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.
The TrizCom Internship Program offers students the opportunity to work with industry professionals as part of our team. For the past few months we have had the pleasure of working with Laura Hogue and Jessica Donaldson from the University of North Texas’ Mayborn School of Journalism. As their time with TrizCom has come to an end, they shared their thoughts on their internship experience.
TrizCom has taught me to manage my time well. At an agency, things can change at the drop of a hat. Whether it is a last-minute press release or email blast, your everyday routine can be turned upside down by an emergency request. Managing your time well is crucial in surviving the fast-paced agency environment. Luckily, I have learned how to prioritize and manage my time, which has made a huge difference in the amount of work I can get done in a day.
As cliché as it sounds, teamwork really does make the dream work. At TrizCom, each employee has their own clients, but everyone helps when things get hectic. Working in a team helps build morale and makes things run smoothly. On days when I worked with my co- intern Jessica, we were always collaborating in any way that we could. This helped improve the quality of our work and minimize errors.
Over the last few months, I have grown both as a person and public relations practitioner. The skills and lessons I have learned at TrizCom will follow me throughout my career, and I cannot wait to see where my professional journey will lead me.
My time as an intern at TrizCom is coming to a close with the end of my undergraduate career, and as I reflect on my time here, I am so grateful to have worked at a place so committed to helping me learn and grow as a public relations professional.
I came into this internship armed with a plethora of knowledge from my many courses at the University of North Texas but almost no real-world experience in PR. This position has allowed me to put my academic knowledge to the test, improve as a writer and gain meaningful experiences that will shape my professional career in a way that classes alone could never do.
I have been able to work closely with everyone on staff here and see exactly what it takes to be successful in public relations. I have had direct client contact, written and edited press releases, helped with journalist research and even placed a few stories. TrizCom allowed me to gain a better understanding of what it means to work in public relations and reaffirmed my belief that public relations is the field I want to be in. Although my journey is coming to an end, I have learned so many invaluable things during my time here.
Or, Avoid These Like the Plague
I have received no fewer than a dozen marketing emails in recent weeks that included the oft-used phrase “spring has sprung.” This hopelessly hackneyed phrase was the sole reason I groaned and deleted the emails immediately. Did I want to see what deals and cute shoes these retailers were offering? Yes, I did – but it was the principle of the matter.
Thinking to press releases or pitches I’ve sent that didn’t “land,” were they possibly deleted by their journalist recipients due to a poor turn of phrase? Journalists at a top-tier media outlet may receive 1,000 press releases a day. How do you make sure yours is even read? By choosing your words carefully. A press release is essentially a promotional tool, but it should not be written that way. It should be written in language a journalist will understand and respond to – it should be written as a news story. But just a cursory search on PR Newswire shows that PR pros are sending press releases riddled with clichés, written like advertisements, filled with wild claims and adjectives like “amazing,” “top-notch,” “cutting-edge” and “incredible.”
Google “spring has sprung” plus “PR Newswire.” I got more than 2,000 hits this morning.
Google that phrase plus "PR newswire." Or search the cliché alone. The result: 570,000 mentions.
You'll learn that spring has sprung for
Sprinkler system tuneups
Savings tips for electric bills
Best restaurants in America
Make-your-own Easter baskets
We all can slip into overrelying on jargon, clichés and vapid phrases. I get it. You’re in a hurry and have an hour to write this press release that has landed in your email, or you’ve got writer’s block and you’ve just got to get this one done, or you know what marketing speak your client or internal audiences like to use to describe their company or their products.
We use clichés because they are easy to remember, widely understood and don’t require creativity on our part. Writing meaningful press releases is an art and good business – but it’s bad business to keep using the same trite and tired terms. It’s also writing in a way that focuses more on sounding like you know what you’re talking about as opposed to really knowing what you’re talking about and risking the chance of muddying the message and losing the audience’s attention along the way.
Case in point would be a phrase like: Our innovative, cutting-edge technology is a turnkey solution for end-users. Sound familiar? It’s using clichés to convey a point without really saying anything.
Here’s a list of some of TrizCom’s most meaningless press release clichés, words and phrases for PR pros to avoid – unless undoubtedly true:
Next generation innovation
Innovative market leader
Outside the box
We’re excited to announce
At the end of the day
What are some others you would add to this list? What are you guilty of leaning on? How about some creative replacements? Or do you think there are times when the use of a cliché is warranted?
Most PR and marketing pros care about using language to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively and know we need to strike a balance between sounding intelligent and delivering a coherent message. Thinking on this may compel us all to think critically about the meaning and power behind the words we use.
It’s up to us to be the cliché killer.
Resources: This exercise reminded me of author of viral marketing specialist David Meerman Scott’s 2006 study and subsequent Gobbledygook Manifesto as well as Adam Sherk’s 2010 study. Both analyzed thousands of press releases for business jargon and revealed some of the worst – most frequent – offenders.
Managing expectations is a critical component of the agency-client relationship at TrizCom PR. We often begin a new business development meeting by simply asking why they are interested in a public relations campaign. Some have replied that they just want to see their name in the paper, but most are using it as a marketing tool to secure incremental business for their businesses. They believe—and are often proven correct—that earned media equals credibility in the marketplace.
Another caveat we explain in exploratory meetings is that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take months of careful planning, pitching and execution before a client begins to see worthwhile results. We also never guarantee anything. PR firms that promise instant stardom for a client shouldn’t be considered true partners. That being said, we will work our tails off to ensure success, we just don’t promise it from the outset. Our proof points are the client newsrooms we maintain on our website, showcasing earned media wins for each of our existing and former clients.
If the image in their head doesn’t materialize into their version of reality, we encourage an extremely open and honest dialogue with clients. All PR plans are signed off on by clients before we begin campaigns. Each includes objectives, strategies, tactics and most important—how will success be judged by the client? If we can prove we’ve met that standard of success and they’re still not happy, then something changed. We find out what it is, adjust our plan accordingly and continue working.
Events: At TrizCom PR, we love events – not only because they are fun but because they are parenthetical; they have a start and an end date, and events are measurable. For many of our events, the pre-promotion is more important for selling tickets than actual event attendance. However, if your event is a press conference, for example, press attendance is imperative.
However, unless you are promoting a best-seller, crowd pleaser or limited offer, it is often difficult to get press coverage.
Here is a good tip sheet from TrizCom PR for attracting media to your event.
1. Create a plan. Think four months out for long lead pitches, 4-6 weeks out, a week out, the day before and post event.
2. Know what the cool factor is – i.e., don’t bury the lead. Be as concise and precise as possible.
3. What is press worthy of this event? Find the news hook. Is someone newsworthy speaking/headlining? Will a newsworthy person be in attendance (elected officials are always a great primer)?
4. Know your audience and where they are. Also know your journalist’s audience. Remember, selling the journalist is just part one to event PR – they must sell it to their audience. The topic MUST be relevant to their audience. I would not encourage inviting a technology reporter to a Junior League luncheon – unless Sheryl Sandberg is a member of this Junior League and has confirmed her attendance. Don’t forget your trade publications.
5. Target influencers – identify top industry influencers and bloggers.
6. Have images and video. An online press kit with downloadable high-resolution photos, biographies, agendas, etc. is always preferred, but place this information on a jump drive and you are just as good. The object is to make the media’s job as easy as possible.
7. Can you tie your topic into a current event? We call this newsjacking.
• If your association is holding a convention and there is a well-known speaker talking about insurance and the rise in premiums, pitch the reporter the speaker’s credentials and mention that he/she would be willing to talk on record about how the Affordable Care Act has impacted the xyzzy industry and their predictions for the future.
• If you are hosting a medical conference and a leading M.D. is there to talk about a recent study but also has a new product to unveil, make sure you mention that.
• If by chance you are hosting Fan Expo with Peter Mayhew (original Chewbacca from Star Wars), and a local woman who went viral for wearing a Kohl’s Chewbacca mask in her car has been personally invited to meet Mr. Mayhew – for the love of God, make sure the media is aware of this.
• We represent a Boat Expo. Recently we tied in boat sales as an economic indicator for the economy. It worked. In fact, the economy topic is considered an evergreen trend. It will always sell.
8. Write a press release or a media advisory. An ‘if we build it they will come” mentality just doesn’t work if they don’t know anything about it.
9. Prepare your spokespeople with message points. Knowing why you want media there in the first place will help with what you want the journalist to write about (i.e., message).
10. Have a person assigned to media. Nothing is worse than inviting a journalist to an event and they aren’t on the list or they wander around with no direction. Have a point person for them to text if they need anything.
11. Make your own media. Photograph, video and Facebook Live at the event. At a few press conferences we have hosted, I was afraid breaking news would interfere with their attendance. I have hired a few photo journalists to mimic press and tape the event. The strategy works twofold – the audience and the client don’t realize they are not press, and secondly, you have great video to pitch post event.
12. If it is a party, allow them to bring a guest.
13. Remember the 5 Ws plus…
• What? What is the event about? (20 words or less)
• When? When is the event? (Date AND time – if someone is speaking at a particular time, note that. If it is a drop in at any time, mention that.)
• Where? Where is the event? (Consider this when inviting the media to cover the event. I know of very few journalists who will travel for an event.)
• Why? Why should the journalist care about YOUR event?
• Who? Who will be there?
• How? How do they let you know they want to attend?
• Your personal contact information including cell.
14. The final and most important factor - to get a journalist to cover your event is to simply invite them.
By: Jessica Donaldson, TrizCom PR Intern
I am a senior public relations student in the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. I have already taken some awesome classes that have taught me the building blocks of PR. As the treasurer for UNT’s chapter of PRSSA, I’ve been given some great opportunities to learn about my career field. My experience with the Mayborn School has been excellent, but there truly are some things you can only learn on the job.
For my last semester before graduation, I was fortunate enough to land an account coordinator internship with TrizCom Public Relations. This is my first real job in public relations, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect coming in.
I have heard from other students that they did a lot of busywork such as making copies, checking emails, taking notes, making coffee, etc. at some of their PR internships. While those are tasks that need to be done, they are certainly not what being an intern at TrizCom is all about. On my first day I was already doing research for a client and writing a media alert. By Day Two I was using technology I had never heard of to compile media lists and keep track of local new opportunities. I have been here a week now, and I already feel more equipped to work in PR than ever before.
I think being an intern at TrizCom is a unique opportunity because of the professional staff here. Not only are staff members experts at what they do, but they genuinely want to share their knowledge with me. Just like a typical internship, I have learned a lot simply from watching how TrizCom’ s account executives interact with clients, create content and conduct research. What makes working at TrizCom different is that the account executives ask me to help them with their work, they give me assignments that actually matter, and they are always willing to assist me if I have questions.
So far TrizCom seems like a great place to work, and I am excited to see what the rest of the semester holds.
Clutch recently announced the best digital and traditional service providers on their platform, amongst which TrizCom PR was named a Global Leader in public relations for 2017.
With over thousands of traditional service providers participating on Clutch’s ratings and reviews platform, it’s incredibly challenging to stand out amongst the rest as a top agency, especially for public relations which is one of their fastest-growing research segments.
For many years, TrizCom PR has been distinguished for our strength in forging strong connections between our clients and the media, communicating their messages in ways that get them close to their goals. Our communications expertise, along with our commitment to delivering PR campaigns that drive success for our partners, is what has contributed to our ranking on Clutch.
The biggest component to our Clutch ranking, however, is our client reviews. What makes Clutch different from other reviews sites is they take the time to connect with our clients over the phone to gather thorough and meaningful feedback on what it’s like partnering with our firm. Their reviews, all of which can be found on our Clutch profile, have given the TrizCom team even more reason to be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far as a company:
We’d like to thank our clients for sharing their feedback with Clutch and for being such supportive partners over the years. TrizCom is fully ready to continuing delivering quality PR work that makes our clients proud, and that drives up our placement on Clutch.