PR News Media Relations Next Practices Conference
December 11th, 2015 – The National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
8:45 a.m. — Media Pitching & Social Media: What's Working Now
Michael Smart, principal, MichaelSMARTPR
- Social media has caused PR upheaval in the past several years. Fragmentation makes it harder to break through the clutter but also gives us more ways to do so.
- Challenges: media fragmentation, media seem to have no time for relationships, media are driven by different incentives.
- Find new outlets, including large social media accounts, that are already reaching your audiences.
- Improve influencer relations rather than just thinking about media outlets.
- "Read & React": consume reporters' content and let them know you did. Their most common complain about PR people is that they don't watch their show or read their content.
- Older reporters care about getting on the front page. Younger reporters care about page views. Older content can be effectively repurposed; it's not so important anymore that it's "old news." Pitch content that is already performing well online.
9:45 a.m. — How to Measure Media Coverage and Tie It to Organizational Goals
Johna Burke, CMO, BurrellesLuce
- Keeping up with Barcelona Principles helps you tie your efforts to organizational goals.
- "Ghost metrics" are not your friend. Think like a stakeholder and determine whether coverage is positive or negative.
- You must have goals in place to make reporting valuable.
- Micro-targeting and priority tiers can help you focus on the most important channels.
Heidi Mock, senior director, analytics & insights, Time Warner Cable
- Understand your company/client goals.
- Make a connection that matters to the c-suite, and make a connection that matters to the target audience.
- Develop a method for tracking your team's objectives with measurable and reasonable metrics.
- Tie results and success to organization goals.
- Measurement from the beginning is the best plan.
- Track your progress toward each goal.
10:45 a.m. — Case Studies: Media Pitches That Worked
Gay Pinder, director of media relations, Towson University
- Subject line: make it short and catchy, and make sure your story lives up to it.
- The pitch: make it personal: challenges, redemption, human qualities.
- Directly appeal to the interests of particular reporters.
- It's hard to break through to national media: it takes trusted relationships between reporters and PR. Know their schedules and preferred mode of contact.
- Give reporters what they're asking for, or failing that, suggest a slightly different angle
- Know your media outlet. Read/watch/listen to it.
Allison Robins, director of global public relations, Zumba Fitness
- PR needs to be integrated into every aspect of your organization.
- Journalists are valuing trends like original video and mobile-friendly content.
- Images still perform higher than video.
- Editor events are still a great way to connect with media.
- Create content that can work across multiple channels.
- Be a fly on the wall and listen.
Christopher W. Ullman, managing director and director of global communications, The Carlyle Group
- Pitching best practices mimic dating best practices.
- Take these into account: exclusivity, empathy, passion, offer something, authenticity, timing, joy.
- Focus on what the actual goal is.
- Have a high bar for news.
12:00 p.m. — Keynote Panel: Journalists on Chairs—How Their Jobs Have Changed, and How That Changes Your Job
Helena Bottemiller Evich, reporter, Politico
- Many reporters, just like PR people, also disagree with editor's headline. She encourages people to speak up; you'll be surprised by how receptive your media contacts will be.
- She's a big fan of giving a heads-up to somebody about the content of the story, even if they'll hate it.
- If you're given info you're not able to share publicly, call your favorite reporter and give an off-the-record tip so that they're not blindsided.
Abha Bhattarai, reporter, The Washington Post
- Reporters have broader beats and responsibilities today.
- The most memorable pitches are offbeat looks at something you wouldn't normally see in a press release.
Amy Brittain, reporter, The Washington Post
- People are not consuming large investigative stories in the same way. Newspapers are shifting from three-installment stories to tracking an ongoing story all year.
- The editor doesn't make changes without her present. Her philosophy: no surprises. She doesn't want PR person to read a story and be surprised by what's in it. Neither party wants a correction to be necessary.
- She prefers that people who have a problem with a story contact her, not her editor.
Kevin Baron, executive editor, Defense One
- Today there is a lot of pressure to have a different take, not the same news stories as other outlets.
- The best PR pros are the ones that he knows and trusts.
- He prefers that people who have a problem with a story contact the editor.
- His Facebook presence is more important for sharing content; Twitter is more important for clout.
1:15 p.m. — Social Media Tactics That Make Your Organization a Media Brand
William Gray, media relations specialist, Center for Public Integrity
- Experiment with your personal social media profiles before trying something new on your brand profile. Keep experimenting.
- Choose one specific goal when using social to get coverage.
- If your story gets big enough on social you’re going to lose control of that story, which can be a very good thing.
- Know your social media policy, and make sure you have a strong policy.
- Build your message for the specific medium, and design it to be shared. For instance, a three-minute video might thrive on YouTube but die on Facebook.
- Attentive.ly can help you know what your audience is talking about and not talking about. CrowdTangle and SproutSocial are also very useful tool.
Isabel Lara, director of media relations, NPR
- NPR uses Twitter much more often than Facebook, yet most of its audience engagement is on Facebook.
- Use tagging to reach out beyond your natural audience on social media.
- On World Emoji Day NPR listed its most popular shows using emojis, to great effect.
- Taking a page from NASA, NPR holds meetups with its fans, bringing a select group to its headquarters.
- The average person on an average day will see 5,000 advertising messages. Social media is a way to break through that noise.
- If you care about social media, you’ve got to embrace the fact that social is data—it’s a science.
- Engagement rate is the be-all and end-all on social media. At its core engagement is a confirmation that someone received your message.
2:00 p.m. — Media Training Clinic—Managing the Message When the Heat Is on Your Organization
Julie Murphy, partner & VP, public relations, Sage Communications
- Cardinal rules haven't changed: be open, ethical, proactive.
- Pressure on journalists to report fastest and loudest is at an all-time high, so there is higher potential for widely-read inaccuracies.
- We're global: thanks to widespread media, there is no localized crisis.
- Your reputation can suffer from multiple mini-incidents; there doesn't have to be a huge crisis.
- Build your presence: a comprehensive presence can help minimize crisis.
- Brainstorm hypothetical crisis scenarios, and categorize them by worst-case.
Tara Mullens, VP, media influence, Ogilvy Public Relations
- Map your resources. Determine who stakeholders are and who spokespeople will be.
- Use a "blueprint" that functions like a flowchart, helping you take action at each step.
- Employ a "follow the sun" model to ensure 24/7 monitoring during a crisis, utilizing a global network.
- "No comment" is not a comment. It looks like you have something to hide.
- Take control of your own narrative and define it. If you don't, someone else will.
3:15 p.m. — Media Pitching Clinic: Work in Teams and Have Your Pitch Evaluated
Regina Davis, director of communications, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
- Keep the "cute" out of it. Reporters want to get to the heart of what you're pitching.
- Don't start out with a lot of questions; be careful with puns; use superlatives judiciously and accurately.
- On social media: stimulate topic interest; share visual elements; do hashtag campaigns; apply social media etiquette.
Raschanda Hall, director of global media relations, Business Wire
- Use contrast. For example, REI going against the grain by closing on Black Friday.
- Leverage a common enemy: Hackers, cancer, etc.
- Target an audience and tap into their fears.
- Pitch: answer "what?" "so what?" and "now what?" as quickly as possible.
- Avoid vague, fluffy language and buzzwords.
- Don't waste prime real estate with phrases like "for immediate release."
Erica Moody, associate editor, Washington Life Magazine
- She prefers being told a story in a pitch, as opposed to bullet points.
- If there's a media event, put it in the subject line.
- Don't overwhelm with information in a pitch: stick to the heart of the story.
- If it's an exclusive, let the reporter know in the subject line.