3 Things PR Pros Should Know Before Working With Bloggers

By Amanda Limoges

We’ve all heard it before: Media relations is rapidly changing and bloggers have become an emerging, more common source of news. In fact, blogs might even be the perfect outlet for sharing a client’s story, but how they function and expect to be contacted can often be misunderstood by PR pros. Since I began working at RLF, I have had the opportunity to work with bloggers on behalf of numerous clients, and have developed a few best practices along the way:
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How Twitter Helped Me Pop the Question

By Adam Bowers

My fiancée loves to personalize her possessions (seriously, nearly everything she owns is monogrammed). So when I decided to ask her to marry me, I knew I had to do something unique and creative to personalize the proposal. After racking my brain for weeks, I decided to ask her favorite band, Relient K, to make her a personal video that could lead into my proposal.

While it was a great idea, I quickly realized there was one tiny problem: I had to figure out how to get the band on board. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of the band members on speed dial, and I knew showing up on their doorstep would probably land me a restraining order. So I turned to Twitter, set up a new account handle (@HelpMeRelientK) specifically for this purpose, and began tweeting at the band. Along the way, I learned a few things about getting noticed on Twitter:
Creativity is a double-edged sword
A few years ago, my proposal idea would have been a pipe dream that could never have come to fruition. Luckily one of great things about Twitter is it gives us a way to interact with those we normally would have no way of connecting with – like a famous band. But the downside to Twitter offering this connectivity is that everyone is trying to get noticed. This means you have to be incredibly clever and creative with your tweets just to break through the clutter.
To make myself stand out from the crowd, I incorporated lyrics from the band’s songs into some of my tweets. For example, the band has a song with the line, “Marilyn Manson ate my girlfriend,” so instead I tweeted to them, “Marilyn Manson did NOT eat my girlfriend! Help me propose to her! All I need is a 30 sec video.” I also knew from their tweets that the band was recording a new album at the time, so I also referenced this to show the band I was tuned in to their timeline.
Consistency is key
When it comes to getting noticed on Twitter, I found consistency to be just as important as creativity. At the beginning of my social media campaign, I was tweeting at the band once a day, hoping this would be enough. I soon realized it wasn’t. When hundreds of people are tweeting at a person or brand, it’s easy for a single tweet to get lost in the mix.
After a few days of not hearing back from anyone in the band, I upped the ante to three or four tweets a day. This not only increased the chance of one of my tweets being seen, but also showed the band I was determined to get their help (or I had a lot of free time on my hands).
Research does wonders
Even after increasing the number of creative tweets I sent each day, I still had no luck. At this point, I assumed that either the band had pegged me as a stalker who needed to be avoided at all costs, or I simply still had not optimized my chances of getting noticed.
I started looking more carefully at my target audience (the band) and picked up on a few things. For example, I realized the account for the band was merely a talking head that never interacted with anyone, so I shifted my focus to tweeting at the individual band members. I even took it one step further by studying their past tweets to learn what times of day they were active on Twitter. I then scheduled my tweets to go out at these times in hopes of catching the band members while they were checking their Twitter feeds.
Shortly after I combined strategic timing with creativity and consistency in my tweets, the band’s guitarist sent me a direct message with his email address so I could pass along a more detailed message.  And finally, 22 days and 39 tweets later, the band granted my wish for a personalized video to my girlfriend that segued into my proposal. Needless to say, she was blown away, and most importantly, she said “yes.”

How PR Professionals Can Break Through a Culture of Over-Communication

By Emily Thomas

Buzz. Click. Ping.
How many times in the last hour have you heard your smartphone vibrate, your email ping or or one of your social media sites sound an alert? Probably more times than you can count. And you’re not alone.
CNN reported a study that showed smartphone owners check their phones for email, messages and social media notifications 34 times a day. That’s in addition to time spent on computers checking email, Websites and the like.
This frequent communication is great for staying in touch with friends and family, but the volume of communication has made media pitching tougher for PR pros. Journalists, like everyone else, are becoming better at tuning out inbound communications – including media pitches. You can imagine how an inbox packed with pitches could have that effect.
So how can we break through this? Below are four tips for breaking free from the crowd and getting the attention of journalists.
Check your watch
Since a reporter’s email inbox is constantly flooded with story ideas, it’s crucial to optimize when you pitch yours. For example, you should avoid pitching at the end of the work day or sending out a press release on a Friday afternoon. Choosing the right time to pitch a story or send a news release can reduce the odds of getting lost in an overcrowded inbox.
Do your research
Many publications post editorial calendars online. Getting to know the schedule for each outlet you’re researching will boost pitching success rate. Targeting a weekly business journal? Most hit the stands on Friday but go to print on Wednesday – meaning Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings are terrible times to pitch. Reporters and editors at monthly publications will tend to be busier certain weeks of each month, depending on when exactly they go to press. Get to know these cycles and reach out to journalists when they are less stressed and have the time to concentrate and read through your pitch.
Be creative
Today we must be creative in how we approach journalists. For example, a PR professional recently sent an editor at Fast Company magazine a Twitter video pitch that landed her a coffee meeting. The request was eye-catching and unusual. Creativity can help break through the chatter and impress journalists who are used to seeing uninspired pitches all day long.
Find your perfect match
Generic media lists don’t make the cut anymore. Naturally, not every story will be newsworthy for every media outlet, but assuming there is some real news value to your pitch, I can practically guarantee that somewhere there’s a journalist or publication that will be interested. The more research you do on reporters (what stories they’ve covered, their beats, what they are sharing on their Twitter accounts, etc.), the closer you can get to making a connection and following up on a story. Personalizing your pitches for specific journalists helps considerably in breaking through the clutter and earning a story.
In the endless stream of emails, tweets, status updates and blog posts, PR professionals must work harder and smarter than ever before. The pitch that’s the most relevant, targeted and personal wins. So before you reach for your smartphone, send an email or share a social media update, make sure you’re using the right form of communication. Personalization isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s a necessity.
Photo courtesy of Ian Lamont via www.digitalmediamachine.com.