January 2013


12 things to expect from a PR firm

By Beth Monaghan | Posted: January 25, 2013
How should I choose a PR firm?

Each time someone asks me this, dozens of answers flutter to the forefront of my mind, but I always choose two fairly tangible criteria: fit and experience.

On the surface, it can be easy for all agencies to sound similar, which makes fit and experience crucial. You need an agency that understands your audience and your market, and the reporters you need to reach. Fit is equally important. You’ll be working closely with the PR agency every single day (and many evenings), so you’ll need to be able to work well with the assigned account team.

However, fit and experience alone will not make your agency successful on your behalf. Here are some important qualities you should expect form an agency that is committed to your success. You need an agency that:

1. Owns the process. You want an agency that will never say, “Well, we sent you the guidelines for the Forbes contributed article three months ago and never heard back.” Your agency should be a professional nagger—they should never let you be the reason for a missed deadline.

2. Pushes back. You are hiring a PR firm for its expertise, so find one that provides firm recommendations. If your account team is constantly nodding their heads and yessing you, there is a problem. The success of your PR program requires a team leader who can adamantly say no in the face of tough scrutiny when something just won’t work.

3. Knows when to give in. There are times when other company goals, such as sales campaigns, take priority over PR (for example, when a sales team is under the gun to meet quarterly goals and needs to push out a direct email campaign in advance of the press release). Your PR firm should tell you the optimal plan for getting great media coverage, but should also accept it when PR is not at the top of the list.

4. Makes it happen. Only clients should have the luxury of asking big questions without offering solutions, such as, “How can we maximize our attendance at an upcoming trade show?” Good PR firms know that the right response is a list of viable options, not more questions.

5. Surprises you with unexpected and creative ideas. Your PR firm should march to the beat of the PR plan, but they should also bring you unexpected and creative ideas. This demonstrates that they are paying active attention. Only intellectually hungry people will tie the right pieces together to make you relevant in a way that matters to the press.

6. Owns mistakes. If your agency needs to be right all of the time, it’s a problem. You need an agency that abides by the rules of crisis PR (even when the crisis is a very small one): tell it all, truthfully, and tell it now. This takes confidence and humility, but it is the sign of a great communicator.

7. Hustles. Look for an agency that is pushing you, not the other way around.

8. Writes well. Content marketing has changed PR forever. Adequate press release writing skills are no longer enough. You need an agency that can sift through mountains of information, zero in on the interesting angle, and ghost author an article for your spokesperson. Ask for samples, and look at the agency’s blog.

9. Listens intently. PR people are renowned great talkers. We need to be. However, we need to know how to listen, too. You need a PR agency full of the kind of analytical and open minds that can scan the conversation for points of interest, drive the discussion toward them and relate them to your broader industry.

10. Empathizes. You need a PR agency team that can imagine what it’s like to be you. What pressures do you face internally, from your board, from competitors, others? Is PR central to your role or tangential? Coincidentally, this skill also makes PR people great at media relations—we must imagine what it’s like to be each reporter if we have a prayer of selling a story.

11. Navigates options and contingencies like an attorney. There are many decisions we must make along the winding route between the pitch and the placement. You need an agency that understands the media landscape—which outlets (and journalists) compete, which reporters require exclusives, which ones care about embargoes, and which angles will compel coverage.

Sifting through these and responding appropriately when an embargo is broken or an exclusive falls through tests the skills of the best PR professionals, so make sure you have a team that can bend gracefully when a critical relationship is at stake, and hold firm when your company goals require it.

12. Thick skin. PR people sit in the middle of two constituents whose goals are not always aligned: the media and our clients. Finding the common ground that creates successful outcomes for both requires an ability to handle discord well.

Anything you would add?

Of course, success is a two-way street. Stay tuned for my next post on what clients should bring to the relationship for success.

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10 happiest cities for PR and marketing pros

By Michael Sebastian | Posted: January 30, 2013

recent report named Dayton, Ohio, the home of the nation’s happiest workers.

What about the city that’s home to the happiest PR and marketing professionals?

That honor goes to Phoenix.

According to a study released today by The American Marketing Association (AMA) and staffing agency Aquent, the Arizona capital is home to the most satisfied people working in the marketing industry, which includes PR professionals. The authors of the study were unable to disclose the exact number of PR professionals surveyed.

“When it comes to a career in marketing, the location and the field you choose can have an immense impact on your future satisfaction and salary,” Ann Webster, president of Aquent, said in apress release.

For its annual survey, Arquent and the AMA asked 2,600 marketing professionals about their salaries and jobs. The respondents included people who identified themselves as working in public relations. Incidentally, people working in public relations were the most satisfied of all those surveyed.

The 10 cities with the most-satisfied workers in the industry are:

1. Phoenix
2. Indianapolis
3. Houston
4. St. Louis
5. Detroit
6. Charlotte, N.C.
7. Boston
8. San Jose, Calif.
9. Chicago
10. Austin, Texas

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/13695.aspx#

Journalists identify the worst PR jargon

My colleagues and I used to write down the dumb corporate language we’d hear, putting the words and phrases on a six-foot whiteboard in the office kitchen.

In little time, terms such as “at the end of the day,” “with all due respect,” “frankly,” and “win win” became the top culprits.

In fact, we filled up that whiteboard and added big sheets of poster paper on either side to keep the game going.

MBAs and wannabe executives were often the ones uttering these mind-numbing words, but they’re not the only professionals who speak this language.

According to a report by twelve thirty eight, PR professionals are the worst at using buzzwords that have no real meaning. Each year, the firm surveys 500 journalists to find out which buzzwords, jargon, and terms PR pros use when working with them.

The survey taps British reporters and editors from media outlets such as the BBC, The Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, and more.

The results of the survey revealed what twelve thirty eight calls the “hipsterization” of PR terminology, exemplified by the rise of words such as “awesome” and “super excited.” I have a journalist friend who shares this feeling; she’s fed up with “amazing” (which, of course, makes me use it every other word when I email her).

Journalists in the U.K. also bemoaned the influx of American terminology, including “circle back” or “reach out.”

Twelve thirty eight compiled this list of the top 20 buzzwords identified in the survey. The words and phrases in parenthesis are an attempt to define the meaning.

1. Issues (problems)
2. Dynamic (likely not to be)
3. Paradigm (a “silk purse” word)
4. Elite (you wouldn’t normally get to attend)
5. Hotly anticipated (never heard of it)
6. End-user (customer)
7. Influencer (a person who probably doesn’t have influence)
8. Evangelist (a tendency to tweet with loads of hashtags)
9. Deliverables (tasks)
10. Icon/iconic (use before 01.01.01 or never)
11. Rocketed (made modest progress)
12. “An astonishing x per cent” (it rarely is astonishing)
13. Marquee event/marquee client (probably “very local”)
14. Going forward (in the future)
15. Ongoing (a bit behind schedule)
16. Optimized (changed by consultants then changed back)
17. Horizontal, vertical, etc. (two words in lieu of a strategy)
18. Phygital (easy to press or swipe, we guess)
19. SoLoMo (no idea)
20. Well-positioned (hopeful but a bit scared)

And one of my very favorites: I loathe it when a business is described as “providing solutions.” We see this time and again and it tells us nothing.

You can download the survey and take a look yourself. Some of the examples the journalists use are downright hysterical. And some, you’ll be sad to notice, you’ve used (but, I’m willing to bet, never to use again).

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. She blogs at Spin Sucks

(Image via)

6 PR and social media predictions for 2013

By Sandra Fathi | Posted: January 2, 2013

Although 2012 was filled with exciting PR and social media developments, including London’s 2012 Olympic extravaganzaPrince Harry’s Las Vegas scandal, and a down-to-the-wire race for the U.S. presidency, the coming year is sure to see even further transformations of the media landscape.

1. LinkedIn is the new Facebook. More brands will use LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and influencers. New and enhanced features on the site, such as its “endorse” capability (which employs the one-click validation of a Facebook “like”) and new profileand company page designs are encouraging users to spend more time building their personal brands with LinkedIn’s tools. Companies, particularly in the B2B world, will increasingly recognize its marketing potential. Also, as adoption and activity on LinkedIn surge, journalists will spend more time using the platform for research, identifying sources and breaking stories.

2. Governments (and war) go social. The 2012 election generated record-breaking activity onTwitter, and more recently, the Israel Defense Force and Hamas military used the platform to communicate to international government officials and the public about the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As citizens in the U.S. and around the world demand increased transparency from governments, officials at every level from local to national will turn increasingly to social media to stay connected with their constituents. Social media will see an increase of political conversations in 2013, driving its adoption as a news source for citizens, traditional media, and the government.

3. The reputable journalist is revived. The rise of blogging and social media has increased the volume of online news and the speed at which it’s available, often at the expense of responsible reporting. Misinformation and rumors can spread quickly and trigger considerable backlash, especially when a news organization compromises accuracy in the name of speed (as evidenced by CNN and Fox News’s memorable misreporting of the Supreme Court ruling on health care reform). The citizen journalist’s 15 minutes of fame are running out and information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting in 2013.

4. PR goes mobile. PR practitioners have learned to draft compelling email pitch subject lines and deliver a message in 140 characters. The next step will be crafting mobile-friendly content as millions of consumers (and journalists) reach for their phones as their primary news source. The Daily taught us that it’s not enough to format a publication with a mobile device in mind; rather, the key will be developing content that effectively reaches the right audience at the right time. Delivery is king—but brevity is still queen.

5. Pictures tell the story. The rise of infographics, photo sharing, and visual storytelling will push PR pros and their clients to deploy messages visually in order to compete in a crowded content market. All Things D reported that in August, smartphone users spent more time on Instagram than on Twitter for the first time since Instagram launched in 2010. This is indicative of a broader shift toward visual content in the digital space. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”; more important, it might also be worth your customer’s attention.

6. PR wins the social media battle. The debate over which corporate discipline “owns” social media is practically as old as social media itself; PR, marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service (just to name a few) all have skin in the game. As more businesses recognize the opportunities (and threats) that social media present to their corporate reputation, and the demand from stakeholders for direct engagement, they are reaching out to PR agencies and practitioners for support. PR pros, who have long been responsible for managing the dialogue between an organization and the public, will emerge as trendsetters in the social space by providing valuable communications counsel and achieving results that directly impact clients’ bottom lines.