Archives for posts with tag: print media

Not everything can be done via email or social media tools. It’s important to know how to professionally conduct a phone interview. I thought this article, “7 tips for giving a better phone interview” by Brad Phillips for Ragan’s PR Daily, gave some great tips. Read the article and take the time to watch the video at the end. It will crack you up.

Cheers, and have a great holiday!

Flackchick

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Columbia Journalism Review recently researched close to 700 consumer magazine Web sites and its content and discovered that:

  • Copy-editing requirements for online content was less stringent than those in print at 48 percent of the magazines.
  • Eleven percent did not copy-edit online content at all.
  • Fifty-seven percent of the magazines fact-check online content the same way they fact-check print articles,
  • 27 percent used a less stringent editing process for online content.
  • Eight percent did not fact-check online content at all.
  • Even worse: The other eight percent did not fact-check print OR online articles.

These weren’t little publications either. Twelve percent of the publications in the survey had print circulations of more than 500,000, which represents most major consumer magazines, such as Time, Wired and Redbook.

Do they think people are crazy or stupid? Or both?

We might be, but regardless of our IQs or mental state, we can read and we see misspellings and notice information that is less than accurate, to say the least. As a public relations professional, I know the information that I provide a publication and its editors on my client and/or company is accurate and has been approved by executives and usually the legal team. If I read an article I worked to place and notice a mistake, I want to believe it was an honest mistake, not that the editor just threw a story together and didn’t care if it was correct or not. This report makes me wonder. All the editors and publications I have worked with in the past have been very smart, professional and helpful. I’ve only had one publication refuse to correct a mistake. And I don’t work with that publication or read it.

My solution?

Let’s tackle this problem initially by politely calling editors and the publications they work for on fact inaccuracies and other mistakes. This includes everyone from Average Joe, to company executives, to communications professionals. If the publication is reputable, they will correct the error and you will see an increase in the content quality. This goes for print and online.

If they give you lip or don’t make a correction, then we need to reconsider working with certain editors and publications and/or reading their content. They should care about the quality of their work, and if they don’t, we shouldn’t be reading it.

We already pay for print content, and we are about to start paying for online content as well. News outlets and publications need to step it up.

See the article on the report at The New York Times, and read the actual report below.

The New York Times: Survey Finds Slack Editing on Magazine Web Sites 

See the article on the report at The New York Times, and read the actual report below.

The New York Times: Survey Finds Slack Editing on Magazine Web Sites

Columbia Journalism Review: Magazines and Their Web sites

I retweeted a story yesterday about a public relations firm best known for sending out crap pitches for crap clients. Two of its press releases – sent out the same day by the same PR professional – ended up on Gawker.com. The editor of the piece, The Most Desperate Fake Celebrity Quotes Ever, named the firm, but fortunately NOT the person who sent the releases.

I started out feeling a bit sorry for the person who wrote those crap releases, sent them out, and ended up roasted on Gawker.com’s grill. I imagined this person to be young, too young to realize that they work for a hack public relations firm with a crap reputation not out of being completely incompetent at his/her job and having nowhere to go, but not knowing before that the firm they landed at had a crap reputation and had student loans to pay back. I know they are completely traumatized and it will have a lasting effect on how they interact with the media in the future.

Then again, maybe they absolutely knew what they were doing. I’m just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I got a tweet back from a woman I follow that she thought the story was hilarious and it made her feel better about pitching (as these releases were as bad as they come) because she was scared to do it.

When I started out in PR, I HATED picking up the phone. I would get nervous, I would stammer, I would sweat visibly. I had a long script in front of me to keep from sounding stupid (ha!). I thought it might help to send e-mails, but I bungled those as well – too verbose, too many links, and ATTACHMENTS! I got placements by God’s grace and was competent in other aspects of my job, so I am still in public relations. But honestly it wasn’t until four years ago that one of the biggest jerks I know taught me how to pitch.

And I am going to share this jerk’s sage wisdom with you (even jerks have something to offer this world). Some of it is pretty basic, but all of it will help you pitch confidently. We’ll focus on print publications. See my January 14 post for tips on pitching local television media.

  • All editors are super-busy. Keep in mind especially now, with the current economy woes and the fact that media outlets EVERYWHERE have had to cut staff and other resources, that editors’ time is even more limited and the stress at their jobs is high.
  • You have clients. You know what they do and what they are trying to promote. Take the time, before you write anything for them, while the ink is drying on the contract they signed enlisting your services, to thoroughly research the publications they want to be in and publications you think they should be in, and find the correct editors. Yep. You got it. Make a media list by SCRATCH, without the help of any of those media outlet resource tools. Those can be helpful, but you can’t rely on them too much. They are good for identifying some media outlets you and your client may not know about, but regardless of what they say, they don’t update that information as often as they want you to believe.
  • Now you have your media list. Make it even more granular. Research the media outlet’s Web site and if necessary, give the editorial desk or editorial assistant (if they have one) – NOT THE ACTUAL EDITOR – a call and find out when the outlet’s content deadlines are, when they go to print, when they have their editorial meetings. If you find them particularly cool, ask them about your target editor and see if they can clue you in as to how they like to receive information.
  • Okay, it is Game Day and you have a press release you need to send out. Don’t just attach it to an e-mail and send it with a nice note asking the editor to run it. Set the release aside for a moment, grab a pen or open up Word, and think. What is REALLY interesting about that release? What stories do you imagine coming out of it? Are there other things going on in the world that relate to your release that could be stories? What stories has your target editor written lately that you could tie to your release? I bet you can come up with several ideas. Jot/type all of them down/out. These are your pitches.
  • Sometimes the release is crap. It’s not you and more than likely not even your client or their company; it is whatever the client contact is pressured to put out to the media, probably by someone who doesn’t understand what interests the media. But I bet there are interesting things or people at your client’s company that your target editor does care about. These are your pitches for the useless press release.
  • I like to start with e-mail pitches. A PRWeek/PR Newswire media survey done in 2009 confirmed that 80 percent of journalists prefer to receive pitches by e-mail. I jot my story ideas into the e-mail and copy and paste the release below it. I don’t do attachments and neither should you. Sometimes I don’t do Web site links either. I have received heat about this on message boards, but I have worked with media outlets whose systems stripped links from incoming e-mails. Crazy but true.
  • As for when to send the e-mail, don’t do it on a deadline day. I also avoid Fridays and days that land right before a major holiday such as Thanksgiving. Plan ahead or wait.
  • I wait a day or two before picking up the phone. If I am aware of deadlines, meeting schedules, etc., I work around those. No matter what, don’t call an editor on deadline. Be kind. Ask them if they are busy and if they have a minute to talk. They will more than likely growl “Sure!” Don’t go over that minute and don’t ask if they got the release. Pitch them your story idea. They will either say great, send me Web site links and the release (hold your tongue here) or no, not interested.
  • If the editor isn’t interested, move on, but don’t scratch them off your list. Thank them for their time and keep dialing. They may be interested in another story you have later. Or they may be interested in the story at a later date. I’ve had editors come back to pitches I sent to them A YEAR LATER.
  • If the editor is interested and asks for the release and other information, don’t tell them you already sent it. Just resend it, and don’t forward the e-mail from your sent box. Honestly, these people get hundreds of e-mails a day.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. As I said before, confidence is key, and you’ll be more confident pitching solid story ideas and with a strong plan to secure placements for your client.

Happy Pitching!