Scoring The BIG PR Win

In today’s PR landscape, a high-profile article or interview can mean the difference between a happy client and a disappointed one.  Your clients have the inherent need to look stronger, smarter, and better positioned than the competition, and there’s no better way to accomplish this than by scoring a great feature in an influential outlet (i.e. NY Times, CNN, Mashable, depending on your client’s target audience.)  Here are a few tips to help you land the article of your client’s dreams.

Don’t pitch the big guys on every little announcement and idea

Be strategic with your pitching and make sure it’s the right fit.  Don’t pitch the big guys with every single little industry announcement your client is making.  If you want to eventually secure a Los Angeles Times briefing, make sure every pitch you send to that reporter is appropriate and relevant.  Otherwise, you risk getting lost in the inbox shuffle.

Be personal

Reporters are inundated with emails and phone calls from PR pros all day/every day.  Don’t just blast them the same message you’re sending to 500 other contacts.  Do your research.  Follow the reporter on Twitter and learn what they’re interested in and what they tend to write about.  Personalize the pitch and tailor it specifically to the individual as well as the outlet.

Use current events

I’ve discussed this one here on PR Fishbowl before, but it’s definitely appropriate for this situation.  Don’t hesitate to creatively insert your client into the conversation surrounding popular current events in the news.  For example, check out how client Silverpop was recently featured on Mashable by providing some unique insights into the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Keep an open dialogue

“No” is not the end of the world.  If a high-profile reporter lets you know that a certain story isn’t right for them, start a constructive conversation to find out what they’ll be looking for in the future.  Keep it open ended, and be sure to follow up when you finally have that great exclusive to offer.

Tell us how you’ve scored a major win for one of your clients.

PR Lessons From The 2010 Election

No matter how you feel about the results of the 2010 midterms, it’s been an interesting election season. Start with a stagnant economy, add a soured electorate, pour on the tea party activists, and it’s a bitter brew, at least for incumbents. The election also offers lessons for communicators. Here’s what marketing and PR pros can take from 2010.

Be authentic. Pollster Andy Kohut of The Pew Research Center says the voter polls point to one thing –  disillusionment. I’d say it goes even deeper, into mistrust. The emerging tea party candidates might not be my cup of…whatever, but they spoke and behaved not like typical politicians, but like real people – mad as hell, and determined to do something about it. Truth can work wonders in a marketing campaign as well. Just ask Domino’s.

Be exciting. A fresh, engaging story breaks through the noise. The shiniest new brands in politics – relative newcomers like Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio won big this season. I think that’s because a disillusioned electorate, like a jaded consumer, is quick to change the channel if they’re not engaged.

But not too exciting. Extremism gets you noticed (Sharron Angle) but it doesn’t win the middle. Likewise, Carl Paladino’s erratic behavior was ultimately too scary for New York voters, and O’Donnell was haunted by her kooky, 16-year-old TV sound bites. In troubled times, competence and stability inspire trust.

Narrative counts. Yes, all pols like to talk about their humble roots, impoverished childhoods, and sainted mothers, but Rubio’s praise of his immigrant father and self-identification as the “son of exiles” was so eloquent it melted even cynical hearts. We love a good, emotional narrative, whether about a senator, a business, or a brand.

Connect with the customer. Former C-suite dwellers Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina went down in flames. WWF cofounder Linda MacMahon landed hard, despite a roaring start. Some call sexism, but I think it’s bad branding and poor communications. These ladies came across as cold, out-of-touch, and even patronizing. And it doesn’t help that mistrust of business is at an all-time high.

Be transparent. Let’s face it, privacy is a thing of the past. Whitman should have come clean earlier about her undocumented housekeeper. O’Donnell might have anticipated her comic skeletons would come out of the closet. Maybe they did prepare, but like a big brand caught in a crisis situation, they didn’t seem to have a plan.

Don’t take your fans for granted. Most pundits agree that the Democratic challenge was to turn out the core constituencies that helped put Obama over the top in 2008 – primarily young voters and minority groups. Winning their support is like gaining the trust of a fickle or skeptical consumer. You have to earn it, every day.

Stay on message. This is where both the GOP and the tea party, with its razor focus on jobs and spending, really resonated. (Never mind that no one has articulated exactly how those jobs will be created.) In actually fulfilling his campaign promises of passing healthcare and financial reform, the President may have fallen short here.

Listen. One reason the business candidates failed is because they acted like CEOs. Candidates can’t do command and control. Politics is about the customer, and marketing communications in the digital age is the same way. It’s critical to have a relevant message, and to convey it well, but if you don’t listen, you lose.