Tag Archives: newspapers

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…

John Oliver “Reports” On Loss of Newspapers, Journalism

John Oliver is witty, profane, irreverent and dead serious, all at the same time.
So when the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” took on print journalism as his long-form topic earlier this month, the result was insightful and devastating.

His 19-minute tribute to local newspaper journalism covered what those in the industry already know, but he presented it to a wider, general audience not familiar with much more than simply the industry is on life-support. He offered the “why” and, more importantly, “what it means.” As he tells it, quite accurately, local newspapers are the bread and butter of journalism and create most if not all content for television reports.

To bring home the point of how local newspapers have changed, Oliver and his team created a comic version for a fake movie trailer based on the journalism biographical movie “Spotlight.” It’s deadly how accurate it is.

Take a look at the entire segment:

How and Where Americans Get Their News Fix: Results of Survey May Surprise

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 1.20.01 PMAmericans have more choices than ever about how and where to consume news. From 24-hour cable television, to local TV stations, to news sites, radio, newspapers and social media, the options are unlimited. So, where are Americans getting their news? The results of a recent survey from the Media Insight Project may surprise you.

  • Nearly 90 percent of Americans turn to television as their news source, whereas just 60 percent turn to newspapers or magazines. Of course, many are reading newspapers and magazines online through their computer, tablet or phone.
  • 75 percent of Americans surveyed said they read, listen or watch the news on a daily basis, and 60 percent of those daily participants are under 30.
  • Nearly half of people with Internet access sign up for daily news alerts.
  • 78 percent of Americans get their news on a smart phone.

The number one reason people turn to the news is for weather and traffic. And that number is high regardless of the age group.

Read more after the jump…

Newsweek’s Move to All-Digital and the Future of Printed News

Newsweek’s first issue, Feb. 17, 1933

I don’t know why I was surprised when I recently read that Newsweek was discontinuing its printed edition. The writing had been on the wall for some time (no pun intended). After the merger in 2010 with The Daily Beast, resulting in longtime, prestigious reporters and editors such as Fareed Zakaria and George Will leaving, the magazine was never the same. Still, it’s disappointing; Newsweek was first published 80 years ago.

Newsweek’s announcement got me thinking about other magazines that have shut down or gone to an all-digital format. Some quick research turned up the following recognized magazines that have ceased operations in the past year: Smart Money, Gourmet, Healthy Cooking and something called Nintendo Power.

When I looked at my super skinny Denver Post this morning, I can’t help but wonder when the printed news pages will cease to exist. According to PR Daily, 152 newspapers shut down in 2011. (Although, in a recent Audit Bureau Circulation report circulation at many papers is up when you combine print and digital readership).

A common theme that you hear from reporters today is that they’re covering so many different topics or beats that they can no longer focus on in-depth stories, or cover anything but breaking news.

Has the 4th estate lost its power to serve that important watchdog role and oversight of our political, community and business leaders?

Are we losing out as a nation when the printed news pages are disappearing and we’re moving to a digital, scan the news on Twitter, more condensed format?  Can citizen journalists pick up where traditional reporters have left off?

These are questions and topics that are worthy of further discussion. With that said, check out magazines that have outlasted Newsweek for a bit of humor.

Public’s distrust for media grows: Why?

The trend of polarizing media outlets commenting on issues instead of covering them might be fueling the public’s lack of trust in journalism, which is reaching levels never seen before.

A Gallup survey conducted this month found a jaw-dropping 60 percent of the American public surveyed “have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”

This lack of trust in traditional mass media, such as newspapers, radio, and TV, is up from the past few years, and up a full 5 percentage points from last year.

“The current gap between negative and positive views—20 percentage points—is by far the highest Gallup has recorded since it began regularly asking the question in the 1990s,” wrote Gallup’s Lymari Morales.

Read more about what a veteran journalist says at Ragan’s PRDaily.

The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same

As we kick off a new year, it’s hard not to acknowledge the more things change, the more things stay the same. This old proverb rings true for life and what we do in public relations.

I don’t think that anyone will disagree about the enormous impact social media has had on our society and certainly, the public relations profession. At the same time, the fundamentals of public relations have not changed. Public relations is, and always will be, about building relationships with your target audiences. It’s a two-way street; there must be something in it for both sides. With that said, following are a few personal observations and things to keep in mind as we move into a new year.

Traditional Media Is Not Dead
While we’re all keenly aware of what has happened to traditional media – the shrinking news room, loss in advertising revenues, fewer reporters covering more, etc. – the fact remains that people still pay attention to and read newspapers, subscribe to magazine, watch the news and listen to radio. Mass media still has a huge influence on our society – even though its delivery has evolved and now includes tweets, video and wall posts. And maintaining positive relationships with editors, news directors and reporters is as a critical as ever. Check out this article that provides some interesting statistics on traditional media and its continued reach:

If You Don’t Want to See it in Print (or on TV, or on YouTube, etc.), Don’t Say It
It’s like my mom always said to me when I was having disagreements with my siblings, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And in today’s day and age where anything and everything you say can be recorded, it’s even more critical. We witnessed many examples of this in 2010. In fact, GFM’s Gil Rudawsky pointed out a few of the more public blunders of 2010 in his blog on Dec. 22, 2010:

This is one of the first lessons any PR professional learns as part of media training – if you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it or put it in writing.

You’re Only As Good as Your Reputation (and Your Good Reputation Can Disappear in a Flash)
We’ve all seen recent examples of individuals and corporations where reputations are damaged, if not destroyed, overnight – Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, BP, Goldman Sachs, to name a few. At the same time, we’re a country of people who believe in second chances and forgiveness. What are you doing to protect your reputation or the reputation of your clients? Do you have the resources in place to quickly address any issues that could arise and potentially damage your reputation? Do you have a social media crisis plan in place? Having an up-to-date crisis plan that you and your leadership team fully understand and embrace is that insurance policy. It won’t prevent a crisis from happening, but it will help guide you through difficult waters and allow you to emerge on the other side.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Are there other examples of how public relations is evolving, and at the same time, remaining true to its roots? We’d love to hear from you!

~ Barb Jones

Multimedia world changing how we communicate

Here’s further proof that the media landscape is continuing to change, reinforcing that the tried and true traditional news mediums are becoming less of a factor in the communications and PR world.

The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), considered the gold-standard guide to newspaper circulation numbers, reported this week that from April through September 2010, weekday newspaper circulation numbers across the county dropped 5 percent compared to the previous six months.

It’s a grim story for newspapers, but still a slight improvement from the last report, which showed circulation numbers dropping 10 percent. To put it in perspective, consider the falling numbers are coupled with ballooning expenses in everything from newsprint to employee health benefits.

Only The Wall Street Journal showed a distinct increase in numbers, since the ABC began counting paid online subscriptions in its report.

GroundFloor Media offers a couple of best practices that we can takeaway from the ongoing trend:

• Newspaper pitches must be targeted to specific reporters, and include real news. Shrinking news holes means gone are the days of simply blanketing a nominal press release and expecting some pick-up.

• Consider taking advantage of “On the Move” sections. When I was at the Rocky Mountain News, we had reports showing that these announcement sections were one of the most highly read features of the paper, next to the obituaries (which is an announcement of sorts but not one that we hope to use anytime soon).

• Look for strictly online news publications and citizen journalists to pitch, such as AOL’s DailyFinance or MSNBC.com or Examiner.com. They don’t have newsprint or distribution costs and to a certain extent, their content can be endless. Plus, content lives forever online, and will never be used as fish-wrap.

• Social media is doing the job of newspapers. Use the power of the word-of-mouth sensation of the social media world to announce events or client news.

• The paid online newspaper subscription model is expanding, as newspapers try to recoup loses from the print editions. The Grand Junction Sentinel was the first newspaper in the state to begin charging for most of its online content. The model works for the Wall Street Journal, but it might be an uphill battle for local publications.

Plunging newspaper circulation numbers further acknowledges we live in a multichannel world. The good news is more people are getting news; we just need to be smart about how we reach them.

~Gil Rudawsky