5 Qualities of a Good PR Client

good-client
An informed client is an advocate for your public relations agency.

A bad public relations agency client is like a really bad meal—miserable but not life-threatening. Still, it’s good to avoid them a much as possible. And the best way to do that is to know what qualities to look for in a good client/agency relationship. So I present, shop 5 Qualities of a Good PR Client.
1. Good clients have a realistic budget. Unless the new client has had a former relationship with a public relations agency, he is likely to be clueless about the cost of a public relations program. But, hopefully, a good client will realize that he has to spend money in order to make it. So, it is your job to help educate him as to how you work: What is your monthly retainer? How much do you allocate to fee vs. expenses? What is the average length of your contractual arrangement? Good clients take the time to be educated.

2. Good clients are interested in working with someone they can trust. When a client trusts you as a communicator they take your opinion seriously, especially if your opinion is contrary to theirs.No client like to hear the word “no.” But, after all, they have put their business in your hands and are depending on you to be the monitor of their brand image.

3. Good clients are willing to accept advice. A good client is eager for advice, that’s why they hired a public relations agency to begin with. They allow you to become a part of their marketing team—working with them and not necessarily for them. I have had the good fortune to have worked with a number of good clients who even sought my advice on matters from what I thought about their advertising campaign to how they should appropriately congratulate their boss on his promotion.

4. Good client have a single point of contact. You’re on a deadline and you need that quick approval—who do you call—the client contact. You don’t want to have to deal with several point people, when one will make your life so much more effective. Make certain that you get that point person, and then go on to earn his trust—he’ll be your client for life.

5. Good clients participate in the process. Now that you’ve got that point person, you want to make sure that he remains involved and engaged in your public relations program–but not too much. An uninformed is not a good client  Assure him that part of your job is to make his job easier, and that you value his opinion as well. A good client will review your monthly status reports and not merely file them—and if possible, you’ll develop monthly review meetings so that you keep the client informed. An informed client is an advocate for your agency.

How to Handle PR Nightmarish Clients

Bad Client

Every agency’s got one—the nightmare client. And if you don’t have him now,  trust me, you will experience this at some time in your agency life. If you work in the public relations business long enough you will certainly have horror stories of clients with bad habits and unrealistic campaign requests.

Yes,  I have fired clients in the past—and it’s not something that I relish having to do. But sometimes when you’ve taken enough Valium and pulled your hair out by the roots, it’s time to cut the cord and let him go. But not every horrible situation has to go that far. Sometime all you need is a little time and a lot of patience.

From my experience, here are five nightmarish client personalities—along with gracious solutions for dealing with them.

1. The pedantic, passive aggressive. This one can be a real doozy. He wants to take forever to brief you on the business– taking days and sometimes weeks –causing major start-up delays on your part that may ultimately hinder results. They’ll be major rewrites on the press background materials and the press kit sits not only in the client’s office, but often in “legal” for weeks. Once I had a press kit sit in legal for nine months—yes, I could have had a baby in the time it took to approve the press kit.
In this case you’ve got to get to the decision-maker(s) and explain that time is money and offer to have a sit-down to get things moving.

2. The cheapskate. This is the PR client who has already negotiated the budget down to the bare basics yet remembers all the goodies that the original proposal promised—and wants them included—for free.
In my experience, no client likes to hear the word “no,” but you’re got to be firm. Try negotiating an hourly fee for additional program elements. Don’t let them get away with trying for freebies.

3. The absentee. Sometime worse than the client who hoovers over your head, the absentee client is a danger. I once had a pharmaceutical company launch its product without us! Yes, they actually forgot that they hired a PR agency—you can’t make this up. In this case reach out to the client’s assistant, even if it is a secretary and make your situation and needs known. S/he can often be a lifesaver.

4. The idiot. This person’s lack of knowledge will not only hinder the implementation of your PR program, but can hamper your results. Though he may be a great business person, when it comes to communications, well, it’s just not his expertise.
Manage this type of relationship by setting expectations and goals. Let the person see some of your previous experience and results with similar clients so that he can be reassured that you know your stuff. Assure this person that your job is to help him look good—that’s often worked for me. So, with all due respect, please get out of my way and let me do my job.

5. The hothead. The hothead often shows his stripes at a meeting when he is feeling uncomfortable and unprepared in front of his peers.
Take the time to email briefing documents in advance and review them prior to the meeting. If this behavior continues, or he becomes abusive to your of your staff, well you need a one-on-one meeting in which you lay down the law, gently, but firmly.

Watch out for my next blog post where I highlight a PR agency’s favorite types of clients.

The Use of the Telephone in Public Relations

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The introduction of the telephone into public relations

Remember when  Sex and the City Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend broke up with her via a Post-it note? And then my friend Naomi broke up with her boyfriend via email. Sometimes I like to imagine what would happen if the telephone was just invented.  I  imagine writing the press release announcing the new product  introduction–it would go something like this.

New York, NY — Today, XYZ company announced the introduction of the telephone, a new technological advance in one-on-one personal communications whereby people can actually hear their party’s voice live, in real-time. This new, instantaneous communications device can take the place of email and text messages thereby virtually eliminating those nasty auto-correct messages.

“All you have to do is dial someone’s personal number and whoa la, a live voice answers the line,” announced Mike Jones, CEO of XYZ company.  “In the past, communications were sorely lacking that personal touch–that immediate interaction. Now, with the telephone, consumers can realize the satisfaction of knowing that what they are saying is not miscommunicated as often occurs with both text and email messages.”

“In the past, consumers had to use emojis on texts and emails to ‘soften’ their conversation and make sure that the recipients of these electronic messages were not “offended” or” put off” by the words.   Now, with voice-to-voice communications, consumers can actually listen to and understand the emotions behind the spoken word,” noted Mr. Jones.

Imagine how simple it would be to establish a rapport with your friends, clients, business colleagues.  No more guessing as to the emotion behind the message. No more challenges trying to decipher auto-corrected messages.

As for using the telephone in public relations–try it! It works wonders when you are trying to establish initial rapport with a potential client, a current client or a journalist.  The invisible wall and distance that occurs from texts and emails can be shattered with a simple, “Hello Tom, this is Temi.”

Finally, a new technological advance that puts the conversation in real-time.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Ace a PR Presentation

Ace PR Presentation
5 ways to ace a public relations presentation

OK, cure so you’ve gotten the call—you’re one of the agencies chosen to present your recommended public relations program to the perspective client. You’re passed the written portion of the “test” and now you’re on to the in-person review.
Preparing for the presentation is probably the most important part of the “test.” Remember: It’s the presenter, not the presentation. So everything is riding on how the presentation goes. So, with this in mind, here are five tips on how to prepare for this vital experience.
1. Know the client. Yes, you are going there to present your recommendations, but you are also going there to make an impression. How knowledgeable are you of the client’s company, brands, history, etc.? How knowledgeable are you of any issues affecting the client? Their website if where you start but they are also looking to see what kind of research and industry investigation you did. What can you bring to the table?
2. Know your audience. Are you presenting to the CEO, president, product managers, public relations people? If they are bringing their “big guns,” then you have to do the same. Make sure you know who the participants will be ahead of the presentation. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by not bringing your “A” team if the CEO is present.
3. Case the space. Try to get entry into the presentation space ahead of time. Set up the projector and screen, arrange the collateral materials, select agency and client seating, check the lighting and air, make sure you have bottles of water on hand and remove anything from the conference table that may be distracting.
4. Think on your feet. I always tell my staff that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer—there’s only the non-answer. I encourage them to attempt a response and if it’s incorrect it’s my job is to jump in with the proper response seamlessly. So, if my colleague attempt the response, I may jump in with, “Well, in some cases that may be effective, but in this particular instance perhaps this would work better…..” Presenting as a team can prove extremely effective in this instance.
5. It isn’t over till it’s over. Follow-up is key in eliciting important feedback and determining where the decision-making process stands. If there are fence-sitters, they can sometimes be swayed through after-the-fact communications.

PR Agencies: Theater of the Absurd

Theater of the Absurd
PR Agencies: Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot.

In my capacity as president of a New York-based public relations agency I often feel as though I am waiting for Godot:

• When I am waiting to get the new client to finally commit to signing on the dotted line
• While waiting to hear back from an editor or producer on whether our pitch idea is a “go”
• Whether the new terrific candidate I just interviewed will take the job offer
• And whether the delayed airplane will ever depart so that I can make it to my appointment

But life itself is often a theater of the absurd:
• When you’re waiting to be given that job offer
• When you’re waiting to get a call-back from that special guy/gal
• Whether your children will be accepted to college
• Whether they’ll grow up to be good people
• And, end the end, was it worth it all

When to Fire Your Public Relations Agency

You're Fired
Know when to fire you public relations agency

A good public relations agency brings a lot to the table. It can increase sales, improve brand reputation, introduce new products or services and take care of your social media efforts, leaving you free to focus on other parts of the business.
But when this isn’t your area of expertise, how do you know if they’re performing well? Here’s some insight on what to look for when it’s time to pull the plug.
Lack of enthusiasm. No, I don’t work for you but I certainly should work with you—and as such the agency should be able to show a high level of enthusiasm for your company—if not, it shouldn’t be in public relations. Every client wants to feel special, as they should, so the agency should be knowledgeable about their industry and be able to bring additional insight and excitement to the client.
Poor writing skills. People skills aside, your agency account people had better be  great thinkers and writers because that’s what the client needs. Clients in industries such as pharmaceuticals or finance are looking for specialized PR professionals who are capable of “translating” their jargon into English for the media and the end consumer.
Poor strategy. Hopefully, shortly after you hired your PR agency it has researched and developed a public relations plan for the entire year. And hopefully, they are adhering to the plan, or perhaps even expanding upon it. But without a strategic plan, a good public relations program is doomed to failure. Look to the plan!
Lack of accountability. From the get go your PR agency should have been sending you weekly and the monthly status reports and updates. These reports should show you what the agency has been doing on your behalf, what it has accomplished during that time period and what it plans to accomplish in the coming weeks. Without this accountability the client will feel lost—and a poorly informed client will eventually fire the agency.
Poor communications. Before you fire your PR agency consider talking with the principal. It may not be time to fire the agency, but time to fire or switch your day-to-day account person—the same person who may not be overly enthusiastic about your business may also be a poor communicator. Sometimes a change in the point person can reap short-term and hopefully long-term benefits.
Lack of initiative. You shouldn’t have to instruct your PR agency on what to do. Again, they should be following that plan/strategy that they set forth. Your PR agency should be coming up with new idea and telling you what they are doing—not the other way around.
Not proactive. Your PR agency should be doing ongoing industry research and thinking up great content and creative angles—and then developing ways to amplify that content. If they keep asking you for ideas, then it’s probably not the right fit.
Off-brand coverage. Going back to that strategic plan: It is important to make sure that your PR agency understands your brand and takes its positioning into account when developing a media outreach plan—both traditional and new media. You don’t want to suddenly see an article about your family-friendly brand in an inappropriate media outlet. That would give you cause to pause and reevaluate your agency commitment.
No results. Bottom line: Did you get what you paid for—what the PR agency promised? If not, then it’s time to part company. Also, if the public relations agency is landing opportunities for you that do not compliment the brand, for example reaching the wrong audience or mentions that don’t address your expertise or product, then it’s time to fire them.

PR Calendar for the Toy Industry

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PR Calendar for the Toy Industry

As a public relations agency, ed we have been working on behalf of the toy industry for many years. Trying to get toy and game owners to understand the unnatural deadlines applied to us by the media is often a difficult and trying task. Nothing is worse than when a toy company comes to us in the September asking for media exposure for their products in the nationally recognized media Holiday Gift Guides—efforts will be limited, cialis at best.

To help toy and game companies plan their annual publicity calendar, healing we offer up the following guidelines:

JanuaryToy Fair—Now is the time if you are a toy company to begin planning in earnest for February’s Toy Fair. More than 1,000 reporters, editors, photographers and bloggers from Manhattan to Madrid are on?site at the New York Toy Fair each year to report on hot new toys and the latest trends for kids. Thousands of articles and broadcast segments from around the globe feature content from Toy Fair.

January– International TableTop Day was founded three years ago as a way for the world to celebrate tabletop gaming together. Every April fans host thousands of events all over the world and every year, the event grows. TableTop Day 2015 was celebrated in 80 countries, over 7 continents, and had over 3,000 events in total. If you are a board game developer why not host an event in your area. If so, then you’ll have to start your PR engines in January in order to get the ball rolling.

JanuaryToy Tests, Awards & Reviews—The beginning of the year is a good time to start researching and planning for inclusion in the nationally recognized toy awards, reviews and tests that are conducted annually. Go to each website and get the rules and deadlines and plan accordingly. Getting recognition from industry peers goes a long way to establishing top-of-mind awareness for your company and its products. A few of the top venues include Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award, Parents Choice Award, Good Housekeeping, Mom’s Choice and Dr. Toy, to name a few.

AprilHoliday Gift Guides–Start planning for the Christmas holidays. Yes, that’s right. The long lead national print media (monthly magazines) plan approximately 4—6 months in advance for each issue. Almost every media outlet nationwide develops its annual Holiday Gift Gifts—and by all means, you need to be included. This means in order to be considered for inclusion in national magazines such as Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, and Woman’s Day, for example, you had better have your engines ready and your press materials sent out for consideration by these influential media outlets.

But all is not lost if you miss the long-lead deadline because national media also have websites that accept online content on a more timely basis.

 July–Mommy Bloggers–For the most part, many of the mommy bloggers want not only free product, but also payment to “review” your toys. Payment may vary from $25–$100.

July—November—Short-lead media—The short lead print media such as daily and weekly newspapers, weekly magazines, wire services, news syndicates, and broadcast have lead times that closely mirror real time, as do influential websites and bloggers. So if you are introducing a new product during the year or for consideration in the Holiday Gift Guides, now is the time to get your press materials out to the media.

Start your publicity engines early and follow your annual planning schedule closely. This will lead to increased awareness and brand-building throughout the year.

 

How to Generate PR During your Crowdfunding Campaign

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How to Generate PR During your Crowdfunding Campaign

When you read the Kickstarter stats it can be depressing: the rate of success is only 38.13%–that means that 61.87% fail. Why? With 228, sick 894 launched projects in the past 12 months it’s really difficult to break through and gain visibility. So what can you do to help generate a buzz and create top-of-mind awareness on Kickstarter?

Statistics show that those who hire a public relations agency are often more successful in establishing awareness and getting their products funded. But if you can’t hire an agency, help then become your own publicist.
If you build it they will come. Creating a launch-worthy product takes time and effort—and so does promoting it. If you build it they will come is untrue in the crowdsourcing world. You have to take your information to the media and the influencers. Working hard at creating a prelaunch buzz should be your goal from the minute you decide to go with a crowdfunding campaign.
Develop a media kit. You have to make it easy for a reporter to find and help you. Create a one-page press release on your project, high-resolution photos, a list of what makes your project so compelling and unique and a screenshot of your campaign.
Develop your media lists. If too intimidating, you can hire a freelancer to find the blogs and writers related to your project. And don’t be intimidated about picking up the phone and calling your local newspapers, radio and TV stations and pitching your story; local media can be your best supporters.
Social media. Create Facebook and Twitter pages as well as Instagram and Tumblr. Explore some advertising on an outlet such as Facebook where, for just a few dollars a day, you can increase your visibility and promote your campaign.
Crowdsourcing PR sites. Here are 7 free tools to help generate a buzz before you launch a crowdfunding project:
1. ThunderClap.it. According to Wikipedia Thunderclap is a “crowdspeaking” platform that lets individuals and companies rally people together to spread a message. The site uses an “all-or-nothing” model similar to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, in that if the campaign does not meet its desired number of supporters in the given time frame, the organizer receives none of the donations.
2. Pitchfuse. Using the service, you can post your up and coming Kickstarter or Indiegogo project and receive comments, collect email addresses, analyze pageviews, and accumulate followers. You can also notify your followers when you do launch.
3. CF4ALL. Working on the principal of “social currency,” this site taps into the collective influence of the crowd to gauge a project’s popularity. The more “crowdcredits” you acquire, the higher your ranking on this site and the more likely you are to become a trending project.
4. CrowdfundingPR. This is where you post that press release that you created. After posting it on this site you can copy and paste it on your blog or website, and you can even attach it to your press release when you distribute it to media outlets.
5. Prefundia. This is where you post information on your pre-launch campaign—it’s a “coming soon” platform that helps you create awareness and gather supporters early on.
6. LaunchRock. You can create a pre-launch landing page where you can collect email addresses of potential backers.
7. WordPress. Here’s a quick and easy place to start your blogging efforts. It’s a channel for reaching out to other bloggers, for explaining your campaign, for sharing your goals, your frustrations as well as lessons learned.
Good luck!

Tips for PR Pros on Pitching Journalists Via Social Media

Social Media.PR

Social media offers an opportunity for PR agencies to reach out to journalists in a more intimate space. But beware—not all channels offer appropriate outcomes.
There are right and wrong ways to use social media to query reporters, because you don’t want to come across as a stalker to a reporter. Here are a list of the Do’s and Don’ts of approaching reporters on social media.

Don’t:

1. Don’t pitch journalists through Facebook.
Facebook is a place for friends. Even though Facebook has become a place for business too, journalists consider Twitter a professional tool, not Facebook. Also, when you message someone you aren’t friends with on Facebook, it goes into their “other” folder, which often goes unchecked. Avoid posting on their wall or to pictures to get noticed– journalists want to maintain some privacy on their Facebook page.

2. Don’t mass pitch reporters on Twitter

Remember, when your tweet can be seen by everyone. Don’t try to get noticed by a lot of reporters at once by pitching multiple accounts at once through tweeting. As soon as you pitch a journalist, they will likely click on your Twitter profile to learn more. If the reporter sees that the last several tweets are copied and pasted to different multiple people, they will lose interest quickly.

3. Don’t contact another journalist to get his colleague’s information
It’s unprofessional to contact a reporter to get through to another one. Even though one reporter might have less followers than another, and it might be easier to see a @mention with that person, reporters are being pitched all the time—so they don’t need to be bothered with a PR person trying to reach their colleague through them.

4. Don’t follow up more than once
– The point of pitching on social media is to keep it short and sweet. If you follow up more than once, reporters will automatically mark you as spam and you won’t be able to contact them in the future.

Do:

1. Find out the reporter’s beat before you pitch them
It’s your job to do the research and theirs to determine your pitch’s relevance to the audience and publication. You can find this out by seeing what the reporter is tweeting or retweeting, and also by investigating their bio; it will usually say what topics they are interested in or what their beat is.

2. Use Twitter to pitch
Twitter forces PR pros to keep their pitches short and catchy. It is okay to pitch journalists through Twitter because they treat their accounts as an extension of their reporting, so they might be more willing to chat with you on Twitter about topics relating to their beats. When pitching reporters on Twitter, @mention the company you are working for and a link to some news–if they recognize the organization they maybe more likely to respond.

7 Tips for PR Pros: How to Write a Strong Press Release

Helpful PR Tips.PR

Press releases are essential in any public relations strategy.  They detail product launches, special events and other newsworthy activities that a company produces. Because media outlets are flooded with stories and pitches daily, it is imperative that you make yours stand out from the rest. Here are a few helpful tips to make your press release stand out, look professional, and attract reporters to your story.

  1. Grab their attention with a strong e-mail subject

A strong subject on an email will peek the reporters’ interest, and lead them to read your release. Keep a subject 5-7 words highlighting the most important takeaway from the release.

  1. Get right to the point

Assume that the reader won’t read more than the first paragraph. Get the message out quickly, every point should be addressed in the headline and first paragraph, with supportive information in the subsequent paragraphs.

  1. Always use quotes when possible

Including quotes from your client makes them an authority in their profession. It is important to have a source to attribute the information to so what you are saying is validated by a trusted source.  Quotes can also clarify any information that you have in the press release while attributing it to your client.

  1. Check your grammar, then check it again!

Always proof your press releases; if there is any grammatical errors, this can turn a reporter off. It is unprofessional and looks sloppy for anyone who works in PR to have spelling or grammatical errors in their press releases. Remember, the only thing that we produce as a profession is words on paper: They should therefore inform and impress.

  1. One Page is best

As with most good writing, shorter is usually better; limit yourself to one page. This will force you to condense your most significant information into a more readable document, which is something that journalists always appreciate.

  1. Provide access to more information

Just because your press release is limited to one page doesn’t mean that you have to leave out information. Provide relevant links to your client’s website where prospective writers can learn more about their mission and what they’ve accomplished. Don’t make writers search on their own for more information; it is important to guide them as quickly as possible to your website, and keep their interest in your message.

  1. Always provide your contact information

A common oversight that can render a press release ineffectual is a lack of contact information for reporters. Whether you or someone else at the company is the point of contact, don’t forget to include an email address and phone number on the release. Media people aren’t shy; if they have a question they will contact you.