Tag Archives: reporters

What Communicators Can Learn from the White House Press Secretary

What Communicators Can Learn from the White House Press Secretary | GroundFloor Media PR AgencyAs communicators, it’s hard not to have an admiration for one of the toughest PR jobs on earth: The White House Press Secretary. Watching the current White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, bob and weave on a daily basis, got me thinking about this challenging role and one of the most famous press secretaries, C.J. Cregg of the West Wing (I know it was a TV show, but who didn’t love watching her in action?).

It has to be one of the toughest, most stressful communications jobs as every day is a crisis of some sort. According to the International Business Times, the average White House spokesperson stays in the job for two and a half years. President Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, made infamous on Saturday Night Live, lasted just 182 days.

Read more after the jump…

Journalism and a Trump White House: What are the PR Takeaways?

Saturday Night Live Sean Spicer Press Conference SkitNo matter what side of the aisle your political beliefs fall, it’s hard not to watch the very public antagonistic relationship President Trump and his administration are having with the media.

While President Obama had his fair share of scuffles with the media, they didn’t get the kind of attention President Trump’s school-yard battles are getting now. After several decades during which the media has lost trust, credibility and interest among Americans, will the new President bring back the Fourth Estate to its former glory?

I recently came across a Politico article titled: Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again. According to the article, there’s always been a quid pro quo in Washington, where journalists groom sources, but sources also groom journalists. “There’s nothing inherently unethical about the back-scratching. When a reporter calls an administration source to confirm an embarrassing item, the source may agree to confirm as long as the reporter at the very least agrees to listen sympathetically to the administration’s context.”

Read more after the jump…

Press Releases Do Matter – How to Make Sure Yours Gets Attention

Press releases go back to the beginning of time for public relations, more than 100 years. In today’s digital age, I’ve often wondered how effective they are in getting the media’s attention. I found the following infographic, What Can 50,000 Press Releases Teach Us?, that appeared in PRNews online created by pr.co of particular interest.

Some of the findings from their research, which included 50,000 press releases that appeared on their site since April 2013:

  • Most press releases are published on Tuesdays
  • Less than one out of five press releases are published on weekends
  • 61% of readers view press releases between Monday and Thursday

No matter when you send out a news release, if you don’t write a quality news release, you will have missed an important opportunity to get your message out. Here are some tips for effective press release writing:

Read more after the jump…

Newspaper Journalists Becoming An Endangered Species

crumpled-newspaperNewspaper journalists are a dying breed.

According to The American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) annual newsroom census, which was released last week, 2013 saw a net loss of 1,300 full-time newspaper journalists.

The good news, if there is any, is that the losses totaled only about half of the jobs lost in 2012, bringing total newsroom employment at newspaper organizations to roughly 36,700, a decline of 3.2 percent from the 38,000 counted in last year’s census.
Put in perspective, newsroom employment has fallen 33 percent from a pre-recession peak of 55,000 in 2006 and is down 35 percent from its all-time high of 56,900 in 1989, according to the ASNE report released last week.

Losses were heavily concentrated at the major metropolitan daily papers with a circulation range of 100,000-500,000, where year-to-year job declines were roughly 16 percent.

This trend, not surprisingly, is attributed to continued losses in print advertising, which are only partly offset by gains in digital advertising and circulation revenues.

The continued decrease in the number of media professionals is no surprise to those who work with reporters on a daily basis. It used to be that you could get a reporter on the phone, or get them to reply to emails. But that is not a sure thing anymore. We recently conducted outreach regarding a legitimate news event to 100 reporters, and could not even get one to pick up the phone.

Here are a couple of ways PR practitioners can adapt to the continually dwindling number of reporters:

1. Make your pitches count: Is your press release or press event really pressworthy? If not, then it is even more unlikely that you will get coverage. In fact, in sending non-newsworthy pitches to reporters, you potentially harm your chances of getting press in the future.

2. Foster relationships: This hasn’t changed from when newsrooms were full and Craigslist was just an idea. Meeting reporters for backgrounders is a good practice, and any reporter worth his/her salt will welcome talking to you about potential news events.

3. Keep media lists updated: A media list you compiled at the beginning of the year is already outdated. Some of the reporters have moved on, and others are covering different beats. The more targeted and up-to-date you are with your list, the more success you will have in reaching a reporter.

4. Social Media: Go directly to your client’s customers on social media, but remember that no one likes commercials. Engage in real conversations in a real voice, not one generated through legal or marketing departments.

5. Paid media: With earned media becoming more challenging, savvy media outlets are realizing businesses will pay to get placement. Just be sure you get information about ROI before you go this route. Placing an article in a newspaper that gets buried in its digital edition and is not searchable is a waste of time and money.

The cringe-worthy things journalists do

reporterThe following is an excerpt from an article written by GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky for Ragan’s PR Daily:

This week marks four years since I became a PR professional after spending nearly two decades as a newsman.

Since going down with the ship when the Rocky Mountain News stopped the presses after 150 years, I’ve had few regrets about my career move to PR. Sure, I miss the big news stories, the energy of election nights, and the irreverence of the newsroom, but witnessing from a client perspective how the changing news media operate makes me even more comfortable that I’m no longer a journalist.

While most of my friends continue as journalists and I continue to be a news junkie, I am disheartened by the direction of aspects of the profession. It is even clearer in my job as a crisis communication practitioner.

Yes, there are still good reporters, editors, and producers out there, but there don’t seem to be as many as there once were. I don’t take questioning the Fourth Estate lightly, so I have put together some firsthand examples of practices that made me cringe as a PR professional, and as a journalist.

Read all the cringe-worthy practices here. Also see how some journalists are responding on Jim Romenesko blog.

When Reporters Get it Wrong

As I watched a teaser for Monday’s “Today Show” with Savannah Guthrie replacing Ann Currie, I was reminded of all the media coverage that surrounded Currie’s departure just a couple of weeks ago.

First there were all the rumors swirling around, and then, finally, the tearful goodbye on the show.

The media ate it up; and in everyone’s zeal to get the story, one article, from The New York Times, in particular stood out for how wrong they had it. And while it’s been a few years since The New York Times has had to admit mistakes and apologize on behalf of a reporter, it’s still a little shocking that it happened at all.

For those of us who work in communications and work with reporters on a daily basis, what recourse do we have when a reporter gets it wrong and reports inaccuracies or untruths about our clients? Depending on the egregiousness of the error, usually it’s no more than a tiny mention buried in the back of a newspaper, if at all.

While I appreciate that the Times’ Culture Editor and Executive Editor came to the reporter’s defense, the excuse that the reporter was multitasking is weak. That’s the nature of a reporter’s job — to multitask and cover a variety of stories at once.

What are your thoughts on this story? Was the reporter just multitasking and made a simple error? Was this indicative of downsized newsrooms and reporters spread too thin? How do we make sure that the media continues to tell our clients’ stories with integrity and accuracy?

~ Barb Jones


Is the media phone interview dead?

It used to be that editors would do everything in their power to coax reporters out of their chairs and into the world where they could talk to their sources and cover stories in person.

Nowadays, that has evolved to the state where reporters hardly pick up the phone to talk to sources, let alone cover stories by face-to-face meetings. Interviews are now done via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

During a recent talk on social media and crisis communication, Dallas Lawrence, chief of global digital strategies for Burson-Marsteller, mentioned a survey indicating that 49 percent of reporters find story sources on Twitter.

For reporters, it takes the hard work out of searching for sources, because they can simply perform a hashtag search on a topic and find numerous sources, then contact one or more of them with a targeted tweet or direct message.

This phenomenon is particularly true with the new generation of reporters who have grown up with social media and texting, said Steve Myers, managing editor of Poynter.org, a site covering journalism issues, news, and trends.

“Maybe some of it is a natural evolution of our industry,” said Myers. “There still feels like there’s something transactional about it: Send questions on email, get answers on email, and put the story together without actually physically talking to someone.”

The email interview lacks the color a phone call can have, and it loses the natural back and forth that comes from a conversation. Plus, there’s no personal relationship building, however slight, when everything is done in written form.

Though Myers conceded it is probably not the best work practice, he adds that some reporters have better results contacting people through email. Sources can take time to craft responses to questions provided beforehand instead of being surprised by them on a phone call.

I work on many statements to provide reporters, but I will always make a point of calling the reporter back, or having them call me before I forward a statement. This way I can talk to them about their story angle and provide additional background that is simply too obtuse to be included in a statement.

I’ll admit that sometimes it feels futile. One reporter recently emailed me seeking a statement. I asked the reporter to call me before I provided one.

The reporter did not call and ran the story ran without the statement. I guess it was too much effort for that reporter to pick up the phone.

(This post also appears on Ragan’s PRDaily)