew tired and stopped reading. I was getting irritated andagitated at the responses. Comments like this one, from rss in California drewmy ire, “If P.R. professionals are so good at promotion they would promotethemselves. They do. Which is the problem.”
Never, not once, have I ever promotedmyself to the media. I promote my client or the organization I represent. MaybeI’m naïve and ignorant, but to me pitching the media has never been aboutseeing my name in print. In fact, the one time I was quoted as the spokespersonI wanted to curl up inside myself and hide. My job is to tell your story!
I may be biased, as it is the field inwhich I work, however I do not see the P.R. community as anything less thanpositive. Are there some sketchy P.R. folks out there – yup, I’m sure thereare. Are there also sketchy reporters – yup, you betcha. At the end of the daythough our job as P.R. flack is to educate. To tell our client’s story. With somany companies and organizations that create and provide services, technology,research, etc. there is no way for a reporter to always know who all theplayers are. That’s where I come in.
Image courtesy Surian Soosay
Earlier this week embattledmedia mogul Rupert Murdoch sat in front of Parliament and literally ended upbeing hit with a pie in his face. As aresult of his testimony it could be said that the PR industry is receiving somehits as well. As most are aware, Murdochtestified in regards to his role or lack of, depending on what you maybelieve in the ongoing News of the World phone hacking and bribery scandal. Murdoch -- along with editors and others involvedwith News of the World has been accused of authorizing the hacking into phonesof potentially thousands of people, including politicians, celebrities, victimsof terrorist attacks, and even a deceased teenage girl. In the face of the scandal,Murdoch did what many others have done before him: turn to public relations and crisiscommunications as a means of response. As a result, Murdochs testimony has brought the field of PR into theinternational spotlight. Newspapers suchas TheGuardian one of the U.K.s most well-read publications ran entirestories that focused on the testimonys gloss. Pointing to one of the days more light-heartedmoments (there werent many, save for the pie-in-the-face encounter with someguy named Jonnie Marbles), Guardian reporter Nick Davies wrote Theylaughed. He (Murdoch) smiled. Thats PR. Other major news publicationsare focusing on the public relations aspect of the Murdoch story as well. Reuters and The Associated Press are amongthe outlets that have not only reported on the scandal, but Murdochscommunications response. Murdoch TurnsTo PR Elite for Crisis Control states the Reutersheadline, hovering over a story which goes on to cite various pundits banteringabout whether or not the strategy has been effective. The people who help conveynews have, in effect, become news. Consider: a man who has spent most of his life involvedin the media business has turned to a team of PR professionals to help him tellhis side of the story. Whether youbelieve him or not, you have to savor the irony. But how does the PR industryend up looking in all of this? Does itappear that we are placing a layer of gloss on a reprehensible story
or doesit reinforce the value of PR in articulating messages and shaping publicperception? The truth is, I think itstoo early to tell. Initial reaction toMurdochs testimony has run the gamut. Some feel sorry for him and saw him as contrite; indeed, a victimhimself. Others are unconvinced he wasnot somehow involved in the whole mess. Regardless, one thing is certain: I doubt anyone expected Rupert Murdoch toever utter the one phrase that has gotten picked up by just about every mediaoutlet that covered the hearing: Thisis the most humble day of my life.
Everyone loves alittle healthy competition, right? So all of us social media houndsshould be exceptionally happy these days because, as it turns out, competitionabounds on the Interwebs. From Foursquare to GetGlue and more, theability to check into something and earn a badge, sticker, or what-have-youcontinues to attract users who want to show the world just how worldly they areby racking up more flair than Jennifer Aniston in Office Space. Andbeat their friends and colleagues while doing it. Now, Google whichalready got on the check-in bandwagon in 2010 with its Google Places feature is adding a new twist in the form of its recently introduced Google News Badgesoffering. With Google News Badges, readers of Google News stories cancollect awards for reading articles on specific topics. So if youre abig Baltimore Orioles fan and are continually reading about their trials andtribulations you might find yourself receiving the official Baltimore OriolesNews Badge (and no, I have no idea if thats what its really called). Or, if you often peruse stories related to mobile technology, you may qualifyfor a Badge that flaunts your wireless expertise. The more Google NewsBadges you collect, the more
um, I guess
knowledgeable you feel? Notquite sure, really, but its still kind of an interesting concept. Why is Google doingthis? Why does Google do anything, really? To encourage userloyalty and engagement and attract more eyeballs to its Google Newsproperty. After all, the more users, the more ads it can sell, the morerevenue the company brings in. And the more Google learns about those users through news viewing patterns, for example the better it can tailor those adsand make even more revenue. And its not justconsumer-focused companies that are jumping on the badges and check-inbandwagon. More and more enterprises are adopting these processes as ameans of keeping employees and customers up to date on whats going on withorganizations. Theyre using this unique social media concept as a meansof keeping their constituents engaged and up-to-date. For example,allowing customers to earn badges every time they use a product or service and providing them with incentive to do so (discounts, freebies, a feeling ofempowerment, etc.) can be a powerful incentive to foster loyalty and continuedinteraction with an organization. When we talk aboutsocial media, were generally referring to the Facebooks, Twitters andGoogle+s of the world. Still, lets not forget there are other tools andmethods out there that companies can effectively leverage to encourage customerinteraction and build loyalty. Besides, a little gamesmanship and flairnever hurt anyone.
Recently New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane publicallyscolded tech columnist David Pogue for giving a speech (that he was paidfor), titled “Pitch Me, Baby,” in which he admitted most of his ideas came frompublic relations folks.
According to a blog post fromBrisbane on the Public Editor’s Journal, “Pogue is barred from making any morespeeches like this one to public relations professionals.”
“The decision came because suchappearances are explicitly prohibited by The Times’s ethics policy. Excerpts of therelevant portions: “Staff members may not advise individuals or organizationshow to deal successfully with the news media (though they may of course explainthe paper’s normal workings and steer outsiders to the appropriate Timesperson)….They should not take part in public relations workshops that chargeadmission or imply privileged access to Times people….”
I’ll get to the part where Pogue admitsthat most of his ideas come form P.R. pros later. For now let’s focus on Pogue’ssage advice was to those who were interested in pitching him and how itviolated the Times’ ethics policy. Apparently it can be boiled down to tellingPR flack to make their pitches personal, concise and not to use jargon.
That’s it. That’s what he had to sayand that somehow violates the Times’ ethics policy. They’re kidding, right?That’s the first rule of P.R. That’s P.R. 101 folks! I’ve been to manyconferences and on many conference calls hoping to have some journalist tell methe magical way to get them to actually open, read and respond to my email andevery time it’s the same thing – make it personal, keep it short and don’t usejargon.
David Pogue is an incredibly talentedjournalist but in my incredibly humble opinion in no way do I think he gaveaway any really valuable advice on “how to deal successfully with the newsmedia.” The advice he offered is what any P.R. flack should have learned ontheir first day on the job right out of college. To those of who paid $159 tohear David Pogue tell you what you already should have known, I am sorry.However for those people who paid to hear that and found it to be the bestadvice they’ve ever received, I’m scared.
Brisbane goes on to say, “The “PitchMe” presentation might strike some as pretty harmless. But there is a reasonwhy The Times ethics policy proscribes it. Times readers deserve to be assuredthat journalists don’t get too cozy with the P.R. professionals who strive toinfluence coverage.”
I’ll be back to discuss that in parttwo of “P.R. Professional – Friend or Foe of The New York Times.”
Starting your own soccer team to play in a local leaguesounds like a great idea, so the three random friends you convinced to play,along with yourself, begin the journey of recruitment. You send out invites to your e-mail listsand wait for people to bite. Mike cantplay Thursdays, Bryan is convinced you never actually emailed him theinformation (which you didnt: hes not very good), weekends are out for Jen,etc. But, finally it comes together. Until that point, its really just a pain. But once its up and running,you work out the kinks, schedules, carpools, and wholl bring the beverages, thefun begins.
This is how I feel about Google+. It will be great once the team is in placeand the ball gets rolling (no pun intended). But for now, Im still building my roster and trying to fillpositions. Dont get me wrong, I lovethe two-to-four people who post regularly, but I need more. I find the search capability as reliable asplayers on my intramural team. I knowpeople are out there; I just cant seem to get them all to show up!
Analogy aside, I do understand Google+ is only a couple ofweeks old and I look forward to the day 90 percent of the posts are aboutsomething other than Google+ help/advice. Unfortunately, until this happens, Ill have to stick with the teams Ialready play for (Facebook and Twitter) - I cant afford to let my skills getrusty.
Consider this my recruitment effort I need players if Imgoing to get into the game! Interestedin joining the Google+ League? Here aresome articles I found helpful for getting started:
And, here's one for those of us looking for more:
"Oh, you wanted an ANTI-stress ball."
(Credit: Public Domain via Petr Krachtovil)
Im dealing with a semi-apocalyptic backlog of half-finished blog posts. So this is one from April thats now about as topical as John Edwards baby doing the Macarena.
Heres the story (tentative headlineStress Test Suggests Press Distress): According to CareerCast.coms latest rankings, public relations professionals have one of Americas two most stressful jobsbehind only commercial airline pilots.
Commercial airline pilots dont even have to stand up. They have coffee brought to them by whats essentially a wait staff. They have an entire autopilot system in place just in case they dont feel like keeping their hands on the freakin steering wheel. Im not even convinced commercial airline pilots have to betechnicallyawake (we know the ATCs dont have to be).
So right there, Im already dubious of this scientific study. But what about the public relations component?
Sure, dealing with the Press has its uncomfortable moments. But very rarely do lives hang in the balance over a news release. Which means that the folks at CareerCast must value press coverage more than human decency. (What, did they just poll Rupert Murdoch?)
maybe stress isnt so much a function of responsibilitybut of control.
If thats true, these rankings might yet have some merit. Certainly, public relations is a field in which professionals have very little control over the final product. In this way, PR pros are kind of like screenwriters. You can write a killer plot, describe the characters to a tee. But at the end of the day, theres a 60% chance Michael Bay is going to fill the whole movie with fighting robots.
In any case, Ive taken the liberty of making my own list of the 5 most stressful jobs in the world, which I compiled today using strict scientific modeling, unbiased interviews, carbon dating, and double-blind taste tests:
5. Help Desk at a Company You Know Full Well Has Complete Disdain for Its Customers.
This is your classic airline ticketing agent scenario. (FYI: Manning the help desk by phone or Internet is considerably less stressful, as the threat of physical violence is diminished.)
4. Microsoft Software Architect
We want this new version to keep everything we love about Windows, but we also want it to be good.
Kate, Pheniece, and I learned this the hard way a few weeks ago. The trick is to immediately abandon all the trappings of grammar, logic, truth, and authenticity.
2. NBC Programming Executive
Law and Order: Fort Lauderdale or Tyne Daly-produced sitcom about the Suffragettes? There are no good options here.
1. Julian Assange's Personal Food Taster
(Imagine famed game show announcer Charlie O'Donnell kicking off this blog post with the Wheel of Fortune theme song playing in the background...) From somewhere deep in the Cloud, it's a marketer's game! Wheel of Concept!
If you're looking for that "next great idea" to take into your upcoming marketing meeting, then the Wheel of Concept
may be for you.*
Just type in your brand name, spin the wheel, and watch as your next great idea is generated instantaneously before your very eyes!
To have a little fun, I decided to spin the wheel on behalf of SpeakerBox. Meet our soon-to-be-launched** crowdsourcing initiative, "Power to the People!" (Click on the image below to enlarge it and learn more about our new initiative.)
Here's the fine print on the campaign in case you can't read it in the image above:
Who would know better the direction SpeakerBox should take than SpeakerBox loyalists? Let's give your fans a voice by crowdsourcing your next big idea. Socializing the ideation process adds an unexpected dynamic to the equation, generating measurable, successful results even before the campaign launches. Not only will your target feel appreciated, they'll spread the SpeakerBox message across the web, creating branches extending into multiple psychographic categories.
Sounds perfect! So stay tuned, SpeakerBox loyalists. Crowdsourcing coming soon!***
OK, so you might not get your next big campaign idea from the Wheel of Concept, but you'll certainly get a chuckle. Head on over to www.wheelofconcept.com
and check it out!
** Not really, actually
*** Not coming soon unless our marketing team has something stealth in the works
Hunch conducted a really great survey on the type of computers people use. They combined the results with some other data it had lying around and came out with this awesome infographic on traits of Mac people vs. PC people. There are some pretty funny and interesting stats here.
- PC people are 38% more likely than Mac people to say they have a stronger aptitude for mathematical concepts. Mac people are 12% more likely than PC people to say they have a stronger verbal aptitude.
- PC people are 21% more likely than Mac people to prefer impressionist art. Mac people prerefer modern art and are design enthusiasts.
- Mac people are 80% more likely than PC people to be vegetarian.
- Soft drinks of choice: PC = Pepsi, Jolt and Orange Crush. Mac – Son Pellegrino Limonata and Boylan’s Root Beer.
- Mac people are 21% more likely than PC people to consider themselves computer-savvy gearheads.
- Both groups love The Office.
- Favorite websites: PC = I Can Has Cheezburger?, Go Fug Yourself and CNN.com. Mac = Apartment Therapy, Huffington Post and Boing Boing.
- Mac people consider The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to be among their favorite newscasts.
- Ali Smith
One of the great ironies of the Internet Age has been its grand, circuitous path toward a posture of openness.
Facebook profile validation circa 2007
(Credit: Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)
If you can remember back a ways, we didnt start with Open Government, Facebook profiles or personal Twitter feeds. We didnt even have MySpace. The Internet, in those early days, was a veila beacon of anonymity. Call it anti-social networking for the chronically dishonest.
The old joke about the Internet was that online, everyone was an 18 year-old blonde, except the 18 year-old blondes. It was fun. We could pick fights with strangers without fear of retribution, commit Napster-style crimes with breezy nonchalance, learn to make homemade Napalm from lemonade and discarded McDonalds fries, and nobody had a clue who anyone really was.
Those days are long gone, killed perhaps by the discovery of reputation as currency: when we realized that the social benefits of anonymity paled in comparison to the benefits of status buildingso long as it could all still be based in fantasy.
What I mean is: Everyone still lies. Its just that our deceptions evolve with our technologies. And when it comes to the Internet, a powerful new narrative (the one touting "openness online") has really upped the potency of our deceit.
It's a legitimate problem -- confusing disclosure with full disclosure. In fact, some folks are now wondering if our high and mighty online privacy concerns arent actually just concerns about unauthorized bursts of candor. Genevieve Bell gives an example: sure, technology has the ability to truly open up our lives; but does anyone actually want that? If we had Smart TVs that could report what were watching in real-time to Facebook, wouldnt we shut that feature off? If we lost the ability to curate and moderate our own online existence, would we still tout the transparency of the Internet?
If the Web has done one thing consistently well over the years, its been enhancing our ability to create fictionparticularly fiction powered by omission. We see the open half of the window, and we ignore the rest. Could it be that the greatest threat of all to transparency is the myth that it might actually exist?
Haven't used the tool yet, but cautiously optimistic that it'll be a magnitude of order better than Wave or Buzz.
If they get the integration right, while improving upon the major issues with FB around grouping/selective sharing/privacy/discrete feeds, then I'm in!
Otherwise, it doesn't stand a chance of building the critical mass needed to take on FB.
Lets all welcome Googles latest foray into the Facebook Killer arena Google+
. Its definitely not Buzz
or any of Googles other failed experiments
in the American social networking arena Google+ looks like it actually could give Facebook a run for its money. Or at least I think it could, based on the features I can view from the outside, as Im still waiting for my account to be activated.
Not to be outdone, however, Facebook is announcing something awesome
, in the words of Lord Zuckerberg, next week, which has lead to an explosion of discussion. Some watchers are guessing that we could be seeing a Facebook iPad app
, while others think that this could be Facebooks long-suspected music service
Either way, the social networking wars have flared again, especially with MySpace all but officially dying this week
. Its been a one horse race for far too long, so is this the time when Google gets social right?
What do you think? Are you using Google+? Do you think Facebook will be the incumbent forever?