Archive for October, 2009

Media Calls Still Matter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 22, 2009 by innovativemediapr

It’s easy in this age of email, IM and texting to lose the personal touch that comes with picking up the phone and calling a reporter, editor or producer to either pitch a story or gauge interest in what they are looking to cover. 

Of course, many media types will say the best way to reach them is by email.  Others will issue the dreaded retort, “Please no follow up calls.  If we have any questions or want to cover your story, we’ll call you.”

At iMedia Public Relations, we still feel that personal contact goes a long way to properly position your client’s story.  Sure, we email pitches to contacts on a daily basis. However, there is a method to this as well.  Mass emails to contact lists don’t work.  Personally crafting a message that fits the target audience is what has always proven to be most effective.

For example, in sending something to the Deputy Sports editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer during the height of the National League playoffs, be cognizant of what’s going on in that market in terms of coverage.  If you acknowledge the craziness of the situation but give the editor something to hold onto that can be pegged to a window when it won’t be all about the Phillies, you’ll have a better chance.  Having developed a good working relationship with that editor will ensure that even in a crazed state of editorial affairs, your email will still get read and filed away.

The same holds true for producers.  I recently held a discussion with a segment producer for a leading regional morning show.  She told me she gets around 116 emails in each one of her two email mailboxes each day.  She told me to definitely call as a follow up to a pitch because she cannot possibly read all the emails.

Another news producer at a cable news outlet told me that he cannot believe the bad email pitches he gets each day.  “I just hit delete when I see bad mistakes,” he said.

Some of the things he looks for in a pitch are how the overall story is framed.  Does it appeal to his viewership?  What are the various components that can make it into a feature segment? What resources are available to be included in a piece? Is there enough background in the pitch to give him a strong feel for the story? And of course, is it really news.

Picking up the phone at the right time of day and taking the beat of the media will go a long way to helping you shape media coverage for a client.  That phone call you make today may guarantee that email pitch you send next week gets read by a key media influencer.

Tom Cosentino

SMALL BIZ & LOCAL CHARITIES MAKE PERFECT TEAM

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that all politics is local. In the case of public relations, that holds true as well for local businesses and charities. I happen to be a member of the Board of Directors of Michael’s Feat  a 501(c)3 non-profit that assists the families of seriously ill newborns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.

The Fund is named in memory of baby Michael Gerard Puharic, born July 29, 2000 to Adam and Dana Puharic. They were informed early on in the pregnancy that Michael would face grave health problems because of a chromosome disorder known as trisomy 13. On August 1, 2000, after battling for 83 hours, Michael passed away peacefully at home with his parents at his side. At Michael’s funeral, the Puharics announced their intention to start a fund to assist other families raising an ill newborn. This initial fundraising goal turned into Michael’s Feat and has now helped hundreds of families throughout Monmouth County, distributing over $300,000 in direct benefits since 2000.

The Fund holds three major fundraisers each year, a Gala Dinner at Battleground Country Club in March, a Family Barbeque Picnic at Camp Arrowhead in Marlboro on the weekend anniversary of Baby Michael’s birth in July and a wine tasting event in September. Each event is geared to raise awareness for the work of Michael’s Feat and to raise funds from different demographic groups.

Throughout the year, other groups and organizations hold smaller fundraising events to benefit Michael’s Feat. The pairing of small business owners with local charities if done right can be very beneficial to both parties. An example of one that has been quite effective is a Michael’s Feat Cut-A-Thon sponsored by the Peter Conte Salon and Spa in Matawan.

 This past Sunday Peter Conte Salon and Spa held its second annual Michael’s Feat Cut-A-Thon with one hundred percent of the proceeds donated to Michael’s Feat. The event drew customers from throughout the surrounding area, with customers walking away with fresh cuts, courtesy of the stylists who generously donated their time to this worthwhile fundraiser.

Roger Peter, co-owner, said, “I understand the need for organizations such as Michael’s Feat that assist families who have seriously ill children. For the first two years of my granddaughter’s life, Monmouth Medical Center served as her second home. My family received tremendous support in many ways from the community during this very difficult time and I am happy to give back to help others facing similar challenges.”

Peter added, “My partner, Jennifer Conte, and I are proud to sponsor the Cut-A-Thon and have decided to make this an annual event. We were very pleased with this year’s turnout over the holiday weekend and look forward to making the third year the best yet, especially since it will be part of the tenth year celebration of Michael’s Feat.”

By partnering with Michael’s Feat, Peter Conte Salon and Spa made a direct connection to not only a co-owner’s personal life but to the community at large which is very familiar with the Michael’s Feat charity since the Puharic family lived in neighboring Aberdeen until a year ago. Hanging a banner outside the establishment announcing the fundraiser brought great visibility to the Salon.

For Michael’s Feat it was a winner as well. The Fund now has a local business committed to hosting an annual fundraising event. Local news outlets will publish the outcome from the event so both entities will benefit on the media side as well.

The teaming of Peter Conte Salon and the Michael’s Feat charity showcases how local businesses and charities can benefit from each other. Just like the ownership of the Peter Conte Salon did, a business should only get involved with a charity if they feel strongly in support of the cause and are willing to commit the resources necessary, especially manpower, to see the event through.

From a charity’s perspective, the group or business that contacts you to run a fundraising event, needs to understand fully what your Mission is as a charitable organization, what you are all about and how together you can help promote the event. If both entities are right for each other, the pairing turns into public relations wins for both.

Tom Cosentino

Is the White House Now Bringing Transparency to PR?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 2, 2009 by innovativemediapr

Earlier this week a transformative event in public relations occurred when the White House Press Office began posting its daily “Talking Points” on the Whitehouse blog.    This was addressed in the Media Bistro PR Newser column on September 29 written by Joe Ciarallo.  Two former White House officials were quoted in the piece about the historic nature of the publishing of the talking points.  

Don Goldberg, former assistant to President Clinton commented: “When I was in White House, we would have daily meetings on message and you would basically have conference calls…If the weekend was coming up and you had talk shows you were worried about, you would make sure all Democrats on the shows had the same points. The Obama administration is bypassing traditional media as much as it can anyway, so why not provide them with ‘message of the day’ type of details. Why not try to reach out to everybody?”

What the White House is doing is offering true transparency in its desire to get its message out.  It has always been obvious in watching the talk show circuit when spokespeople for both parties were seemingly reading from a script provided from their respective leaderships as Mr. Goldberg points out.  What will be interesting to see is how these representatives approach things now since the message of the day will already be posted.

More importantly, what does this ultimately mean for the public relations industry?  Will brands and companies feel obligated to be as transparent with their messaging to the public? 

A solid communications process has always relied on belief in the messenger.  Public relations practitioners have set the tone for what message is communicated to the public and the correct timing for communicating it.  If you use the White House as a standard bearer then the time may be right for public relations executives to be transparent as well with the talking points they want to issue.  Thus, what’s posted in the company blog is what’s transmitted to the media at large and to the consumer. No mixed messages.   

 The hardest part is ensuring that the message stays consistent.  Not every company has to face a press briefing each day that deals with issues that affect the security, economy, healthcare, and other pertinent national issues which the White House communications staff has to deal with.

For communications pros, whether it’s a daily message, blog post, tweet or monthly newsletter, getting your client or company to embrace transparency is a big achievement.  How you clearly define and deliver the message is even more important.

 Tom Cosentino