Tag Archives: business

The PR Story: Why controlling the narrative matters

image-93“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” Errol Flynn

For professionals in the public relations industry, a part of our job description is storytelling. We’re tasked with the goal of creating a story to go behind a brand, a product, or our client. It is a chance for us to think strategically about how we want our clients to be represented in their industry, as well as to their target audience.

The story that is created is a valuable asset. It is a unique representation of your client that helps differentiate themselves in the market, and to help establish ways for their audience to identify with their brand. Alongside any valuable asset come potential threats that could
compromise its worth.

Whether you’re facing a product recall, an offensive commercial, or a political candidate that has alienated a group of constituents, you lose control of the story. The story is now in the hands of the public, and how they view the narrative from the outside in is the only thing
framing their judgment.

As PR professionals, we are responsible for regaining control of the story. In other words, telling the narrative as it is within the organization. It’s about being transparent and honest to regain the respect of your most important stakeholders. Every hour in a crisis is crucial time. The longer you take to tell your side of the story, the more time the public and the media has to
create the story for you. It’s natural for humans to logically create reason, when reason isn’t given.

The point to drive home in this article is why controlling the narrative matters. For every minute you spend analyzing the crisis, your audience is losing faith in your ability to tell the truth. “Tell it all, tell it fast, and tell the truth” is the crisis management motto. As PR professionals, we have the skill-set to create the story. The story that is created for you isn’t always going to be the truth, making it difficult for you to reestablish trust with your stakeholders. The challenge is to tell the story before it’s created for you.

Why else does controlling the narrative matter? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me @Sam__Dickson.

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Pitching on a New York Minute

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“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost

Media pitching is on every PR pros’ task list. The art of writing a pitch is just that – an art. One can spend hours rewriting those three to five sentences in the hopes that their client or
company will be picked up by the journalist. Whether it’s an email pitch, by phone, or in person, strategic thinking goes a long way. So what are some tips to writing an effective pitch?

  • Be short and concise. It’s not easy getting everything you want to say into three to five sentences. This should be the rough rule for pitching by email. Anything more than a page will lose your reader. Remember, you want the pitch to lead into providing the journalist with more information. You do not need to include all the details up front.
  • Make it compelling. This is easier said than done. However, if you turn something boring into an interesting storyline, the journalist will have more incentive to pick it up. Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day. Try to be creative and catchy. Be sure to spend time
    thinking about a good subject line if you’re pitching by email.
  • Believe in what you’re pitching. One piece of career advice I’ve held with me is to make sure you believe in the client, company, or industry you’re working in. Your job will be more difficult if you aren’t invested in the outcome. You have to have faith in what you’re selling.
  • Personalize. No reporter wants to get a pitch that has been modified by only a name change. Spend the time reading the journalist’s latest articles and familiarize yourself with their topics. This will make your pitch more authentic.
  • Research, research, research. The last thing you want to do is pitch to the wrong
    reporter. Not only are you wasting your time, but also theirs. If you want to increase your chances of getting coverage, pitch to the right reporters.
  • Expect rejection. Maybe a similar topic has just been covered, or perhaps you didn’t get right to the point. Whatever the reasoning for a failed pitch, don’t give up. Go back and work at it.

What tips do you have for pitching the media? Sound off in the comments! Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.48.27 PM

PR & the Weather: When Mother Nature Throws A Snowball

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Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.
 Anthony J. D’Angelo

Admit it. The winter weather has power, and a lot of it. After just being hit with winter storm Maximus, the city is being slammed with more flakes and freezing rain. So what impact does the adverse weather conditions have on business? More specifically, how does the weather impact public relations?

For starters, businesses function and depend on transportation. Whether it’s commuting in to work, or making deliveries for clients, there is an undeniable reliance upon the world of planes, trains, and automobiles. It all goes back to the old adage “if you bought it, a truck brought it.” The interesting thing about this topic is the wide range of industries impacted by transportation. It doesn’t matter if you work for a tech company, a restaurant, or a luxury fashion label – in some way or another your industry relies on some form of transportation.

When the colder weather arrives, it is important to consider ways in which your client’s business or industry will be impacted by delays or cancellations. This includes understanding how
transportation (or the lack thereof) may cause some public relations issues, or a crisis situation. Below I’ve compiled a list of impacts that you may face with your client, or your client’s business. As well, I’ve included potential ways to alleviate the issue, and prepare for a scenario before it takes place.

  • Internal Relations – When the weather gets bad, you need to consider the safety of all your employees. While you have a duty to your clients to be punctual for meetings,
    or conference calls, one thing you can’t control is the weather. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize people’s safety. In this situation, being prepared is key.
    If you are aware of potential weather conditions, have communication material ready to be distributed to your employees. This should include what will take place if it is unsafe to travel to work. If there are scheduled meetings to take place that day, be sure to have a strategy in place to reschedule or make the meeting virtual.
  • The Client – If you own your own firm, or work for an agency, you need to be prepared to communicate to your client about the inclement weather. Make sure you bring home client numbers and contact information if you are not able to travel to the office. Keep in mind that not all clients will be located in your city. Business is as usual on their end.
  • The Audience – If you manage in-house communications, have proper material in place for letting your audience know the effects of the weather on your business schedule.
    This includes operating hours or intended early closures. The best way to alleviate
    frustration due to a surprised closure is to inform the public as soon as possible
    about any changes.
  • Understand the Industry – As I mentioned above, each industry of public relations will be impacted by weather conditions differently. Road closures can impact the delivery of
    sample garments required for a magazine shoot happening downtown. On the other hand, scheduled flights for a celebrity’s interview with press might be canceled.

Make sure you’ve considered these scenarios and potential solutions, especially ones that
impact your industry directly. It all comes down to being prepared for these situations before they occur.

What other ways does the weather impact public relations? Tweet me @Sam__Dickson

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