Sunday, June 24, 2012

Press Releases Still Have Value


As you can see by the post just below this one, I think organizations that take great steps to help others deserve positive press coverage. Here's a new business giving FORTY PERCENT of profits to charity. 

I also recommend you still write press releases. News outlets still read them, but there's more value to you beyond that. Put them on your blog or your website and link to them on all your other social media. Plus, when reporters go to check you out, they will research your company through your archived releases. This is a simple press release, but includes the important elements: contact information, location, website and compelling quotes.


For Immediate Release                                                                                     
Contact: Christine Ellis, 602-xxx-xxxx   www.StepInShoes.com

NEW MESA UPSCALE SHOE STORE DESIGNED TO SUPPORT CHARITIES
Forty percent of profits will go to help Haiti and homeless in Phoenix

Ribbon Cutting and grand opening of Step-In Women’s Designer Shoes Thursday, June 21, 10:30 a.m. at 2665 E. Broadway Road, Suite B108, Mesa


Mesa, AZ (June 16, 2012)—Sisters Christine Ellis and Shella Michel were looking for a way to get free shoes for the homeless they feed Sunday mornings in downtown Phoenix and asked former professional athlete David Jones for help.

            “When he showed us what the markup was for designer shoes, my sister asked, ‘Why not open a shoe store?’” said Ellis.

            Now, Step-In Women’s Designer Shoes celebrates its opening in Mesa. Ellis began the Bridge Ministry of feeding homeless people each week in 2006. Michel joined her and now they feed up to 500 at a time. When the devastating earthquake struck their native Haiti in 2010, the two began the Haitian Disaster Relief Center, which has established an orphanage caring for more than 40 children on the island.

            “When a woman purchases a pair of shoes from us, she will literally be feeding someone from Haiti or someone homeless,” said Michel.

            Most shoes in the store will sell for $19.99 or less.

            The store’s motto is “Look good to do good.”

            Real Estate Investor Michael A. Pollack helped the team get started by offering four months’ of the retail space at no cost.

            “We did it because they are giving back to the community in such a big way,” Pollack said. “I think it would be wonderful if more businesses did that.”


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Cleaning for a Reason

A national non-profit organization based in Texas has been effective getting local television and newspaper coverage because its story is so compelling.

Cleaning for a Reason partners with local cleaning companies to offer women going through cancer treatment four free house cleanings. The kind service brings patients to tears--cleaning the house has been one of the chores that they were just too fatigued to accomplish.
Many of the owners of the cleaning companies who participate have a story about how cancer has touched their lives, and they talk about what a joy it is to give back.
Does your industry do good? Could you start a non-profit to help someone in need who has to pay for a product or service that you offer?
Think about the free publicity and name recognition these companies are receiving. To see some of it, go to You Tube and search "cleaning for a reason."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Be Nice to the Intern

You never know how recognition of everyone will matter in the long run... interns get hired and remember who was nice and who was nasty.

Yesterday, an intern escorted an expert guest out of the newsroom to his car, and he autographed one of his books to her. She will remember him positively. This guest also bought a package of cookies to the newsroom. Everyone loves cookies! What a savvy newsmaker.

Newsmakers Can Learn Lessons from Watergate


June 17 is the 40th anniversary of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

Even today, newsmakers may encounter investigative practices made famous by the Washington Post reporting team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (see some of them in the movie, All the President’s Men).

The investigative techniques you might experience include:

  • Persistence—you may get the same question 40 times, until you answer
  • Being there—that knock at the door late at night could be a reporter
  • Appeals to your better nature—“A lot of people like you want to tell the truth…”
  • Silence—waiting for you to talk
  • Asking questions they know the answer to—to see if you are telling the truth
Forty years later, news consumers are still affected. For instance, many of us don’t have a blind trust in government—we are cynical, and we question political leaders. Scandals end in the word “gate.” Presidents hire staff members to protect their image.

Young people were inspired to become journalists. Investigative units and teams were developed. See http://www.ire.org/. In 1974, Congress strengthened the Freedom of Information Act. Congress and every state passed open meeting laws. In 1978, Congress passed a law to protect whistle-blowers.

Unfortunately, Woodward’s use of the unnamed source, “Deep Throat,” led to the use of more anonymous sources, which undercuts the credibility of journalists.

Investigations became popular, and news became a moneymaker, a business, rather than a public service. As a result, in the last few years, deep cuts to keep news outlets profitable have resulted in a lower quality of coverage in some cities.

If this topic interests you, I recommend a book by Jon Marshall--Watergate’s Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When You Ask for Questions Ahead of Time

Some newsmakers and public relations practitioners routinely ask for the questions ahead of time when an interview is scheduled.

DO NOT DO THIS.

It makes the reporter think you are nervous--what other reason would you have for needing to prepare?

It makes the reporter think you have something to hide--you must want to make sure the issue you are scared to answer is not on the list.

It makes the reporter think you have no knowledge of how the rules of interviewing work, so you probably aren't going to be a good resource or a good interview at all.

Here are some ways around this dilemma:

1. Ask the reporter for the scope of the interview, the "angle" or if it would be possible to get talking points to help prepare.

2. Tell the reporter you know that she probably won't use them, but would it be OK to send a few questions ahead of time, questions that fall into the newsmaker's area of expertise?

As a reporter, I am offended when the PR people ask me for questions. I usually ignore the request the first time, and if someone brings it up again, well, it depends on the story, but I never send questions. For one reason, I don't have the time. To me, interviews are more of a conversation than a deposition.

As a talk show host, booking guests, I would tell people, "I don't have time to come up with the questions in writing. We are spontaneous. However, if you send us questions you would like us to ask, we might use some of them."

How do you handle this situation?