Archive for publicity
One of my favorite blogs, “You Don’t Say,” by Sun copy desk chief John E. McIntyre, offers a preview of worn-out holiday cliches that editors and reporters – and press release writers – will be tempted to use in the coming weeks.
If you’re thinking of leading off your piece with “‘Tis the Season…” or “Yes, Virginia,” John has a news flash for you: we’ve seen it already. Same goes for “white stuff” (are you listening, AMS certified meteorologists?), “Christmas came early…” for good news stories and references to “The Grinch” in stories about holiday thefts. It’s a list worth reading (and checking twice).
Image: George Eastman Hous
In putting together a by-lined article pitch to an industry trade publication for our client AHC-Greater Baltimore, I have been reminded of the many panel discussions by reporters that most of us have attended through the years. Almost without exception, at least one reporter on the panel wearily requests, “please do your homework before you pitch me — know my beat as well as the types of stories I cover.”
With those words clearly in my head, I’m fine-tuning my pitch in anticipation that the lucky editorial recipient clearly sees, and therefore immediately agrees, that my article idea is both relevant and newsworthy.
Then all I’ll need to do is deliver on the promise.
A recent return visit to the Newseum (a must see and see again, IMO) I discovered this quote carved into a wall: “News is what somebody, somewhere, wants to suppress,” from Lord Northcliffe, a British newspaper publisher who died in 1922.
Based on that quotation, what was true in Lord Northcliffe’s day is even more so today, yet harder to accomplish given the amount of traditional and online sources of news and information.
Given the opportunity, how would he edit that quote today or would he say “stet”?
Q: What is the best way for a business to generate and leverage PR opportunities?
A: You need to be prepared ahead of time to tell your story. That means having your company’s key messages and talking points in order well before you receive the phone call or email asking for a comment.
The PR team should help the media do its job by having information about your company and products readily available, and today that means having a current and easily accessible press section of your website that’s stocked with bios, product fact sheets, recent press releases and images. One of the most important elements of a press room is the press contact – not a generic “email@example.com” email address, but a real name, an actual person’s email address and their telephone numbers. That’s typically one of the media’s top complaints about press rooms – there’s no real person to contact when a reporter is on deadline and needs to know someone is available and working to get a response.
Finally, you need to keep your press releases up to date. If the date of your most recent press release was nine months ago, it communicates a lot about what’s going on at your company – or not – whether you like it or not.
The “Sawmill” in our name comes from the gentle, beautiful and meandering Sawmill Creek (left) that winds its way from northern Baltimore County, including where I live, through Anne Arundel County until it flows into the Patapsco River.
Sometimes we wish we had a more interesting answer. But in the more than 17 years that Sawmill Marketing Public Relations has been in business the “where does ‘Sawmill’ come from” question is a good reminder that it’s your definition of interesting that matters.
We’re all for continuing to answer “where does the name ‘Sawmill’ come from?” for at least the next 17 years!
NBC’s Sunday morning ‘Meet the Press’ is among our favorite media training tips because of its nearly unfailing showcasing of basic but key interview tips including bridging, flagging and counting. David Gregory asks questions while the guest then acknowledges them before offering information about topics/issues that s/he prefers get aired.
In our opinion, taking control of a media interview, as guests routinely do to one extent or another on such interview shows, should always be the goal. A media interview is your opportunity to communicate your messages using tips and techniques designed, crafted and time-tested to help you do so clearly, concisely, consistently.
On an upcoming Sunday, view “Meet the Press” or similar programs with an educated eye and ear towards the guests and their skill with taking control of the interview. You’ll see the results of media training at its best, happening right in front of you.
Today’s announcement that ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will soon come to an end brought to mind Sawmill’s experience working with the Hollywood producers during a 2007 build in Port Deposit, Md.
It was one of those extreme PR assignments that come along every so often, requiring constant caffeine injections as we managed all aspects of media relations while a team of more than 1,500 volunteers built a 4,300-square-foot home and a therapeutic riding facility in less than a week. Actually 106 hours, to be exact, and we wouldn’t trade those 20-hour days for anything.
Sawmill was brought on board to craft messages, help with product placement, provide media coaching and provide round-the-clock management of the onslaught of media coverage that was sure to arrive with Ty Pennington (seen above with the Luther family on “Move That Bus” day) and the rest of the cast of the Emmy Award-winning reality television show, including the always-in-pink Designer/Carpenter Paige Hemmis (below, chilling with Jeff just after the door-knock).
During the course of the build week, results included more than 55 television stories, dozens of newspaper articles, regular live radio interviews coverage in the trade press and one surprised family!
That’s a piece of advice from Barry Rascovar, the long-time Baltimore Sun political columnist and deputy editorial page editor, who joined Michael Cross-Barnet, The Sun‘s deputy opinion editor, at the recent PRSA Mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Conference to share insider tips on getting an op-ed considered and published.
Here are just a few insights:
The Sun publishes 12 op-eds a week. They receive more than 100 each week that are “worthy of consideration.” At The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, the competition is considerably higher.
Good writing is as important as an interesting topic. Use clear prose and concise, simple language. The academic community tends to have trouble with this, Cross-Barnet said. Rascovar suggests that writers dig out their copies of Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style” for a refresher on making every word count.
Your submission needs to “grab the editor” with a piece that solves a local problem. Be creative, imaginative, concise and cogent.
Is it “different enough, unusual enough?” Or is it another bland piece that will get tossed into the rejection heap?