Who knew that America’s most dysfunctional family from the cult hit “Arrested Development” could provide PR pros with so many important lessons about how to be successful in our industry? In celebration of the reunion season on Netflix premiering May 26th, let these larger-than-life personalities teach you about what it takes to make it in PR:
Be patient like Michael. Through dealing with his outrageous family, Michael, our beloved protagonist, teaches us about patience. Just as Michael has a hard time dealing with people like his sister Lindsay and his mother Lucille, you’re bound to find yourself in frustrating and stressful situations. Like Michael, try to keep your cool and maintain your patience.
Keep an eye on trends like Lindsay does. Even though the family is broke, Lindsay just can’t help herself from spending any money she can find on the latest trends. Be aware of what’s going on in the world, and what people are talking about. It will improve your ability to shape a story in a way that resonates.
Be devoted like George Michael: Remain devoted to always doing your finest work and leaving a positive impression on others, just like how George Michael is devoted to making his cousin/crush Maeby happy. And that’s a whole lot of devotion.
Roll with the punches like Tobias: Tobias, once the chief resident of psychiatry at Mass General, lost his license and was forced to find a new occupation. Just like Tobias during his switch from medicine to acting, be flexible and open-minded enough to handle any situation.
Never stop learning like Buster: Buster is essentially a professional student, having studied subjects like cartography, Native American tribal ceremonies, 18th century agrarian business and archaeology. While I don’t suggest adopting any of Buster’s other wacky character traits, his thirst for knowledge is admirable.
What do you think is the most important trait of a PR pro?
Recently, Metis Co-Founder Cathy Caldeira was quoted in a Fox Business profile with fellow Co-Founder Courtney Hurst. “If your worst thing is that you’re too aggressive,” said Cathy, “then that’s not a bad thing.” As any entrepreneur working in a competitive industry can tell you, the sentiment is hard to argue.
In the nonstop world of public relations, each day is a battle for the attention of others: your target audience, the reporters on whom you rely to reach that audience, even at times your own team, who have plenty of other pressing issues about which to worry. Your goal is to spread word of your team’s accomplishments, but given the finite nature of attention, it’s a constant contest to engage others and relay your message as effectively as possible.
To that end, aggression becomes practically indispensable, particularly when you’re trying to reach a reporter whose phone hasn’t stopped ringing since 1998, or a journalist who receives hundreds of emails a day. If you’re not willing to be persistent, and yes, even aggressive when you know you have the right story at the right time, you stand a poor chance of having your voice heard among the din.
Of course, as with anything, moderation is essential. There’s an important distinction between persistence and harassment, for example, but ultimately it comes down to knowing your audience and being confident in your ability to balance determination with tact and courtesy. Cathy advises Fox Business readers to trust their guts. In public relations, aggression is confidence, believing enough in yourself and the story to know that when you do capture your target’s attention, he’ll want to listen.
Want to learn more about building your PR fundamentals? Check out these tips for PR success.
You had a brilliant idea. You ran with it, and you started a company. Now, you need people to pay attention to it. Garnering good press is imperative to the success of a startup; if you follow the tips below, you just might get some.
1) Don’t draw attention until you’re ready for it. Before you put your company’s name out to the media, make sure your website is functional, engaging and user-friendly. The same goes for all social media channels. You only get one first impression.
2) Know your message. Before you pick up the phone and start pitching, try explaining your startup in one sentence. Can’t do it? Sit down and carefully craft a brief, memorable, value-driven message. Then ask yourself if your grandmother would understand it. If the answer is yes, you’re good to go.
3) Identify your influencer audience. Pinpoint the publications that reach your target audience and might be interested in your company. Then, do some research and figure out which reporters at those publications cover topics related to your company.
4) Connect with journalists on Twitter. Once you know which reporters you should target, you’ll want to dig up their contact info and get to pitching. In addition, see if they have a presence on Twitter; if so, follow them from your startup’s account (which should be ready for an audience, as noted in #1). Following journalists will not only help you get an idea of what interests them, but it might draw their attention to your company, as well.
5) Keep in touch with contacts. Maintain a record of the journalists with whom you speak, and stay in touch with them. If you consistently follow up, they’ll be more likely to write about you in the future. Don’t toss the names of folks who said “no;” just because they didn’t want to write about you the first time doesn’t mean they never will.
Image courtesy of SlashGear.
We have all read the 2013 prediction pieces on what the future is for the data center. Data center infrastructure management (DCIM), software-defined networks (SDN), impact of big data, the cloud – these have all been bandied about for several years, and each new year brings on a rash of people stating, “This is the year of [insert data center term]!” In reality, the market is slower to adopt these technologies regardless of the touted benefits of cost savings and efficiency. Having worked in PR with data center companies for a number of years, I have seen many terms - like cloud – get introduced and overused before the technology becomes pervasive.
Don’t get me wrong; we have to be forward-thinking in this industry. Thought leaders and company executives must drive innovative concepts and product development that leads to efficient and green data centers that can handle all data and the growing demand for compute power. These individuals must provide big ideas to the market, but they also need to set realistic expectations about the time and effort it takes to implement new technologies or concepts within IT infrastructures – especially for large enterprises.
However, the theme for this year is that IT administrators want to consolidate infrastructures and increase efficiency across the data center, as outlined in Data Center Journal and Data Center Knowledge articles. There is a greater need today to do more with less, and it rings true in the data center, which is the hub of the company. Data centers must be efficient, 24/7 centers that drive business forward, and that market need should be reflected in the industry's PR efforts.
What are your company’s data center plans? Do you plan to consolidate servers and storage with virtualization? Implement cloud-based services to bring employees services quickly and increase efficiency?
“You know what I need? I need you not to call me. I’m just too busy. Email me.” (CLICK) This sums up a recent phone experience I had with a novice reporter I was calling on behalf of a client. She was so eager to schedule an initial conversation with my client, and then, in follow up, treated me with no respect. The fact is, reporters are being bombarded by deadlines, multiple stories per day, phone calls, social media inquiries and emails, and they don’t have the bandwidth to always build phone-based relationships with PR reps – a connection that once dominated the industry. But, in all actuality, should they make the time for the value that the PR profession delivers to them daily?
The best stories that I’ve placed for clients at target publications have been with reporters with whom I formed phone relationships. However, the decreases in advertising spend and the demand for instant news have changed the journalism landscape forever. Some journalism graduates are now landing online reporting jobs through internships, and tenured reporters are finding themselves underpaid, overworked and flocking to the “dark side” by connecting with the marketing and public relations professionals who once pitched them daily. Look at the most recent and shocking moves from long-time reporters at Forbes and the Boston Business Journal, Dan Lyons, Eric Savitz and Lisa Vanderpool.
But, hey, you, reporter newbie: remember what your predecessors have built, the relationships that helped them, and the breaking news and trend stories that they wrote and you loved reading. Remember that email and social media did not always exist, and reporters were forced to get to know PR reps and form relationships over random topics like the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. They relied on PR professionals hundreds of times in their careers to help them craft stories and provide perspective, deliver last-minute photos, and gain expert sources or quote approvals. We understand your workload and the demands on you– we’re feeling it too. NOW, more than ever, is the time to connect with smart PR representatives who can help you.
So, pick up the phone. Your next call might be a killer story (and a person who could get you your next job).
When do you reach for the phone ahead of email, IM or text?
I have always been a strong proponent of the real-life applications of board and card games. They provide a chance for us to test out our competitive drive and quick decision-making skills, usually without the pressure of potentially bringing your career crashing down (I’m looking at you, professional poker players), and sometimes even boosting your career.
At an office game night last week, after many rounds of Taboo, Pit and Apples to Apples, I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarities between the skill set required for success with these games and the skill set required for a successful PR professiona:
- Perseverance – In Taboo, you need to describe the word on the card without using any of the commonly associated words listed below it. It is a difficult challenge, but very doable for those who demonstrate a little determination. If your first attempt doesn’t quite work, you find a new way to go after what you want.
- Creativity – In Apples to Apples, each player chooses a noun from her seven cards to be associated with the adjective in the center. The connections are usually far from obvious, but often the winning pair is the most outrageous. This goes to show that thinking out of the box can get you the results that traditional methods don’t always achieve.
- Confidence – In Pit, there is essentially a free-for-all of card trading not unlike the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. If you timidly hold out two cards and simply wait for someone to take them, you will be waiting an embarrassingly long time. Boldly throw them on the table and speak with the tone of someone who knows beyond any doubt that the cards are valuable and desirable, and suddenly the offers will come pouring in. Or at least someone will take those two off your hands.
With these parallels in mind, maybe we should all be taking a little more time for game nights. After all, can’t you mark it on the calendar as “training?”
Which games do you think have career-building benefits?
How did you find out about the Boston Marathon bombings? If it was through social media, you’re part of the 25 percent of Americans who turned to social media for breaking news. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provided information about the attack right away; but how reliable is instantaneous, non-professional reporting?
Here’s a look at this week’s coverage of the best and worst use of social media during the Boston Marathon tragedy:
Brands: take note
Written from a PR perspective, this article features examples of tweets that exemplify what brands should and shouldn’t do during a crisis. Learn from Epicurious’ insensitive mistake, and follow Nike’s inspiring example.
Imagine seeing your face identified as a suspect. Because of the rapid speed of social media, photos and stories about alleged suspects (i.e., this mysterious man) flooded timelines and newsfeeds all over the country, and innocent people were questioned and accused.
The rise of the Internet detective
Hoards of people raced to Reddit to join a collaborative effort to find the suspects. Innocent people were named, bystanders were accused, and it was all one big mess. Reddit apologized, and a group of users collaborated yet again to send first responders and victims free pizza.
If only you could edit tweets
Incorrect information spreads just as fast as facts on social media. By retweeting one wrong piece of information, hundreds more people see it and accept it as fact. Deleting the tweet can prove ineffective, as people will have no explanation of the motive for deleting it. That’s why this author argues that Twitter needs an edit button for times of crisis.
Help support our beautiful city and all those affected by this tragedy by donating to The One Fund.
As technology PR professionals, our skills, patience and intellect are put to the test every day, especially when it comes to putting new companies on the map. Our startup clients depend on us to craft compelling content, create visibility in the market, generate leads, and provide results and recommendations that get them noticed by their target audiences. We love working with startups and want our clients to grow and succeed as if they were our children.
So why do we care so much? Because our startup clients inspire us, challenge us and motivate us to do our best work every day. Here are three reasons Metis loves working with startup entrepreneurs:
- Vision: Often times, we work directly with founders and CEOs who have recently launched or are about to launch new ventures. They are risking their careers and reputations on the success of their new companies, and they have invested in us to help them succeed. This usually means they are focused, engaged and eager to collaborate. With a clear vision and client cooperation, we can achieve fast, impactful PR results.
- Trust: Startup entrepreneurs must be able to manage all aspects of their businesses with only a core team of people to start. Our most successful relationships are with entrepreneurs who understand that they can’t do it all and trust us to deliver valuable results.
- Passion: Our clients are true entrepreneurs. They are passionate about their businesses, which makes us passionate about their businesses. At Metis, we love what we do, and our job is even more satisfying knowing we get to work with clients who also love what they do.
Read about some of our startup clients here:
Are you a startup entrepreneur? Do you want to create your online marketing strategy? Sign up for our free office hours.
I can’t lie. My parenting dream is to break the cycle of liberal arts majors in my family and steer my children toward the secure worlds of math and science. But my six-year-old’s recent written request for a sleepover shows strong tendencies toward the communications field. The child has an inherent knack for writing a pitch that gets noticed.
“Dear Dad and Mom. I hope your day went well.” Before you launch into your pitch, whether your targets are reporters or unyielding parents, show some manners. Express interest in the recipient’s existence before you start asking for stuff.
“My day was bisy [sic]. but I had fun.” Demonstrate how friendly you are. After you ask about the recipient, share a bit about yourself.
“I have a friend we want a sleepovr [sic] on Friday. It will work becase [sic] her sister is having one that nitgh [sic].” Spelling issues aside, this is almost on target. State what you’re after and why it’s a workable request. (*Note: It’s important to know your audience. Is your audience concerned about what the friend’s sister is doing Friday, or is your audience more focused on the fact that it has no knowledge of this friend’s family? Address potential pushback before it occurs.)
Include a graphical element. The below addition, for example, isn’t sophisticated (What are those little things around the heart? 13’s? B’s?), but the image conveys and reinforces the content of the pitch and helps the recipient visualize the story. (This story is about pleading.)
Ultimately, this particular pitch was unsuccessful. And here’s where persistence and creativity come into play. If your target turns you down, ask why, find out what interests her more, and pitch her another angle later. (For maximum success, avoid pitching minor variations of the same story, over and over, multiple times per day.)
With social media use on the rise and Americans spending 121 billion minutes on social networking sites in one month alone last year, businesses want to capitalize on this growing trend. Though blogger Jason Keith predicts social media will decrease in importance for small businesses in 2013, I beg to differ. Keith bases his prediction on three factors: the time, expertise and competition involved in social media marketing. While I agree that effectively marketing on crowded social networks is a challenge, it is worthwhile when done correctly and should still be a focus for businesses.
To take advantage of social media, consider another trend for 2013: the increasing popularity of personalization. To be successful on social media, you have to make your audience feel engaged with you and not just broadcasted to. Personalize the social media experience rather than simply blasting out your marketing messages. First, listen to your audience of customers and prospects to understand who they are; what they like, want or need; and to what types of messages they would be receptive. Even the smallest of companies can do its homework and get at least a basic understanding of its general audience.
By investing the time and energy to gather data, personalize messages and participate on social media, marketers with any size company can target messages that resonate with the right audience at the right time and create a more valuable social media experience for all.
Here are more tips on how to build your brand on social media.