5 Handy PR Tips to Ace Reporter Queries

You’ve chummed the water. You’ve staked out the goat. You’ve greased the trap, baited the hook, and smeared peanut butter on the mousetrap.

In other words, you’ve sent out your pitch or news release. Now what?

What do you do when the phone rings, or the inbox pings or Twitter tweets? That reporter needs details and lots of ’em. And maybe needs to talk to a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or wants a quote from the CEO.

Here are 5 tips so you don’t get caught flat-footed:

Expect the call. Lots of people in the public relations biz think the job is over when the press release goes out. Maybe you make a follow-up phone call or email. But that’s just the first bean in the burrito. Most reporters will use your release as a starting point, but they’re gonna have lots more questions. So don’t be surprised when they call.

Be prompt (and available). Reporters (like most of us) have deadlines and they’re usually pushing them to the max. Answer the phone. Or email. Or tweet. But get back to them quickly. The curse of the 24-hour news cycle? You’re expected to be accessible during waking hours (and sometimes after). Being accessible via social media can be a big advantage for both you and the reporter.

Be prepared

Get technical. Have relevant information handy – not just the information pertaining to the news release, but basic company information and background. And if you don’t know something, find out and get it to ’em ASAP.

Be prepared. Have the contact information of your Subject Matter Experts available. Make sure the SME has been briefed. Coordinate between the SME and the reporter. And have a few pithy quotes ready from the SME just in case the reporter and the SME don’t connect. Make images available, hi-res and web-ready, plus video and audio, if relevant. And have a way to get it to who needs it in zippy fashion (reference to speed and compressing files…see what I did there?)

Be friendly. And helpful. And pretty, and witty and wise. Help the reporter get what she needs. PR is a service industry. The better service you provide, the more successful you’ll be. <Ring! Ring!> It’s for you!

For more PR advice and where to plan your next microbrewery tour, call or email Ben Singleton, Ideopia’s director of public relations. 513-947-1444 ext 18.

Comments Off on 5 Handy PR Tips to Ace Reporter Queries Back to Top

Pappy’s Gone Missing! Film at 11.

Buffalo Trace Distillery recently discovered that several cases of the premium Pappy Van Winkle bourbon had been…err… winkled.

So to the fine folks at Buffalo Trace: One of your bourbon brands just made it into the news in a (relatively) neutral story. How do you capitalize on the moment and turn it into a positive PR opportunity? Let’s find out.

Pappy is already a hard-to-get, bragging-rights-acquired, top-shelf bourbon with lots of fans among the bourbon cognoscenti, now exposed to a much wider audience because of the theft of a few cases.

“Wow, this stuff is so good, someone heisted it from the warehouse!”

“How much is a bottle?!?”

“It must be wicked awesome!”

“I must have some!”

Instant buzz. But there’s no problem peddling Pappy. People line up around the block to get at this liquid gold when a few bottles become available. But Buffalo Trace distills other bourbons. And they’re special too.

Get some reporters down to the distillery. Look for reporters who enjoy a cocktail or two. This shouldn’t be hard.

When you make the pitch to visit, talk about the bourbon culture in Kentucky that’s now expanding worldwide. Talk about Kentucky’s bourbon mystique. Talk about how there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than people. And send ‘em some pictures…scenes that’ll make good video. Think in terms of visual interest and what might capture a viewer/reader’s attention.

Once the reporters arrive, show them what makes Pappy special. And talk about your OTHER brands, too. About how the same care and quality that make Pappy so beloved goes into ALL your brands. Make sure you have lots of bottles set out. And glasses. Don’t be afraid to think big–This doesn’t have to be just a local/regional story.  This thing has national appeal.

Get those master distillers talking about the 20-year-long process that goes into a bottle of Pappy’s. And the artisanal process for your other brands. Say artisanal…a lot.  People on the coasts love artisanal. Reference mint juleps, the national media loves those. Mention how Celebrity Chef and Bon Vivant Anthony Bourdain considers Pappy’s the bee’s knees. A little name-dropping never hurts. And don’t forget to  deploy social media to take advantage of all this attention; it can be a great force multiplier, getting you attention in many different spheres.

So that’s how to turn a little light-fingered larceny into a big win for Buffalo Trace. But what if you’re another distillery and want to get some of that limelight? Reach out to the media and talk about your new security upgrades in light of the recent high-end bourbon thefts. How you’re protecting your own specialty bourbon that’s purloin-worthy. And what makes it so darn special. Find ways your brand fits into the story. No matter what your industry is, be aware that a little news nugget can be turned into a gold rush. And when you find yourself getting your 15 minutes, be prepared to take advantage. I’ll drink to that!

Comments Off on Pappy’s Gone Missing! Film at 11. Back to Top

Bolster Search Rankings with Press Releases

High search engine rankings on keywords can drive the success of a business. So it makes sense to extend search engine optimization (SEO) to all aspects of the brand. Public relations and SEO press releases are a great place to start. They drive higher search rankings by:

  • Creating backlinks from high-value news sites
  • Bolstering keyword authority through coverage in all media
  • Visibility on secondary media properties like blogs and RSS feeds

How to Write a SEO Press Release

  • Choose 1 or 2 keywords your planning deems important.
  • Use the keyword(s) in the headline (H1 tag) and subhead (H2 tag).
  • Be brief. Keep the release tightly written around the keyword wander off into the bathroom. Off target copy just dilutes the impact of the keywords.
  • Don’t stuff keywords into your copy to boost rankings. It doesn’t work. And editors and readers alike won’t read your mangled jargon.
  • Use keyword phrases as links back to additional information on your website.
  • Circulate widely by using press release distribution services like PR Newswire, not just to traditional media and bloggers.

This might sound like SEO trickery. But, if you remember the last time you got thumped with a copy of Strunk & White, it’s just the foundation of good writing.

Learn more about about Ideopia’s PR capabilities and our public relations case studies.

Comments Off on Bolster Search Rankings with Press Releases Back to Top

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!

Comments Off on Use News Coverage to Boost Brand Credibility Back to Top

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.

Comments Off on Crisis Communications: The Top Line Back to Top

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.

Comments Off on Media Tips for the PR Spokesperson Back to Top

Hospital Marketing: 8 Risks of Playing it Safe

One of the biggest challenges of healthcare and hospital marketing is creating a brand based on a differentiation that’s meaningful to consumers. The usual path is the safe route. Here are some of the biggest offenses:

  1. Envision your hospital as a conglomeration of separate companies, or rogue states, e.g. radiology, oncology, ER, orthopedics, and our favorite, “The Open MRI Toaster.”
  2. Show lots of doctors in your ads. Doctors with their arms folded. Doctors with patients. Doctors with other doctors. Doctors with weird medical devices or doctors in scrubs. All available to you and your competitors on the nearest cheapo stock photo site.
    Continue reading
Comments Off on Hospital Marketing: 8 Risks of Playing it Safe Back to Top