Saturday, April 23, 2011

Selling Happiness: Boomers Look for Youthfulness, Optimism and Social Consciousness

I once had an editor that said, “I know I’m old. I just don’t want to be reminded of it all the time.” He made the comment in reference to the under-45 mission our magazine had tacitly adopted, which manifested itself in the photographs and language we used throughout the pages. Fresh-out-of college young ladies were shown planting flowers, just-married young couples walked parks together with toddler in tow, and the use of “cool” and “hot” in story headlines became ubiquitous.

Thing is, my editor’s philosophy was supported by hard research garnered through reader surveys and studies. Younger readers, predictably, wanted to see their peers in the magazine. However, interestingly enough, those same studies uncovered that older readers had no objection to seeing a younger, modern, and trendier stories and photos. Furthermore, they actually preferred this spin.

A recent study by the Geppetto Group reports that those in the Boomer generation are still looking for uplifting mechanisms and are even “identifying” with youthfulness when selecting brands. As well, adults beyond adolescent age want to see that companies are socially conscious through green efforts and sustainability. Far beyond advertising, however, public relations can be a primary engine for conveying freshness, optimism, and social responsibility in a brand.

For instance, a company that hires a PR firm to build its social media will be seen as
youthful and in-tune with the day. As well, it will be seen as socially conscious, by taking an electronic, non-paper route to reach their audience. Public relations firms often guide companies into strategic philanthropy so that the company is seen in the public eye as community-invested, in-touch, and reachable.

I once set up a story for an elder care company with a local newspaper. The photography
for the story was as strategic as the pitch. Although the article focused on a company
that goes into the homes of elderly, often ill, adults, I made sure that there were younger people photographed with the elderly so that there was a component of life and vitality to the article.

In keeping with the findings in the Geppetto Group study, public relations firms would do well to explore and identify a fresh mindset for their clients in order to reach a maturing audience who is looking to stay vibrant.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How to STOP annoying reporters and START building relationships

By Mickie Kennedy

Want to get your press release or important story in the paper?

Don’t do what many of your peers do—pitch all the livelong day and not interact with a reporter like he or she is a human being. Instead, focus on developing a relationship with your local journalists. You may be surprised at the results.

Here are 10 tips to help you get in their good graces.

1. Don’t pitch (at least not all the time). Pitching is obviously a necessary part of your job, but reserve it for the end of your conversation.

2. Reference their work.
Want someone to feel important? Talk about what’s important to him or her. For journalists, it’s their past stories and columns. You don’t have to memorize every word, but rest assured a little reference to past work will make them smile—and remember your name.

3. Talk to them like humans. Reporters are very busy, so don’t flood their inboxes with inane banter. However, once in a while when you do talk to them, don’t just stick to business. Ask about their kid’s school play, or whether that big story they were working on panned out. And remember, no jargon.

4. Learn their schedule.
Speaking of being busy, learn what times and days it’s best to talk. This includes knowing when to call and when to email. Not only will they appreciate that you took the time, you also stand a chance to actually get a hold of them when you need to.

5. Lend a hand. Offering help when he or she needs it makes a reporter’s life much easier. This can include anything from being a source to helping find facts about your industry for a story. When the time comes to fill in a story for the paper, they’ll come to you.

6. Comment on their stories. Another way to help reporters get their stories noticed is to comment on them. This can create a dialogue between the two of you, and even a real rapport. If their site is relevant to your followers, share it on Facebook and Twitter.

7. Be on call. If you’re actively helping out a reporter, remember to be on call. You’ve always expected them to answer the phone at suppertime and at 7 a.m., so do the same for them. If they call on your vacation, answer the phone!

8. Write a story for them. Want to really get on their good side? Don’t just send a press release for your story, go ahead and write the whole thing. This way there’s a big chunk of work that’s already done. Make sure you follow the style of their publication.

9. Speak clearly and concisely. When a reporter does contact you, don’t ramble on at a thousand miles an hour. Make sure you know what you want to say, and say it with clarity and conciseness. Don’t give them an excuse to dump the story because they need to call you back for clarification on a few points.

10. Be Nice! Above all, be civil and polite. You’re busy, the reporter is busy—everyone is busy. It’s no reason to be rude. Even if the person on the other end seems harried, remaining calm and nice on your end usually does them in. Keep in mind the old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar!

This article previously appeared in PR Fuel, a service of Press Release

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Public Relations Can Learn From Real Estate

Driving by the “for sale” signs in the front yards of properties on the market barely yields a passing glance these days, due to the sheer volume and mundane appearance of the signs. Even those who are aggressively looking will resort to online MLS listings before entering a house simply based on a sign in the yard. A new cable series, “Selling New York,” details the extravagant strategies that real estate agents of the Upper East Side, who are more like public relations and marketing agents, employ in order to promote a property and get potential buyers inside. The tactics go far beyond those 8 x 8 cardboard signs posting a realtor’s basic info.

These agents sometimes hire five-star chefs to provide hors d'Ĺ“uvrs, as agents representing buyers walk around. They sometimes rent furniture by the latest designers to stage the area in a way that makes potential buyers feel like they’re already at home. In effect, once they get potential buyers inside the properties, the spaces themselves do the talking, and the real estate agents are able to close a deal.

In keeping, public relations firms nowadays have to employ modern tactics to get clients into their doors. For many, those “for sale” signs are no longer effective, as the market has become flooded with so many pitches that look and feel the same. Power point presentations are becoming flashier, web sites are becoming more interactive and social media has become the tool of choice to capture the attention of potential clients. Business cards, which will still always be a staple of basic business transactions, have gone digital—potential clients are impressed when just a bump of a phone yields an electronic contact card that is automatically saved to their handheld.

Take a look at how you’re selling your public relations products. Are you leaving it up to the “for sale” sign, or are you selling your prime property in style?