In today’s fractured and ever-changing media landscape, doing PR the old way isn’t going to cut it.
PR is Dead will explore techniques and ideas for integrating new ideas with appropriate stand-bys to get the most from your public relations program.
In this 13-minute episode I discuss both why I think PR is dead (it isn’t, but traditional programs are) and talk about making yourself an expert in modern media …
- PR does not mean “press release”
- Reporters, editors, and bloggers need experts… why not you?
- Story ideas that actually work
- Comment on the news and get your name out there!
The Show Notes
- Follow me online…
- Help a Reporter Out
- Like the PR is Dead bumper music? Get your own groove from Doug Hinrichs!
Introducing PR is Dead: Your Guide to the Ever-Evolving World of Digital Public Relations
Doyle Albee: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.
Hi, and welcome to the PR is Dead podcast. My name is Doyle Albee, and I’ll be your host. What I hope to accomplish in this podcast, each episode, we’ll have a conversation about how public relations is changing given the changing media landscape of today.
I’d like to start with this: my day job is owning a public relations firm. It’s what I do for a living — so why in the world am I hosting a podcast called PR is dead? Do I really believe that? Of course not, but like many of you, I’ve been following the advice of Copyblogger for some time.
PR Does Not Mean ‘Press Release’
I’ve been listening to the podcasts here on the Rainmaker.FM platform. We’ve been mixing in a lot of content marketing strategies into public relations programs, and we’re finding that it works really, really well. The idea really came when, not too long ago, a client called me and said, “I need to do a PR.” I thought that was odd. We do PR for her all the time. I said, “We do PR for you. We do public relations.” She said, “No, no, no. I need to do a press release. I’ve got some news.”
It occurred to me at that moment that, in the minds of many communicators, in the minds of many business people, ‘public relations’ does mean press release. It prompted me to write a blog post, in fact, that said PR Does Not Mean ‘Press Release’. It really got me thinking about how we approach a public relations program. In a very traditional way, we would wait for news. We would issue a news release. We would call a whole bunch of reporters, and we would sit back and wait for the clips to roll in.
I’m old enough that I do remember paper clips coming in the mail in an envelope, and we would evaluate the success of our program. That’s very much out of the era of Mad Men. If that’s how your public relations program works in 2015, I’m here to tell you it won’t be near as successful as it could be if you build in more techniques.
Am I saying that press releases are bad? Of course not. We issue press releases all the time, but just like you don’t build a house with a single tool, say, a hammer, you need a number of different tools to meet a number of different platforms in the changing face of media in 2015. That’s what we really want to focus on.
Instead of just waiting for the next press release, we really look at the world out there as two kinds of conversations. There are those you start when you issue a press release, and there are those that you join. There are many, many more that are available to join than you could possibly start — no matter who your company or who your client is. That’s where we’re going to focus this podcast.
If a press release isn’t the answer, what kind of techniques am I talking about? On this podcast, I’m going to try to examine ways to tell your story that doesn’t involve starting the conversation, and certainly not necessarily starting it with a press release. They’re fine. They have their place, but there’s plenty of source material that will tell you how to do a press release. If you want to learn how to do that, use the Google because we’re not going to talk about it here. Instead, we are going to look at ways to start conversations.
Reporters, Editors, and Bloggers Need Experts … Why Not You?
On this first episode, I’d like to start with the concept of becoming an expert in your field, which, honestly, you already are. It’s really no secret that the media has changed, but most of you see it from the reporting side. Newspapers aren’t as thick as they used to be. Magazines aren’t as thick as they used to be. Some of them are gone altogether, like Denver’s Rocky Mountain News doesn’t exist any longer.
Inside the newsroom, we’re seeing changes as well. There are fewer reporters than ever before. That means that nearly every reporter has to cover more beats, more topics than they ever had to in their career. I remember not that long ago, even business reporters were able to focus on a handful of industry. Somebody might focus on telecommunications, technology, and one or two other industry verticals. Today, fewer reporters mean dramatically more topics to cover.
One result of this is a lack of specific industry resources that they can call on. If, for example, you’re a reporter and you cover oil and gas every day, you’ll very soon get to know lots of people you can call on for quotes, for expertise, for background information, all those types of things.
If you only cover oil and gas one or two times each year, you’re starting from scratch each and every time you get an assignment. There’s a chance the last person you spoke with has moved on to another position or isn’t available to speak with you at that moment because you don’t have a full Rolodex of different people to talk about that.
Put yourself in a reporter’s shoes. There’s a breaking story going on. Your editor wants you to cover it, but you’ve never covered that industry before. What do you do? Let’s use data breaches as an example. Five years ago, most people didn’t know what a data breach was, but every day in the news, you hear about Target. You hear about Anthem. Recently, you’ve heard about Ashley Madison. People’s data is becoming out there. It’s becoming commonplace for that data to be stolen.
If you’re a reporter, because this is a rising story, you might have never covered anything in technology before in your life. It’s a brand new assignment. It came down from your editor. You want to cover it well, and it’s a complicated topic. You need an expert to help you through that. You can Google. You could find some help. You might be able to find somebody in your local market that says they’re an expert in the field, but are they really?
Remember, you’re a reporter. You can’t just quote somebody that doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s your credibility on the line as well. Even if the person is credible, will they be a good interview? Will they be able to take the subject matter down to the level that you need it to be for the readers that you’re writing for, perhaps the general business audience?
You’re at your desk. You’re wondering what to do. You’ve got to cover this data breach. The phone rings, and it’s somebody like me on the other end and that says, “Look, I know that this data breach happened. I was wondering if you’re going to cover that today. If you are, I happen to represent a guy named Bob Smith. He’s an expert in data security. He’s the author of the Data Security Blog. He’s going to be able to really tell you what you need to know, what you need to tell your readers, and really help walk you through the situation.”
The reporter’s day is saved. He gets on the phone with Bob. If Bob does a good job, the next time there’s a data breach or some technology issue, guess what? There’s a great chance the reporter is going to call you back. You’re going to become the guy’s house band and get quoted on a regular basis.
One quick note: when I say the word ‘reporter,’ I really mean members of the media. I mean bloggers. I mean traditional writers at newspapers. I mean television news anchors. It really runs the gamut.
Certainly, there’s a difference between all those reporters, but unless we’re going to talk about a specific tactic, it would be boring, lengthy, and not very entertaining to hear me say all those different words every time I wanted to use that example. When I say ‘reporter,’ think about the reporters that you want to reach, the members of the media — blogger, editor, TV news, what have you. We’ll just use that as a generic term in many cases.
The important point that I want to make here is that you or your client are experts in the field that you’re in. You can provide valuable information to members of the media to help them cover stories when they break. Let’s think about some of these examples.
Story Ideas That Actually Work
I’m sure everybody remembers the horrible cruise that became known as the ‘Poop Cruise.’ It was two or three years ago, a ship that was stuck offshore. They ran out of food. They ran out of sanitary facilities. The toilets were overflowing. It was just a pretty terrible situation. It became, because of cable news, a 24-hour news cycle. They were looking for new things to cover about this cruise. Nobody wants to go on the air and say, “Yep. The ship’s still out there. It’s still pretty miserable. What are you going to do?” That’s not a news story. They’re going to look for new angles to cover things.
Reporters love to hear about new angles. Let’s say, for example, that you represent a lawyer that is an expert in maritime law, that could talk about the ramifications to the cruise line, and you called a reporter, even a major, national reporter, CNN-type news, and offered that perspective. That’s something that a reporter or an editor might really grab a hold of.
Let’s say you were a therapist or you represented a therapist, and you could give some perspective on what type of mental situation the passengers might be going through because they’re feeling almost encaged, if you will. That could be an interesting angle that a reporter could get their mind around. You get the idea. You can provide different angles to breaking stories as they go through.
Let’s take it down to even a much more local level, and talk about it this way. Let’s say a blizzard’s coming. Let’s say you own a local daycare facility. What if you called the local television station and said, “Hey, I’ve got five great ideas for moms and dads to keep their kids organized in the event that power goes out, you can’t just pop in a Disney video, and everybody’s stuck at home.” I would have a feeling there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get an interview out of that.
If you just think about different examples like that. Same idea with the weather situation coming in. Let’s say it’s rain. Let’s say it’s a hurricane. Let’s say it’s local news, and you own a hardware store. Again, you’re not going to be able to call them and say, “You should talk to me. I’m really smart. I’m going to put all my nails on sale for half price,” but you could call up and say, “Here are five things homeowners need to do to their homes in order to prepare for the coming storm” — another great example where you could get some really strong ink.
The key here is to call reporters with one or two things. Two things is better, but have at least one of these. First, have an undeniable expertise. “I’m an expert in digital security,” or Chinese literature, or Southern cooking, or whatever it is that you’re going pitch, and say why. Be ready with credentials. “I’ve owned a restaurant for 20 years. I’ve got a degree from the New York culinary institute” — whatever that is, let people know why you’re an expert.
Typically, it’s because it’s what you do for a living. You don’t have to be a recognized national figure like Dr. Phil, but you can say, “I’ve been a therapist here in my town for local news for more than 20 years,” and that gives you great credibility.
The second point that’s very important is to have an idea. It’s one thing to call and just say, “I’m an expert.” That works sometimes. With the data breach examples, certainly it does. More importantly is to call and say, “I have an idea for a story as an expert. For example, five things parents can do with their kids in the coming blizzard.” That works really, really well. Think about calling with those two things when you go to the media with stories, and you’ll have much more success.
Comment on the News, and Get Your Name Out There!
Let me wrap up this episode. It’s all about becoming an expert. I’d like to conclude. There’s three main points. Watch for news trends that you can comment on when stories break. If it’s something in your field of expertise in your business, think about how you can comment and become an expert for members of the media.
Second, be prepared of what makes you an expert. “I’ve owned a restaurant for 20 years. I have four PhDs.” Whatever that is, be prepared to tell the reporter why you’ve got credibility.
Third, the best thing you can do is come to them with an idea. “Here are three ideas for your kids to do on a snowy day when the power’s out, and you can’t pop in a movie.” That kind of stuff works really, really well. It can help you become an expert. If you do a great job at it, you can become the expert that that reporter relies on every time there’s a related story.
I’d love to hear what you think about this podcast. If you have any questions or comments, please drop me a line. I’m at Doyle.Albee@gmail.com. I’ll put that in the show notes. You could follow me on Twitter. My handle is @DoyleAlbee.
Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to the composer for our music, a guy named Doug Hinrichs. We grew up together in a small town in Western Nebraska. Now, he’s a working musician in New York. It was great to reconnect with him. I thank him so much for the groove that he gave me for the podcast. I’ll put a link to his SoundCloud in the show notes. If you want a groove of your own, I’m sure Doug would be happy to work with you on that.
Last thing, each week I’m going to leave you with a quote about the media. It’ll be funny sometimes. It’ll be thought-provoking sometimes. This week, I just thought it would be fun to grab one of my favorite characters of all time, Jim Morrison of The Doors, who said once, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” I’m not sure I agree with the Lizard King, but it’s typical Jim Morrison stuff.
Until next time, I hope you get some great news. Thanks for listening.