Thursday, December 22, 2011

What A Wonderful World!

Enjoy this video and be thankful for all the good things 2011 brought us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Make Stories Part of Your Communications Toolkit

PR people have long known the power of stories to engage the media.  However storytelling is becoming an important tool in corporate communications.  Management fads may come and go but stories still resonate with people - even in the workplace.
Denning's book is a guide to corporate storytelling

I'm currently reading The Leader's Guide to Storytelling by former World Bank executive and Australian author Stephen Denning.  

Denning describes the intrinsic power of stories, the range of stories that can further organisational goals, and how to construct  effective narratives in particular situations.

He identifies a corporate communications catalogue of stories that can be used to:
  • Springboard staff into adopting new practices.
  • Introduce a manager and his or her vision.
  • Communicate an organisation's brand to external audiences. 
  • Transmit culture and values throughout an organisation.
  • Pass along knowledge and highlight the benefits of collaboration.
  • Deliberately set out to counter workplace gossip and rumours.

Stories are the language of the human camp.  They have been around 40 000 years and  continue to be as effective today as they were back then.  They work in our personal lives so we as communicators should borrow their power and make it work for us in our work lives.

Denning's book is good guide to story telling so I'll be blogging highlights and practical tips in future posts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Social Media Can Improve Media Relationships

Social media can improve relationships between journalists and PRs

Mia Pearson of the Canadian Globe and Mail recently blogged about how social media is changing relationships between PR people and journalists. Mia offers good advice, so here is an extract from her article.


Social networking has completely changed the way companies and public relations practitioners engage with media.This evolution of technology has enabled faster communication and, in turn, the news cycle has now become instantaneous. 

This evolution of technology has enabled faster communication and, in turn, the news cycle has now become instantaneous.Many traditional journalists have also become bloggers, using their own social media channels as key communications outlets to share their stories and opinions.

But much more than this, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have created essential forums on which to build greater relationships between PR practitioners and journalists, and more insight in advance about what is being written. 

Smart companies are turning to social media tools to follow, monitor and respond to reporters in more meaningful and targeted ways.We see it happening all the time:

  • Reporters will ask a question on Twitter, seeking expert sources for a particular article they are working on.

  • They will tweet their opinion of how a CEO is doing at a press conference, in real time, before the event is even over. 
  • News updates will be posted as a print story is being written, giving companies insight into the overall tone or angle a reporter will be taking for the story.
This is all valuable insight. And it is works for both sides.

Reporters get better information, more tailored to their beat and readers, and PR professionals get better insight into what the reporter is focusing on.It is better to make your company part of a natural news cycle than try to pitch a story on its own. At the end of the day, reporters are looking to provide great stories to their readers and viewers and the better a PR professional understands what that means, the better the relationship will be over the long term.

Before picking up the phone, or pressing send on an e-mail, here are a few tips on how to ensure your story idea gets noticed by reporters. 

  • Following a journalist on Twitter or Facebook can allow you access to their personal and professional interests, making you more aware of the types of stories they may be interested in covering.This can be an important factor in developing a relationship, as you are able to connect with them on a more personal level and provide story ideas that resonate.
  • In addition to posting links to their stories through social media channels, many journalists post questions or polls for upcoming story content.This can give you an inside track on future story ideas or topics they may be currently researching; you might spot a good fit for your business.
  • Let the journalist know that you can offer assistance – like providing a great quote from your company expert or a unique product for their gift guide round-up.Interact on the social media platforms so your story ideas don’t get lost in e-mail.
  • It can be tricky at the best of times to stay up to date on which outlets or beats a journalist is writing for, but following them on social media will provide you with that insight. Add journalists to your LinkedIn connections and keep an eye on updates indicating changes in media outlets, beats and locations. There can be a lot of movement even within one media outlet, with staff journalists reassigned to cover new topics quickly.
  • Be helpful. If a reporter tweets about needing something for a story, and it is not tied to your company and products, but you have a contact, set it up.Good media relationships are based on trust and value. The more helpful you can be in providing sources and spokespeople when you do not have an agenda, the more receptive a reporter will be to your story ideas when your company has something to say.
Social media is changing the way PR practitioners build relationships and interact with reporters. Pay attention to what they are posting and tweeting. Their time is valuable and, the more targeted and insightful your “pitches are, the more likely your story will get picked up.
Special thanks to Mia and The Globe and Mail

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why Humble Can Work Best In Media Relations

 Recently CNN presenter Soledad O'Brien talked about what she looks for when someone approaches her with a story.  She was speaking at the 2011 Public Relations Society of America International Conference.

O'Brien's most important question is "where is the character" in this story?" Who is the person who best represents the issue? What situation are they in? What challenges do they face?  And how are they rising above their circumstances to break through and succeed?

The veteran CNN journalist points out you might have loads of statistics but the rest of us may find them dry and boring.  For her stories she wants an individual who can put a real face to those facts and figures.

My 20+ years in media relations suggests there is an order of people to choose from when it comes to presenting your issue in the media.

The very best individual you can select is someone you are helping or who benefits from what your organisation does.  They might be a client, a customer or a citizen.  People on the receiving end of your efforts provide authenticity and powerful testimony.  Yet sometimes these individuals may be shy, anxious about privacy or disinclined to be profiled for cultural, religious or other reasons.

Steeping down, the next best person to represent your story in the media is someone from your organisation on the front line directly involved in bringing about change.  It could be a staff member or a volunteer doing something that improves the lot of others, solves a problem or in some way builds a better world. 

For example the most powerful figure to emerge in wartime news reporting can be the "strategic corporal." A junior serviceman or woman, carrying out their mission, can tell you more about the conflict around them, and do it better, than any statesman or diplomat.

The least effective people to represent your cause just might be your boss, CEO or chairman or a politician.  Why should that be so?  Journalists and the public expect authority figures to say good things about their programs. That's their job.  They get paid to do that along with all the privileges of their position.  Besides prominent figures can sometimes muddy an issue and their past deeds, statements or performance can detract from your story.

The take-way from O'Brien's presentation: offer the media a real person. Their situation may be humble but their story is often powerful. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

4Cs To Boost Your PR Career

 It is university graduation time in Australia and a hundreds of PR students across the country are leaving college and looking for their first real job.  It is time for them to set aside the books and begin their professional life in earnest.

Let me share some tips from leading US PR professional Cheryl Proctor Rogers who recently outlined the 4Cs to boost your PR career.  Cheryl was speaking at the Public Relations Society of America Conference in Florida in October. 

#1  Capabilities: You need to set out on a path of continuous self improvement to expand your PR knowledge and skills. You never stop learning in the communications industry.

#2  Careers:  Join networks and professional associations and take advantage of their training programs and opportunities to meet other professionals.  Network, network, network when you first start out and make it a hallmark of your career.

#3   Cabinet:  Presidents and prime ministers have cabinets of trusted advisers so why can't you? Seek out and learn from mentors, advisers, supporters, peers and friends. Draw on their experience to increase your own.

#4   Community:  Volunteer to help out with PR for a not for profit. Your first job may not give you the range of professional opportunities you would like.  Helping a charity is good for the soul and importantly can lead you down different communications avenues.

Good luck if you are just starting your career.  Remember the success of your career will be proportional to your effort, enthusiasm and the generosity of your spirit. Enjoy the journey.