lauantai 24. maaliskuuta 2018 Why journalists want a time-sensitive pitch

Journalists are inundated with pitches from PR pros daily.

Sometimes these pitches are for story ideas that can be written and published at any time—evergreen pitches. Other times, story ideas are time sensitive, dealing with a new release, current event or holiday.

Journalists hate getting pitched a story that ideally should have been published days before. They want to write the story because it is relevant—but the time might have come and gone for it to get traction.

Also, when a PR pro pitches a time-sensitive story, his or her source may not be prepared for the quick turnaround required. Though the writer is fully ready to get going, they are stuck waiting for an interview. So, why even pitch it in the first place?

Here’s what journalists say about what it’s like being on the other side of time-sensitive pitches:

Meet your deadline

John Sturrup, communications consultant at Be Your Best Today, and former managing editor, says that he would get contacted by PR firms and practitioners on a regular basis.

“I have had situations where the press release has been delivered and the follow up by the PR firm was too late for the publication deadline. An editor is literally inundated with press releases, so sometimes they don’t even open the envelope or email. It can be overwhelming. So, if there is not a follow up by the firm to make sure it has been received, [that] can mean the difference of it being run or not,” Sturrup said.

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Sammi Caramela, staff writer at Business News Daily, adds, “I was once pitched a time-sensitive topic that allowed me four days to write. However, the source I was scheduled to interview continuously delayed their responses until Friday afternoon, about one hour before my deadline. While I was still able to submit the piece, it was difficult to fit the quotes with the rest of my draft in that short period of time—and I was forced to look elsewhere. Expert commentary often shapes an article, and it’s crucial to consider the journalist’s time. It’s not unusual that we are balancing over five articles at once, and if we feel we can’t rely on a source, we likely won’t consider them in the future.”

Travel writer Janet Groene says that about 25 percent of the pitches that she receives are too late to run, even for a daily blog.

What belongs in the pitch?

Groene suggests that before pitching a journalist, PR pros should look at their contacts’ profiles to assess their needs. Groene also notes that for her business, it’s easy to forget that the travel public need time to plan a trip, so pitching things way ahead of time is recommended.

Caramela agrees with this sentiment, saying, “When pitching any type of story, PR reps should allow ample time for journalists. Often, writers are tackling multiple timely articles a week and need time to schedule interviews and outline their stories.”

Caramela adds that if a story is especially time-sensitive, the PR rep should make that clear in their pitch so there are no misunderstandings. They should also provide any available information off the bat and, if applicable, offer an expert source for further insight.

One of the things that, as a journalist, can be the most frustrating when it comes to timely pitches is using Help A Reporter Out (HARO). If you are responding to a HARO request, in the response, make sure you are ready to include answers to the questions posted in the query, your client’s full title and any other information the journalist needs. After all, the reason they are posting an urgent query is because they have next to no time to finish the article. Emailing them asking if they’d like to set up an interview with your client will most likely resolve in no response from the journalist, simply because they don’t have time to field pitches like that.

How much notice do journalists actually need?

Journalists try to give as much notice as possible when acquiring sources from PR reps for stories. This not only ensures that we have time to write the story to our best ability, but also that we can actually include the client in our story.

“If at all possible, I would recommend reaching out to a journalist one week before the publish date,” Caramela says. “That way, the writer can schedule it into their list of stories and prioritize accordingly. However, if this is not feasible, be sure to provide all necessary information with your pitch so they are equipped with the proper material straightaway.”

Jennifer Post is a freelance writer who has worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

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perjantai 23. maaliskuuta 2018 30 jobs in the PR and marketing world

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” as the saying goes.

Unfortunately, for many, this is a pipe dream.

Many factors go into achieving a happy, healthy and fruitful career. Potential employees consider an organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts, overall culture, benefits programs, career advancement opportunities, paid leave or perks offered.

Fortune , in partnership with Great Place to Work, recently released its 21st annual list of the “100 best companies to work for.” It recognizes organizations offering amazing career opportunities in an environment that is equally great.

Fortune describes how the list is compiled:

Our list surveys millions of employees in more than 50 countries to better understand why people love their work and workplaces. It audits companies’ benefits and people programs and ensures that every demographic group in an organization rates them with high scores. And it grades companies on six components: values, innovation, financial growth, leadership effectiveness, maximizing human potential, and trust.

Salesforce topped this year’s list. Known for its “Ohana” (which is Hawaiian for “family”) mentality, it reached No. 1 for the first time. Among the many factors that earned Salesforce the designation were paying a total of $5.5 million to employees who referred new hires and offering 56 paid hours annually for employees to volunteer.

Here are the top 10 organizations on the list:

  1. Salesforce
  2. Wegmans Food Markets
  3. Ultimate Software
  4. The Boston Consulting Group
  5. Edward Jones
  6. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  7. Workday
  8. Genentech
  9. Hyatt
  10. Kimley-Horn

See the full list here.

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Looking to work for one of the organizations topping this year’s list? You’re in luck. Here are a few choice positions:

Not the job for you? See what else we have in our weekly professional pickings:

Senior account manager – real estate PR—Lynn Hazan & Associates (Illinois)

Account coordinator—Action Mary (Washington)

Senior coordinator, email marketing—Youth Villages (Tennessee)

Account manager—Muck Rack (New York)

Communications representative—Jackson EMC (Georgia)

Senior public relations coordinator—Youth Villages (Tennessee)

Senior editor, Bon Appétit—Condé Nast (New York)

Public relations manager—UPS (California)

Marketing manager—University of Michigan (Michigan)

Public relations coordinator—New York & Company (New York)

Marketing management specialist—Nationwide (Ohio)

Government relations specialist—York University (Canada)

Public relations assistant—Shriners Hospitals for Children (Texas)

Marketing and communications specialist—United Way Worldwide (Oregon)

Director, brand and marketing communications—Bridgestone (Tennessee)

Global PR events and planning officer—Jaguar Land Rover (United Kingdom)

Communications and marketing manager—Indiana University Bloomington (Indiana)

Senior marketing manager—MGMA (Colorado)

Marketing project manager—SAS (North Carolina)

Public affairs specialist—FDA (Maryland)

Marketing manager—Aramark (Alabama)

Manager, global communications and public relations—Tupperware Brands (Florida)

Marketing specialist—Amazon (Canada)

Public relations manager—Animal Welfare Institute (Washington, D.C.)

Creative marketing intern—Booz Allen Hamilton (Virginia)

If you have a position you’d like to see highlighted in PR Daily’s weekly jobs post, or if you’re searching for career opportunities, is the perfect place to find or post high-quality job openings.

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via IFTTT 5 tips for successful pitching

A great softball pitcher doesn’t simply close her eyes, rear back and heave the ball toward home plate.

She chooses a pitch based on the game situation, the batter’s tendencies and the weather conditions.

A media pitch is similar. Let’s look at successful media pitching with this softball analogy.

The grip

A pitcher’s grip determines the ball’s trajectory and where it will end up. In terms of PR, “the grip” is the research, preparation and consideration that goes into ensuring that correct stories are thrown to precise locations.

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Finding the right grip is all about uncovering crucial details about the outlets you’re pitching, including the types of stories particular journalists favor. Depending on the reporter, they might be CEO features, technology trend stories or colorful personality profiles offering business insights.

Whatever it is, if the grip isn’t right, the pitch will sail wide.

The signals

The communication between a pitcher and catcher must be clear, even in the coded display of fingers designating which pitch to throw. This initial exchange of information can make or break the game.

The first part of a PR pitch the journalist sees is the email subject line, which must be direct, concise and inviting.

The journalist should see the essence of the story before opening the email. Like the pitcher/catcher signals, it should never be misleading. If the writer opens the pitch and sees that she’s been tricked, she’s not likely to open any pitches from you again.

Take extra time to craft clear, compelling subject lines; don’t treat them as an afterthought. Let your signal be an honest impression of what, exactly, your pitch is about.

The windup

The windup—your lead and opening paragraphs—begins the pitch with a tantalizing start.

A compelling story introduces you to key characters, provides big-picture context and offers an example that sets up conflict or suspense. It also sprinkles in details or data that underscore the client’s credibility.

If the story is told well, the reader will want to know what happens next.

Don’t oversell or overshare here; let your “windup” be an enticing cliffhanger.

The release

The release serves up the satisfying resolution of the dramatic question.

Appeal to journalists’ fear of missing out on a great story, and concisely present juicy tidbits that will help them craft a winning piece. A PR pro’s “release” should be a story roadmap for the journalist.

The follow-through

A PR pro’s follow-through should make a request in a polite, straightforward manner. If an editor doesn’t respond, wait about 24 hours before following up. Follow up once before moving on. Multiple pings aren’t “persistent”; they’re mostly annoying and ineffective.

Of course, the follow-through isn’t the end of your work. A pitcher must be ready to field the ball after the batter connects, right? If a reporter wants to pursue the story, and the PR contact makes an error by responding in an unprofessional manner, the game can still be lost.

As in softball, winning PR is all about teamwork: Helping your clients succeed entails arranging interviews and supplying every element the news outlet needs.

A version of this post first appeared on Crenshaw Communications’ PR Fish Bowl blog .


torstai 22. maaliskuuta 2018 4 ghostwriting tactics for capturing a top exec’s authentic voice

Most PR professionals spend their careers as ghostwriters.

We may not think about it that way—we’re simply drafting a memo to employees or writing the “president’s message” for an annual report—but few executives reach the corner office because of their writing skills. They get there for other reasons: great ideas, an appetite for risk, a deep understanding of customers or technical prowess, among other attributes.

As PR professionals, it’s our job to help executives communicate their ideas, plans and priorities in their own voices. Some executives are eloquent writers and inspiring speakers, comfortable with employees and investors alike.

Still, even the most gifted communicators can’t possibly create all the content demanded today. Customers want to know more about the people who lead the companies they patronize. Executives seek to amplify their own voices through “thought leadership.”

It’s up to PR professionals to make sure our CEO’s voice, and not our own, shines through in these messages. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, CEO credibility fell 12 points from the previous year, to 37 percent. In this low-trust environment, communication from the top must be authentic. (Find the 2018 Trust Barometer here.)

Speeches, white papers, blog posts and even tweets create expectations about an executive’s communication skills that must be met when they do live Facebook chats, meet customers or talk with employees. As PR pros, we can’t fashion a brilliant, witty CEO on paper and then send a different person with the same name out into the world to fend for themselves.

Here are four tips to help you capture an executive’s authentic voice when ghostwriting:

1. Build strong relationships.

If you work with your organization’s executives regularly, then you probably already have good relationships with them. Yet you might also have habits that make authentic ghostwriting more difficult.

On one occasion, I was given an assignment to write something for the CEO. He barely gave me any direction, simply instructing: “You know what I want to say. Just draft it, and I’ll take a look.”

I could have written about the company’s most important accomplishments or how proud the CEO was of his employees without any further consultation, but skipping the process of conversation and discovery with him meant that I was missing the opportunity to tell a good story.

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If you’ve been hired for a ghostwriting assignment or are working with a new CEO for the first time, considering preparing by talking to people who know the person well, attending a meeting to observe your client in a natural setting or emailing the CEO a short list of questions before your interview. Learn what executives want to say and how they think and express themselves.

2. Research and ask questions.

When starting any ghostwriting assignment, take time to research the topic. By knowing the broad context, details and opposing viewpoints, you’ll be a better listener and can ask more informed questions. Your client’s answers will clarify details and let you hear their voice. Use open-ended questions such as, “How do you think this will impact the industry?” or, “Why does this stakeholder have a different point of view?”

Asking questions also helps you discover anecdotes and stories that make the final product more authentic, such as, “How did your career prepare you for this position?” or, “Can you tell me about an employee who has made a difference to your customers?”

For written assignments, send open-ended questions via email. A client’s writing and speaking styles will have subtle differences.

3. Learn your client’s communication habits.

Writing for executives requires attention to both the content and form of their communication. One CEO I worked for wrote very long sentences that contained multiple semicolons, even in email subject lines. His style wasn’t particularly clear, but employees recognized it as uniquely his. Another executive liked using three-word phrases, such as “prudent business principles” and “optimum cost management.”

When interviewing executives, listen for phrases, word and sentence lengths, and unusual terms they favor. Also notice the point of view they use—first person (I/we), second person (you/your) or third person (he/she/they/it).

For particularly important assignments, record the interviews. It’s hard to pay attention to content, tone and style while asking follow-up questions and taking notes.

4. Revise without altering voice.

Even if you capture the CEO’s voice in the first draft, it can easily be lost when the copy is revised and approved by outside editors, who may unconsciously push the writing toward their own voice and style.

To protect your client’s authentic voice, hand-carry your first draft to anyone who is revising it. Read through it with them and talk through any instances where they find the writing too informal, pushy or personal. This prevents unnecessary markups while also keeping facts and details accurate.

Blythe Campbell is a speaker, coach and consultant. A version of this post first appeared on PR Say.

via IFTTT In a quick marketing move, ASOS turns typo into ‘limited edition’ offering

In PR and marketing, it’s all about positioning.

ASOS, an online fashion and beauty retailer in the United Kingdom, is reaping the benefits of a last-minute pivot after it found a typo on 17,000 of its bags:

Instead of reading, “Discover fashion online,” the last word was misspelled to read, “onilne.” ASOS’ social media team took to Twitter with a picture and admission of the mistake, telling followers it was calling the bags with the typo “limited edition.”

The tweet has racked up more than 6,000 retweets and 38,000 likes, along with a slew of other comments on Twitter and headlines across news publications.

“This is the best turnaround I’ve ever seen,” wrote Cosmopolitan’s Abbi Malbon. wrote that the retailer is “styling it out spectacularly” and Metro called said ASOS “brilliantly” recovered from the error.

Many consumers applauded the move on Twitter, with some wanting to purchase items just to get the bag:

Others jumped in with typo admissions of their own:

For PR and marketing pros facing the music after making a grammatical mistake or overlooking a typo, ASOS’ “oops” moment shows that you’re far from being alone. It also highlights the opportunities for a PR and marketing win, provided you’re willing to laugh at your mistake and think quickly to turn the situation around.

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via IFTTT 4 keys to effective PR writing

Writing successful public relations copy is no simple task.

PR pros must address and satisfy the priorities of three audiences at the same time:

  • The journalist or influencer
  • That gatekeeper’s audience
  • The company/cause/organization/client

If you miss the mark on any one of these three, you run this risk of ending up with beautiful writing that’s utterly useless. Effective PR writing requires a strategic use of words and ideas to motivate and change behavior. It’s about creating action.

How do you start? Here are four steps to effective PR writing:

1. Prioritize clean copy.

Just one grammatical error or spelling “fo paw” gives your audience an excuse (and a valid reason) to discount everything else in your piece.

You’re probably thinking, “I know that already.” No one plans on being the person who has to call the client CEO and apologize for spelling her name wrong in a news release.

Take your time to thoroughly edit every piece you produce. It’s not just your reputation on the line.

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Keep in mind that the spell-checker didn’t catch these errors:

  • It’s the perfect way to show your love and infection for your significant other.
  • Your going to be sorry if you miss the gala.
  • Florida is comprised of several fine counties.
  • Piece be with you.
  • He is a person that wants to achieve greatness.

2. Focus on informing—without the clutter.

Once you’ve edited for clarity, focus on brevity. Make your point in as few words as possible. Trim extraneous words, sentences and paragraphs.

Another metric to track is average sentence length, which you can review by running the grammar and spell check in Word. Strive for 20 words per sentence.

3. Emphasize persuasion.

Much of our writing ends up in front of journalists or cynical social media users, which makes persuasion a challenge. The hard sell doesn’t work on these folks.

We must persuade using objective, data-driven tactics that resonate with skeptical gatekeepers. For more persuasive copy, replace hot takes and opinions with facts, statistics and hard data to bolster your claims.

4. Finally, add flair and color.

Once your copy is clean, concise and persuasive, then you can dress it up a bit.

Most people try to start with wit, flair and color, and it falls flat because they don’t have the foundation of the first three steps to hold it up. Once your copy is polished, sprinkling in humor and lighthearted plays on words can breathe life into otherwise snooze-worthy content.

However, no amount of sizzle can salvage a lousy steak.

Michael Smart is a speaker and communications trainer. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.