Know Your PR Jargon

It doesn’t take long in a PR agency to figure out that practitioners can speak in a language all their own. Learning “PR-speak” is necessary to facilitate communication within a team. Industry jargon can be off-putting, but it does add a sense of camaraderie for those “in the know.” Additionally, as any industry evolves, so does the vocabulary. Check out some of these commonly used PR terms and acronyms to keep from getting lost in translation.

The Acronyms. PR people are definitely fond of acronyms, so much so that a conversation between two people in the biz can sound more like a secret code than a business plan.

B2B and B2C, as most people already know, refer to campaigns that target other businesses, or those that reach consumers, respectively.

OTR stands for Off the Record — integral to media relations by (ostensibly) allowing you to control the message when speaking to media.

ROO stands for Return on Objective and represents how your end result compares to your program’s original goals, where ROI, Return on Investment, refers to the value of a program.

SOV stands for Share of Voice, a barometer of visibility often used by brands or companies in competitive industries. SOV can be part of an agency’s KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, as the industry has moved beyond such traditional (but outdated) metrics as CPM (Cost Per Thousand) or AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent.) Phew.

Pitching. Pitching is essential to successful public relations, and, although it’s derived from baseball, it can mean a few things. A new business pitch is where an agency sells ideas to a potential new client, while a media pitch, of course, is persuading a journalist or blogger that they should feature your client’s news. You should also be learning how to pitch yourself to potential employers, i.e. your elevator pitch.

Blast. The act of sending an e-mail to numerous people at one time (and, unfortunately, often misused.)

Crossing the wire. This sounds dangerous, but it means a press release distributed over a newswire service, which helps run news in searchable digital form. It can be a real asset in spreading a story quickly. The term “crossing the wire” comes from a time when news services communicated via electrical telegraphy.

Readers. A “reader” is a 30-to-60-second piece distributed to broadcast contacts that contains the most essential information for their listeners and viewers.

Boilerplate. “Boilerplate” is actually a printing term that also refers to standard language in legal contracts, but in PR it means a brief summary of a company’s business or history found at the end of a press release. It was also named as one of the most annoying PR terms by InsidePR, but we find it pretty harmless.

Got any other examples of jargon you’ve heard recently? Do you remember the first term that made you scratch your head? Tell us in the comments!

PR Tips for Networking Events

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

No phrase better captures the importance of networking, not only in public relations, but in just about any industry. It’s an essential part of getting ahead, yet there are many ways to self-sabotage. For some shy folks in the biz, networking can be absolutely terrifying.

But successful contact-building is something you can practice, and with the weather warming up, there are sure to be tons of relevant opportunities to do so. Here are some important reminders for the next event you attend.

Do your research. See if you can take a look at an RSVP list before the event to get a feel for those attending. Will it be mostly young professionals? Industry vets? Getting to know the crowd beforehand not only is a great way to prep conversation topics in advance, but it helps calm nerves or anxiety.

Do come with some ice-breakers. Easy ways to strike up conversation include: comparing notes on a recent speaker; asking about membership in the sponsoring group/organization; industry trends, or topical news. Open-ended questions or casual comments (“I’m glad I rushed out of my office for once instead of working late again; how about you?”) can start a conversation flow.

Don’t dress down. Networking events are great opportunities to meet people quickly, so it’s important to leave a positive first impression. Your role doesn’t matter; there is no reason a college intern shouldn’t dress like an executive! Accessories are also a great way to express your personality and could act as a potential ice breaker.

Don’t cling. It’s fine to go with a colleague, but don’t huddle with her all evening; you’ll be more approachable if you’re mingling and have an open body posture. By the same token, don’t monopolize those you’re meeting. After 5 or 10 minutes, excuse yourself to take a call/visit the bar/find a contact. Better yet, play (business) matchmaker and introduce them to another contact or associate of yours, then move on.

Don’t abuse the open bar. Bee-lining to the bar might seem tempting in an intimidating crowd of people, but be sure to control your drinking! Limit yourself to one or two drinks for the event and take your time with them. You want to be remembered for your business or employee potential, not for being a party animal.

Don’t forget to follow up. Just because the event is over doesn’t mean the networking is! Look through your new collection of business cards and follow up, whether through Linkedin or email. It’s helpful to reference something you talked about at the event and look for opportunities to connect again.

Managing The Media Exclusive

In the public relations world, getting an exclusive is often a key part of a team’s overall strategy of securing the best coverage. But it is often a delicate dance between outlets, clients and agency and must be handled with a certain finesse. The definition of “exclusive” has even grown murky (see CNBC’s restrictive booking policy. It prohibits guests from appearing on rival networks like Bloomberg or Fox Business Network once they agree to a CNBC spot, even if that appearance is AFTER CNBC).

Managing the process of securing an exclusive has never been more important. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to nail down exclusive coverage.

How’s my news? Just because you have news to offer doesn’t mean it will get covered (let alone exclusive coverage), so pegging your news to a meaningful hook is key. Launches, acquisitions and funding are all newsworthy hooks, so be sure to do your homework to settle on the most compelling angle.

Which outlet is right for me? Everybody wants The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and, honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with those outlets. In most cases, though, your exclusives won’t be big enough for those pubs. That’s why it’s important to know which outlets, beyond the big guys, would be considered exclusive “wins” for your client. By steering your efforts towards the best pertinent, targeted, outlets, you will not only stay top of mind for current customers, but for new ones as well.

The approach Your pitch is often only as good as the media list you target. Selecting the wrong media contact or approaching them in a way they dislike (“no phone calls ever”, “no emails only Twitter” ) can mean the difference between exclusive glory and bitter defeat. Pitch only reporters that make sense to your brand, know their preferred M.O., and be sure to speak off the record beforehand.

Sealing the deal Once you have settled on which media outlet will break your exclusive, be sure to establish any key differentiators – features and data that ensure that your client is presented in the manner you want. And don’t be afraid to have honest discussions with your contact to best manage the expectations of your client.

Have any other great tips for handling the ebbs-and-flows of the exclusive process? Leave them in the comments section below.

Don’t Trip Up! Fam Trip Planning Primer

Seeing really is believing, and for PR pros, a familiarization press trip, or fam trip, is a staple for securing in-depth, first-hand coverage of a destination.  A successful fam trip will not only provide you with a way to show off your client’s tourist or business features but also give you a great opportunity to build relationships with key journalists and bloggers.

Here are some tips for making sure your next fam trip run smoothly:

Do your research. Cater the fam trip you’re developing toward the reporter’s interests – the more involved and engaged, the better!  Also, check with the reporter and see if there are any “must-sees” or (or any “must-not-sees”).

Prep. Details, details, details… from beginning to end, make sure everything is clearly mapped out. Include a well-structured itinerary, maps and directions, information for key contacts, what to pack, etc.

Discuss angles in advance. If it’s a freelancer, you want to make sure there’s a real assignment in the offing. Before the trip specs are set in stone, discuss the story highlights and iron out any wrinkles. If the reporter is planning a family trip feature, for example, you may want to skip the pub crawl. (or maybe not…)

Encourage social sharing. This is a simple, and sometimes undervalued, way to really highlight the destination and build buzz. Spell it out for the reporter – give them hashtags to use, tell them where they should consider “checking in,” let them know when they’re about to see an Instagram-worthy moment.

Resist the urge to jam your itinerary. As much as you want the reporter you’re working with to experience everything at the destination, give them some down time. After an action-packed day of touring, it’ll be helpful for them to take a break and reflect on everything they saw / experienced.

Any fam trip tips you’d like to share?

Becoming A Media Source

When it comes to client work, one of the things we always ask ourselves is, “How can we help our client shine?” This is especially true if the client is in a less-than-sexy industry. However, a PR pro’s dream is for the tables to flip and the media to approach us. It’s not that hard to achieve but does require your client to build and polish their “mediability”.

Be sure to keep the following tips in mind if you’re trying to position your client as a go-to media source.

Write in quotes, speak in sound bites: One of the smartest ways to ensure your client a spot on a journalist’s speed dial is by offering quotes that can easily be injected into a story, whether it’s about your client or a larger issue pertinent to their industry. The same can be said for broadcast media. Providing strong, clear sound bites during a broadcast interview will usually earn a spot in a segment and be considered for future pieces.

Create original content: Building on the above, work with your client to create original, useful content that informs and entertains. This can be as simple as maintaining a blog of industry musings, or guest-blogging to show your client’s opinion on relevant topics. A journalist doing research on industry trends may find it a treasure-trove of information.

Consider indirect industries: Your client’s work affects more than just their direct industry, so leverage your client’s fresh perspective to less-than-obvious sectors. For example, our client, Sleepy’s is currently advocating a change of Daylight Saving Time: Not only is this a sleep issue, but a health, safety and political issue. How many times have you seen a bed retailer on Politico?

Add their profile to ProfNet: ProfNet is an awesome tool that PR people use to connect their clients with journalists writing in a specific field, but why not be more proactive? Create an “expert” profile for your client and watch journalists flock to you for more information.

Bring on media training: For clients less familiar with the media, media training can be a very attractive option. Depending on how intense training needs to be, clients can be prepped by agency staff or a hired media trainer.

Don’t be afraid to carpe diem (or seize the opportunity): In a perfect world, every media request would come with ample time to prepare, analyze the journalist and outlet, and rehearse sample questions. However, the news is unpredictable and being flexible is a must. Some opportunities are presented in a very short window of time, so proving that your client can provide a quality interview on a moment’s notice will make them a go-to source for breaking news.
Build relationships: This is a no-brainer, as it’s the backbone of the PR industry, but it’s essential to create relationships with people. If you’re able to connect with a journalist and build a great rapport with them, they will not only be happy to share your client’s news, but look to you for story material in the future.
What other tips do you have that bring the media to you? Be sure to leave in the comments.

To Preview Or Not to Preview: That Is The Super Bowl PR Question

While getting a head start on the competition is generally viewed as a smart strategy, does it translate into (PR) points for Super Bowl advertisers? Which method pays bigger dividends – previewing, or creating anticipation by waiting? Here are the two views.

The Upside: Maximum Exposure
By choosing to broadcast commercials or teasers, sponsors get a prime opportunity for buzz. Let’s face it, people love to share things via social media, and what better event to “tease” than America’s most-watched sporting event. And given that the unofficial motto for Super Bowl marketing is “go big or go home,” previews enable sponsors to get more yardage for their commercial investment. Considering the costs, earned media exposure can go a long way to maximize ROI.

The Downside: Ripples, Not Waves
While previews can give brands get a head start, it may not be the best strategy for those hoping to make a big splash. For example, for a new brand –or even a brand that hasn’t advertised in the Super Bowl before – arriving unannounced to the party can pay dividends, providing media with the unexpected “underdog” tale on advertising’s biggest stage and its noisiest annual story.

The Verdict
The decision sometimes comes down to practical matters like prep time. Often, agencies are working on Super Bowl spots up until the last minute, so an advance viewing strategy isn’t viable. Factors like brand profile, creative approach, and history are also worth considering.

Inventive content is likely to be shared, and the simple fact of the Super Bowl investment puts the advertiser in rarefied company. For a smaller brand, pre-promotion usually makes sense. It maximizes the spend and hedges the risk of getting lost in the clutter.

More established advertisers with strong track records, on the other hand, often have a built-in audience who may be waiting to see the latest creative spot. They may not choose to share the actual spot in advance, but pre-publicity to build anticipation is recommended.

The Super Bowl isn’t always a game-changer, but it’s a big hit for any advertiser, regardless of PR strategy. Not only are millions of people watching, but it may actually be the only time people want to see commercials. So, either approach can be a winner!

It’s Award Season – Even In PR

by guest blogger George Drucker

We’re getting into awards season. . . in film, television, even public relations. It reminds me of a learning from years ago that has affected my modus operandi for business development and client relations ever since.

Winning awards for creativity is great for the ego. But it’s not necessarily what clients want. At least, it’s not everything.

I will never forget my shock and surprise when Tom Harris – of Golin/Harris fame – published the first of his client surveys of perceptions, wants, needs, and  interests in hiring and retaining outside public relations firms.

Through the years, I had the good fortune to win several PR Awards for creative programs and implementation, from PRSA Silver Anvil to CIPRAs, Golden Apples, Golden Trumpets and everything in between. I thought creativity ruled, that original thinking, tactical implementation and creative results were what impressed and motivated clients to hire and retain their agencies.

It came as an eye-opener to me that, according to Tom’s first study, the #1 priority for clients is actually SERVICE. No matter how you sliced and diced the data, responsiveness and service level were the most important factors in prospect and ongoing client decision making. Out of Tom’s “Top 10 Needs” for clients, creativity ranked #9. It was a factor–but not a vitally important one.

His ongoing surveys through the years have borne this out, and it certainly changed my perspective. Creative product is very important, but not at the expense of client service.

Whether you’re an agency working with corporate communications or marketing departments, or an internal PR function whose “clients” are inside the company, keep in mind that returning phone calls promptly, anticipating client needs, and essentially crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s might be among the most important things you do.

When you can combine that service ethic and flawless execution with inventive thinking and a creative package, you’re running on all cylinders. But start with the basics, and show your clients where your values lie.

Year-End PR Winners And Losers

Year-end wouldn’t be year-end without the inevitable lists! In PR it’s instructive (and full of just a little schadenfrude) to reflect on those who burnished their PR image and those who bruised and battered it. Here’s our best shot at PR Winners and Losers. See what you think.

PR Winners

Chris Christie
Jersey’s often-mocked Republican governor scored major points at home after Hurricane Sandy. Gov. Christie threw himself into the relief efforts as soon as the storm hit the Garden State. His ability to blur party lines and work with President Obama days before the Presidential election helped him maintain the image of a focused leader during the disaster, which led to a huge spike in his most recent approval rating.

Lydia Callis, Bloomberg’s Sign Language Interpreter
How often does the “hearing” public pay attention to sign language interpreters? The answer was ‘not often’ until Lydia Callis signed for Mayor Bloomberg during his post-Sandy addresses. Her enthusiasm and clear sympathy made her stand out, earning her an inspired skit on SNL and rocketing her to internet stardom. She also put sign language interpreting into the zeitgeist.

Hillary Clinton
Who knew that a photo of Hillary Clinton checking her phone would redefine the Secretary of State? The ‘Texts from Hillary’ Tumblr began as a fun way to portray the former presidential candidate, as ‘Hillary’ and ‘Humor’ aren’t often synonymous. The site launched popular memes, which Clinton chose to embrace, and her farewell video and latest “selfie” taken with Meryl Streep just confirmed her appeal with multiple audiences. Welcome to the world of memes, Hillary! We hope you’re here to stay!

PR Losers

When McDonald’s turned to social media to hear their patrons’ #McDStories, they could have never anticipated the can of worms they were opening. McDonald’s diners used the hashtag to air their grievances about the chain, instead of share their success stories. The twitter campaign promptly ended once it was deemed a #McFail.

Penn State
It’s sad to see an institution like Penn State fall from its pedestal, but that’s what happened when the school was caught in a child molestation scandal. Although assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of the awful crimes, the school was burned when the Freeh report revealed that the late head coach Joe Paterno and the administration covered up the situation. As a result, the school took a major hit to its reputation and football program.

Donald Trump
Of course, no PR list would be complete without “The Donald.” Trump claimed he had a “game-changer” in the Presidential election by challenging Obama to release his private records in exchange for a $5 million charitable donation. Celebrities took to the twittersphere mocking the mogul’s cry for attention and Trump’s offer became a joke. But, we were still talking about Trump, so maybe he belongs on both lists!

Can you think of other great PR moments? Any that should be left in the dust? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Make Your Blogger Relationships Work Harder

Bloggers aren’t just an online source anymore. The big ones, the “super-bloggers,” are expanding their media empire from small screens to large ones and virtual relationships to “real world” with tremendous PR potential for your clients.  You can tap into this power by following some timely tips.

Effective blogger relations can expose your client to bigger and better audiences, making them part of meaningful conversations that ultimately translate to increased awareness. This is particularly true now that certain bloggers own more of the media landscape than ever before. Many broadcast outlets book local bloggers as contributors, and top-tier newspapers accept contributions from regional bloggers.

To help leverage relations with the “super-bloggers,” take advantage of these timely tips:

It’s not about you. Bloggers don’t care about your brand’s agenda, period.  Their main focus is their audience. So when pitching an idea or product, get to know that audience – what do they want to hear about, what product might be useful for them, etc. You can’t always tell who the audience is by the blog’s name. Do the homework — it’s never worth ruining your relationship with someone over a lazy pitch.

Keep track of everything! Keep accurate records of the following: which of your story ideas a blogger has covered in the past, the last time you spoke, what approaches have worked well and what fell flat. When it comes to family / parenting bloggers I find it’s helpful to know personal details such as if they have children, and the children’s ages – this information is particularly valuable when pitching toys and other children’s products.

Think beyond the blog. Make sure that whatever idea you’re pitching is not only appropriate for the blog – but for expanded opportunities as well. Visualize the potential broadcast segment or event inclusion and outline ways to make it work. Blogger promotions and partnerships should also be taken into consideration – these are mostly pay to play, and it’s important to do your research and keep in mind that not every blogger is right for a paid promotional partnership.

Keep talking (and helping). Keep the conversation going! Check in on editorial calendar opportunities that may be a perfect fit for your client(s), upcoming events that might be worth attending or sponsoring, any Twitter chats that you and/or your clients should participate in, etc.

With a little homework and a solid strategy, these regional superstars could help elevate your client’s brand.  What are your tips for developing relationships with bloggers?

Blog Roll: Blogs I Read And Why

There’s no better way to wind down after a long week than to catch up on some reading – blog reading. Sure, I love a great magazine or newspaper, but blogs provide just enough content to keep me interested and they also help me with my job in Public Relations. Blogs have become a go-to source of information from different points of view unhindered by editorial boards or media policies, that’s why their perspective is often so fresh and different. Here are some of my favorite blogs to read and why:

NYC PR Girls
I largely attribute my choice to pursue a career in PR to this blog (in New York, nonetheless; nowhere else is PR so fast-paced). Aimed at young professionals, it offers tips on PR fundamentals, style, professional development and even guides to NYC. I find that I always pick up something new from this blog, it’s definitely a must-read for PR girls (and guys)!

Smart, Pretty and (less) Awkward
The concept is simple: Author Molly Ford includes a tip on how to be smarter, prettier and less awkward in every post, accompanied by a meaningful quote. Some tips include fun factoids, beauty quick-fixes, how to handle unusual social situations and organization pointers. Every so often Molly will even include coupon codes; always exciting. The blog posts are short, sweet and leave my day a little brighter; a definite pick-me-up!

Leah Diedrich’s mother taught her to always write thank you notes, so she does – to everything. From foods to cities, the good and the bad, Leah writes a handwritten thank you note to all of it. Some of it gets outlandish, but always heartwarming and sincere. Leah’s perspective reminds me to never take anything for granted and to think of everything as a learning experience. I also try and write handwritten thank you notes in my career whenever possible.

PR Newser
When it comes to industry news, PR Newser should be a bookmark on your browser. PR Newser blends pop culture, current events, jobs and relevant research findings into one entertaining blog. It’s a great way to catch up what’s going on that week without flipping through as many sources. Also, posting content about a wide range of PR, advertising and marketing firms gives readers the opportunities to peep into other careers—great for professional goal setting!

Are there any other blogs that get you through the day? Tell us about some of your favorites!