Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

Field of Magic: Behind the PR Media Relations Curtain

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

If you’ve seen the ever-fantastic “Field of Dreams” movie, I do not have to remind you of the ghostly whisper, “If you build it, they will come.” You thought about it the second I mentioned the movie, didn’t you?

Well, unfortunately, that same immediate reaction is tied to press releases in public relations — “If you send it, they will come.” Oh! If only that were true!!!

There is so much that goes into a good media relations program — things clients and executives never see. Too often, people think that if it’s a well-written news release and their quotes are strong, of course they’ll be on the front  page! But nothing could be farther from the truth. A great release is just the beginning.

One of the first factors that can make a difference in placing a story is service. We walk a fine line in PR. We want our client or employer to come out on top — they are experts, they have great things going on, etc. But, we also have a service role to fulfill for reporters. We have to give them accurate, objective and newsworthy information. If the release or “news” is too self-serving, vague or incorrect, it is actually harmful to send it out. It hurts our indvidual credibility as well as that of our client, and it decreases the chances of getting coverage ever again from anyone who wasted their time reading our non-news release. Not good.

So, good service — recognizing real news and packaging it appropriately — comprises one of the first steps in a successful media pitch.

I will never forget the time, in my first PR job, where I was asked to send a news release out about a bake sale. This was before the gift of social media. E-mail was just taking off, and there was no web site to speak of. In fact, the whole web site topic was confusing and mysterious. So, back in those days, it was challenging to let people know what was going on. And, since this was a non-profit organization, there was always something going on, but I really did not think we should “waste” a pitch on a bake sale.

I already felt compromised, sending out press releases over borderline events and topics under the organization’s belief that any positive attention would help cut through the competitive non-profit contest for funds. They were probably right, in theory, but I really fought the bake sale news release to the point of fuming. “It’s not news!” I said, until I was blue in the face.

In all honesty, I don’t remember if I won or lost the fight, but I still know that I was right, and this is a small example of an epic battle many have fought in PR. If it’s not news, you cannot “spin” it into anything else. It will fall flat and go nowhere. That’s one guarantee we can make in the realm of media pitching.

I have more to share on this topic, for sure, including other reasons why a great news release might fall flat — even when there’s a newsworthy story to tell. Heck — just a few weeks ago I had a TV news camera at an event, client interviews, the works … and it never ran. Of course, those of us in PR can all relate to a story like that — or the news conference/event where no on comes (I hate that one) — but explaining this to others is difficult, so stay tuned as we continue to lift the PR “Wizard of Oz” curtain a little higher next time.

It’s Friday

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Well, it’s been an interesting week.

Tuesday night’s networking event (all the women) has really unearthed some surprising developments, like a 3rd-party reconnection with a former client and the possibility of helping out a new client a little bit.

I spent Wednesday drowning in more online resources. I am amazed with what is going on in the Internet PR world. I have been asleep and missing the action for years, it seems. Glad to be stepping out now, but it can get overwhelming.

In the real world, I had a great lunch with my former contact at Waterside in St. Pete. She is the community association manager now at Vinoy Place — another beautiful waterfront property — and we had a lot of catching up to do since she’s been in her position only 3 months. A fun and productive use of time, for sure.

Also reconnected with one of my USF professor friends and we are meeting next week to talk about collaborating on a possible research project. I could not be more excited about this — there is a lot of potential here, and we just have to get serious about doing this thing that we have talked about for years.

Last night I did manage to find my way to the Tampa Bay Business Journal mixer, but it was definitely the type of thing that you go to with a pal or a group from the office. They held it at the new Hula Bay Club, which is right on the water and quite magnificent, but it was loud, cramped and maybe a little disjointed. I clung to who I knew, and we did not even attempt to “mix” it up with anyone else, which is OK because I had a nice time anyhow.

Feeling very disenchanted with Twitter and a little mystified on how to get the most out of it. I see a lot of very appealing home pages for folks, but I find navigation of the program to be confusing and slow — and I’m not sure why. It’s bugging me. I’m reading articles about it and I see the potential for multiple goals I have for Heidelberg PR, my clients, and even for my husband’s business, Heidleberg Capital Corp. So, I must learn how to make this work!

Heading out soon for the Oldsmar spring carnival and looking forward to a house party tomorrow with friends — a bitter sweet event as we bid farewell to former Tampa Tribune reporter Mark Guidera, who is off to greener pastures up north.

Also, on a personal note, quite excited at the possibility of some family members moving to Tampa. We have no one here right now, and I will do everything in my power to help make a satisfying and happy life for Clay and Kristy if they decide to make the move. Good luck with your decision-making, guys, as you face this long weekend together. We love you, no matter what you decide!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Networking Event Reviews
February and March, 2009

OK, let’s face it. Heidelberg PR is not immune to the economic downswing. So, before things get too ugly, I decided to get proactive.

First, I added a new service offering to my business – a seminar series that kicks off in a month with “Mastering Public Relations.” I’ve made a lot of progress tapping my professional network to help promote the event, and actually issued the very first Heidelberg PR company news release to the media today. Even though I have done it countless times for clients, it felt odd doing it for my own firm.

Anyhow, that is moving along nicely, including planning for the next two topics: “Successful PR Writing” and “Strategic PR Campaigns.”

Next up, I went a little wild making sure people can find me online. I added the blog, and my web site, http://www.heidelbergpr.com/ is undergoing some optimization upgrades. I twitter and tweet, I’m “linked in” and you can see my smiling mug on Facebook. I signed up for numerous directories to make sure I’m included with all the other local firms when someone goes searching, and I registered for some industry-specific services to strengthen my consulting services. Can I do more here? Oh yes, and I will.

This has all been pretty fun – pursuing a new venture, playing online – but I expected the real fun to be in the networking events I’ve attended thus far. Of course, I treasure my lunches with my colleagues, clients and friends, but I’m talking about events that I’ve either attended with the goal of staying connected with people, or the ones where I went hoping that I’d plant some seeds for future business. So far, it’s a mixed bag.

Now, networking is one of those words that gets loosely thrown around these days, and it can mean just about anything involving a group of people getting together to talk under nearly any circumstances.

Here’s a sampling from my calendar in the last two months. Things that seem purely social can be deceptively productive, and things that should be productive can be total busts, as I have recently experienced. So, before you decide to go “network,” consider your objectives, weigh the results, and determine if you’re going to spend your precious and limited time productively.

Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party

My Objectives – support a client partner, support a friend, socialize with other friends, and meet new people

Results – 3 out of 4 objectives met – did not make any significant new contacts even though I worked the media check-in table and interfaced with the Steinberg PR folks for 3 hours and mingled at the party for another 2 hours.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – but only because of my previous relationship with the zoo, who hosted the event
Personally: 5 — Had a great time!


Julie & Jim Heidelberg on the “green” carpet at the Leigh Steinberg party

Susan G. Komen “Pink Tie” Gala

My Objectives – Socialize with PR contacts and friends, meet new people

Results – Once again, quite happy with my ability to socialize with people I know, but the only new person I met was the live auction woman who zipped over at high speed to whisk my credit card out of my hand when I got carried away bidding on a Bahamas trip. Note to all event planners – play emotional video and have personal testimonial immediately prior to live auction. Talk about priming the pump … congrats to those folks on a very nice event, too.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 5 – no, I did not meet any new people, but I did have some great follow up with both of the PR contacts I sat with. They are both friends and we share resources, ideas and referrals.
Personally: 5 Had a great time again!

PR Pals – Margie Martin, Julie Heidelberg, Cindy Sharpe

PRSA Networking Mixer
My Objectives – Reconnect with PR contacts and friends, meet new people

Results – Sensing a theme here – did well reconnecting with the few folks that I knew from past years serving in the chapter but failed again to connect with anyone new. There were lots of new faces, but the group seemed to hang in clusters with little attempt to blend us all together.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – Once again, the follow up saved me. Unexpectedly, one of my former contacts whom I chatted with that night reached out to me and invited me into his networking group of seasoned PR folks who meet monthly. I had attended a time or two, years ago, but I look forward to checking in out again in May.
Personally: 2 – I enjoyed catching up with those I did talk with, but I didn’t feel quite up for the event that night (had to drive 45 minutes to get there) and I had a hard time making myself get out of the car.

Network of Executive Women Regional Meeting

My Objectives – Support a client, meet new people

Results – Finally!! A breakthrough! While the first two events I listed had some blend of professional relevance and personal enjoyment, I was feeling bummed after the PRSA event where I had high expectations for mingling and outreach. However, I left the NEW event feeling uplifted on a personal and professional level. This is a group of exceptional women from leading local consumer product companies and I really value the opportunity to interact with them. I submitted my membership application at the event, and I thoroughly enjoyed the program. Plus, I met some new people who I certainly hope to talk to again at future NEW events. These are long term possibilities for business cultivation, but I felt I made some headway in initiating a few relationships.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 4.5 – Made contact with my client, and met new people
Personally: 5 – The speaker, Jan Hill, was fabulous and thought-provoking.

Leadership Hillsborough Alumni Hayride

My Objectives – Reconnect with LH contacts and friends; and, as always, meet new people

Results – Hmmm … there were about 10 or 15 productive minutes where I chatted with some like-minded folks on some relevant public relations topics. There were not very many people there whom I did not already know, so meeting new people was a bit limited. Plus, it’s a very social kind of event, but you never know what might happen.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – the current board chair attended and I had previously asked her to help me promote my seminar to the LH alumni and current class members. She sent out my marketing materials after the event, so it was good to see her and catch up in person. I greatly appreciate her help.
Personally: 5 – I don’t know what to say, except that this is my kind of event. Had a really fun time.

Women’s Networking Event (that’s the official name but they are looking for a new one)

My Objectives – Support a client and business contact, meet new people

Results – As I knew it would be, this was an official networking event. There was ample mingling time, and then we all had our three minutes to give our branding speech and distribute marketing materials, business cards, etc.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 5 – got to learn about some really unusual businesses as well as share my own firm’s highlights. Also arranged for some follow up with a few people and left with a contact list. All in attendance were encouraged to openly communicate and market to each other.
Personally: 5 – I left satisfied with what occurred and I plan to attend again in May.

Upcoming events:
Tampa Bay Business Journal Mixer
BNI – 3 meetings as a guest

Mastering Public Relations: New Seminar Series

Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Heidelberg PR is launching a new seminar series called Mastering Public Relations.

Who should attend?

Any one who wants to kiss expensive advertising good-bye.

Why should you attend?

Public relations basics can generate greater exposure for your small business, leading to more customers, greater profits and the furthering of your mission.

What will we discuss?

Our interactive seminar, Mastering Public Relations, will

  • identify real news you can use (work with what you’ve got)
  • explain how to gain the interest of reporters (tools & techniques)
  • explore grassroots marketing strategies customized for your company (who do you know)

Join us on
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
9 a.m. – 12 noon
Tampa Bay Business Park, Lake Pointe II
3111 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33607

Cost is $149 and includes continental breakfast.
RSVP to 813-784-6288 or julie@heidelbergpr.com