Archive for the ‘public relations’ Category

A Look Inside Charlotte.com

July 20, 2008

Anyone who’s followed the news recently knows that daily newspapers are experiencing dramatic change. (Need to get up to speed? Check out stories here, here, and here). Most of these changes are driven by the fact that more and more people are using online newspapers (or the Web in general) as sources for news and information.

This shift has sparked debates across the country about how the newspaper industry will respond and the future of daily papers. Only time will tell. What’s evident now is that the explosion in online newspaper readership has transformed newspaper websites into multimedia portals that not only deliver news, but also videos, pictures, and even blogs from popular reporters. Because of this continued growth, I thought it would be beneficial to get an inside look at how online newspapers operate in comparison to their print brethren.

Dave Enna, the Senior Producer of the Charlotte Observer’s Web partner Charlotte.com, was gracious enough to provide insights that will help you navigate this terrain. In the below exchange, he shares tips that range from stories that work better in an online news environment to what you should avoid sending to content editors at Charlotte.com.

KTM: How long have you been at Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: I have been with Charlotte.com since it launched in March 1996. Our staff in ’96 consisted of 2 editors and we worked at night, alternating days off to cover 7 days a week. Our staff now includes 7 editors (including me), and the newsroom multimedia director, Dee-Dee Strickland. We cover from 6 a.m. to midnight 7 days a week. The newsroom also provides a full-time online reporter, Steve Lyttle, who works Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a newsroom photographer who shoots for online and begins work at 6 a.m. I have been at the Observer since 1982. I have been national editor, weekend editor, and the real estate editor in past positions.

KTM: You are listed as a “Senior Producer” on Charlotte.com. Can you tell me what your specific duties entail?
Dave Enna: I guide the daily content on the site. I work from 6 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. M-F, and also Sunday mornings. The six online producers report to me. I report to the newsroom multimedia director. Her job is more ‘big picture’ — planning for the future and working with the newsroom’s top editors.

KTM: How many visits does Charlotte.com receive on a daily basis?
Dave Enna: Measured in page views, Charlotte.com averages about 30 million a month. On a typical weekday we generate 1 million plus page views. That equates to about 150,000 visits a day, with each visit generating about 7 page views.

KTM: How is news covered on Charlotte.com vs. the Charlotte Observer?
Dave Enna: The online team re-packages the content from the Observer and then presents breaking news and updates through the day. A lot of our most popular content was never in the printed newspaper. We get about 40 breaking news stories a day from the newsroom, plus many others from wires.

KTM: Any tips on how people can better shape story pitches for the print environment so that the ideas also work well online?
Dave Enna: Generally, the online team will re-route story pitches to the newsroom. The exceptions are events that have a lot of potential for photos or video. The newsroom generates about 20 videos a week, and that number is growing. Also, many more photos appear online than appear in print. The Black Tie slideshow – Charlotte’s social scene – is an example. It generates about 100,000 page views a week.

KTM: In your opinion, are there any particular stories that work better online vs. the print environment?
Dave Enna: Breaking news, traffic, sports and weather are the most popular stories online. The stories do not need to be highly detailed. We can update them often. Photos of people at parties are also very popular. Celebrity news is very popular.

KTM: What kind of multimedia elements do you accept for Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: Videos and photos can be uploaded by readers at www.charlotte.com/upload.

KTM: Do story ideas that include video or photos have a stronger possibility of being used on Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: Possibly. We welcome videos from readers, but it is still the topic that will determine play.

KTM: Being that Charlotte.com is online, do you face the same deadlines as your counterparts at the Charlotte Observer?
Dave Enna: Our deadlines are constant. We face constant pressure to keep the site updated. We do not keep the same lead story and lead photo more than about 3-4 hours.

KTM: Is there an ideal time to submit story ideas or contact content producers?
Dave Enna: The mornings are extremely busy, but this settles down after about 9:30 am.

KTM: One final question. Are there certain things that people should avoid doing when submitting information to Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna
: They should avoid attaching things like word documents or Excel spreadsheets, which we generally will delete without opening because of the virus risk. The only way we will open them is if we have advance word from a trusted source. A .pdf document is safer. If they are attaching photos, they should drop them down in size, and only attach one photo per e-mail. Photos for online don’t need to be larger than 600 pixels, height or width.

Thanks for the interview, Dave. One important takeaway from this “inside look” is that the popularity of online newspaper sites expands how you can share your story with the local community – and even the world. When thinking about your next PR campaign, try telling your story using video or photos. Your ability to do this is a key ingredient to succeeding in this new media landscape.

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; advertising planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and, writing services.

Related Topics:

  1. Tips For Avoiding The PR Spam Zone
  2. Add Video To Your Press Releases
  3. The Ever-Evolving Press Release

What Should I do Next?
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What To Ask A Reporter At A Lunch Meeting

June 29, 2008

My public relations professor in college always said that public relations is about “human relations,” which simply is the ability to connect with people. Although this isn’t brain surgery, what can sometimes get lost in the fray as we’re tying to tell our story is that reporters are people we need to connect with, too.

One of the best things that businesses of all sizes can do is develop a relationship with the reporter who covers the area they operate in. One sure-fire way to accomplish this is to invite your beat reporter for a quick lunch meeting. If the thought of this has you shaking in your boots, here are a few questions you can use to break the ice:

  1. Tell me about your beat: There’s nothing a reporter hates more than being spammed with press releases and story pitches that have nothing to do with what they cover. Use your meeting to get a clear picture of the reporter’s beat and story preferences.
  2. How do you like to receive information: Email is the contact preference for most reporters. However, some may prefer fax or even snail mail. During a recent event for the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists, one reporter shared that she’s partial to hand-written letters. Find out the reporter’s preference and deliver the information as requested.
  3. What’s the best time to contact you: All reporters work on deadlines, especially those at daily newspapers or TV stations. The deadlines for long-lead pubs like magazines vary. Find out what the reporters deadline is and don’t call during this day/time unless you have a great resource who can be used in a breaking news story.
  4. How can I help you: Don’t leave the table without learning how you can be a resource. Becoming a reliable resource is the best way to build and sustain your relationship with the media. Find out who he or she needs access to in your organization for interviews or send reports or trend stories that would be of interest just because. This will pay off in the long-run.

Public relations is all about relating to people. Reporters are an integral part of this equation. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and request a lunch meeting.

Bon Appétit!

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; advertising planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and, writing services.

Related Topics:

  1. Tips For Avoiding The PR Spam Zone
  2. Search Engine Optimized Press Releases
  3. The Ever-Evolving Press Release
  4. Court the Press: Your Online News Room
  5. Add Video to Your Press Releases

What Should I do Next?
Add to: | blinklist | del.cio.us | digg | yahoo! | furl | rawsugar | shadows | netvouz

Tips For Avoiding The PR Spam Zone

June 22, 2008

In recent years, there have been numerous print and online stories of reporters blocking the emails of PR people for continuously spamming press releases, story pitches, and other communications – even after the reporters asked to be removed from media contact lists. You can read a few animated and sometimes heated posts about this phenomenon here, here, and here.

As a small or mid-sized business, the last thing you want is to get on the bad side of a reporter and join this dreaded group. Media professionals are highly influential in generating messages about your company to the public. One of the keys to staying out of the “spam zone” is to build a media contact list that includes reporters who cover the products or services your business offers. What follows are several tips you can use to build a solid media contact list. These tips will help you tell your story to the correct media contacts and develop lasting relationships along the way.

  1. Review Your PR/Communication Goals: The first step in building a worthwhile media contact list is to clearly define your goals for communicating with the press. What story do you want to share about your business? What’s the impact of your business on the public (employees, customers, the community)? What makes your product or service stand out from the pack? What mechanisms do you have in place to respond to media inquiries (personnel, information, etc.)? Answer these and other questions before you make contact with the media.
  2. Research, Research, Research: Research print and broadcast reporters in your local area to find out who covers news for your business’s focus. Once you’ve identified the correct media contacts, read or listen to several of their recent stories to familiarize yourself with their style of reporting. Also find out how reporters want to be contacted with press releases and other communications, and the best time to communicate by phone. After you’ve identified your local media contacts, broaden your list to include regional or national media contacts, bloggers, and websites.
  3. Review and Update: Regular review of your list will help keep your media contacts accurate. Has a reporter asked to be removed from your list? Is there a new reporter covering your beat? Have you identified new angles to pitch about your business that extends your reach to another reporter? These all are questions to ask when reviewing and updating your list.

There are several PR software providers on the market that you can use to create media lists, monitor your press coverage, and more. Prices for these services vary. For the budget-conscious business, a well-organized Excel spreadsheet will work just fine. Whatever you do, stay committed to honing your media contact list and avoiding the spam zone!

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; advertising planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and article, website, advertising, editorial, and sponsorship writing.

Related Topics:

  1. Search Engine Optimized Press Releases
  2. The Ever-Evolving Press Release
  3. Court the Press: Your Online News Room
  4. Add Video to Your Press Releases

What Should I do Next?
Add to: | blinklist | del.cio.us | digg | yahoo! | furl | rawsugar | shadows | netvouz

Search Engine Optimized Press Releases

June 15, 2008

My last post talked about how press releases have evolved from words on paper (or email) to living multimedia documents that can include video, Web links, images and new methods of distribution such as online press releases.

This post will focus on online press releases, a key denominator in the evolution of the press release. Press releases that are distributed online are typically labeled “search engine optimized (SEO) press releases.” SEO press releases can be used to achieve several PR goals, including: to reach reporters that subscribe to online press release distribution feeds; to communicate directly to consumers; to build an online presence; and to build traffic to websites or other online portals (through linking).

Keep in mind that there are two key components to SEO press releases: key words and distribution.

Selecting the right key words for your SEO press release is an integral part of your online PR strategy. Selecting key words that are “top-of-mind” among your target audience during online searches will help push your release to the top of search engines such as YAHOO! and Google. For example, say that you are Ralph’s AC/Heating Company writing a press release about “Tips for Staying Cool in the Summer Heat.” A few of the key words for your release might include “how to stay cool in the summer” or “beating the heat.” Undoubtedly, people living in places with near-record heat are searching for these terms.

Of course, the distribution of your press releases also is an important part of this process. In a nutshell, when you partner with an online press release distribution service, your press release is placed on the service provider’s website and distributed via an RSS feed to reporters and top search engines. Other websites that subscribe to this feed might also carry your release if the content is a fit.

As I mentioned in my last post, PR Newswire and PRWeb are probably two of the better-known services on the market for online press release distribution. PR Newswire is arguably the most established provider out there. PRWeb has built a solid reputation for its affordability and expertise in optimizing press releases for search engines. No matter who you select as a service provider, the price of your distribution will depend on what level of service you choose. There also are several free online news distribution services on the market. I’ve used one called I-Newswire with pretty good results, although a Google ad is placed on the free releases. This provider also offers another distribution option without an ad for a minimal fee. A web search will give you a large selection of fee and non-fee providers of online press release distribution. Review your options carefully and base your final decision on your desired results and budget.

SEO press releases should be part of a public relations strategy that also includes traditional “direct-to-reporter” distribution of press releases and relationship building with key media contacts. A front-page (positive) story in your local newspaper is still a solid score for your company’s brand and reputation (you can even add to your SEO PR strategy by blogging on your news coverage and linking to press stories). When used together, traditional and online PR pack a powerful punch that generates awareness of your business that hopefully translates into sales.

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; media planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and article, website, advertising, editorial, and sponsorship writing.

Related Topics:

  1. The Ever-Evolving Press Release
  2. 5 Marketing Ideas to Recession-Proof Your Business
  3. Simple Tools To Monitor Market Trends
  4. The Right Idea, The Right Time
  5. Finding Keywords for Great SEO Results
  6. Court the Press: Your Online News Room
  7. Add Video to Your Press Releases

What Should I do Next?
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