Dorothy Crenshaw Quoted In An Article By The Boston Globe

Our team is excited to see our CEO Dorothy Crenshaw, Crenshaw Communications Founder, quoted in The Boston Globe article “When a Company is Praised by Bigots, What’s it to do?” New Balance is currently learning the hard way about crisis communications, facing a firestorm since the company praised the President-elect and Neo-Nazis ran with it. With the country sharply divided and racist rhetoric spiking in the aftermath of an ugly presidential election, Dorothy’s comments about companies and their political stances are worth reading!

How PR Agencies Set Budgets And Billing Rates

For any brand or business looking to bring on a PR agency, the cost of a quality public relations program is a key factor in the decision. Yet for the uninitiated, the different ways agencies budget and bill can be opaque, to say the least. That makes it difficult to get an apples-to-apples comparison when reviewing firms, and it sometimes sets off a circular discussion where the agency asks about available budget and the client holds back, hoping for an affordable rate.

In truth, there shouldn’t be any mystery about how PR agencies plan budgets and bill clients. Here we break down the fundamentals common to most firms.

How do agencies calculate their fees?

How agencies bill clients is largely a function of the time spent working on the client’s behalf, plus the degree of experience of each agency team member, no matter which method they choose.

Hourly billing. This is very common among agencies and is a direct reflection of the time spent on client activity. A typical agency’s hourly rates can range from $70 for an administrative staffer to $500 or more for a senior executive, so the trick is to have the proper staff mix for the job. Some clients report sticker shock when they get an invoice at the end of the month where senior staff attended meetings but didn’t appear to work on the account, so it’s important to know upfront who will participate. Many agencies adopt “blended rates” that average the hourly billing rates of core staff as a gentler alternative. For a detailed breakdown of how agencies calculate hourly rates and profitability, see Rick Gould’s Billing Rates Report for 2014.

Flat fee. A flat fee amortizes the total PR personnel budget over the duration of the engagement, usually in a standard monthly amount. It’s the simplest to manage and makes budget forecasting easy. On the flip side, the fee will be the same regardless of the amount of work put in by the agency team. The thinking behind a flat fee is that agency staff may overservice in a given month – for example, during a trade show or a major launch – but it will not request extra billing because it may then underservice during another, less busy month.

Project billing. For clients with short-term needs, like a launch campaign, many agencies offer project fees, typically in a single fee budget, billable in two or more installments, or at a set hourly rate against a cap. Most agencies set a minimum for project fees due to the time investment a team needs to get up to speed on a client or industry. Some clients like project billing because they don’t want to commit to a long-term agreement.

When might agencies charge more?

A good PR firm is likely to charge more than typical rates for highly specialized expertise, or for a sudden, “drop-everything” engagement like crisis management, where PR counselors will be working around the clock.

What about value pricing?

One interpretation of “value pricing” is where PR agencies act like management consultants, who charge a higher fee when the value of a positive business outcome is far higher than the time required by the agency. (If I can solve your business-threatening community relations problem by brokering a single meeting with an activist group where I have a close relationship, for example, I may charge more than just the three hours I spent at the meeting, because my intervention is worth far more than that.)

Another type of value pricing is what is often called “pay-for-placement.” This is where the client compensates the agency for each earned media placement, or for placements above a given quota. The idea is to incentivize the agency to generate lots of feature articles, items, and other deliverables for companies who may be short on cash, or who feel they require only publicity services, not messaging, media strategy or interview prep. Pay-for-placement is popular among some smaller and start-up companies, yet it’s also controversial. When TechCrunch discovered a PR agency was charging $750 for a post in its publication, it promptly banned the agency on the grounds that it was unethical. For most PR agencies, pay-for-placement is a non-starter because it overlooks the value of strategic PR and rewards a short-term approach to media and client relationships.

How do agencies set rates? What factors influence what it charges?

Seniority of staff. Most agencies are selling time, talent, and experience. The greater the experience, the higher the billing rate.

Size and overhead. See that shiny new video production studio at your agency’s headquarters? You’re paying for it. A larger firm will naturally have a bigger overhead to cover, and a smaller agency will typically have lower overhead and gentler rates. Smaller agencies also offer less depth and a smaller scope of services, so matching a client’s needs to breadth of services is important. You don’t want to pay for lots of services that aren’t needed, yet you also want to avoid outgrowing your agency within a year or two.

Specialist expertise. As noted, specialized experience can come with a higher billing rate, particularly during an economic boom where there’s a shortage of professionals with that expertise. Experience in emerging technologies, specialized healthcare treatments or products, or international regulation will often come at a premium, for the simple reason that those professionals can command higher salaries in the PR labor marketplace.

How can clients determine if billing is fair?

Most clients shop around and compare agency proposals and budgets. Once a relationship has begun, they ask for regular activity and results reporting, and some request staff timesheets to ensure that the time is being spent well. Frequent communication – with formal check-ins a minimum of once a week – is highly recommended.

But timesheets and meetings only go so far. The best way for any company to assess its return on investment for a PR expenditure is to agree upon success metrics in advance.

There isn’t a universal formula for measuring PR success. But with a reasonable investment of time and budget in advance of the relationship, most clients can agree on methods that measure what PR does well, as outlined in this post about public relations outcomes measurement.

PR Looks At Content Trends For 2017

From the mobile video explosion to emerging social platforms, 2016 has brought many content-related developments that affect the public relations industry and the work PR people do every day. A look at the year in review offers some clues as to what 2017 year has in store. Here are five content predictions for 2017 that all PR people should note.

Video goes vertical.  2016 had seen a spike in the popularity of video, and one reason is that vertical platforms like Snapchat and Periscope are popular for smartphone video consumption. Beyond the vertical format, users now have so many different ways to watch video, and the hunger for great video content is so great, that PR agencies are investing heavily there. Agencies are having to think of new, creative ways to use video for selling a product or message. This entertaining video from Eloqua uses animation to keep the target audience engaged. And as PR people continue to master the medium, the emphasis on video will only grow.

Mo’ mobile!  2017 will see more advances in mobile, including more efficient interfaces for a better and more customized user experience. One example is from athletic shoe and appeal store Finish Line.  According to a study by the Pew Research Center, of people getting news on desktop or mobile, more prefer mobile (56% to 42% who prefer desktop). The roaring success of Pokémon Go means we’re ready to embrace VR and augmented reality, so get ready!

Long live long-form. Even though it might seem like everyone wants snackable news or nuggets in 140 characters, there’s still an audience for long-form content. If the content is good enough, people are willing to stick along for the ride. One of the year’s very best pop culture pieces can be found on Bill Simmons’ new website The Ringer, which often publishes long-form pieces about sports, pop culture and politics. Site editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey recently wrote a long-form examination of the current state of the film industry through the eyes of filmmakers, industry insiders and experts. At more than 6500 words, the article is a very long read for any medium, let alone online. But Fennessey’s piece received very positive feedback, and if you’re a fan of movies and pop culture, you didn’t want it to end.

Content gets “real.” We now have access to an endless stream of content, where we want it, when we want it. This means that PR agencies are expected to produce more content across a wider range of platforms than ever. But while more outlets means more opportunities for placement, there are still some obstacles, like fake news. It’s possible that PR or marketing staff would be tempted to get “creative” as an easy way to get press, but our hope is that legit news sources will keep everyone on the straight and narrow. The Washington Post points out several ways to detect fake news, starting with the site of origin. For PR people, the challenge is to create high-quality content that’s compulsively shareable, but that doesn’t fall back on clickbait or worse.

Content will be automated. We have mixed feelings about this one. The Content Marketing Institute predicts that, with the right technology finally in place, promotional and even journalistic content is poised for automation. We’ve already heard about pilot efforts in this area in journalism; earlier this year Associated Press used “robot journalists” to write earnings stories. Artificial intelligence is also finding its way into content marketing, which means it’s only a matter of time until data-driven storytelling gives way to automated content creation.
But despite the advent of AI, quality content will always need to be relevant, compelling, and informed by insight, which can only come with the human touch.

Five Key Skills For Modern PR Professionals

To succeed in public relations today, professionals need the skills to fit in with this ever-changing industry. Technology – from marketing automation to Virtual Reality –  has done much to change the paradigm. It’s still essential to have strong writing skills and think like a reporter, but there’s a full complement of skills that help PR whizzes succeed to their fullest potential. Here’s a look at some.

Harnessed hypercreativity. Hypercreativity – the state of extreme creativity – can be a negative, but, if harnessed, it’s a PR person’s best friend.  Beyond traditional outlets, there are countless opportunities to flex creative muscles on behalf of clients, including podcasts, social content sites like Mic and Medium and enhanced social media platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram videos.  The most skilled among us push creative limits to come up with new content ideas for the mindboggling media options out there.

Smart diplomacy. The balance between clients, partners, press and colleagues demands consistent diplomacy, with an edge. There are daily negotiations to confirm client contractual agreements, make good on media requests, and meet staff needs. A misunderstanding means the agency exec must course-correct with a perfectly worded memo or conversation. And although none of these interactions has the gravitas or implications of political negotiation, there’s a reason it’s called office politics.

Resourceful researching.  It is incumbent upon a PR professional to learn about a client and its industries before the account is landed. On any given day, we may become SMEs on businesses as varied as digital apps, package goods or professional services. The ability to be a quick study, research well and quickly, and synthesize large amounts of information is key. Understanding topics beyond a conversational level helps convey credibility and confidence and makes client and media conversation much more fluid. For example, our client WhiteClouds, the largest 3DSaaS provider in the world, looks to our team to “get” industry jargon and make it easily understandable to press. This skill has enabled us to better leverage media opportunities resulting in business leads for the company.  Of course, fluency in the latest political news, pop culture, business trends, and social media advances is also helpful.

Strong organizational skills.  It’s always been important to have good organizational skills in PR for simultaneous management of client projects. And while technology has definitely made the daily process easier – with apps such as Google Calendar or  PocketInformant –  a skill for prioritization is a must for a public relations professional to juggle the demands of different accounts having discrete projects. Balancing and prioritizing clients can be tricky and overwhelming, so look for organizing tips like these to help strengthen your skill set.

Confident public speaking. A cornerstone of public relations is strong verbal communications. Yet it can suffer as we all talk less and text or type more. Verbal communication (and non-verbal behavior like body language) is especially important when addressing a group – whether presenting to decision-makers at a new business meeting or presiding over an industry event. The best way to hone skills is by doing, but formal training is a valuable shortcut. Check out this Ted Talk on improving public speaking skills to increase proficiency and minimize stress so that any PR career is unbounded.

How PR And Content Marketing Can Work Together

Public relations and content marketing are powerful when they work together. This is particularly true for B2B PR programs designed to educate prospective customers and push them down the funnel to a point of purchase. But too often, the disciplines and even their teams are distinct. Many PR practitioners naturally prioritize the generation of earned media coverage over content creation because of its credibility and SEO influence. For its part, content marketing has become so popular that there’s a “lowest common denominator” effect, with mediocre or redundant content dominating and crowding digital channels.

But when they work in concert, PR and content marketing are a 1+1+3 situation. Here are some ways to enhance the collaboration and make it work harder.

Have joint planning sessions

This is obvious, but many agencies outsource heavy content production, and it’s easy to lose something in the process. Whether handled internally or outside a PR agency or department, it’s helpful for the teams to plan and brainstorm together so that each can learn from the other. We believe at least one team member responsible for content should be on every major client briefing.

Unify PR and content under a singular theme

In many cases, the narrower, the better. Broader topics may seem easier for informing an editorial calendar, but a more targeted theme often works better for attracting true prospects, not just browsers. Long-tail keywords are rarer than the broader, “fatter” terms, but they are far more likely to attract serious prospects. So, while a keyword like “business software” turns up in thousands of searches, “DIY marketing automation software” will likely be a better term.

Never discount earned media

It’s still extremely important for any B2B or consumer content marketing program. Backlinks from top-rated domains major newspapers or news sites boost SEO to high levels, and a good content marketing program can amplify glowing earned media like product reviews  or feature stories.

Start content well head of a key launch or event

In pharmaceutical PR, they call it “conditioning the market.” A campaign will raise awareness about a set of symptoms or a condition through heavy content marketing (my favorite example is Glaxo’s “restless leg syndrome” effort), then follow it with a PR push to generate earned media for the launch of a new drug. Similarly, even companies that lack the deep pockets of a pharmaceutical giant can do an effective job with a content program that sets up a common or emerging business problem, to condition prospective customers for the announcement of the solution.

Don’t be afraid of long-form content

Like the narrower topics and keywords, this one is counterintuitive for many PR professionals. Yet Google ranks longer content more highly than short posts. A top-ranked piece of content is typically more of more than 2000 words. More importantly, a high-quality white paper, study, or other long-form content can be used for months or even years to attract prospects, as long as the topic is reasonably “evergreen” and it’s promoted properly. It can also be remarketed in shorter chapters or posts, which offers the best of both worlds.

Let influencers be a bridge

Influencer marketing is one way to build a connection between the earned media relations of a PR program and a content marketing outreach. A white paper or ebook that offers insight and ideas from industry figures like analysts or bloggers can help build relationships with those very influencers while heightening the credibility necessary to generate earned media mentions.

Use data to inform the editorial calendar, but not the content

Particularly in technology PR, people are brainwashed to think that blog posts and articles should be packed with data the way we might pitch a reporter on a new trend. Relax. As PR and content professional Frank Strong said,”Eyeballs glaze over with data, but most people remember stories.”

PR Touts The Season’s Top Turkeys

Typically public relations agencies like to count the things we’re thankful for at this time of year. These lists often include new technology-based PR tools or the latest social or other media platforms. But given these crazy times, we thought it more fitting to discuss some of the boneheaded PR moves we have seen lately. We’re also thankful for these, since they offer cautionary tales and can sometimes help us raise our game.

Ryan Lochte swims into murky reputation waters. As if swimmer Ryan Lochte’s juvenile behavior at the Olympics weren’t bad enough, he then compounded it by lying to the media. Where was solid PR and reputation advice when this was going down? We don’t know, but we see evidence of a “redemption tour” as Lochte appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” — often the first stop on any path back from PR perdition, followed by the announcement of his impending nuptials. The public is a sucker for wedding stories. So, is all forgiven? Lochte will have to wait and see.

Drug company CEO suffers public outrage. How did Mylan CEO Heather Bresch not learn from Turing Pharmaceutical’s Martin Shkreli’s experience? First Shkreli raised consumer ire by increasing the price of antimalaria drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent. His bad behavior on social media and lack of respect for a congressional investigation only made the condition worse. We wondered if maybe his publicized offer to allow someone to punch or slap him in the face was a step in the right PR direction. Yet even in the wake of Shkreli’s awful press, Mylan CEO Bresch seemed to disregard the needs of millions of allergy sufferers by authorizing a price increase of 500% for the Epi-Pen. What was her corporate communications team thinking? Bresch has yet to offer free face-punches, as her company continues to take a beating after the kerfuffle.

Wounded Warrior Project hurt by reputation damage. Nothing disgusts the public like a charity cheating scandal. When respected veterans’ organization Wounded Warrior Project was called on the carpet earlier this year for mismanaging funds, the PR alarm was heard loud and clear. Top execs were accused of spending millions on parties, hotels and travel. It tarnished the reputation of one of the most revered veterans’ groups. Charity Navigator, a group that oversees nonprofit organizations, placed Wounded Warrior Project on its watch list and donations are down by 25%. In the ensuing days, WWP did retain a PR firm to help rehabilitate its rep. But it makes us wonder what their PR strategists had been doing before the crisis hit and if they knew about the malfeasance.

Wells Fargo ruins reputation with cross-selling scandal. Scrooge came early this year when it was discovered that Wells Fargo had engaged in fraudulent selling practices. The bank had pressured salespeople to cross-sell to customers. When sales didn’t legitimately happen, the beleaguered staffers opened two million fake accounts in customer names. The degree of fraud was pervasive, and the damage to Wells Fargo’s reputation, incalculable. Management compounded the bad news by seeming to blame employees. Ultimately, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf stepped down under intense pressure. Now the bank is clawing its way back into the public’s good graces beginning with folksy new advertising. Time will tell.

Google and Facebook struggle with fake news. Not all click bait leads to faux news stories, but it appears much of it does. Google, Facebook and other top sites face a public backlash over the role fake content might have played in the U.S. presidential election.  The more relevant story for PR is the continued blurred lines between what is news and what is paid content. It’s troubling that it seems it matters less to some readers who get all their “news” from their favorite online sites. If we do live in a “post-truth” era as some pundits have posited, it becomes even more important for the public relations industry to continue to craft newsworthy, relevant and yes, accurate stories to engage media and readers. Both Google and Facebook have said they’ll restrict ads to fake sites, which will cut off their money stream, but Facebook in particular is still in denial about its identity – like it or not – as a media company.

PR Lessons From Top TV And Film

Film and TV are two great places to find helpful and interesting takes on public relations and media. As far back as 1957’s “Sweet Smell of Success” starring Tony Curtis as a less than scrupulous PR man, there have been media depictions, good, bad and ugly, of the industry and its players. Every so often it’s important to see how PR and journalism are portrayed in popular media and what we can take away from these portrayals.

Better Call Saul. A spinoff from TV’s beloved “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” focuses on Jimmy McGill (who eventually becomes Saul Goodman), and how he became the sleazy lawyer/fan favorite who played a crucial role in “Breaking Bad.” Nicknamed “Slippin’ Jimmy,” we see McGill make one ethically questionable decision after the next, just to get attention and build his brand and practice. In one memorable scene, McGill is filming an ad at a billboard he recently bought near a New Mexico highway. He is talking about what he offers and himself in general, when a worker suddenly falls from the billboard and is left dangling. McGill climbs the billboard and rescues the worker. We come to realize, however, was that this was staged by McGill to make him look heroic and gain press coverage – which it does. While this type of stunt is cheesy and dishonest, there is and always will be a place for fun, pithy PR stunts, like Lyft’s offer of Delorean trips to ride the “Back To The Future” craze on October 21, 2015.

OJ: Made In America.  “OJ: Made In America” offers a detailed account of all things OJ, from his humble beginnings, to his superstar USC days, through his murder trial and acquittal, to the sad aftermath. The OJ Simpson trial was perhaps the biggest media event of the 90s, with all eyes (and cameras) on the case at all times. One noteworthy part of the saga centers on the infamous day when, fleeing a warrant for his arrest, OJ takes off in a Ford Bronco with his friend Al Cowlings behind the wheel. Police followed him down the freeway in Los Angeles, with cameras rolling and the whole country watching. This charade ushered in the kind of “wall-to-wall” news cycle event coverage that has become de rigueur in recent times whether an event warrants it or not. It has also helped shape how PR people craft messages and pitch certain stories, paying particular attention to how a story will play out beyond a one-time hit.

Weiner. “Weiner,” a recent documentary about disgraced politician Anthony Weiner’s campaign for New York City Mayor, comes with plenty of advice for public relations people. The film follows Weiner as he (unsuccessfully) mounts a comeback and tries to restore his tarnished image years after he was found to be sexting underage women on multiple occasions, and then lying about it. The film is chock-full of Weiner strategizing with his public relations team. He consults on everything from how the media covers the scandal and his eventual mayoral run, to when and where wife Huma Abedin should appear. While most of us will (hopefully) never have to deal with crisis PR like the crazy and volatile Weiner situation, the film is instructive in how it shows media advisers making snap decisions.

Money Monster. Anyone who has worked in public relations knows the tension created by a live broadcast interview. There’s often a bit of nail-biting as we wonder how a company spokesperson will deliver “key messages” in a three-minute chat, or how far a host will veer from agreed-upon questions. Sometimes we worry about the right props, or the proper brand mention. Starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” incorporates these PR anxieties into its plot. As we wrote about here, the movie portrays  a behind-the-scenes look at TV production that  surpasses the garden-variety anxieties that PR people are prone to, yet it also offers a reminder of on-camera interview do’s and don’ts.

Spotlight. Last year’s Academy Award winner for best picture, “Spotlight,” tells the true story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who exposed child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Boston. Throughout the movie, the team investigates the case through endless interviews and research, struggling to obtain clear evidence before publishing. And as the tension boils and the film reaches its climax, the team must decide whether they have sufficient information to finally go to press. It comes down to a judgment call where making the wrong decision could have serious consequences. In our dealings with journalists, when to publish a high-profile or sensitive story is a balancing act where the rush to beat competitors must be weighed against the merits and credibility of sources. PR people can often act as a catalyst, providing updates and more data to help a reporter complete a story.

How PR Is Easing Election Anxiety

For those who work in B2B tech or consumer public relations, the next couple of days may not be spent pitching media stories about software or healthy snacks. It’s our hunch that no matter what the beat, journalists will be sticking to pre-and post-election coverage for a while. The 2016 election has caused angst for just about anyone, from bankers to schoolteachers, but PR people have a particular challenge because we spend so much time trying to get our clients’ stories in the news. In the spirit of endless polling, we decided to query friends at other PR agencies to see what they’re doing to relieve the anxiety for the next 24 hours. Here are some of the best tips.

Can your clients be part of the story?

Even if you don’t represent any personality, product or service related to politics, there are ways to enter the conversation. Think about angles for post-election stories where your client has a particular POV or is in an industry that the new administration policies will touch. That’s nearly every industry. Some can help in a bipartisan way; in Philly, Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to the polls.

Announce your not-so-good news

Tepid earnings? Time to quietly pull back on a mediocre product? Now would be an excellent time to dump an announcement. No one will notice.

Distraction, distraction, distraction

If the election is just too controversial for newsjacking (as is the case for most clients), consider this – what business task have you been putting off? Updating client plans, advising on 2017 CEO predictions, or simply ordering gifts for industry BFFS — why not do them now. It beats watching the same news over and over again with nothing really changing.

Reach out to former clients and colleagues

Always a good end-of-year activity, but now might just be a good time to re-connect in general. As a colleague said to me,”with all the election discord,  a friendly hello is really welcome.” Just don’t mention anything political.

Like minds think alike

The exception to the rule above. If you are confident that clients, media friends and others share your views, send something congenial to rally everyone’s spirits and try to mitigate the stress. Nothing feels better during divisive times than messages that show we are all in this together. We are fond of this Snapchat pantsuit filter ourselves.

Take a break

If you’ve just been too disgusted to read your newsfeed or any election coverage of late, you’re not alone. There are reports that for some, the exhaustive media coverage is taking its toll physically. So, consider taking a walk, reading some good gossip or just chatting with a friend about anything other than politics.

Get immersed in the issues

If you absolutely can’t tear yourself away from the coverage, at least be smart about it and get some of the fairest, most insightful, least biased reporting – watching election night returns with the sound off, or tuning into C-SPAN.

Brainstorm beyond the election

Someday, this will all be behind us and reporters will be looking for all kinds of fresh stories on varied topics. As a PR industry pal recently remarked, “We want to be there when that happens!”

Six Ways To "Hack" Your PR Program

Despite becoming more data-driven in recent years, public relations is still a relatively low-tech business. That’s one reason the $5 million fundraise by AirPR, which builds analytics tools to measure PR’s impact, was notable in PR and technology startup circles. Compared to digital marketing and advertising, which has only become more automated over time, our methods — particularly the generation of earned media — are exquisitely inefficient. The media relations aspect of PR is largely based on personal relationships, human judgment, and experience — all excellent attributes, but they’re hard to scale.

But as in any undertaking, there are ways to “hack” your PR programming. Even top PR and media relations professionals need to refresh their methods with new tools and technologies.  Here are six ways to do that, with an emphasis on the all-important media relations engine.

Shortcuts That Fuel Earned Media Results

Use new toolsA basic media database tool like Cision and query site ProfNet are indispensable for media relations pros. But there are newer “hacks” like email acceleration software (we like ToutApp), and email search tools like Connectifier or SellHack for hard-to-find email addresses. Other indispensable hacks include the BreakingNews app for emerging stories, and―if budget allows―competitive monitoring engines like TrendKite.

Find original data.  A couple of fresh data points can add punch to a ho-hum media pitch ― especially if they’re original and up-to-the-minute. It pays to go beyond widely available stats from public-domain sources; think instead about an inexpensive, single-question surveys to probe customer attitudes about an emerging issue. Or invest in a paywalled analyst report for trend statistics to enliven an evergreen pitch.

Collect and cultivate freelancers.  All good PR people have relationships at key media outlets, of course. But sometimes we overlook freelancers and other “gig” contributors, whose numbers are increasing as traditional media outlets shrink. These contacts can be a gold mine of information and access, particularly when it comes to cracking morning television or top-tier print publications. Because they have their own relationships and contacts, they sometimes end up doing some of the work for us.  And when it comes to broadcast media, contributors often have greater flexibility to work in brand messages or feature products than actual network television employees.

Jump on foreseeable news.  Thanks to David Meerman Scott, nearly everyone knows the term “newsjacking” — hitching a ride on a breaking story to generate attention for your client. The challenge here is timing; news breaks faster and faster, and the window of opportunity to jump on a story is shrinking. That’s why so many brands are looking at real time marketing as the social media version of newsjacking, with a broader window and greater control over a socially shared piece of content. A great example is Excedrin’s recent social hashtag campaign tied to the third and final presidential debate. #DebateHeadache hashtag was obviously prepared well in advance, but its tone and timing gave it an air of immediacy and even news value.

Conduct media training early.  I’ve been hesitant to do a full-blown media prep session at the outset of a program because there can be a time lag between a PR program start and a key media opportunity, but it’s a useful hack.  One reason is because it’s nearly always a learning experience for client and agency, with new information coming up in practice interviews and discussions about messaging and sound bites. And there are practical reasons to prep early. As noted, many media interview opportunities arise suddenly without the chance for a formal session. A prepared spokesperson always gives a stronger interview, and a stronger interview makes a better story.

Ensure social sharing for big stories.  There was a time when we were content to land a top-tier profile for a big announcement and we thought the job was done. No longer. Today a good media relations pro will negotiate to secure favorable timing and messaging for the piece, but also to ensure that the content is amplified through social media sharing.  Most journalists have large followings on Twitter or Medium, and they’re eager to build their personal brands by promoting the stories they create. So every PR person should work with journalists to make content shareable and shared.

An earlier version of this post appeared on MENGonline on October 26.