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Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News Issue # 2 - 2013

FOREWORD This newsletter is aimed at providing Public Affairs practitioners with a short selection of recently published stories, papers, etc. which may be useful to remain abreast of new trends or to stimulate a debate. External sources are linked and any copyright remains with the authors.

New layout and new approach After over a year it was time to assess the content and usability of this product. As you know, its aim is to provide a selection of news that may be useful to Public Affairs provessionals who may not have the time to follow the daily links recommended at our FaceBook page. The digest may also include lenghty articles worth reading off-line. I have assessed readers’ interest by their access to our Facebook links. It appeared that the single topic that has stimulated more interest is Key Messages. That’s why you find here a compilation of related advice, in addition to other selected stories, to include our usual ‘essential tips’ on PA matters.

In this issue: Key Messages A-Z p. 2 Is Content Marketing a new Public Relations discipline? p. 8 Tactics of modern media relations p. 9 Secrets to successful speaking that my dog has taught me p. 12 Now it is #Facebook p. 13 The West’s hidden propaganda machine p. 14 Essential tips: Assure, ensure, insure: How to keep them straight p. 15 Seven Rules To Remember When a Crisis Strikes p. 16 How to write a bylined article for the boss p. 17 How to pitch a story p. 19

I also looked at the need to make this produc easy to read via mobile devices. To this end I removed elements of the layout that were not really needed while I kept the two columns layout. Of course your inputs to further improve the digest will be very welcome. The editor

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Key messages A-Z Edited by Franco Veltri [Original sources are linked at the bottom]

To be useful, key messages must: 

Be few in number, usually no more than two or three

 Be short and concise, generally no more than Key messages are the minimum essential information a sentence or two. we want our target audience (or stakeholders) to remember. They can be used in all of our  Be written down. communication such as our website, in media We all know the basic speech structure: Tell them releases, during media interviews, at networking what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then functions and any time we need to describe our tell them what you just told them. That, in a nutshell, business or organization. is the proper use of key messages. You should start any communication with your key messages, return to them throughout, and then summarize with them at the end.

Henry Kissinger used to start off his media interviews by asking, “Does anybody have any questions for my answers?” The implication was clear: he had his key messages and he was going to deliver them. Developing key messages becomes especially valuable in settings where other issues are likely to come up, such as media interviews. If you have formalized your key messages, you have something to return to so you can keep the discussion on track. Key messages also provide a structure for the rest of the information you want to include in your presentation or media interview. All the information Key messages should be used to bring clarity to the you want to include should support your key way that we communicate with our audiences, not to messages. Organize your communication in that restrict communications to a small set of prescribed fashion, and you will find your presentation easier to words. build and clearer for your audience. We want everyone in our audience to understand Finally, any supporting materials you provide should and remember the same basic messages, even if convey the same key messages. If you use slides, they each individual will remember different details. should be organized around your key messages. If properly developed and delivered, they will at least remember our key messages. Key messages for a communication crisis So let’s get back to basics. What is a key message? Keeping in mind that key messages are integral part It is: of any communication process, it may be safer to  The main purpose of communication with our consider the worst possible situation, which is to audience. have to prepare key messages to face a communications crisis and apply the principles of risk  The one or two things that we want our communication.. audience to remember Key message construction is based on principles It is not: derived from one of the main theories of risk communication -- mental noise theory. Mental noise  To be repeated word for word in everything that you communicate – it needs to be adapted theory states that when people are upset they often have difficulty hearing, understanding, and for the audience and the circumstance. remembering information. Mental noise can reduce a  To be used on its own – it needs context and person’s ability to process information by over 80 backing. percent. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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The challenge for risk communicators, therefore, is  Active: make every sentence active (1) to overcome the barriers that mental noise  Positive: talk about what one can do, not creates and what you can't (2) to produce accurate messages for diverse  Short: one sentence, 10-15 seconds to say audiences; and  Specific: address a particular challenge and (3) to achieve maximum communication audience effectiveness within the constraints posed by  Memorable: they should be the thing your mental noise. audience remembers better from your Solutions to mental noise theory that guide key communication. message development specifically, and message mapping generally, include: • Developing a limited number of key messages: ideally 3 key messages or one key message with three parts for each underlying concern or specific question (conciseness); • Keeping individual key messages brief: ideally less than 3 seconds or less than 9 words for each key message and less than 9 seconds and 27 words for the entire set of three key messages (brevity). • Developing messages that are clearly Be specific understandable by the target audience: typically at the 6th to 8th grade readability level 1 for Being specific means that you clarify exactly what you communications to the general public (clarity). do, want or need up front . If your key message is not specific, it will simply be ignored. In other words, Additional solutions include: you need to connect your message to their context. For this reason, it’s critical that you understand and • Placing messages within a message set so that segment your audience. The interests and needs are the most important messages occupy the different depending on who you are speaking to. You first and last positions. shuld be perceived as an expert on your topic. And • Developing key messages that cite direct you will deliver a clear, concrete, specific messages. experience or credible third parties. Specific, not vague, not ambiguous but stating your • Using graphics and other visual aids to enhance exact expectations. key messages. • Balancing negative key messages with positive, Be memorable constructive, or solution oriented key Here are some tips to help make your key messages messages. • Avoiding unnecessary uses of the words ‘no, not, memorable. never, nothing, none’. Make them original The next step is to develop supporting facts and Make your key messages unique and specific in proofs for each key message. The same principles order to differentiate your business/organization that guide key message construction should guide from others. This way they will stand out more the development of supporting information. with your target audience. Basic characteristics of key messages Key Messages must be: 

Concise: avoid jargon and acronyms


On readability suggest to read The Principles of Readability, William H. DuBay Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

Keep it short Write your key messages as short sentences. Long winded and complicated messages are harder to remember. This will help your audience to remember them as well as making them adaptable to any situation. Don’t have too many If you are creating key messages for your business /organization you should aim to have around Edited by ComIPI –


three or four key messages for each target audience. Concentrating on only a few messages will have a bigger impact and be more memorable.

natural. If a ‘key message’ uses a phrase or even a single word that you would never use, how is your audience going to react when they hear you speaking it out loud?

Consider your audience If your business/organization communicates with a number of different target audiences consider creating specific key messages for each target audience.

Key messages require also adaptation to the medium. The same key message may not have the same impact if used during a presentation or in a written product. The only compromise solution is use of spoken language, no matter how the message is delivered. The essence of the message may remain the same but the format needs adaptation.

Focus on the benefits Focus more on the benefits your business/organization can offer your audience to make your key messages more appealing. Key messages should never be purely ‘sales’ orientated. Think about how you would like people to see your business/organization. Avoid jargon Make your key messages simple and easy to understand by avoiding the use of technical jargon. This will help your key messages to be understood by a wider range of people. Update them It is important to review your key messages on a regular basis.

Adapting your messages This is often the hardest one because it involves changing key messages- those same key messages that have probably gone through ten rounds of approvals. What you need to remember is that key messages are there to give you the overall meaning that you should be conveying to your audience. The way you deliver that message/meaning to say a parent, is different to the way that you would deliver it to a child or another related audience, such as a health professional.

Communications is a two way street. Unless you’re just talking to yourself, communications is to a large degree what shapes the relationship between the speaker or writer (the messenger) and their audience. When you are the messenger, you are in effect building a relationship with your audience. So it’s worth it to think about who your audience is before setting pen to paper. Once you have a good understanding of your audiences, it’s easier to be strategic and clear about the purpose behind your communications, the key messages you need to deliver, and the channels that will get your message across best.

The media represent a special case, as they are professional communicators. The whole reason they exist is to deliver information to various audiences. Mass media, like national TV stations, try to reach as many people as possible, while other media, like The meaning remains the same, but the message specialty magazines and local papers, focus on more narrow audiences. changes. If you are a spokesperson, adapting the message to When communicating with the media, you need to suit your own style and way of speaking is a great be aware of the journalist as a person with particular way of ensuring that you come across as genuine and interests and motivations, while also thinking about Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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the audience who will be getting your messages once 1. Is it as short as possible, but no shorter? the media publishes the journalist’s work. The shorter your key message the easier it will be for Backing up your messages you to say, and for your audience to grasp and remember. But there is such a thing as too short. Unless your target audience is your own children or Brevity should not come at the expense of meaning. family, chances are that they are not going to believe The length of a Twitter message – 140 characters – is your key messages at face value. a good guide. Supporting your messages gives them credibility and 2. Does it convey a message? allows you to build the case with your audience for why they should believe/remember/do what your The topic of your presentation is not your key message tells them. message. Check that you’re not confusing the two by ensuring there’s a verb in your key message. For example, your topic might be “Recording health and safety incidents”. Rewrite that into a key message by turning “recording” into a verb: “We must record every health and safety incident.” A more subtle example of a topic masquerading as a key message is this “How you can make our workplace safer”. It’s got a verb, but it’s not telling your audience anything. Ask yourself – what’s the main thing I want to tell the audience about making the workplace safer? The answer is your key message, for example: “You can make the workplace safer by looking out for hazards.” 3. Is it in spoken language? Try using the following to give your messages There’s difference between the language we use credibility: when we’re speaking compared to when we’re  Personal experience – making specific reference writing. Your key message should be in spoken language. Here’s an example of written language: to your own experience will make your “Educators should maximize the potential of message very credible technology in education”. In spoken language it  Research – Scientific or peer-reviewed research would be:“Teachers can make better use of or statistics is a great way to back up your technology”. messages, especially from sources that your 4. Is it specific and concrete? audience will trust. 

Case studies – A real-life story can help give your audience context to your messages, and help them understand how it could apply to their own situation.

Third-party endorsement – Getting your messages out through the media, or getting a well-known ambassador to support your messages will help with uptake

These support points are the facts that back up your claims, like the pillars that hold up buildings. Check your draft Once you have drafted your key messages, here is a check-list to verify if they are indeed what you need:

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Your audience should be able to “see” your key message. If it’s full of jargon or abstract, conceptual words they won’t. For example this message “Implementing urban design principles will ensure that this roading project is sustainable” could be transformed to “Adding cycleways and walkways will reduce pollution.” 5. Is the relevance to your audience clear? One effective way of ensuring this is to include the word “you” in the key message. For example “The forestry sector entered the Emissions Trading Scheme in the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.” will probably be gobbledygook for an audience of foresters. It could be transformed to: “You can now earn carbon credits from your forests.” Edited by ComIPI –


6. Does it say something your audience doesn’t know

Various studies have since proved that if you only make a point once in an interview or presentation, probably less than 10 per cent of people will Your audience is there for something new. Don’t give remember it. If you repeat it three to six times in them clichés and platitudes. This doesn’t mean that different ways, retention can jump to around 90 per you have to come up with something clever. There’s cent. a risk that if you come up with something clever, your audience won’t get it. Or they’ll spend the next few So whether they like it or not, repetition is a valuable seconds working out what you meant and so miss technique when it comes to helping reporters and what you said next. In a spoken presentation, clarity the public absorb new ideas. When done badly trumps clever. though it becomes odious, counter-productive and starts to marginalize what might be a very important message. Remember that reporters are masters at seeing through clichéd, tedious spin and so is the public. Perhaps we should blame politicians for that because they often provoke a strong negative reaction when they repeat a message or phrase without providing any real context, meaning or evidence. To put that into context, imagine if someone tweeted the same repetitive message all day, every day on Twitter. It would quickly become so annoying and so counter-productive that we would tune out and stop following. Repetition makes your message magnetic With repeated exposure, an idea or concept that at first may seem strange to us can become familiar, clear, understandable, comforting - and most importantly, memorable. And as anyone who deals regularly with the media will know, it can be just as effective when you are trying to convince or persuade a reporter. Shining a spotlight on a word, phrase or idea several times during an interview signals to a reporter that it’s an angle you believe to be important or newsworthy. Subtle repetition is important in an interview because a reporter is busy taking notes, listening to what you are saying, analyzing it and preparing to ask the next question. They might not hear an important point if you say it just once. You could mention a name or a number, but without repetition chances are it would be wiped from a reporter’s short-term memory in less than 30 seconds. A German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus scientifically tested this theory in 1885 when he coined "the forgetting curve". He was one of the first to examine repetition and how the short term memory works in terms of retaining information. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

So while repetition is a powerful way to ensure reporters (and even your colleagues and clients) hear your key message, you really need to be smart about it. That means repeating words, statistics or facts in the right proportion and in a variety of ways as part of a natural conversation so that they stand out. For example, you might want to talk about the cost of new regulation and you might say: “The cost for consumers, the cost for industry and the cost for the economy will be high.” This is known as a triple whammy or a hat trick, where you repeat a single word three time to emphasize significance. The human mind seems to find three an amiable number; we can usually remember things that come in threes better than things that come in higher numbers. But a random statement like that is not convincing without some evidence to support it. So at another point in the interview you might mix it up by just talking about the cost to customers, and providing examples of how customers might be worse off. If I hear the word 'cost' enough in various forms, I'm in no doubt as to what you're trying to highlight. Edited by ComIPI –


Effective communicators also use their voice to underline and emphasize key points. So don't be afraid to alter the tone or volume of your voice in a media interview to highlight concerns or to create interest. For repetition to be effective with reporters and the public, you need to be convincing, passionate and interesting. You really need to talk to a theme and provide a meaningful insight rather than just repeating an ambiguous slogan that grates and has no real news value.

Then say it to a friend – see if he/she can say it back to you. You may find that they say it back to you in a way which is easier to grasp. In which case change it.

An hour later, ask your friend if they can still remember.

Then find another friend and see if they can still remember it a day later. If they can, well done – you’ve got yourself a memorable key message.

Is that the end of the story? Of course not. Key messages are what we want our target audience (or stakeholders) to remember. After you actually deliver them you conduct an evaluation of the perception in the target audiences and go back to the drawing board to properly modify your key messages. Or just start everything back if you failed.

Credits: The above guidelines are mainly a compilation of excerpts from several open sources, mainly from the following authors. Any credit goes to them:

Test your key message There are a number of tests to check that you’ve got a memorable key message. 

Vincent T. Covello David Micallef Randy Savicky Public Relations Sidney Blog Neal Linkon Olivia Mitchell Bernard O'Riordan Gijs Hubben

First, can you remember it? You need to be able to say it without looking at your notes. Test yourself.

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Is Content Marketing a New Public Relations Discipline?

according to each individual’s needs at that moment. Our customers buy and our stakeholders act according to their own time frames.

PRNewsWire by Sarah Skerik

This is why content marketing and public relations are

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. (Ed.)

suddenly finding themselves elbow-to-elbow in the communications mix, and the strategy. Both rely heavily on publishing messages with the goal of influencing opinion and generating specific outcomes. Both disciplines also benefit mightily from the connectedness of our audiences via social media, as well as the new weight search engines are placing on fresh content. Good messaging can gain traction

Is content marketing really PR? The immediate

quickly, and spread virally across networks of people

answer is “No,” but after a moment’s reflection, that

connected by common interests.

answer may start to inch toward “Maybe.” The practice of public relations is about influencing public opinion and guarding reputation. Content marketing is focused ultimately on outcomes like lead generation and sales. In terms of the old marketing funnel describing the different stages in the buying

Does Content Marketing apply only to sales industry? Barack Obama and his team have put content marketing at the center of their media strategy… (Ed.)

cycle (awareness, consideration, preference, choice) construct, PR is arguably more “upper funnel,” because it builds awareness and reputation. Content

It’s important that we step back for a minute, and

marketing is positioned deeper within the cycle, in the

think about the different audiences for our messages.

realms of consideration and choice.

Content that is published digitally is very likely to be read by an assortment of people, not simply our target audiences. We know, for example, that consumers read press releases and seek out the media sections on company web sites. They perceive that messages for the media contain more hard news, and less marketing spin. So, we need to write press releases that appeal to a variety of publics, not just key media. Because those other publics are in fact consuming the news we publish. And vice-versa. Professional media are keeping an eye on broader company messaging. So what does all of this mean to communicators?

But if you look at the marketplace for audience

Eliminate silos: First and foremost, we have to

attention today, the tables have turned on the

eliminate silos. All groups with the organization who

communicator. As we all know, today’s attention

are creating content for public consumption need to

markets are always-on, real-time, and operate

be hand-in-glove. Coordinating efforts can create

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search engine lift and a calendar of consistent

Tactics of Modern Media Relations

messaging that delivers a cumulative effect. The

Embracing Social Media & Staying True to Traditional Best Practices

alternative – i.e. unrelated, scattershot efforts – are at the least inefficient, and at worst, confusing to the audience. (Read more in our free white paper, “Modern PR: The Art & Science of Integrated Media

By the PR Newswire Audience Development team: Victoria Harres, Christine Cube & Brett Simon

Influence.”) Put the audience first: The second take-away for communicators is the vital necessity of adapting an audience-first approach to designing communications. Simply put, this means asking ourselves tough questions about the content we’re drafting, such as:   

What about this content is interesting and useful to our readers? What key customer problems does it address? Why should anyone care about this message?

Putting our messaging under this type of microscope can feel a bit uncomfortable, but in today’s competitive arena, in which we’re vying for the attention of our audiences (including journalists!) with streams of other data and information, our success absolutely rests upon our ability as communicators to create the sort of content people value. Share playbooks & tactics: Content marketers are really good at finding interesting ways to slice, dice and deploy content. The PR crew owns deep relationships with key influencers and understands the mechanics of public sentiment. Sharing tactics and intelligence between the two disciplines can create undeniable value for the organization. In times of change – and we’re smack dab in the middle of such a time – adaptive thinking is crucial. Instead of protecting turf (or budgets, as the case

The world of news and communications is evolving more quickly, every day. While newspaper reporters and radio/TV broadcasters are still a desirable audience to reach, bloggers (professionals and hobbyists), podcasters, industry analysts and consumers should not be overlooked. When it comes to working with traditional and emerging media through social media channels, engagement is crucial. Apart from that, many rules remain the same: strategic targeting, doing your homework and building community. Mastering traditional PR best practices Before venturing into social media, it’s important to get the traditional basics right. Yes, they still very much apply! Like it or not, your news is at the mercy of the news cycle. In order to compete and reach journalists with your message, you must master headline writing and pitching the right editors. Targeting the right journalists for the story is also an important factor. Start With an Effective Headline

may be), advocating a new approach for the organization may be the best way to promote the brand, deliver results and grow the professions of public relations and content marketing. While they’re not one and the same, the two practices are definitely better together.

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The headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate – it should immediately capture the interest of the reader, and tell them clearly what the story is about. Most decisions about whether to cover a story or pass it up will be based on your headline’s impression. Make it count, and make it concise. Edited by ComIPI –


Do:    

Keep it active. If the headline sounds like old news, journalists (and your online audiences) will treat it as such. Be descriptive. Try to lose all fluff, adjectives and jargon. This is the time to use high value words with clear meaning. Stick to a range of between 80-110 characters – our data shows this length is preferred by readers, and as a bonus, it’s the perfect length for sharing in social.

Don’t:  Editorialize.  Exaggerate with words like “best” or “first” unless it is.  Write long, wordy headlines.  Use a verb that doesn’t tell the reader/journalist anything. Pitching your story: don’t overlook the details Now that you’ve written that perfect headline to introduce your news release, there’s still a lot to keep in mind when you’re pitching an editor. Know the news outlet before you pitch. Any editor will tell you that this is No. 1 on his/her list. It’s critical for PR types to know the organization and the news product before a pitch is made.

   

Get the journalist’s name right and send the release directly vs. some generic inbox. Use plain English and no jargon. Also, use correct grammar and spelling. Always include contact info and be accessible if a journalist calls for more information. Use a quote from a real person or include perspective (like a customer testimonial). Include links to Tweetable/shareable assets. The journalist can’t tweet your e-mail. But he/she might just tweet about a link you share.

Connecting social media and the news The explosion of social media initially was considered an intrusion on traditional news organizations’ turf; however, mainstream media outlets have come to embrace social media and utilize these platforms to promote their brands, build contacts, curate news and compete with others doing the same. Public relations now must consider new ways to communicate in the context of this “new” media. Early adoption by PR changes the media landscape

Spend some time reading the publication or on the web site, and be sure to check out the journalist’s recent work.

The PR community recognized early that social networks are all about people. This was a game changer.

Keep in mind that your media audience has an audience of their own, and that is foremost in their mind.

“If someone wants to follow a brand, company or organization, who do you want to talk to? If it’s a brewery, they might want to talk to the brew master; if it’s a company, put the CEO on,” says Ken Dowell, executive vice president of PR Newswire. “Put them online and let their real voices come through. I think it’s a great strategy of what social media is all about.”

Think about the audience of the outlet you’re pitching and include a paragraph about why that publication’s audience would care about your story. Consider the publication’s deadlines and editorial calendar, too. These can usually be found on the publication’s website, or through a media targeting tool. Other tips when pitching an editorial desk:  Email always. Don’t fax .  No attachments. (It’s too much work.) Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

News releases have also taken on a new life. Today, they must include multiple layers of information with links, video, photos and other compelling graphics. These enhancements are necessary to create a better tool to pitch the new socially, digitally connected media audience.

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Keeping it real with Twitter Twitter is an integral part of today’s audience relations practice. It’s important to remember what makes this platform unique – authenticity. Twitter audiences are not into polished messages; they want real conversation from real people. Here are some easy Twitter tips:   

    

 

Listen – follow people and conversations that make sense with your goals. Share links to articles you’ve read that you find informative and/or interesting. Designate parameters for what you will or won’t tweet about (audiences like consistency). Express your thoughts on your industry, business and job. Promote your company and products (in moderation of course). Engage others (@replies, retweets). Keep a positive tone and be genuine. Don’t argue. Don’t share information about your company that has not been made public through proper channels. Be brief. Don’t use multiple tweets to make a statement or a point. Don’t use direct messages to direct market.

Managing PR through Social Media Of course, being active on social media platforms is just the first step. Here are some takeaways on how to integrate this powerful tool into your modern media relations strategy. 1. Find your audience. Use Twitter to research and find journalists, bloggers and influencers in your target. Build a Twitter List and then find those same people on other social platforms. It’s important to know where they are most active. Target your influencers, but remember they are not necessarily the people with the highest Klout scores or the most Twitter followers. A niche expert connected to the five people you most want reach is probably more valuable than a generalist who’s shouting to the masses.

Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

2. Stay on top of trends. Read what your audience is reading and writing. Listen to what industry experts and your customers are saying. 3. Build relationships. Friends help each other out. Promote the work of your audience through your social channels. 4. Optimize your messages for social channels. Create sharable press releases that have tweetable headlines and anchor text with links that lead back to your website. It’s proven that multimedia make your releases more sharable, so add a photo or video to your release. Final Thoughts PR professionals cannot make assumptions about who their audience is or how their messages will find them. Yes, traditional newspaper journalists and radio/TV broadcasters are still an important audience to reach, but you also need to include online journalists, bloggers (professionals and hobbyists), podcasters, industry analysts and consumers. To reach your maximum potential audience, you must transform your traditional view of media relations – think ‘audience’ relations and development. This requires online, social interaction and cultural alignment. The process to address social media conversations must be tactical and employees must be empowered to join the conversation. Have questions or comments to share? Reach out to authors Vicky, Brett and Christine via PR Newswire’s Twitter or Facebook accounts. They would love to continue the conversation.

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Secrets To Successful Speaking That My Dog Has Taught Me by Dr. Jim Anderson

I’ve Got Other Things That I Could Be Doing Any of you who are dog owners know that any time that you ask your dog to do something for you, there is always something else that the dog could be doing – sleeping! What this means is that if I’m going to ask my dog to do something besides sleeping, then I had better make it more interesting than the alternative! The same can be said of your next speech. In this age of the smartphone and the tablet computer, your audience has many other choices that they can make instead of listening to your speech. The responsibility is on you to create a speech that is more interesting than your audience’s alternatives. Presents Are Always Appreciated

Dogs can be great coaches, you just have to know how to listen In our quest to become better speakers, we are always looking for both feedback and mentors who can show us the way. I know that I’ve looked high and low for folks who have skills that are better than mine and who are willing to take the time to show me how I can be a better speaker. I believe that a good mentor is more valuable than an audience with good listening skills or a set of effective presentation tips. It turns out that one individual who was more than willing to provide me with the guidance that I needed to become better has been living in my house all along. He’s my dog.

My dog will do just about anything to receive a treat from me. Since he’s a Boxer, just the thought of getting a treat will cause him to start to drool and very quickly a puddle will form on the floor under his mouth. Your audience wants a treat also. No, not the food type of treat (although that might be appreciated), what they want is valuable information that answers a question or provides them with a skill that they did not already have. Make sure that the topic that you are talking on is interesting enough to get your audience to show up and then deliver on the promise of an information treat for your audience. What All Of This Means For You

It Takes A Team No matter if I’m out in the front yard with my dog playing fetch or if I’m taking him on a long walk, in order for both of us to get the most out of our time together it’s going to take a team to do things successfully. I need to be communicating clearly to him what I want him to be doing and he needs to be doing it. When you are giving a speech, it’s going to take a team for your speech to go well. No, you don’t get to tell your audience to listen to you, but if you can find ways to interact with them and keep them involved in your speech then they’ll be a part of your team during the speech.

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As speakers, what we try to do every time that we give a speech is to communicate with our audience. We know about the importance of public speaking and we want our audience to experience it. It turns out that this is not an easy thing to do. What we need is practice and we need someone to show us the way. I believe that I’ve found a great mentor who can help me to do this – my dog. He’s taught me that in order for anything that we’re going to do together to be successful, I need to remember that we are a team and we both need to be involved. My dog always has other things that he’d rather be doing (sleeping), but if I make what we are doing interesting enough, he’ll participate. Treats are what my dog lives for. If I want him to do something, all I have to do is to bring a treat and he’ll Edited by ComIPI –


feel like he’s been given something worthwhile and he’ll participate in what I want him to do.

Twitter users to see live updates from people on the ground.

No, a dog does not make the best audience for your next speech. I mean after all, who has ever received a standing ovation from man’s best friend? However, the relationship that we have with our dogs can teach us a lot about the kind of relationship that we want to develop with our next audience. After all, isn’t that one of the real benefits of public speaking?

Earlier this month, Facebook announced its own implementation, which is already live. "When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you'll see a feed of what other people and pages are saying about that event or topic," says the announcement. Is this futile Twitter envy or a significant move? Adding hashtags will not make Facebook a destination for breaking news, any more than it has done for Google+, which already supports them. The culture is different. Some, such as Digg's Jake Levine, argue that Twitter is becoming a broadcast medium with diminishing interactivity.

Now it is #facebook Adoption by Facebook makes hashtags a more potent marketing tool, argues Tim Anderson

The case is overstated, but Twitter is particularly well suited for hashtags that let you follow a topic. Facebook, by contrast, is the place where you interact with friends. Hashtags on Facebook are still significant though. In marketing, they are perfect for linking ads – whether online or offline – to online socialmedia campaigns and, in this context, Facebook's move makes sense. Facebook has more than a billion active users according to its own statements, whereas Twitter is estimated to have around 200 million active users per month. That translates to a large increase in the number of social-media participants who can easily search or click your hashtag and engage by repeating it in their posts.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced its own implementation of the now ubiquitous hashtag. Photograph: Kristin Lee/Tetra Images/Corbis

Twitter hashtags began in 2007, invented by open-standards evangelist Chris Messina, who was inspired by similar tags on Flickr and, before that ,channels on IRC (internet relay chat). Messina called them tag channels and the idea was to improve "contextualisation, content filtering and exploratory serendipity", for which purposes they have been a remarkable success.

The bottom line: hashtags are a powerful tool for social-media marketing and too important to ignore, despite the risks. The case for a hashtag tucked into the corner of your ad is stronger than ever.

Hashtags have many uses, but come into their own when there is breaking news, enabling Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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The west's hidden propaganda machine By Eliane Glaser

blatant and ubiquitous than it really is. Children throw it into relief. Catching sight of a huge Big Mac billboard ad, my three-year-old son remarked with straightforward appreciation, "That's a nice sandwich." But does it really wash to assert that we are just like North Korea? The problem with propaganda is that it's not at all clear what the word actually means. To some, it's pejorative disinformation. But to the wartime ministry of information, the Catholic church, and Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and author of the 1928 public relations bible Propaganda, it is necessary and even beneficial persuasion.

'Keep Calm and Carry On has been co-opted by a brand of capitalism that disguises itself as humane, ironic and artisanal.' Photograph: Jeffrey Blackler/Alamy

Propaganda is obvious, crude and naive, but it's also subliminal, underhand and insidious. Its paradoxical definition is more than just a semantic curiosity. It represents our inability to get to grips with how we are influenced, and by whom.

Strolling into the British Library, I was brought up short by a gigantic white-bearded man, pointing sternly in my direction. The iconic image of Uncle Sam, taken from a 1917 US army recruitment poster, was advertising its exhibition Propaganda: Power and Persuasion. In one corner, the picture fragmented into pixels: the exhibition will include not only retro memorabilia such as posters, stamps and flags, but also Facebook and Twitter. How rare, I thought, for any aspect of western culture to be identified as propaganda, let alone social media, that beacon of transparency and individual empowerment. I resolved immediately to attend. The image had done its work.

We disown overt propaganda by associating it with other places and other times, by thinking not of those proliferating outdoor advertising screens but of five-year plans and Your Country Needs You!. And we dismiss covert propaganda by proclaiming that we are sophisticated consumer-citizens, immune to manipulation and mind-games. This latter blind spot is enabling the rise of two new forms of hidden persuasion: behaviour change and social media.

It's easy to ogle North Korea and claim that its weirdly uniform society is nothing like our own. But last year, as millions of westerners found themselves transfixed by South Korean pop video Gangnam Style, a film entitled Propaganda was uploaded to YouTube. Purporting to have been made by North Korean apparatchiks, but subsequently revealed to be a New Zealand-produced mockumentary, it makes the compelling case that in the west today there is no distinction between propaganda, advertising and mass consumerism. A political system that protects elites and provides a mere illusion of democratic choice relies on a population enthralled by the latest iPhone. The assumption that we are free and selfdetermining makes our advertising culture seem less Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

Now that ideology is disavowed as passé and "divisive", governments are adopting subliminal forms of policy and persuasion. Behaviour change – the "new science of irrationality", "neuro-economics" or "nudge" – claims that since people often fail to act rationally and in their best interests, their decisions and behaviour should be guided subconsciously by (rational) experts. David Cameron's "nudge unit" is run by David Halpern, a former social psychology lecturer, whose cabinet office paper Mindspace: influencing behaviour through public policy advocates an approach that relies on citizens "not fully" realising "that their behaviour is being changed". It may be good for us to eat more cabbage and prioritise our pensions. But this modish wonkery is all about eroding vital distinctions between government, psychology and marketing. The government's public health responsibility deal works jointly with the nudge unit and fast food giants. The nudge unit is itself to become a profit-making Edited by ComIPI –


business. According to Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy Change, a "behavioural sciences practice" that builds "connections, in all directions, between the social sciences, business and policy making", this enterprise is "bigger than the internet".

Assure, ensure, insure: How to keep them straight By Catherine Spicer

We are no longer appealed to as thinking citizens. We are simply flawed units to be prompted into spending more and costing the state less. The propaganda lies not only in the political-corporate manipulation of the public but also – most insidiously – in the way this is cloaked in the language of ideology-free empiricism and the semblance of autonomy: the idea that people are being nudged "to make better decisions for themselves". Let's take the second revolution – in social media. To read the trade literature of the PR and online advertising industries is to be hit by a tidal wave of guff about authenticity, engagement and two-way conversations. In the "era of participatory public relations", the story goes, "the people have defeated the corporation". The objective now is to "make your customers a partner in the selling process". This is pseudo-egalitarian code for the voluntary circulation of Facebook ads. The notion that propaganda is always a state-run, top-down affair provides a cloak for our complicity. Social media's veneer of openness and people-power exemplifies western propaganda's habit of masquerading as its opposite. The apparently spontaneous Harlem Shake meme, a carnivalesque subversion of conformist work culture, was in fact orchestrated by new media companies that monetise virals. The "Mr Cake" resignation viral, while apparently genuine, was gleefully converted by the media into great PR for no-jobs-for-life entrepreneurialism and the pernicious myth of easy internet-driven success. Our most palatable propaganda appears to be homemade. How Neville Chamberlain's heart would sink were he alive to enter a Whitstable homewares boutique. Originally the subject of a morale-boosting poster produced on the eve of the second world war, the slogan Keep Calm and Carry On has been co-opted by a brand of capitalism that disguises itself as humane, ironic and artisanal, and it serves austerity Britain by lending it an aesthetic of jolly stoicism. Post-Thatcher propaganda operates in the places it's least expected: not, as everyone complained, in the eulogies, but in the admissions that the woman was "flawed". Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

Have you been so confused about when to use "assure," "ensure," and "insure" that you actually go back and rewrite your sentence to avoid using the word? I do that. "Ensure" and "insure" derive from the Latin word securus, which means "safe" or "secure." This Latin word also give us "sure," "secure," "assure," and "security." These three verbs—assure, ensure, insure—all have the same general meaning: "to make sure." The devil is in the details, and context is key to determining when to use each of these words. The simplest way I've found to keep these three words straight is as follows: 

Assure—something you do to (or for, actually) a person, a group of people, or an animal to remove doubt or anxiety. Example: I assured my team that I would bring my world-famous tiramisu to our next team meeting. I don't know how anxious my team is about what sort of food I bring to the team meeting, but if they are worried about it, I'm assuring them I will bring something yummy, thereby removing any doubt or anxiety they may have had.

Quick tip: You can only assure things that are alive— assure/alive—both start with A.  Ensure—something you to do guarantee an

event or condition. Example: We're working Edited by ComIPI –


hard to ensure that the backyard will be ready for the party next month. I'm planning a party next month that I'd like to have in my backyard. In order for that to happen, I need to eradicate about a thousand Canadian thistles from my backyard, otherwise, someone is sure to step on one of those spiky little buggers and not have much fun at my party. Quick tip: If I'm trying to ensure something, I'm trying to guarantee an outcome— ensure/guarantee—remember the double E in guarantee to use ensure. 

Insure—something you can do to a person, place, or thing, limiting financial liability. Example: It's a good thing I called my agent to insure my new flute, because I accidentally dropped it and backed over it with the car. Now, this didn't actually happen to me, but it did happen to a friend. Her flute case was on top of the car, and she forgot about it. She started to back down her driveway. The flute case slid off the car and she ran over it. She had insurance coverage on her flute, which limited her financial liability, and she got her flute repaired and a new flute case and was out only about a hundred bucks.

Quick tip: If you don't insure your car and you end up in a fender bender with a Rolls-Royce—that will impact your income—insure and income both begin with "in."

You can also remember it this way, "I assure you, I've ensured that I'm insured."

Seven Rules To Remember When a Crisis Strikes by Brad Phillips You have a crisis communications plan in place. You’ve assembled a crisis response team, written a comprehensive crisis plan, and role played the most likely crisis scenarios. You’re ready for the unexpected.

But then the crisis strikes. Your adrenaline surges. Your boss is suddenly irrational, choosing to abandon your well-conceived plan and just “wing it.” Print this article and hang it on your bulletin board. When a crisis strikes, take 30 seconds to scan this list to remind yourself – and your freaked-out boss – about the seven larger truths of a crisis. 1. You Will Suffer In The Short-Term: You will probably suffer when a crisis strikes, at least in the short-term. But crises do not have to affect organizations negatively in the long-term. When handled well, crises can ultimately enhance an organization’s reputation, increase its stakeholder loyalty, and add to its bottom line. 2. You Need to Communicate Immediately: Communicate immediately, if only to acknowledge that something happened, you’re looking into it, and will share more information as soon as you know it. Organizations that communicate immediately have a much greater chance of becoming the media’s main source for information during the crisis.

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3. If You Don’t Talk, Others Will: Reporters need to gather information and get quotes. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else, usually a less-informed third party. That, in turn, will fuel even more negative coverage. 4. Saying “No Comment” Is The Same as Saying “We’re Guilty:” When a crisis strikes, many executives want to withhold comment until they have more information. That’s an understandable impulse, but also a wrong one. In the eyes of the public, your refusal to comment is the same as saying, “we don’t care,” “we’re out-of-touch,” or “damn, we’re screwed.” 5. Your Response Needs to Be About The Victims: British Petroleum’s former CEO, Tony Hayward, failed miserably on this count when he told reporters “I’d like my life back.” His comment was about himself, not the eleven workers who died on his rig

or the thousands of newly unemployed locals. Especially in the early hours of a crisis, align your communications – and actions – to human safety and victims’ needs.

How to Write a Bylined Article for the Boss by John Roderick There once was a time when only professors and think-tank fellows needed to worry about the “publish or perish” phenomenon. Now, with everything from Klout scores to Twitter followers factoring into the brand value equation, to boot, the need to feed the content beast has seldom been greater for senior business leaders. With more publications accepting contributions from industry experts and easy access to self-publishing on company websites or blogs, there are several outlets for executive pontification. That’s if those executives can write. The problem is: Most senior executives got to where they are by crunching numbers and delivering a killer PowerPoint, not crafting the perfect Op-Ed piece. So, the PR and marketing folks are brought in to help. This is where things get a little tricky. The three parties typically involved in the ghostwriting process each have different motives, none of which are perfectly aligned. Marketers are trained to keep the focus on the brand; PR professionals are conditioned to keep the focus on the news and senior execs are programmed to keep the focus on themselves and their people. Getting all three to agree on 750 words of copy requires no small amount of diplomacy.

6. Facts Are Not Enough: Even if the facts prove that you did nothing wrong, they’re not enough. During a crisis, facts get obscured by perceptions. A good crisis response should be aligned to the concerns of your organization’s stakeholders and shouldn’t rely solely on a mere recitation of facts. Yes, get the facts out – but do so in the context of your audience’s most pressing concerns. 7. Get It All Out: It’s human to want to bury the bad parts of a story that haven’t yet gotten out. But trying to bury negative parts of the story often extends the crisis and makes it worse. Information usually gets out anyway, and the lack of forthrightness reinforces suspicions about your integrity. If you think something is likely to get out anyway - and it probably will – it’s better to get it out on your own terms instead of letting a reporter catch you. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

Fortunately, some of us have been through the exercise enough to spot potential pitfalls before they sink the project. Having learned the hard way, following is a five-step process for how not to screw up an expert byline:

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 Manage Expectations Before You Start Writing:

Say the words “Op-Ed” or “expert byline” in a meeting and half the room will think about Don Draper “quitting tobacco,” and the other half will have scary flashbacks to English Composition 101. Both can set you up for failure. The perfect byline pitch starts internally with a clear outline that laysout the headline theme, key data points, division of labor and desired outcomes before you solicit feedback.

also essential that you factor everyone who might be impacted, including corporate parents, sales execs and strategic partners. The power to assert enormous influence also comes with the potential to provoke political suicide among those who put words in their bosses’ mouths for a living. With the right plan, however, it is possible to tilt the odds in favor of success.

 Target your audiences (realistically) and write for

them: It is a proven phenomenon that once an executive’s name is appended to a Microsoft Word document, someone will suggest that it should be published in The Wall Street Journal. The targeting step is therefore critical for expectation alignment and writing style direction. An A-, B- and C-list of targets should be developed, each with a clear set of style requirements and audience profiles to ensure that the message is conveyed at the right level. Equally important, senior leadership must be educated on the benefits of each beforehand so the eventuality of C-list placement doesn’t feel like a consolation prize.  Say it with data: Consider the impact of these two

lines: 1) Corporate bylines are the mother’s milk of sustainable thought leadership strategies, and 2) By developing a byline-focused communications strategy, one of our clients increased its total number of media citations by 110% in a year, generating more than 13,000 press mentions in 2012 alone. They’re both important, but the second one offers tangible results. Carefully curated facts, not taglines or marketing messages, need to be at the center of a byline for it to be effective.  Avoid ‘Advertorial Creep’: Death by a thousand

cuts, editing by committee, advertorial creep. Call it what you will, but when too many people have their hands on the “track changes” button, the quality of the content rarely improves. The first tip-off is jargon. Maybe an eager-to-please marketing manager adds the phrase “platform agnostic solutions provider,” or “bleeding-edge technologies.” For the process to work, a strike team of two to three people max need to have final edit on the document, bringing in additional opinions for review only.  Alert potential stakeholders prior to publication:

We once learned that the corporate parent of one of our clients wanted to kill an Op-Ed we had written after it was accepted for publication on The New York Times ’ Opinion page. This is not the time to start angling for internal approvals. While it is tempting to go out quickly with a great story, it is Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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How to Pitch a Story By Jeremy Porter In baseball, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play.

What is a pitch? A pitch is a writer's description of a potential story to an editor. A pitch can be delivered verbally -- if you're on staff pitching to your editor -- or sent via email. So what does a pitch entail? A pitch lays out why a story matters.

Whether you’re just starting out in PR, you’ll need to know how to pitch a story. With all the talk about off-topic pitches and “PR spammers” I’ve been seeing out there, I figured it would be timely to offer my suggestions for how to pitch a story… For the critics out there, I don’t believe there is one right way to pitch a story, but there are a lot of wrong ways. I’ve put together this advice based on my own success and failure working with the media. I’ve found the greatest success using this approach, and it’s my hope that you too will find some helpful tips for preparing your next pitch. Regardless of the approach you use, the only way to produce consistent placements for clients is to do your legwork. Pitching is a lot of hard work, but the better your preparation and persistence, the more success you will have. The advice I share in the rest of this post is based on what I think works best. You may find that a different approach works better. If that’s the case, I invite you to share your suggestions for readers in the comments. Where to Start: Know Your Story Before you build your media list, write your release, craft your pitch or pick up the phone, you need to know your story inside and out. Interview everyone involved in the story and drill deep with questioning. Think like a journalist and ask your sources all the tough questions. Through this process, determine Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

A pitch essentially makes the case for doing a certain story at a certain point in time. And a good pitch letter should quickly and succinctly do a few things - introduce the author, summarize the story the author wants to write and explain why that story matters. A good pitch should also make the case for why its author is the best person to write that story. Definition by Rachel Deahl

what is most newsworthy, compelling and interesting about the story. Outline your pitch and develop variations for the different types of outlets and media professionals you think might be interested in the story. Once you have your outline, work your way into the release and/or pitch materials. Keep your materials as brief as possible and get to the point. Journalists don’t have a lot of time these days, so you need to get your point across in the first few sentences of your pitch. Take Aim with a Rifle, Not a Shotgun The chances of your story appealing to all the media on your target list are slim to none. Start by developing a media list that captures all the possible outlets you might want to target with your story. Spend the extra effort to discover the best contact at Edited by ComIPI –


each outlet, the one most likely to be receptive to your pitch. Read what the journalist writes about, read any pitching advice they’ve provided on their website(s), and get to know their style, pet peeves and preferences. This is much easier than it sounds if you go through the process. Once you’ve developed your comprehensive list, cut it in half. I personally grade each target on my list with a letter grade, based on which outlets reach the largest concentration of my target audiences (or are most likely to cover the story). Anyone with an “A” or “B” stays on the list, the rest of the contacts go on a supplemental list that I may or may not pitch, based on my success with the top targets.

for your readers? What do you not like about this pitch? What would you change if you were in my shoes?” This approach will vary depending on what you’re pitching and who you’re talking with, but you should get a general idea of how this works. Most journalists get what makes a good story, and what doesn’t. You can learn from them, and you should. Take any feedback you receive and tweak your pitch for the rest of your efforts. Lead with an email pitch one at a time, tailoring your pitch to each journalist – based on the knowledge you gained in the first step. When appropriate, offer them an exclusive or some element of the story you’re not offering to anyone else. This is an important point, make it clear that you know who they compete against and that you are not pitching those other outlets until you determine their interest – because you would prefer to work with them. Then keep your word – don’t go behind their backs and do the same thing with the competitors, they’ll find out and you’ll lose all credibility. Practice Good Follow Up

Test Your Pitch

Chances are very good that your pitch will sit in their inbox (or spam filter) the first time you send it, without them ever noticing it. Most journalists get dozens of pitches a day. Unless you are responding to a direct request for sources, you should follow up in a day or so with another email. Keep the email to one sentence, hitting on the core message of your pitch and asking for their response. Almost all of my major placements have come from a round of followup (usually multiple rounds).

Select the one journalist you think will be most receptive to your story. Even though journalists say they prefer email pitches, you need to pick up the phone for this one. Call the journalist and find a good time for you to chat for a couple of minutes. Once the timing is good, ask them if you can bounce a story idea off them to get their feedback. Be genuine with your request, and have questions planned out in advance.

If you still don’t hear back from them in another day (or sooner if you’re on a tight deadline), give them a call. Don’t hesitate to say you’re working on deadline and would like to determine their interest before pitching another outlet. Don’t just ask them “did you see my pitch?”, pitch them while you have them on the phone. Let them know you sent them a pitch about XYZ and wanted to talk about it with them, provided it’s a good time.

For example, here’s how the exploratory conversation might go: “I’m working with a client that has developed a novel approach to doing XYZ. Based on your recent coverage of this issue, I was thinking you might be most interested in the X angle. Is this a compelling enough angle for this type of story? What would make this story more interesting

If you are still unable to connect with the journalist, move on and let it go. You gave them a chance at the story, and if they don’t respond, they probably aren’t interested. There are plenty of media outlets out there. If you don’t find immediate success with the first few, move on down your prioritized list.

Prioritization of media targets is the biggest timesaver you can use. Don’t waste your time blasting a pitch out to a large list, nobody will write about it. Before you begin pitching, you should know without a doubt the top 10 journalists are for the story you are pitching.

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Be Realistic If you’re pitching a story about a new store opening or a new hire, don’t pitch The Wall Street Journal. On the other hand, if you’re buying a major competitor for $100M, it might be worth a call. Don’t tolerate clients that only care about being on Oprah. If they don’t have a strong enough story for the media outlet they want to be featured in, it’s your job to educate them early in the process. Keep Good Records If you’re not using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage your media outreach, start using one now. It’s the best way to keep track of your history working with organizations and individuals, particularly if you’re working in a team environment. Take good notes on your interaction with the journalists, and attach all your pitches, documents and other information to the system. Ideally, you should use a system that also enables you to manage tasks and follow-up as well. Most CRM systems are built for managing a sales pipeline, and that’s what media relations is all about. You’re selling a story and need to track your prospects and lead-to-close ratios. If you do this for a few months, you’ll quickly identify patterns around what works and what doesn’t. Don’t Forget Your Manners The best thing you can do to build media relationships is to treat journalists with respect and courtesy. Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.” Even if the journalist is in a bad mood and tells you to go away, thank them for their time and follow their advice. I have made a habit of sending personal, hand-written thank you notes to journalists over the years, and it’s paid off in countless repeat stories with these journalists. Genuine feedback and simple “thank you” notes can go a long way to improving your success.

Take full advantage of query services like Help A Reporter Out (HARO). If you’re not using HARO, you should be. HARO is the most widely-used reportersource matching service out there. I find at least one good opportunity each day for somebody in my network. Use social networking tools like LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more about journalists, but don’t be a stalker. You can learn about a journalist’s background, the organizations they are involved with and the publications they write for from their profiles. You also might find out that you share a common interest or passion, which is never a bad thing. And finally, learn from other professionals on both the PR and media side of the equation. Take part in the weekly #journchat discussions on Twitter. Meet up with a local journalist or seasoned PR veteran for coffee. Ask for their advice and learn from the process. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help you out if you just ask.

Conclusion These are but a few of my basic suggestions for how I’ve been able to secure a lot of great placements for clients over the years. I hope you found a few good nuggets in this post that you can use to improve your media relations success, and to build some longlasting relationships with journalists. Remember, if a journalist isn’t interested in the story you’re pitching today, they might still be interested in the next one. Don’t lose hope and keep at it, it will all be worth it when you get those big hits.

Use New Tools As a final thought, use new tools for researching and building relationships with journalists. For example, Twitter is a great tool for following journalist conversations. Most journalists talk about the stories they are working on and their experiences working with PR professionals on Twitter. If you pay attention, you’ll get all the information you need to tailor your pitch to them (and you just might find an urgent need you can help them with). Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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7 elements of a nearly perfect pitch By Shonali Burke The headline is a teaser, of course. There is no such thing as a perfect pitch. There are only terrible, so-so, and very good pitches. If a perfect pitch did exist, it would secure every story it aimed for. As far as I know, no pitch holds that record. You can, however, write a very good pitch. I like to think I've written—or spoken—my fair share of them, though I still don't get every hit I or my client wants. That's just how it goes. If you would like to create a very good pitch, read on. While this article is in the context of media/blogger relations, these elements apply to practically anything and anyone you pitch. Imagine you're the publisher of the most popular, highly-trafficked blog that focuses on XYZ (insert your topic area). You get hundreds of pitches a day. Which ones will you read? You will read: 1. Pitches with a succinct subject line. Save the creative headlines for your actual news releases—if you still use them. The most successful subject lines are to the point and say exactly what the email contains. For example: "Pitch: _____." No ambiguity there. Write your client's/campaign name or the gist of the pitch, and then explain it in the email body. 2. Honest pitches. I can't stand pitches from PR agencies or consultants that purport to be the client. It's silly. If your client is So-And-So Nonprofit, why would it have a PR agency name in its email address? For a profession that is still plagued with the "spin" moniker, it is just silly to do this. Be upfront. Say who you are and what the campaign is about. Don't engage in a smoke-and-mirror show. 3. Pitches that demonstrate research. Any PR pro worth her salt will tell you she spends hours and hours building pitch lists. Once you build your list, go through each outlet and get to know each one. See if the contact reporter has written similar stories or has a strong interest in your topic. If he does, lead your pitch with a reference to that. For example, "As I was reading <name of blog post> on <subject>, it occurred to me that <client/campaign name> might interest you." Explain a little more as to why, but not more than a couple sentences, if that. If the reporter hasn't written similar stories but you still think he is a good fit, ask straight out: "Would you be interested in <client/campaign> that <explain more>…?" Explain how the campaign/story would interest his target audience. Remember, it's all about the reporter and his outlet, not you or your client. 4. Pitches with clear calls to action. If there is a specific call to action you hope the reporter will include in the story, be clear about it. I've never had any reporters or bloggers call me out for doing so. On the other hand, I don't demand anything. For example, when I pitched Oxfam America's International Women's Day campaign, I was clear about what we wanted: folks to send the eCards and/or give out the eAwards. The worst that could happen is that the reporter will say no. But, at least you asked. 5. Pitches without attachments. Enough said. Never add an attachment to a pitch. 6. Pitches that have no spelling errors. Again, this is self-explanatory. 7. Pitches that begin and end politely. I never heard of politeness killing anyone. Kindness maybe, but politeness? Nah. Regardless of whether I know the person I'm pitching, I always sign off with "Thank you," or "Thank you in advance for your consideration." After you send your pitch, your work has just begun. Please don't think your pitch will succeed just because you wrote it well. Often, it won't, but at least it will help to open the door. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 2-2013

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This Digest will welcome proposals for themes and stories to be included in the next issue. Please send your recommendations to If you are interested in receiving your individual copy via email please let us know. If you wish to unsubscribe from email delivery of your own copy, it will help to know the reason. Please feel free to forward our link to anybody who may be interested in reading this Digest.

ComIPI is a no-profit study center aimed at developing and implementing advanced techniques to communicate with the public while respecting ethical principles. ComIPI uses its communications talent, skills and expertise also to help organizations to educate and to inform their target audiences; to develop communication strategies; to train their staff in communication skills; to monitor and analyze results of communication efforts; and, to assess media perceptions on matters of interest. Communications activities are also assessed taking into specific consideration inter-cultural aspects.

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