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Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News Issue # 1 - 2014

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.

Relations with news Media: how to sell our story today For this issue I selected a single theme. A number of interesting articles have been published recently to address media relations in view of the changed news media landscape. A new therm emerged several years ago: pitching. It refers to the communication we send to reporters in an attempt to solicit coverage. In the old time this was mainly done through a news release. Sometimes coupled with a telephone call. Eventually, we all started using e-mails. More recently, social media. Now we pitch… throwing a ball in the hope it will be bounced into the public arena.

In this issue: Fla(c)ks vs. Hacks: Pitching or Phishing? p. 2 5 media relations techniques that don't involve pitching p. 5 Do Journalists Prefer Contact through Social Media or Email? p. 7 5 Reasons Your Pitch is Falling Flat p. 8 Do your subject lines look like spam? p. 9 The pros and cons of press releases vs. pitches p. 10 When to use a press release and when to deliver a pitch p. 12 6 Media Pitching Do’s—and 1 Don’t p. 13 Upping Your Game to Reach Online Media p. 14

Essential Media Tips:  7 tips for writing a killer press release p. 15  The Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking p. 16

 10 New Rules For Crisis Communication (Infographic)

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Meanwhile, the emergence of 24 hours TV news and lately of social media have changed dramatically the number and type of media contacts. While in the past we had a closed circle of reporters who specialised in our field of activity, now this is a luxury very few media organizations can afford. What is therefore the right technique to use to contact news media today? I selected – within more recent posts – those I believe are more relevant to this question. The editor

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Fla(c)ks vs. Hacks: Pitching or Phishing?

by Franco Veltri When I started dealing with Public Relations as a press officer of a military organization I was lucky enough to meet a senior journalist who felt obliged to give me some advice. The one thing he often repeated was: “Find the news angle. Do not send a news release, do not call me if you have not found yourself what – in your story – will be newsworthy.” According to Dr. Joseph Basso: “Public relations professionals practice publicity–the press agentry model of public relations. However, publicists cannot consider themselves public relations professionals if they only repackage information and distribute it to the mass media. Most reporters/editors view media releases created by public relations professionals with an eye of caution Since the information did not generate from the desk of a member of the journalistic community than how can it be accurate? The majority of media releases get tossed into the garbage by reporters; however, the majority of the story ideas generated come from a media release.” After many years the best advice I can give when I train new PR personnel still is: Think like a reporter, write as a reporter and

reporters will be your partners in business, not your unwilling customers. It was much later that I learned that many reporters, when I contacted them first to ‘pitch’ a story, were likely to consider me as a ‘flak’, and that I was expected to consider most of them as ‘hacks’. Flaks versus Hacks For the younger colleagues, flack (with a c) is a slang term for a press agent or publicist. It was coined to recall Gene Flack, a well-known US movie press agent from the 1930s. While ‘flack’ does not necessarily carry a negative connotation, PR practitioners are also referred to as ‘flaks’. Where flak – originally a short name for an anti-aircraft gun – implies a negative attitude or even abuse.

Andrew S. Edson wrote in the summer 2006 issue of Checklist magazine “The term flak as an adjective also refers to a person generally employed in the political or business sphere, as opposed to the entertainment industry, where assumedly press agents and flacks proliferate, but to deflect adverse publicity — a job that transgresses mere public relations.” A flack (publicist) creates flack (publicity) for his or her employer. A flak does what nowadays would be defined ‘spin doctoring’. Something close to being a professional liar. Hack (literally, equivalent to cut or chop) is a term that directly responded to reporters using the term ‘flack’ with disdain. A hack is a newspaper columnist who ‘hacks’ stories and distorts the truth. A negative connotation that was inherited by those who are able to gain illegal or unauthorized access to a file or network and are called hackers. Why am I recalling this old American jargon? A few days ago it reappeared in an article in The Economist, titled: “Johnson: Dear Flacks… Love Hack “

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This story was focused on when and how to send an email to a reporter to pitch a story, listing five things PR pros get wrong when “reaching out to journalists.” It prompted negative reactions from well-known PR experts, like Gini Dietrich . But this aspect of relationships between flacks and hacks is only the tip of the iceberg. Last summer a panel of journalists and public relations experts gathered at the National Press Club in Washington DC to discuss the role of federal public affairs offices. Here is a short excerpt from the Columbia Journalism Review . The post was obviously titled ‘Hacks vs. flacks’: “While communications officers see themselves as useful intermediaries between the public and its government, many reporters regard them as obstructive bureaucrats stemming the flow of information. Carolyn Carlson, a former Associated Press reporter, shared the results of two surveys she conducted on the relationship between public affairs staff and the press. Ninety-eight percent of public affairs officers believe they have a better idea of who journalists should interview than reporters themselves, and three-quarters of journalists stated that they had to get a PAO’s approval before interviewing agency employees. Nearly 40 percent of PAOs admitted to banning Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

specific reporters because of problems with their stories in the past. And while 85 percent of journalists said the public is not receiving the information it needs, 98 percent of PAOs feel their job is to ensure people get positive, accurate information about individual agencies.” Journalists and PAOs as partners in business? It does not look so. Is it today enough, to properly pitch a story, to think as a reporter and write as a reporter? Mathematicians would say it is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Pitching, Spamming or Phishing? Browsing the net we can see an increasing number of comments and tips about ‘pitching’ techniques in the era of digital media. The weapons have changed but the battle appears the same: hacks versus flaks. For instance, Steve O’Hear noted about Twitter: “Twitter has become a boon to journalists wanting to break news. It’s also great for surfacing content relevant to niche topics or specific industries if you follow the right users. However, the real-time and unfiltered nature of those constant updates means that if you Edited by ComIPI –


follow too many sources it soon becomes impossible for relevant information not to get lost in the noise. In fact, I’d argue that Twitter doesn’t really scale from a user point of view, once you follow more than a few hundred people.” Similar considerations may apply to any social media and to massive e-mail pitching. Whatever means we use to try to convince a reporter to run our story, to be effective the process requires to build first relationships, to pitch the story only when it is worth being published, and to do it in a personal way, taking the time – as The Economist recommends – to personalize the pitch to the catcher. When we use massive digital distribution of our pitches we are, or appear,

just spamming, if not phishing. That’s why the apparently naive tips in The Economist are relevant. Will Mrs. Obama be dancing? Once relationships with news media are established, the question to ask ourselves is whether our story is worth pitching. What criteria should apply in making this decision? I found a very good example in this quite humoristic flowchart by Colehour+Cohen. It seems to demonstrate that – at least in the US – it is worth to pitch a story about an upcoming event only if Mrs. Obama will be dancing.

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5 media relations techniques that don't involve pitching spx#

random press release blast strategy relates to this term. Sure, pitching stories is part of the job description for many PR pros. But it seems that the majority of our efforts are focused on this activity alone. There is far more involved in relationship building. Here are some other tactics to consider in building media "relations" that don't involve story pitches:

By Kevin Anselmo These strategies should be included in your PR arsenal if you want to become a memorable and effective PR professional for reporters. For now on, I want PR professionals to think about whether their job is "media relations" or "media blasting." Many journalists rightfully complain about some of the terrible tactics public relations professionals employ. From what I see and hear, this complaint has some warrant to it. Many PR folks resort to blasting their message as far and wide as possible. The idea is that the more wild pitches that are sent, the better likelihood of placement. Those who adopt this strategy are media blasting. Media relations has a different connotation. It seems obvious to say that the term "relations" in a business context means establishing a connection. Yet in the hustle to get media releases out the door, it would be a good idea for PR professionals to look up this word in the dictionary. It is hard to imagine how the

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1. Event sponsorship. Toward the end of my time as PR director at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, I was involved in organizing an event that was being conducted in conjunction with Forbes' CMO Network. I was able to attend this event as a spectator and see first-hand the benefit it brought to the school. CMO Editor Jenny Rooney told me in a podcast interview that these events help establish the Forbes CMO Network as a thought leader in the space and extends its brand to different audiences. No story pitch was involved in this win-win. [RELATED: Qualify for a 15-minute demo of PressPage, the leading digital newsroom technology, and get a $15 gift card.] It could also be worthwhile to invite a relevant and targeted journalist to speak at one of your events, thus giving the journalist exposure and visibility among your organization's different audiences. 2. Online resources. Part of developing good relations is making the lives of the other party easier and more efficient. In other words, help them to do their jobs more effectively. Media pressrooms that have easy-to-find photos, videos and information can go a long way to helping a journalist perform their jobs and make the PR team a reliable resource. 3. Re-focus the conversation. I wonder what percent of pitches are focused on "Here's what I have to tell you" vs. "How can I be of service to you." Taking the latter approach shows that Edited by ComIPI –


the PR professional genuinely cares about helping the journalist. In a previous role, I helped organized a media roundtable focused on the topic of entrepreneurship. We had about 15 journalists in attendance and began the event with the journalists talking entrepreneurship. We concluded by having a few of our thought leaders discuss their research and views. By hearing directly from the journalists first, the spokesmen were able to provide feedback directly related to some of the comments from journalists. And as public relations professionals, we were able to connect the dots between some of our thought leadership and the journalists' needs at a later date. Had we positioned this as "come hear our amazing research," there would've been as good of a turnout. Shifting the focus to hear what the journalists were saying made it a beneficial event for relationship building. 4. Connect on social media and promote their stories. Most PR professionals are already following targeted journalists on social media. We can step up our efforts to promote their work, instead of the other way around. We all know that the job of a journalist is quite tough these days. Limited resources and tighter deadlines are the new norm. The competition is stiffer than ever, and often, journalists are rewarded for the number of page views a story generates. With this in mind, a PR professional can foster better relations by promoting the journalist's stories on social media, even if your organization or client isn't mentioned. It should certainly be on full display the next time a journalist covers a story related to your organization. Next time a journalist covers a story related to your organization, mobilize as many internal ambassadors to disseminate the story on their individual channels, in addition to populating the piece on corporate channels as well. The journalist will know that he/she has a partner to count on.

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5. Interview the journalist on your own channels. How about undergoing a role reversal. The reality is that brands are media organizations, and some reach significant audiences. Particularly in smaller markets, often a big brand's reach exceeds that of the local newspaper. Why not invite the journalist to be interviewed for your organization's blog, podcast or other owned channels. It gives the journalist visibility, provides insights for the PR professional and goes a long way towards fostering a relationship. As a result of adopting some of these tactics, pitching a story might seem to be the natural course of action in the ongoing relationship development between the PR professional and the journalist.

Kevin Anselmo is the founder and principal of Experiential Communications. He also teaches communications and public relations workshops to individuals and groups. He is the host of For Immediate Release on Higher Education. Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @kevinanselmo.

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Do Journalists Prefer Contact through Social Media or Email? By: Gini Dietrich

The Hudson River plane landing. Natasha Richardson. Michael Jackson. Khloe and Lamar marriage troubles. When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, we all saw the news break on the social networks and then confirmed it was true when the Wall Street Journal and CNN ran stories. Social Media vs. Email

One of the most interesting uses of social media, to date, is how it was used during the Boston Bombing manhunt. Not only could you get updates on Facebook and Twitter – and follow certain hashtags to get the kind of information you wanted – you could listen to the police scanner and learn what was happening full minutes before they reported it on television. It was such an incredible combination of traditional media, citizen journalists, and law enforcement, it was almost impossible to pull yourself away. In fact, people were so obsessed, police had to ask the public to stop posting what they were doing on the social networks. They were certain, at one point, the accused bomber was watching the Twitter feed to stay ahead of the hunt. Breaking news on the social networks has become such a natural course of action, most newsrooms monitor what’s happening to plan their editorial.

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Social media has completely changed the way we communicate. And it has changed the way PR professionals do their jobs. In the recent “State of the Media Research” report, Vocus looked at just how much has changed…and what has stayed the same. A few interesting statistics from the 256 journalists surveyed:  When asked how they use social media, nearly half said to connect with their viewers or readers and half said to promote themselves or their stories.  Half also said they use social media very frequently when developing stories.  Facebook and Twitter, to no surprise, are the top social networks they use.  More than three-fourths said the most frequent way they receive pitches is through Facebook, but 45 percent prefer not to be pitched that way.  Which brings us to the alarming 91 percent who prefer to be pitched via email. To their credit, Vocus dug into why journalists still prefer email as the main communication method from PR pros. Why Email? Some of the direct quotes were: I don’t think people can develop enough interest and context for a social media pitch. If it’s longer and public, I don’t want my competitors knowing what I might be working on. - National newspaper reporter Edited by ComIPI –


Social media is conversation in public with the public. What I decide to report on is not open for public debate. Plus, it’s lazy. If you can find my Twitter handle, you can find my email. National magazine healthcare reporter I get ideas from Facebook and Twitter, but I prefer pitches by email with more information. I don’t want a ‘marketing’ pitch that sounds like an ad. In fact, that is usually a turn off. Regional online business reporter As Much as it Changes… As much as it has changed, it still remains the same. You’re building relationships with human beings. Human beings who are busy, who have feelings, who have interests and passions and hobbies…and who are more inclined to respond to an email or answer a phone call from a person they know. Use the social networks to build those relationships. Connect with journalists there, share their stories, engage them in conversation, learn what you can about them. And then pitch them via email. It certainly is a lot easier today than in the old days when you had to pick up the phone and call every journalist, but it still takes time and effort. They are on the social networks. They want to hear from PR pros there. They just don’t want to be pitched there. Use at your discretion. Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is due out on March 29.

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5 Reasons Your Pitch is Falling Flat By Jen Picard 71/5-reasons-your-pitch-falling-flat There’s nothing more disappointing than spending an inordinate amount of time on something, only to have it fail. Even worse than having it fail, though, is not learning from the failure. If you’ve had a pitch fall flat in the past, what have you learned from it? Here are some of the things I’ve learned. 1. The topic isn’t interesting. I’ve worked in the tech startup space for the past few years, and I’ve noticed what appears to be a very common problem: someone in the C-Suite wants to do a press release about a product release, a closed round of funding or a product update and, not matter how you “spin” it, it’s just not that interesting. If you have an existing relationship with a journalist or just happen to reach out at the exact right time, you may be able to sneak the announcement in to a larger story – but, chances are, you just need to come up with something better. Try tying your less interesting news to something journalists (and bloggers!) haven’t heard before. For example, if you hire a new highprofile data scientist, come up with a story around the data they’ve uncovered and sneak in the little tidbit about their recent move to your company. 2. The content isn’t attention-grabbing. Once you’ve come up with an interesting topic, it’s important to present it in an interesting way. Nobody likes to read long paragraphs of text and, if nobody reads your pitch, nobody is going to write about it. So spruce it up with short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes, images, videos, infographics – whatever you can think of to grab your reader’s attention and make them want to share your story. Edited by ComIPI –


3. You’re not targeting the right people. Technology has made it incredibly easy to take a “spray and pray” approach to pitching – PR pros have databases upon databases of journalists to spam reach out to with their stories, and can instantly send hundreds or thousands of emails with the click of a button. One of the big lessons I’ve learned from email marketing is that it’s all in the list. Taking the time to really hone in on your target audience can go a long way in getting a response – so think carefully about which publications and journalists would likely be interested in your story and start there. It may take a little more time upfront, but the payoff will be worth it. 4. You’re not tailoring your pitch to the journalist. Building upon the previous point, carefully selecting your list allows you to research each journalist and what they’ve written in the past, so you can tailor your pitch specifically to them. Meltwater’s media database actually allows you to search for journalists by what they’ve written in the past, so you can reference related articles in your pitch and discuss how your story is relevant to their audience. Can we say, “winner, winner, chicken dinner?” 5. You don’t have an existing relationship with the journalist. This isn’t absolutely crucial, but it can definitely be icing on the cake! Most of the time, you have some time to craft your pitch and build your list – why not start priming journalists early, as well? Once you’ve built your list, take a look at some of the articles they’ve written in the past and comment on them with insightful information or questions. Then, utilize social media to begin sharing their content and responding to their tweets. Building a relationship with your target audience before you actually need something from them will help you stand out and can be the difference between your story being published, or glossed over. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

Do your subject lines look like spam? By Stacey Brucia aspx#

For good or for bad, lots of media relations work is done by email. We want journalists and producers to open and respond to our emails out of the hundreds they receive each day. Beyond pitches, we’re competing against real life: stories they’re actively working on, demands from the boss, even emails from the spouse about home stuff. It’s tough to be seen among such volume, so we media relations folks examine everything: What’s the best time to send an email? How much follow-up is OK? Is the pitch short enough? Are we on target, or is there a better person to pitch? These days, we can tell within hours which Facebook ad is doing well for a social media client, but there isn’t such instant feedback available for media relations pitches. Short of hard data, though, here’s what I know regarding approaches to pitch subject lines: Twitter is your friend Spend a few minutes looking at someone’s feed before you pitch, even when you’ve already read/seen previous stories to know Edited by ComIPI –


they are a good fit. (Yes, read those, too.) Twitter might reveal whether their favorite sports team won this week, when they’re attending/covering a conference, or that they’re angry about the weather. Reference any tweeted clues in a subject line and in the opening sentences of your email, and you’ll show that you’re pitching another human being, not being robotic about the process. You never know what little thing will begin or deepen a relationship.

be), for instance, will *always* cause me to drop everything to read that email.” [RELATED: Find out how to craft the perfect pitch at our April PR & Media Relations event in NYC.] So, we’re back to having to be on target again, knowing a person’s coverage areas and fitting within that framework. Yes, being an “informed pitcher” is rule No. 1. After you work so hard on the pitch itself, what are your own guidelines and tricks for a subject line that gets an open?

Reference a recent story Show that you’ve read their work. A format that can work in this way is, “From [insert subject of recent article] to [client issue]. Just recently, I wrote a subject line that read: “From real estate apps to car insurance tools.” I found a freelancer who writes for a business journal network, and after reading a current piece, I wanted to let him know about a car insurance website should he do a similar roundup story down the line.

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The pros and cons of press releases vs. pitches by Joan Stewart

Granted, he is a new contact for me, so I don’t yet know whether I will break through. I’m hoping the reference to that story will open the door and begin an exchange. Demonstrate your knowledge/offering Anne Fisher, who writes small-business resource pieces like this for CNNMoney and is known for her “Ask Annie” column, is a godsend for PR pros because she does read at least the first few lines of every email. (THP thanks you, @anbfisher!) That puts a little less pressure on having the perfect subject line, but you can help yourself, Anne tells me: “A subject line that says, ‘[Type of company] founder tells how s/he manages remote workers’ (or finds cheap office space, or...whatever the biz owner's pet topic may Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

You have an idea for a story that will generate free publicity for your company or nonprofit. Your first temptation is to write a press release. But you know press releases are often ineffective for getting a major story. Customized pitches to specific journalists and bloggers, however, often go unanswered. So what do you do? Take your chance on a press releases or on a pitch? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each. Tomorrow, I’ll explain guidelines on when to use which one.

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Advantages of a Press Release

Advantages of a Pitch

1. A press release can include all the pertinent details. 2. It lives online forever. People can find the release in your online press room months and even years later and discover a lot about you and your company. 3. It can include valuable links to things like sales pages. 4. It can include hashtags, which make it easier to be found via the search engines. You can even use hashtags in press release headlines. 5. If a blogger or journalist is interested in covering your story, they don’t have to waste time asking for all the details. You can send them the link. 6. You don’t have to write a press release only when you have news. You can reach consumers directly and write it in the form of a tips list that offers helpful information on how to solve a problem. See How tips lists can get you publicity in top-tier media. 7. You can promote your press release dozens of ways such as linking to it on the social media sites and from your social media profiles. 8. A press release can position you as an expert. If you answer questions on a site like, you can link to a release where people can find more information.

1. A well-written customized pitch tells a journalist or blogger “I know who you are, I know what you cover and I can help your audience.” 2. The Internet makes it possible for you to thoroughly research the person you’re going to pitch and, if appropriate, weave in details that pertain only to them. It’s even possible to find the name of a blogger’s dog, cat or kid in 60 seconds. 3. You can customize different pitches for the same story idea, depending on the media outlet. 4. Journalists and bloggers don’t know if they’re the only ones receiving your pitch. 5. You can offer enticing “extras” such as additional sources, a video, an infographic, a Skype interview, or a list of industry definitions. 6. You can time a pitch so it’s perfect for an upcoming special section in a magazine, or an upcoming holiday.

Disadvantages of a Press Release 1. The release, by itself, seldom results in a major story. 2. Journalists receive them by the thousands and don’t have time to read more than just a few lines. 3. If the headline is poorly written or confusing, you’ve lost the reader. 4. They’re difficult to write well and often include industry jargon and B.S. quotes. 5. Younger journalists, particularly those in the tech sector, see press releases as an “old school” tool. 6. Journalists and bloggers want to break news and often want an “exclusive.” A press release gives everyone the same news at the same time.

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Disadvantages of a Pitch 1. You should know how the journalist or blogger wants to be contacted. If you don’t know, and you call reporters who absolutely hate phone calls, or pitch them on a site like Facebook which they use only for staying in touch with family and friends, you risk alienating them. 2. A pitch must be succinct—no more than 15 seconds by phone and only a few sentences if you’re emailing it. 3. You will often hear nothing, and you must decide the best way to follow up and know the mistakes to avoid. Do not contact the recipient and ask, “Did you receive my pitch?” Do not include an annoying “delivery confirmation” request on an email pitch. 4. A pitch is very difficult to craft well. It must offer enough information to be enticing, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. The best pitch promises a great story and entices the recipient to contact you to learn more. 5. If you don’t do adequate research, you can end up addressing blogger Pat Brown as “Ms. Brown” when, in fact, Pat is a man. Know the 7 deadly sins of pitching journalists and bloggers. Edited by ComIPI –


When to use a press release and when to deliver a pitch by Joan Stewart Leave a Comment Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of press releases and pitches, here are my recommendations on when to use each one.

When to Use a Press Release  As the “announcement of record” that you post online, preferably in your online press room.  When you must reach consumers directly and not take the chance that the media will cover your story. Consumers can find your press releases when they search online.  As the starting point for journalists. Even if you’re pitching, you can refer journalists and bloggers to the release if they want more information. This will save them valuable time. See 6 ways journalists can use press releases effectively. Don’t miss all the tweets at the bottom in which reporters explain what they like and don’t like about releases.  When you’re sponsoring an event and you want to submit the information to, say, a community calendar in your town. If it’s a newspaper or magazine, check their website first because they’ll often have a simple form you can complete.  When you want the story printed verbatim. If you write your press Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

release like an article, the chances of that happening can be pretty good, especially at smaller news outlets. Remember, it needs to sound like an article that someone would write about you, not a free commercial you’ve written yourself. When you have multi-media to offer, not just text. Things such as video, audio and infographics can help tell your story and can be part of what’s called the social media press release, created by Shift Communications. To encourage people to share the release. In the social media press release link above, notice all the ways the release is shareable (the “tweet this” call to action in the headline, the YouTube video, the social media buttons, etc.) When you want to distribute industry news to all media outlets at the same time. Wire services such as The Associated Press and Reuters, as well as thousands of other major news outlets, rely on news feeds that push press releases directly into their pipelines. PRNewswire, for example, feeds its releases to several thousand websites.

When to Deliver a Pitch 

To customize the pitch so different angles of the story appear in different media outlets. Let’s say you’re hosting a food festival in your town. You can Edited by ComIPI –


pitch a food-related angle to a local food blogger. But for the local business journal, you pitch a story about all the tourist dollars the festival attracts. To build a relationship with a blogger or journalist and you want to give them an exclusive. All media outlets want exclusivity and they understand that that’s how the game is played. Giving a favorite journalist or blogger a good story just for them will help you. To suggest a story that isn’t about you. Smart Publicity Hounds pitch stories that have nothing to do with them. Why? To make themselves more valuable as news sources. To invite a journalist or blogger to participate in your story, not just report on it. Hosting a cardboat boat regatta? Invite a local journalist to sit in one of the cardboat boats. To ask for a review of your book, product or service. Don’t assume they know you’ve written a book or that you have a new product on the market. Tell them, and then tell them exactly what you want them to do with it. To offer yourself as an expert source for background, commentary and story ideas. To get an inbound link to your website and “earned media” from a reputable news operation. The best way to get it is to give them a great story. Google’s new rules for press release links say you can no longer rely on press releases as part of a linkbuilding campaign.

Use both You aren’t limited to using either a press release or a pitch. You can—and should—use them in tandem. Use the press release as the background information and the starting point. When you pitch, refer journalists to the press release where they can find the details. Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

Those are my ideas. How about yours? When do you use a press release and when would you prefer to deliver a pitch?

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6 Media Pitching Do’s—and 1 Don’t by Steve Goldstein Getting journalists and other influencers in your market to respond to your story pitches comes down, as they say, to building relationships. This takes time—years, in fact— and time may not be what you have much of these days. Perhaps you need to get someone to respond to a pitch within the next three hours. These six tactical media pitching do's (and one media pitching don't) from Jane Carpenter, head of public relations for online home products and furnishings retailer Wayfair, and a presenter at PR News' Jan. 28 "Pitching the Media" webinar, will help see you through the anxiety of short deadlines and high media placement expectations. 1. DO invest in great photography and send images with every announcement. 2. DO get your CEO and key execs on Twitter (if only to engage with journalists). 3. DO keep meticulous records on all reporter touch points and history. 4. DO take advantage of every time your CEO or execs are in a key media city (San Francisco, New York) to squeeze in in-person meetings.

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5. DO insist on time with top execs to brainstorm new media angles and pick their brains for insight or news they may have discovered in their regular interaction with other industry leaders. 6. DON’T get in the way if a reporter wants direct access to your company’s top executives but DO stay in the loop on all interaction.

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Upping Your Game to Reach Online Media by Richard Brownell | 01/30/2014 Media companies are investing a lot of resources into online news ventures lately. Former Washington Post journalist Ezra Klein, for example, who made Wonkblog one of that site’s most popular features, will now be starting a general-news site for Vox Media. Capital New York, a companion site to Politico, is expanding its offerings in 2014, and former Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg is now taking part in an online tech news venture for NBCUniversal, called Re/Code. Trends indicate that the proliferation of news websites will not diminish any time soon, and that’s good news for PR professionals. More news websites means more opportunities to get your content in front of readers. However, additional avenues for content also means a more crowded field to compete with for the attention of journalists. So, you will have to be more creative than ever when it comes to pitching journalists.

Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

Here’s a reminder of some of the things you can do to increase your prospects with the media:  Offer great content. Your story has to be unique in that it offers readers something they don’t already know, has a hook that makes readers challenge their perceptions and answers the all-important “So what?” question.  Know who you’re pitching. Learn and understand the reporter you’re contacting with your story. Know his or her beat, and read some of the recent stories the journalist has written to see if your story has already been told, or if you can offer an angle that the reporter has not previously explored.  Keep your pitch short. Journalists are notoriously pressed for time, so email subject lines must be short and contain only the information that will make a journalist open your email. The body of your email needs to be concise and to the point. Add information that enhances your story and avoid promotional puffery. But keep it to 150 words.  Add a call to action. Don’t let your pitch end with a simple “thank you.” Offer to send the reporter more details and add a quick note that you will follow up on a specific date in the very near future. Remember, journalists are often long on work and short on sleep, trying to move mountains with scant resources. In short, they’re a lot like you. So be nice. And be honest. And follow up via telephone. It’s these little human touches that can cement a working relationship with the media and bring untold benefits down the road.

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7 tips for writing a killer press release

campaigns, corporations, celebrity publicity, nonprofits. "You name it, this will work," he says.

A press release isn't about clearing your desk or making the boss happy. It has just one goal: eliciting a call back from a reporter. Here's how to do that. By Russell Working

There's a catch, though. You can't use the press release like a broom to sweep all the junk topics off your desk and get your boss or client off your back. These catch-all announcements are part of why press releases have such a bad reputation among reporters and bloggers.

Here are some tips: 1. Remember that nobody cares. "I always imagine that the idea I'm pitching is the least attractive for an obscure organization on a topic that nobody wants to hear," Long says.

Editor's note: This story is taken from Ragan's distance-learning portal The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Learn more about this session.

Think of a husband—well, like Michael Long's father—whose wife asks him to tighten a loosened screw or fix some doohickey around the house. Rather than go down to the basement to rummage about in the toolkit, Old Man Long would use a butter knife from the cutlery drawer. The knives got dinged, the screw was never tight enough, and Mom was unhappy. "The press release is basically the butter knife of the PR writers' toolkit," says Long, who is director of writing at MPS/PRCC at Georgetown University. "They end up dragging it out for everything in the world, and most of the time it's a poor choice." In a Ragan video titled, "Press releases: Create a killer pitch that grabs the media every time," Long offers a format that he says works for every organization: government, political Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

It's a good mental exercise. It forces you to strive to find an interesting angle. Long used to ghost-write, he says, and most clients were way more interested in themselves than everybody else could ever be. The same is true for your news release. Face it: Journalists aren't nearly as impressed in your new hair gel/toboggan wax as your bosses are. They seldom are moved to tears by the golden phrases that trip from your tongue. Just tell them what your product, event, or service has to offer the reader. This video clip is taken from the Ragan Training session, “Press releases: Create a killer pitch that gets the media's attention every time."

2. Keep your goal in mind. The purpose of a press release isn't to make your poobahs happy by touting minor product developments that no reporter would ever cover. Long says you should treat a press release as a purposeful document with a single goal: to elicit a call back from a reporter. "I want someone to read this ... and then I want them to pick up the phone or send me an email and say, 'Tell me more,'" he says. 3. Consider 'do' vs. 'applaud' press releases. Edited by ComIPI –


There are two styles of press release, which Long labels "Do vs. Applaud." Either your organization did something and is bragging about it, or you are applauding something— possibly someone else's achievement—so you can "bask in reflected glory." Think of a nonprofit's endorsement of a bill offered in Congress.

deals right away with the "Guess what" aspect, Long says. Obscure your message with wordplay or a witty surprise, and you're only delaying the moment when journalists find out what this is all about. Tell them immediately. 7. Remember the long game.

So as you do your pre-writing thinking, also consider which kind of news release this is. 4. Fit it all on one page. Every press release should fit on an 8½-by-11 sheet of paper, Long says. Better yet, don't fill the sheet. This is not a place for an essay on your event or product. Write short paragraphs—four lines maximum. Use lots of white space.

The pitch is a long game. If you begin to deliver straightforward press releases, journalists "will understand that's how you do business," Long says. "You're an honest broker. You talk directly to them. Over time, that adds up."

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The point of a press release isn't to give them everything. "It's bait," Long says. Lure them. [RELATED: Get advanced writing and editing tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela. Choose from 4 cities!]

5. List real contacts up top. Long offers a helpful template for a press release. Some of it may seem like common sense, but apparently a reminder is needed, given the number of organizations that put out badly structured press releases.

The Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking by Gary Genard

Starts with a contact name, phone number, and email address. This is not the place for the name of your narcissistic CEO, unless he plans to field reporters' calls personally. "The reporter just wants to know who to talk to," Long says. 6. Be direct in your headline. Here's Long's template: "Headline: Client Does Something." The client usually wants its name up front. This solves that problem. Also, this style of headline Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

Great speakers don't just speak—they perform. As an actor and speech coach, that's something I understand intuitively and always communicate to clients.

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And here's the interesting thing: you should understand it the same way yourself. Whatever type of speaking you do—in business, socially, or for personal pleasure— you're performing. The sociologist Erving Goffman wrote a book entitled The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life that makes that very point: we all perform roles day in and day out, every day of our lives. Public speaking is no different. To be effective in your speeches and presentations, then, accept this strong relationship between performance and success. In fact, the more you can connect with audiences rather than remaining in the comfort zone of your content, the more successful you'll be. Here are my Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking the embody my philosophy that great speaking means great performing: Rule #1: Make the Audience the Center of Your Universe. You're not the focus of the speaking engagement! No matter how many times you may tell yourself this obvious truth, you'll have a hard time until you get it into your presentation DNA. Ultimately, every good speaker cares more about the audience than themselves. This can be a tough prescription to fill if you have speech anxiety, which tends to wrap you in a cocoon of anxiety and selfconsciousness. But the good news is this: focusing fully on the audience lifts a tremendous burden from your shoulders in terms of worrying about your performance. To disappear into getting your message across to listeners is the most wonderful thing that can happen to you as a speaker. Rule #2: Focus on Relationships. If the audience is the center of your universe, you're already pointed in the right direction concerning what you're there to do: establish a relationship and maintain it throughout your talk. If your content could live on its own, it would—there would be no need for anyone to gather to hear you, and you could make your information an email attachment. Instead, Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

three relationships exist within the presentation dynamic: your relationship to your audience; your relationship to the content; and the audience's relationship to the content. In the first, you engage, interest and activate your listeners; in the second, you interpret your content for those listeners; and in the third, the audience relates to your content because you've pointed out why it matters to them. What's your relationship to this method of proceeding as a speaker? — Success! Rule #3: Give Your Purpose Most of Your Attention. Too many speakers confuse topic and purpose. For instance, I'll ask a client, "What's your purpose with this presentation?" And the response will be, "Well, I'm going to talk about--" "No," I say, "that's your topic . . . what's your purpose?" And then it becomes clear what I mean. Yes, your information is what you're there to talk about. But it definitely isn't what you're there to make happen. Audiences hope to be better for the experience of listening to you—and that's exactly what you must try to make happen. Being clear on your purpose will help you gather exactly the right information to make it so. Rule #4: Use Your Body. Your body is a natural tool of communication—and a powerful one at that. After all, there's a reason you're not a brain in a bell jar communicating telepathically. Audiences need you to give physical expression to the things you're saying. So, some suggestions: Always stand rather than sit if you have a choice (and avoid eliminating 50% of your communication instrument). If you're using a lectern, come out from behind it from time to time. Make your gestures spare, few in number, and strong enough to emphasize the point you're making. And by all means use space effectively, taking a different position for each main point, for instance, and reducing the distance between you and your audience wherever possible. To learn more about effective body language, read my Insights article "The Body Language Edited by ComIPI –


Rules: 12 Ways to Be a More Powerful Speaker." Rule #5: Color Your Vocal Delivery. Your voice is the most flexible communication tool you own, apart from the brain itself. It's capable of a wide range of coloration and effects, from astonishment and incredulity to mockery and seduction and a hundred other intentions. To speak without vocal variation means using a "mono" or single tone, and from the combined word monotone derives the derogatory monotonous. If you're limited vocally, work with a speech coach to unlock your presentation voice so you can deliver fully to your listeners. The chances are good that you incorporate a lively vocal dynamic when you're angry, passionately arguing a point with friends, or sharing the excitement of a movie, sporting event, or important milestone in your life. Why not share that excellent performer with your audience in formal speaking situations? Rule #6: Get Good at Q & A—Really Good. I call Q & A "the forgotten avenue of audience persuasion," for a very good reason. Virtually anyone can give a reasonable presentation if they prepare and practice enough. If that's the case, all should go well. But what happens when the presentation ends and the questions, challenges, and push-back begin? We all understand that a presenter can't know what's coming his or her way once Q & A begins. The speaker who can handle the situation with style, expertise, a level head, patience, and a bit of self-deprecating humor, is the person who will embody rock-solid credibility and authority on the topic. So learn to think on your feet. Improve classes, impromptu topics, and "murder panels" are all excellent ways to become calm and convincing in the whirlwind of Q & A.

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Quarterly Digest of Public Affairs News – 1-2014

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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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