Pitching a PR Curveball

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As a current PR student, the growing debate of whether or not pitching is still relevant in the industry is quite interesting to me. In the age of social media, blogging and two-way communication with consumers, younger professionals argue that pitching is a dying skill while seasoned veterans argue that pitching is still vital to a PR campaign. So who is right?

In an article published on Ragan.com titled “7 Reasons Why It’s Time to Retire ‘Pitch’ and ‘Pitching’,” it is argued that the element of pitching harms the PR industry because it is a dated form of communication with the mainstream media. But if it time to retire the ole’ PR pitcher, then how can PR professionals effectively get news coverage for a deserving client, story or event? To me, the solution is not to simply cut pitching out of a PR campaign all together, but rather update the ideal pitch to appeal to the current industry. It’s not a secret that times are changing in terms of how you can craft a message so that it stands out among competing stories. It’s imperative that a message still contains the meat of the story if you will, but also the means to act on the message if a reporter or consumers choose to do so.

I’ve never had any personal experience with pitching other than watching my colleagues at my past internship fear the ever-dreaded pitching phone call, so I thought it’d be wise to do some research on the subject. In a great blog titled “Updating PR Pitching: Evolving Outcomes,” four aspects of a pitch are defined for its success in this day in age: redefining goals, digital, social and measurement. While these tips are pretty self-explanatory for the most part, the key take-away from the blog is this: the digital revolution is of great benefit to PR pitching because online coverage of a story is just as beneficial and effective as print coverage.

So the next time you’re given the daunting task of making a PR pitch, first determine your hopeful outcomes of the pitch and then decide which way to pitch will be the most effective. Creativity is a preferred skill in the PR industry, so put yours to good use and don’t ever let the PR pitch strike you out.

How to Manage Tweet Chat Overload

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After participating in my first tweet chat (the #pr20chat, held every Tuesday night from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.), all I have to say is one word – wow! What a great concept, but how in the world does one keep up with all of the Tweeters participating in the chat? I used www.tweetchat.com to follow the chat, and I still found myself overwhelmed by all of the content. I wanted to participate in the tweet chat to network with other PR professionals, but I found myself hesitating because I did not want say the wrong thing. After the fact, I did something I probably should have done prior to the tweet chat; I Googled how to be involved in a Twitter chat. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but an article titled “Tweet Chats 101: 41 Success Tips for Moderators, Participants & Guests!” had some really great tips. The article suggests finding a Twitter chat you are passionate about, which I definitely agree with. The article also suggests joining in on the chat when you feel comfortable; that way, you won’t become too flustered in the beginning. I recommend taking a look at this article if you are interested in learning the ins and outs of tweet chats. Something I learned after my first Twitter chat experience is don’t try to multitask during the chat (aka watching the new episode of NCIS at the same time) because you’re not giving either activity your full attention.

Overall, my first Twitter chat was a very positive experience. I’ve always heard great things about the #pr20chat, and all of them are true! It covers great topics pertaining to PR (last night’s topic was “work support groups”), and participating professionals were very open to and encouraging of student involvement. I couldn’t help but feel honored every time someone retweeted or replied to one of my tweets. Tweet chats are a great way to network in your industry and to show others that you are social media savvy. I definitely recommend participating in a tweet chat that is related to your professional aspirations. You can find the complete list of ongoing tweet chats here!

Happy chatting!

Reporters aka Your New Best Friends

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As a PR professional, maintaining a working relationship with the media can make or break your campaign, if not your career. Our job is to spread the message of our clients, but who literally spreads the message? You’ve got it; the media does, through segments on the local news, feature stories in the newspaper, coverage of events, etc.

So the question is, how do PR pros maintain this relationship so that both achieve their end desire? The answer is simple: give the reporters what they want in a simple fashion. Reporters want access to interesting stories, so most likely, they’d be happy to work with you; however, they aren’t going to waste their time if you do not have your materials prepared.

A simple fix to this is to create/update an online news room on your organization or company’s website. This way, reporters will have instant access to anything they could possibly need to use in their stories, such as fact sheets, backgrounders, press releases, videos, high-resolution photos, etc. But word to the wise, make your online newsroom easy to navigate so that the media can find the items quickly.

For a great example of an online newsroom, check out Chick-fil-A’s. Not only does it have everything a typical online newsroom should have, the navigation is clearly organized and very user-friendly.

So the next time you send out a press release via email, be sure to provide the link to your online newsroom. The reporter may be surprised to find all of the materials you have to share.

A Little Birdie Told Me to Tweet, Tweet

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As a PR student, I’ve quickly grasped the importance of tweeting from a professional standpoint. Not only does Twitter network you with a countless number PR pros, it also builds your credibility and your brand in the industry. But I, myself, did not jump on the Twitter bandwagon right away; I can remember writing tweets for a client at my internship last summer without ever have being on Twitter before. When I got my current job as a social media analyst, I thought to myself, “Hey, it might be a good idea to get a Twitter and see what the heck everyone is talking about.” After that, the rest is history.

While I do consider myself pretty knowledgeable of Twitter nowadays, I struggled for a long time to find the right balance of using it to socialize with my friends and using it to market myself to potential employers. My personal philosophy is never tweet something that you wouldn’t want your mom to see. This may seem simple enough but it amazes me the number of people who tweet rude and crude things. If that is how you are going to use your Twitter, then make your account private.

In an industry that is so dependent upon brand image and reputation, maintaining a professional Twitter can either make you or break you in PR. It’s important to tweet not only your everyday happenings, but also current, relevant news related to the industry. As a college student, some of you may struggle to find this balance; I know I certainly did. In an awesome article titled “5 Ways College Students Can Professionally Use Twitter to Grow Their Personal Brand,” five easy tips are shared that I believe are the keys to a college student’s Twitter success. I’ve posted them below along with my own input and advice.

  1. Follow people who will give you news, not plans – This simply suggests that since tweets are limited to 140 characters, use your Twitter for news purposes rather personal purposes. Take advantage of your Twitter timeline to stay engaged with those you are following.
  2. Interact with people you follow and start up a meaningful conversation – Don’t be afraid to tweet at a professional that you admire, you just met, etc. Not only does this open the door for more communication between the two of you, it also shows this person that you are social media savvy, which is always a plus in PR.
  3. Be a curator and spread the good news – This tip is very important. By tweeting a pertinent link, it shows your followers that you are paying attention to what is going on in the industry. An easy way to do this is to subscribe to a daily PR newsletter and pick out your favorite story each day, then tweet it!
  4. Look for hashtags about job searches or group chats – This is a great way to network with professionals and to gain more followers. By connecting with professional via hastags, you will open many doors of possibility to yourself.
  5. Have a respectable Twitter photo, bio, background, etc. – This tip seems simple enough, but make sure your Twitter does have all of these things. Other Twitter users may be offended by an inappropriate profile picture or bio. Also, be sure to have a bio so that others can learn a little something about you from the get-go.

I think all of these tips are great when it comes to teaching college students how to use Twitter effectively. You never know who may be following you or reading your tweets. That is why it is so important to always maintain a professional Twitter account. Trust me, good things will happen once you master the marvels of Twitter. I recently connected with a professional via Twitter and am now in the works of setting up a meeting with them to discuss a fall internship at their firm. This can happen to you too; all you have to do is tweet, tweet!

Happy tweeting!

To Blog or Not to Blog? That is the Question.

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This is a very important question that inspiring PR professionals should consider. I, myself, have struggled to post regularly (as you can see, my last blog post is dated Nov. 12, 2011) because I find myself asking one of the fundamental blogging questions: What should I blog about?

After skyping with professional blogger Jenna Burke this past week in my creative message design class, the infamous light bulb finally clicked on inside my head. Per Jenna’s advice, in order to have a successful blogging presence, one must find their niche. Her blog, The Over-Analyst, covers the topics of fashion, beauty, relationships, health and fitness, and other things Jenna is passionate about (http://theoveranalyst.net/). This notion really hit home with me; if you’re not passionate about what you blog about, why would others want to read it?

Since I am somewhat new to the blogosphere, I turned to the how-to manual that everyone knows best, Dummies.com. In an entry titled ‘Writing a Good Blog,’ three simple tips are guaranteed to improve your blog (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/writing-a-good-blog.html):

  1. Develop a writing style and voice – Readers want to feel as if they are having a conversation with you, so keep your tone conversational and friendly. Look to other blogs for tips on how to develop a distinct writing style.
  2. Update, update, update – While blogging can be time consuming, it is important to blog consistently in order to gain a following of readers. Jenna suggested to carry a notebook with you at all times, so you can write down inspiration that you see while you are out and about. This way, you’ll have plenty of topics to write about and updating will be easy.
  3. Invite comments – Readers who are able to leave feedback will feel a personal connection to your blog. This will also build your credibility as a blogger.

It is imThe Best Times to Blog via Don Snyderportant to be knowledgeable of blogging as a PR professional. Most likely, your future job will entail managing your clients’ or company’s blog presence, and it is essential that you learn the simple facts of blogging, such as how to maintain a blog, how to interact with your readers and what is the best time to blog (see infographic). The best way to learn all of these blogging techniques is to practice. Start your own blog and create your own personal brand, the best way to make yourself known in the public relations industry.

 

Starting A Blog

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Hello everyone!

I’m Emily, a junior majoring in strategic communication at The Ohio State University. I’m a small-town girl from Springfield, Ohio where I attended Greenon High School. I live in the best of both worlds, experiencing the vibrant city life of Columbus and the OSU campus by day, all the while only a short 45 minutes away from my hometown. My wonderful family, boyfriend and friends motivate me to be the best person that I can be.

My journey at OSU has been very rewarding to say the least. I’ve been exposed to countless opportunities and encouraged to try new things. Like many college students, my career aspirations have followed a windy road of uncertainty and decisions. I am happy to report that I have a found a major that I absolutely love, that challenges me everyday and that requires classes that I don’t dread going to. My growing obsession with the PR industry was inspired by an internship at a PR firm this past summer and my current job as a social media analyst.

I have always been an avid fan of writing and have decided to start a blog per advice from professionals in the PR industry. In my free time, I hope to write about things that I am passionate about, such as social media, public relations and communications in general. My blog posts are my own personal opinions, and I hope to inspire other aspiring PR professionals.

Until next time,

Emily