Qualities of a great publicist

I’ve decided to step back and build. I want to become a better publicist so I am researching the habits of highly effective publicists. I started here. Enjoy!

Qualities of a great PR firm [publicist]
*Organized – A good agency will set and stick to deadlines.  A great agency won’t make you ask about the status of a deliverable – they’ll communicate along the way.

*Stellar media chops – Do they have your key journalists on speed dial?  Are they BFF’s with the influencers in your space?  Often, good agencies do bad work because they are supporting clients where they have no domain expertise.  Ask for relevant account portfolios to ensure that they aren’t learning everything on your dime.  You can save time and money by doing your homework and hiring an agency with prior industry experience.

*Genuine partners – When the going gets tough, are they working late hours alongside you?  Or are they nowhere to be found the night before the tour when a blizzard hits Boston and you need to rebook a full week of meetings?  A
great agency will feel like an extension of your team.  They will have a clear understanding of your topline objectives and they will go the extra mile to get you there because success is shared.  A big win for you is a big win for them.

*Detail oriented – Page numbers on every doc without exceptions.  Reporter phone numbers. Directions to the next meeting.  PR lives and dies by the details.  The difference between a good meeting and a bad meeting is often a well constructed or poorly constructed briefing sheet.  These are typically drafted by interns.  Is someone senior reviewing their work before it gets to your inbox?

*Whip smart – As the client, you’re wearing branded blinders and drinking the Kool-Aid every day. A good agency will flag relevant trends and articles and pull you out of the weeds.

*Proactive – Relevant ed-cals from reach publications?  That new, hot industry
conference?  Beat reporters moving publications? Your agency should be
all over this and you shouldn’t have to ask for it, it should just show up in your inbox.

*Trust – Ultimately, great agency relationships are based on trust.  These are the people who will call the press on your company’s behalf.  They are the front line storytellers for your company’s narrative.  Do you trust them to tell your story? Get key facts and figures right? Accurately represent your position in the market? Save your CEO if a briefing is going completely off the rails? Help you navigate a crisis?  Cover day to day operations if you need to be offline for a day?

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The hired stalker

Sometimes, I feel like I am stalking people.

In order to get a story run or even to get a little bit of attention from the media, it really is like you have to stalk them: phone, email, Twitter, email again, LinkedIn, Facebook, phone again. It’s almost a little scary and at times, I’m a little annoyed with myself.

Being new at this, I guess I am standing in my own way by feeling that this is an awkward position to be in because, frankly, this is what PR practitioners do when their client needs (or wants) the attention (side note. It seems that even if the reporter that you want to connect with is a personal contact, you still have to be on their heels to make sure that they are on the story. I guess that’s ok. People have been doing it for a long time and it’s proven effective, a few journalists may be annoyed but it seems that they appreciate the stories as well, especially when they are in a lull. I mean, that’s why advertisers and sponsors pay them, so they can write the stories that will attract the readership of potential clients for the sponsors and advertisers.

With that, I am about to go stalk someone who did not give me his contact information while battling this insane caffeine headache. So many reasons not to drink coffee.

What can I say? Gotta PUSH!

P.itch
U.ntil
S.omething
H.appens

Once again awake: Content Strategy

PR is transforming. Day by day, clients are expecting more from the publicist. One thing that is being requested, is social media management. That’s fine and dandy but you can’t just use words to convey a message to any given audience.

People don’t read, so you can’t expect people to read.

In steps content strategy.

According to Forbes….according to Wikipedia (can’t really use wikipedia as a source so I guess it’s valid through the filter of Forbes? Meh) content strategy is “…the practice of planning the content creation, delivery, and governance. A repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process…”

Anyway, I’m not going to dwell on it too much because I am tired….it is late. So here’s a list of books that I will be buying soon to introduce myself to and immerse myself in the world of CS.

Good night, PR mavens!

The Big Four: What Wealth Looks Like

I’m back! It’s been a while and I’ve missed you dearly but I’ve been pretty busy between homeschooling the little one, starting the business and grad school. But here I stand……uh, sit on the floor writing to you about this new book that I am reading called The Wealthy Freelancer. It’s actually pretty late and if I plan on getting to the gym in the AM I should probably make this quick.

The part of the book I am at, which is not to far from the front cover, is talking about what it means to be successful and defines it as these four criteria:

1. The projects you want

2. The clients you want

3. The income you want

4. The lifestyle you want

Maybe criteria was not the appropriate word to use. These are more goals that you have in mind, the way that you envision yourself doing business and how these would be defined in your model. I’ve decided that I really need to hash these out. Though I could do it in my handy dandy notebook, I have decided to share my brainstorming of what my wealthy freelancing venture would look like with you. Here we go!

Projects: Well, I’m in PR. I want to be creative. What I would really like to work on are marketing events and press releases to announce new products, people and ventures. I love events and feel that there is nothing better than a well executed event but I also love to write. Though it sometimes feels a little bit tedious gathering the information, the story-telling process is amazing. Obviously for the sake of pitching I should keep my head from going too far into the clouds but this perspective keeps me entertained with what I am trying to do.

Clients: I like to be inspired by people and honestly work off of their zeal for their company. If you love what you do, more likely than not, I will too. I want to work with those that are excited about their ventures and have something awesome to offer. Maybe this is full idealism, but I would like to work with people that understand the time and care it takes to create and conduct a full campaign and that there is a reason I should be paid for what I do. I’ve heard horror stories.

Income: I’m going to be a little vague about this one and not use actual figures for the simply sake of privacy, but I would like to be able to support myself with what I make and be able to save enough for retirement and college for my little one. (I mean, we have 11 years until college…..gotta get a move on)

Lifestyle: I want to be able to homeschool my son and take the time with him that he needs, while being able to go on vacation to Disney World once a year. I want to be able to get my work done in a comfortable place, meet clients at nice locations where I can offer to buy them coffee or croissants (preferably chocolate chip ones) and have good laughs and relationships with them. I want to be able to get things for my family and friends, donate time and other things to charities and enjoy the life that I’ve been given. Maybe have an employee or two to help with certain projects. Another thing that I would really like to do is tuck my son into bed every night. I don’t want to be so overtaken by work, projects and deadlines that I can’t do that. I value the time I have with him. He won’t be 6 forever.

Though these are truly the things that I would look for in a wealthy freelancing career, I am not quite sure if I am finished hashing out what it is I want. I was planning on having a goal setting party all by myself on Saturday where I would name the goals and the steps it would take to achieve them so I guess I’ll add this to my festivities. Woo hop weekend fun!

Good night and happy goal setting!

Better late than never?

I don’t like to be late for meetings. In fact, I’m early. Way early. Almost awkwardly early. So early that I will sit in my car until around 10 minutes before I am expected and then appear. I’ve always known that if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late, you never even showed up.

At 9 AM of Friday morning, I was supposed to meet with a potential mentor. I was quite excited about it. While there are things that I know about and can do pertaining to, I am certain there are little aspects that I am probably unprepared for having never been in the field beyond beyond an internship and freelancing.

I found my potential mentor on a few different websites and read about her, figured some questions to ask her, set my alarm clock to 7 and went to sleep around 12. You may think this is a little late to sleep, but by my recent standard (and a study by the Sleep Foundation) this is an adequate amount of sleep and actually, much more than I’m used to.

As the sun was rising, my eyes opened. It was 6:30. A little anxious about the meeting, I didn’t really want to be awake but I could not get back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 7, I hit off, read my Bible and stayed in bed for a second. Apparently, that second was all it took to fall asleep.

As I opened my eyes from what I thought was a blink, I look at the clock. 9:11!!!!!!!!!!!! You can’t be serious!!!!!

I don’t have her phone number (very dumb! If you’re meeting with someone, be sure to exchange numbers) and I live 15 minutes away from where we were to meet.

In a panic, I got out of bed, ran to the bathroom while sending a text to the friend who was kind enough to introduce me to my mentor-to-be and asked for her number. Calling her, I’m trying to figure out what to say, I’ve never actually been late for something like this. I’m not even on the road to at least say that, nope. Standing in the bathroom in a late panic, I call.

She answers and says that she’d only allotted a half an hour for this meeting and we could reschedule.

Yea, that’s great but that first impression, it’s gone!!! Her first experience of me is not young professionalism embodied. Nope. It’s LATE. Just got to love that.

Oh and before you say, “No, Olivia. That’s not what she thinks about you!” consider her email response.

So the idea is to be on time for meetings (a.k.a. early), but I get that stuff happens. However (more than likely) you know you are going to be late before the meeting time, so just give the person a call prior to the meeting and let them know you’re running late.

She then advised me not to make a habit of it and said we could reschedule.

Yup! Late AND irresponsible.

Nice.

Do I need a mentor?

Sitting down to coffee with a friend, she asks me what I have been up to.

“Oh nothing, school, starting a PR business.”

This is met with a smile and nod, nothing new but instead of just telling me how wonderful that is or saying how well I’ll do she responds, “Oh, I’m coalition sisters with the former president of the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society (check ’em out). Actually, the current president, too.” With this she promises to put me in contact with one of them and maybe this opening up to a mentor opportunity. This is amazingly exciting.

I didn’t really think too much about having a mentor. I’ve always felt the best about myself when I have learned what I am doing by myself. While I can work very well with other people, this little twinge of pride does present itself every now and then. I guess it’s time to squash it. The more I think about it, I feel like I mentor would be awesome. There are only so many things you can learn from books and instead of having to experience certain mistakes and failures, I’d be able to learn from someone else about what they have done and why they should or shouldn’t have.

So, I received an email from my friend with a name CC’d that I recognized as beloning to the former PBPRS president. I was so excited, I almost did not know how to respond to the email or go about setting up a meeting. Somehow, I pulled the words together and the date is set for Friday, August 10!

If you can’t tell, I am painfully excited right now. Like what to wear, what to say, do I have questions prepared, apprehensive about whether or not to show up excited! (Of course I’m going to show up! This is a great opportunity that I am truly thankful for and would NOT turn down for almost anything).

Recently, the idea of a mentor has been popping up a lot. One new journalist friend that I was asking about media relations suggested it and I found this and this as I was surfing the business and PR circuit. I guess that settles it: I need a mentor and I think I might find one by Friday.

The question is, will she want to take me on…

The Best Brand Content

Let me preface this by saying, I think I am in love with Crosby Noricks. Any time I see her name, I am taken with whatever the content of the piece might be because I think she’s a genius. With that I present you this article found on FastCo:

Instead of a traditional business plan, Holstee cofounders and brothers Dave and Mike Radparvar, along with friend Fabian, created a manifesto, a typographical “reminder of what a successful life could be in non-financial terms.” And then they went about the business of making their first products, T-shirts made from recycled bottles, and a wallet made from plastic bags collected off the streets of Delhi.

On a bit of a whim, so the story goes, Holstee put the manifesto up on their website to share the mission of the company with customers. The founder’s feel-good maxims about life and the pursuit of personal happiness spread across the Web, appearing on blogs, across social media and of course, causing a repin/reblog frenzy on Pinterest and Tumblr. They quickly sold out of their first run of products as well as a poster of the manifesto, which accounted for about 50 percent of revenue in 2011. Today, you can purchase the Holstee Manifesto, on recycled paper, as a poster or greeting card.According to Mike, “80 million+ views later [the Holstee Manifesto] has transcended borders, religions, political views and cultural divides. The Holstee community alone has posted over 14 translations.” The manifesto, pardon the cliché, went viral.

This, in and of itself, is a remarkable story about the power of branded content to drive brand awareness, affinity and sure, sales. But the story doesn’t end there. The manifesto acted as a sort of permission slip for individuals to live more fully, and people throughout the world were inspired enough by its words to change direction, to make different decisions. And the stories began to pour in. Now, in a brilliant campaign extension, Holstee has invited those impacted by the manifesto to share their stories with one another through My Life, a Tumblr-hosted platform that allows those touched by the manifesto to share their stories via a combination of text, image and video. From manifesto to movement–I’d give these guys an award for taking a single piece of authentic, remarkable content and evolving social-share into a brand-allegiant community.

Successful branded content must balance brand awareness and education with entertainment and timeliness. One of the ways to do this is to jump on an existing trend, the way that mala jewelry company Tiny Devotions did with its Holstee-inspired “Boho Manifesto,” available when you sign up for email. Or, how casual footwear brand Sanuk and luxury fashion brand Oscar de la Renta did with their completely different, yet perfectly on-brand individual takes on the “Shit Girls Say” meme.

Fashion brands often get a bad rap for being a bit behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing, but brands in all sorts of verticals have something to learn from their strategies.

Co-create Campaigns With Customers

Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is at the center of content-driven commerce that mimics the brand’s eye for style. Its engine is a website called Minkette driven by a group of bloggers and loyalists referred to as the “Minkettes.” The designer’s long list of digital integration includes Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Polyvore, LookBook, Chicotpia, MYFDB andInstagram, where one lucky fan’s photos were chosen to appear in Minkoff’s first print ad campaign.

Repurpose Existing Content

Independent fashion bloggers (IFB) is a daily read for aspiring and established bloggers alike, and its biannual fashion week conference always sells out, attracting sponsorships from big brands eager to be a part of the conversation and connect with rising influencers. Much more than just a blog, IFB is a resource center, and uses image-share platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to drive traffic, community growth and brand awareness, snapping pictures of press coverage to share on Instagram and posting intriguing headlines of blog articles to images on Pinterest.

Invest in Influencers

When it came time for J.Crew to do something different with their digital presence and promote their global launch into more than 100 countries, they turned to iconic street style photographers and fashion bloggers Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) and Garance Doré to carry their vision for Hello, World! forward, photographing, filming and narrating an international tour. The duo met up with other tastemakers in each city and the result is a content feast of images, video and quotes like, “if I could only wear one color it would be neon pink,” from Hilary Tsui in Hong Kong. The feature also includes an invitation for customers outside of North America to become J.Crew Insiders and receive VIP member benefits including complimentary expedited shipping through the end of the year, priority access to J.Crew’s team of International personal shoppers as well as duty free shopping through August 31st.

Lead with Lifestyle

According to Tory Burch’s CMO, the fashion designer has “not bought traditional advertisements in U.S. magazines,” relying instead on an aggressive digital-first strategy that generates more revenue than any physical store. Reasons why? Tory Burch is perhaps the only fashion brand to have an editor-in-chief position within the company, and the Tory blog is a great example of exploring brand lifestyle. In the spirit of summer (and resort wear) she’s currently featuring content about vacation musts, surf culture, and the color blue.

Uncover Unique Partnerships

A beautiful marriage exists between the creators of Wildfox Couture and young adult author Francesca Lia Block. At the epicenter is Magicalcreature.com, a blog that tells a story of friendship and hope between three girls. Together, the designers and author have illustrated a collection of dreamy T-shirts based on these characters. The emotional attachment gleaned from Lia Block’s words connects beautifully with the gorgeous images on the shirts.

Engage Through Experience

In March 2012, when most brands were still on the fence about joining Pinterest, Calypso St. Barth tapped mega-pinner Christine Martinez, a fashion blogger who was, at the time, the fourth most-followed Pinterest user in the world, to act as both brand ambassador and pinner on an actual trip to St. Barth. According to coverage in Mashable, the brand wanted to “piggy[back] on Martinez’s success on the social network to attract more attention to its boards and website.” Did it work? Currently, the luxury brand has more than 6,000 followers.

Educate and Entertain

Capitalizing on the nail-polish trend as well as its 15th anniversary working directly with designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Red Door client Creative Nail Design (CND) created “The History of Nails at Fashion Week,” an infographic that combined facts about fashion week with CND’s own history and evolution, including the revolutionary product release of Shellac. While infographics are widely used in many verticals, fashion and beauty brands have been less likely to produce and promote information in this way. As a result, the content piece was a valuable resource for journalists and bloggers alike as they competed for views during fashion-week coverage. By posting the Infographic to their fashion week blog and Pinterest, CND was also able to educate customers about the CND’s leadership position, and connect CND more closely with their Shellac product.

Allow Access

We’re all a bit curious about what other people are buying online. Net-A-Porter makes full use of this through a real-time feed that relays what other stylish women around the world are adding to their shopping bags and sharing with friends. Quite mobile, with an app for iPhone and Android to access luxury fashion on the go, fans can also read the weekly Net-A-Porter e-magazine on their iPad which includes everything from how to wear a particular trend to intimate Q&A’s with leading designers. Best of all, Net-A-Porter makes it easy to get a quick snapshot of all of its digital efforts on The Social Hub (live Twitter feed, Photo diary, Facebook, YouTube, Google alerts).

Bonus Resource

The Digital Naturalist is a forum for video, film, and multimedia aimed at analyzing what makes digital storytelling successful in order to establish helpful guidelines for advocacy groups. Solicited causes, such as Charity: Water, have recently gone under the microscope dissecting the elements that make their content succeed or fail. Digital Naturalist founder Amy Marquis said, “If more good people behind these good causes could learn to meet the most basic criteria of good digital storytelling, their work might actually start to turn heads.” Whether you’re into social advocacy or not, these tips can teach any company how to tell a good tale.

This is the kind of content that inspires me. Who makes your “favorites” list?

Crosby Noricks is Director of Social Media at Red Door Interactive, Founder of PR Couture and author of Ready to Launch, available on Amazon. With offices in San Diego, Carlsbad and Denver, Red Door Interactive, Inc. is a strategic partner dedicated to ensuring businesses acquire, convert, retain and engage their customers wherever they are. The firm holds more than a decade of expertise in successfully developing and executing communications initiatives across all touch points to deliver real, measurable results. Clients include Cricket Communications, CND (Shellac), Smith+Noble, Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc. and Charlotte Russe.Crosby can be reached at cnoricks@reddoor.biz or @PR_Couture.

 

I’m part of the elite!

Actually, I’m not yet. It’s interesting when you go to a social networking site and instead of the “become a member” option, you come across “request an invitation.”

Really?

But this is actually incredible marketing!!! What this does is causes users and hopeful users to feel that they are part of something exclusive, rare, elite. They were chosen, invited to be a part of this grand network. How Pinteresting!

In the meantime, as I wait for my acceptance into the oh-so-clandestine society of Pinterest, I started a Twitter. I’m not a big believer in Twitter for a couple of reasons but I will only give the important one: people tweet really stupid, unecessary things. I think that really sums up the frustration that I hold with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that 140 characters can hold a wealth of life-changing, super-important, completely-amazing information but I also believe that many do not know how to utilize language well enough to be finicky about their word choices and even if they are, a lot of people tend to tweet foolishness. Oh yes, but the place that Twitter has in my heart stems from the idea that business can keep their clients abreast of internal happenings very easily and succinctly through Twitter and the news media can quickly transmit messages about exciting and important events. That’s cool.

Is that why I joined Twitter? To follow ABC and INGDirect? No, I did it to build an internet identity, to continue creating my brand and market myself. It’s a strange thing to sell yourself but for the freelancer, it must be done even by means that I am not so sure of.

I hope I can use Pinterest soon :-/

Know the basics

A great reminder from Frause:

One of the most important tools in public relations is the press or news release. This important document is structured in such a way that allows a public relations or communications professional to send off an announcement to the media and a reporter or editor can quickly scan the document, much like a news article, for needed information.

There are several key components to writing a news release, and there are some great examples in the Frause newsroom.

  1. Headline: This should be the sentence, written in an active voice with as few prepositions as possible, which catches the reader’s attention and briefly states what the main announcement is: think of who, what, where, how, when, and why.
  2. Byline: Sometimes optional, and much like in a news story when used, the byline is another attention-grabbing sentence that gives more detail and elaborates on the headline.
  3. Dateline: In AP Style, which is the standard style for writing news releases in much of the United States, the dateline consists of the city and state or country, depending on what AP Style dictates, followed by the date. This is essential to the news release and cannot be left out.
  4. The announcement: Written in the traditional inverted pyramid, the release should be brief but contain all the vital facts presented in a clear, concise, easy-to-read format much like how news stories are written. Often there is a paragraph with a quote from a spokesperson.
  5. Boiler plate: This is basic information about the company or organization that goes after the end of the news release. A company may put out multiple news releases but will use the same boiler plate.
  6. Contact information: There should be a media contact with a name, phone number and email address so that media with questions can contact this person.

Besides the basic components, there are some other important considerations, including language use, links and photos, and how strategically to write the release to make it interesting. Some professionals are even arguing now against the use of inverted pyramid style, which was invented for the telegraph, and for a return to more feature-style writing. There are some great tips on PR Newswire for the press release template and optimizing press release content. Just remember that format, accuracy and proofreading are imperative.

Olivia says, “I am very much a fan of feature-style writing.”