A Journalist’s POV: 3 Questions From A NY PR Firm

One of the joys of working in a top PR agency is getting to know rising stars in both traditional and digital media. One of those digital media standouts is Sarah Stiefvater, Associate Editor, women’s lifestyle site, PureWow. Below, Sarah discusses some of the best ways to build and foster a good PR/journalist relationship including how to ensure ongoing dialogue and pitching with sincerity.

What would you most want PR people to know about working with PureWow? I want PR people to know that we really notice and appreciate when you’ve done your homework. PureWow is a digital publisher with a focus on women’s lifestyle content….and a super short lead time. That means that we’re probably not working on holiday gift guides six months in advance and we’re probably not going to cover a topic that’s completely out of our wheelhouse. A publicist who is familiar with PureWow and the types of things we write about (everything from affordable home upgrades to ways to wear dark florals) is always going to be at an advantage.

When was the last time a PR pro helped you with a story and what was the outcome? This morning! I was researching a story I’m writing  about sports bras. I was thinking about including a brand we’ve covered before, and remembered a recent email from that brand’s PR rep. She checks in periodically, keeping her brand on my radar and putting her at an advantage for continued coverage. I reached out to her and she immediately got back to me with relevant details, links and high-res photos–a totally seamless process. Obviously the brand has to align with our content and be a great fit for the particular story, but staying in touch is always welcome from my perspective.

What qualities make a great PR contact for you? Again, the best PR contacts have made themselves familiar with our brand. They know what we cover and pitch accordingly. Sometimes that means bringing up a recent story of ours and pitching a relevant brand or product. That’s awesome, and shows me you’ve taken the time to get to know what we’re about as a publication. A great PR contact is also passionate about the brands she or he reps. It’s so refreshing to get a convincing pitch, and feeling like the publicist really and truly believes in whatever she or he is talking about.

Spring-Clean Your Tech PR Tool Kit

Though much of the nation’s weather belies it, spring starts March 20th. With it comes a good excuse to examine how your PR firm is doing “digital” and do some sprucing for the rest of the year. Start with these five tips.

Define and declare. Everyone wants to jump on the tech PR bandwagon. If your firm genuinely knows the space inside and out, including the leaders in enterprise tech and other segments, shout it to the rooftops. Can you do a byline demonstrating your expertise, appear on a key industry trade show panel, or create a separate agency blog on the topic? At the very least, make sure your PR client win releases in the sector are out there.

Win at storytelling. While you’re waiting for Wired or TechCrunch to tell your client’s story – tell parts of it yourself. Today’s companies shape their own narratives via social and other owned channels, especially when they’re savvy enough to know the difference between what the tech reporters will jump on and what will make theme say “meh.” Don’t wait for validation from traditional and digital media to vet the smaller stories, run with them.

Don’t forget about the personal side. Are you sticking to your client’s new products and services for most of your media outreach? Don’t forget the human faces behind the devices or apps. There are many outlets focusing on scintillating personality stories, philanthropy angles, or up-from-nothing entrepreneurs. Delve into the people on the team and see what stories rise to the top.

Know your social media. Don’t roll your eyes! If you’ve let your client’s social media efforts become complacent – settling for likes and retweets instead of more actionable lead-generators, take a page from Marc Ostrofsky in his new book, Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play.  Ostrofsky counsels treating different social networks as different languages, with each network also offering its own demographic.

As an example, he says “I don’t want to market my book via Twitter as much as I want to market it via Linkedln.. Why? Because Twitter is much more a young person’s medium, whereas Linkedln is much more beneficial for promoting a book that’s business-related. More than ever, knowing who your customers are and what their needs are is tremendously important-without a deep understanding of their customers, brands will lag behind competitors.”

Keep on top of the sales cycle. Tech companies are bought and sold at the speed of light. Are you aware of where your digital client is in the cycle? Are they positioned for sale to the right company? Does your team know enough about the buy side to provide the most current counsel? Bring salient research and recommendations to the client ahead of being asked and position yourselves as in-the-know experts.

Beyond Traditional PR – Death Goes Digital

Sadly, this has been a week of loss, both for me personally and in the entertainment world, as we said goodbye way too early to the tremendous actor James Gandolfini.

It made me reflect on how we mourn. So-called deathcare is experiencing its “15 minutes” as the industry uses social sharing to make funerals and conversations about death a more acceptable part of life. Funerals have always generated “buzz” via newspaper obits and calendar listings, – built-in PR since the dawn of newspaper publishing. But recently the “death business” has come out of the social media closet.

Case in point, a recent funeral not only featured the now-standard online guest book, but the entire service was streamed live for friends and family who couldn’t attend. Additionally, for attendees who wanted to check in on any others already buried at the cemetery, there was an online registry of grave markers and Google maps to locate exactly the spot.

In fact, much of the business of death is online, from downloadable obituary templates to casket shopping. Facebook also makes it easy to memorialize someone on their page and live on long after their passing.

The industry even has “event planners” to ensure your guests have the ultimate funeral experience. If you’re already planning your own farewell – from the music and flowers to the dress code – there’s an app for that. Just check out iFuneral.

Finally, ask yourself how you shared your shock about the untimely passing of James Gandolfini. Twitter? Text? Facebook? After all, births, weddings and other important life moments are online; why not funerals?