This week Sublime PR was fortunate enough to interview a bit of a journalist legend, Sally Whittle.  Sally has been in the industry for as long as I can remember and with her highly influential and successful parenting blog 'Who's the mummy' http://www.whosthemummy.co.uk/ as well as being the founder of Tots100 http://www.tots100.co.uk/ an index/network of the top UK parent blogs, Sally has a lot of experience and knowledge under her belt.  We talked to Sally about all things media and PR - here is what she had to say...

whosthemummyblog

Sublime PR: What is your professional job title?

Sally: Blogger and journalist.

 

Sublime PR: What magazines/blogs do you write for?

Sally: I occasionally write for The Guardian and The Times newspapers but most of my writing now is on my own websites and blogs. 

 

Sublime PR: What is your PR pet peeve?

Sally: When PR people ask for a lot but don't do me the courtesy of researching even the basic info about me first. It says on the home page of my blog that my daughter is seven, so why do I get so many emails asking me to review weaning foods? 

 

Sublime PR: Do you prefer a phone pitch from PRs or an email?

Sally: Email. If we're in the middle of a project, then a phone call is often quicker than ten emails but as an initial contact email is easier for me to look at when I have a moment. 

 

Sublime PR: How many emails and/or phone calls do you receive from PRs per day?

Sally: Between 200 and 500. 

 

Sublime PR: How do you read the news – via newspapers, TV, Radio or online?

Sally: Online, except at the weekend when I might read the papers. 

 

Sublime PR: What newspapers/magazines do you read?

Sally: The Guardian, primarily, online I dip into lots of publications from wsj.com and NYTimes to Perez Hilton and Lainey. 

 

Sublime PR: Are you a regular tweeter and can PRs contact you via Twitter?  

Sally: Yes I tweet at @swhittle far too much, frankly. 

 

Sublime PR: What is your top tip for businesses/PRs wanting to get coverage?

Sally: Research the journalist and the publication/blog before pitching. Then, be concise. 

 

Sublime PR: What is really grabbing your attention in the industry at the moment?    

Sally: I'm interested in Facebook and social media and the tension between monetisation, user experience and ROI for brands. 

 

Sublime PR: How important is a good image/video for a news story?                              

Sally: Critical and becoming more so. 

 

Sublime PR: What are your passions/interests/hobbies?          

Sally: I now work pretty much full-time as a blogger, and that's so much fun it's hardly work, so does that count? 

 

Tags: | Categories: Journalist Encounters | Journalists | PR | Sublime happenings

I was speaking to a client earlier in the week about organising some media training and the reaction I got was one of fear and panic; but interestingly not related to the whole idea of speaking to a journalist, it was something much worse.  What my client was really worried about was the affect that a dose of media training might have on him. In short, his biggest fear was sounding like yet another corporate robot.  "A corporate robot?" I asked.  "Yes", he replied.  "Don't you think that you can always tell when someone is fresh off of the media training conveyor belt?  They sound like a pre-controlled robot, even their voice becomes bland and robotic."

This got me thinking, what if he's right?  Is it possible that a number of media training courses out there are doing nothing but petrifying delegates so much that they almost live in fear of speaking to a member of the media?  In fact, are these courses going a step too far with over-planning, over-preparation or over-thinking?  Could such a session lead to a complete change of personality or indeed, leave that person a shadow of his/her former self?

If this is happening across the country, then it is a real shame.  I speak to journalists every day and I know for a fact that you need to have a bit of character about you, a bit of passion, a bit of charisma (if you will).  I doubt many media professionals out there are looking to speak to lifeless, monotone characters who bore the life out of them.  Media interviews (like PR), should be about great storytelling.  For those five or ten minutes over the phone to a journalist - you are the storyteller.  You need to be engaging, interesting, bold and energetic about your subject matter. 

Of course, good media training should emphasise the importance of preparation and planning (in many ways this is vital for a truly successful interview), but not to the detriment of the entire conversation.  I've always been a believer that over-planning and over-thinking something will always lead to other issues and it's really not a good idea to go down that route.  I guess my final feeling is that any good media training session needs to find the right balance between scaring the inidvidual senseless and giving some useful tips and tricks to ensure you manage the discussion as you would in any other important business situation - with an element of control, a great deal of enthusiasm and probably a sense of humour and a bit of fire in your belly. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the concept of media training because I happen to think that done right, it can provide you with an extremely valuable set of tools for speaking with the media, but we mustn't forget that we are only human.  It's ok not to know the answer to something, it's ok to give a professional response and get back to a journalist with the correct information as soon as you can (rather than landing yourself in it), and it is also ok to ignore awkward silences rather than fill them with waffle that could lead you off track. 

A journalist will always come back to the people who know their stuff, but who are interesting, thought-provoking and engaging too.  Does that mean taking the odd calculated risk?  Maybe. 

 

Tags: | Categories: Crisis management | Journalists | PR | Sublime happenings

What an amazing week it has been for high-energy drink Red Bull.  With a bold publicity stunt, an obviously-staged 24-hour delay tactic (which ensured that everyone knew about the planned 'jump' if they hadn't already heard), it gave the media more time to plan for the event in terms of coverage and it meant that 'everyone' was talking about it which in turn, created huge hype - high winds indeed (hmmmmm). Of course if it was genuine, it was a pure genious stroke of luck.  #A-MA-ZING!

Another thing that struck me about this particular stunt was the almost lack of branding on Red Bull's part, a small logo (as opposed to the space suit being a replica branded 'drinks can'); in fact, I doubt the story would have achieved nearly as much coverage had the logo been 90% bigger.  In this case less is definitely more; a brave a clever move.  The result has been a phenomenal level of media coverage and a 'buzz' that will go on for weeks.

This is an example of a very well executed stunt that PR people will talk about for years to come.  May we all learn from such an example!

 

Tags: | Categories: News | PR | Stunts

October 1215

Get the message?

If you're familiar with what makes a solid foundation for any decent PR programme, you'll know that creating a compelling but consistent message for your business is paramount.  In fact, it's the only way to ensure that the results you achieve reflect your business goals and avoid confusion amongst your target audience. So, it goes without saying that your business should be 'on message' when it comes to communicating with the outside world.   

Interestingly, most businesses insist that they do have a clear message to take to market, but unfortunately unbeknown to them, it isn't always the case.  This has become quite a bone of contention for me having run a number of messaging workshops in the past; and to be honest nine times out of ten, the message is anything but succinct.  I have many memories (some more recent than others), where I have sat around a boardroom table with a team of directors who are pretty happy with their messaging and have used my favourite exercise - "Say it in one".  This involves a team of people, a few sheets of paper and some pens.  I ask the team individually (without conferring), to simply write down what the company does in one sentence - as if they were explaining it to 'a man down the local pub'.  You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that every single person writes down something entirely different!  Try it yourself, it can be a real eye-opener and it's a great starting point to get the discussion moving forward and to ensure you end up with a message that everyone agrees on. Try that exercise again three months down the line and you should get a completely different scenario.

Of course, ensuring everyone and everything is 'on message' is much more than simply having a nice cosy workshop and agreeing on a few choice words.  You must ensure that your messaging is taken to the next level if it is going to make an impact in the big wide world.  Here are some tips to help you along the right path:

1. Tell people. It is no good just sharing your great newfound message with your management team.  You must ensure that the new message is delivered to every single person in the company, from the receptionist to the new 'work experience' candidate.  Anyone working within your business is collectively responsible for communicating that message to the outside world in some shape or form.

2. Make a  song and dance about it to get everyone on-board. Whether that means a team-bonding exercise, a few drinks after work, some new branded pens, mugs or business cards - make sure the message is consistent and that you share it.

3. Look at every single channel of communication and adapt it in line with your messaging - whether that means your website or via sales pitches, direct marketing campaigns, trade shows, Twitter, Facebook, brochures, advertisements, and of course your PR, you must ensure that you are saying the same thing to everyone.

4. Produce a crib-sheet outlining the key messages and ensure everyone has a copy on their desk.

5. Review your messaging regularly and at the very least on an annual basis.  Your target market, services and business model may change and you need to ensure that your message underpins that.  Plus, it keeps everything fresh and up to date which is vital for strong branding.

 

Tags: | Categories: Crisis management | PR | Sublime happenings

You know when you see something cool and you think to yourself, ah...back in the day?!  Well, when it comes to lavish PR stunts from high profile brands, they certainly don't make them like they used to; not if family water theme park Seaworld is anything to go by.  Check out this extravagent but rather genuis PR stunt from South West Airlines in conjunction with Sea World of Texas, San Antonio created in 1988 - Shamu One, an aircraft (yes, a real one), painted like a killer whale!  Alledgedly there are now three of these planes in existance.  Where can I book a flight?

 

Tags: | Categories: Pictures | PR | Stunts

We've just launched a new category on our blog designed to help our readers 'meet the media' on a more personal and informative level. 

This month Sublime PR interviewed Creative Boom's editor, Katy Cowan on all things press and PR; here is what she told us:

 

 

Sublime PR: What is your PR pet peeve?

Katy: I don't like it when PR people chase too much. I understand there are pressures to secure media coverage on behalf of clients but no amount of persuasion will turn a rubbish press release into a publicised story. Send well-written, interesting and relevant news stories and they'll get the coverage you need.

Also journalists can be pressed for time. It can be frustrating when PRs just send out generic pitches to a huge list of journalists when they'd have better success finding out the inidvidual needs of the journalist in question. In my case, I have a special 'submit your news' page http://creativeboom.co.uk/submit-your-news/ on my website to help. There's also a media pack on my advertising page http://creativeboom.co.uk/page/advertising/ which includes details of feature opportunities, which include Readers' Studios, Interviews and Reviews.

It's so straightforward getting media coverage for clients - you just have to send the 'good stuff' and/or know what opportunities are available.

Sublime PR: Do you prefer a phone pitch from PRs or an email?

Katy: Always an email. Just make the subject line punchy and interesting.

Sublime PR: How many email/phone calls do you get from PRs per day?

Katy: Between 500 and 1000 emails per day.

Sublime PR: How do you read the news?

Katy: Always online but I start the day with BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

Sublime PR: What newspapers/magazines do you read?

Katy: The Times, Wired, The Economist, New York Times, Computer Arts, PR Week and Vogue.

Sublime PR: Are you a regular tweeter and can PRs contact you via Twitter?

Katy: Yes. My Twitter is @Creative_Boom and PRs are always welcome to contact me.

Sublime PR: What is your top tip for getting coverage on Creative Boom?

Katy: Read the FAQs http://creativeboom.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/, discover regular features, find out about our different sections - then approach us with relevant press releases, feature pitches and ideas. We won't bite!

Sublime PR: What is really grabbing your attention in the industry at the moment?

Katy: Social media campaigns are always interesting. We're always interested in covering success stories. The creative industries as a whole are very current as they're growing and growing here in the UK. More than anything, we love to cover budding entrepreneurs and how they are changing the shape of the industry.

Sublime PR: How important is a good image/video for a news story?

Katy: Very important. We always need images with every single story we publish...at least 700 pixels wide please.

Sublime PR: What are your passions, interests and hobbies?

Katy: I love to keep fit and healthy so fitness is a huge part of my life. Snowboarding, running, cycling, going to the gym. I'm obsessed with fashion, love reading and watching movies; and I love nothing more than to spend a day with family/friends walking in the Peak District, rounded off with a nice lunch in a cosy pub.

 

ABOUT CREATIVE BOOM - www.creativeboom.co.uk

Creative Boom is an online community for the UK creative industries. It exists to celebrate, inspire and support creative talent across the UK (and the rest of the globe). We aim to cause a creative industry boom by featuring both new and established names while offering helpful tips and advice to our members.

We champion emerging and existing freelancers, large and small businesses and organisations from a whole range of creative disciplines through original news, features and inspiration articles.

With over 35,000 followers on Twitter, more than 11,000 'likes' on Facebook and a reach of over 40,000 people via our weekly e-newsletter, we're also proud to be part of The Guardian Culture Professionals Network.

Registering with Creative Boom brings many benefits. You can get listed in our free directory. You can add your own events. You can add job posts or freelance opportunities. Join us and become a member today

 

Tags: | Categories: Journalist Encounters | Journalists | PR

October 1201

Pinterest for PR

So last week I did the thing that has been on my 'to do' list for some time now - I created a Pinterest account for Sublime PR.  It's a working progress of course, but a pinteresting one nonetheless (did you see what I did there?!)  Why not set one up for yourself if you haven't done already and follow us: https://pinterest.com/sublimepr/

But if I'm honest, Pinterest is a bit of an experiment for me.  I want to delve into how it can be used to help my clients gain greater exposure off of the back of PR activity.  For those who aren't in the know, Pinterest is essentially a pinboard of images and video content chosen by the user to provoke thought and provide visual inspiration to others by 'pinning up' items into categorised segments.  You can include minimal details/captions but the focus is the image itself (of course).  From a PR perspective it's a little bit like trying to tell a story to a journalist but without words.  The same principle applies to our previous blog on PR photocalls, it is about trying to communicate with the outside world via the drama and topicality of pictures.

Pinterest also provides another opportunity for exposure on future press releases, case studies, topical news comment and more.  The key is consistent updates, interesting visuals, avoidance of branding where possible and don't forget Pinterest is not just about images, you can upload video content too.  I'm going to continue building on this and will come back with further findings and reveiws in the near future. 

 

 

Tags: | Categories: Pictures | PR | Social media | Sublime happenings | Web

Using the humble image to tell a story is something that has been going on for centuries; from the scrawls found in our early ancestors' cave dwellings right through to that last visual masterpiece you saw on the web or in a national newspaper which captured your attention.  So, it's no secret that good PRs are well aware of the power of imagery and how it can really 'sell' a story to a journalist - particularly if you are hoping to secure national newspaper coverage.

So - what is a PR photocall?  Well, rather than using a stock image or run-of-the-mill corporate photograph, a photocall is a 'staged' photo stunt created with the story in mind.  It allows press photographers to gain images for their respective newspapers (and in some case to give them their own photo 'angle' too).  All national newspapers have a picture desk and a specialist editor who is responsible for selecting the best images for each story.  Staging your own photocall or at the very least, arranging a special photo shoot to generate an image that reflects your story can prove to be a very worthwhile exercise.  But to be victorious, there are a few rules to follow:

1. News: Remember the rules for writing a press release? It must be newsworthy, so make your image as closely linked as possible to the news story itself.

2. Bye bye branding: As this is a news story you must eliminate any 'salesy' product-plugs or commercial spin - that means no obvious branding or adverts; instead, let your photo caption hint at the branding in a less intrusive and more subtle way.

3. Pitch it: Just as you 'pitch' a news story, you need to encourage the editor to send a press photographer to your photocall - but don't bother with the detail.  There is little point pitching the company message, latest innovation or statistics - the picture editor is only interested in the image itself - so paint the picture for them, explain the whole image set-up and what kind of picture they'll be able to capture etc.

4. Listen: If you're lucky enough to get a press photographer to attend your photocall, make sure you give them complete control over the shot, work with them and listen to their requirements as they will know what works for their newspaper - you don't.

5. Caption: Although your picture should tell the story, creating a great photo caption is paramount to the overall effect of the image. Make sure it says everything it needs to say but keep it to one sentence and make sure it is embedded into the original image.

Following these tips as a general guide should create the foundations for a strong PR photocall.  So next time you are writing a news release don't ignore the power of the image, it can really bring a story to life and could be the difference of generating some great pieces of national press coverage or not.  Happy snapping...

 

Tags: | Categories: Journalists | News | Pictures | PR

Are your PR team best placed to manage your company Twitter account?  This is a topic that has been talked about time and again over the last couple of years, as the changing PR landscape continues to evolve and the lines of what constitutes traditional PR begin to blur.  Some say yes, some say no.  But today I'm defending the 'yes' camp - on the basis that your Twitter feed works in the way it is supposed to.  By that I mean, not using it as a tool to spam people, make irrelevant comments or let others know what you had for dinner the evening before.

Used correctly, Twitter can be a powerful tool.  Tweets should contain useful or at least interesting content that your followers will want to read (better still, hashtags and links to blogs or sites) - after all, if they don't what's the point in anyone following you?  For some, it is purely a numbers game, but for others, providing a succession of powerful tweets which underpin the culture and personality of your business, while demonstrating to your followers that you know what you're doing and you've got something worthwhile to say or share, gives you competitive edge.

By the very nature of PR, your PR team should be well placed to manage or at least contribute to your Twitter feed.  Where PR is involved you should try and consider both prospects and journalists (many of whom use Twitter on a regular basis to communicate with PRs).  Daily monitoring of topical news, offering comment to tweeting journalists, providing links to your latest piece of coverage or blog, running Twitter campaigns to support your PR efforts, highlighting new case studies to the media and your prospects or simply sharing innovation - are all good ways of using your Twitter account.  Your PR team should be looking at current news topics on a daily basis and helping you to form meaningful responses, all of which can be shared via platforms such as Twitter.    

Tags: | Categories: Blog | PR | Social media

With going on general release across cinemas in the UK today, I wanted to share my admiration for the very clever people at film & motion design agency , based in London; who used a combination of live action combined with clever animation to create this stunning opening credits sequence for the brand new police drama remake - which is indicative of its dark, gritty and sinister theme:

Watch and enjoy...

https://vimeo.com/46285545

 

 

Tags: , , | Categories: Blog | News | PR | Sublime happenings