It's here!   As I promised last week, a  new media contact list service is now available online.  It's called Key Media Contacts and it's geared to giving small businesses affordable access to quality lists of journalists and bloggers so the businesses can effectively handle their own PR and generate valuable publicity.

It was developed by a small business owner, Mitchell Silverman, who had success writing his own pitches and then emailing and calling the media to get free publicity but found it a challenge to get and maintain an up-to-date list of media contacts. 

Recognizing the need for good media data at good prices, he created Key Media Contacts.   Now his team of researchers is working daily to keep subscribers supplied with media contact information that is fresh and timely, just the way the big services do.  (I contributed a few articles to their blog before the launch)

If you're looking to do your own PR on a budget, here's my affiliate link for Key Media Contacts

Check it out and sign on to save time and money in your DIY publicity efforts.

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Media Lists Made Easy

Every online marketer has heard the manta, "The money is in the list."   When it comes to getting publicity, it's a similar story.  The opportunity is in the list. 

You want to create a quality up-to-date list of targeted media contacts to pitch your ideas to and since reporters, editors and producers move around a lot, it can be a big chore to manually keep your lists current and working for you.

Professional publicists generally use media list services that do the legwork for them.  These services are very effective and save PR pros plenty of time, but the cost of buying lists and keeping them updated is often out of reach for small business owners and entrepreneurs who are handling their own publicity.

That's why I'm excited to be associated with a new online service that's about to launch that will give DIY publicity-seekers an affordable alternative.  I'll be back with all the details of this new media list service soon.

Stay Tuned!

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27:  Workers fill sand...
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Many communities sustained damage as Hurricane Irene roared up the Eastern seaboard and officials in towns large and small had to scramble to cope.

Crisis Communications has a lot of moving parts, but one tip that can help is to regularly meet with reporters in the midst of the disaster.  That may be the last thing on the mind of the Mayor or Public Safety Director or other officials who are up to their eyeballs dealing with the crisis and its aftermath, but informing residents through the media has to be part of any effective emergency response plan.

You can't hide in your office or say you're too busy to field media questions.  Sure you don't have time to talk to every reporter individually, but you can schedule regular news conferences as the crisis unfolds to update the media about what happened, the extent of the damage and what you're doing about it. 

Ignoring the media is not a wise course.  You can be sure reporters will find critics of whatever the community is doing to quote or put on the air.  You may be working night and day to save your community, but no one will know about it without a community leader or designated spokesperson laying out the facts.  Without an official's input, the naysayers will be the only voice the citizenry  hears. 

Just be sure to follow through with those news conferences you promise, even if you don't have much to say.

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Managing PR Expectations

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I was recently talking to a friend who is a freelance publicist in the Midwest.  Somehow the conversation turned to client expectations.

She told me the tale of two clients – one is a woman entrepreneur  with a very small but successful service business.   The business owner gets most of her projects through local advertising and customer referrals.  She only hires the publicist to get her a mention in the announcements section of her local paper, a couple times a year, to highlight lead generating events she’s hosting.

The entrepreneur has in the past done local radio interviews, and a few local morning TV talk shows and is a lively and interesting interview, but she is very busy and really just wants those tiny free local newspaper listings.  The publicist helps her identify a news hook and writes  a press release or edits a release the client has written herself.  The publicist distributes the release and makes the follow-up phone calls.   Most of the time, but not always, the  announcement gets printed in the newspaper.   The client knows what she wants and is happy with the result.

The other client is a large corporation with a lot going on and very high expectations.  When an article in the New York Times featured a competitor’s service, they demanded to know why their company was not included in the piece.  There were many reasons and while the publicist could not say this so bluntly, here are a few:

  • Her client corporation is not the only one that provides this service or is well known for it.
  • The publicity plan the corporation mapped out and agreed to with her did not include pitching this particular service to the media.  (and perhaps their competitor WAS pitching it)
  • The publicist is not clairvoyant.  While she has a solid local and national media contact list and keeps in touch to nurture and maintain those media relationships, there is no surefire way to  KNOW exactly what stories the New York Times is working on.

What does this say to those of you who want to do your own publicity?  Be clear about your goals and recognize that there are factors beyond your control when dealing with traditional media.  Know who you want to approach in the media and what you want to achieve.

The woman entrepreneur provides a very hands-on personal service in her community.  Her focus is on getting local attention for her events to draw in potential new local clients.  While it might be great for her ego or her standing in her field to get a major national media hit, it would not necessarily serve her business goals.   She’s set a narrow framework for the kind of publicity she’s after and is satisfied when she gets it.

The large corporate client seemed to expect every story anywhere that deals with any service they provide will include their brand.   I’m all for going after lofty goals, but unless your publicist is a mind-reader, I think that’s an unrealistic expectation.

Pitch your best stuff and don’t give up or be disappointed when your efforts sometimes fall short.  It takes patience and persistence to make media relations pay off.   Despite their best efforts, even PR professionals can’t always get you what you want.

I was recently interviewed by a print reporter and my comments were not included in the published story.  Disappointing?  Sure, but it happens all the time.  Still, I will keep in touch with the reporter and offer to help her as a resource.  Who knows what the future might bring.

Happy Pitching!

Watching Your Reputation Online

Photo credit: iStock/domin_domin

Celebrities, politicians and other public figures have long turned to high powered public relations agencies and paid big bucks to salvage a scandal-damaged career and polish a tarnished image.

Now, a whole industry has grown to help the rest of us – companies large and small, as well as individuals – safeguard a good reputation on the web and neutralize the forces that can unjustly trash it with a few keystrokes.  (I’m not talking about legitimate criticism.  If you or your company are behaving badly, that’s fair game.)

An article in last week’s Philadelphia Inquirer can get you up to speed on the issue of reputation management and what online information can mean to your future.  Click here to read it.

Anyone involved in social media and other online pursuits has a body of information accumulating about them on the Internet.  Thinking like a publicist to strategically develop and maintain a stellar reputation can help keep your good name from becoming a google search nightmare for years to come.

A line in Drew Gerber’s guest post last week got me thinking.  He wrote, “The thing about PR is that it’s in everything you do.”

That’s an important point to keep in mind. So many people incorrectly use the terms PR and publicity interchangeably. Heck, I’m guilty of it sometimes myself.  Publicity is only one part of PR.

Some folks even think PR stands for press release.  Nope. Press releases are one tool you can use as part of a PR campaign.

Public Relations, or PR, is the umbrella term for all the activities used to spread your message, manage your reputation and generally present your business, your brand, your products and services in their most favorable light to the wider world. PR covers areas like community relations, investor relations, government relations and so on.

Now, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, most of your PR efforts will likely be centered around Media Relations, pitching the media to get free publicity in print, on-air or on the Internet.  Advertising and marketing can also help you build your bottom line.

Getting free publicity takes work, but you can get good results on a shoestring budget.  What you can’t get is complete control of the message.  Advertising gives you control but you are paying for space or airtime to motivate people to buy what you’re selling.

Advertising, PR and Marketing are generally spoken about as one industry though each has its own  rules and goals.  All can have a place in grabbing attention for your business.

Controlling the Media Message

I don't write about politics or political speech in this blog but this quote from Senate candidate Sharron Angle from several months ago got my attention:

"We needed to have the press be our friend … We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported." –Sharron Angle, during an interview with Fox News Channel's Carl Cameron, Aug. 2, 2010

Some people seem to get "friendlier" treatment from the media than others and when you build a relationship with a reporter and do a bunch of interviews over time, it may feel like a friendship, but keep in mind, this is a professional association and you both have a job to do.

Don't try to control the media. The only person you can control is YOU.  Media training is meant to give you strategies to be more poised and polished in your dealings with media people, but not to learn to manipulate them. 

If you're involved in hard news like running for office or do expert interviews where you take a stand on a controversial issue, you should expect tough questions and be ready for them

You may want to control the message, but don't be surprised if the media won't play along.

 

You've heard this before – journalists generally work on tight deadlines.  If a reporter is interested in doing your story, they want all the background information they could possibly get right now.  If you're actively pitching to build your business with free publicity, give them what they want, when they want it.  Snail mail is a deal breaker.

That's the beauty of an online press kit. It puts your bio, your photo, past credits, testimonials, book excerpts,etc. at their fingertips, saving them precious time.  Even if a reporter is just checking out a source before they call them, it's a smart move to show you're media-savvy with a strong online presence.  Having a media kit available shows you're a serious expert and instantly boosts your credibility.  In today's Internet-centered world, making it an online media kit just makes sense. 

My friends at PitchRate have just launched a three-week long free teleseminar series on the value and importance of online press kits.

You can get the free training here - Pitchrate Expert Sign Up.

Plus they're offering a special deal on their PressKit 24/7 service.

Get yours today through my affiliate link  – PressKit 24/7 


Sometimes getting your publicity “ducks in a row” can be overwhelming.  It takes time, persistence and a plan to attract the media and generate buzz about yourself and your business. It’s also said that while ducks look like they’re gliding serenely on the surface, they’re actually paddling furiously under the water.  Sometimes, doing all your own PR work can feel that way too.

My friend and colleague Nancy Juetten can make it easier for you.  Nancy is a Marketing PR Expert who offers a terrific collection of products and services to help local business owners get seen and celebrated in their own backyards. I’ve interviewed several of her clients who rave about the results they’ve gotten from working with Nancy and following her advice.

Nancy just added some new programs. To find out more, follow this link: http://www.mainstreetmediasavvy.com

(I’m not an affiliate, just a fan of her work)

Photo credit: stock.xchng/woqini

Take Off with Media Momentum

Another major snowstorm is visiting my Bucks County home outside Philadelphia so I'm sharing an article from two PR pros in sunny California.  Regina Novickis and Stacey Johnes are the experts behind www.PRTakeoff.com.   Enjoy!


Building Positive Momentum Through Public Relations

If
you’ve never been in the press, securing media coverage or garnering
attention for your business is not usually an instant thing; but it is
accessible to everyone and consistent efforts WILL reap rewards.  While
it can happen very quickly for some – especially if you are able to
tie-in with breaking news – for others it may take weeks, or even
months, to see results depending on a few factors such as how simple
(or not) your story is to communicate, and how consistently you reach
out to media.
 
There
are things that you can do, however, to bring positive momentum into
your business and, in particular, your public relations efforts.  
 
Perseverance:  Like
growing your business in general, a successful PR campaign means
dedicating some energy to it. This means continually developing new
pitch angles that can spark the interest of media, and following up
with the news organizations where you want to be covered.
 
Avoid the Overwhelm:  Don't
try to build Rome in a day.  There is a wide universe of media out
there and the thought of attempting to reach them all can feel
overwhelming.  Try starting in your local market where you already have
built-in news value by being a local business or expert.  Or focus on
one genre of media, such as trade publications read by your industry,
or business press. "Working" one area of media can give you the
confidence, and success, to spark momentum.
 
Set Clear Goals - on Paper:  Write
down your public relations goals and three things you can do to achieve
each goal.  Take at least one action a day that gets you closer to
achieving a goal.  The mere process of taking that action creates
momentum that will build upon itself.
 
Build Time For PR in Your Schedule:  Every
week, find at least one hour to focus on your public relations efforts.
 Even if it means blocking it off in fifteen minute increments at a
time; in fifteen minutes you can email a pitch to five journalists,
place three follow-up calls, or research a new media outlet to see
where you could be covered.

Regina Novickis and Stacey Johnes have nearly 30 years of combined
experience helping both emerging and global brands take off and enter
the spotlight through public relations. They apply their creativity,
strategies and proven know-how to help business owners and experts get
their message out to the world. If you’re ready to get your company off
the ground and soaring through the incredible power of public
relations, get your free tips now at www.PRTakeoff.com.

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