Whenever a business is in the news that is not an advertisement we call that earned media. Many times, people refer to this as free media vs. paid media. The word “free” is a misnomer as a earned media is not as free as we may think it is. Earned media requires significant manpower from start to finish.
By Dana Cobb, Senior Account Executive, TrizCom PR
Lesson #1: Do not, under any circumstances, initiate a telephone call with a journalist, assuming your conversation will not be printed, especially if the conversation includes cussing against your colleagues, who work with you on a daily basis and then hope to keep your job.
Lessons #2-10: See Lesson One.
By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Supervisor at TrizCom PR
As public relations ‘practitioners’ (a $20 word), we pride ourselves on our ability to pitch the media just the right story at just the right time. In doing so, we go through a mental checklist of suitability factors. Number one: is the story news and noteworthy? If you have to ruminate on this point, it probably isn’t. Can you make it news and noteworthy? Well, it is our job to find the angles…
When we approach the media in our outreach efforts, we like to do a little exercise where we put ourselves in our target’s shoes. When they get your emailed pitch, will it be greeted with a slow, approving nod? Or an eye roll, banished forever in the Deleted Items folder? We’re always aiming for the slow, approving nod. Hopefully followed up with an immediate reply or a call asking for more information.
Do you see what just occurred there? What we’re really trying to do is help the media. We want to make their jobs easier, which is no small task considering how many times they likely roll their eyes each and every day. And if we’re truly trying to help our friends in the media secure coverage for our clients, why not find new and inventive ways to do so?
Pitch sources, not just stories.
Is your client an expert on anything? If you don’t think so, maybe you have the wrong client. You need to find inventive ways in which you can pitch your client sources to the media. If successful, that’s the very definition of an industry thought leader, correct? Being able to feature a client of yours on the news or in the newspaper is an ideal way to attach credibility to their product or service. The source subject is almost always featured by name—and by company.
Source pitching works extremely well if you can attach your client to a breaking news story. If an issue or current event is at stake and your client has a valuable opinion on it, don’t be shy about sending a brief note to your contacts in the media. List out their areas of expertise and how they might contribute to the overall conversation.
We’re doing a little of that ourselves these days. Fortunately for us, the Trump Administration is the gift that keeps on giving. Their American Health Care Act and proposed budget cuts to Medicaid may end up being a banner day for our nonprofit client, Community Council of Dallas. One of the Community Council’s core missions is to advise and assist consumers in navigating the health care marketplace. If we can secure them as a viable source to break down the issues for viewers and readers, everyone comes out ahead. And we get a few more media hits to add to their online newsroom.
When you pitch the media a source instead of a story, you’re attempting to do them a favor. You’re basically saying, “We know your time is valuable, and you may be too busy to line up sources on your own. Let us to do the heavy lifting.”
That’s the true beauty of pitching a source. And the definition of a win-win situation.
By Dana Cobb, Senior Account Executive
We are constantly pitching our clients for radio interviews. All sorts of formats: news pieces, CEO interviews, product announcements, expert commentary, celebrity phoners … the whole gamut. While the concept of capturing a conversation on air seems simple, it is often not. Just like being a Boy Scout, the key to having a successful radio interview is to BE PREPARED.
Prepare for an abrupt start. Most radio interviews are done by phone, not in studio, and most stations prefer to call you. Some producers call a few minutes before the interview begins, allowing you to listen for few minutes to get a feel for the program’s tone. But others wait until the last possible second, meaning you’re on the air within moments of picking up the phone. When you pick up the phone, be ready to go live on a second’s notice—or on no notice at all. You’ll hear the host over the phone line, so turn your radio off to avoid hearing a distracting delay.
Express passion. Sure, you’re on the radio. But listeners will hear it if you stand, move your hands and smile—so get a telephone headset and gesture away. Try to match or slightly exceed the host’s energy level to avoid sounding flat.
Sit close to the microphone (in-studio). New Radio 1080 KRLD’s David Johnson always tells our clients to “sit uncomfortably close to the microphone.” We can literally hear the distance when the interview airs.
Make the connection (in-studio). We suggest that our clients make eye contact with the host and speak with them as if they are having a great conversation at a party. Be confident, smile. The listener hears confidence. It’s absolutely acceptable to bring a few notes or talking points in studio, but never read them—glance down occasionally if you need to and try not to lose your connection.
Don’t depend on them to make the plug. You’re probably on the radio because you want to promote something—a new book, your website, your company. Although many experienced hosts are adept at “plugging” whatever you want promoted, some aren’t. We send the producer a short bio and key points in advance of the interview which many hosts use verbatim to introduce me on the air.
The truth is in the tape. Few people enjoy listening to tapes of their interviews, but doing so can help you identify and fix problem areas. This is where you hear those dreaded “uhs.”
By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Manager at TrizCom PR
Speed counts. What we’re talking about here is a manner and method to working in the public relations world. We already know that we live in a 24/7 news cycle, and if you aren’t adjusting the method of how you work, you could be missing out on a very successful strategy. Call it an opinion if you want, but earning a reputation based on your effort to respond quicker makes you a better PR practitioner.
The clients I represent already know this. That’s because I pride myself on how quickly I can get them an answer when they ask a question. All of the media contacts and journalists I work with know this too. Even if they ask a question or request information that I can’t get back to them in five minutes, they’ll still get a reply from me letting them know that I’m on the case. Missed a phone call? Dial them back as soon as possible. And if you’re not getting your work emails on your smart phone, get smarter. Makes it very easy to type out a quick confirmation of receipt every time.
Over time, the contacts on the other end of your computer screen will notice this effort. Then they’ll come to expect it. And that’s a good thing. When it comes time for your client to renew an annual agency of record contract with your firm, might this be a point in your favor? When a reporter you’ve worked with in the past needs a source or some fresh quotes for a new story, will your previous responsiveness play a part in their decision to reach out to you at the expense of someone else? You don’t have to answer either of these rhetorical questions because you already know the answer.
While you can create an incredible reputation from being a responsive account manager, you can also destroy that perception by being careless. You can be quick, but always be thorough. Re-read your emails before you send them. Use spellchecker. At the end of the day, working on your responsiveness in the public relations world is just like any other skill. It can be acquired if you put in the effort.
Still don’t believe me? I wrote this blog in 22 minutes.
By Guest Blogger Cameron Cobb, Cameron Cobb Photography
Sometimes our clients find themselves in need of impromptu photos at special events, chance meetings or other newsworthy happenings. Being prepared on how to effectively take photos on your iPhone is key to creating images that can be amplified across mass and social media on behalf of your brand.
Cameron Cobb, a Dallas-based photographer, shares tips on how to use an iPhone in a pinch.
1) Always hold your phone sideways. (They don't call it landscape mode for nothing.) The angle of the lens is so wide to begin with that you are able to squeeze much more into the image and in focus than when you hold the phone vertically or in "selfie mode." More is more. You can always crop it later.
2) Speaking of selfie mode: Always rely on the lens on the BACK of the camera. The difference in quality is astounding. While it may seem easier to snap that event pic of you and your CEO accepting the award, turn the phone around and press the button without looking, or ask someone to snap it for you.
3) Why just take photos? Everyone loves to feel like they’re included in cool events. Why not set your phone down and take a quick time-lapse video? It's just a couple of swipes over on your camera menu, and when you post it on Facebook, your family, friends, clients and colleagues will think you are a technical genius.
4) Speaking of your camera menu: Have you tried the HDR function? It basically takes multiple exposures of one photo and blends the best parts of each. Not only will it up your overall photo quality, but it might help fill in some shadows on that shot you got that overcast Grand Opening day.
5) Never zoom. Seriously. You will get a better image if you blink your eye and say "click."
All photos courtesy of Cameron Cobb, all shot on iPhone.
By Nikki Darling, TrizCom PR
This past spring, TrizCom PR signed Fan Expo Dallas as a new client. Fan Expo Dallas was formerly known as Dallas comic con – the largest convention for lovers of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, gaming and more in the state of Texas. They were in need of a PR team, and we were there to offer our expertise and team of creative individuals to get the job done and exceed expectations.
My not-so-inner nerd was nothing less than stoked to work on this account. However, I knew it was going to be a learning experience, because I had not previously done PR for a big event or convention. This was going to be a first for me.
The weeks and months leading up to the convention were full of observing and learning from my superiors. I worked with them while they guided me on strategies in order to fulfill the objectives established for the event. I learned a lot about promoting a major event: I learned how different it was from a regular brand management client or PR retainer client. By the end of the convention, my head physically hurt from all of the information I took in – either that or from sleep deprivation.
However, nothing could compare to how exhilarating working the actual convention would be. I basically lived at the convention center that weekend. Seriously, I should have brought a sleeping bag and pillow for how much I was there. But I loved every minute of it.
Our team was responsible for signing in the media, giving them credentials, taking them on tours of the convention center and, of course, arranging for any onsite interviews. Not only did it feel nice to stand behind the check-in table and help dictate protocol, but it was really neat to be able to connect with the members of the media I have been pitching and idolizing for so long. Making those connections was extremely beneficial and having the opportunity to arrange interviews and make their lives easier was an added bonus
Fun fact: I also got to meet Anthony Daniels, the actor that plays C3PO in all Star Wars movies. He was a gem and even had his own mini C3PO to hold up in pictures. We took him around Dallas for different interviews and he was so willing to take a picture with anyone who walked past!
I ran around that convention center for three days, making sure I always knew what was going on at all times while constantly scouting for media opportunities. Any time a reporter said thanks or had a look of relief come across their face when they secured an interview, I had a little adrenaline rush. I was able to do what I did every day in an office at one of the coolest conventions in Texas while interacting face to face with media. I had many moments where I felt very proud to be a part of my company and very thankful for these kinds of opportunities. Talk about rewarding.
The real fun (and nerves) came the last day of the convention when the internet-famous Chewbacca Mom was making an appearance. We anticipated the morning to be rather slow in terms of media attendance simply because it was the very last day and most of the media had already checked in. However, our previous pitching efforts paid off and, before I knew it, we were hosting four local television crews – ABC, CBS, CW and Fox. They were all there to catch Chewbacca Mom meeting the real Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, for the first time on camera.
Before this weekend, I had not worked directly with camera crews, so working with four was a bit overwhelming at first but quickly became almost second nature. I was able to guide their shots during Chewbacca Mom’s meeting with Peter Mayhew and direct their coverage with knowledge of the event’s programming. Preparation, in this case, was key. Knowing the timing of the event, layout of the space and technical capabilities of the venue allowed me to deliver the need-to-know info quickly to the TV crews. No time was wasted.
Following the Chewbacca event, I made my way backstage where I sat down with Chewbacca Mom, Candace Payne, to prepare her for one-on-one interviews with local media stations. She was the sweetest lady, and I was so glad to meet her.
We led the cameras over to a table behind which stood a step and repeat with Fan Expo Dallas’ logo plastered all over it. There was no way we were going to have four cameras interview someone without the Fan Expo Dallas logo in sight. Our team manned the area, ensuring no fans somehow made their way back or no passerby ruined our shot. We were in the backstage celebrity area of the convention center. So it felt ironic to me that while the news crews were interviewing Chewbacca Mom, celebrities like Lucy Hale (my favorite), the Phelps twins, Jack Gleeson and Rob Schneider all walked past – some even whispering in wonderment that they were seeing Chewbacca Mom in real life.
Chewbacca Mom finished up her interviews, and we led the press into the main convention area for b-roll coverage and interviews with attendees. When all was said and done and the news crews packed up their tech gear, I made my way back to the press room – out of breath the whole time. I sat down behind the check-in table shaking and panting after my 2-hour long adrenaline rush from which we secured four television spots.
My public relations career has been a short one. I graduated from college about a year ago, so almost every opportunity thus far has turned into a learning moment for me. Hosting media, coordinating interviews and securing four television spots for my client was definitely the highlight so far. I even called my mom to tout my accomplishments of the weekend. All in all, the one thing I had to say to everyone who asked was “working that convention was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.” The experience was like nothing else, and the lessons I learned are far beyond any I could have prepared myself for.
Conventions are exhausting, I’ll be honest. But my goodness are they exciting.
Nikki Darling is a graduate of the University of North Texas where she received a B.A. in journalism with a concentration in public relations and a double minor in English and marketing. Her involvement with nonprofits in the community, mixed with her writing and design abilities, contribute greatly to her communication skills in the PR world. She is constantly striving to improve her knowledge of the industry by making the most out of every opportunity.