Tag Archives: PRSA

Twitcher – Pitching Through Twitter

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Media Relations, Social Media

I love learning something new every day, but when I can count new pieces of knowledge on two hands, that is a darn good day.

Two weeks ago I attended a PRSA event in which Erica Swallow was the featured speaker. She is accustomed to both sides of journalism – news and information, and strategic communication. Erica has an impressive resume: contributor to Forbes, The New York Times and Mashable – to name a few.

A key talking point in her presentation was about pitching through Twitter. One of the main reasons I was drawn to the PRSA event was because I had pondered the “Twitcher” concept before. I’ve noticed most editors, reporters and writers have a Twitter account. Some journalists are extremely active on it, too – as though it’s a side job. In fact, I know that some companies require all of its employees have individual Twitter accounts, like KCTV5, for example.

So, as these journalists take on added responsibilities, they put out content on their own personal accounts and are more likely to engage with readers through social media than they would through comments on their publications’ websites. Would I be overstepping my boundaries by pitching a reporter through Twitter?

I realize now that the answer is, “Of course not.” Unless it is clearly an account intended for personal use, dedicated to their non-work life, then “all systems go.” Based on my personal experience researching reporters, I’d bet about eight out of 10 journalists with active Twitter accounts post content relevant to their beats. It’s because they do want that feedback, and want to connect with people who will inspire their future stories.

As PR professionals, we seek journalists who will cover client news. Despite inevitable rejection, they still need us, too. They seek our resources – from exclusive statistics to subject matter experts and beyond. Besides, why else would they create helpareporter.com (HARO)?

Furthermore, “Twitcher” takes a more humanized approach to pitching, because you’re more transparent and relatable. Crafting a pitch within 140 characters also cuts down on jargon and unnecessary language. Media relations professionals understand pitches should be as short as humanly possible, and “Twitcher” is a smart way to appeal to reporters with short, attention grabbing story ideas.

Erica estimated that the response rate to email pitches is likely around 50 percent, while she has almost always received some sort of reply on Twitter. I encourage you to follow relevant reporters and try “Twitcher.” I’m excited to measure how it positively plays out for my clients.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Illuminating the Politics & Business Connection

Posted in Community Leadership, Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions

Morningstar Communications is the Kansas City office of global communications firm MSLGroup and we were proud to host one of our great MSLGroup colleagues, Neil Dhillon, in Kansas City recently. Neil runs the Washington, D.C. office for MSLGroup and handles governmental and public affairs projects for many of the firm’s high-profile corporate clients.  He has a distinguished political background serving in both the legislative and executive branches (he was on President Bill Clinton’s staff).

We love learning from Neil and sharing his expertise because, perhaps like no time before, what happens in government affects our clients. Monetary policy, regulation, bailout initiatives…we can relate to all of these in terms of how our clients are affected.

Neil spoke at PRSA’s monthly luncheon, as well as to a gathering of some of our clients and friends at one of our periodic Illumination sessions. Neil talked about the current state of affairs in Washington and shared a number of perspectives with attendees including:

Impacts will be big in the next round of the federal budget:  Lots of discussion around this topic locally, particularly with big-ticket items like the new bio-defense facility slated for Manhattan, Kan.  The bigger the budget allocation, the greater the scrutiny as Congress and the President debate the budget.

Polarized “sides of the aisle”: We’ve seen how contentious things are between political parties and the rising status of groups such as the Tea Party. Neil indicated this is the worst he has seen things in the last decade and, in fact, the only time worse was the Newt Gingrich “Contract with America” era in the 1990s.

Importance of reaching out to federal legislators:  We forget sometimes the importance of staying in front of federal lawmakers on issues that are important to our companies and clients here at home. Contact information to reach our federal representatives is easy to find (my favorite tool is the Mid-America Regional Council’s great searchable database of public officials http://www.marc2.org/pod/). Neil made sure to remind us that, because the Kansas and Missouri congressional delegations are relatively young and more inexperienced, it’s important that we also reach out to other national lawmakers who have important roles on committees or subcommittees that affect our clients’ business.

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Comments Off Posted on by Matt Tidwell

“When walking along the edge of the ethical ocean, don’t let your knees get wet.”

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

“When walking along the edge of the ethical ocean, don’t let your knees get wet.” This was the answer I gave the panel of very accomplished practitioners when asked how I define ethics as part of my “test” to get into to the PRSA College of Fellows. It worked; I was elected in 2001. I hope this concept works for you, too.

I’m leading a discussion tomorrow entitled, “Your Professional GPS: Navigating the Twists and Turns of Business Ethics at the Business Communicators Summit for KC/ IABC. I’m truly honored to serve both as a teacher (during my breakout) and a student (the line-up of speakers is terrific … kudos to Donna Schwartze and our local chapter).

I’ve been asked to share 10 real-world ethical case studies from my personal experiences during my 30-plus year career. I have so many stories, ranging from the time a job candidate sent me a dozen long-stemmed red roses with her follow-up note (she did not get the job) to learning how to work with colleagues who I’d seen steal, cheat, and lie (I left that job pretty quickly) to guiding clients to embrace transparency (not easy for privately-owned businesses, but worth it in the long-term.)

There are very few scenarios where murder, stealing and adultery can be justified as proper ethical choices. But most of the decisions that we make each day aren’t quite that simple.

For example, how many hours do we actually bill for a track-time project that took longer – or not as long – as we initially thought? Which employee gets to work on the cool, new client? Do we work for ABC Company, even though we don’t fully embrace everything they do? And the list goes on and on. We’ll discuss all of these – and more – tomorrow.

Photo credit: Webshots

Back to the ethical shoreline. Unlike simple binary choices, most ethical business decisions are much more like a shoreline – with a small area that’s both wet and dry, depending on the exact circumstances. So when working through those questions, don’t wait until your mouth is barely above water; once your toes, feet and ankles get wet, it’s probably time to step back safely onto shore.

How do you establish your own ethical code of conduct? Is every decision based on “situational ethics,” or do you believe there are straightforward rules that should be followed in every circumstance.

While I’m honored and humbled to lead this discussion, I’m eager to learn from my colleagues about exactly how they establish their personal ethical shorelines.

Onward and upward.

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2 Comments Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Media relations tips from the media

Posted in Media Relations

Yesterday, I attended a media roundtable discussion held by PRSA of Greater Kansas City. It was interesting to hear a day in the life of local media figures such as Steve Vockrodt, Keith Chrostowski, Jabulani Leffall, Andrea Silenzi and George Mills. They shared insight on how they generally like to be pitched, when is the best time to reach them, their thoughts on social media and many other things.

A few nuggets to remember when trying to get your story “out there”:

  • Ask yourself the question that editors will ask: “Why do we care?” If you don’t know, neither will they. Another good question to ask is, “would I want to read/watch this?”
  • Make sure the person you’re pitching is well educated on the topic. Providing some background or support materials will help the reporter better understand the story.
  • If you have a client that has not been covered before, set up a meeting with reporters to talk to the principles of the company. A short meeting with pertinent key messages will help to create familiarity between reporters and the client. This might help facilitate future pitches or create a new source for the reporter.
  • If you’re pitching to TV, it’s okay to pitch to more than one source. The news desk is still the main funnel of information, but if you know of a specific producer or reporter that would be interested in the story, go ahead and pitch them as well.
  • Don’t breach your own embargo or break your promise for an “exclusive.” It will be remembered and not remembered fondly.

Here is the biggest tip of all: Make sure it’s a GOOD story. With hundreds of emails and phone calls per day, media outlets are not suffering from a shortage of material. Providing a well-crafted, interesting, pertinent story will greatly increase your chances of getting picked up.

In my next post, I’ll drop some reporters-and-social-media knowledge on you.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tyler Dustin

Go forth, brave chameleon!

Posted in Best Practices, Community Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel at “Wild On PRSSA Day” at the Kansas City Zoo. PRSSA is PRSA’s student organization for aspiring PR professionals. “Wild On” was a daylong conference for students to receive insight on the industry, get resume feedback and tips on marketing themselves as they launch their careers.

This was a great opportunity presented to the students and I was happy to be a part of it. I was also proud to represent Morningstar Communications to talk about “A Day in the Life of a PR Pro” from an agency prospective.

We talked about everything from maintaining a healthy work-life balance to professional organizations to the increase of social media in integrated marketing programs.

One of the recurring themes of the discussion was adaptability. The group seemed surprised to learn about the different hats we must wear and how nimble we must be as PR professionals. After listening to the other two panelists’ examples of the need to be adaptable and quick on your feet and comparing them to my own, I was a little surprised as well. Until that discussion, I never realized how much adapting I did in a given day. The more thoughtful questions they asked, the more I thought about the importance of adapting. The ability to adapt is important because it allows for excellent service. Being forced to adapt is important because it demands creativity.

It was a great group to interact with and we learned a lot from each other. I’m interested to hear how others find themselves adapting or switching direction on a daily basis. How do you react? Do you embrace it? Refuse it? What are some positive outcomes that have occurred as a result of your adaptability?

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Comments Off Posted on by Tyler Dustin

Making PR more successful

Posted in Best Practices

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently announced the winners of the Silver Anvil Awards. In an article by Kelly Womer, APR, ABC for the Summer 2008 edition of The Strategist, a PRSA publication, Womer provides the following secrets to PR success, taken from award winning Silver Anvil entries:

•    Make campaigns more interactive with an online hub
•    Upgrade campaigns with Web 2.0
•    Use well-rounded research
•    Partner for greater impact
•    Involve employees as brand advocates
•    Lead the marketing mix

For more information on these tips, read Womer’s full article. Articles can be purchased through PRSA’s Professional Resource Center.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim
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