Category Archives: Media Relations Tips
The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.
Uber has been a hot brand ever since its inception but as of late, they’ve been in the news for all of the wrong reasons. With that in mind, this week’s question was:
Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President:
Uber needs fixing and they need to show the public the measures they are willing to take to protect their customers. They need to put into action strict measures and guidelines, for example: third-party background checks, suspension and review of drivers with a spotty record, and dedicated customer services. They need to show their riders that they are serious about safety and put these protections in place.
Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive:
Uber clearly is a hot brand with an in-demand product – it’s practically become ubiquitous for traveling in New York City. The recent bad press, not to mention a satirical look from the writers at South Park, proves that Uber needs to commit to keeping their consumers safe and comfortable. The Uber team needs to publically promote a rigorous training and background check on each and every driver they employ, as well as a clear algorithm behind their pricing methods. If that means having fewer drivers in the interim, it’s worth the price of regaining consumer trust.
Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator:
it is hard to ignore all of the negative attention Uber receives. Uber needs to be more responsive to the bad press that they’re getting. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away, and they need to be proactive in their public relation efforts by getting ahead of negative stories. They should sympathize with their customers when they are unhappy and realize that what the media is saying about them does matter. Their business may be doing fine now, but I think that the negativity will inevitably catch up to them.
Claire Eisenberg, Senior Account Director:
- Be transparent – Many complaints from consumers are tied to being told that the ride would cost one amount and ultimately being charged astronomically more.
- Be reachable – Riders can’t seem to get through to customer service when they have a problem. This typically leads to consumers airing their grievances in much more public forums.
- Take Action – With the most recent claim that a rider was kidnapped, it’s shocking that the customer service tried to convince her otherwise. Are you kidding? Take this feedback seriously and take the appropriate legal actions.
For now, I’ll stick with cabs.
Jamie Kurke, Intern:
Uber has been in hot water, it seems, since their dawn of time. Unless they conduct a serious overhaul, one of these times will be the last straw for their customers. I already have friends deleting the app and complaining about bad service or being afraid—especially when using UberX. While they do have a great business model, my advice would be to stop the expansion for now and focus on their existing customer base. A heartfelt apology from a high up exec and the promise of some driver training and more extensive screening would probably be the best way to gain back rider trust. It would certainly put me more at ease about requesting a black car instead of hailing a Yellow Cab.
Welcome to the DGC Roundtable, a new weekly feature on the hot topics of the moment. The series will be monitored by our current intern, Jamie Kurke. Each week, we will ask our team to respond to a question and share their POV on the top stories.
This Week’s Question:
How should the NFL heal its reputation – with fans and with brand sponsors – in the aftermath of the Ray Rice investigation and other off-the-field incidents?
Gabriella Berman, Account Executive:
The NFL needs to start by practicing what they preach. If they have a zero tolerance policy, there is no reason why Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy should be playing in this Sunday’s games. If the NFL can stop contradicting themselves, they may stand a chance in healing its reputation, but until then it seems unlikely that fans and sponsors will be able to trust the brand.
Gemma Pollard, Vice President:
No sport is without scandal, and like any brand suffering a dive in reputation the NFL should be looking into making some tangible changes to its business that can be communicated to its stakeholders – the players, the administration, the fans, the general public and of course, the media. Scandal of this scale can’t, and shouldn’t be covered up. It should be faced with transparency, an authentic commitment to change and a steady flow of communication. Some “good news” stories about players and clubs doing the right thing, shared at the right time, wouldn’t hurt them either!
Don’t get me started on New York Post covers with “Ray Rice has found God” headlines – desperate last-ditch pleas to religion are never a good idea.
Peyton McCarthy, Account Coordinator:
“Another case surfaced with a player of the Arizona Cardinals being deactivated due to a domestic violence case this week and it just goes to show the dire need for the NFL to establish a concrete set of rules/consequences for the crimes of child abuse or domestic violence to be used from here on out. The entire process is unorganized and I believe these cases will continue to rise, until there is a player/organization understanding of the costs of their actions. Fans and brands need to see that something is being done in an organized and well thought manner, especially because right now there is nothing to support, as nothing has been done. The NFL organization and brand looks terrible to the eyes of the public right now and each day that passes that nothing is done to organize the penalization process of these players, the harder is it going to be for them to recover, especially if they lose a brand like Anheuser Busch. In my opinion, the first step to doing this is firing Roger Goodell; fans will then see the actions the NFL is willing to take.”
Claire Higgins, Account Coordinator:
I’ve been really surprised at how brands are reacting to the Ray Rice debacle. While some have pulled sponsorships from Rice already – understandable – some are really taking their time and waiting out final decisions from the NFL before making any changes. In some cases, it could say something about what a brand stands for, but it’s also a business and the NFL is a big name to have on your roster. In this case, I think most brands are reacting smartly and treading lightly, gathering all of the facts and waiting before making big decisions. I will say…some unaffiliated brands aren’t doing so hot – looking at you DiGiorno with that #whyistayed tweet.
Pat Wentling, Account Executive:
It’s been a tough few weeks for the NFL. While there is a lot of accusations going around, the one clear point is that the league hasn’t acted quickly enough — for it’s players or for it’s sponsors and owners. Roger Goodell spoke late on Friday afternoon, which is known for being a bad time for press, and laid his claim to fixing this. Only time will tell if it will, but the two weeks in between the Ray Rice video leak and his public response was too long. Only time will tell if they have truly righted the ship.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Janice Min, Editorial Director of The Hollywood Reporter, gave a refreshing and candid interview recently in which she talked about the challenges of hiring staff in Los Angeles, her base of operations since 2010. Among the nuggets of wisdom, Min hit on a few keys to being not just a media relations expert, but a journalist’s ally. We live and breathe these every day – but sometimes it never hurts to state and be reminded of the obvious. Again. (And reporters will love us for it).
1) Be the person who solves problems. Not one who only points them out. Whether working with reporters on a story or counseling clients, PR professionals are in charge of delivering news – but sometimes reporters and clients have different ideas of what makes news news. Our job is to find a common understanding. As Min says “Someone is always looking for a problem to be solved, so be the person to solve the problem.” Engage in a dialogue with the media and clients, offer some ideas and alternative angles on what will make their information more newsworthy – then gather the proof points and assets needed to help build the story.
2) Close the loop. Min marveled at job candidates from whom she tried to elicit written critiques of the magazine as part of the interview process. Several never got back to her with ideas or even to let her know that they decided to pass on the project and the position. PR professionals must be cognizant of tying up loose ends with reporters. Let them know what happened with the interview request, scheduling, asset requests, etc. If you’ve promised to deliver someone for comment or to get more information, let them know if you’re not going to be able to get it to them by deadline and why. Preferably let them know before the deadline arrives. Don’t go radio silent. Keep them in the loop and close the loop.
3) Respect the deadline. Min commented that some job candidates, who did offer a critique of the magazine, didn’t send it to her by the agreed deadline. Reporters get fired if they don’t meet deadlines. PR professionals who regularly assist reporters by delivering relevant information and sources by deadline are invaluable. To help ensure deadlines are met, be clear about timing with clients and reporters: when putting a media opportunity in front of a client, always make clear what the reporter’s deadline is for receiving a response and let the client know that missing the deadline could mean missing the opportunity. Transparency and follow-through will go a long way to achieving a beautiful placement.
Do you have other tips for media relations and account management? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment.
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.
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.
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)
5. (video) – Father Daughter Dance Medley (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)
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)
28. Permissive parents: Curb your brats (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)
37. Steve Jobs, Apple founder, dies (CNN)
39. Grant Hill’s Response to Jalen Rose (New York Times)
40. Steve Jobs’s Patents (New York Times)