Tag Archive for: media

Driving award success with PR

Late last year we gave you tips on how to prepare a great award submission. Last week we put together a list of some of the business awards coming up across a number of categories this year including the BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards and Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. We also talked about how entering awards can benefit your business but what we’ve only touched on is how to maximise award success and leverage the credibility that comes with it. 

We’ll touch on a few common tactics used and you’ll learn that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re first or fifth. What does matter is timing, making sure your tactics are prepared and executed on time so you’re not announcing your success when it’s too late.

Before the winners are announced

“Congratulations”, says the email. “Your company has been shortlisted for the 2012 Amazing Company of the Year Awards”. Some awards will let you know you’re in the running which means it’s time to put your PR hat on.

 

Prepare your message. Be clear on what to say if you win. Firstly, the General Manager or CEO should be the nominated spokesperson for interviews. Some key information you should have prepared are company initiatives (ie the projects that won you the “green” award, for example), sales and profit growth (it might not always be appropriate to boast your exact figures but % growth still shows your company had a strong year) and the other elements contributing to your company’s success.

 

Prepare a media release. In the weeks or days leading up to the announcement prepare a media release detailing all the above juicy information about your company. What is it that really differentiated your company in the market that year. This is what you’ll use to send information to journalists and key media contacts and it should be ready to go out as soon as the announcement is made.

Look for relevant features. BRW sends all shortlisted franchises an editorial survey to complete prior to the announcement of its Fast Franchises List. If you get an email like this make sure you reply as your responses are used for feature stories. In fact, get in touch with any publication – print or online – that generally covers the award you’ve entered to ask about what feature stories it may be developing and if your company has experienced the trends or themes they’re writing about let them know.

After the winners are announced

Pitching. Get your media release out to all contacts relevant to your award. Everyone will be doing this so make sure your point of difference is clear. Continue to follow up with your contacts keeping in mind what it is about your company’s success that is most interesting to what they’re writing about.

Credibility of an award. Winning an award highlights you as an industry leader or innovator and has the potential to attract new clients and customers. Let stakeholders know – customers, suppliers etc. All suitable touch points of communication (company website, email signatures & business cards, company letterheads, newsletters, collateral and brochures) should mention your win also. Use the award’s logo and a brief line similar to as follows. ie. 2012 Small Business Awards Winner (logo).

Social Media. Social networking sites are another great way to reach out to your audience (ie. use hash tags likes #telstrabizawards on Twitter or announce your win on your business’s Facebook page) and share any exposure you may receive as a result of your award success.

Not the best but among the best

We encourage our clients to enter awards that are relevant to their respective industries. Often, companies won’t enter awards if they don’t think they’ll win. Our experience has proved it sometimes doesn’t matter if you win, so long as you’re seen among the best.

Two of our clients made the 2011 BRW Fast Franchises List last year. Pool and spa care franchise PoolWerx made the list for the eighth consecutive year while home appliance rental franchise Mr Rental made it for the first time and we achieved positive coverage for both of them for very different reasons. For PoolWerx, it was about what the company was doing to remain at the top for a number of years. For Mr Rental, it was about what strategies over that previous year had lead to its business success and resulting recognition among the top franchises in Australia.

Over the past five years, Ignite PR & Marketing has had success entering its clients  in awards including BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards, BRW Fast Starters, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards, ActionCOACH My Business Awards, Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. If you’d like further advice on entering your company in business awards get in touch with Ignite here.

Media storm of the month – June 2011

One of the previous month’s biggest stories has been a tragic one – the murder of a Gold Coast police officer Damian Leeding. Shot in the head late in the evening on Sunday May 29, his family then had to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine.

The media coverage of the murder and subsequent funeral was extensive with all mainstream print and broadcast media covering the initial reports, the following progress of the officer and then his state funeral on the Gold Coast, attended by thousands.

The sheer scale of the response was huge. The power of the media was used for good as all the major TV stations were asking the public to donate to the Damian Leeding Remembrance Fund for his young family left behind – more than $150,000 has been raised so far, a huge amount for what might have been a small local charitable fund.

Damian had one of the biggest state funerals ever with the public moved to show their support. The event was broadcast live and online and was a topic of much interest on the social networking site Twitter. The Catholic Leader printed the homily delivered at the funeral.

And other brands got in on the act to help out – the police officer’s young son even got to meet the Queensland State of Origin team.

The murder itself exposed issues of police protection – a new taskforce was announced following Damian’s death. There has been a spate of violent crime in the Gold Coast so far in 2011, predominantly linked to drugs and biker gangs. In fact, Damian’s boss was himself injured following a drug raid just weeks after his death.

Trying to make some sense of the increase in crime, the Queensland Police Union has linked it to the global financial crisis.

But as well as the heartbreak for Damian’s family and the tragic loss for his police colleagues, the media storm surrounding the current crime spree on the Gold Coast has further negative implications.

Local politicians have claimed it’s having an effect on education with foreign students cancelling their courses after seeing the recent stories in the news.

The evaluating committee for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, for which the Gold Coast is a contender, have had to make a statement saying that the crimes won’t affect Gold Coast’s chances of hosting, but it’s hard to see how it won’t.

And there are some indications that tourists are cancelling trips. The new CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd has even said that selling his destination as a safe place to holiday could help them attract the tourists now not visiting the Gold Coast.

If we want to help the Gold Coast now to try and stop these crimes happening we shouldn’t be deserting the area in its hour of need but keep visiting in our droves to keep the tourism and surrounding industry buoyant so that people can have gainful employment and less need for the drugs as a result of despair. It’s a simplistic viewpoint, but something worth considering. The media are doing their job in reporting the facts, but it would be good if they can help with the recovery as well.

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6 questions: Cayla Dengate, Features Editor, mX

Next up in our series finding out how journalists like to work, any issues they have with PRs, how they like stories to be pitched to them, etc, is Cayla Dengate, features editor of free newspaper mX.

1)      What is your deadline day?

We write mX News early each morning to be ready on the street by 2.30pm, so our news deadline is about 9am Monday to Friday; however features are arranged weeks earlier. Ideally, we want to know about an event two weeks in advance.

2)      How do you prefer to be contacted (i.e. email, phone, fax, post)?

I like to get to know contacts in Brisbane, so a phone call is always appreciated, but email is the failsafe.

3)      Is there a particular time of day you prefer to be contacted?

I’m in the office 6.30am-2.30pm Monday to Wednesday.

4)      Do you like to meet companies and bosses for coffee/ lunch? If yes, do you have any favourite venues?

I find the best way to meet contacts is at launches and openings. That way, I can meet PRs in their element and hopefully get some story ideas in the process.

5)      What are your three pet peeves about PRs?

One: Mobile contact – unless it’s genuinely urgent, I’d prefer work messages to stay on my work phone.

Two: Calling the day of an event – by that stage, it’s mostly too late for mX.

Three: Forced familiarity – it’s not expected for a PR to know everything about every journalist they contact, and it can be embarrassing when they pretend to.

Having said that, I mostly love working with the PR community. Quite a few PRs have helped out mX with last-minute photo requests and contact information!

6)      What would the perfect story pitch be for you? And what’s the best PR pitch you have ever had?

While I’d like to say the perfect pitch is one that’s baked into a cupcake, that’s not necessary. mX is looking for stories that directly relate to the 18-35 age demographic. Whether it’s a serious issue or a community event, we want to know why young people should be interested. In terms of photos, we are always looking for a brightly coloured shoot with young, spunky people and lots of props and movement.

There have been some very memorable PR pitches – from an offer to find me my Soul Mate (already taken, thanks) to a photo opportunity with live tigers – but my favourites have to be the illustrated invitations that arrive before fashion week each year. They’re tiny pieces of art that I often keep for years to come.

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6 questions: Alex Tilbury, Finance reporter, The Courier-Mail

Next up in our series finding out how journalists like to work, any issues they have with PRs, how they like stories to be pitched to them, etc, is Alex Tilbury, finance reporter from The Courier-Mail.

1)      What is your deadline day?

Deadline is normally every day from 4pm onwards. The afternoon news conference finishes around 3:30pm so that is when the section editors know what they want for the next day. The Your Money section is nationally syndicated across all News Ltd tabloids and is normally done and dusted each Wednesday for the following Monday.

2)      How do you prefer to be contacted (i.e. email, phone, fax, post)?

Email is definitely best. I don’t want faxes. I am just dipping my toes into the Twittersphere so even a tweet is good. I check it a few times a day. Follow me @AlexTilbury.

3)      Is there a particular time of day you prefer to be contacted?

Please don’t ring any daily newspaper journo in the late afternoon as it is simply too busy to talk. Mornings are always best to call, if you must. As a rule, news conference starts at the Courier-Mail at 9:30, then 10:30am. We are very keen to hear about video/audio options. If you can package a story for an iPad edition (every day at 5am and 5pm), then that’ll work in your favour too. We have to sell our own stories across all the multi-media platforms.

4)      Do you like to meet companies and bosses for coffee/ lunch? If yes, do you have any favourite venues?

I definitely like to meet up but I prefer people to come to our office at Bowen Hills. I don’t have a lot of time to get out basically.  It’s also very posh in the new newsroom, all renovated and we even have great coffee here.

5)      What are your three pet peeves about PRs?

I am constantly surprised when PRs call and ask if you have run such and such story and it may have run already but many PRs don’t actually read the book! Buy the paper, it’s so fundamental. Not every story gets uploaded online. In fact it is only going to get worse when the content online will eventually be subscriber-only. And, don’t ring me and ask who you should pitch a piece to. Start with the Chief of Staff and then contact journos directly.

6)      What would the perfect story pitch be for you? And what’s the best PR pitch you have ever had?

Case studies really help, especially in business reporting. Find me a happy customer and it’s an easy way for people to relate. We are definitely not a trade magazine, so nothing extremely single product specific. Be aware of what is happening in the news and in terms of data coming out. New car sales data, retail data, building approvals… all these are hooks to a genuine news piece that highlights your car dealer, shop owner or builder. Think a little more ‘newsy’.

Best pitch… still waiting! Every day is different. I think the best PRs are the ones who understand we are all here just to do our jobs, fill the book and find the best angle for our readers.

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6 questions: Fiona Donnelly, Queensland taste Editor, The Courier-Mail

Over the coming months we will be approaching a few top Brisbane and Queensland journalists, as well as a few specialists, to find out how they like to work, any issues they have with PRs, how they like stories to be pitched to them, etc. First up is Fiona Donnelly, Queensland taste Editor from The Courier-Mail. (And yes, we know it’s technically 8 questions.)

1)      What is your deadline day?

I file every Wednesday for the following Tuesday. If you’re sending releases for taste, the general rule is the longer the lead-time given, the better the chance that I’ll be able to use something. Feel free to send a follow-up email closer to the date, if you haven’t heard anything back.

2)      How do you prefer to be contacted (i.e. email, phone, fax, post)?

Email is always best – unless it’s urgent.

3)      Is there a particular time of day you prefer to be contacted?

If you’re emailing – email anytime! If you’re phoning, please don’t call me on Monday (it’s production day for taste).

4)      Do you like to meet companies and bosses for coffee/ lunch? If yes, do you have any favourite venues?

Happy to meet anyone, anywhere – as long as there’s a scoop in the offing.

5)      What are your three pet peeves about PRs?

Generally I don’t like being called by PRs to check if there’s any interest in an email/event – if you’ve sent the email, the odds are I’ll have received it and if there’s interest I’ll certainly phone or email for more information.

6)      What would the perfect story pitch be for you? And what’s the best PR pitch you have ever had?

Haven’t had any stand-out pitches from PRs – the pitch really isn’t the important aspect for me. If your information is timely – i.e. if it’s provided to me before the marketing emails and press releases are sent out generally; and if it’s of interest to The Courier-Mail taste reader, then it’s a good pitch!

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Navigating the murky waters of professional PR measurement

In 2010, we’re utterly obsessed with measurement. This obsession hasn’t been a quantum shift, a grand epiphany, or a light bulb moment, it’s been a slow build, a snowball culminating with the global financial crisis.

Today business owners must be able to produce proof at a moment’s notice to substantiate any spend.

Gone are the ‘good’ old days when a crisp suit, lunch on the agency and the whisper of expensive cologne were enough to reassure clients of campaign success (think Madmen).

Today, we’re pay-per-click, we’re analytics, we’re tangible results, we’re figures, reports and metrics, except of course when it comes to professional public relations. The reason for this is a fundamental lack of any uniform measurement platform for PR and marketing agencies in Australia to use, by which all can be judged.

The fact that such a system remains nonexistent in 2010 almost beggars belief.

The elephant in the room is highlighted all the more by PR agencies who flout this lack of regulation by presenting clients with reports boasting hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars worth of positive PR. These often ludicrous figures are reached by a not-so-clever multiplication of AVE figures.

AVE, meaning Advertising Value Equivalent is the closest thing PR and marketing agencies have to adequate measurement tools. AVE is calculated by PR professionals literally sitting down with media clippings, a ruler and a calculator and determining the size of any given media clipping. Based on the size we are able to establish what the equivalent advertising price for the space would be.

But here’s where it gets messy. Some agencies will then add a multiplier to the total value, on the assumption that editorial is more credible than advertising. Many agencies consider 3 times AVE to be acceptable, however some use 5 times AVE or, heaven forbid, even more.

It may be partly due to these measurement disparities that the Public Relations Institute of Australia actually discourages the use of AVE figures and also states in its code of ethics:

‘Members shall refrain from proposing or agreeing that their consultancy fees or other remuneration be contingent entirely on the achievement of specified results’.

However, like it or not, clients are increasingly asking for these figures and agencies which refuse to produce them may be seen as disreputable.

Recently the director of a large Sydney agency told us she was now being asked for AVE figures by clients for the first time, even though the practice has been commonplace in Queensland (at least for our agency) for many years.

So here’s the punch: When two different agencies can deliver the same level of media coverage, but value this coverage wildly differently, how can clients adequately compare ‘apples with apples’ when it comes to PR?

The establishment of a viable evaluation platform for professional public relations and marketing, which is accepted by a majority of service providers and backed by the PRIA, is one of the most vital steps in the maturation of the industry in Australia.

Agencies who consistently deliver strong results for their clients will welcome this new age of measurement and transparency.

Internships – Are they really worthwhile?

The importance of internships is discussed frequently at university by lecturers but is it really that important to undertake one?

I believe it is. I have just started an internship at Ignite and already I can see the advantages. 

There are so many benefits to be gained from internships but the most important is the real world experience you garner.  Everything I am learning will help me with my studies and when I enter the workforce I will be more prepared than other graduates. 

Taking on an internship allows you to decide if a job is suited to you and if it is the career path you really want to follow, which is especially important to decide before you finish your degree and obtain a job that you might not enjoy. 

Internships allow you to finally apply all the knowledge and practical skills you’ve had drilled into you during lectures in a real work setting. 

Nothing can beat the experience and reference you gain during an internship and as a bonus it looks excellent on a resume.  In addition, employers are more likely to employ a graduate that has practical experience over another who simply has a degree. 

Internships are also a great confidence booster.  After gaining real world experience in the industry and the skills and knowledge that follow, you’re immediately going to be more confident when you graduate and go through the process of finding a job.  Just knowing you have some relevant experience behind you gives you an edge.  Internships also become great networking opportunities. 

I’ve only been at my internship for a couple for weeks, but I’ve already had the chance to undertake activities which if I was working in the industry I would be responsible for on a regular basis.  For example I have written media releases, business appointments and undertaken pitching and following up.  I have gained real word experience on public relations activities and I have observed how a standard day would operate for a practitioner. 

My experience is strictly from a public relations field but I believe that internships are valuable in any industry. No university degree can give you the same experience an internship can. 

If you have the time and get the opportunity while at university to undertake an internship I highly recommend it, I promise you that you will see the benefits.