Getting on TV

22 02 2012

Here are some good tips on how to get you or your company featured on a talk show.




Pitching on Twitter

21 02 2012

I know as a journalist I often used Twitter to tell my followers what story I was working on for the day and also used Twitter when I was searching for a source for a story. Knowing that, it can also be a good tool for Media Relations. Here are some useful tips for good ways to pitch on Twitter.


Eight Tips to Pitch Media Better on Twitter

Guest post by Maya Wasserman, a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner.

The continued proliferation of social media has changed how the PR industry interacts with and pitches the media. These days, the media are flocking to Twitter in droves, and the platform presents a new opportunity for PR pros to connect with journalists and bloggers. However, pitching there has its own set of rules and best practices. Following are my tips on how to successfully pitch media on Twitter.

  1. Develop and strengthen your online brand first. Before you pitch anyone, you want to be seen as a credible and influential source. Do you engage often with your followers? Do you share interesting and valuable information with your community? Twitter is a place to engage and converse. If you look like a spammer or like you’re using it to stalk media, you probably won’t be successful.
  2. Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication. This takes time and research. There are a few good resources for finding media, such asMediaOnTwitter, and more publications are listing their staff’s Twitter handles in the publication. Twitter lists are another good resource for finding media.
  3. Build a relationship first. Journalists are much more likely to accept a pitch from a PR person they already have a relationship with. Begin building a relationship by retweeting them, replying to their questions, and commenting on their blog posts or articles. Twitter is a great place to become a resource for media, and many journalists discuss stories they’re working on or areas of interest there, so listen and learn first.
  4. The same standard PR best practices apply here, too. Don’t pitch journalists off topic. Personalize pitches for each reporter. Proofread your tweets for spelling and grammar. Avoid buzzwords.
  5. Brevity is not only key, it’s necessary. You only have 140 characters to sell your client, so use them well. I find that fitting my pitch into 140 characters is a good exercise in simplifying and focusing on what’s most important.
  6. Use PitchEnginePitchEngine is a great tool to share the rest of the details, images, and video that you can’t fit into those 140 characters.
  7. DM when possible. Once you have built enough of a relationship with the journalist, it is likely that they will be following you back. If so, DM your pitch. If not, @replying works, too, but remember that your pitch will be out there for all to see.
  8. It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too. Use your client’s Twitter handle in your pitch so the journalist can follow that handle, too, and begin building a relationship with the brand directly.

Pitching media on Twitter is like pitching media anywhere else: It’s not easy. It takes research, a smart and relevant pitch, and impeccable PR and writing skills. Have you had any successes pitching media on Twitter? How did you do it?

Maya Wasserman is a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner. She is also blog manager for the agency’s Don’t Drink the Koolaid blog.

A Case of the Mondays

20 02 2012

I don’t know about you but I feel like Mondays…and winter in general, get me a little down sometimes. But is this really a case of the winter blues, or is it all a good PR move?

Series: Bad science

Feeling low? Don’t blame Blue Monday

Despite hype around the ‘most depressing day in the year’ there is no reason to believe people are more miserable in January

I’m not going to tell the same story once a year even if it crops up in parliament, every newspaper, and all over Radio 4: there are more interesting things to say than “Blue Monday is bullshit”, but before we get there, let me briefly clarify how Blue Monday is definitely bullshit.

The “most depressing day of the year” began life as a “wacky academic” equation story. This is the kind of thing PR companies offer as “advertising equivalent exposure” for companies who want their brand in the papers.

The equation stunt was not the work of an academic, it was paid for by Sky Travel, and Blue Monday comes just after your first pay cheque arrives, the perfect time to book a holiday.

It has been co-opted by the Mental Health Foundation, and the Samaritans, presumably with good intentions. But there is no reason to believe the population really is more miserable in January.

reviewed the evidence from more than 30 studies over 130 years on the subject last year. Some find more suicide in spring and early summer, some in spring and autumn, some in summer only, some find no pattern at all.

Many have sampled representative individuals from a population and followed their mood over a year, finding: more misery in summer, more in spring, more in winter, or no peak at all.

Antidepressant prescriptions peak in spring, or in February, May and October. GP consultations for depression peak in May-June, and November-January). Admissions for depression peak in autumn, or spring and summer, while eight studies found no variation.

So Blue Monday does not put a catchy name on a simple human truth. It only really shows us how easy it is to take an idea that people think they already know, and then sell it back to them. Even if it’s false.

While it might be tempting to try to piggyback on nonsense, communicating on mental health issues – like anything interesting — requires that you challenge stigma and assumptions, not reinforce them.

But it’s also worth thinking about the wider consequences when we indulge, deploy, and therefore normalise, nonsense. This year Blue Monday has been promoted by Mentaline, a new business venture selling online webcam counselling for £50 a session. Its last PR news story was three weeks ago: “Teens fake mental health issues to look cool at school” was the headline in the Mirror.

“MENTAL illness is the latest fashion accessory for teenagers, a survey revealed today,” they explain. “Youngsters are faking serious conditions … 34% admitted lying about having a mental illness in the past.” They even have a list of the “top five phantom problems” that teenagers pretend to have: “Eating disorders, 22%; self-harming, 17%; addiction, 13%; depression, 12%; bipolar disorder, 9%.”

This does not feel like a constructive contribution to stigma, or the perception of serious mental illnesses. These seem like very serious claims about a sensitive issue, and the figures are spectacularly unlikely. I asked 10 Yetis PR (the public relations firm which says it did the survey) who was surveyed, what proportion of teens responded, what the basic demographics were, and so on. The company has yet to answer.

Bullshit is a slippery slope. All I suggest is that you should think a bit before you step on to the crest.

Knowing the New Media

17 02 2012

Recently in my Media relations class we discussed aggregators as a new form of media. This blog mentions the aggregate from and I think it’s worth giving it a read.



How to Apologize

16 02 2012

Here’s a look at an interesting situation that happened in Kansas City. A campaign upset people and when the advertiser apologized, it still didn’t seem enough for those who it upset.



McDonald’s McBombs: Latest Brand Brouhaha is a Dog

February 15, 2012 | Author 

Kansas City radio listeners had a front-row seat to a recent McDonald’s advertising gaffe set afire by social media. An ad introducing the fast-food giant’s new Chicken McBites not only didn’t work; it resulted in a vocal backlash against the company.

The radio ad, which aired for several days in the Kansas City market, read like this:

Voice 1: “Trying a brand-new menu item at McDonald’s isn’t risky. You know what’s risky? Petting a stray pit bull. Or shaving your head just to see how it would look. That’s risky. Naming your son Sue? Super risky. Giving your friends your Facebook password? Ultra risky. So trying a new menu item at McDonald’s is about a zero on the old Risker Scale.”

The ad continues for a few seconds, touting a special McBites promotion that ran from Jan. 30 – Feb. 5.

As the ad continued to air, more people caught on to the pit bull reference, prompting a vocal group of pit bull supporters to start a Facebook page. Pit bulls are often portrayed as senselessly violent creatures that roam the streets in search of their next victims; yet in reality, most dogs will bite if provoked—after all, it’s all about common sense.

What we like about this? McDonald’s swift response. They caught wind of the backlash quickly and issued an apology:

“The ad was insensitive in its mention of pit bulls,” said McDonald’s in a press release, according to AdAge. “We apologize. As soon as we learned of it, we tracked the source and had the local markets pull the ad immediately. We’ll do a better job next time. It’s never our intent to offend anyone with how we communicate news about McDonald’s.”

The ridiculous part? Even though the McBites promotion is over and the radio commercials are off the air, pit bull supporters are planning a rally at McDonald’s restaurants on Feb. 24. Seriously, people need to get a grip.

Mistakes happen. Poor judgment happens—on the part of brands and perhaps agencies handling their business. But consumers need to figure out what the heck it is that makes them happy. When a brand pulls a bonehead move, responds to public outcry, removes the offending ad (or whatever) and apologizes, do we really need to continue to excoriate them? To what end?

It’s kind of like when we work with brands in the social space. One of the first questions we ask of them is “What does success look like for you?” And we work to figure that out, before we get started. Because that’s how we know when we get there.  The same is true when something bad happens. Consumers who are up in arms about something should ask themselves, “What does a successful resolution look like?” And once a brand has done what makes sense to affect a resolution, let’s remind ourselves to be satisfied and collectively get off their backs.

Make no mistake, this was a bonehead move. And I understand why pit bull owners were upset. But seriously, do we really need for this to carry on? Eat at McDonald’s, don’t eat at McDonald’s, but they goofed. They removed the offending ad and they apologized. Quickly. Can we all just move on?

This is the second instance in just about 30 days that McDonald’s tested the waters on something and had it blow up on them in the social media space. Their promoted trends #MeettheFarmers and #McdStories didn’t work out so well. And Rick Wion has taken a lot of grief, but my hat’s off to him—I think he’s doing a terrific job of crisis management.

The McDonald’s McBites campaign serves as yet another reminder that companies of any size need to have a crisis plan that’s ready to implement at the drop of a hat. After all, even the most well intentioned campaigns can take an unpredicted swerve into bad press territory, and brands need to be prepared to do what they can to contain, respond to and move past the crisis.

My friend Anne Weiskopf wrote a great post about this called Six Keys to a Great Apology. And these six little steps can make all the difference in the world:

  1. Address the issue quickly – silence is not an option;
  2. Even if it is not directly your fault, apologize anyway;
  3. Intent matters—people are more likely to forgive an honest mistake;
  4. Identify the steps that are being taken (or will be taken) to fix the problem;
  5. Pick the right medium for you to be effective (e.g. a well-written apology is better than a poorly delivered video message);
  6. Continuously monitor all social and non-social media channels so you can continue to address the problem further if needed.

Although such public disasters are humiliating for any brand, there’s usually a valuable lesson (or lessons) to be learned when things don’t go as planned. And after the McBites disaster, McDonald’s will hopefully spend more time (and thought) on its advertising copy before the campaign is released to the public.

What are your thoughts on McDonald’s advertising gaffe? Are you like me and think people need to move on and leave it alone? Or do you think we need to continue to beat them up?

Read more: McDonald’s McBombs: Latest Brand Brouhaha Is A Dog | PRBreakfastClub


Building a Friendship

16 02 2012

In my media relations class, we have talked a lot about the kind of relationship a reporter and PR person should have. I believe they should have a friendly relationship and work together because they can make each others’ jobs easier. Here’s an article that looks at the pros of having friends in the business.

Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Good Reporters Keep Their PR Contacts Close

October 28, 2010 | Author 

Woman talking on phone among co-workerI have spent a lot of time reading about how birth order determines your personality.

Being a middle child, my personality has always been one of the peace maker and the bridge builder, which is why I want to call for a cease fire in the war between reporters and PR professionals.

Bashing PR professionals is getting quite passé. And at times it seems as trite as complaining about government workers. It’s easy to say government workers are slackers, but I used to work for the government and many government employees work very hard in a turbulent political environment. I just don’t see what can be gained from the endless sniping. For example, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington recently declared, “I don’t like PR people for the most part.” Nice.

I don’t find this attitude to be very constructive. PR people and reporters often have a symbiotic relationship. Putting it bluntly, they need each other. I don’t think it makes much sense to annoy the same PR people who you are going to turn to for a quote when you are on deadline. Instead of tarring all PR practioners with the same brush, it would be more helpful to offer suggestions on how PR professionals can improve their technique and provide better information to reporters.

Here are some reasons a reporters should keep PR practioners in their good graces:

1. They are useful in a bind. I learned that a good way to develop rapport with a reporter is by making yourself available to them when they are writing stories. One way to do that is by providing comments to reporters who post their queries on sites such as Peter Shankman’s Helping a Reporter Out (HARO). (If you are not on the mailing list for HARO, you need to be.) Most reporters will love you if they have a quote they can slide into their story when they are on deadline. It also helps when you are pitching them in the future. They are more likely to give your pitch a second look if they know who you are.  Even today I get calls and e-mails from reporters I helped years ago on HARO.

2. They provide good tips. Good PR practioners usually have a knack for developing good story ideas.  I often receive calls from reporters asking for story ideas and I always make the time to provide suggestions.  This comes in handy when I have a story I needed running and can call on them for assistance.

3. Some PR practioners can write pretty well. In these days of shrinking newsrooms, many editors have to do more with less. Many small publications have one editor and a bunch of freelancers. So who will the editor turn to when one of his freelancers flakes out on him? His friendly PR rep, that’s who. There have been many times when I have received last-minute calls from editors who have 10-inch holes to fill and no copy.

4. Some of us are sympathetic to the cause. Reporters are often frustrated because they are lowly paid, work crazy hours and get criticized more often than they are praised.  Who else understands your business apart from other reporters? Sometimes it is good to sit down with a PR practioner and just vent. Believe me, we have heard all the horror stories and understand where you are coming from.  Also if a new reporter is just starting a beat, your local PR rep probably knows all of the good sources and right people to talk to. A good PR rep will also make sure that uncooperative source provides you with a quote before deadline.

5. We might be able to help you land a job. Working in PR means that you collaborate with a wide variety of media professionals, editors, freelancers, etc. We often see how the industry is changing, what companies might have openings, or what magazines are looking for writers. If a reporter has developed a good relationship with a PR professional he will likely send some of these openings his way. And in this climate, media professionals need all the help they can landing work. Journalism skills can often be put to use in the PR world, although even suggesting this is controversial.

Finally, most of us PR professionals are just trying to do our job. We have clients we are trying to satisfy and bosses to please.  I wish editors would realize that we were not put on earth to make their lives miserable, and instead see us as a great resource.

Read more: Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Good Reporters Keep Their PR Contacts Close | PRBreakfastClub

What’s the Pitch?

15 02 2012

Here’s another example of when you should pitch to a news organization versus a blogger.