Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The PR Rainmaker Always Has a Plan B

Author: Rusty Cawley

PR Rainmakers know they can do everything right, and still fail to make news.

It is a fact of life. Accept it now.

All news is affected by whatever else happened that day. All news is relative.

Newspapers have only so many columns to fill. The TV news has only so many minutes to devote. Even Web sites have only so many slots to fill with news of the day.

Even on a slow news day, more copy is thrown away than is ever used. More emails are deleted than followed. More faxes are trashed than considered.

There is also a hierarchy to news, especially in the mainstream media. Breaking news will supplant soft news, such as features and analyses. News of broad interest will supplant news of specific interest; for example, a tornado that wipes out your downtown area will likely push a suburban school board meeting to the back pages, if not out of newspaper entirely.

You can arrange the most visual, most intriguing media event possible. But if City Hall is burning down at the same time as your event, then that is where the news cameras are going to go. The news demands it.

We all know what happened on Sept. 11, 2001: Two passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center, while a third crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth was forced to the ground in a Pennsylvania field.

Just think how many important and interesting news events were chased out of the news media on Sept. 11 and during the weeks that followed – not to mention all of the soft news features and media events that were canceled.

So how do PR Rainmakers handle this reality? By leaving nothing to chance.

In others words: Always have a Plan B.

Keep the time window for your media event as open as long as is reasonably possible. If you arrange for a media event to last only one hour, then you severely limit the media’s ability to attend. You may force the media to choose between your event and breaking news. If you force that choice, you will lose. Keep the window open for at least three hours. If the participants (such as the CEO), balk at this idea, ask them bluntly: “How badly do you want to be in the news?” The media are in control of whether you get coverage, not you.

Choose a time that will work best for the news media. Generally, the best time for any event is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These are the times when the news media have the most resources available to cover events. These windows also give the reporters plenty of time to meet their deadlines.

Have your own video crew on standby. Almost any city will have a company that provides video services for a variety of needs. Arrange to have a crew on standby, ready to step into the situation if breaking news draws the media away. Your crewmembers can shoot video and audio of the event, just as if they were the news media. They can then edit the raw footage into what is known as a “B roll,” which is a videotape of event highlights that you can provide to the local media. You must move quickly. Shoot the footage, prepare the B roll and get it to the TV stations on deadline. You cannot wait for tomorrow.

Be prepared to move to another date. When designing a media event, be sure to compare the event date with other events around the city. Avoid conflicts whenever possible. Monitor the news media as your event approaches. Have a back-up date in mind, in case other events threaten to eclipse your own. And if the newsworthiness of your event is threatened, especially by breaking news, do not hesitate to make the change.

PR Rainmakers understand and accept they are not fully in control. They know the daily news is driven by immediate events, not by advanced planning.

The only insurance policy is a sound Plan B.

Copyright 2003 by W.O. Cawley Jr.

About the author: Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives, entrepreneurs and professionals on using the news media to attract customers and to advance ideas. For more free articles and e-books, visit the Free University of Public Relations at www.rustycawley.com.

Why Small Business Must Turn to PR

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Why Small Business Must Turn to PR

If small business had no important outside audiences, it wouldn’t exist.

But since they do have external “publics,” it’s doubly unfortunate when those same small business owners seem unconcerned about the very outside folks whose behaviors can place a choke-hold on their business!

And worse, are so casual about public relations, the best way to move those behaviors in their direction.

Is that you? What’s the problem? Can you think of any other way to marshall those groups of people you need so badly if your business is to succeed?

Face it. You must turn to public relations if you are really serious about getting those important outside people to support what you are trying to do.

And the best part is, there’s no mystery about how to do it!

Start today by listing your important outside audiences in priority order. No doubt, customers and prospects will place #1 and #2. But think carefully about your local and trade media as well as community residents and leaders, suppliers and the like. The test for adding an external audience to your worry list is this: if left unattended, could its perceptions and behaviors hurt your business?

Since there is no other affordable way to find out how each of your target audiences perceive your business, products, services and operations, you must take the time to do it yourself along with your colleagues. Interact with members of that key target audience and probe their perceptions with plenty of questions. Watch for misconceptions, inaccuracies and rumors that need to be corrected. Stay alert to negativity of any kind.

This will let you decide how much you will try to alter perceptions among each audience. It also becomes the behavior modification goal against which you will measure your progress.

Now it’s message time. What will you say to members of your target audience to alter that negative perception that surfaced during your conversations with them? Your message must be persuasive, so stick with the facts and present them clearly. By identifying honestly what is really at issue at the moment, you impart a sense of credibility to your comments, and their timeliness adds a compelling dimension to your message.

What’s the best way to get that message to the eyes and ears of members of your target audience?

Here, you have an embarrassment of riches with dozens of communications tactics including news announcements, op-eds, letters-to-the-editor, speeches, community briefings, broadcast and newspaper interviews and many, many others.

Progress can best be tracked by interacting all over again with members of the target audience. While you’ll ask questions similar to those you asked in your earlier monitoring sessions, this time you’re looking for signs that your message got through. In other words, signs that your message succeeded in altering any negative perceptions of your business.

You should also monitor print and broadcast media, key customers and prospects for similar indications of success.

Should progress not be fast enough for you, you’ll want to consider increasing the number of communications tactics you employ as well as the frequency of their use. Your message should also be re-evaluated for its factual basis and clarity.

Gradually, your monitoring will playback perception changes among that target audience, and that means the behaviors you seek will not be far behind.

It is this kind of success that tells us very clearly why small business must turn to PR if it is to realize its potential.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com

Ignore PR at Your Peril!

Author: Robert A. Kelly

If you do, it means:

1. you don’t value tracking the perceptions of important outside audiences whose behaviors could sink your ship:

2. you don’t care about setting a public relations goal designed to correct misconceptions, inaccuracies or rumors that can hurt you;

3. you care even less about strategies to get you from here to that PR goal you already don’t care about;

4. and you certainly don’t value the persuasive messages you need to convince your key outside audiences that their damaging perceptions of your enterprise are dead wrong.

Man, that’s risky and an awful lot not to care about!

Actually, I don’t believe you don’t care, and I don’t believe you’re really ignoring public relations. If you were, by now your organization would be on its last legs, Kaput!, Morto!

In fact, you may be a closet PR person who knows better. Why you may even buy the fundamental premise of public relations:

“People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action those people whose behaviors affect the organization, the public relations mission is accomplished.”

I’ll bet you’re also pretty darn good at monitoring what that #1 external audience thinks about you and your organization. And that you regularly interact with them asking questions like What do you think of us? Why? while watching for negative undertones, wrong-headed beliefs or misconceptions.

And that means you’ll be anxious to create a public relations goal that corrects such misconceptions because they can lead directly to negative behaviors that will hurt you.

In practice, your goal may be focused on pacifying an activist group, reinforcing prospect interest in your product or service, or even countering a painful rumor.

You’re probably ahead of me in forming the strategy you need to reach that goal. For better or worse, there are only three ways to deal with opinion or perception problems. Create some all-new opinion where none exists, change existing opinion, or reinforce it.

With goal and strategy both in hand, you now have some real work to do. What will you need to say to your key audience members to persuade them to your way of thinking? You must be clear about what should be corrected or clarified. You must also be persuasive, and your facts and figures believable. And if appropriate, try to be compelling, perhaps with a certain sense of urgency.

Your “foot soldiers” – communications tactics – can now carry that hard-won message to the attention of your #1 target audience, and there are scads of them just waiting for you to send them into action. For example, speeches, news releases, brochures, special events, radio interviews and one-on-one meetings.

One question remains. How do you tell whether or not you are making any headway with your public relations effort?

You again interact with members of that key audience of yours. And yes, with questions very similar to those you asked during your original information gathering exercise at the start of the program. Only this time, you are more interested in whether your communications tactics have moved perceptions in your direction.

Do the new responses show signs that your were successful in changing that inaccurate belief? Or correcting that misconception? Or killing that dangerous rumor for good?

Not enough movement? Take another look at your message to see if it is really compelling. Is it honestly persuasive? Are your facts supportive of your goal and strategy? Is it written clearly enough?

I want to reemphasize that what you are looking for at this stage is a strong indication that your efforts have clearly moved perceptions and target audience behaviors in the desired direction.

When this second monitoring drill allows that conclusion, you will have good reason to value highly your public relations goal, strategy, message and communications tactics.

Together, they will have made it possible for you to say, as promised in the fundamental premise,“My public relations mission is accomplished.”

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com

Can Small PR Firms Deliver Huge Results?

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Can Small PR Firms Deliver Huge Results?

They can when they invest in the basics. The best of them obviously rely on some form of public relations fundamental premise to produce winners across business environments from rockets and orange juice to product recalls and indicted CEOs.

But, chances are the top producers among small PR firms have built their businesses on a premise like this one:

People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action those people whose behaviors affect the organization, the public relations mission is accomplished.

Public relations firms who do not base their work on a premise like this one are well-advised to consider doing so.

The reason? Their clients are subject to the same realities as the rest of us, realities that never change. People usually behave based on their perception of the facts. And clients usually demand certain behaviors from those “publics” whose behaviors have the most impact on their businesses.

Even more to the point, when client managers start looking for a return on their public relations investment, they want to see the kind of key stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to achieving their objectives.

Which is why, especially for the small PR firm anxious to meet client needs, there is no better performance measure at which to aim.

However, for those small PR firms not yet guided by any kind of public relations fundamental premise, here is a suggestion.

Consider the premise outlined above, then take a shot at convin- cing a new or current client to let you produce a broader, more productive public relations effort for his or her company. And remember, the fundamental premise of public relations outlined above is a great equalizer placing all public relations firms on a level playing field when it comes to the effectiveness of the process. It especially targets those firms with a client who expects the best value from PR dollars spent, not simply a limited and mechanical publicity placement effort.

In other words, consider using the premise as a means for going after higher quality new business, or upgrading an account and broadening the work performed for a savvy client who wishes to squeeze every benefit out of the money they spend on public relations.

Start by listing a client’s most important outside audiences in priority order – audiences whose behaviors directly and visibly affect client success or failure. At the top of such a list are usually prospects and customers. But it could well include community residents, business and political leaders, suppliers, minorities, fraternal groups, nearby military personnel and union leaders. The target list might even include “clients of your client” where such activity is a high priority for that client.

The test for listing an audience is this: does its behaviors affect my client’s business in any way? If they do, they belong on the list.

Obviously, you must now determine what members of that key external public think about your client and his or her business, in order to build and implement a successful public relations effort. And that means interacting with members of that audience and asking a lot of questions. What do they think about your client company and its products and services? Are there signs of negativity? Misconceptions? Inaccuracies? Rumors?

The answers to these questions allow you to establish the corrective public relations goal, i.e., a specific perception and, thus, behavior change. For example, clear up that misconception, correct that inaccuracy, or knock down that rumor as soon as possible.

How do you achieve that goal? Right! You select a strategy that will get you from here to there. And there are just three strategies to deal with a perception challenge: create perception (opinion) where there may be none, change existing perception, or reinforce it. Your choice will be dictated by your new public relations goal.

Clearly the most challenging step in this sequence is preparing the right message for delivery to the target audience. It must make a compelling case, so think about it carefully. It must state clearly that the offending misconception, inaccuracy or rumor is not the truth. Instead, layout that truth in a credible manner. The hallmarks of such a message are clarity, persuasiveness, credibility, believability and a compelling presentation.

Now it’s time for the “beasts of burden,” the communications tactics which will carry your carefully-scripted message to the eyes and ears of that target audience. Happily, there are a ton of such tactics at your disposal. Of course, you will want to double check the ability of each to zero in on your specific audience. As most PR firms are aware, they range from news- letters, press releases and radio and newspaper interviews to newsworthy surveys, sports sponsorships, op-eds and many, many more.

In short order, clients will be interested in evidence that the public relations effort is achieving results. The best way to demonstrate progress is by reporting on the results of a new round of perception monitoring among members of that target audience. You’re looking for signs that their percep- tions now reflect the corrective elements of your message

Your clients are subject to the same realities as the rest of us, realities that never change. As noted, people usually behave based on their perception of the facts. And clients usually demand certain behaviors from those “publics” whose behaviors have the most impact on their businesses.

Small (and large) PR firms have little choice but to go after those perceptions with a vengeance.

That is how that small PR firm can deliver huge results.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com

Dean Schmidt Drives Manufacturing Association PR Program

Author: Thomas Cutler

Manufacturer neglect, prompted the development and launch of the intensive Manufacturing PR Media Blitz' program, a 90—day program allowing even very small manufacturers to tiptoe into the public relations arena driving quantifiable and measurable impacts.

""Manufacturers spent the past fifteen years becoming lean, efficient, and highly competitive while completely ignoring their marketing and public relations efforts,"" according to Thomas R. Cutler, the nation's leading manufacturing journalist and CEO of TR Cutler, Inc. (www.trcutlerinc.com) based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

According to Dean Schmidt, Vice President of the Affinity Program for TR Cutler, Inc., ""We had to find a way for manufacturers to rapidly experience ROI from an aggressive PR campaign. 45 press releases in 90 days generates extraordinary traffic to manufacturers' websites and optimizes search engine rankings."" Schmidt acknowledged that new website traffic from potential customers often helps to quickly identify missing ""call-to-action"" messages and results in revised or updated websites.

Schmidt also noted, ""With almost nine out of ten manufacturers employing less than fifty employees, tight margins, global competitiveness, and enticing spending alternatives, PR is often relegated to the ""back burner.""

Cutler developed the PR Advantage Affinity program for manufacturing associations' members. TR Cutler suggested that, ""Due to our leadership role in the manufacturing public relations arena, we have decided to introduce a program that will allow manufacturing associations to offer their members deeply discounted PR services starting in September 2005. There is no cost for the manufacturing associations to participate in the program and offer these deeply discounted PR services to their members.""

In early Q3, Cutler conducted the largest North American manufacturer survey about anticipated marketing budgets in 2006. Statistically significant findings indicated that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the manufacturers surveyed anticipate a dramatic increase in PR budgets of 50% above 2005 levels; travel, print advertising, tradeshow exhibiting, and direct mail each revealed a 30% decrease in 2006 marketing versus 2005.

TR Cutler 954-486-7562 www.trcutlerinc.com trcutler@trcutlerinc.com

# # #

About the author: Professional Marketing Firm

Monday, October 30, 2006

Managers and PR Genius

Author: Robert A. Kelly

Managers and PR Genius

The real public relations geniuses might be managers. You know, managers who pursue their objectives by reaching, persuading and moving those outside audiences whose behavior most affect their organizations, to actions those managers desire.

Their “secret” is probably a PR blueprint something like this one: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

What a PR blueprint like this gives YOU, a business, non-profit or association manager, are the tools you need to persuade your important external stakeholders to your way of thinking. Then, hopefully, move them to take actions that lead to your success.

Best part is, the public relations people assigned to your department, division or subsidiary can run the program for you if, that’s IF, you as the unit manager stay involved and participate in key decisions along the way.

First concern? In all probability, your PR staff will need to shift its attention from simple communications tactics to the more aggressive fundamental concept of public relations, and its action blueprint, mentioned above.

It’s worth the effort because the payoff for you will be target audience behaviors like these: boosts in repeat purchases, or higher contribution and membership application rates, or new waves of interested prospects.

Sit down with the PR folks who work for your unit and explain the need to list, in priority order, those key outside audiences. And discuss the importance of learning how the organization is perceived by members of those audiences. In particular because perceptions almost always lead to predictable behaviors, and that, of course, is what will soon concern you the most.

To probe those target audience perceptions, you and your staff must interact with members of that key external audience and ask a variety of questions. For example, “Do you know anything about us? Have you had dealings with us? Was there ever a problem with a transaction?

During these perception monitoring sessions, stay alert for negativity. Was there a glaring inaccuracy that popped up repeatedly? Any false assumptions about your services or products? Did you notice misconceptions, rumors or clearly negative attitudes? And watch especially for evasive or hesitant responses.

The data you gather from these perception monitoring interviews allow you to establish your public relations goal. You must decide to focus on correcting a dangerous inaccuracy or clarifying a troublesome misconception.

As a manager, you know that goals are achieved using the right strategy. In the case of perception and opinion matters, there are just three workable strategies available to you: reinforce existing perception/opinion, create perception where there may be none, or change existing opinion. Only caveat: be sure your chosen strategy fits well with the public relations goal you have established.

Now your PR people must prepare the message that will alter perception among members of your target audience. As the unit manager, your personal input will be required to insure that it is both persuasive and compelling. As well, the message must be clearly written, and well supported with facts if it is to be believable as it strives to alter perception in your direction.

Delivering your message is not a complex task and your PR folks will help select the proper communications tactics to get the job done. Luckily for all concerned, there is a full menu of such tactics from special events, news announcements, print and broadcast interviews and brochures to newsletters, speeches, emails and many others.

To satisfy all concerned that the effort to alter an offending perception is really working, you must re-monitor the perceptions of members of your external target audience

This go-around, however, will see all members of the public relations team on the lookout for clear-cut signs that the negative perception is actually being altered according to plan.

You should also be aware that matters can be accelerated by adding new communications tactics to the effort, AND/OR by increasing their frequencies, as appropriate.

If genius is too strong a descriptive for managers who apply this public relations blueprint, let us at least observe that it allows them a degree of success in achieving their unit objectives they did not previously enjoy.

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

How Managers Hit PR Paydirt

Author: Robert A. Kelly

How Managers Hit PR Paydirt

As a business, non-profit or association manager, you’ll know it’s PR paydirt when you’re able to persuade your key external stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that lead to your department, division or subsidiary’s success.

Proof of the pudding will be outside stakeholder behaviors like increasing repeat purchases, more inquiries about strategic alliances, new specifiers of your components, more membership inquiries, or a jump in capital contributions.

But to realize such results, you’ll have to get personally involved with the public relations people assigned to your unit. Then shift their emphasis from communications tactics to a workable and comprehensive blueprint that will lead to your success as a unit manager.

A blueprint, for example, like this: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

What such a public relations blueprint will require of you, is a sharper focus on those outside groups of people who play a role in just how successful a manager you will be. In other words, the blueprint targets your most important external audiences.

Get your PR people on board early on. This should be an easy task as some of them, no doubt, are wondering if there may be more to public relations than press releases, special events and brochures.

Enlist them instead in a core public relations effort to determine how all of your crucial outside audiences really perceive your operation. I speak here of audiences with perceptions leading to behaviors that affect your organization the most. So discuss with your staff how you can gather those key audience perceptions in the most cost-effective manner.

Since retaining a professional opinion survey firm can be very expensive, you may well conclude that you and your PR staff can interact with members of your target audience and ask the necessary questions. And I would agree.

Among the questions: What do you know about us? Have we ever worked together? Was it a positive experience for you? Did you ever have a problem with our people? Watch for evasive or hesitant answers and, especially, for negativities such as inaccuracies, misconceptions, false assumptions or rumors.

The data you collect lets you set your public relations goal. For example, clarify that misconception, correct that inaccuracy, kill that rumor dead.

You are a manager fully aware that every good goal needs a good strategy to show you how to reach that goal. When it comes to matters of opinion or perception, you have just three strategy choices: create perception where there may be none, change existing perception/opinion, or reinforce it. But take care that the strategy you select fits nicely with your new public relations goal.

Now it’s message time – the special words you will use to alter what you discovered some of your target audience members have come to believe. This corrective message is crucial to the success of the program and, all at the same time, must be clear, believable and compelling.

The next step truly can be called “special delivery.” Here, you take steps to get your message before the eyes and ears of your target audience. Communications tactics will handle that chore for you, and there are dozens of them available like newsletters, brochures, press releases, media interviews, emails, facility tours and lots of others. Be sure that the tactics you select have a track record of reaching people like those who make up your target audience.

Your two-part bottom line? A workable and comprehensive public relations blueprint that (1) assists you as a manager in creating the external audience behaviors you need and (2), in so doing, helps you achieve your department’s business, non-profit or association objectives.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

PR Advice You Didn't Ask For

Author: Robert A. Kelly

PR Advice You Didn’t Ask For

Although, as a business, non-profit or association manager, you may be glad this came your way.

Especially if your current public relations effort is delivering more publicity plugs than real behavior change among your most important outside audiences. Change that could lead directly to achieving your managerial objectives.

I’m talking about persuading those key outside folks to your way of thinking, then moving them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed.

There’s even a blueprint to help you do it. People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

What kind of results can you expect? Consider these: membership applications on the rise; customers starting to make repeat purchases; fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; community leaders beginning to seek you out; welcome bounces in show room visits; prospects starting to do business with you; higher employee retention rates, capital givers or specifying sources beginning to look your way, and even politicians and legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities.

An obvious first step involves getting the public relations people assigned to your unit on board. Make certain the whole team buys into why it’s so important to know how your outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Be sure they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can hurt your unit.

Review how you plan to monitor and gather perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Questions like these: how much do you know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? How much do you know about our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

Since your PR people are in the perception and behavior business to begin with, they can be of real use for this opinion monitoring project. Professional survey firms are always available, but that can be a budget buster. Whether it’s your people or a survey firm who asks the questions, your objective is to identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, and misconceptions .

Then you must carefully select which of the above becomes your corrective public relations goal -- clarify the misconception, spike that rumor, correct the false assumption or fix certain other inaccuracies.

You can achieve your goal by picking the right strategy from the three choices available to you. Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. But be sure your new strategy fits comfortably with your new public relations goal.

But what will you say when you have the opportunity to address your key stakeholder audience to help persuade them to your way of thinking?

Select your best writer to prepare the message because s/he must put together some very special, corrective language. Words that are not only compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if they are to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.

Happily, the next step is easy. You select communications tactics to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. Making certain that the tactics you select have a record of reaching folks like your audience members, you can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others.

Since how one communicates often affects the credibility of the message, you may wish to deliver it in small getogethers like meetings and presentations rather than through a higher- profile media announcement.

You’ll soon feel pressure for signs of progress. And that means a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. Employing many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session, you will now be watching carefully for signs that the offending perception is being altered in your direction.

Luckily, matters can be accelerated by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.

This workable public relations blueprint will help you persuade your most important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of your department, division or subsidiary.

So, while you may not have asked for this public relations advice, I hope you will agree that the people you deal with behave like everyone else – they act upon their perceptions of the facts they hear about you and your operation. Leaving you little choice but to deal promptly and effectively with those perceptions by doing what is necessary to reach and move your key external audiences to action.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Are PR and Marketing Key To Yahoo!'s Future?

Author: YahooSupporter

Is PR and Marketing the Key to Yahoo!'s Future? Today, there is news that Google is ""testing"" its ebay-like auctions and it may soon release an electronic wallet.

Anyone who knows anything about Yahoo! knows that they implemented ebay-like auctions years ago (see http://auctions.yahoo.com), and have had an electronic wallet for years also (see http://wallet.yahoo.com).

Both of these products are FULLY tested, as are all Yahoo! products, by very very experienced software engineers, with excellent software engineering / QA skills, so that bugs are very rarely introduced into the ""live"" system - i.e. Yahoo! customers very rarely find bugs - Yahoo! employees find them first, before the software is made public. The wallet is highly secure and extremely reliable, and the auctions work spectacularly well and it is possible to purchase products often more cheaply than is possible on Ebay. The only fault with the Yahoo! versions of these products is that they have not been marketed fiercely enough - very few web users even know they exist!

Contrast this with Google, which appears to leave most of its products in ""beta"" mode forever, so that when their customers find bugs, they can use the excuse that the reason there are still bugs is because the product is a beta product.

My guess (though I cannot prove this, my experience in the software industry tells me that this is true) is that the real reason is because Google software teams hack together solutions very quickly to meet customer demand and that full software engineering and QA are not something that Google takes as seriously as does Yahoo!

This story is very similar to all the ""new"" products that Google comes up with..

Of course, everyone knows that Yahoo! Search (http://search.yahoo.com) was around long before Google gurgled its first goo. Unlike Google's search (with its so called ""Florida update"", and other accidental and/or catastrophic reorganizations of the search engine ranking criteria), Yahoo! has never upset its SEO audience by keeping its ranking algorithm secret, changing it drastically without warning, or accidentally changing it.. This is because all Yahoo! changes to the search engine (as is the case with all Yahoo! software) undergo Testing and Change Management (basic principles of software engineering that ensures that unexpected changes do not appear on the live web site). For some reason, publicity about Google's severe mistakes in this area rarely hit the news stands and TV news, despite the fact that it cost lots of businesses a great deal of money! Likewise, Yahoo!'s sterling record in search ranking is rarely publicized in contrast to the Google flakiness.

Google Groups was implemented years after Yahoo! Groups (at http://groups.yahoo.com) - Google Groups is still in beta, years after it bought the newsgroups and software running them from Deja (Google has not changed it much since buying the ready made software and content from Deja, and for a long time after they bought it, much of it was read-only, rendering it almost totally useless during that time period).

Google Desktop search came after Yahoo! Desktop search (see http://desktop.yahoo.com) too (and - oh yes - it is still in beta).

Google's shopping search service, Froogle, came a long time after Yahoo! Shopping (see http://shopping.yahoo.com). The Yahoo! product is vastly superior also, with lots of very useful content to aid in shopping decisions, comparison tools, rating and review facilities etc.

Google News came a long time after Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com) and, of course, it is still in beta! And, many would argue, is still inferior in many ways, to the Yahoo! offering - in terms of the diversity of news feeds on offer, the layout, and other factors.

Google Maps came along years after Yahoo! Maps (http://maps.yahoo.com), and is not only still in beta, it is full of little bugs which I, for one, find very annoying! Although there are some nice gimmicks in Google Maps (you can drag maps around), often such gimmicks are not what the user actually wants to do when using a map (I want to double-click and drill down on an area, like I can in Yahoo! Maps!), and other gimmicks, that would be useful, dont work - e.g it is easy to implement maps into other websites thanks to an open programming api - but that api often fails due to programming errors.

Gmail, likewise, has some nice gimmicks (some of which the user may actually want/need) but is full of bugs, is still in beta, and comes years after Yahoo! Mail (http://mail.yahoo.com) was well established. Yet Gmail got huge publicity because Google offered huge amounts of storage space as part of the deal for those signing up to the service (Yahoo! had, for a long time, offered a great amount of free space to its customers, - unlimited storage space on Yahoo! Photos (http://photos.yahoo.com), a 50Mb of free webspace courtesy of Geocities (http://geocities.yahoo.com), various amounts of free storage space for Yahoo! Briefcase (http://briefcase.yahoo.com) users, Yahoo! Notepad (http://notepad.yahoo.com) users and various amounts of space within many other facilities, all of which were fully integrated with Yahoo! Mail (http://mail.yahoo.com), helping users to organize their information more usefully (whereas Google's space is all contained within mail, creating a mass of different types of information all stored in the same application, making it very difficult to organize, search or make use of) - and yet Google publicity suggested it was the first to offer so much free storage space. Maddeningly, in response, Yahoo! simply expanded the amount of free storage space associated directly with Yahoo! Mail accounts and kept quiet about its other offerings, and the benefits of organizing information in the way facilitated by Yahoo! offerings.

Google Toolbar is another idea that Yahoo! (http://toolbar.yahoo.com) had before Google, though it is one of the few Google pieces of software no longer in beta, that actually works and even may occasionally feature one or two gimmicks that Yahoo! should implement in its own toolbar (for example, web ranking is a useful feature for SEOs and webmasters, which Google came up with first)!

The unhappy ""ig"" (Google's personalized home page) is Google's half-hearted attempt at a personalized portal home page like my yahoo! (http://my.yahoo.com) but it is a very very poor attempt, and is a vastly inferior product. Its a shame more Yahoo! users do not realize how powerful my Yahoo! is. Again, a fault with Yahoo! marketing and PR, not with the product itself.

Moreover, I am aware of at least three ""new"" products that Google is about to announce that Yahoo! has had available to the public for a great deal of time..

It is clear that Google has a very strong Marketing and PR machine - it is no coincidence that so many TV shows, movies and adverts feature people ""googling"", that so many news headlines feature Google's name, nor that Google's share price and revenues are going through the roof in comparison to that of Yahoo!

However, PR and Marketing are the ONLY reason for this.

So, what is wrong with the Yahoo! Marketing and PR machine? Why is Yahoo! allowing Google to grab the headlines for inferior copies of products that Yahoo! has had in its arsenal for many years?

Terry Semel, Jerry Yang et al ought to find out the answer to that question.. NOW!

See YahooSupporter's blog http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-4sU6UzIocqjUhnPaqIsNgU0-

About the author: I have permission to reproduce this article here on behalf of the mysterious YahooSupporter

Fatal PR Mistakes Authors Make on Their Book Campaigns

Author: Penny C. Sansevieri

Any author who is driving their own PR campaign knows that often times marketing and media can be an uphill battle. Many times authors are pitching and promoting themselves with minimal results. It can be tedious and frustrating and sometimes lead them to make fatal PR mistakes that can cost them their campaign.

One of the first, and potentially most fatal, is thinking that one or two media appearances are going to wing your book into the bestseller spotlight. Media works when it's done consistently and often it takes months, and in some cases years, for you to reach your own ""PR payoff."" The most important part of a campaign is the author's ability to stick with it. Most of the interviews you see nationally on shows like Good Morning America and Oprah, started with a regional buzz. Build your base (or buzz) in your own back yard first and then start getting your message out on a national level. And this leads us to our second PR mistake: ignoring regional or trade media. Sometimes when you're promoting yourself it's easy to get caught up in going after the big fish, but don't ignore the smaller regional and niche publications, they can be a gold mine of PR and really help to get the buzz going.

Next on our list of fatal PR mistakes is the technique with which authors pitch themselves. First and foremost you want to make sure you're pitching the right people, don't just go after a ""producer,"" find the producer that's right for the story. And be cautious of when you pitch, before you start calling the media, turn on your TV or radio and see if there's a breaking news story. There's no quicker way to offend your media target then pitching them a story when they're scrambling to cover a plane crash or some other major disaster.

As you're navigating through your PR campaign you'll also want to make sure your pitches are focused and relevant. It's much easier to get the attention of the media when you're pitching them something that's already on their radar screen. For example remember when you're putting together your campaign to keep an eye out for seasonal or news spins to your topic. If, let's say, you are discussing the topic of depression, you might want to pitch it around a nationally designated ""depression awareness day"" or, perhaps, given all the buzz around college kids and depression, you might want to tackle this as a back-to-school issue. Targeted, focused pitches are the best way to get the media to notice you, so open that calendar or read your local newspaper to find out what's hot and top of mind. Also, respect their time when you're pitching. Get to the point, don't ramble and remember that this is not about you, it's about the benefits to their readers, viewers, or listeners and most of all, never, ever, ever sell your book. You should always sell yourself and your expertise. Producers and editors will be looking for the WIIFM factor behind your pitch (what's in it for me) not how they can showcase your book.

Finally there's no quicker way to end your campaign than to over promise, stretching the truth, or not being reliable. If you miss an interview or over promise on a commitment one time, you can kiss any further media goodbye. Word travels fast in the industry and bad news travels even faster. Remember be patient, be persistent, and be professional and you're bound to get the media you deserve and keep your campaign alive and well!

About the author: Penny C. Sansevieri helps turn authors into success stories. Check out her Virtual Author Tours, free insider info on publishing, and author marketing newsletter at http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What is a Press Release

Author: Peter Finers

A respectable company interested in publicity and active social life is obliged to have public relations department. Every product needs to be advertised and every service needs to be informed about. This is what advertising agencies are for. But publicity is also a way to advertise and PR agents in Hollywood know it perfectly well. Of course, nobody is talking about details of private life or accidental cases that have nothing to do with morality. The public should know latest news from the company whose services they are going to use. If there is information that can draw attention and both promote, why not to give it to the public.

Information about corporate news or event is called a press release, a news release or a press statement. A standard press release is a short sequence written and forwarded to representatives of the news media to announce something that is of a news value. Press releases are sent to editors of magazines, on the radio or television and online. The purpose is to inform about an event or a conference and draw attention of mass media to it. Companies providing seo copywriting services use press releases to increase the ranking of the client in the search engines. It only may seem easy to cre ate press release , but it also has its system, standards, format and principles just like any written kind of creation. Here are some useful tips on how to write a press release.

It is absolutely necessary to be sure that news you want to present is newsworthy. If the reason you sat down to write a release is not very attention drawing, wait until you have more information and details on the topic. Make sure that your release is laconic and brief. There is no need to describe all the details in the release itself, wait till due to the effort of journalists people will be interested in your event and then you'll have an opportunity to tell about it in person. Make your press release sound simple, no need to use excessive adjectives and fancy language. Think about people's attitude towards what are you going to inform about and use only strong sides of the event. First 5-10 words of the release are very important and exactly they are responsible for the first impression from the release. They have to get reader interested in what is going to happen further. Structure it right: give a short sequence of the news and only then define who was the initiator or the person of address. Make this press release work for you. Some positive information about a company simply called promotion will be helpful in further job of journalists. As you see a press release is a powerful marketing tool that builds credibility.

Killer-Content.com - Web copywriting services

About the author: Peter Finers is a senior copywriter at Killer-Content.com He has several years of experience as copywriter and has completed several important projects for different companies.

How Real PR Works

Author: Robert A. Kelly

How Real PR Works

For some, public relations works well when their news release or special event winds up in the newspaper or on the radio.

For others, public relations works best when it does something positive about the behaviors of outside audiences that affect their operations the most. I like this approach because a business, non-profit or association manager can use the fundamental premise of public relations to deliver key stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving a manager’s objectives.

What fundamental premise of public relations am I talking about here, and how can you put it to good use persuading those important outside folks to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?

“People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.”

A simple plan that gets everyone working towards the same external audience behaviors insuring that your public relations effort stays on track.

By the way, I’m talking about changes in behavior like welcome bounces in showroom visits, community leaders beginning to seek you out; membership applications on the rise, customers starting to make repeat purchases; organizations proposing strategic alliances and joint ventures; waves of prospects starting to do business with you; new inquiries about strategic alliances; politicians and legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities; higher employee retention rates and even capital givers or specifying sources beginning to look your way.

Meet with your PR team and take the time to list those outside audiences of yours who behave in ways that help or hinder you in achieving your objectives. Then prioritize them by how badly they impact you, and start working with the target audience that heads your list.

First challenge? You’re not certain just how most members of that key outside audience perceive your organization.

Because there’s a good chance you can’t afford professional survey work, you and your PR colleagues (don’t worry, they’ll be quite familiar with perception and behavior matters) must monitor those perceptions yourself.

Ask members of that outside audience questions like “Have you ever had contact with anyone from our organization? Was it a satisfactory experience? Are you familiar with our services or products?” Stay alert to negative statements, especially evasive or hesitant replies, and especially for false assumptions, untruths, misconceptions, inaccuracies and potentially damaging rumors. Because experience shows they usually lead to negative behaviors, the objective is to correct any of the above you encounter.

Now, you’re ready to select the specific perception to be altered, and that becomes your public relations goal.

Of course a PR goal without a strategy to show you HOW to reach it, is like a cheeseburger without the ketchup. That’s why you now pick one of three strategies designed to create perception or opinion where there may be none, or change existing perception, or reinforce it. The challenge here (a small one) is to insure that the goal and its strategy match each other. You wouldn’t want to select “change existing perception” when current perception is just right suggesting a “reinforce” strategy.

Flexing your PR muscle, it’s your writer’s turn to prepare a compelling message carefully designed to alter your key target audience’s perception, as called for by your public relations goal.

Remember that it may be advisable to blend in your corrective message with a presentation, or a newsworthy announcement of a new product, service or employee, which may lend more credibility by not overemphasizing the correction.

Clarity is the watchword with regard to what perception needs clarification or correction, and why. Your facts must be truthful and your position must be logically explained and believable if it is to hold the attention of members of that target audience, and actually move perception in your direction. In other words, your message must be compelling.

Now you select your communications tactics, the “beasts of burden” you will harness to carry your persuasive new thoughts to the attention of your outside target audience.

Your potential tactics list is ample, to say the least. It includes letters-to-the-editor, brochures, press releases and speeches. Or, you might select radio and newspaper interviews, personal contacts, facility tours or customer briefings. There are scores available with the only selection requirement being that those you choose have a record of reaching people just like your target audience members.

Before long, questions will be raised as to how much progress is being made. By which time, you’ll be hard at work remonitoring target audience member perceptions. Using questions similar to those used during your earlier monitoring session, you will now look carefully for indications that audience perceptions are beginning to move in the direction you have in mind.

By adding more communications tactics, increasing their frequencies or fine tuning your message, you can always move things along at a faster clip.

Leaving tactics to do what they do best, carry messages, what should come first is an aggressive public relations plan like that outlined above that targets key stakeholder behavior change leading directly to achieving your department, division or subsidiary objectives.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

TR Cutler, Inc. Manufacturing PR Firm Puts Dean Schmidt in Charge of International Growth

Author: Thomas Cutler

Thomas R. Cutler, who founded the consortium in 1999, has grown the participation from 300 journalists to more than two thousands key clients, journalists, editors, trendsetters, and key business leaders worldwide. Cutler noted that, ""The numerous Free Trade agreements, expansive globalization, and worldwide manufacturing process, has generated huge growth for manufacturers outside North America who want to establish a media and market presence in North America. Dean Schmidt, since joining TR Cutler, Inc. in August 2005 has made a significant and valuable contribution.""

Schmidt noted, ""We have already seen extraordinary growth from manufacturers in New Zealand, Australia, South America, and Europe. With the expansion of the Manufacturing Media Consortium in the international markets, we expect revenues to double by 2007.""

Vice-President of Operations for TR Cutler, Inc., Dean Schmidt is now responsible for the international growth and development of the manufacturing public relations organization. Schmidt will perform a critical liaison function between freelance journalists, editors, and publisher and manage the day-to-day operation of the highly successful division.

Cutler has authored more than 1000 articles for a wide range of manufacturing periodicals, industrial publications, and business journals including most of the leading monthly trade publications. TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com), is the nation's largest manufacturing marketing and public relations firm, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

TR Cutler, Inc. www.trcutlerinc.com Thomas Cutler 954-486-7562

About the author: None

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Create A Press Release

Author: Jean Melconian

A press release is a great way to get free publicity for your site. In order to obtain editorial coverage for your business you must find a particular idea that is unique to your business and it should be newsworthy.. A press release is a document (usually between 500 to 1,000 words) about your company designed to make a newsworthy announcement to the media. A press release is a key tool for public relations professionals. This type of document has a highly defined style and format, and in a nut shell answers the basic questions of those who might be interested in the particular subject- who, what, where, when, and why. Using traditional PR efforts to reach both online and other media outlets in order to obtain free editorial coverage is a powerful way to reach potential customers. Press releases can be distributed to the media (such as newspapers, magazines, radio news outlets, television news outlets, and online publications) via U.S. Mail, fax or e-mail. Once you have a press release announcing your business (or some other news worthy event relating to your business), your goal is to get it in the hands of the editors. To help you compile your own customized media list, consider visiting the Web sites sponsored by Editor & Publisher (http://www.medianinfo.com), Media Online Yellow Pages (www.webcom.com), or the National Press Club (npc.press.org). Broadcast Interview Source (www.yearbooknews.com,) publishes a variety of phone numbers, addresses, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of writers, reporters, producers, editors, and radio elevision hosts. The Gebbie Press's All In One Directory (www.gebbieinc.com) lists contacts of 23,000 people from TV and radio stations, newspapers, African American and Hispanic Media, news syndicates, networks, and AP/UPI bureaus. Other media directories published by: Bacon's Media Directories (www.baconsinfo.com) Burelle's Media Directories (www.burrelles.com). In an article by John Hewitt (www.azstarnet.com) , before sending out any press release make sure you: 1.Know who to send it to, not just where. Find out who the editor or reporter is for the section you want your release to appear in. 2. Only send the release to one person per news outlet. Any problems that develop from duplicate coverage and effort will be blamed on you. 3.Don't just send press releases- call the editor or writer directly. If you want your release covered, call the person before sending the release, and a couple of days later to make sure they received it. Just don't become a pest. 4.Know your deadlines. Magazines, even weekly ones, are often planned months in advance. Seasonal events, such as Christmas and Easter, are a great example of this For calendar items, know the news outlet's deadline for the section. 5. Keep it short and informative. Reporters and editors are notoriously busy. Most press releases should be kept to one page. Two is acceptable. If they want more information, they'll ask. 6.Write in a news style. That means putting the prime information (who, where, what and when) into the lead (first paragraph). It also means keeping the sales pitch subtle. No exclamation points!!! Many papers will directly reprint a press release, as long as it is written in a professional news style. Use short words and sentences. Make sure what you're saying is very clear. 7.Always include, at the top corner of every page, a two- or three-word description of the story, the name and phone number of key contact people (no more than two), the page number ( if there us more than one page) and the release date (usually ""For Immediate Release""; otherwise "" Please hold until xx/xx/xx""). 8.End a press release with ### typed across the center margin a couple lines below the end of your text. If a release is continued on another page, type- ""-more-"" at the bottom of the page in the center. 9.Use standard 8 ½"" x 11"" paper typed on one side only. Never break a paragraph across two pages. Leave plenty of margins for editors to write notes-an inch and a half all around should be fine. 10.Bright Idea; Whenever you distribute a press release, also post the release somewhere on your Web site, under the heading ""Corporate Information,"" ""Company Background,"" or ""Press Releases.""

About the author: Jean Melconian is the owner of WebTrans International, Inc., International trade resources and logistics are available at: http://www.webcargo.net.

The Worst PR Mistakes

Author: Robert A. Kelly

The Worst PR Mistakes

For a business, non-profit or association manager, they could be fatal, coming as they do in four bitter flavors.

Mistake #1 – You limit your PR activity pretty much to placing product and service plugs on radio and in newspapers.

Mistake #2 – You fail to embrace the kind of PR plan that persuades those important outside audiences to your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed.

Mistake #3 -- You fail to use the high-impact, fundamental premise of public relations to deliver external stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives.

Mistake #4 -- you fail to get the creative potential of your assigned PR team or agency which you need to positively impact the behaviors of the very outside audiences that MOST affect your unit.

Here’s one way to reverse that hurtful process. Take a look at this fundamental public relations blueprint. People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

Such a blueprint will broaden your public relations field of fire and put its primary focus where it belongs, on your unit’s key external stakeholder behaviors.

A variety of results is likely. For example, fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; customers starting to make repeat purchases; membership applications on the rise; prospects starting to do business with you; community leaders beginning to seek you out; welcome bounces in show room visits; higher employee retention rates, capital givers or specifying sources starting to look your way, and even politicians and legislators beginning to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities.

Before you begin such a makeover, make certain the public relations people assigned to your unit really believe – deep down -- why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Make sure they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.

Sit down with them and discuss your plan for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Questions like these: how much do you know about our chief executive? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? How much do you know about our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

Luckily for you, your PR people are in the perception and behavior business to begin with, so they can really do a job for you on this crucially important opinion monitoring project. Professional survey firms are always available, but they can be very expensive. Nevertheless, whether it’s your people or a survey firm asking the questions, your objective is to identify untruths if not outright lies, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, and misconceptions .

Then you must carefully select which of the above aberrations becomes your corrective public relations goal – clarify the misconception, spike that rumor, correct the false assumption or fix certain other inaccuracies.

Selecting the wrong strategy to show you how to reach your goal is like eating corned beef and cabbage without the horseradish mustard and potatoes. Fact is, you can achieve your PR goal by picking the right strategy from the three choices available to you, change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. But be sure your new strategy dovetails nicely with that new public relations goal.

But what will you say when you finally get the opportunity to address your key stakeholder audience that will help persuade them to your way of thinking?

Select your best writer to prepare the message because s/he must put together some very special, corrective language. Words that are not only compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if they are to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.

Happily, the next step is easy. You select communications tactics to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. Making certain that the tactics you select have a record of reaching folks like your audience members, you can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others.

Experience shows that HOW one communicates often affects the credibility of the message. So, you may wish to deliver it in small getogethers like meetings and presentations rather than through a higher-profile media announcement.

Time to look for signs of progress. And that means a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. Employing many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session, you will now be watching carefully for signs that the offending perception is being altered in your direction.

Aren’t we fortunate that these matters usually can be accelerated by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.

This workable public relations blueprint will help you persuade your most important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of your department, division or subsidiary.

The people you deal with behave like everyone else – they act upon their perceptions of the facts they hear about you and your operation. Leaving you little choice but to deal promptly and effectively with those perceptions by doing what is necessary to reach and move those key external audiences to action.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

PR That Entrepreneurs Often Overlook

Author: Robert A. Kelly

PR That Entrepreneurs Often Overlook

If that sounds like you, here’s what you may be missing once the new enterprise is launched

Public relations that really does something about the behaviors of those key outside audiences that most affect your new enterprise.

PR that uses a fundamental blueprint to deliver external stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving your venture’s objectives.

And PR that persuades many of those important outside folks to your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that help your new enterprise succeed.

That’s why you as a small business owner must gear up to deal with the unattended perceptions out there that could nudge your fledgling venture closer to bankruptcy than success. Perceptions that, if left unattended, may well result in actions that run counter to those you and your banker had in mind.

For example, when new ventures fail, the wreckage is often assigned to undercapitalization. Seldom is failure attributed to a lack of an effective action plan that might have modified the behavior of prospects and other collaborators in a positive way, thus averting that failure.

So why support your new venture with press release public relations when a basic PR blueprint like this one can hold the key to your success? People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.

Add to that these kinds of results: fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; customers making repeat purchases; prospects starting to look your way; community leaders beginning to seek you out; and even politicians and legislators viewing you as a true innovator.

Major caveat for a new entrepreneurial venture: because the cost of gathering key audience perception data – an absolute must in this business – can be substantial, it should be built into the original funding budget. That suggests that you, as the new venture leader, must take the lead in assuring upfront funding of the perception monitoring function.

So, with the people whose perceptions of your venture you care most about now the target of your PR effort, you are ready to launch a well-planned public relations program that can reach, persuade and move those individuals to actions you desire.

Here’s a public relations checklist entrepreneurs may find helpful.

From Day 1, you have to be certain your staff or agency public relations people are really committed to knowing how your outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. And further, that negative key audience perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can hurt your new venture. Fortunately, your PR people are in the perception and behavior business to begin with, so they should be of real assistance for your opinion monitoring project.

Professional survey firms are always available, but that can be expensive. So, whether it’s your people or a survey firm asking the questions, your objective is to identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, and misconceptions.

First, rank your external audiences as to impacts on your operation. For example, #1 customers; #2 prospects; #3 employees; #4 local and trade media; #5 your local business community; #6 community leaders, and so forth. Then, involve your PR team in plans for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of those you expect will be your most important outside audiences.

Second, interact with members of your key audience and jot down their first impressions of your fledgling operation, especially any problem perceptions.

Use questions like these: Now that you’ve read our brochure, do you believe our products/services will be of use to people in this area? Have you used the services of our competitors? Did you find them useful? Fairly priced? Any problems? Listen carefully for any rumors or misconceptions about your new operation.

Third, decide which of the negatives you discovered, rates as the #1 corrective public relations goal – for example, clarify the misconception, spike that rumor, correct the false assumption or fix a certain inaccuracy.

Fourth, when you finally have the chance to address your key stakeholder audience to help persuade them to your way of thinking, what will you say? Ideally, you will prepare persuasive and compelling messages that not only provide details about your product and service quality and diversity, but address perception problems that surfaced during your monitoring sessions. As the method of communication can affect the credibility of the message, you may wish to deliver it in small meetings or presentations rather than through high-visibility media releases.

Not so incidentally, here’s where a talented writer earns his or her keep because s/he must put together some very special, corrective language. Words that are not only believable, but clear and factual if they are to correct the negatives and shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.

Fifth, in the same way Quesadillas come with sauteed onions and smoky cheese, the right PR strategy tells you how to reach your goal. But just three strategies are available in matters of perception and opinion -- change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. And be sure your new strategy is a natural fit with your new public relations goal.

Sixth, things get simpler here. Select communications tactics to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. Making certain that the tactics you select have a record of reaching folks like your audience members, you can pick from dozens of tactics. Everything from speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others.

Seventh, how do you decide that your efforts are changing perceptions for the better? As time passes, you should notice increased awareness of your business, a growing public perception of the role your business plays in the community; and, of course, growing numbers of prospects.

You can track these results by interacting on a regular basis with people from each of your key audiences, especially by monitoring print and broadcast media and through interaction with key customers and prospects.

But eighth, questions will soon appear as to progress. That will demand a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. Using the same questions used in the first benchmark session, you will now be alert to indications that the negative perception is being altered as you wished.

In public relations, we’re lucky that these efforts can be accelerated through more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.

The stakes are high – the very survival of your new enterprise!

So, concentrate on what’s most important -- people in your new venture’s community or marketing area behave like people everywhere, they take actions based on their perception of the facts available to them.

In the proverbial nutshell, here you have a workable public relations blueprint that can help you persuade your most important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of your new enterprise.

end

About the author: Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Friday, October 27, 2006

NEWS OR SNOOZE: Will Your Press Release be a Doosie or a Dud?

Author: Meredith Pond

A press release can be an effective weapon in the fight for media and public attention. In fact, many businesspeople don't even think twice before writing or ordering a press release, correctly assuming that a release can provide the necessary publicity to boost sales.

As much as a well-written press release can do for your image, you need to be sure that your business or product is appropriate for a release. Believe it or not, a press release that isn't truly newsworthy can easily end up sounding like a sales pitch, which can do irreparable damage to your company's image.

A press release should make an announcement about a new product or service, an event, or a change in the way a product or service is marketed. If your company has changed management, released or upgraded a product, or is staging an important event, you have material for a solid release.

Also, any little-known business or service can make a good release if it serves the needs of the public in an interesting way. For example, I just wrote a release for a gentleman who provides a service that allows homeowners to pay off their mortgages years sooner, without making larger payments or refinancing their current loans. With mortgage rates falling and the real estate market picking up, that kind of material made a very good release.

So, a story that surrounds current events and peaks public interest usually makes good release material. Now, let's talk about what doesn't.

If your business is, for example, an MLM that hundreds of other people are taking part in and marketing on their own, chances are that the media has already heard about it and won't pick up your story. I'm not saying that MLMs are automatic losers in the media department, because a brand-new or extremely unique program may still be newsworthy. In most cases, however, people trying to market an MLM should rely mainly on classified ads or informative articles that dance around their business, then reveal the contact information at the end.

Similarly, if you belong to an affiliate program along with lots of other people who are using their own marketing techniques, a press release probably isn't the way to go. Media people are extremely busy, and easily get overrun with press releases. Again, in this situation a classified ad or well-written article is probably a better use of your time and money.

A clever writer can take almost any subject and turn it into a press release without sounding like a sales letter. As great a talent as that is, however, media professionals will easily see through it. An effective press release doesn't just SOUND newsworthy, it IS newsworthy. A sales letter in disguise does not make a good release.

Above all, keep in mind that the last thing an editor wants to read is a sales pitch; sending them this kind of material will only get you blackballed in the media. If you're not sure your material is appropriate for a press release, ask an expert. Before ordering your release from an outside source, for example, call them or send them an email, tell them about your business, and ask them if they think a release is the right tool for you. If it's not, chances are they can recommend something that will serve you better.

About the author: Meredith Pond is editor and manager of DrNunley's http://CheapWriting.com. She has written hundreds of successful press releases. See her complete publicity and copy writing packages for students, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Reach Meredith at meredith@drnunley.com or 801-328-9006.

PR Works! 15 Ways To Make Your Press Release Stand Out From the Crowd

Author: Julia Hyde

PR Works!

15 Ways to Make Your Press Release Stand Out From the Crowd!

Do editors of newspapers, magazines and online news sites really use press releases? Too right they do. In fact, the press release is one of the most effective forms of publicity. But many businesses, both online and off, underestimate the power the press has to promote their business and get their product or service noticed by potential customers.

There are no figures that show how many news stories are generated by press releases but my guess is that it runs into the hundreds and thousands, if not more. Many will be published word for word. Others will be paraphrased. But, either way the stories generate free, credible publicity for you, and your business.

So how do you convince reporters and editors to sit up and take notice of your company’s news? Write a press release that’s newsworthy, factual, topical, and then send it to the right people. It’s not as simple as it sounds, though, because the press is bombarded with information everyday and their priorities are not necessarily yours.

Have no fear. Here are 15 tips to help you write a press release that will impress reporters, and increase your chances of publication.

1. Don’t waste the reporters’ time submitting something that isn’t news. Find an interesting angle or a new twist and you’re almost guaranteed success. If you make your story sound dull it will probably end up in the trash. The best source for ideas is the magazines and newspapers themselves. Not the front page headlines but the one or two paragraph items on page three or page 10. Play close attention to these because they often suggest something bigger is afoot. If that something can tie into your product or service you’re on to a sure-fire winner.

2. Your headline should summarize your story in ten words or less. It tells the editor, at a glance, if your story is newsworthy or not. Avoid adjectives like “amazing” and “exciting’. It’s a turn off for journalists. A simple title such as,“MarketingBiz.com Announces Launch of Newsletter Service” is better than, “MarketingBiz.com to Launch Exciting and Interesting New Service.” Remember, this is news, not advertising.

3. Make sure your lead sentence contains all the main points of your story. It should tell the reader who has done what, where, why and when. Try not to let this sentence ramble on. Make sure it’s straight to the point and contains only essential information.

4. Include all the benefits of your product or service. If your product is 20% cheaper, say so. If your service can help make your client, healthier or wealthier, say so. Concentrate on the advantages to the consumer because no one cares about the advantages the product has to you.

5. Add detail to your story. In the body of your release add extra information in order of importance. But beware, editors delete paragraphs from the end so make sure you include vital information early.

6. If possible include one or two quotes from reliable or expert sources. Quotes give a point of view, reflect the personality of the speaker and add a human element.

7. Keep the length to a single page if possible. Definitely no more than two. Anything over that becomes a chore for the editor. If you must go to two pages put “more” at the bottom of page one so the editor knows there is more to your story. At the end of your release put either the word “Ends” or ### or –30-. This lets the editor know your release is over.

8. If you’re sending photos with your release, always include a caption listing the names of people in the photo. Include sources, contacts and the release date.

9. Avoid embargoes unless they are absolutely necessary. They are often used to make a story look more important than it actually is. Editors will rarely be fooled and you may find it’s counter-productive.

10. Sending your release to the right people and to enough publications will increase your chances of getting your story printed. There are literally thousands of newspapers, magazines and online publications for trade and the consumer. Find the right ones by:

? Checking listings in a media directory. You can find them at your local library. ? Using an online service such as PR Web, that offers free distribution, or a paid service like PR Newswire. ? Sending the release to trade publications related to your business ? Contacting local and national TV and Radio

11. The more press releases you issue, the more will get printed. Ensure you issue at least one story a month. But don’t send out a release for the sake of it.

12. If you’re sending your release via email, avoid sending file attachments. Editors are wary of viruses and most will immediately delete your release.

13. Avoid fancy letterheads and gimmicks. What you say is more important.

14. Include contact name(s), telephone number(s) including cell phone numbers and an email address. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of releases are submitted with this essential information missing.

15. Make your grammar and spelling perfect. A poorly written, grammatically incorrect press release tells the editor one thing…that your company does not have professional standards. Proofread your release several times before you submit it. Don’t just rely on a spell-checker.

About the author: Julia is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in search engine marketing and copywriting, direct mail, press releases and other marketing materials businesses need to increase sales. Learn more about how Julia can help boost your profits by visiting www.juliahyde.com. Or email info@juliahyde.com. She'll get back to you right away.

The Ultimate PR Edge: Getting Reporters To Open Your E-Mails

Author: Bill Stoller

The Ultimate PR Edge: Getting Reporters To Open Your E-Mails

by Bill Stoller, Publisher Free Publicity, The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp

You know that getting publicity is vital to the health of your business. You probably also know that e-mail is the way most publicity seekers get in touch with reporters to score that precious coverage. Here’s what you don’t know: The vast majority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read.

Bottom line: if your e-mails don’t get read, you have no shot at getting the publicity you so desperately need.

Here's how to beat the odds:

Avoiding the Spam Trap

To a spam filter, your humble e-mail pitch may appear to contain an array of trigger words and suspicious phrases. A server that relayed your message may be on a blacklist - a ""do not open"" list of known spammers. Or perhaps the filter’s having a tough day and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. You can’t prevent every instance of spam blocking, but you can take some steps to help lessen the chances of your e-mail ending up in a black hole.

The most important step is learning how spam filters think, and creating e-mails that avoid the usual pitfalls. Fortunately, you’ll find that -- once you can do this -- many spam triggers are easily avoided.

Rather than taking up space here with all the how-to’s, allow me to simply direct you a terrific site on the subject: http://www.wordbiz.com/avoidspamfilters.html

Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read

After beating the spam filter, next up is getting your e-mail opened and read. The key: the subject line. No matter how on- the-money your pitch, a subpar subject line will kill any chance of getting the reporter’s attention. You’ve got one shot at getting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killer subject line.

Here’s how to do it: 1) Place the word ""News"" or ""Press Info"" or ""Story Idea"" at the beginning of your e-mail subject line, in brackets e.g.: [Story Idea]:

2) Try to incorporate the reporter's first name also at the beginning of the subject line.

3) If you know the name of the reporter's column, for instance ""Cooking with Linda"", also try to incorporate that. One more thing -- if the reporter doesn’t write a regular column, try to at least include their beat (e.g. Joe, re: your future pieces on the wi-fi industry).

With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject line might read:

[Story Idea]: Linda, Here's a Tip for Your ""Cooking with Linda"" Column

That’s a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Here are a few more e-mail do’s and don'ts: Do:

* Make the information you place in the subject line short and to the point. Often, reporter's e-mail software cuts off the subject at only a few words.

* Don’t get cute or be too vague in your subject line. For example ""Here’s a Great Story!"" is vague and sounds like spam; ""This Will Win You A Pulitzer!"" will make you look silly (unless you’re delivering the scoop of the century, of course!).

* Try to make your most newsworthy points at the top of your e- mail message - don't expect a reporter to scroll down to find the news.

* Include your contact information, including cell phone, e-mail address, regular address, fax number & website URL at the beginning and end of the e-mail.

* Include a link to your website if you have additional information such as: photos, press releases, bios, surveys, etc.

Don’t:

* Include more than a short pitch letter or press release in the body of your e-mail.

* Allow typos or grammatical errors.

* Include an attachment with your e-mail. In this day and age of sinister viruses, reporters automatically delete e-mail with attachments.

* Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line: ""Hi"", ""Hello"" - the media's spam filters will pounce and destroy.

* Send an e-mail with a blank subject line.

A cool tip: Use Google News (www.news.google.com) to search for recent stories that have appeared relating to your industry or field of interest. Then, e-mail the reporter directly (use a subject line such as Re: Your July 5th piece on electric cars). Give positive feedback on the story and let him know that, next time he’s working an electric car story, he should get in touch, as you’re an expert with provocative things to say. Give a couple of supporting facts to back up the assertion, include your phone number and web link, and ask if he’d like to see a full press kit. This technique really works!

About the author: Bill Stoller, the ""Publicity Insider"", has spent two decades as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp , he's sharing -- his secrets of scoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips , visit Bill's exclusive new site: http://www.publicityInsider.com