PR Advice For Building Better Media Relationships

Every PR agency team appreciates the importance of relationships with key media outlets and personnel. This is particularly true in B2B PR, where we tend to approach the same business and trade journalists on behalf of client executives and their brands. The most successful agencies have contacts ready to go for any type of announcement or story, but making a connection with a reporter is only part of the equation. Building it to ensure a long-lasting relationship is the real trick. That requires thoughtful attention and a strong sense of how media work. Below are 7 ways that PR professionals can tighten those all-important journalist relationships.

Stay up-to-date

Occasionally checking a reporter’s recent work is not enough. The best PR professionals know what journalists are planning before they actually publish the piece. First, have a clear understanding of the reporters you work with most frequently and try to check what they’re writing about, even if you don’t have an urgent media inquiry. Often a journalist will hint at what they plan to cover next, offering the opportunity to give client commentary. It’s also helpful to understand the reporter’s perspective on the major topics in the industry. For contacts you don’t know, this is essential so your spokesperson can understand whether the interview will be easy or could present challenges. But for familiar media contacts, knowing their interests and thoughts on major topics can expedite media opportunities. This is because you not only know what stories they will cover instantly when a story breaks, but how they’re likely to approach, which enables a more targeted pitch.

Understand and manage deadlines

Working at the convenience of the reporter and the client can be a tightrope walk. Often between gathering commentary and trying to meet a deadline, the reporter will be nearly as stressed as the PR person. Offering timely and relevant commentary is a great way to improve a relationship, but we’re often stuck waiting on commentary from a client. Although there isn’t a golden rule, keeping the reporter up-to-date on the status of the information you’ve promised is a good idea and helps build trust.

Be first

Building better media relations means making reporters’ lives easier. One of the best ways to do this is by being the first to offer a spokesperson’s thoughts for newsworthy stories. This can be done through close monitoring of important dates like company earnings reports and major tech events where commentary is useful. Often during major announcements, reporters won’t have time to reach out to their reliable PR contacts, so the onus is on the PR team to be proactive. It’s helpful to make a note of any feedback a reporter shares about the next major story, event or announcement they’re planning. You can then take the initiative to offer commentary as soon as a the story is relevant.

Be transparent

Be honest about what you’re offering, especially if it isn’t a perfect fit with the reporter’s needs. It also pays to be truthful about deadlines. If your expert spokesperson can’t meet a deadline, or even if it looks like they might be late, it’s a good idea to let the reporter know. Otherwise, it’s likely the reporter won’t reach out again as they now think you’re unreliable. Being upfront with reporters will lead to more coverage in the long-term even if it means missing an opportunity in the short-term. 

Think outside the brand

A big misconception among PR people is that they can only offer up a spokesperson to speak about the company’s story of the day. Our job is to think outside the strict product news parameters, and that creative thinking can benefit journalists. For example, a tech company focused on connected TV can offer thoughts about what the company did to keep their employees engaged during the pandemic. While you certainly want to pitch and focus on the areas of client expertise, it pays to expand the definition of expertise beyond self-serving announcements. 

Interact on social media

Interaction with a reporter on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can be beneficial. First, it’s a nice gesture. Social likes and shares will be noticed and appreciated. Successful PRs can also learn a great deal about a reporter’s interests that go beyond simply looking at their recent pieces. Journalists often announce they are switching outlets on social media, providing an opportunity to not only wish them luck on their new endeavor, but also build a relationship with a new publication. It also gives you a heads-up to start looking for new go-to contacts at the media outlet the reporter left so you’re building relationships without losing any. 

Use email well

PR people often struggle to find a middle ground between pitching a reporter too often and failing to pitch them enough. There are ways to work around this dilemma. First, make sure the agency team is coordinating outreach so they aren’t contacting a given reporter too much. Second, make sure to acknowledge or thank the reporter following an interview or inclusion in a piece. Finally, make sure you’re only emailing them about relevant content. This is essential for every pitch, but emailing a contact about a story that clearly isn’t up their alley could burn that bridge and hurt future opportunities. 

5 Traits Of A Top B2B PR Specialist

There are many skills that are valuable at a B2B (business-to-business) PR agency. Whether it’s that keen news sense or superb research chops, it’s important for B2B PR teams to master a diverse skill set and to have an aptitude for fast learning. Yet at many specialist agencies, some characteristics are more important than others. Here’s our nominations for desirable traits of a PR person who is focused in the B2B sector.

They’re always up-to-date

What’s the top priority of a PR person, if not making staying on top of the news? Without it, there’s nothing to track or pitch. Of course, this is true for nearly anyone on the front lines of public relations, but it’s more specialized in B2B. It’s why they’re always checking for updates, even off the clock. 

We track major media outlets and writers on Twitter, subscribe to scores of newsletters, buy analyst reports, and follow whitepapers on relevant topics. We also use monitoring services to catch breaking stories in areas of interest to client companies. On our team we’re following trends and breaking news in ad tech, digital security, SaaS, and more. Then there are the trends in our own PR and comms industry, so there’s plenty of information to digest. 

They’re geeks at heart

Supply chain optimization PR? Monetization tech for convergent media? What about automated customer communications management for highly regulated industries? In B2B especially, understanding a given industry can require a deep dive. Not everyone comes in as an expert in, say, ad tech or cybersecurity, but after a thorough onboarding (and a few years of experience), it comes more naturally. Above all, it’s essential to understand the revenue model(s) of a given business, its competitive sector, and the problems and challenges they solve for their customers, because they can be quite complex. 

Since many B2B agencies work in the tech space, they’re also fans of clients’ technology, and sometimes their best critics. You don’t need to be a programmer or a data engineer in this business, but it pays to be fluent in tech and to understand the rapidly accelerating cycles that drive the business economy. 

They know how to harness research 

Knowing how to create, interpret, and communicate research findings is an essential PR skill. Here again, it’s more detailed and specialized in B2B work. Familiar with the Gartner magic quadrants? Know how to synthesize market data in a single slide? Happy to structure a business customer survey to assess the value of key service differentiators? Then you’ll probably do well in B2B public relations. Data often drives news, so B2B PR requires expertise in interpreting it as well as creating it. We collaborate with survey and other market research partners to create relevant insights and fresh data for clients to make news, share with customers, or drive a leadership position in their sector. 

They’re excellent writers

A PR expert HAS to be an excellent, fast, and productive writer. Even in the age of Tik Tok, one of the most important parts of the job is producing clear and coherent content, especially if it’s about technical products or services. There’s a good reason for the cross-pollination between journalism and PR, because we produce a great deal of content, from press releases and bylines to pithy email pitches. 

Yet there may still be a skills gap when it comes to quality writing. A Tech Marketing Council study shows that 62 percent of B2B tech organizations struggle to find writers who can deliver thought leadership content. Which leads us to the final trait on the list.

They grasp “thought leadership”

You’ll often hear B2B PR agencies promise to make key executives “thought leaders.” It’s true that tapping the expertise and point of view of a business principal or entrepreneur can be transformative for a business brand. But making a thought leader goes beyond excellent writing. It’s more than getting a client executive in the news. Real thought leadership is about harnessing the power of ideas, insight, innovation, and influence. Check out Richard’s post on PR tech and tools for thought leaders, or  Dorothy’s original thoughts on how great thought leadership campaigns are made.

3 Emerging Social Media Platforms B2B PR Pros Should Know

Remember when the only social media platforms considered significant by PR pros were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? For many, they continue to be the trinity of social media. But by the end of this year, an estimated 3 billion people will be using social media, and not just on those three sites. What’s more, new platforms are popping up regularly.

New platforms can work for B2B PR 

That means there’s greater potential for B2B brands to reach an engaged audience of business users. The opportunity to reach specific audiences goes beyond the social sites that currently dominate. For example, TikTok has taken the world by storm and no one wants to miss newer sites that could gain similar prominence. Here are three emerging platforms that PR pros should track. They can work particularly well for B2B visibility programs.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse was launched in 2020 and breaks the mold of traditional social media platforms. It’s audio-only and connects the audience and speakers by letting them share information in real time. What kind of conversations take place on Clubhouse? A little bit of everything! Topics range from relationship discussions to starting a business.

Another thing that sets Clubhouse apart is its exclusivity. It’s invite-only – at least until its official release. Users act as gatekeepers for the platform’s daily ongoing conversations by holding three invitations that will allow new users to join. Those who don’t have invitations will have to join the waitlist until the official release. Having said that, it’s fairly easy to score an invitation.

Since its launch Clubhouse has become a hub for tech types, artists, and entertainers. Can B2B senior executives also find their niche here? Yes. For B2B clients Clubhouse can be another social media tool used to drive thought leadership, especially those who are subject-matter experts. Savvy business leaders are well suited to host rooms and later start their own clubs. The platform offers PR teams a new way of storytelling for organizations and gives business personalities who are talented speakers with a strong point of view about industry trends an opportunity to ride the social audio wave.

Twitter Spaces

In a bid to get in on the social audio experience, Twitter released Twitter Spaces in December 2020. It’s still in its early stage, but there are new features and updates in the works. One driving force behind the creation of Twitter Spaces seems to be the challenges Clubhouse faces regarding its community standards. Unfortunately, Clubhouse’s conversations on sensitive topics such as identity, ethnicity, gender, and racism have led to abusive behavior by some users. Twitter Spaces is seeking to offer a more inclusive environment.

So how does Twitter Spaces work? Those who want to host a conversation must have a Twitter account. They can create either impromptu Spaces or schedule them up to 14 days in advance, all within the Twitter app. Up to 10 people can be invited to speak in a created Space at any given time. Spaces are public, so anyone can join as a listener, including people who don’t follow you. To issue invitations, hosts can simply post a link by tweeting it, sending it through Twitter’s direct-messaging, or posting it elsewhere. 

Like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces is an emerging platform that can work well for thought leadership. It features live discussions, training sessions, and Q&As, among other things. The hosting capacity for Twitter Spaces is still limited, but in May Twitter announced that accounts with 600 or more followers are now able to host a Space. According to Twitter Spaces, these accounts are likely to have a good experience hosting because of their existing following. Audience quality is another thing to consider on top of having a charismatic speaker host. Though Twitter Spaces is still in a fledgling stage, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on for PR plans as it picks up steam.

Instagram Reels 

There’s no denying TikTok’s influence on the launch of Instagram Reels. This new feature is actually in competition with TikTok as it offers similar video creation capabilities.  

Instagram Reels can be used to promote brand awareness and even recruitment. The feature offers a fun, creative way to display your brand’s product releases, how-to’s, and even its workplace culture. There’s no need for a production team – all you need is a smartphone. You can also reach out to an industry influencer to create reels in your interest.

Finding which new social channel to onboard 

Being one of the first to join an up-and-coming social channel and learning the lay of the land can place you ahead of competitors who lag behind. However, time spent experimenting with new platforms must be balanced with refining strategies on already established ones. 

Determining which new platforms are worth the time and effort of watching and experimenting might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! We recommend keeping the following in mind when navigating new channels:

-Track growth. Big numbers signal that the platform is gaining momentum and that the chances for engagement with a broad swath of users are high.

-If a platform doesn’t offer specific metrics (like Clubhouse), but it has buzz, it’s probably worth a trial.

-Pick platforms that your audience can easily use and enjoy.

-While you should pay attention to the level of adaptability, you should consider how your audience wants to consume media. If you’re looking to target business decision-makers they’re more likely to sit in on a discussion of industry trends on a platform like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces.

-If you can’t come up with any interesting ways to tell your brand’s story on a niche platform, you might want to hold off on making an account. A boring or dormant account can signal that the brand isn’t ready to engage.

How To Work Across Multiple Time Zones

In PR as in every office-based line of work, the pandemic has forced a remote-work experiment on a scale never seen before. As a result, how and where we work has been transformed. A new location can bring a new time zone with it. As an East Coast employee now working on the West Coast for the past eight months, I don’t face the kind of challenges as teams who span several time zones across many global regions. Yet my situation has made me more aware of the pros and cons of working in different time zones. Here are some key takeaways on being productive and connected to colleagues no matter your location.

Be transparent

Before making the move to another time zone, it’s important to keep open communications with your team. Let your employer know what you’re thinking of doing and feel them out. Come at it from a productivity standpoint and make a mutual decision about your hours. For example, I made a deal with my team that I will continue to keep East Coast hours while I’m here in SoCal.  Keeping the same hours works well for me; however, in a different scenario, it might be useful for our East Coast team to have someone covering key accounts after working hours in their time zone. The point is to figure out what works for you and stick to it. For me, an early start to the day is offset by the advantage of being able to sign off by mid-afternoon.

Be mindful of time zones

When setting deadlines or arranging meetings and phone calls, be mindful of time zones and always specify it in your emails or messages. There have been times when I thought I was late to call, only to realize that I had spoken in PST times to colleagues instead of EST.  Google calendar has a setting that lets you choose your home time zone so appointments will always be scheduled in that zone unless you choose otherwise.

For international meetings, remember that the world clock app is your friend. It’s essential for scheduling meetings but also comes in handy when setting deadlines and planning projects. We have a client, DoubleVerify, who has comms teams across the globe. When they have a global announcement, it is good to have a quick conference call to make sure we are all aligned on the launch time across all regions including North America, Europe and APAC. This is also second-nature to our cybersec team because they work with Singapore, and our AI group originates in India, but it does take some mental reframing at the outset. 

Align with your coworkers

It’s important to note cultural differences across international time zones. Work habits in Europe may be different from those in the U.S. or Southeast Asia. Holidays around the world are different and some regions even take lunch at different times, take longer breaks, or don’t work traditional hours. Keeping this in mind will prevent misalignment and confusion on deadlines in the future. 

Stick to your boundaries 

The boundary between our work and our personal lives has become blurred since we haven’t had the commute to divide the day. Working at the kitchen table or even from the couch is normal, and juggling the distractions of home life while trying to hit work deadlines has become a daily challenge. Set a routine, establish a workspace and set work hours for yourself. Keep up a dialogue with coworkers to update them with what you’re currently working on and what you will be doing throughout the week – this way nothing will slip through the cracks. You want to avoid the “out-of-sight/out-of-mind” mentality among team members!

Embrace technology

Technology has allowed teams to work from anywhere, anytime. Use this to your benefit and don’t take it for granted. Tools like instant messaging apps, video chats, task management software, and progress trackers enable anyone on your team to strategize and update teams on their progress at different times of day. Globally, teams can stay aligned on ongoing projects in real time. If an employee in Sydney is working while EMEA and U.S. employees are offline, those teams can see what their Australian colleagues accomplished when they sign in the next day and note what’s next.

Productivity levels are higher 

A new time zone may be a tough adjustment at first, but once you have a system and the proper communication in place, employees are finding themselves to be more productive and happier with their work/life balance. Research shows that we can get more work done remotely in some cases than when in an office. A Stanford study of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%. “This increase in performance was due to more calls per minute attributed to a quieter, more convenient working environment and working more minutes per shift because of fewer breaks and sick days.”

We’ve learned a lot as a result of being in different time zones and working from home: meetings aren’t always necessary; working a standard eight-hour shift may not be the best schedule for everyone; and sitting at a desk doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. 

With fewer office distractions, the enhanced focus we get from wanting to get more free time back, or no longer having a commute, is borne out in the data. Workers are happier and more productive WFH, no matter the time zone. 

Questions PR Grads Should Ask In An Interview

It is that time of year again. The PR world has gained new fresh college grads eager to join the workforce. While searching for possible internships or entry-level jobs is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. Or even frustrating. According to Glassdoor, the average interview process from first contact to a possible offer can last up to 23 days – varying of course based on the industry.

Interviews are a conversation between candidates and employers to understand their experience better. Resumes can often look the same but they don’t necessarily tell employers about the person beneath the experience or how she stands from the crowd. It’s the interview where a candidate can show a company why they’d be an amazing addition to their team. 

One nerve-wracking part of any interview is when the employer asks if the candidate has any questions for them. PR grads, be prepared to ask questions! This is your opportunity to get to know a company better. With this in mind, what are the go-to questions aspiring public relations employees should ask in an interview?  

Why do you love this company and why should I want to work with you?

If a future employer cannot answer this question, that’s a big issue.  What is it about this job that would make others want to work here and with you? What is it about this company that sets it apart? Do they offer great benefits, fun and innovative clients, or is it the co-workers that make them stay? Future employees should be able to list several things they love about their company to make it appealing. If someone has to think about it, maybe that’s a sign.

Is there an opportunity to grow in this position?

One of the benefits of working in a small PR agency is the relationships you build with your co-workers and senior management. In larger agencies, you could be just a name on paper and get lost in a corner somewhere. Working in a smaller environment, an entry-level PR person should have an opportunity to work closely with team members across many levels. It’s also a fast way to learn your own strengths and preferences. Are you a strong writer, social media whiz or maybe have a special touch when it comes to media relations? It’s best to make sure you hear from team members who have been at the agency for a while to hear how they have grown and evolved.

Can you describe the company culture?

Culture can be hard to describe, but it’s important. In a traditional workplace, days can be filled with non-work talk or catching up with friends on downtime between calls and meetings. It is corny to say, but your co-workers become like family since we spend so much time together during the work week. Think about what’s important to you in a company culture. Do you want a place that values their employees as much as their work? One way to explore those values is to ask how a company stayed connected during the pandemic. At Crenshaw, we made a vow to continue up on Thursday happy hour Zooms where we have an activity planned. (Some of our favorites were Family Feud, Pictonary and Jeopardy.) 

Where do you see the agency in the next five to 10 years?

Growth is extremely important in any company. The PR industry is constantly changing with strategies, platforms, and tech tools. You want to be in a learning environment, and one that fosters that environment through growth. Does the agency plan to hire more talent? Expand horizontally to offer new services? Open new office locations? Things and plans that are working today but may not be relevant in the future. This can be a very open-ended question but it is good to get a sense of where the agency sees itself in the future and if that sounds like something you want to be a part of.

What is your timeline for next steps?

This is a valid question, and it shows interest. The interview process can be long and tedious. It can be a lot of back and forths of internal conversations evaluating candidates. Understanding the interview process can help ease your mind and manage your own expectations for the process. After hearing next steps, maybe offer writing samples or additional references to help speed the decision. If nothing else, it means you are serious.

To all the new PR grads, good luck interviewing and if you’d like to hear more about life and opportunities at Crenshaw Communications, get in touch @colleeno_pr

Is Corporate Communications Optional?

Early in my PR agency career, our team was summoned by the CEO of a prestigious client. He was a brilliant and entrepreneurial hospitality executive who had been brought in to turn around a luxury travel company. The CEO fulminated about competitors getting better trade coverage than his company. He even tossed one of the offending rags on his table as our team and the long-suffering corporate communications head promised more aggressive outreach. As we left the office, he muttered, “I could do the PR better than anyone if only I had the time.”

That CEO was in many ways correct. He certainly knew more about the business than anyone. Of course he never would have found the time or discipline to manage a media a relations function, and it would have been a poor use of that time. But his words stuck with me, in part because they epitomized the classic PR agency challenge – you must earn your fee by adding value every day.

High-impact PR roles under pressure

The same can be said for corporate communications. As an agency person I’d always assumed that those in client-side roles were safe. After all, any major company needs a strong corporate communications function to manage its reputation, especially in a chaotic and unpredictable news environment. It’s indispensable, right? It was that way, but now things aren’t so simple. Elon Musk’s example has the PR community wondering if his company is the exception to the rule, or possibly a sign of something to come.

As Musk-watchers know, Tesla disbanded its internal PR group at some point last year (we’re not sure when, because there was no announcement and no confirmation from Tesla, naturally.) For months, it has relied on its founder’s Twitter account and the company’s YouTube channel for outbound communications. Media, naturally, didn’t take the decision well. The PR community was also underwhelmed. The Public Relations Society of America responded with a statement warning that, “Disengagement is not a path to success and can result in dramatic reputational ramifications with long-term consequences. Strategic communication counsel is a critical element of reputation management, as is a robust, fully functioning, effective and transparent communications process.”

The Trump model of corp comm

Not so Tesla. Call it the Trump model of corporate communications. If you don’t like your media coverage and don’t trust the journalists who cover you, why bother? Like the former president before his Twitter ouster, Musk can command social and media attention with a mere tweet. He resents bad press and often seeks to punish or freeze out those who don’t cover his businesses the way he’d like. He prefers to communicate directly to friends and fans. (Remind you of anyone?) But as EV news site Electrek observes, “Elon simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to answer even just 1% of inquires, but also… seems to be almost exclusively responding to fans who are lavishing praise on him via Twitter and almost never challenge his views.”

That would be a red flag for most companies, but, face it, Tesla isn’t most companies. Yet it signals potential changes for communicators who represent high-growth, entrepreneurial organizations.

How corporate communications has changed

First, cynicism abounds.  We cannot assume the public believes a given company is operating in good faith. Although businesses in general probably inspire more trust from the public than government and even religious institutions, the environment we work in is sharply polarized. You have to demonstrate your intentions through behavior. Also, relationships have suffered during the pandemic; the typical PR-media relationship is more transactional than friendly, and it’ll probably stay that way.

Stakeholders have growing influence. Stakeholders like partners and especially employees wield enormous reputational influence. That’s why we’re seeing powerful businesses like Google drop its work in warfare technology for the Pentagon, for example. More recently, a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice publicly urged the company to commit to getting its electricity from renewable sources. Within months, Amazon pledged to reach 100% renewables by 2030. That’s real power, and it makes sense to focus where the influence is.

Social content is as powerful as earned media. Owned media may not be as credible, but for many organizations, corporate content channels are a safer and even more potent option than earned media coverage that may include criticisms or mentions of competitors. Even more persuasive are user views and social content from legitimate influencers. Today’s corporations have many more tools and far more content at their disposal than they ever did in the past.

What it adds up to is that corporate communications is changing along with everything else. Like agency work, it requires diverse skills, constant proactivity, and experience that extends well beyond traditional PR and media relations. The top-tier corporate communicators of today and the future must be content experts, media strategists, and internal facilitators who earn their own reputation every day.

Terms You Overhear During A PR Internship

Being an intern at a top New York PR agency has exposed me to many things I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been able to use my content skills for press releases and bylined article drafts. I’ve sat in on calls with clients themselves, affording a glimpse into another company. But as a budding PR professional, what has really caught my attention are the common words and phrases I’ve heard during my time here. Whether it’s through emails or Slack messages or even listening in on client meetings, there are plenty of terms thrown around. Some I knew going in, but others are brand new. Here is a list of things you might hear at a PR internship.

“Exclusive” 

A major goal of good PR is helping your client get more exposure in the media, and that means talking to reporters. I was a journalism major in college and had dreams of reporting before I shifted to PR, so I know all about wanting to get that big scoop. Imagine having your name next to a story no one else was able to get! Well, that’s what an exclusive is — sort of. It refers to a situation where the PR team offers first-crack at a story to one reporter and one reporter only. Usually it’s for a big client announcement. Once we secure the right person to cover the story, we don’t pitch it to anyone else until it runs as an exclusive. But we will quickly offer it more widely as soon as we fulfill our end of the negotiation.

“Embargo”

When I sit in on client meetings, oftentimes I hear about upcoming press releases that will be “under embargo.” Usually when I hear the word “embargo” I think of ships or trade restrictions. But in PR and journalism, it means an article or a press release that won’t be published until a certain time. Unlike exclusives, we send releases under embargo to multiple reporters at the same time.

“Go wide”

Another thing I hear a lot on client calls in regards to pitching is how our team will “go wide”. That means we send it out to all relevant reporters and producers. If there’s something we want everyone to know about, then we’ll let them all know.

“Abstract”

An abstract is a brief summary of something, and in my experience here I’ve heard it used to mean a “speaking abstract.” When we want to submit a client executive as a keynote or panel speaker for an event, we prepare an abstract to summarize what they want to say. It’s interesting because most people think of PR as writing press releases or pitching to reporters, but things like event submissions show that it’s a lot more than that. There’s a real art to crafting a compelling abstract, and I’ve learned a lot about that from our conference and awards team here. 

 “Vertical”

Vertical is short for vertical market, which is “a market encompassing a group of companies and customers that are all interconnected around a specific niche.” In PR, we use it to describe the industries that serve and the media sectors we reach on behalf of client organizations. So for example, if we want to pitch a story about cybersecurity, we’ll look for people in the technology, IT security, or financial verticals.

“Byline”

From my time in journalism, I know the term “byline” as the part of the article where it shows who wrote it. But in PR it usually refers to a trade article bylined by a client executive. So far I’ve helped research or draft bylines on topics like cybersecurity insurance and retail. It has given great insight into areas I wouldn’t have otherwise delved into.

“EOD/EOW”

Not necessarily a PR-specific term, but you still hear it a lot in any position, whether it’s an internship or a full-time spot. Usually it’s in the context of when something is due. EOD means “end of day,” and of course EOW means “end of week.” At the end of the day (see what I did there?), it’s just simple shorthand.

“Close the loop”

When you want to be in the know on something, you want to be “in the loop,” and if you don’t know what’s going on, you’re “out of the loop.” What “closing the loop” means is putting an end to a project and letting everyone involved know. For example, if we secure coverage for a client and a piece runs, then we might close the loop by telling everyone we were in contact with. Or, if I’m putting together a list of coverage and I can’t find any more news, then we might close the loop on that.  

“Circle back”

This is a very common term when it comes to projects, and it’s basically about returning to a topic after a bit. For example, while asking for any additional projects to work on, I’ve had people tell me “I’m busy, so I’ll circle back with you later.” Many people dislike this term, but I think it’s harmless.

“Get a bite” (or a nibble)

These last two are terms that aren’t necessarily PR-exclusive, but I think they’re fun ways to describe offering story ideas and commentary to media. Because when you think about it, pitching is a bit like fishing. You put out your story like you’re casting a line and hope that you get a bite. Thankfully reporters are more likely to “bite” than fish, but it’s still a clever metaphor that I like hearing and using.

“Find a home”

And speaking of animal-related terms I’ve heard, this one might be the most adorable. When I heard someone say we were “finding a home” for a bylined article, my mind immediately went to dogs and animal shelters, where people find homes for pets who need one. As a dog lover and proud owner of a rescue (say hi to Toby!), a term like that resonates with me. Bylines and other stories, like pets, need homes too! And it’s up to journalists to “adopt” them. Get Sarah McLachlan to film a PSA!

Overall I’ve learned a lot of terms and lingo as an intern, and I look forward to using them myself as I continue to grow and take on more responsibilities, whether it’s at Crenshaw or wherever else my PR career takes me.

Business Leaders: PR Tips To Ace Media Interviews

For any PR agency team, a major media interview for a company spokesperson is a solid win. Nothing is quite as rewarding as securing that one big interview, or even a series of them, if there’s high-profile news to share. At the same time, having a terrific media spokesperson who can nail the messaging, handle tough questions and make business or technical language accessible isn’t always easy. 

Some executives are born to be media resources, and they’re every PR person’s dream. Less experienced leaders may need media training or informal coaching to showcase their subject-matter expertise and serve as an organization’s face and voice. They’re unlikely to be included in sites listing the worst interviews of all time, but most can use some help.

With that in mind, here are some tips for PR pros to help encourage a stellar media interview performance.

Know the reporter and outlet 

Always start with the basics. It’s essential to research the media outlet and their audience, of course. Then move on to the journalist’s goals for the interview, their track record, and personality. Read about the reporters’ background, reporting beats, and previous stories to understand their approach and style. Study their social media to get a feel for personal opinions on issues, followers, and interests. If there are some commonalities between the reporter and the executive, it never hurts to reference them to break the ice. But don’t mistake a media interview for a social discussion. The reporter likely has one thing in mind – a good story.

Think through some interview questions.. but don’t count on them

Once the interview topic and duration are determined, spend time anticipating the questions the reporter will ask. While some may share general interview questions beforehand, don’t count on it. Bear in mind that despite what a reporter or producer tells you, questions might change during the course of the interview — especially if it’s about breaking industry news. Besides the specific topic, the PR team should always be mindful of prepping the execs about any hot-buttons or pressing industry questions to carve thoughtful insights and reinforce expertise. The PR team should also review past interviews with the spokesperson and be aware of all on-the-record comments, since those could come up again in a different context. 

Stay on message and be concise

After gathering all possible details, it’s critical to prepare a comprehensive briefing doc, clearly laying out the key three to four messaging points for an executive spokesperson to reiterate and weave into their responses. We recommend that leadership set aside some time with their PR team to go over the messaging, rehearse the responses, identify any red flags and revise responses if needed. Reporters will have a hard time following if the overarching messaging is filled with complex or technical jargon. Maintain brevity and keep them simple, straight, and easy to understand. Long-winded responses typically fail to deliver the main point and lose everyone’s interest. Additionally, to make the story compelling, back it with supporting facts and data points.

Use examples

A good example can help liven up any interview, particularly one about an abstract or technical topic, and a good story is worth a thousand words of jargon. But make sure the example is well prepared, relevant to the interview, and brief. It’s risky to launch into a story that hasn’t been road-tested before an audience.  

Advise execs to be natural and not rush through the interview

Be it a print, digital or broadcast interview, PR pros should explain that an interview is a conversation between two people – something which is engaging and relaxed, yet professional and informative. Hence, the spokesperson should be succinct without losing attributes that make them unique and natural. Messaging and talking points should only be referenced to guide the interview response, not treated as scripted responses. The executive should be able to connect with the reporter, take a pause occasionally and check in to ask if they’re following through. Most journalists will do their own research ahead of time, but not everyone is an expert on the topic at hand. Expect them to ask questions that may require some extra explanation. 

It’s okay not to know everything

No matter how prepared you are, sometimes reporters pose questions that don’t have ready answers. In that case, it’s fine to say, “I don’t have that information, but we’ll try to get back to you.” A good PR advisor will never let a spokesperson guess when it comes to facts or data. On the other hand, an informed opinion about a relevant business issue is always welcome. 

Reflect and offer constructive feedback

Usually, a PR team member accompanies execs to interviews or staffs every client media interview. This is helpful for identifying areas where additional information is needed as well as constructive but candid feedback. Such measures are imperative to help solidify their position as industry experts and strengthen the client-agency relationship.

Plan for technical glitches in the virtual world

Yes, we still aren’t back in the pre-pandemic world and interviews continue to be scheduled virtually. It’s therefore important to be flexible and prepared for any technical glitches. Make sure to check your lighting, test your computer’s camera and sound quality, disable notifications, maintain proper eye contact, and dress the part, among other do’s and don’ts.

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PR people act as the facilitators and counselors, and with their help executives can take full control of a media interview. With proper planning and execution, it will elevate the company’s positioning, demonstrate leadership, and increase any executive’s chances of being quoted in future stories.