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Using social media to pitch the press

Any PR seminar that includes Social Media in the title will be guaranteed sell-out. Of course then, you better know what the heck you’re talking about.

Social networking sites such as Twitter ad Facebook have become an integral part of PR, but only as of very recently. And the speed at which social media has transformed the industry has set PR practitioners into a bit of a frenzy. How do we get involved with social media? How do we use it to our benefit? How do we keep from falling behind?

As a PR intern, I have the same concerns. I may be queen bee of the tags and retweets, but my experience with social media thus far has been purely personal.

Lucky for me, my office recently participated in a webinar that shed some light on how to utilize social media in my professional efforts as well. The topic was Using Social Media to Pitch to the Press.

The webinar was based on recent findings from the Pew Research Center: For the first time ever, more people are getting their news from the web, rather than the newspaper. Wow!

A journalist’s roles are changing, and more than ever, they’re in need of content. By way of social media, many of them are actually engaging with readers and PR professionals in order to gain ideas or insight on stories they’re working on.

Our first reaction is that we can help with that! Let’s give it straight to them! However, the seminar highlighted one important step that PR professionals often disregard when pitching via social media.

Lesson Learned: Just as with traditional media pitches, building journalist relationships are key. That aspect doesn’t change with social media. What changes is HOW you build those relationships:

(Step One)Start following the appropriate journalists and opinion leaders. Your first step is to define the audience your client is trying to reach; then determine the key influencers, journalists and bloggers for that audience. Read their articles, tweets and blogs. Become familiar with their work and areas of coverage. This gives you an idea of the type of info and stories they’d find relevant.

(Step Two)Get on their radar. You do this by engaging with journalists and opinion leaders online. Retweet when they produce a helpful blog post, and respond to an inquiry they pose. Comment on articles thoughtfully by adding a new perspective. Make sure each engagement is in good judgement, and avoid the hopeless flattery we’ve all seen: OMG @crazykooljournalist, I love-love-loved your article on the panda bears! #awesome. I mean, personally, I’d be flattered, but let’s go with the professional opinion that thoughtful and creative commentary is what builds one’s credibility.

(Step Three)Provide relevant information. Now that you’ve built relationships, you’re in a position to provide relevant information when needed. Choose your opportunities carefully. If a journalist is looking for a source within your client’s line of business, offer to put them in touch. If a tech blogger is in search of the coolest new gadgets, then link him to your client’s latest product development. In each instance, they will be more willing to receive that information once you have built a relationship and established credibility.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The fabulous world of entertainment PR

So you think working in the entertainment industry is all glitz and glamour?
Sure it is. That’s how they show it in movies, and since when has Hollywood ever distorted reality.

Last week, I attended a PRSA panel on entertainment PR, which was led by a number of professionals in the industry. The panel consisted of PR representatives for Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen; topics included crisis communication in the wake of social suicide and strategies for crafting an entire marketing campaigns around the word: Tigerblood.

Ok, I might be lying.

The actual panel consisted of a number of Nasvhille-area professionals who shared a little bit about the nature of entertainment PR. I was also especially intrigued to hear how social media has affected the industry in the past few years.

Lesson Learned: Entertainment PR is a business of expectation management.

There’s probably not another area of public relations where you’re working to balance so many parties who all feel so… entitled. Media relations and clients of this industry are often high-profile and hold high expectations. Attempting to balance those expectations amid a myriad of individual PR campaigns, endorsement contracts, and legal stipulations… well, good luck.

Lisa Chader, SVP of communications for Country Music Television (CMT), painted a picture of launching a hypothetical television series: Imagine the mechanics of producing a television show, the pressure from the network, and the amount of viewers and national publicity needed to even survive the first couple weeks. Shooting for the series might begin at 9 a.m.; you have journalists wanting celebrity interviews at 7 a.m.; and you have a super-star celebrity who won’t stroll on set until 8:55 a.m (and when they do, they will most likely be in a sub-par mental state for delivering the high-quality interview you were hoping for…). Sounds stressful.

I don’t understand, I thought you people sipped mai-tais all day and mingled with Pierce Brosnan and the like? Huh. Maybe you don’t.

Yet despite demanding daily work, the constant rush of the entertainment industry sounded equally exciting. Overall, the panelists spoke fondly about years of publicity efforts for A-list celebrities, country music stars and network television shows such as The Biggest Loser and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. As Chader talked about her work on South Park and VH1 celeb reality, she also joked about the failures she’s had over the course of her career. Yet amid her sarcastic self-criticism, I detected a true enjoyment in what she does. I concluded that the most important trait to possess is “tough skin,” and that launching and marketing a successful book/celebrity/television series requires a combination of luck, grit, insanity and desperate attempts at creating viral web content.

It was also interesting to hear how social media has affected the industry. For one thing, avenues such as Twitter allow fans to feel directly in touch with celebrity’s interests, whereabouts and lives. When Justin Bieber sends a good morning tweet to his 10.9 million followers and attaches a picture of the view from his Las Vegas hotel room, it’s a more personal and immediate connection than those same followers get from a gossip magazine.

Because of that, many entertainment star’s have gained quite a loyal following, not to mention incredible clout in their own personal marketing efforts. Carrie Simons, another panelist, owns Triple 7 Public Relations (with office locations in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles) and represents workout guru Jillian Michaels. Simons talked about Jillian Michael’s ability to tweet about a new workout dvd and have it achieve number one in sales by the end of the week. With traditional PR and advertising aside, imagine the power of influence. Suddenly, there’s a way to reach a following without the use of the media — a way that’s powerful, personal and immediate.

However, celebrities are not the only one’s attracting a loyal following. Entertainment organizations, such as CMT (followed by over 88,000 on Twitter), are gaining the similar reach via social media. According to Chadler, a quick Twitter update sometimes replaces the formality of a press release. For all of PR, social media is changing the way we interact with journalist, build support for our clients, receive and use feedback, as well as monitor coverage and opinions.

My overview hardly touches on the amount of information I received that day. The panel discussion allowed me a glimpse into an industry area of which I was completely unfamiliar. Whether entertainment PR is for me, I cannot yet say. Yet if the Biebs comes begging at my doorstep after I gain a little professional clout of my own, I can’t see myself turning the poor kid away. There’d definitely have to be mai-tai’s in the contract, though.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The skinny on social media

It’s only the end of day two, and I’ve already attended a professional luncheon on social media. PRSA of Nashville hosted Jason Falls, an expert on improving your social media marketing strategy.

Lessons Learned: The rules of social media are… there are no rules. And the most important thing to remember: CONTENT is KING.

The biggest mistake made by organizations using social media is that they try to self-promote rather than provide compelling content to their audience. The truth, Falls said, is that the audience really doesn’t care about you. (Harsh, I know). Their interest in you, as an organization, begins when you fill your customers’ need for knowledge, advice, expertise, entertainment, etc.

For example, consider a health insurance company using Facebook or Twitter. “We are the best.” “We have the best plans and rates.” “Come sign up with us, we really care.”
What kind of motivation do I have to follow that company? They’re just saying how great they believe their services are (self-promotion), and I’m not even in the market for health insurance.

But what if that same health insurance company began tweeting/posting recent health news and links to relevant articles: “7 myths about breast cancer” “Study finds young adults not getting enough sleep” “Reduce your chance of catching the flu this season”
Suddenly that company is giving me a reason to follow them (compelling content). I’m finding their information both interesting and useful. Overtime, I associate them with reputable health information and refer to their content for expertise. And in a couple of years, when I’m actually in the market for health insurance, I’ll most likely turn to a company I’m familiar with—a company I’ve come to trust.

That’s what the speaker meant by Content is King. Using this approach requires an organization to know their audience so that they can offer content that addresses those needs as adeptly as possible.

And the food was pretty awesome, too (fyi)

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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