Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts of PR

PR as an industry is always changing. As a cousin of the marketing industry, the rapid evolution of trends such as social media impact public relations. Instead of faxing press releases, for example, now we might tag a producer in a tweet about a client in a bid for his or her attention.

But even though you may pitch via infographic now instead of by fax, there are some evergreen Do’s and Don’ts of PR.

1. Always have a smile on your face when you place a call. It will show up in your voice. Smile while you type your pitch or follow up email as well (It will come through, I promise!)

2. Know exactly what you want to say and the result you want to get before the phone starts ringing or you hit send on that message.

3. Be authentic, enthusiastic, and friendly.

4. Don’t mail out something unless you have the time and energy to follow up with several phone calls, emails, or even social media messages. In other words, don’t make a promise you can’t keep.

5. Be prepared to send out material over and over again. In this business no news doesn’t mean “No,” it just means “Not Yet.” And it’s your job to turn that into a “Yes.”

6. Don’t call your media contact when he’s on deadline. Use your head, and don’t call the “News at Noon” producer at 12:10 pm when he’s swamped.

7. Listen for state of mind. If the person on the phone sounds busy, find out a better time to call. And then – this is key – call at that time! This lets her know you are considerate and can be counted on to do what you say you will.

8. Don’t take rejection personally. After all, if you don’t ask the answer is “No” automatically, but not every producer or editor will be able to say “Yes” to your pitch. It’s not about you, so just keep trying.

9. Be persistent without being obnoxious. Don’t be pushy or argumentative, just don’t give up without some effort. It’s often after the 5th or 10th contact that a producer finally gets around to answering your email or picking up the phone, and if you’d given up after just 1 you’d never get that relationship or that booking.

10. Become a resource by finding out what else your contact is working on and trying to help. Going above and beyond even in little ways will set you apart and solidify that contact in your database.

There you have it. These are time-tested, technology-immune rules for good PR. They are really rules for good living, too.

How to Get the Media’s Attention

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author, whether you are working with a publicist or not, it’s very important to keep in mind that part of your success is being able to answer the who, what, why, when and how for the media and its listener base.

We’re all curious about the latest trends, breaking news, innovations, interesting and unique people or products – and the media is exactly the same way. Imagine creating a new trend with your book or ideas. Imagine giving the media a brand new angle for coverage of a saturated topic.

Creativity is key to providing the unique news-hook for your book or your platform so that the media wants to feature you. Authors must think about how their book applies to the hot issues of the day – it’s a constant and ever-changing focus. One of the basic questions to ask is, “Is my story relatable? Does my story tap into something that people are worried about or an issue that might be controversial?”

For instance, some very prevalent issues as I write this column are the environment, the economy, civil unrest and war in parts of the world, the family crisis in terms of parenting and stresses on family, diets and healthful living. Each day a new opportunity presents itself to pitch your story forward in a meaningful and news-worthy fashion.

Think how you can be part of the news discussion almost in real-time, as it is happening. Don’t discount your opinion and how it might be valuable to many other associated topic interviews beyond your book.
Whether it’s hard-hitting news interviews or feature pieces, the key for you is to be able to successfully tie-in these larger issues to your book or your platform, and speak effectively on those when you are tapped by the media.

Reporters and media need credible sources, and you are the best possible source for them as long as you’re well-versed in your topic area and you are armed with verifiable facts.

The media is counting on you to be the expert, to elevate the discussion and help everyone progress to a deeper understanding of the topic or subject manner. If you think of several different angles for the story, this will help you in creating something unique from your expert perspective.

Asking questions is crucial to this practice. Who is important in this story? How will my interview impact the listeners, and why should they absolutely be listening? How can I effect change in their lives through this interview?

The media aims to establish significance of any story for their listener base, and they rely on their guests to help them do that. The more a news story applies to current events and topics, or is relevant to the listener community at large, the more opportunity and success you’ll have to be a featured expert.