Tag: Press

MEDIA RELATIONS: WHEN PRESS AND PR PROFESSIONALS COLLIDE

Now that I have completed six months of agency life, I feel fairly confident in saying that I am much more settled into my PR role following a rather steep learning curve. The transition from journalism to PR is without a doubt a challenging one to undertake!

The varied nature of working in PR can be extremely rewarding, exciting and educational, but consequently it is also a demanding job that constantly pushes me on a daily basis. It may be no surprise, however, that the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is learning how to navigate the delicate intricacies of media relations.

With the emergence of ‘Fake News’, the instant ability to share information across social media and a gradual decrease in the number of working journalist, it could be argued that the art of ‘selling’ a press release or news story to the media is no longer a necessity. However, as someone who has experienced this process from both sides of the tracks, I can’t emphasise enough that it can still be extremely valuable.

Like many industries across the globe, journalism has been forced to evolve and adapt due to the ongoing digital transformation. As a result, however, a lot less journalists are working but a lot more content is being created. So, journalists are busy to say the least. I still vividly remember the dreaded feeling of opening up my inbox on a morning to discover that 300+ emails have found their way inside, and only to scour my way through to discover that less than half are of any relevance at all. It is just time wasted.

On the other side of the conversation, I’ve also experienced the hard work that goes into the process of getting a press release across to the journalist. As a PR professional, I write the copy, send over to the client and wait for feedback, make further amendments, get final approval and then find a photograph. But once again, this could all be time wasted if I just send across an email, hoping that the journalist will choose to open it amid all the unwanted spam they receive throughout the day!

The easiest remedy to for this painful process consists of two very simple steps.

First of all, never send a press release early in the morning; journalists are far too preoccupied with checking stock market listings; checking any overnight breaking news announcements; collating stories they covered the day prior and sending out the daily email newsletter to their list of loyal subscribers.

This is a critical time for a journalist, and unfortunately, if the press release being sent across doesn’t solve Brexit, then it isn’t going to get a look in. Following this is their time to annihilate the inbox, where journalists will be red faced and at risk of suffering with a repetitive finger injury from clicking delete repeatedly.

So, I always try to send a press release either late in the morning or early afternoon, as this can often be their calmest part of the day.

Secondly, which I believe is the single-most important element of this entire process, is picking up the phone and speaking with a journalist either before or after the press release is sent over.

Despite what journalists may say, I always found this extremely useful as it immediately directed me to an email/press release which I may have otherwise missed. Additionally, this also gives the journalist to ask any specific questions about the story, which could prove to be crucial to getting it published.

If nothing else, speaking on the phone at least gives you chance to develop relationships with members of the press for any future opportunities which may arise. As well as promoting your clients as reliable contacts for the media, you should also work to establish your agency as a reputable and reliable source. So pick up the phone!!!

Feeling the ‘Press’ure

There is no doubt that the PR and marketing industry has changed over recent years and will never be the same again. This, in my opinion, is primarily down to people having less time and a shift in media consumption.

Once upon a time you would buy a paper, read it and pass it on. You may watch some TV and listen to the radio too, whereby you were likely to come across some strategically placed advertisements suggesting that you buy this or that.

Press advertising and outdoor displays have been around for as long as I can remember but the use of digital has taken consumer engagement to a completely new level and this is what has impacted on traditional media sales.

As more publications become available online, a greater number of commuters, business men and women, choose to read the press before they get into work – usually on their smart phones or iPads meaning that there is no need or desire for them to purchase a paper, never mind read it during work hours.

As a result of these changes printed media are having to do more to engage with their audience and showcase why they are different and what value a person can gain from both reading in print and online versions of their publications.

Many printed business press have chosen to hold round table events, which bring together market leaders – this gives them the time to debate current industry topics, while also providing the journalist with the chance to sit in a room full of potential content and if they time it right an exclusive or two!

Most publications now have online versions as well as printed options so it’s a balancing act between having what the consumer wants and still showcasing the value of print.

As an agency that has worked within the print market for more than 10 years, we know the value and benefit of print, not least the tangible aspect of a creatively designed, full colour piece. There is no doubt that there is still a place for print and The Drum, a marketing trade publication, has gone one step further.

I received an email yesterday with the subject: ‘My Big Mistake’. Naturally I wondered what that mistake would be – there can be some interesting #fails when you work in our industry. Never did I think this ‘mistake’ would be one of the most insightful, challenging and intriguing ideas I’ve come across.

The Drum have decided to complete an edition of the magazine in front of a live audience – yes, live! Those who attend the event on 3 July will see the team plan the publication layout, make decisions about the front cover story plus what other news will and won’t make the cut. In addition interviews will take place there and then with questions asked about the angles that should be chosen for feature pieces that will appear within the final piece.

Not only is this brave but it’s an incredible way of getting people to understand The Drum and how it works. It will give people a genuine insight into what makes good copy and what questions the team ask before submitting a final piece to go to print.

Unfortunately I won’t be in a position to attend the event but I can’t wait to read the final piece. Everyone attending will get an editorial credit – again, a very good ideas and just one way to get people to really buy in to the publication.

Well done to The Drum – a huge thumbs up! They are taking print to the masses, getting them involved, engaging with their audience, building brand loyalty and injecting some genuine creativity and excitement into what they do – nice work.

PR stands for Press Release

When you work in PR (public relations) there are some days when you wonder what your job description may look like if you were to write down everything you were asked to do. This is no bad thing you understand, as the huge variety of tasks certainly helps to keep things interesting, while raising a few exciting challenges along the way.

This is perhaps why I find it so frustrating when people tell me that they can ‘do PR’ because they have written a press release or had something printed in a newspaper. The purpose of appointing a PR agency shouldn’t be to just write copy – that’s what copy writers are there for and the clue is in the title.

A PR agency is there to manage a brands reputation, to identify opportunities that will extend the messaging of a campaign to take it to a totally new level, or to come up with creative recommendations that will deliver a stunt that will capture the attention of the media, while also educating consumers about what that particular product or brand has to offer.

There’s also the corporate side of things, when an agency may be appointed to manage a stakeholder or internal communications campaign, ensuring that a message is clear and concise, using the right tone of voice and being disseminated in the right way, to the right audience.

Sponsorship often falls under the remit of a PR agency, along with third party associations and event management. Although you may find that copy is required to support these activities, it isn’t the sum of the process and everything from launching to making sure the brand gets the most from an association – which often includes sampling – can be included along the way.

Really the job of a PR has no defined start or finish, as long as you are managing and supporting the reputation of a brand and business, focusing on how it chooses to communicate and engage with its target audiences, then it kind of falls in to our remit.

As we have said in the past there is no point in trying to be all things to all people and that isn’t what I’m suggesting – there are times when we work with other specialist agencies to deliver integrated briefs and this is when you can take one concept or theme and really push it to make as much noise across as many mediums as possible.

At the moment we are working on so many different things that when Friday comes around I feel like my head is spinning with ideas and variations on the campaigns and proposals that we are working on for clients both in business to business and consumer markets.

PR is creative, expressive, exciting and demanding and writing is just one element of what we do on a daily basis to manage the reputation of the brands and businesses we work with. So next time you hear someone say that they can ‘do PR’ because they can draft a press release, please pass on my advice, they can’t! If you think that PR is all about writing a press release then it’s time to take a long hard look at your future career in the business because it won’t last long.

 

Sometimes to say nothing at all makes most impact

The French edition of Closer magazine has decided to print pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge topless while on a holiday. My first point has to be does anyone really care – I have no burning desire to see her breasts and can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would want to either.

My second point is that Closer magazine (and it’s important to get across that this is the French edition not the UK based publication) will sell out on all newsstands if not for the fact that they have these ridiculous images but because the British media are making such a fuss about it.

If the truth be told the very best way to handle this would have been to keep quiet and say nothing. The publishers will be rubbing their hands together in glee and doubling the print run to meet with demand and all because people are talking about something, which for all intense and purpose, has no news value what-so-ever.

Closer in France couldn’t have paid for this profile or the exposure that they get. Right or wrong there is definitely some truth in the fact that all publicity is good publicity.

Even Jeremy Vine has got in on the act, asking if a Princess should go topless at someone else’s house on his prime time afternoon show – I go back to my original point, who cares? She is a beautiful married woman who was on holiday. If she wants to sunbath topless at a private resort then it is her right to do so.

I’m not one to bang on about human rights and I do agree that when someone becomes a public figure they have certain expectations placed on them but there has to be a line drawn and this photographer, in my mind, have crossed it.

The best thing we could all do now is never mention the sorry incident again. Rather than giving the ‘story’ more kudos, we should simply ignore it and rise above it. No more statements, no more comments issued and certainly no more mention of the rag in question. I just hope that those who are responsible don’t earn enough money to retire as a result of a few tasteless pictures.