Category Archives: Public Relations

Is Your Pitch Ready for Prime Time? 6 Tips to Secure National Media Coverage

NBC Nightly News with Lester HoltSecuring national media coverage for your client, especially when you’re based in the middle of the country like those of us in Colorado is no easy feat.

It’s no secret there are fewer media outlets and reporters, but there are an endless number of blogs and digital communication opportunities as well. Standing out from the hundreds, if not thousands of pitches that national media receive every day is a big challenge, but not impossible. Following are some lessons GroundFloor Media has learned over the years that can help with your next national pitch.

 

1. Find national media contacts in your market.

It’s easier to pitch someone who is based in your city who may already be familiar with your company or organization. National media outlets have “stringers” based in cities around the country. New York-based media will often tap local freelancers who may have previously worked for them. If you can locate the national stringer or freelancer, pitch them your story and they can push it up to their national media outlet.

Read more after the jump…

Getting to the Point in Public Relations

Getting to the Point in a PR Pitch

When he’s not peering into my purse and desk drawers to scout for contraband snacks and gum, Gil Rudawsky spends his days as one of GroundFloor Media’s fearless leaders. As a Vice President, he has more than two decades of communications and journalism experience. This translates into expert counsel for our staff and clients, particularly in the areas of issues management, crisis communications and public policy campaigns.

Prior to joining GroundFloor Media, Gil served as the deputy editor on the business and metro desks at the Rocky Mountain News. When asked to describe the number of pitches that crossed his desk during those years, he estimates 50,000. This volume of requests has helped him to finely craft pitches of his own.

As colleagues, we review one another’s client communications constantly. Gil is adept at revealing the heart of the matter and never mincing words – a quality I deeply appreciate and admire in a teammate. I sat down with him to talk about how digital and public relations professionals can get to the point.

Press releases then and now

CLARE: With ever-expanding digital media, has there been a shift away from lengthy press releases?
GIL: Going back 30 years, lengthy press releases were always looked down upon, and that’s the case today. I don’t think anybody should have ever sent them, even when we had newsrooms that were four times the size they are now. Because of the breakneck pace of news, journalists have always been too busy. Back then and today, they are only attuned to the top one or two paragraphs of a pitch. If you haven’t sold your story or angle in that spot, you haven’t done your job.

From journalism to public relations

CLARE: Given your background at the Rocky Mountain News, how does that experience as a journalist serve you in your day-to-day work as a communications leader?
GIL: I use the skills I gained in journalism on a daily basis in a variety of areas, mostly in messaging. I focus on writing concisely and getting to the point quickly and I encourage our clients to do the same. In terms of strategy, I’m always thinking about audiences and the best way to present the information. I love capturing a narrative through an engaging video, graphically or in a podcast. For better or worse, we don’t need journalists to tell our client stories anymore.

CLARE: Your personal writing is succinct and to the point. Do you have a method to harness that style when you write content for clients?
GIL: Succinct and to the point are good but context and good storytelling are more important. Color, flavor and storytelling can bring dry or mundane issues to life. Always ask “Why should the audience care about this?”

Supportive proof points and audiences

CLARE: Do you have specific questions you ask a client during the briefing process?
GIL: For messaging, we always want to focus on three key points that we want to get out to their audiences. At the same time, you should your identify the audiences, whether internal or external stakeholders, customers or regulators, etc. You want your three key points to be strong and include supporting proof points that make sense to each of those audiences. I always look at it as a pyramid —  simple messages and building to more in-depth proof points.

CLARE: What are some common mistakes companies make during the messaging phase of a release?
GIL: I think it’s forgetting your primary audience. The general public doesn’t care about your internal terms and branded words – these are meaningless. Companies forget how to be conversational and accessible.

Fewer specialized journalists

CLARE: You have written on our blog about the changing landscape of journalism (one, two, three). Do you want to share any learnings from 2018 so far?
GIL: The trend over the past 15 years continues. We have fewer specialized journalists. Journalists who used to cover a beat now have to cover a variety of topics. Everyone has to be a generalist and that makes our job more difficult. You used to talk to a reporter and they were just as knowledgeable about the topic as you were, if not more so. Because journalists are stretched thin, that’s a rarity now. Educating the media is becoming more important.

CLARE: What do you enjoy most about working in public relations?
GIL: My favorite work is the collaboration between our staff at GFM and CenterTable and the variety of our clients. Our strategies and thoughtfulness can make a real difference in how clients communicate, and therefore how they are perceived by the public. Personally, I feel like the work I do is valued by both clients and teammates and that’s easily the best part for me.

Denver Media Shares the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.23.02 AMIt makes little difference if you’ve been working with Denver media for a long time or are new to the market because there are so many new faces and veteran journalists leaving the media (many taking communications roles) that no one can keep up.

The Colorado Healthcare Communicators recently held its annual media roundtable, in which the following reporters/editors participated and shared their thoughts on the current state of the market, how best to work with them, and their biggest pet peeves.

Note: Since the media roundtable took place, there have been two changes to the list below. Ed Sealover is no longer covering health care for the Denver Business Journal, and John Ingold has just left The Denver Post. As you may have read, a number of veteran Denver Post reporters have started The Colorado Sun with a Kickstarter campaign. More to come on that.

Read more after the jump…

Top 5 PR Lessons from the Royal Wedding

Flags of the United Kingdom Hanging at Royal WeddingThe royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle captivated millions this past Saturday. Despite the early start time, the event was watched by 29.2 million viewers across six major networks in the U.S., according to Nielsen ratings. As for the U.K., 18 million royalists tuned in, with ratings expected to grow when Nielsen Media reports cable tallies.

Whether you are royal-obsessed or not, you have to admire the nearly flawless execution of the global media frenzy leading up to and during the royal wedding. It was a true spectacle made for live TV and choreographed perfectly every second of the way.

Here are my top five PR Lessons from the Royal Wedding.

Read more after the jump…

Animation Brings Tricky Topic to Life

Since 2015, GroundFloor Media and CenterTable have been proud to work on the Be A Smart Ash campaign. From naming to website development, campaign launch to ongoing education and awareness, the agency and client teams continue to thrive with this highly integrated campaign. With our next step, we will be bringing animation into the fold.

In fact, Be A Smart Ash recently earned the Ragan’s PR Daily 2017 award for Best Location-Based Campaign, adding to national industry kudos earned from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) late last year.

How to keep up momentum

Three years into the campaign with emerald ash borer (EAB) still not identified in Denver, the team realized that focusing on awareness for the third year in a row could cause consumer fatigue. And with growing awareness about EAB came an increase in questions about just how to combat the pesky pest. So, the team decided 2018 was the perfect time to pivot to an action-oriented message focused on treatment options, just in time for prime treatment season.

Read more after the jump…

What Communicators Can Learn from Teen Activists

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 8.35.20 AMLike other Americans, I watched in horror as yet another school shooting took place, this time in Florida. If there is any good that comes out of this, it has been watching enraged teens share their voices in every possible way. I found this PR Week article: Politicians worst nightmare: Tone, Social Savvy make Parkland students authentic advocates, particularly interesting.

According to the article, what’s working is that students are not being careful and cautious and are not overly messaged. They’re being direct, outspoken and passionate. And they don’t have anything to lose, and everything to gain.

While many are speaking out about what happened, it’s the teenagers who could have the greatest impact on effecting real change. Theirs is the first generation that grew up with the internet and social media. To them, social media is allowing them to speak directly to elected officials, and rally people across the country on platforms to directly share their message.

Read more after the jump…

How 3 Lesser-Known Winter Olympians Earned PR Wins in Pyeongchang

The Winter Olympics has drawn to a close leaving us with plenty of memorable moments. From Shaun White’s triumphant return to the podium to Lindsey Vonn’s final Olympics performance, North Korea’s enthusiastic cheerleaders to tension around Vice President Mike Pence’s attendance – there were plenty of headlines made over the last few weeks.Olympic Flag | How 3 Lesser-Known Winter Olympians Earned PR Wins in Pyeongchang

It would have been easy to predict many of these story lines – but what’s more notable are some of the “stories behind the stories” that grabbed some ink and airtime. Here are three examples worth a look: Read more after the jump…

Biggest PR Winners of 2017

Over the past month, I have shared some of 2017’s biggest PR disasters (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). I thought it would also be interesting to take a look at some of the year’s biggest PR winners:

JJWATTJJ WATT …  JJ Watt is a star player for the NFL’s Houston Texans who is known for his community involvement. He took it to a new level following Hurricane Harvey, however. He started a fundraising campaign with a $200,000 goal that would be used to help Houstonians affected by the devastating flooding. Football fans quickly responded, and he met the $200,000 goal within hours. So he raised it to $1 million, and media coverage helped him reach that goal within a day. As the number climbed and climbed, and media attention got stronger and stronger, celebrities starting donating six- and seven-figure checks – people like Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Miley Cyrus and Drake. And then corporate donors such as HEB and Walmart started adding even more. When it was done, Watt had raised more than $37 million that is being used to help people directly affected by the flooding.

TSWIFTTAYLOR SWIFT … This summer, Taylor Swift became the face of girls and women who fought back against sexual harassment and assault, and her battle occurred in a courthouse in Denver. Swift was groped by a local KYGO disc jockey at a Denver pre-concert meet-and-greet photo session, and he was fired after her complaint. When the publicity made him essentially unemployable, he sued Swift alleging defamation. Swift said she refused to be shamed by someone who assaulted her, and countersued for assault, asking only for the symbolic amount of $1. The case went to trial in Denver, and Swift prevailed. And in doing so, she became a champion for women everywhere.

CajunNavyCAJUN NAVY … Herbert Hoover popularized the concept of rugged individualism, the idea that individuals – and not government – should be primarily responsible for the welfare of Americans. The ideal is perhaps nowhere more obvious today than in the “Cajun Navy.” Formed in the aftermath Hurricane Katrina, the Cajun Navy is an ad-hoc group of volunteers largely based in Louisiana who help rescue victims of flooding when traditional first responders are overwhelmed. The group uses the smartphone app Zello to connect rescuers on bass boats, air boats, jet skis, etc. with those needing help. The Cajun Navy reappeared this year in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, and it is credited with saving thousands of lives.

THIRTEENWOMENTHIRTEEN WOMEN … Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for decades. His track record of delivering hit after hit gave him enormous power, and he took advantage of that power to hurt women in the industry. His behavior had gone on for years, but this year 13 women summoned the courage to share their experiences – ranging from sexual harassment to rape – with NBC reporter Ronan Farrow. His article in The New Yorker sent shockwaves through Hollywood. Weinstein instantly became a pariah and a subject of criminal investigations, and more women throughout the worlds of entertainment and politics began sharing their stories, resulting in a wave of firings and resignations known as the “Weinstein Effect.”

Storytelling as a Presentation Tool

Storytelling plot example: The Quest | GroundFloor Media Public Relations Agency

Storytelling: The quest plot. Image via Quid Corner infographic.

At the core, those of us at GFM and CenterTable consider ourselves storytellers. Whether we’re developing social media content, drafting press releases or preparing talking points, we know that telling a great story is key to capturing our audience.

So, imagine our delight at finding this infographic that details seven basic storytelling structures:

  • Overcoming a monster
  • Rags to riches
  • Voyage and return
  • The quest (pictured at right, click through link above to see others)
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth

Read more after the jump…

What You Need to Know About AP Style for 2018

As a follow-up to an earlier blog post on the importance of communicators’ adhering to AP Style, each year, in order to stay relevant, editors meet and make updates to the style book. Then we all need to learn the new rules. This year was no exception, and the following is a list of the more noteworthy AP Style changes in 2017.

  • Singular “they” – AP Style now allows the use of “they” as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence would be awkward.
  • “He” is no longer acceptable for gender-neutral.
  • Cyberattack – The word refers to a computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and widespread disruption.

Read more after the jump…