TechMediaNetwork Names Crenshaw Communications PR Agency Of Record

The Crenshaw team is delighted to be appointed by TechMediaNetwork, a leader in online publishing and tech media, as AOR after competitive review. TechMediaNetwork is a leading media company that produces technology news and reviews on sites like TopTenReviews, TechNewsDaily and LAPTOPmag which reaches more than 100 million monthly visitors across its owned and publisher-partner sites.  We’ve already begun our program for TMN, which comprises trade and B2B visibility and thought leadership as well as B2C outreach for TMN’s leading editorial experts on new products and consumer tech trends. The content offered by the TMN family of sites connects consumers to the news, information and reviews they need to know about tech — from the  Mars Rover moon landing to expert reviews of the latest gadgets and tools. Check out the full story here.

PR Pros, Know Your Media

So you call yourself a PR whiz. And, no doubt you’ve hit upon some winning strategies, crafted some clever messaging and delivered a hard-working plan. But, now, it’s time to deliver, so ask yourself – how well do you (or the staffers actually implementing media relations) actually know your media?

Because today’s “media” is as much mobile apps as it is TV, movies, music and video games, it’s easy to forget about what some might consider “yesterday’s news.” That’s the stuff proffered by industry verticals, newspapers, talk radio and the morning shows.

But have you compiled a clip report for a client lately? Most still look for a healthy serving of media results in those categories, and you would be doing a disservice to dismiss the importance of traditional – actually “tradigital” media.

Herewith, then I submit to you a lighthearted “Know Your Media” quiz so you can test your skills. No worries, it will not be graded!

1. In the New York area, you can actually listen to two different journalists with the first name of Kai. One reports for a national financial program, where, were he to interview your client, it would be a major media score. The other “flies high,” but most likely won’t be covering anything you offer. Name one or both of these reporters (extra credit for naming outlets!)

2. “Access Hollywood” has an affable co-host whose softball style makes a great interview for the right kind of client. He’s related to a former president, a correspondent for a national morning show, and a model/actress. Name this example of serious entertainment nepotism.

3. We all love to read Gawker, that punishing overlord of ‘snarky snark” but heaven knows we don’t want a client in the column. Name the editor whose wrath we all want to avoid.

4. Jeff Zucker, the architect behind arguably the most popular morning show format today (and always coup-worthy when placing a client) is being tapped to revive a challenged, yet still formidable, all-news channel. What is it? For extra credit name a reporter who has left and one who remains.

5. “Oh, don’t bother with The New York Times,” says… NO CLIENT EVER! The Times remains “all the news that’s fit to print,” and we want some coverage there! Here is your challenge; you have a stylish new tech product. Who’s beat is best – Damon Darlin or David Pogue? Discuss!

We would love to hear your responses as well as any interesting inclusions for our next round of “Know Your Media.” Answers will appear in next week’s “TGIF” blog if not by you!

Make Your Blogger Relationships Work Harder

Bloggers aren’t just an online source anymore. The big ones, the “super-bloggers,” are expanding their media empire from small screens to large ones and virtual relationships to “real world” with tremendous PR potential for your clients.  You can tap into this power by following some timely tips.

Effective blogger relations can expose your client to bigger and better audiences, making them part of meaningful conversations that ultimately translate to increased awareness. This is particularly true now that certain bloggers own more of the media landscape than ever before. Many broadcast outlets book local bloggers as contributors, and top-tier newspapers accept contributions from regional bloggers.

To help leverage relations with the “super-bloggers,” take advantage of these timely tips:

It’s not about you. Bloggers don’t care about your brand’s agenda, period.  Their main focus is their audience. So when pitching an idea or product, get to know that audience – what do they want to hear about, what product might be useful for them, etc. You can’t always tell who the audience is by the blog’s name. Do the homework — it’s never worth ruining your relationship with someone over a lazy pitch.

Keep track of everything! Keep accurate records of the following: which of your story ideas a blogger has covered in the past, the last time you spoke, what approaches have worked well and what fell flat. When it comes to family / parenting bloggers I find it’s helpful to know personal details such as if they have children, and the children’s ages – this information is particularly valuable when pitching toys and other children’s products.

Think beyond the blog. Make sure that whatever idea you’re pitching is not only appropriate for the blog – but for expanded opportunities as well. Visualize the potential broadcast segment or event inclusion and outline ways to make it work. Blogger promotions and partnerships should also be taken into consideration – these are mostly pay to play, and it’s important to do your research and keep in mind that not every blogger is right for a paid promotional partnership.

Keep talking (and helping). Keep the conversation going! Check in on editorial calendar opportunities that may be a perfect fit for your client(s), upcoming events that might be worth attending or sponsoring, any Twitter chats that you and/or your clients should participate in, etc.

With a little homework and a solid strategy, these regional superstars could help elevate your client’s brand.  What are your tips for developing relationships with bloggers?

How To "Own" A Media Interview

There are few things more exciting to PR agency professionals of all levels than to see a client’s comments in print or digital form. A published interview can be a quick, reactive response to a journalist’s inquiry or the culmination of a long and arduous pitch process. But what if your quotes end up on the (metaphorical) cutting room floor? Here’s how to stay in the picture.

Be first. Or at least, not last. Journalists and bloggers work in a very dynamic environment, so being included in a story can come down to returning a reporter’s call promptly. Being early sometimes beats being brilliant.

Be clear. Don’t speak in buzzwords or acronyms, and don’t use technical jargon unless you explain it succinctly. If you’re being recorded for radio or TV, speak in brief sound bites and “headline” your responses by leading with the important information first, then adding details or supporting points.

Be different. If you feel 80 percent of the reporter’s sources will zig, consider a zag, if that’s appropriate.  Carve out what makes you or your message different and deliver your point of view in a bold and confident way. Being contrarian, if your view is genuine, is one of the best ways to be quoted.

Coin a phrase. Catch phrases and analogies, on the other hand, can break through and ensure your inclusion in a feature or news story.  If you can be the first to use a word like “recreativity” or “frankenstorm” then you’ll probably stay in the story. Colorful pop culture references or visual metaphors will also stand out.

Be nerdy. Nate Silver has made data geeks more appealing than ever. Pull out a couple of compelling statistics, a piece of research, or a factoid to underscore your point. Use wisely and sparingly.

Practice. Don’t assume a media chat is like a sales call (too commercial), but don’t be overly casual either. Your objective is to tell a story about your company or brand. Practice honing your messages and examples with anyone who’ll listen. Even if the interview’s over the phone and you can use notes, it’s a good idea to practice out loud.

Reference your own authority. Because your remarks are often subject to editing, it’s a good idea to reference your credentials occasionally and to mention your company at least once during the first three responses.  But don’t overdo it, or you risk being cut.

Can Thanksgiving Use Some Good PR?

Is it just me, or is Thanksgiving experiencing a kind of image problem that could use some shiny new PR? I’m not talking about the dinner – no one can tarnish turkey and trimmings. I mean the commercial encroachment that has turned it into “Thanks for giving up your holiday to shop obsessively!”

Some retailers have moved “Black Friday,” a fun shopping ritual of pre-dawn door busters and camaraderie to, essentially, “Black Thursday,” with employees leaving mid-meal to get to work and shoppers fleeing the table directly post-pumpkin pie. This is wrong on so many levels!

Other companies, like Nordstrom, have scored PR points by taking a stand against “black Thursday,” making the time right for a fresh Thanksgiving push. There are many elements already in place.

Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays where gifts are NOT expected, therefore PR messaging needs to stress the importance of severing it from consumerism and bringing it back to its core – giving and sharing with family, friends and strangers.

So, let’s talk turkey. Thanksgiving needs a spokesperson. If the Thanksgiving account were awarded to me, I would recommend creating a loveable, wholesome character, like a latter-day Santa or Easter Bunny, who can espouse the importance of sacred family time. The campaign elements could include an online contest component to crowd-source the character, give him or her a Facebook page and Twitter account, establish a mommy blogger advisory board, write a book with some “bold-faced’ names recounting beloved Thanksgiving meals, book a national media tour and voila, a campaign with legs.

I might also include a social media-driven petition drive aimed at taking back Thanksgiving.
Actually I would like to do that now, so please try to enjoy REAL Thanksgiving and put off shopping til at least sun-up Friday.

Is Oprah Still Relevant?

What does it say that the most notable Oprah story this Thanksgiving season was about her tweeted endorsement of the new Microsoft Surface tablet…posted, ironically, from an iPad? Critics of the Queen of Talk saw the tweet as a sign of hypocrisy, sloppiness, or lack of tech savvy.

Does it matter? Does she?

For so many years, Oprah was not only the most powerful endorser in the country, but she had a special relevance to the PR community. Most of us breathed a sigh of relief when she finally signed off in 2011, relinquishing her daily TV platform and an audience so vast that it will probably not be seen again in the age of media fragmentation. In particular, Oprah’s annual “favorite things” list brought fear – and opportunity – into hearts of PR pros. Who else boosts consumerism so cheerfully, skillfully, and shamelessly, to so loyal an audience?

And although her eponymous network, OWN, has struggled, Oprah astutely brought back her favorite things, right on schedule, for the 2012 holiday season. The list was featured in the magazine and achieved respectable levels of coverage, yet the most burning buzz was the iPad tweet.

On the surface – with pun intended – the iPad goof doesn’t matter much, if you consider it a goof at all.  The tech blogs and influencers who actually follow such things aren’t those who are swayed by the Oprah Effect.  And Oprah fans likely don’t care. Besides, many of us own multiple devices and the Surface probably doesn’t even have a  Twitter app yet.

But, on reflection, it’s more than bad optics. The genius of the Oprah endorsement for all these years is that somehow you believe that she believes. That she really loves the gold Uggs or the Williams Sonoma croissants, even though the list is clearly a commercial transaction. The Surface iPad tweet somehow undermines that fantasy.

The holiday list brought back Oprah the Endorser-in-Chief, but without the context of the day-to-day Oprah, the girlfriend, celebrity confidante, spiritual seeker, and dispenser of no-nonsense life advice. As many have written, the fragmentation of media, multiplicity of content choices, and the clear trend towards on-demand content consumption make a future Oprah not just unlikely, but virtually impossible.

And the fact that the Tweet-gate overshadowed the usual hubbub around the vaunted holiday list may be one more sign we have truly entered the post-Oprah era.

More Productive PR Meetings

There has been some buzz lately about the “walking meeting”. While not a new phenomenon, (Aristotle was said to have walked with his students as he taught) the most recent iteration is said to enable groups to be more productive and creative. While enjoying physical activity that energizes, group members are more alert and experiencing different environments which can inspire new ideas and stimulate new thinking.

But, let’s be realistic! In our busy back-to-back meeting packed day, the only walking you may do is down the hall for another cup of coffee. So for those meetings that must take place around a conference table, here are some tips to keep meetings crisp, on-pace and fruitful.

Determine the objective: Meeting agendas function as a roadmap for a meeting. They’re essential. Is this a regular weekly meeting? Are new plans and ideas being introduced, or just updates on ongoing projects? Make sure the agenda is designed with outcomes in mind. This will keep the team focused, on time and result in the most tangible next steps and agreed-upon plans.

You cannot be over-prepared: There’s no such thing when it comes to planning a meeting. Are there ample meeting agendas printed? Will visual aids be required? If multimedia is necessary, test out computer, video and audio beforehand or you may end up presenting with shadow puppets! Always have presentations backed up on a laptop or thumb drive in case you need access.

Ponder the participants: Does every team member need to be present? Unless they have a role, perhaps not. Make sure team members know their role whether they’re leading the meeting, explaining a section or coordinating refreshments and décor. Everyone should know their part.

Best Type of Skype: There are some specific rules for a Skype meeting including: think about your dress and surroundings before initiating or accepting a video call. Extremely casual dress, strange settings, colleagues walking by in the background, and close-up views of eating are just a few examples of Skype “don’ts”.

Make some noise: It may be instinctual for some to stick with the status quo during a meeting: Wrong! Of course there’s a time and place for comments, but feel free to express valuable thoughts and ideas that will help move the meeting forward.

Own your mistakes and learn from them: Every meeting offers an opportunity to improve. Are staff meetings losing steam over time? Are agenda items languishing from week to week? Is everyone on their iPhone?

Maybe you should try a walking meeting! We’d love to hear any meeting do’s and don’ts you may have.

This Thanksgiving PR Pros Are Thankful For…

By guest blogger Sodelba Alfaro

This time of year, we are all thankful for the usual blessings of family, friends, rewarding work and good health. This year however, many of us are grateful we survived both Hurricane Sandy and the November elections. But on a lighter note, our team wanted to use the occasion to reflect on some things that only PR pros may be thankful for. Take a look, give us your thoughts and enjoy next week’s holiday.

Monitoring Services – Services like TVEyes and Factiva monitor for broadcast and print media outlets. Thousands of interns in PR can thank these services for making a grueling task a lot easier.

Social Media – Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are places we spend time anyway – it’s a bonus that they have become such essential tools for brands to reach their consumers. (also quite handy for stalking media contacts and to find the latest cat meme. )

Clients – In addition to being the lifeblood of any agency – clients allow PR pros to master multitasking, hone diplomatic skills, flourish creatively and learn valuable “teamwork” lessons.

Co-workers – Allied co-workers are key to creating successful PR initiatives and they’ve got your back!

Smartphones – Smartphones help PR pros find directions to client meetings and allow us to answer important emails at 3:00am.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great source for keeping tabs on media contacts, competitors, former bosses and colleagues etc., while also keeping you updated with their career moves.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) – VPN computing allows PR pros to work from home in a crisis or just an average night, and allows us to create and report remotely.

Coffee – Coffee is the fuel that keeps PR pros going from early morning conference calls to late night networking mixers. How could we work without our double shot espressos and tall skinny vanilla lattes?

There are many things we can be thankful for but that is our short list. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

8 Ways To Manage Negative PR

It’s hard to predict, and even harder to handle appropriately. It may come in the form of a Google Alert, a phone call inviting comment, or an email from a customer or colleague. You, or your company, is being criticized in public.

Some say there’s no such thing as negative publicity, but most businesses who’ve been on the receiving end of harsh coverage or public criticism would disagree. Yet the way you handle a negative story can make all the difference. Here’s how to respond without fanning the flames of a negative situation.

First, weigh your response. Don’t hide. In most cases, a failure to react will only validate the criticisms, so an appropriate response is usually advisable. Yet there are exceptions. If the accusation isn’t credible (a rumor or Internet troll), there’s no need to dignify it. In a high-stakes situation where the facts aren’t yet clear, respond by saying so, and pledge to get to the truth as quickly as possible.

Don’t overreact. It’s easy to be emotional and use inflammatory or defensive language when attacked, especially if things get personal.  Recently a client drafted a lengthy post on his business site refuting “slanderous accusations” resulting from an intellectual property dispute. We convinced him that the post might raise more questions than it answered, particularly for customers with no knowledge of the situation. It pays to seek objective advice.

Ask for equal time. Most legitimate websites or news sources will let you have your say in response to a negative story. Where facts or details are wrong, insist on your right to set the record straight. Don’t threaten or bully; appeal instead to the journalist or blogger’s sense of accuracy. No one wants to get it wrong.

Use facts and figures and cite third-party sources. A convincing response is usually one that invokes objective facts or statistics. Where possible, quote third parties. Past recognition, company ratings and recommendations, or even satisfied customers will help you state your case.

Let your advocates defend you. If you have trusted customers or partners who are willing to be quoted or post comments in your defense, by all means, let them. The essence of reputation is what others say about you in public.

If appropriate, apologize. If your company has made an error, offer a prompt and sincere apology. Avoid weasel words like, “We’re sorry if anyone was offended.” Take responsibility, and more importantly, take steps to fix the situation or make amends.

Generate positive content where possible. Once the storm passes, help “push down” negative or unflattering stories or comments with fresh, positive, and highly searchable content. Step up your blogging; offer to guest post on an industry site; get quoted in a trade publication or site.

Ask yourself, is this an opportunity? Sometimes public criticism is actually a gift in disguise. It can be a chance to correct a problem or improve a product or service offering. If appropriate, thank your critic and take advantage of the opening to tout the fix.

This post was originally published on October 31, 2012 by MENGBlend.

How To Report To Multiple Managers

Ever feel like you have five different people talking to you at once and no clue whom to answer first?
At the busy PR firm where I work as an intern, I answer to three or four account managers. And while we could look at the negatives – Am I going to disappoint someone? Have I got the priorities straight? – I’d rather focus on the positives. Through my work “managing my many managers,” I have developed strategies that I find helpful when trying to meet the demands of (all) those at the top.

Know who’s really in charge

While you may have several superiors, most people usually have one “direct report,” the person primarily responsible for supervising their work. Thus, when you begin working in an environment where you report to multiple individuals, be sure to ask questions about the organization’s structure for reporting. These questions will not only help you get a better perspective of the organization as a whole, but also shed some light on who is most responsible for your career path.

Make your workload known

Let your bosses know exactly what you are working on by checking in with them on a regular basis or by creating a shared document that details the progress of each task you’ve been assigned. This will not only will this allow you to keep tabs on your own progress, but it will also give you a prime opportunity to show you bosses what a nice little proactive employee you are.

Set up “Do Not Disturb” time

If you find that your managers frequently come to you and ask questions, consider asking if you can set up uninterrupted periods where you can simply keep your “nose to the grindstone” and work. This option can help you keep focused while also providing an opportunity to structure everyone’s day a bit better.

Don’t take it to heart

Don’t interpret a mounting workload as a sign that your boss is out to get you. Instead, try to be proactive about issues and tasks as they come up (they wouldn’t assign them to you if they didn’t think you were up to the challenge!)
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions and give status updates because communication is your best tool.
Got any tips you’d like to share? Please add them to the comments section below.