Crenshaw Client MediaRadar Hosts Packed Panel on Advertising Trust

Crenshaw Communications recently produced a well-attended and engaging panel discussion as part of ongoing thought leadership efforts for ad intelligence client MediaRadar.

“Transparency & Trust: What the Future Looks Like in a Programmatic World” featured Tanya Dua of Business Insider as moderator and included participants from GroupM, Sizmek, LinkedIn, Vox Media and The Trade Desk. MediaRadar CEO & Co-Founder Todd Krizelman represented the client on the panel, which drew 80+ attendees for an evening of provocative conversation and refreshments, including rave-worthy truffle popcorn.

Check out our post on everything needed to produce a successful B2B PR panel event.

Check Out These PR-Driven Holiday Stories

We empathize with those handling the public relations for NBC’s “Today” show, entrepreneur Russell Simmons, or any brands touched by scandal, but it’s time for a break. It seems our world is rocked by reports of disturbing behavior nearly every day. This holiday season, Santa’s naughty list will be very, very long. But in the spirit of hope and good cheer, we went looking for some positive stories that can take a bit of the current gloom away, at least until the next crisis comes.

Home Depot mobilizes a strong effort for veterans.

As we’ve written before, corporations that want to create a corporate social responsibility program that benefits veterans must be thoughtful and demonstrate a real commitment to vets. A strong veterans’ initiative should have a dignified tone and tackle a legitimate need so as not to be newsjacking the cause for a quick PR push. Home Depot is doing it right. The company’s foundation gave a grant to Army veteran Patrick Benson for his idea to help returning soldiers fight the horrors of PTSD through equine therapy. His organization,  War Horses for Veterans, offers service members the opportunity to connect with one another, and their animals, on a ranch. We have long known the benefits of equine therapy in treating many psychological conditions, and it seems those with PTSD respond remarkably well. We also like that Home Depot is providing building materials for the ranch setting, which makes this one is a natural fit.

Hanes foots the bill for socks for the homeless.

Since its National Sock Drive debuted in 2009, Hanes has donated more than 2 million pairs of socks to organizations fighting homelessness across the United States. That’s already a pretty great accomplishment, particularly since its partner organizations, including The Salvation ArmyDelivering Good, and Covenant House,  tell the brand that socks and underwear continue to be the most requested items for the homeless. This year the brand has gone one step further and is working with  Invisible People. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to changing the story of homelessness in the United States by creating real-life stories of veterans, mothers, children, those impacted by job loss and other circumstances who have been forced to the streets. This leap into storytelling brings another dimention to the campaign and adds an important new piece to the outreach. It also helps the brand’s PR and social efforts.

LipSlut puts its money where its mouth is.

This smart upstart in the cosmetics world creates controversial lipstick brands like F#ck Trump. The product was created in 2016 as a reaction to the election, the first and only lipstick to donate to various women’s charities.

Lipslut has been quick to pounce when it comes to tapping into the cultural zeitgeist. The brand just announced the launch of F#ck Hollywood, and, you guessed it, all sales support sexual assault survivors. Purchasers choose one of six anti-violence organizations to receive 100 percent of the proceeds. And the brand has proven so successful, it will now start to market its own merchandise. You know you want a LipSlut hat or t-shirt this holiday!

The delicious story of We Dine Together.

No one presents good news better than Steve Hartman on NBC. Each week he finds a story of generosity guaranteed to warm even the Grinch’s cold, cold heart. The story of a student at a Florida high school who couldn’t stand seeing any kid eating lunch alone is a perfect example. Though high school senior Denis Estimon became a well-liked football player, years ago he had emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti and knew what it was like to be lonely at lunch. So he created We Dine Together. The club seeks out kids who appear to be “starving for company” and makes sure they’re never eating alone again. The idea has become so popular that Denis has overseen creation of several We Dine Together clubs across the country. Here is such a wonderful idea that we wonder why logical corporate sponsors —  Glad Sandwich Bags, Applegate Farms or Arizona Ice Tea — for example, aren’t all over this! You’re welcome.

A royal love story conquers all. 

This one doesn’t have or need a corporate sponsor, but it’s a great story. In our uncertain and often frightening world, what beats a fairy tale romance come to life? Right about now, we can all use a little Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s not just the “Prince and the Showgirl” Grace Kelly-type storyline that is so appealing. The couple both work hard for different and worthwhile charitable causes. Meghan has had a successful, fulfilling career, and most importantly, the royal romance seems to usher in a new, contemporary acceptance by the Crown. The bride-to-be is older than the prince, divorced, and of mixed race, yet the Royal Family (and the world) are fully embracing the couple. This modern attitude by the staid Windsors is a welcome breath of fresh air. And, as noted, we can all use some of that right now.

A PR Wish List For Holiday 2017

It’s never too early in the holiday season to start thinking about “gifts” that would improve the public relations industry. The PR business has changed and innovated rapidly, and new tech tools and services are fairly common, for there is much to appreciate. But our list has more to do with ideas we feel will elevate the industry as a whole.

What’s on our holiday PR wish list

Prospects who take PR agency searches seriously

Let’s face it, an agency search is arduous and time-consuming on both sides. Yet for a typical PR agency, particularly a small firm, participation in a formal search is a big decision and a major time commitment. We typically interview the prospect and based on the outcome of the discussion, gauge the odds of winning the business, determine how to budget and staff for the pitch and roll the dice on a positive outcome.

Teams work hard to learn about the category and the organization and spend time on creative proposals, sometimes under unrealistic time constraints. In an ideal world, within a week or two they are awarded the business or informed that they didn’t make the cut. Yet this isn’t always the case. Many companies, perhaps well-intentioned at the outset, go through the motions of hiring a firm, only to disappear after collecting proposals and interviewing teams. If all companies were to treat the undertaking in a serious, considerate and equitable way, agencies and partners would enjoy more trust at the outset and the process would work harder for both sides.

PR up-and-comers who work to improve their content skills

With fewer journalists working, there are more opportunities for those in PR to produce quality content. This means all of the excellent writers out there at PR firms can expand their capabilities and contribute more on behalf of clients. It also provides opportunity for those just starting out in the business to flex their writing muscles. That’s why we want to see junior staffers working hard to improve basic writing skills – expanding beyond press releases and pitches – to master blog posts, bylined articles, video scripts, speeches and more. Ideally, everyone in an agency would clamor for the opportunity to write, and agency leaders would create an inclusive approach, offering teaching and exercises to bring writing quality up a level or two.

More media respect for the public relations industry

Sigh…it’s the age-old conflict. Journalists need PR people, and PR people surely need journalists. The two groups often work very well together, but there’s tension. A quality PR team will carefully research media contacts to craft relevant pitches tailored to specific journalists. Even if a story doesn’t follow, a good relationship is preserved. But there are firms who cut corners on research and adopt the “spray and pray” technique of email blasting everyone on a huge list. They waste media time out of ignorance, pressure, or laziness. In our experience, these mistakes aren’t typical, but some journalists generalize and paint all PR people with the same scornful brush. Yet, what would media do if PR “took a holiday” and sent no pitches or releases for a few days? Their jobs would instantly be harder. We like to think that due to the mostly positive, symbiotic relationship the two industries enjoy, mutual respect exists and both parties can only do more to foster it.

Clients who know what PR can and can’t do

Any top agency spends time managing client expectations, and if needed, educating clients on what PR can and cannot accomplish. We’ve tackled the topic before, but it’s worth revisiting. In a nutshell, a good PR program can be most effective at packaging a company’s story to resonate with reporters, even creating news during quiet periods; augmenting a sales and marketing effort; and helping shape and manage an executive’s public image. But PR is not a substitute for advertising. Even the best PR campaign can’t make up for a bad product or faulty design. Most importantly, PR does not exist in a vacuum. It takes a commitment of time and talent on both sides to fulfill its potential.

Innovative ways to work with ad, marketing, and SEO partners

Those of us in PR also relish opportunities to partner with others in complementary disciplines. For example, is the brand gearing up for a daring ad campaign that the PR firm might augment with some trade press? Or, might a paid media campaign support and amplify earned media like positive product reviews?  Maybe a hot-topic panel discussion could involve a brand’s SEO team for optimum results. Any company initiative is worth examining for PR potential and the ability to regularly pow-wow with relevant partners helps mine golden opportunities for all involved. That’s the real gift of collaboration!

Top PR Holiday Pitching Tips

Tis the season for public relations‘ best and brightest to wield creative wit and savvy strategy in the name of meaningful holiday media placements. There are countless opportunities in print, digital and broadcast available with a little research, packaging and know-how. And, despite the calendar, digital media seem to publish holiday-themed news until the 11th hour, so it’s almost never too late to pitch a good idea.

Obviously, the best PR teams began pitching long-lead print outlets back in July, but those publications actually occupy a relatively small and super-select number of opportunities. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and explore all the other options.

Seize all holiday PR opportunities

Make lists (and check them twice)

Media love interesting lists. Think gift round-ups with a twist (“Top Gifts for Vegans” or “Must-Have Outfits for That First Tinder Holiday Date”) or “Best and Worst” lists for a particular industry. Try to surround a client submission with other non-competing products or services. Pull the whole idea together as an infographic or slide show to illustrate for media, especially for digital who could end up using piece as is.

Predictions are a perennial

Prognosticating about the future is a surefire story for many industry pubs at the end of the year. The key is to stand out from the crowd with trend outlooks and forecasts. We recommend taking a contrarian view where possible, but only if it authentically represents a company’s position. Work very hard to make sure the email subject line for this kind of mailing is anything but “me too” so that media will be less inclined to lump it in with more perfunctory prediction pitches.

Look back at learnings

Another reliable story for the holidays is one from a thought leader commenting on leading industry takeaways. It can be a great vehicle for showcasing a CEO or other individual’s smarts as well as a nice excuse to reach out and crowdsource a piece. The different voices will ensure that it’s not perceived as too self-serving and open up relationships that could include your company in someone else’s round-up.

Take advantage of a slower holiday news cycle

While a brand may not want to make a major new product announcement between Christmas and New Year’s – a notoriously slower season – it is often an ideal time to serve up a positive feature story. PR people face less competition and the media are often hungry for a feel-good story during holiday time. Here are some excellent examples for inspiration.

Package that feel-good story in advance

Begin working with PR teams to sniff out some positive, lighthearted news to share during the holidays. CSR-results stories work well here, as do tales of local do-goodery. These include everything from simple toy and meal deliveries in local markets to the grander gesture – something like WestJet’s annual Christmas Miracles campaign.

Craft a seasonal survey

The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to poll the populace on a timely topic. Through the years we have looked at holiday spending, sleeping and travel habits, to name a few. But there are many topics ripe for the picking – for example, for a health-related business, consider querying about worst holiday hospital emergencies. Or, for a wine or spirits company, find a twist on holiday alcohol consumption like this recent survey did.

Offer holiday survival tips

Whether it’s a compendium of tips for dealing with difficult relatives, baking on a budget or traffic tricks to save time and lives, this type of pitch is a winner during the holidays. Once again, strive to provide an original slant, package the information creatively and be sure to offer up an expert for media to interview in conjunction with the advice.

Leverage holiday icons

Rarely does a year go by without some clever PR person creating a story about how long it would really take Santa to deliver gifts to every child or the true cost of gifts in the “12 Days of Christmas.”  (PNC Bank does this every year!) Look for a way a company or product can have an original take on a familiar holiday trope. Perhaps this year, in honor of Hanukkah, a fuel company will tackle how much oil would have been needed to light candles for eight days and generate some fun press.

Don’t forget social sharing

Yes, it’s the sharing season. Whatever tactics your team chooses to implement this holiday season, be sure to amplify them through social media. Take survey results and post to Twitter and LinkedIn. Get some great shots of that “feel-good” story or some colorful tips and post to Instagram. Use video to capture the CEO forecasting the industry future for YouTube. The holiday possibilities are endless.

How To Engage Millennials In Corporate Social Responsiblity

When it comes to philanthropy, Americans are a generous bunch. A natural disaster tends to create its own PR appeals, and in 2017, millions responded. We opened our wallets to help victims of floods, fires, and other catastrophes, and the giving season has only just begun. The sixth annual #givingTuesday on November 28 will probably smash 2016’s record-breaking haul of $168 million in charitable donations and thousands of hours donated to those in need.

Whether you’re a nonprofit targeting donors or a corporation trying to build customer and employee engagement through a giving program, there is one group of consumers who stand out — millennials.

According to the the Millennial Impact Report, the millennial generation became more engaged in philanthropic causes in 2017 than in prior years.  Most Americans say they’ll buy a product because a company advocates for an issue important to them, but millennials are more likely to actively research a company’s positions, and to exclude brands that don’t pass muster. As their approach exerts more and more influence on charitable giving, millennials are even changing the way philanthropy operates. According to an insightful piece in The New York Times, “Millennials expect transparency, sophisticated storytelling and technical savvy from their charitable organizations.”

The millennial generation has led the way in online and mobile giving, and many will leverage their personal and professional social networks to support causes that inspire them.
Enlightened companies are well aware of the giving power of millennials. Many are adopting new CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs or changing existing campaigns programs to ensure greater relevance to rising generations of customers and partners. Here are some ways for savvy organizations to develop CSR campaigns that appeal to the all-important millennial demographic.

Focus on impacts and outcomes

A good story and compelling content are vital, but in the digital age, many of us are saturated with information and demands on our time and attention. There’s an increased emphasis on the impact of donated cash and volunteer time. Charity Navigator sees philanthropic organizations investing in relevant data “to prove their accountability, transparency, and overall health.” So, too, should the businesses and brands that support social-impact programs. This approach fits with the values-driven approach of many millennials and their mistrust of patently commercial or overly branded campaigns.

Make it authentic

Authenticity means more than just sincerity of purpose. Millennials are more trust-sensitive than other segments, and they are quick to spot a shallow commitment or a giving program adopted for PR purposes. Brands that get behind a CSR program must ensure that the cause is strategic, relevant, and bulletproof. The millennial skepticism also has implications for how a program should be run. It means frequent progress updates in socially shareable news bites, third-party validation for all charitable partners, and social proof of goals met.

Be consistent

Even the most inspiring CSR campaign may not break through in its first year or season. The best approach is the five-year-window commitment. CSR programs must be created to scale over a period of years, with clear goals and refreshers along the way.  The trick to keeping a program fresh is to vary the PR tactics, like tapping a new media spokesperson, increasing fundraising or volunteerism goals each year, or localizing the story in key markets. But the best campaigns are consistent and drive the brand association over time.

Drive engagement year-round

The most effective giving campaigns use social and digital communications to keep socially aware loyalists engaged, report progress, and promote success stories. Social media, digital video, email, and PR that generates earned media all play a role here. Millennials tend to be peer-driven and quick to share commitments, so a call-to-action for supporters to share key statistics and stories is likely to bear fruit. In many cases, they’ve already built the social networks, so brands must incentivize them to use those networks to share and engage others.

Keep it simple

A complicated giving program, or one that asks too much of participants may be short-lived. If in doubt, start local and expand as time and resources allow. And consider campaigns that don’t constantly ask for donations from cause-fatigued consumers. True engagement can be achieved through simple communications as well as commitments of time spent in volunteer hours, evangelizing with friends and peers, and social media support.

Make it horizontal

Brand-supported CSR programs should be developed with involvement from the company’s stakeholders, particularly employees. And it shouldn’t reside only in the PR or marketing department. A true CSR commitment offers a wealth of internal programming and engagement, typically led by HR. There should also be participation opportunities for distributors and partners, and support in some fashion from every corporate department. Corporate support and individual participation by employees have grown as philanthropy has become not just a PR and marketing function but a strategic business priority.
An earlier version of this post was published 11/9/2017 on the AMA Executive Circle blog.

Celebrating This Season’s PR Turkeys

This season, public relations teams everywhere can collectively cringe over a cornucopia of questionable PR moves resulting in bad press. But for every example of a negative story, there’s a good takeaway to incorporate into our professional lives.

Our take on some of the PR “turkeys” we’ve witnessed lately is that some companies either don’t consider the the optics of a move, or they fail to think through the reactions of key constituencies. Most companies and public institutions take their reputations very seriously, so it’s sometimes puzzling when you analyze PR winners and losers at this time of year. Is it a lack of oversight? Poor judgment? Or are we too critical? Maybe these missteps deserve the traditional holiday pardon. Read on to see what you think.

Pardon these Thanksgiving “turkeys”?

Amazon Key opens up all kinds of issues

On a more business-forward note, Amazon recently announced its latest salvo in the war against “porch piracy”.  It launched Amazon Key just in time for the heavy holiday shipping period. For $249.99, Amazon Prime customers can purchase an In-Home Kit featuring an indoor security camera and an Amazon Key-compatible smart lock. Users allow delivery services access to their home and can watch deliveries happening live or in a video clip later in the day. So, basically, homeowners are allowing a stranger inside their home to place a package and leave. The service also boasts the ability to grant access to “people you trust, like your family, friends, dog walker, or house cleaner—no more leaving a key under the mat.”

Even assuming that this is a comfortable arrangement for some, it raises the question, what could go wrong? Well, plenty as it turns out.  Like the NSA, Equifax and any number of “secure” online services, if it’s web-based, it can be hacked. Researchers from Rhino Security Labs say they’ve already found a weakness in the security camera system. Amazon responded that they don’t believe there’s a security issue because they thoroughly background-check their delivery drivers. From a customer messaging perspective, we find this a weak defense and look to the company to release or conduct its own vigorous testing results for confirmation.

Bad optics follow Mnuchin and wife

It seems that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, just can’t catch a break. First Linton tags the designers of each piece of her posh wardrobe while returning from a trip on a government jet, triggering an Instagram spat and social backlash. Then there was the eclipse-gazing debacle. But the recent shot of the Secretary and his wife holding a sheet of newly minted dollar bills bearing his signature has stoked fresh criticism. In the photo, Linton gleefully poses a la Cruella Deville in a black leather ensemble complete with opera gloves.

In the midst of a bitter debate on tax reform, the optics are unfortunate. Yet the real question is, why is the wife of the Treasury Secretary in this “ready for my social media close-up” photo at all? The picture projects a laissez-faire attitude toward the stewardship of the US Treasury and practically invites parody. And parodied it was — a thousand memes were born with the shot, and none of them were kind. I

Trouble in Twitterland. 280 characters and more

Earlier this month Twitter began allowing users to double their character count to 280. This produced a decidedly mixed reaction, particularly from longtime users who prefer the original format. In fact, when it began testing longer tweets in late September, it found that once the novelty of tweeting longer wore off, most people in the test group didn’t use all available characters. So while the company absorbs this “meh” news, the unveiling of its longer name feature – 50 characters – has triggered a more negative reaction. It seems that groups critical of Twitter’s inconsistent and sometimes slow response to hate speech prompted a flurry of new display names calling it out. After alt-right figures like Jason Kessler were given the coveted blue verification check, Twitter’s critics registered their anger by adding variations on ‘ban Nazis’ to their display names. Founder @jack has apologized, but haven’t we seen this before? It’s not too much to ask for a leading social platform get their act together and have plans in place before going out with such announcements.

Are company logos losers?

You know the millions of dollars big brands sink into their logos? Well, it turns out the ROI on that may not amount to all that much. A recent study showed that when people were asked to draw some of the world’s most iconic brand logos from memory, many of the attempts were laughable! That may not be amusing for the companies spending the big bucks on heavily tested, professionally produced brand identities. When respondents were asked to draw 10 iconic brands, including Wal-Mart, Burger King, Apple, and Ikea, only 16% of attempts were considered near-perfect. Of course, the ability to reproduce a logo may not mean it’s forgettable, and the press around the study isn’t necessarily so terrible. And there’s a benefit for the company that conducted the study, Signs.com. Their logo appears in the lower right corner below; think you will remember it?

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t comment on a more serious issue – the non-stop slew of sexual harrassment and abuse allegations dogging prominent names from politicians to Hollywood icons. While each case is different, it appears there are some early learnings stemming from the way individuals have handled the claims. Being accused of sexual misbehavior is very serious and will naturally elicit all kinds of emotions, but any public response should acknowledge and respect those who come forward as victims. There are no easy answers here, but Thanksgiving does offer a time to reflect.

Brands, Bad PR And Ad Boycotts: Who Wins?

Today’s divided political climate has affected PR strategy for many companies and brands, including those who like to stay far away from partisan matters. Though it may be an opportune time for some brands to take a stand on relevant issues, many choose to remain neutral on hot-button topics, and understandably so.

So, how did Keurig find itself in hot water this week after pulling advertising from Sean Hannity’s program? And what should companies do when targeted with boycotts or other potentially damaging actions? Among other brands, Keurig was targeted as a Hannity advertiser when protesters were steamed by what they saw as Hannity’s defense of Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of child molestation. Big consumer names tend to be particular targets of such protests, which is probably why Keurig attracted more calls to drop Hannity than lesser known advertisers. After Keurig tweeted that it would, in fact, change its ad schedule, it was then singled out by the pro-Moore faction, egged on by Hannity himself. Reports and occasional videos of angry Keurig owners smashing their appliances appeared on Twitter, and #boycottkeurig swiftly rose to the top of Twitter trending topics.

What’s a brand to do? A few simple steps can help protect reputation and resolve the issue relatively quickly.

Have a clear advertising policy

Boycotts are the new brunch among the politically active, so major advertisers should decide in advance what their policies are. Smart marketers determine the precise circumstances under which they would pull ad support on a given network or publication. Many marketers draw a distinction between distasteful or illegal personal behavior by a broadcast personality and the actual programming content of a given broadcast. That’s why several major brands deserted Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly after claims of sexual misconduct, but boycotts of Sean Hannity’s opinion-driven program have been less effective. Whatever the case, a set of standards blessed by everyone will make it easier to come to a decision and stick to it, should a boycott be threatened.

Communicate a consistent position

After Keurig tweeted that it would stop advertising on Hannity’s show, it seemed unprepared to take heat for its decision, or maybe it hadn’t intended a formal acknowledgement of its plan to drop Hannity. In an internal company email CEO Bob Gamgort explained that the company didn’t intend to appear to “take sides” in the emotionally charged dispute and apologized to employees for their distress. While the Gamgort memo was probably a sincere communication to employees put in the uncomfortable position of being targeted by a hostile social mob, it felt a bit like backpedaling, and of course it was promptly leaked to media and posted on Twitter. That, in turn, set off a fresh round of criticism from Hannity critics who had been thanking the brand for its courageous stand. But timing was on Keurig’s side for once; the media coverage soon moved on to fresh – and disturbing – relevations from Moore’s fifth accuser, and Hannity found an opportunity to declare a truce after Gamgort’s “apology.”

But any brand who takes a decision in a charged situation like the Moore allegations should know that its move will become public, and internal communications are likely to leak. More importantly, any reversal will simply swap one angry mob for another. The key to weathering a media storm in most cases lies in adopting a position and sticking to it. A wishy-washy stance is likely to be seen as weak, and during difficult times, mixed messages are rarely helpful to employees and stakeholders.

Anticipate a response

Anyone who has been in the eye of the storm will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with media inquiries, respond to customer calls and posts, and communicate with stakeholders when targeted by angry protesters. It pays to overprepare for the public and internal response after any move that may seem controversial. That means investing in rapid response for customer service, media relations, investors, distributors, and any other business partners. In the case of Keurig and the fast-brewing controversy, it’s unclear how much, if any, real brand damage was done. The boycott hashtag seemed to be driven by bot accounts (“botcotts?”), and the smashed coffee machines were a spectacular video meme for a day, but they really made no sense if someone really wanted to hurt sales and harm the brand.

Don’t delete tweets

This falls under consistency, but it deserves to be called out. What’s extraordinary about the latest Hannity dustup is the number of advertisers who tweeted that they would pull their ads, including Volvo and Realtor.com, who later deleted those tweets after Keurig was targeted. Others, like Hebrew National, later hedged their tweet, explaining that the brand hadn’t bought ads on hannity’s show in several months. These brands were lucky in that the news cycle quickly grew worse for Moore as new revelations came to light, which was acknowledged by Hannity, and the whole situation simmered down. But as the president has shown, a tweet is a public statement, and it’s best to stand by it and be prepared to respond.

In his employee memo, Keurig’s Gamgort wrote, “The nature of social media and the internet news environment is that stories like this explode, and generally do not disappear quickly…” Yet today’s news cycle moves at such a blistering pace that if all else fails, the best response to a social protest may be to hunker down and ride out the storm.

Leveraging Great PR Results

When hard-won earned media results of an excellent public relations campaign begin to show up, it’s not time to stop. That’s when the real work begins. A story’s initial appearance should be just the beginning of a productive placement life cycle.  Read on for some easy ways to leverage initial exposure to an even wider audience.

Maximize media coverage with simple steps

“Socialize” all coverage

The minute a profile appears on your CEO, or a brand spokesperson kills it on a live broadcast interview, it’s time for the social media team to get involved. This means posting links and images to all brand social accounts of course, but there are also opportunities to get more creative.  Perhaps crafting a Twitter poll with a question prompted by a seasonal piece such as this one from Dunkin Donuts or consider building a quick contest around a piece of earned content. Use the photos or video accompanying the piece for other posts, and give a social shout-out to the journalist or the outlet in question. Doing so can extend the life and the audience of the media coverage.

Shout it out to prospects, customers, clients

This can be as simple as sending a link in a prospect email, a mention in a special offer blast or inclusion in a monthly newsletter. Also consider something more elaborate like creating a slick online piece with the help of a site like Coverage Book or producing a printed brochure with more than one piece of coverage. These work well if you have a captive audience like a panel discussion or speaking engagement where an audience can benefit by reading up on a speaker or company at the start of an event. If a story appears in a top outlet such as the New York Times or Wired, it’s also a good idea to tout the coverage in team signatures. Something like “Featured in…” with a link to the piece is always impressive. Standard practice also dictates that teams add all coverage to the press section of the company website. We are always surprised when a company doesn’t have an updated press page on its site. This is a must!

Use the coverage…to get more coverage 

Contrary to what some in PR believe, many journalists wait to cover a product or service until another (non-competing) outlet goes first. Therefore, when a great story appears, like this recent InStyle piece on digital wine site, Weekly Tasting, we use it to generate interest from other media. But there are caveats! Don’t use a lifestyle magazine interview to interest another lifestyle pub, as that will likely backfire. But do use it in a pitch to a morning talk show. We recommend building a brief dossier of solid placements in smaller outlets to catch a “bigger fish.” Trade pieces in discrete verticals can also be very effective as part of a pitch to a B2B publication with a wider audience.

Repurpose the content

That edgy byline by the company CTO? The provocative round-up featuring a popular brand ‘s latest line extension? These and nearly every other media placement can live on with some simple tweaks. Take the byline and convert the information to a blog post. Use some of the points to create a white paper or take the byline in a different direction for a different audience. In a longer format, the piece becomes fodder for a talk at an upcoming conference. The round-up can be turned into an infographic to post on the company website or used as an idea for a holiday gift story.

Use coverage to demonstrate results to leadership

As soon as the coverage appears, look for evidence of engagement or impact, like increases in website and blog visits, white paper or other content downloads and social media likes/shares to tell the story of the article’s performance. Always show, rather than “tell” the value of a public relations campaign. Coverage that can tie directly to company business goals provides a great demonstration of the value of PR.

Say thank you

We like to thank the journalist in a personal note as well as on social media. Most reporters today are promoting their own social brands as well as their publication or employer, so a shout-out never hurts! But remember, you’re thanking them for a well-reported story, not a product plug.

The bottom line is that most companies see press coverage as the end result of crafting a good story, pitching the right journalist and arranging an interview. But in reality, the coverage should be seen as just the beginning – a valuable piece of content that serves as a jumping off point to reaching your a wider audience.