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Media

Is it News? Check Your Pitch Against the 8 News Values

By | Media, Public Relations | No Comments

Seasoned PR people and journalists know what makes something news, and what doesn’t. We all hate to see any kind of brand or organization wasting time spinning its wheels pitching news that isn’t newsworthy. What makes something news? Check it against these eight standard news values:

  1. Proximity
  2. Prominence
  3. Significance
  4. Timeliness
  5. Human interest
  6. Unusualness
  7. Conflict
  8. Currency (newness)

Even if you’re clear on what value your pitch holds, you may struggle. “Is it enough?” In fact, it’s better for a story to have proximity, for example, AND unusualness. Conflict AND timeliness. Prominence AND human interest. More value leads to greater likelihood your story will get picked up. If you’re still unclear, scan through a list of headlines in your local paper or favorite online news source (local news may have more diversity in values than that on the national or global level) and see if the values jump out at you.

Baby Goat Snuggling Opportunity Goes Viral

By | Media, Social Media | No Comments

It’s not hard to see how this happened: Virginia goat cheese producer Caromont Farm advertised on its Facebook page a need for volunteers to snuggle baby goats. People responded in droves, eager to get some goat love, and the story, adorably enhanced with tiny cable-knit sweater wearing kids, got picked up everywhere, like Buzzfeed, and ABC News, The Washington Post and The Today Show; pretty much a media relations slam-dunk if I ever saw one, and not even what the little farm intended! No need to apply for goat snuggling this season, but the farm has scheduled a Goatapalooza for anyone who still needs their goaty fix.

We love the attention it’s getting, though because our client Cavalier Produce is a distributor of Caromont Farm cheeses, supplying local restaurants with it, and another client of ours uses goat’s milk for another purpose: Wynott Farm sells goat’s milk soap. Goats are getting their day, for sure!

UPDATE:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that local NBC affiliate WVIR-TV NBC29 covered the story first, largely responsible for setting off the avalanche of media coverage. Also, it appears (as of January 14, 2016 at 2:00PM Eastern, that Caromont Farm has deleted or unpublished their Facebook page, a sad footnote on how small businesses are often unprepared for a big wave of attention.

Three Important Things I Told University of Virginia Communications Students Today

By | Marketing, Media, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

My friend, media personality, and historian Coy Barefoot asked me to speak to his media class today at UVa. I love to teach and miss engaging with college students so I jumped at the chance. I used to teach public relations to college juniors and seniors who were communications majors at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and I really loved that experience.

Today, the students had questions about how businesses and brands should be presenting themselves online, how media relations works today, now that social media is so prevalent, and what steps are important in crisis communications.

Three things I told them that I think bear repeating are these:

  1. If you want to be in communications, go buy the domain that is your name today, host it, install WordPress and, at a minimum, publish your resume. Maintain the domain.
  2. In a crisis, if you’re representing a brand, the first, most important step to take is an apology (even if you’re sorry that your community is experiencing this bad thing) and an expression of empathy.
  3. Pay attention to your personal brand; it can make you employable, valuable, and attractive. (Or the opposite of these, obviously. Manage it.)

For the student who showed up late to class and nodded off during — I bet she has a hard time finding a job when she graduates. Bet she never sees this post, either. D minus!

The Spirit of Non-Collaboration Among Marketers is Totally Out of Style

By | Marketing, Media | No Comments

I’m not often at the cutting edge of what’s in style. But last weekend, I saw a pretty trendy young gal wearing some acid-washed, high-waisted shorts and I recoiled. I was told by my friends that this is definitely “in” but once again, I’ll be letting a trend pass me by. I did that one, back in 1985. I don’t need to do it again.

Other than fashion, some trends go out of style and just never really come back in. One is the spirit of collaboration. Around the same time acid wash was popular, and for a good ten years afterward, it was common in PR, marketing, and advertising practices to guard your Rolodex. Nobody collaborated. Everything was competitive. Now, though, the field is so broad, that there are real specialists everywhere. It’s MUCH more common to build a team of specialists, even if that means firms coming together to serve a single client.

My firm doesn’t specialize in advertising, design, web development, or media buying. But we collaborate often and successfully with partners who are really GOOD at those disciplines. For the client’s money, they get better service and expertise.

It’s interesting to me how some old guard firms are still hanging on to the acid-wash philosophy of competition instead of growing one another’s business through referrals, coming together to serve larger, more interesting accounts, and providing the best skilled expertise to meet the clients’ needs.

So 1985, and really never coming back in style.

What to Do When You Goof on Facebook

By | Communications, Media, Social Media | One Comment

Here’s the deal: we all “like” stuff we don’t necessarily want people to know about. Like, is naturally in quotes here because it refers to the practice of blithely clicking a button that says “like” on an image, a video, a blog post, an article, an essay, etc. What we forget, sometimes, is that we’ve previously given a website permission to interact with Facebook and to let the Facebook universe know about our “likes.”

It DOES come to our collective attention when a “friend” (and yes, now I’m just being silly with the superfluous quotation marks) “likes” something that uh, I have to cover with black boxes to both hide that “friend’s” identity and the nearly naked body of a “public figure”/sexy model.

Jenna

It may have happened to you. It may be happening right now, without your knowledge. I’ve done it (well, not quite THIS badly), and close friends (minus quotes) have done it, too. So Privacygiven the inevitability of the situation, what do you do, when you “like” something private out loud?

  1. Manage the situation. If it’s brought to your attention, or you suddenly notice, get into Facebook and UNLIKE that page. 
  2. Review your “likes” to make sure they’re appropriate for public sharing. If you don’t like what you see, fix it.
  3. Take note of the privacy shortcuts and settings — the little “lock” icon in the top right hand corner of your Facebook profile. Pay attention to who can see what you post.
  4. Go into App Settings (under settings) and make sure you’re comfortable with what apps have access to your Facebook account, and who can see what’s cross posted from those apps. You may be surprised at permissions you’ve unknowingly given in the past.