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Media

Dear Charlottesville: How to Interact with National Media

By | Media | No Comments

Charlottesville, Virginia is in the national news again. Reporters are already descending upon our city and it’s likely you’ll see and even recognize some of them. Here’s what to do:

  1. If a reporter asks you if you’d like to be interviewed, either accept or decline, but do so respectfully. This is a person doing a job.
  2. If you agree to an 0n-camera interview, look at the reporter, not the camera. Speak in short sentences and be mindful of not using local jargon. A national audience doesn’t know what “the mall” or “the corner” is, for example.
  3. You will be asked to supply your name and spell it. Just FYI. This is not the time to be anonymous or give a false name.
  4. If you are nervous, upset, happy, excited — feel free to use those words to describe how you feel about what’s going on. You could be the face of the story at hand and your feelings are what the media will want to share — about whatever is happening in the moment.
  5. Represent your city! We’re all proud of Charlottesville. This is our chance to let the nation and even the world know about our home. Think now, before you have the opportunity to speak, about three things you want the world to know about Charlottesville. For me, it’s a beautiful place, there’s much to do, and the people are, by and large, friendly and welcoming.
  6. What’s the main message you want to get across? Make it short. Write it down. Practice it.
  7. Don’t put your desire to be on television or in the newspaper above your personal safety. It’s not worth it. Get your 15 minutes of fame some other time, for something else.

 

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.