The Shocking Secret to Make Your PR Dreams Come True

by Michelle McIntyre

crying woman

The secret to landing media coverage in a top tier news outlet may surprise you. It could be as easy as picking out the right company spokesperson to do an interview.

Last night, The New York Times Deputy Technology Editor Quentin Hardy was interviewed on stage by Oracle’s Mike Moeller at a Public Relations (PR) Society of America Silicon Valley event in Redwood City, Calif.

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Here are Hardy’s words of wisdom for PR pros who want their companies covered. This seasoned tech journalist receives 200 story pitches daily so pay attention.

My experience working with him has been good. He’s a careful fact-checker and intelligent question asker.  He does his homework so the spokesperson needs to know the topic backwards and forwards.

My key take-away was that you can’t teach someone how to give a heartfelt interview. Top tier media outlets need quality stories that often evoke emotion.   (Think about great TED talks.)

Technology executives pay me to media train them and I have successfully done that many times. However, there is only so far you can go with this. Some people are naturally better at interviews than others.  Quentin Hardy needs a quality interviewee and interesting facts to mention a company.

Here are some other things Hardy said during the fireside chat.

  1. He likes to add value to a story.
  2. Accept rejection.
  3. He wants to explore how things we are doing here in the Silicon Valley or in tech affect other regions. For example, what is it like being a football coach in Texas when everything is being recorded?
  4. Tell him how “big tech” affects everyday life and make it heartfelt and interesting. Database technology helps at the ATM but that’s not interesting.
  5. Be patient. It was okay that a PR guy pitched Hardy a meeting with an artificial intelligence (AI) spokesman after he wrote about it. He didn’t meet with the expert right away though.
  6. He’s interested in cloud computing, AI, mobile, driverless cars, and drones. Here’s a recent Quentin Hardy story, “Reasons to Believe the AI Boom is Real,” (July 18, 2016)
  7. He doesn’t find security that exciting because companies won’t talk about problems.
  8. When he receives a story pitch, he asks himself, have I worked with the person before? He considers circles of trust and knowledge. For example, he says, people trust The New York Times.
  9. Here’s an example of how he researched a story. The topic was how cloud computing is affecting everyday people. He first researched AWS Meetups finding interesting ones in Omaha and Texas. He didn’t want to use a California example because that is not as interesting. He found that Hudl, a technology used by thousands of sports teams to review and improve play was popular. “No one had heard of Hudl” but they were used by 12,000 of the 14,000 high school football schools. The example he used was a team near San Antonio, TX, that regularly enjoyed 15,000 people in the stands.
  10. When he covered drones he used an example related to farming in the Midwest.
  11. Quentin Hardy follows Twitter, and regularly reads the Financial Times and The Economist. He added he does not read The Wall Street Journal as much as he should.
  12. He finds it amazing how much news is taken in via mobile devices.
  13. Event attendees asked him about the future of tech. He says he has no clue what life will be like in five years because change happens so fast.
  14. He was asked about the presidential election. He said he finds it interesting that the economy is doing fairly well but people love to say how broken everything is, especially on social media.
  15. He owns 3,000 books.
  16. He has enjoyed watching some of the Valley’s top executives and companies evolve. In 1999 Steve Jobs called him right after an earnings call asking if he had questions. As a result, the earnings story grew from three to five inches. (Hardy was at the WSJ at the time.) He remembers meeting with Google’s co-founder when the company was just a vision.

In summary, when pitching Quentin Hardy, it helps to say something about how technology is affecting everyday life.  If he needs an interview, make sure the person is able to story tell and connect, and not just robotically convey facts and company messages.

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The writer of this story, Michelle McIntyre is @FromMichelle on Twitter. She took the PRSASV event photo. The emotional woman photo is from Canva.

Also follow @qhardy @newyorktimes @newyorktimesbusiness and @prsasv

Two Surprising Facts to Boost Your Media Coverage by Michelle McIntyre

Here are two facts about journalists and public relations (PR) that might surprise you.

Press InterviewThe first might make some experienced PR folks angry.

These facts come from a quarter of a century of media relations experience that included a decade stint at a $100 billion corporation, working with 13 start-ups and 10 awards.

#1 Journalists don’t owe you anything.

The first surprising fact is that reporters don’t owe you anything. Did you set up a one hour interview with your startup’s CEO? Did she rearrange her schedule to be there? Did you buy them a $300 dinner with the best wine at the hottest restaurant in New York? It doesn’t mean a thing. What matters is that the founder actually says something that can be quoted or made into an angle. If your company is hot right now, the reporter may have come armed with an angle already though. It is rare that you would be working for a “hot” company though. Most start-ups are unknowns.
#2 The boss doesn’t always know what a great press release looks like.
Great PR pros are not “yes” men and women. Are you a PR manager supervised by the vice president of marketing or founder of a start-up? Have you ever heard, “We need a press release on software upgrade x” or ,“We need a press conference on new product y.” Have you ever just written the press release because the boss demanded it? And what happened when the journalists ignored it, or did an interview to be nice. . . but didn’t write? There was no coverage and you wished you would have strategically said, “No.”

The key to great PR is to work hard to figure out what is interesting about your company, founder or solution. Then say the right thing at the right time to right reporter.

Doing the first thing the boss requests may not be the best route to PR career success.

And don’t believe that any reporter owes you anything. They don’t.

[The photograph above was purchased from Canva.]
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Michelle McIntyre is the president of MMC PR, an IBM vet, and on the executive team of TEDxSanJoseCa. @FromMichelle on Twitter

10 Tips on Podcasting from the Host of Amateur Traveler

Chris Christensen, San Francisco Bay Area resident and co-founder of a new website called Blogger Bridge which connects bloggers to people who want to hire them just spoke to my entrepreneurs Meetup group in Sunnyvale about how to build your reputation through podcasting.

He also owns and runs AmateurTraveler.com which is a popular online travel show (more than a million downloads a year) that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. Here’s a sample episode. This particular one is called “Travel to Morocco: Episode 397.”

http://africa.amateurtraveler.com/travel-morocco-travel-podcast/

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A podcast is a show on any topic in audio or video format that is an attachment to a blog through an RSS feed.

Christensen says podcasting is a great way to build your brand. Here are 10 tips on podcasting from his talk:

1. Podcasting is in style again mostly due to the growth of mobile. After a relatively quiet period of a few short years, podcasting is hot again. People listen to or watch broadcasts on the go while walking the dog, driving or exercising through smartphones or other mobile devices.

2. Podcast consumption is stronger in audio. Audio files sizes are smaller and they are more easily consumed on the go, for example, while driving. It’s hard and of course illegal to watch a video while driving.

3. Microphones popular with podcasters range in price from around $100 to $350.  Styles include larger ones that stand by themselves, smaller ones that you hold in your hand and teeny tiny ones that are designed to hook up to a smartphone. Christensen likes the Blue Yeti brand the best.

4. Podcasting is a very personal medium. People may act they you are old friends when you first meet them.

5. Podcasting is not great for immediate response marketing, for example, if you need someone to click on something or take a fast action. Christensen likes evergreen content the best but also says that news shows can be popular too.

6. Podcasting is great for building a reputation or brand. This is because if done right, podcasting can establish you as an expert.

7. Roundtable discussions through Google Hangouts are becoming all the rage now. Link your Hangout account to your YouTube account and the session can be recorded for re-play.

8. Not all podcasts need to be edited. If you do need to edit, Christensen recommends Garage Band available on the Mac and Audacity.

9. You can just post your podcast on your own blog or syndicate.  Christensen recommends sites like Libsyn.com or Rawvoice.com for syndication.

10. Allow up to eight hours to plan, finish and promote one podcast.  Christensen’s “feature-length” travel podcast takes eight hours. A non-edited show takes two to three times the length of the show. A scripted show takes more time. An edited show takes Christensen about an hour per 10 minutes of audio to edit.

In case you are wondering, Christensen is highly envied by the other entrepreneurs in our meet-up group because he actually gets all expenses paid trips around the globe due to the large following of his travel website. Way to go, Chris!

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Michelle McIntyre is a high tech public relations consultant in Saratoga, Calif., who also blogs for several West Silicon Valley Patch news sites.  Her website is http://www.michellemcintyrecommunications.com

Her Twitter handle is @FromMichelle

Photo credit (camel): iStockPhoto.com

A Shocking Statistic about Millennials and Digital Shopping

By Michelle McIntyre

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In recent months, business partners and clients have been using the term “Millennials” a lot.

Millennials, also called Generation Y, are young adults who are now around 18 to 34 years old.  They are social. They are mobile. They are a target for those marketing to a group with uber online buying power.

I’ve been wondering why this group of consumers has become so important so I did some research and found one fact that shocked me.

“Hooked on Social Networking” Blogger and mom to two young Millennials, Holly Nielsen said that some have more buying power because they are living at home with their parents longer and therefore have more disposable income because they are not paying rent.

On the other hand, Nielsen says, some have less extra money because they are paying off their student loans. She added that Millennials grew up with social networking and smartphones so they are totally comfortable on-line.

The Chief Marketing Officer Council just published some facts and figures about this category in a story introducing a new initiative called “Turning Social Feeds into Business Leads.”

The description of the program on the council’s website uses the automotive industry as an example.

It says that Millennials are a lucrative target for automobile manufacturers because they make up 40 percent of the total available car buying population, contributing $200 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

It adds that there’s been a massive acceleration of social media usage, with 70 percent of consumers using social media to learn about other customer experiences when making car-buying decisions. Visit this link for more details about this CMO Council initiative.

Lastly, a recent eMarketer story discusses Millennial online buying trends including one that surprised me.

It said that male Millennials were more into mobile shopping than their female counterparts.

I used to think that women beat men in all areas of shopping but it’s just not so.

The report discussed a January 2013 survey of U.S. Internet users and uncovered these facts about male Millennials:

  • They currently earn more* than, and are happier at work, than their female counterparts. 
  • 43% said they typically shop on auction sites, while only 31% of females gave this response
  • 40% said that in a perfect world they would buy everything online while only 33% female said this
  • 24% typically shop and buy using their mobile devices while only 19% of females said they do so

This definitely shows that young men are a hot target for digital marketers.

Feel free to follow the Twitter feeds of people and organizations mentioned in this story including @CMO_Council, @eMarketer, @HollyNielsen, @FromMichelle. 

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*One part of this is not so surprising. Men have always earned more than women for the same jobs. The ratio is 77 cents to the dollar so that wasn’t overly shocking. By the way, this is unfair and it needs to change.

Three Trends That Have Drastically Changed the Way I Collaborate

One of my colleagues at the Silicon Valley International Association of Business Communicators (SV-IABC) just asked me about major collaboration trends.

She’ll be on a panel at our SV-IABC luncheon event at Michael’s at Shoreline in Mountain View, California, on Thursday, April 18. Here’s the website to register, or if it’s too late since it’s happening tomorrow, just pay at the door.  http://sv.iabc.com/

I have so much to say on the topic that I decided to blog about it instead of just giving her a couple of quick comments.

 Three trends have affected the way I collaborate in the work place in big ways.

 They are industry collaboration, content marketing and the crazy fast rise of social networking.

 1) Here’s some elaboration on the first one. When the recession hit a few short years ago, industry consolidation grew rapidly. The large New York based company I worked for acquired 100 companies in just about a decade. They were smart strategic acquisitions and today the company is doing quite well just based on the stock price alone.

 

I had a lot of new coworkers. Many of my PR projects involved working with the new company communications teams.

 

Because it wasn’t economical to continually fly to all the sites where these new coworkers were, our company started massively collaborating on-line. Instant messaging (IM) became the “norm,” meetings in Second Life became the norm for some groups and then a few years ago, the company standardized on an enterprise social collaboration tool, a sort of Facebook for the enterprise.

 

Management loved IM because you could better tell if someone was working or not. The challenge was that if you turned it off, for example to focus on writing a press release or to run a meeting, some people thought you were not working.

 

2) The second trend is the growth of content marketing. More and more, the communications siloes of internal communications, press relations, product marketing, advertising, and web communications have blurred. The company I worked for changed the press relations folks’ titles to “external relations.” We were charged with “finding” and driving news and trend stories that would publicize our key messages and back our growth strategies. These stories might be part of a sales pitch or become the lead news peg on the website. As you know, a nice Youtube customer use story can be used by any group want to demonstrate the value a company provides.

 

3) The third trend is the crazy fast rise of social networking, especially Facebook.  I have spent the past 12 years mostly physically working alone from my home office, both at my last corporate job and while I consult for my new clients which are mostly software start-ups. However, I do feel like part of my work teams and collaborate in a higher quality manner because I know my faraway coworkers due to getting to know them through Facebook. The vast majority of Facebook friends are coworkers, former coworkers and business partner types.

 

Yes, I’d see them at a few of our annual events like industry conferences or events we’d hold for press and analysts so it wasn’t all on-line but the on-line connection certainly helped.

 

However, since LinkedIn has become so popular, I’ve mostly just connected with business associates on that site instead. For example, I’m connected with all of my software start-up clients and new business partners on LinkedIn but not on Facebook.

 

As a result, my number of FB friends has stayed consistent but my LinkedIn contacts list has grown dramatically.  I’ll elaborate on that topic in another blog someday.

 

In any case, collaboration is a hot topic and some big happenings in recent history like the rise of social have definitely changed the way we do this task.

 

I hope to see my Silicon Valley communicator friends at the SV-IABC luncheon on April 18.

 

 

Three Trends Driving Demand for PR Now

Multi-ethnic group portrait

I attend a lot of business networking events and talk to a lot of smart, experienced and educated people who are on top of industry trends. I also enjoy talking to people who have just a little work experience. Sometimes the ones who have only a couple of years of work under their belts are more in the know about what’s hot and what’s not. 

The Silicon Valley Public Relations Society of America Future of PR round table earlier this year in East Palo Alto was excellent with Facebook, Dell and others on the panel, as was a meeting I recently had with Global Fluency, a marketing communications and strategy firm headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. That firm runs the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

I used to work at Global Fluency in the early 90s when it was called something else. It was awesome to touch base with Donovan Neale-May who runs both Global Fluency and the CMO Council again after such a long time. The firm seems to be doing just fine and has evolved over the years along with the market.  It was great to see that Executive VP Dave Murray is still there and doing well.

Additionally, I enjoyed the Silicon Valley International Association of Business Communications (SV-IABC) event on gamification in Santa Clara in November.

I took notes at all of these gatherings and have put together the top three trends driving for PR now.

1. The new IR is influencer relations. 

There’s a new acronym in town. It’s IR. No, not investor relations. I mean influencer relations. Because so many people blog now, from large corporations executives and industry analysts to consumers posting on Yelp, organizations should be focused on influence and not necessarily “press relations,” “analyst relations,” or “client relations.” Typically the acronym for external relations is public relations but the term is often misused.

 Public relations actually means “changing someone’s mind.” But over the years, most of us in PR mostly came to know it as press relations.

I advise that all communications departments at organizations globally reorganize their staff and put all of their PR and external communications people in a group called influencer relations. Rumor has it that SAP done a bit of this already and if that’s true, good for them. Nice job IBM for calling its PR team “external relations” because that is a nice start in moving in the direction of the trend.

2. Content marketing is white hot. 

In order to gain attention and make noise in a crowded market place, companies must focus on being great content creators and communicators. It’s called content marketing. They need to hire people who can come up with timely and interesting content.  People with a journalism background do great at this task. Kudos to Global Fluency’s Dave Murray for his recent white paper related to this topic. Here’s the link:  http://www.globalfluency.com/news/index.html

3. Digital marketing is top of mind.

CMO Council and a partner firm recently released a survey (http://tinyurl.com/cckvb3e) that said, among other things, that the thing that most marketers are concerned about is digital marketing. Digitizing everything is a “modern” communications task and it’s an interesting change from decades ago when we just had to hire a graphic designer, write some prose, slap them together, get them printed and mail everything to the intended audience.

I believe the CMO Council survey was much more complicated and meaningful than my summary here, but that was still my key take away from it.

Today the communications expert or marketer creates smart and interesting content and then digitizes it so it can be properly socialized.

It’s wild when you think about communications 20 years ago versus today. Back then, you’d fax a press release to your top 10 reporters or mail a hard copy invitation to 100 customers. Today, you’d socialize survey results on Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and use the online invitation tool to get everyone to the party.

The funny thing is, I remember asking someone 20 years ago, “What did we do before faxes?”
My 12-year-old who is now begging me for his own Youtube account just asked me, “What’s a fax?”

If you want to keep up on the latest trends, join me and my other IABC colleagues at our March 21st luncheon at Michael’s at Shoreline in Mountain View, Calif. I’m a director with the SV-IABC and I personally invite you to come.  It’s not free but it’s also not expensive and the networking benefits are priceless.

This month’s speakers will talk about the pros and cons of consulting for a big IT corporation. To register, visit: http://www.sv.iabc.com/

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