Public Relations

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

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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.

Piedmont Housing Alliance and the Redevelopment of Friendship Court

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Our client, Piedmont Housing Alliance faces many challenges. Their mission is to help provide access to affordable housing to people in central Virginia. They do this by providing Piedmont Housing Allianceeducation to help people save, clean up their credit scores, and purchase a home. They do their homework and connect people with sources to get mortgage assistance or subsidies. They purchase, renovate, and build properties to help shrink the affordable housing gap in our community. Currently, they’re working on the redevelopment of a big community called Friendship Court, a 12-block, 150 unit, Section 8 subsidized housing development in the heart of downtown Charlottesville.

Piedmont Housing is a nonprofit organization, so they raise funds from private donors, through government funding, and through grants to support their mission. They share the information about the work their doing through an e-newsletter, a blog on their website, and for the Friendship Court project, on  Both Piedmont Housing Alliance and Friendship Court Apartments have Facebook pages. They keep the public informed through press releases shared with local media, and staff stays in close communication with the residents they serve in all the properties they own or manage.

We believe that affordable, safe housing is essential for everyone in our community. We are pleased to help Piedmont Housing share the word about what they offer, raise funds to support the good work they do, and seek opportunities to tell their story.

Having and Being a Mentor

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I grant a lot of informational interviews. I have had interns as part of my team for most of my professional life. I teach. On the flip side, I’ve reached out to others with something to offer, guidance, experience, more confidence, and local knowledge.

I don’t have formal mentors — I’m pretty sure there’s no one walking around with a name tag that reads “Marijean’s Mentor” even though several people have qualified over the years. There are those who filled that role for just a lunch or a coffee and others with whom I’ve stayed in touch throughout my career who have contributed in some way.

Guess what? Very few have been in my field. Not all of those I’ve been a mentor to have ended up in PR or marketing. Hubspot says mentors are valuable at any stage in your career and I agree. It’s also wise to think outside of your field — what I’ve learned from attorneys, accountants, entrepreneurs, and clients continues to help me daily as my business grows.

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor to someone else?

When PR Goes Bad

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PR sometimes has a negative reputation.

PR firm

The impression PR is often that PR comes into play in a crisis, that “spin” is the order of the day, with dishonest tactics that cost millions of dollars.

PR needs its own PR firm!

At our firm, public relations doesn’t take that form at all. We work hard to help grow our clients’ businesses through helping them discover their business goals, through marketing and social media strategy and execution, and by being a good partner to you in your communications efforts.

We feel pretty strongly about being truthful in our practices, and when we see another PR firm doing something dastardly, we can’t help but wonder what happens in the aftermath. We assume Bell Pottinger will cease to exist, or will re-brand itself in the near future. Or, I suppose, will attract many clients interested in the creation of false propaganda films.

Just so we’re clear: we don’t, and won’t do that. But we will help your business grow, ethically.

PR Clients Like Bad Boyfriends

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A friend of mine has a saying, “The ex-wife is never completely wrong.” This is true, I’ve found, when it comes to ex-consultants, ex-employees, former vendors, and previous PR counsel to PR clients that turn out to be not so good.

Like a new girlfriend we think it will be different with us! We’re different, so the client will be kinder, more responsive, respectful, etc.

Not true.

If someone tells you that the client (with whom they used to have a relationship) doesn’t pay, or pay on time, is not responsive, is disrespectful, doesn’t value public relations or marketing, etc. that’s not going to change after they sign a contract with you.

Bad clients are just like bad boyfriends. Break up with them.