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By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
WOOT! Oh, sorry… that was our excitement sneaking out. I am so pleased to share with you the news from the recent Florida Public Relations Association Southwest Florida Chapter 2013 Image Awards… We won four Awards of Distinction and a Judges’ Award!
This is the sixth year in a row that our firm has been honored for outstanding communications campaigns bringing the award tally to twenty-four. We won Awards of Distinction for the following programs: West Marine’s Fort Myers Flagship store grand opening, Blue Ridge Harley-Davidson’s Grand Reopening in Hickory, North Carolina, international publicity efforts on behalf of Specialists in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery and the company’s second annual food drive benefiting Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), the CAN IT! Campaign. The Judges’ Award was also given in recognition of the CAN IT! Campaign.
An Award of Distinction highlights an outstanding public relations program while a Judges’ Award signifies maximum client exposure was achieved through the public relations program for the least amount of money.
The Florida Public Relations Association is a statewide organization designed to promote professional and ethical public relations through professional development and community involvement. For more information about the local chapter, please visit fpraswfl.org.
Congrats to all the entrants and all the winners! We were among great company and so proud of all of our fellow chapter members, entrants and winners.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
In this week’s blog I’m going to focus on some internal things we can all do to better our chances of customer/client satisfaction and positive interactions with media – i.e. PR or public relations. In the end, we (businesses and business owners) are only as good as our teams or staff, and that’s in more ways than one.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” – unknown
Internal Communication & Teamwork
Your staff, or team as we call it, is made up of individuals, each unique in his or her strengths and each playing a vital role in the success of your business. If you have great people then you probably provide excellent service or products for your customers (hopefully), but what are the internal communications like? Are the individuals talking to each other and forming a unit or working independently without knowledge of the others’ efforts?
Internal communication is often overlooked, but is equally important as external communications, or publicity/PR efforts. If your team isn’t on the same page, the message you communicate outwardly most certainly won’t be cohesive either.
Media Relations / Training
Maybe your staff is working together and your internal communications are strong. That’s great! Are they ready to speak about the business before media or other audiences? Media training is important for the spokespeople for the business (CEO, President, board, Executive Director, etc.), but also for staff.
We love journalists, but also know they like to pop up unexpectedly or sometimes go by a business to do an interview without notice. If your staff haven’t been trained on how to answer questions or who to defer media representatives to, you could run into a problem.
Alternatively, who’s responsible for your media relations? Is there a designated person within the company who handle media inquiries, distributing news/news releases, etc.? If not, establish that now (or consider bringing in an outside resource, such as a PR firm) so you’re prepared before something newsworthy comes up or media relations is needed.
Customer service is critical to a business’ success and can set it apart (positively or negatively) from competition. Is your staff living up to your expectations? Do you even know? Even if you’re not in the retail business, don’t assume your staff is adhering to high quality customer service. Know for a fact.
There are many ways to monitor this and to enhance it (even if you are on the ball). Consider doing secret shops, adding customer service surveys to the check out or post service process, ask for feedback and/or reviews. If your staff is doing an great job, reward them and try to develop new goals with incentives for reaching them (i.e. half day off paid if you receive 5 positive comments within a month, etc.). The positive impact outstanding customer service will offer could lead to positive word-of-mouth and possibly new business, so be sure to keep an eye on this and reward those employees who are excelling.
Reputation & Reputation Management
You’ve got a great team, they’re talking to each other and collaborating, they’re ready for media AND they’re providing outstanding customer service. Great job! Now, are you tracking that and your business’ reputation online? Monitoring customer feedback goes beyond asking a customer about their experience or reviewing a comment card. People are sharing their opinions online. If you’re not listening or paying attention to those opinions, you could end up paying for it in the long run.
There are many review sites such as Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google Places and more that are general, covering all industries, and even more for specific, niche industries such as travel (TripAdvisor) or health (RateMyMD.com). Make sure to claim or set up your business on these sites and monitor what’s being said about your business. Respond to both the positive and negative comments. Learn from them, reward staff based on them, and grow from them. Better yet, get your team involved in asking for reviews on these sites and engage them in the process too.
If you’re interested in setting your team up for success, or just have communications questions, give us a call at (239) 221-2858 or email us at info (at) getpushing.com. We’re happy to help!
We’d like to welcome Tiffany Whitaker as our newest team member! Tiffany joins the PTE team as a Communications Ally. She’ll work with clients on public relations projects, reputation management and media relations and her background is predominately in communications in the Southwest Florida.
Tiffany has administrative skills as well as marketing, social media and public relations experience including front-line customer service, public speaking, training and presentations, responding to press inquiries, networking and building strong relationships with partners and vendors.
You can welcome her to the team by emailing her at Tiffany(at)getpushing.com or by calling 239.221.2858.
It is with great excitement and appreciation that we share the results of our 2nd Annual CAN IT! Campaign. Through the support of our multiple drop off locations and the many donors who contributed we collected
1,178 items for CCMI!
Today we dropped it off! It took three vehicles and a lot of volunteers, but we did it! (pictures here )Thank you all for your support! We look forward to collecting even more next year.
From all of us to you and yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
By: Alex Fernandez
Internet Marketing Strategist
I can remember the morning very clearly. It was mid-fall 2011. Samantha walks in with a new flavor of Starbucks coffee, and a new idea for a PTE food drive called “CAN IT! Putting Hunger in its Place this Thanksgiving.” The idea was to partner with CCMI of Fort Myers and put heels-to-the-ground, gathering donations through a grassroots effort. Together, the PTE office generated more than 500 can donations for CCMI in just six short weeks.
Well, CAN IT! is back, baby – and better than ever. As the (ehem, braggadocio) REIGNING CHAMP from last year, with 175 food donations, I wanted share what I took away from CAN IT!
A couple of my friends and neighbors really floored me with their generosity and willingness to pay it forward. One of the first neighbors I talked to was a friend of mine that happened to be sitting down next to me for lunch. I told him about our goal of 500 items. He explained that he was hit hard by the recession and really didn’t have any extra food or money to buy food donations. However, he DID help in a big way, by talking to some of the other residents in my condominium building. Spreading the word was just as helpful to the cause as donating.
If you cannot donate, then please be sure to share this blog entry with some of your email or social media contacts! Every share counts!
Another memorable conversation was with the owner of a local sandwich shop. I told him about CAN IT! and how we were trying to collect food donations for CCMI on thanksgiving, and hastily committed to getting a donation ready. The morning of the food donation, he had two cases of cans ready to donate. It’s amazing to see local businesses contribute so selflessly.
Probably most memorable, was one of our “office neighbors” who rallied their entire office and brought well over 30 food donations. The morning before Thanksgiving, he told us about how he and other close to him had experienced hunger first-hand in the past, and how much they approved of the CAN IT! food drive.
So for 2012, we have upped our goal. We are hoping to secure at least 1,000 food donations for our local CCMI food kitchen. What’s great about CCMI is that all donations will be dropped off at the local Fort Myers CCMI and taken directly into their facility, where it will be prepared for those in need.
Please visit the CAN IT page on our website, for donation ideas and drop-off points throughout Fort Myers and Estero. As new drop-off locations open up, we will update our website and share on our Facebook page, so be sure to like or subscribe for updates.
With pantries full of food you’ll never eat, BOGO deals at local grocery stores, and a generous and compassionate community to help spread the word, there is no need for hunger this season! If you want to get involved, by either donating OR opening a food donation location, contact us at (239) 221-2858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Annette Venditti
Are you responsible for drafting news releases?
Do you find yourself wondering if you are including all the correct elements, formatting it properly and making it truly newsworthy?
Is the headline grabbing the reader’s attention?
My focus this week is on tips for drafting news releases. Yes, even those of us who have been writing releases for years, might be surprised and find some things you did not know or were not including in the past.
Have you read a great news release recently? If not, take the time and do the research; read some news articles and news releases and find those that stand out based on their headlines, writing styles, etc. Keep them for future reference in your work file. Especially look at ones that are in the same industry as your company and benchmark them.
- Organize Your Story: Draft all the details in an outline form and review them to be sure they are in the correct order for the reader. This is key when talking about an event, as you need to describe all the event activities in chronological order, how to get tickets who to contact for information, and who the event benefits, etc.
- Headline Matters: The headline must communicate your subject matter instantly (should be one sentence and brief as possible) and convey why the content is news and interesting. Write several headline options and mix and match them until you are satisfied with the result. Finding the “call-to-action” in your story is key to a killer headline, so take the time needed to write the best headline for your news release.
- Speak Their Language: Avoid marketing jargon and overused words; just write naturally so your audience can really understand what you are telling them. Search engines DO understand synonyms so to avoid repetitive words, use them with confidence. Using a variety of words will give your content a more natural feel, and have it more relate to your readers.
NOTE: Use the AP Stylebook as your guide for proper formatting and grammar in a news release format.
- Facts & Contact Info: Remember to include all the story and/or event facts simply stated for the reader and don’t forget to include detailed contact name, phone, email, and a website link.
NOTE: Be sure to include working links to websites and emails where the reader can click and connect to get more information easily.
Use this set of tips to get you started towards being the one in your office that writes better news releases. For more resources and tips visit the following links:
- To read and reference news releases posted online visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/
- For information on formatting a news release visit: http://service.prweb.com/learning/article/format-press-release/
Still have questions or need help? Contact us!
Do you have an event or story that you would LOVE the media to pick up, but you’re not sure how to get their attention? With so much going on in the news on a day to day basis, it is important that your event or story stands out from the crowd. Here are some key points to getting your newsworthy event written and noticed!
Writing a Pitch:
There are two types of pitches:
- A pitch based solely on a client’s request, product, service, company, etc.
- A pitch in response to a journalist’s beat or current event. Writing a pitch based on a client or client’s product/service is fairly basic. It’s like writing a news release. You need to include the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why & how) and clearly explain why it’s of interest to the media’s audience (readers, viewers, visitors).
Pitching the Story
There are three types of pitching categories: Cold, Warm and Hot.
- Cold – This is where you’ve never spoken to the journalist before and/or you’re not sure they’re the right person to speak with.
- Warm – This is where you know it’s the right journalist for the topic, but you haven’t spoken to them and the story isn’t related to a current event.
- Hot – Lastly, this is where you know the journalist and you have a positive relationship with them or the pitch is based on a topic the journalist recently wrote about, a current event or both.
When pitching a story, keep the recipient’s perspective in mind at ALL times. Is it convenient for them? How are you helping them? Are you giving them everything they need (a quote, access to more information, images, video, etc.)?
Email Pitching a Reporter:
The first paragraph you write is to help build a relationship with the journalist. Show you know the media outlet and the reporter/their beat. This is where tying into a recent article of theirs is appropriate. The second paragraph elaborates on what the story idea is all about. Give just enough info to get them to ask for more. The third paragraph explains and justifies the reason why the story is important and why their readers/viewers will care. The fourth paragraph is your last and should act as a closing with a call to action. This is where you offer value-add like interviews, additional info, etc.
TIP: Always remember to provide your full contact info (name, email, phone, cell phone, etc.)
Pitching is about positively placing a client in the media, but it is also about helping a journalist. Today, with trimmed staff and resources, publications and TV stations are nearly always looking for resources. If you can frame it appropriately and it’s timely, pitching can pinch hit for them, establish a relationship with the journalist/outlet and make a client happy.
NOTE: Remember to proof (ask someone else to proof it too) MANY times before sending it and consider your timing. Don’t send it first thing, last thing or at lunchtime! Keep it short and simple!
These points are a guide for you to use and reference as you develop your own writing and pitching style. Follow these guidelines as you move forward and get YOUR next story noticed by the media in the most professional, clear manner. Happy pitching!
If you have questions or need a little help getting your next pitch out, you can always contact us for help.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
In honor and celebration of the 4th of July I thought we’d cover 4 Tips for Working with Journalists this week!
- The first thing to keep in mind is that journalists, whether print, TV or even bloggers, are just people – like you and me. For many people unfamiliar with working with media, making a pitch call or coordinating an interview can be nerve wracking. Before you make a call, take a deep breath and try to relax. Think of the call as if you were simply calling a colleague. I promise, they won’t bite.
- Do your homework. One of the biggest pet peeves I’ve heard from journalist colleagues is getting pitches that so off topic from what they cover. Newspapers have a contact list that offers what beat or topic each reporter covers. Most news stations have something similar available or they can send it to you if you ask. Bloggers offer a clear description of what they cover (generally in the blog title) in their about section. Just remember how irritating it is when you get spam mail that has nothing to do with you (i.e. food discount for a restaurant located in another state). That’s how they feel when you send them a news release on something they don’t cover.
- Be respectful – of the person and their time. Journalists, believe it or not, aren’t there to make our lives easier. Their job is to cover news and share important things with their readers and/or viewers. Keep this in mind when you get frustrated when a story you pitched isn’t picked up. Also, consider their time as equally valuable as yours. If you need to call a journalist, the first thing out of your mouth after “hello” should be “do you have a moment to talk?” They could be on deadline or headed into a meeting. If you’re respectful they’ll appreciate it and you can determine a better time to call – when you might actually be able to seal the deal and get your story on their radar.
- Foster relationships! One of the most important parts of working with media is fostering relationships. Going back to point number one, journalists are people. They don’t want to be or feel used – just like you don’t. When a new editor joins your local newspaper, shoot them an email or call them just to welcome them. Be sure it’s clear you don’t want anything. Connect with reporters based on their interests. Say hello when you see them in public or at networking events. The more they see your face and/or your name, the more of a connection you have – which also translates into a higher likelihood that they will review your releases/stories when the come into their inbox.
A little bonus tip: Research journalists who are active in social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Some prefer to be pitched or communicate that way. Conversely, they sometimes share interview requests/their needs on those platforms.
Working with journalists doesn’t have to be scary or hard. Keep these 4 tips in mind the next time you send a news release or work with media and it should be a bit easier. Best of luck!
If you have questions or need a little help getting your message out, you can always contact us for help.