Category Archives: Innovation Journalism

The 10 commandments of media outreach

We live and work in an age of information proliferation.

There is more information out there than ever before, but thanks to shifts in the media world there are fewer reporters. This means that it can be increasingly difficult to attract the attention a story deserves (or that you think it deserves).

Based on my experience as a network television news producer and my years on the other side of the fence in strategic marketing and communications, I have compiled 10 commandments of media outreach.

1. Thou shall tell a story. Reporters don’t write announcements; they write stories. Too often, press releases and pitches are proclamations or simply announcements. It’s hard enough to sell your pitch without having to make a reporter come up with the story, too. And on those occasions, when they do, it may not be the story you want them to tell.

2. Thou shall make news. Is your announcement really news? And is it new or does it simply rehash old information? Imagine yourself taking a look at the day’s headlines as an average news consumer. Would this story interest you? Remember it’s a reporter’s job to sell stories—first to his or her editor and then to you, the public. If you wouldn’t read it, it’s not a story.

3. Thou shall recognize the forest and the trees. It’s all about context. If it’s your company or your client, each and every announcement may be of crucial importance and interest to you, and that’s the way it should be. However, it may not be of monumental importance to the world or even your industry. What’s news to a trade publication may not be news to The Wall Street Journal. Take a deep breath; be as objective as you possibly can, and gauge your outreach—and your expectations—accordingly.

4. Thou shall know what’s happening in the world. In the media, as in life, timing is everything. What might make the papers on a slow August day will not make the cut on an August day when the stock market is crashing. If there’s major national or international news and your story can wait, hold it. If not, well, that’s sometimes the breaks.

5. Thou shall target your media. From a reporter’s perspective, there is almost nothing more unprofessional than getting a story that’s not relevant to his beat or publication. In those cases, it’s obvious that the caller or sender didn’t do his homework. Believe me—a reporter will hold this against you and possibly your client. Care enough to research the outlet you’re going to pitch before you hit send.

6. Thou shall know the difference between persistence and harassment. You should be persistent. Maybe a reporter was too busy to read your first email or there’s a relevant angle that she may have overlooked. It’s OK to follow up. It’s not OK when they have made it clear that they’re not interested. And this leads directly to the next rule …

7. Thou shall know that the Internet works. There’s a very good chance that the reporter received your first email. There’s almost a 100 percent chance that they received your email and/or your follow-up call or email. Voicemail and the Internet work. If you don’t hear back from them, they’re not interested. Read rule No. 6 and move on.

8. Thou shall know and respect deadlines. If I didn’t “make” air as a television producer, I would be looking for a job the next day. If a reporter is on deadline, he or she doesn’t have time to listen to your pitch or to respond to your email. Try to be aware of the best time of day to call. If you do reach them at a bad time, quickly apologize and ask whether you can call later or the next day.

9. Thou shall realize that the media is not a cure-all. A news story, even a major news story, will almost never be enough to launch you into the stratosphere or to save you from catastrophe. That’s especially true these days when there are so many sources of information, audiences are fragmented, and the news cycle is continuous. At most, your sales or your stock will get a nice little bump and then fall back to Earth.

10. Thou shall embrace social media. A story in Businessweek is great, but does it sell product? If you’re working with a company that sells particleboard, I may (or may not) read that story and then quickly go on to the next thing. I read Businessweek, but I don’t buy particleboard. Conversely, I’m sure that there are many people out there who don’t read Businessweek but do buy particleboard. Those are the people you need to reach, and these days you can reach them directly through blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. It’s time to reevaluate and ask whether the time and money spent pursuing traditional media may be better spent and put to better use on social media.

How Students Use Technology

It’s clear that today’s students rely heavily on electronic devices even when they’re not incorporated in the classroom. In one survey of college students, 38% said they couldn’t even go 10 minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device.


The 4 things you need to know about mobile today

Mobile communication is booming. The Digital Buzz Blog said that nine out of 10 people in the U.S. own a mobile phone. And American children are more likely to own a phone than a book! With the popularity of mobile exploding, the trend — as you can imagine — is grabbing headlines. And you, as a PR pro or marketer, need to stay on top of it all. You’ve also got loads of work to do; allow us to shoulder part of that load. Here are the four stories about mobile you need to know today: The Mobile World Congress is taking place in Barcelona right now; the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition is available on your mobile device; in the U.K., mobile time on Facebook is killing every other website — this chart, from The Business Insider, says it all; amid steep budget cuts, Obama is increasing spending for mobile in one category. According to The Daily, The Voice of America will receive an additional 1 percent funding — that’s $207 million — to deliver mobile content in China and Iran.


Top 10 analytics tools for social media

Participating in social media for brands is no longer a question of if or even how, writes marketer Adam Boyden.  According to a recent eMarketer study, 80 percent of U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media marketing in 2011. But the question many communicators have is: How do I keep track of what’s going on out there? With hundreds of apps, websites, and platforms to help you monitor, track, and analyze your social media presence, which one should you use? After evaluating dozens of options, Boyden narrowed down the list to 10.  No-brainers in the paid category like Radian6, Lithium, and Alterian made the list, but free tools like and Beevolve may not be on your list.  What social media analytical tools do you recommend? — Matthew Royse

See for more information

4 Common Copywriting Mistakes Everyone Makes

I don’t care who you are; everyone makes mistakes in writing copy. Even the professionals who have to look at the copy with a jaundiced eye and tweak things. This is why we have drafts: because perfection seldom happens the first time around.

While the list of common copywriting mistakes could probably fill a small eBook, some are more common than most – like the four below: Continue reading

How to Use Tweetups as a Marketing Strategy

Social media goes beyond Facebook or Twitter.  It’s about connecting with people and developing relationships.  And sometimes those connections can be literally face-to-face!

Social media allows us to make connections faster and over greater distances, but there is power in social media to bring us closer to our neighbors, too.  One of the ways to do that is with a Tweetup.

What Is a Tweetup? Continue reading

Online Reputation Management: How to Handle Negative Publicity

Ideally, with every project you take on and every relationship you form, you will be working toward building a professional reputation. You can enhance the effectiveness of a positive reputation by:

  • Doing great work
  • Being customer service oriented
  • Making yourself approachable
  • Collaborating with others in your industry
  • Forming personal relationships

But even if you do everything right, there may come a time when you face negative publicity. Harmful feedback can happen for many reasons – a misunderstanding, a wrong doing on your part, varying points of view, or any number of other reasons that you may not understand fully.

How you react to negative feedback is dependent on the type of comment, who said it, what forum it was said in, and the potential it has to damage your reputation. But there are general some ways to gauge the risk of negative publicity and determine how best to handle it.

Think It Through

We’re human, so our initial reaction to a negative comment is usually anger, belligerence, and/or defensiveness. The worst thing you can do is react quickly without thinking the situation through because you may only make the situation worse. Put yourself in the other person’s position, and be honest with yourself. Take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the comment true?
  • Can I see how this person could view my actions this way?
  • Did I do something that was misunderstood or misconstrued?
  • Am I in the wrong?

Many times, you probably didn’t see the negative feedback coming, so you have surprise working against you. By taking the time to be honest with yourself about the situation, you can avoid doing further damage. You may even want to ask a trusted friend or colleague for their take on the situation to help you get perspective.

Respond or Not?

Not every negative comment deserves a response. In fact, you may decide not to respond because you feel the situation is best simply ignored. If the impact is minimal, don’t fuel the fire by pleading your case when it’s not necessary.

In some cases, you may want to go to the source and try to work it out offline. A personal conversation may uncover information you would not have otherwise known. If you were in the wrong, you can rectify the situation, and ask the author to publicly retract their comment or provide further information that defrays some of the impact. And you never know, this unfortunate situation may be the catalyst for a new relationship with a lot of potential.

You can also respond by posting a public comment or publishing an acknowledgment letter on your own website or blog addressing the situation and providing your own perspective. However, be sure not to be overly defensive or personally attack the other party; that will only make you look unprofessional.

Use It To Your Advantage

The saying, “All publicity is good publicity,” may not be entirely accurate, but you can certainly turn some negative situations into positive events. Negative publicity can give you the opportunity to right a wrong; it can provide a platform for you to address an issue; and it can make you better at what you do.

Keep in mind that whatever method you choose to handle the situation, you cannot change the actions of others. Handle the situation as you think is best, but don’t be pulled off-track by the negativity of others.

Have you ever dealt with negative publicity? How did you handle the situation?


Facebook Will Celebrate 500 Million Users

Facebook will finally reach the impressive 500 million user milestone sometime this coming week. To celebrate, it’ll launch “Facebook Stories,” a visual memorial to all the ways the social network has changed people’s lives.

All Things Digital’s BoomTown blog uncovered the details in an interview with Facebook (Facebook) marketing guru Randi Zuckerberg last week. She said that while previous announcements of this nature have been about the numbers, this time the company wants it to be all about the users. Continue reading

Online Reputation Management: 16 Free Tools

In the first part of this series, the author provided an overview of Online Reputation Management (ORM) and why it’s an important activity to adopt in your business and professional life. This post will outline some of the free tools available for monitoring your online reputation.

Blog Monitoring

1. BackType Blog Comments Monitoring – This tool indexes conversations from blogs, social networks and other social media. It also has an alert function that e-mails updates whenever a search term is mentioned in a comment.

2. BlogPulse – BlogPulse is a blog search engine with several complementary tools such as Trend Search and Conversion Tracker that analyzes the data it collects.

3. Google Blog Search – This is a Google beta search engine for blogs.

4. Technorati – Technorati is the leading blog search engine indexing millions of blog posts in real time. It also tracks the authority, influence and popularity of blogs.

Twitter Monitoring

5. Monitter – A real-time Twitter monitor for up to three keywords at a time.

6. TweetBeep – This tool provides hourly Twitter alerts sent via e-mail. You can specify keywords, people and links to track.

7. Tweet Later – TweetLater has a number of features for Twitter users, and it also monitors Twitter and e-mails you a digest of the tweets that contain your specified keywords. You can also use this to track your @replies.

8. Twitter Search – Twitter Search was formally Summize. It searches all Twitter activity for keywords, links or user activity in real time.

Link Monitoring

9. BackTweets – This is a service by BackType that provides an engine to search for specific links mentioned on Twitter.

10. WhoLinksToMe – A link search tool that tracks backlinks and makes them easily sortable by anchor text, origination, and by the target URL with enhanced reporting capability. You can also import links from Google Webmaster Tools for enhanced analysis.

Other Tools

11. Google Alerts – Your keyword search results are sent via e-mail for keyword mentions in news, web, blogs, video and groups categories.

12. BoardTracker – This tool searches discussion boards and forum threads for your specified keywords. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts.

13. MonitorThis – MonitorThis is a search aggregator for up to 26 search engine feeds.

14. Naymz – A social network focused on reputation, personal branding, and identity verification. Basic version is free.

15. Purewire Trust – An online portal that helps people verify reputation information about themselves and those with whom they interact online. You can search by e-mail address, URL or web application.

16. Yasni – This is a search engine dedicated to finding people on the web through publicly available information, including images, videos, social networking profiles and posts.

With the number of tools available, you will probably need to do some research to determine which services fulfill your needs. Usually a mix of a few of these free services will cover your bases, but you will need time to do the manual work necessary for the tools that are not automated.

If you prefer to have more of the work done for you, there are also a number of paid tools available to monitor your online reputation:

Do you use any of these tools? Which would you recommend?


Pirates use Coke as cover to swipe your info on Facebook

Facebook and the misuse of personal data seem to go hand in hand, even when it isn’t the social network’s fault. Mashable reports, “There’s a new scam on Facebook promising to show you a video revealing the ‘truth’ about Coca-Cola, but all it’s really after is your personal info. Security firm Sophos described the problem in a blog post Thursday morning. The message reads: ‘I am part of the 98 percent of people that are NEVER gonna drink Coca Cola again after this HORRIFIC video,’ followed by a link.” Be careful what you click out there. — Jackson Wightman