Category Archives: Media Relations Tips

Grab a Hold of the Vine for Your PR

It’s been nearly five months since Vine was introduced as a free iOS app and since then it’s become one of the most downloaded applications in the Apple App Store. Vine, introduced by Twitter in 2012, enables users to create and post six-second video clips that can be shared on social networking channels like Twitter and Facebook. vine-app-hed-2013

The very idea of video creation is all about storytelling, while connecting and engaging viewers. But can you do that in only six seconds? Tribeca Film Festival founder Robert De Niro thinks so. In April, De Niro was asked about the effect of technology on the festival and filmmaking itself. He responded by calling Vine an “interesting thing,” and said:

“Six seconds of beginning, middle and end. I was just trying to time on my iPhone six seconds just to get a sense of what that is. It can actually be a long time.”

  • Vine in the News: News outlets are getting in the Vine action, too. In February, Tulin Saloglu, a columnist for Al-Monitor and a New York Times contributor, successfully used Vine to capture terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. By posting the videos to her @turkeypulse Twitter feed, Daloglu’s films were one of the first attempts to use Vine for journalism purposes.
  • Vine + RyGos: Given Vine’s short form, its success in the world of memes is no surprise. Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal went viral last week, propelling creator Ryan McHenry’s following on Vine from eight followers to more than 15,000 (McHenry also has nearly 4.000 followers on Twitter now—we’re curious to know what the figure was before #RGWEHC hit) and no doubt sparking ongoing spoon torment for RyGos.
  • Vine in the White House: Vine is also becoming political. On April 22, the White House joined the bandwagon, publishing its first Vine video through its official Twitter account by announcing the annual White House Science Fair.

As the app continues to gain momentum, we at DGC are cognizant of the need to begin leveraging Vine with our clients. When pitching media, Vine can be used to raise awareness of pending news in a fun, viral way—you can develop Vine videos to tease hints of potential news announcements to get media buzzing before a big launch. Since Vine only allows for six seconds of recorded footage, it caters to us PR pros looking to get a message across quickly and succinctly.

Vine can also help with clients’ social media channels like Twitter. For your next social contest, consider asking users to submit a Vine video, allowing you to grow your clients’ following by leveraging new and existing hashtags. You can even think about distributing a social media release with Vine videos embedded to give the campaign wider exposure and drive traffic.

Do you have more ideas on how Vine can be used by the PR industry? Let us know in the comments below!

Jason Collins and the Power of Authenticity

Sports Illustrated Cover, May 1 2013

This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic  in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.

We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement.  He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.

In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way.  It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.

The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.

His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.

Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative.  The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.

Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.

‘Amercia’ the Beautiful – A lesson in copy editing

From PowerPoints to cover letters, correct grammar and spelling are the lowest common denominators when it comes to mastery of the English language.  Good copyediting skills are critical to any organization or writing endeavor.

We were reminded about the value of copyediting this week after Mitt Romney’s team released an iPhone app that spelled “America” as ‘Amercia.’ One of the unspoken rules of running for President is being able to correctly spell the country you’re trying to run. While I’m confident that Mitt didn’t write this app himself, it goes to show how effective copyediting can make a difference between a strong pro-candidate tool and a small PR crisis.

With this in mind, I asked The Hit Board’s resident copy editor, Kathy Sampey, to talk about some strategies and tips when they copyedit press releases, bylines, and even this blog post.

How did you learn to effectively copy edit? Was it from class, work, or just something you were always able to handle?

Kathy Sampey: I’m not a “copy editor” per se. It’s a very specific skill, and people do it professionally. But yes, I first learned copyediting symbols in a college journalism class and became better at editing in general from working at the Associated Press.

What process goes into your copyediting? Is it on the screen, on paper, do you need private space and silence? 

KS: First I give a piece of copy a read-through on screen but have discovered that printing something out to proofread and edit is far more effective. I catch a lot more to correct. When I print something out, I need to go to a quieter space to concentrate.

In the instance of Romney’s “Amercia” incident, how do you avoid easy pitfalls such as misspelling and incorrect word usage?

KS: Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. So I would recommend always having a second or even a third pair of eyes proofread a piece of copy and by all means, print it out for people to review it.

When you do make an error and it’s published, how do correct it?

KS: In the Internet age, correcting something is easy and quick. Obviously it’s much harder in

Any good stories around errors?


KS: Yes, but I’m not sharing.

Are there any tips you could share to aspiring copy editors out there? 

KS: That would be best answered by professional copy editors but it’s good to at least be familiar with AP style. 

Thanks to Kathy for their contributions. Remember – always, always, always have a second pair of eyes review your work before having it post.

Creating Buzz for Your Agency

Advertising professionals know how to build consumer brands, but too often, they’re confounded when it comes to building their own agency brands, according to DiGennaro Communications founder and CEO Sam DiGennaro, who compared the phenomenon to “the cobbler’s kids who don’t have shoes.”

DiGennaro made the observation during a co-presentation with Melanie Wells, her company’s managing director and chief content officer, at the Mirren New Business conference on May 3 in New York’s financial district.

“Creating Buzz for Your Agency,” their 40-minute break-out session to a packed room, offered practical and actionable guidelines for getting news coverage in the increasingly complex media marketplace. DiGennaro and Wells outlined how to align a PR strategy with the agency’s new-business goals, which should also include raising the profile of the C-suite, building pride of place, recruiting star talent and establishing category expertise.

Wells referenced the famous quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates who once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to raise an agency’s profile outside traditional media outlets, Wells said. But first, the agency must have or develop a platform—what the company stands for.

From the platform, the agency’s leaders can offer their points of view through blogs or guest columns in select outlets.

Wells told the story of how DGC client BzzAgent felt it had lost its “cutting-edge” quality. DGC worked with and developed a unique platform for CEO Dave Balter that repositioned him and the company in a more positive light.

Balter admitted during a PR strategy session that he made some ego-based decisions that hurt his company, Wells said, and she worked with him to develop his platform, which became “The Humility Imperative.” Shortly thereafter, reporters were calling him for insights, and he was making the rounds on the speaking circuit. Last year, a unit of Tesco bought BzzAgent.

In developing a platform, Wells said CEO’s need to “be honest about who you are. Be transparent and a little fearless.” She also advised agencies to embrace social media in promoting their news because these channels increase reach. Besides, she said, “It’s free and it’s effective.”

DiGennaro cited other agency success stories such as Arnold Worldwide, Woods Witt Dealy, Organic and Optimedia, a former DGC client, all of which exercised the patience and persistence required in executing PR plans that paid off with new business leads, wins and media recognition. Advertising Age named Arnold to its 2012 Agency A-List and named Organic “Comeback Agency of the Year.”

“Momentum begets momentum,” DiGennaro explained. “Clients and prospects want to be attached to agencies they think are hot.”


The 5 Rules of Research

As you may have heard us say, reporters love numbers. Proprietary research and surveys offer you the opportunity to create news when you may not otherwise have it. So in our quest to be the best counselors possible, we had a sit-down conversation yesterday with representatives from Kelton Research — a leading marketing research firm in NY and LA — to discuss the best ways to incorporate research into any PR program.

What we left with was a very clear understanding of the importance of laying the groundwork to successful research. In the same way that, as Bill Cosby says, 90 percent of success is just showing up, 90 percent (if not more) of successful research is in the preparation. To that end, here are Kelton’s Five Rules of Research for your reading pleasure:

  • Establish Clear Goals and Priorities.  Clearly define what you want, and how you want it, from day one.  Envision desired headlines first, and let questions flow from there.
  • Identify your Audience.  Two things matter here: that survey respondents fit your brand’s target profile, and that you can articulate the audience in a simple way with the media.
  • Go Beyond the Brand.  Journalists won’t directly shill for your products. Surveys need to transcend the brand to touch on a theme that’s interesting to the public.
  • Map Out Your Deliverables.  Determine what works best for you to tell your research story. A long PowerPoint for the team?  A short, concise deck for executives?  A Word document with prose?  Establish this from the beginning.
  • Create Reasonable Deadlines.  Research often takes longer than you think. Build in extra time when possible for analysis, editing and fulfillment of the final deliverable.

Happy researching!

Tweet It Like It Is

As we head into 2012, it’s clear that social media shows no signs of slowing down—in fact, it’s more likely that existing social networks will continue to evolve and serve users in new ways. With the Facebook “Timeline” feature rolling out and companies exploring the benefits of rewarding Foursquare followers, 2012 is going to be a year of stalker-ish connectivity…and instant updates.

One platform that is playing an increasingly important role in the media industry is Twitter. Our client was quoted in Ad Age? Tweet it! The CEO’s byline was placed in Business Insider? Tweet it! You heard a great insight at that reporter panel last night? Tweet it! But there’s a catch: not all Tweets are created equal.

This week, we tapped the DGC team to get their thoughts on effective Tweeting, and here’s what they came up with:

  • First, do no harm. This is the #1 thing you must remember when Tweeting. We saw a number of celebrities lose their endorsement deals this year due to distasteful Tweets. Don’t become one of them.
  • Keep it short and sweet. If you keep your Tweets succinct, your followers have enough room to re-Tweet (RT) and provide commentary.
  • Up your Klout. The latest development in the Twitter-sphere is owning an impressive Klout score. Push newsworthy content and start dialogues with other users to become an influential member of the community.
  • Be unique. If your Twitter feed is part of a more comprehensive social media strategy, make an effort to share creative content–not just repurposed information.  This adds value to your Twitter feed and establishes it as a unique source for your followers.
  • Cite your sources. If you’re mentioning a client or event, make sure to include the company’s and/or writer’s handles, as well as relevant #hashtags.

We once thought of Twitter as another invasive tool aiming to take over the world, but it’s hard to deny that it has become an integral part of our industry. So keep these tips in mind when building your Klout—and always remember to triple check your spelling.

What News do we Share on Facebook?

Do you remember where you were when you heard that the Zodiac signs were changing? Or, how you first found Mona Simpson’s eulogy for her brother Steve Jobs? Most likely, you were on Facebook.

Yesterday, the social network released a list of the top 40 most shared news articles on the platform from 2011, giving the world a glimpse into the topics that people care about most – everything from funny and sweet to serious and sad. As individuals who follow Facebook religiously for work and personal interactions, we found the list telling as our clients look to us for guidance on how to encourage community discussion and interaction.

Many of these articles hit on a specific emotional chord that addresses world relationships and speak to something bigger than day-to-day life while reporting aspects of the news with real authenticity. They include a compelling story and human element that people can connect to on a highly personal level. From this, we can see that people need a certain association and sentiment – whether it’s happy, sad, or angry – from a story in order to feel the need or want, to engage with it.

This list is a perfect illustration of what you need to consider when engaging your social community. It’s not only about understanding what type of content your specific community wants to read or watch, but understanding how to reach the individual on an emotional level. When people feel personally connected to content, they’re more likely to want to share it with others.

The next time you’re creating content with the purpose of engaging your social community, think about your company news, media articles, pictures, videos etc. and ask yourself “how will this make my community feel?” If your answer is nothing, take another look at the content and see how you can turn it into a human connection.

1. Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami (New York Times)

2. What teachers really want to tell parents  (CNN)

3.No, your zodiac sign hasn’t changed (CNN)

4. Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps (CNN)

5. (video) – Father Daughter Dance Medley  (Yahoo)

6. At funeral, dog mourns the death of Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan  (Yahoo)

7. You’ll freak when you see the new Facebook  (CNN)

8. Dog in Japan stays by the side of ailing friend in the rubble  (Yahoo)

9.  Giant crocodile captured alive in Philippines  (Yahoo)

10. New Zodiac Sign Dates: Ophiuchus The 13th Sign? (The Huffington Post)

11. Parents keep child’s gender under wraps   (Yahoo)

12. How to Talk to Little Girls  (The Huffington Post)

13. Stop Coddling the Super-Rich  (New York Times)

14.Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior  (Wall Street Journal)

15.  (video) – Twin Baby Boys Have A Conversation!   (Yahoo)

16. Man robs bank to get medical care in jail (Yahoo)

17. Why You’re Not Married (The Huffington Post)

18. A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs (New York Times)

19. Ryan Dunn Dead: ‘Jackass’ Star Dies In Car Crash  (The Huffington Post)

20. Scientists warn California could be struck by winter ‘superstorm’  (Yahoo)

21. Notes From a Dragon Mom (New York Times)

22.  A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not “Crazy” (The Huffington Post)

23. Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph  (Washington Post)

24. Penn State, my final loss of faith  (Washington Post)

25.  Golden-Voiced Homeless Man Captivates Internet   (Yahoo)

26. The most typical face on the planet  (Yahoo)

27. Widespread destruction from Japan earthquake, tsunamis   (CNN)

28. Permissive parents: Curb your brats  (CNN)

29. A father’s day wish: Dads, wake the hell up! (CNN)

30. (video) – Laughing Baby Loves Ripping Paper!  (Yahoo)

31. Epic Cover Letter: How To Get Hired For Your Dream Job (PICTURE)  (The Huffington Post)

32. New Zodiac sign dates: Don’t switch horoscopes yet  (Washington Post)

33. Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know (Yahoo)

34.  The Psychology of Revenge: Why We Should Stop Celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s Death  (The Huffington Post)

35. (photo gallery) – ‘Where Children Sleep’ (New York Times)

36. Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth’s axis (CNN)

37. Steve Jobs, Apple founder, dies (CNN)

38. China’s latest craze: dyeing pets to look like other wild animals  (CNN)

39. Grant Hill’s Response to Jalen Rose (New York Times)

40. Steve Jobs’s Patents  (New York Times)

Occupy Wall Street Is Occupying Everything

Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011, in what I thought was going to be—at most—a week-long demonstration of discontent with the current state of the economy. It is now entering its third month of protest.

For years the U.S. has been struggling financially, and the jobless finally hit their breaking point. It’s understandable. As the gap between the affluent 1% and the neglected 99% continues to grow, so does the anger inherent in this majority that has been born into a system muddled by greed, corruption and inequality.

But, lately, it appears that Occupy Wall Street has forgotten what it’s fighting for.

We suspected foul play when reports circulated that Occupy Wall Street supporters    were eating better than most entry-level employees, and it didn’t help when Jay-Z tried to capitalize on the “Occupy [Insert Town Here]” events by launching a line of Occupy Wall Street themed t-shirts, but things were taken to a new level earlier this month when protesters graffiti-ed an Oakland Whole Foods and were consequently evicted with the use of riot gear and tear gas. Last week even, the Occupy Wall Street camp at Zuccotti Park was evacuated, inciting a “Day of Action” for protestors, who traveled around the city occupying subways, bridges and streets, sometimes resulting in further violence…or at least inconveniencing daily commuters like myself.

I am all for the First Amendment—I’m acting on it right now—but as a PR professional, I recognize that this is one campaign without a clear strategy. In our line of work, we see a lot of confusing programs make it into the public eye—half of the time I can’t tell if Axe is trying to sell body spray or sex toys—but Occupy Wall Street is a movement that cannot afford to jumble its message or tactics and still expect results.

The message since day one has been to create more jobs and find a way to balance the dichotomous economy, right? So it’s time for the 99% to remember what it stands for and reassess its strategy – that is if they want to do more than be a nuisance and actually make a difference.

Chummy Rummy

Like any good politician, Donald Rumsfeld is making the rounds with a speaking tour on the heels of releasing his memoir. Recently he stopped by the Russian Tea Room to speak to the Hudson Union Society and tell his story.

Politics aside, from a PR perspective, Rumsfeld did an excellent job. During the hour long one-on-  one interview he was charismatic, easy going and even made a few jokes at his own expense. He  engaged the audience with interesting off-the-cuff remarks, while still staying very much on point  with his agenda to plug his book.

And while there was technically someone interviewing him, Rumsfeld was running the show. He answered questions with ease, telling stories of Nixon and Eisenhower and only briefly touching on sensitive subjects like 9/11. When a “hard ball” was lobbed his way, he answered the question directly, but made sure to end on a lighter note.

Whether you love him or hate him, and with Rumsfeld there’s no in-between, many walked away from the interview with at least one good laugh because he was quite the humorous raconteur throughout.

So, to Rumsfeld’s communication team, we here at DGC tip our hats to you for a job well done in making a polarizing figure a little less controversial for at least an hour


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