All posts by PR Staff

Use News Coverage to Boost Brand Credibility

A news story. pitched via public relations, can do the talking for you as an unbiased third-party endorsement. That’s why we found our news coverage on display in a distributor’s booth at a recent medical conference. The savvy distributor understood that having a trusted magazine to spread the word adds credibility.

News coverage also entices new customers to try a product. Finish Line’s David Clopton works with distributors. They sell his company’s bicycle maintenance products to bike shops throughout North America. Clopton believes publicity is a valuable branding and awareness tool. But more importantly, he says: “It’s a way of going beyond the dealer (or distributor) to the customer. If customers come in and buy Finish Line, then the store has to order more.”

Let new audiences fall in love with your company. Go direct. Educate prospects about why to choose you over your competitors. Then extend the value of the coverage by reusing the articles as collateral. Your distributors will love it!

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Crisis Communications: The Top Line

1. The role of public relations in crisis communication is to protect your people. Guard against putting team members in the position of answering for the company. The company spokesperson has to be someone with the authority to accept responsibility and enact changes if needed.

2. Always respond to media requests—quickly and thoroughly. The rules of engagement allow reporters to ambush if their interview request is ignored or denied. In crisis communications, you usually don’t get a second chance.

3. Know your interviewer. Research past stories. Dig deep to discover what angles a reporter might uncover in their own research of your organization and the issues involved. Provide members of your strategic management team with examples of past stories, so they understand what the company is facing. Identify patterns and analyze how the reporter might be expected to approach coverage of your organization.

4. Screen the reporter to learn as much as possible about the planned story. The more you know, the better you can determine who should respond, and how. Ask what the story is about, when it is anticipated to run, who else is being included in the coverage and keep them talking as long as you can. Ask what they would like from your organization and how they see your content fitting into the overall story.

5. Train your spokesperson. Prepare them for anticipated questions. Arm them with research and anecdotes ready to illustrate (and prove) their points.

6. Prepare anyone who could be in the line of fire, so they are equipped with enough information to decide whether they want to comment. Offer employees tools for keeping themselves out of the spotlight.

7. Monitor all of the interviews that take place within your organization, so you know what was asked and how the questions were answered.

8. If possible or appropriate, reach out to other entities included in the coverage. Compare their experiences with yours, to get a better idea of the scope of the story.

9. Accept that this will hurt. Investigative journalists don’t usually change their tone. By they time the contact your organization for comment, the story may be mostly written or filmed. The angle of the coverage is nearly impossible to change. Accept that and speak directly to the audience—let them decide what’s right.

10. Get out in front. Be the one to capture the coverage and share it with senior decision-makers. Never learn about it from someone else.

11. Lead. Evaluate what the coverage means to your organization. Who was hurt and how? Respond directly to those constituencies.

12. Set the record straight. Following the story, communicate directly to key audiences. Reach out with email messages, letters and phone calls and online content, including your website, Facebook and Twitter. Incorporate important messages into the advertising campaign and public relations outreach through other media venues. Don’t let misinformation stand!

13. Be prepared for follow up news stories, especially if something runs in print. Television newsrooms may show up next. Have spokespeople prepared to respond. Make them available for the next few days, until the furor dies down.

14. Provide employees with the language and tools they need to explain what happened. Remember they have to communicate to business audiences. But they also need language that they can share with their family and friends when they leave the office. They need to be able to defend themselves and their organization—serving as ambassadors in the community.

15. Boost morale. Recognize that when the organization’s reputation is blackened in the media, it’s a slight on all of the people working there too. Reassure them that they are working for an organization that they can be proud to serve. Take action to make sure that’s true!

16. Look in the mirror. Does your organization need to make changes to address any accusations? Can you do better? public relations, marketing or advertising can overcome operational or ethical lapses. Come clean and clean up if that’s what it takes to address a legitimate claim.

For more information about crisis communication and public relations at Ideopia, call Susan Abramovitz at 513-947-1444.

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Ideopia wins Gold Asters for Healthcare Marketing

Banning medical images from its ads was a winning strategy for advertising agency Ideopia. The Cincinnati-based advertising and interactive agency took the top prize in three categories in a national competition evaluating healthcare advertising.

LENSTAR
The award-winning LENSTAR® ad by Ideopia.

Its campaigns for Mercy Health Partners, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati and medical manufacturer Haag-Streit USA, beat 3,000 submissions to capture gold medals in the Aster Awards.

Agency co-founder Bill Abramovitz says ads have to grab attention to succeed.

“Your strategy could be brilliant, but the way you execute it must break through,” said Abramovitz. “Otherwise your marketing is nothing but very expensive wallpaper.”

He banned doctors from the agency’s campaigns after completing an unscientific survey of hospital billboards. The majority used photos of doctors, patients or medical equipment—regardless of which hospital they were promoting or where they were located.

Ideopia's billboard for Mercy Health Partners

His rules for healthcare marketers are similar to the advice he offers clients from other industries:

• Start with a brand differentiation that is valid today and will hold true in five years.

• Be honest about the validity of your brand—is it true and rooted in the basic values of your organization?

• Ensure that your message is meaningful to your target audience.

• Ask whether you can create a powerful communication based on your brand and marketing strategy.

Web Marketing for Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities website by Ideopia

About Ideopia

Founded in 1992 Ideopia Advertising and Interactive is a spam chucking, cow patty annihilating, branding, public relations, web marketing, web design and social media agency that believes in branding with out boundaries. With headquarters in East Gate, Ideopia lives in the cloud at www.ideopia.com.

Contact: Liz Vogel (office) 513-947-1444, ext. 18, (cell) 631-741-7700, email: [email protected]

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Media Tips for the PR Spokesperson

Do you plan to be interviewed for a news story? If so, here’s a tip: If you don’t want to see it in the story, don’t say it!

Once you agree to go on the record, anything you say is fair game. By honoring that unwritten rule of media etiquette, you’ll develop stronger relationships with reporters. You’ve shown you understand the ground rules and you respect their editorial integrity.

If you lay out a blooper, try using a phrase like this one: “Maybe a more accurate way to say that would be…” Then restate your answer. That lets the reporter know which comment you prefer. But remember, ultimately, it’s the reporter who gets to decide what goes in the final story.

Many spokespeople ask for an advance copy of the story. Most newsrooms run lean and deadlines are tight. So asking is an imposition that might take you off the A list. A reporter might also think you’re asking for editorial control. News outlets aren’t going to give that up. It could be awkward, so it’s better not to ask.

Instead, plan ahead so you’re clear what points you want to make during the interview. Stick to them. Leave out extraneous information that could dilute what you really want to say.

Keep in mind, a typical sound bite is less than nine second. It’s common for a TV news segment to run for less than a minute. And newspaper stories generally don’t exceed 400 words.

All of this boils down to one important point: If it doesn’t belong in the story, don’t let it come out of your mouth.

Keep this in mind and you’ll be a much more successful spokesperson.

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