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Archive for Media Relations’ Category


Comments Off on Press Releases Generate More Favorable Reviews Than Paid Advertising

Press Releases Generate More Favorable Reviews Than Paid Advertising

Public Relations Word Cloud

A well-written press release generates far more impressions and favorable reviews than paid media (i.e. advertising). The most critical advantage public relations offers is “believability.” When your message appears as editorial (both online and offline), it carries with it the implied third-party endorsement of the publication’s editor.

Think about. Which of the following carries more weight in your mind? Which is more credible?

a. A web banner touting a new product or service

b. A social media post about a new product or service

c. A print ad showcasing a new product or service

d. A feature story about a new product or service in the Wall Street Journal, The Plain Dealer, Crain’s or on the CNN website?

Most people agree that editorial coverage is not only more credible, it’s far more in-depth and detailed than any advertisement could ever be. Here’s another big factor: public relations costs far less than paid advertising. Many large trade and consumer publications charge $25,000 or more for a single page print ad (one time). You could run a PR campaign for a full year for the price of one ad!

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Comments Off on Why Building Relationships with Editors is So Critical

Why Building Relationships with Editors is So Critical

A Rolled Newspaper

Getting content (e.g. press releases, feature articles, case studies, etc.) placed in the media is highly dependent upon developing relationships with editors. If you can become a trusted source for quality content, editors will actually seek you out for editorial. Over the past two decades Stevens Strategic Communications (SSC) has been fortunate to develop key editorial contacts all over the globe. Below are some of our best practices we use to get your content published.

Any relationship with an editor begins with a pitch. PR professionals spend hours crafting the perfect pitch to a news outlet that creatively highlights the intended message. From an editor’s point of view, it is the potential impact of the pitch that will get a message covered, not how much effort was put into perfecting the pitch.

Certain PR practitioners may have different philosophies about maintaining relationships with editors. Some don’t try to build relationships at all and resort to blindly calling a news outlet to pitch a story or gather information. It may be necessary to use this method at times; however SSC believes creating a strong relationship generally helps in getting your work noticed.

SSC never gives an editor false or useless material. Giving them unreliable information is a sure way of getting your pitch deleted or thrown in the trash. We always provide them with verified messages, and are available to answer any follow-up questions they may have. It is our job to be a dependable source, and an editor or reporter should be able to rely on us to get the correct information they need.

We don’t pitch all the timeWhen you are constantly focused on pitching your clients to anyone who will listen, you lose sight of the bigger picture. PR is all about relationships and savvy publicists know when to pitch a client and when to hold off and come up with a better angle, strategy or pitch so that their communication with editors is as efficient as possible.

The most important thing to remember is the relationship between an editor and PR practitioner is mutual. A significant amount of the information editors gather comes from PR professionals, so they need us just as much as we need them. All communication experts value relationships. Maintaining strong and functional relationships between PR practitioners and editors will help accomplish the ultimate goal of both professionals, which is to disseminate meaningful messages to key markets.

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Breaking News: Ed Stevens, APR+M Assumes Three Industry Leadership Roles

Ed Stevens

Ed Stevens, APR +M, has just been named President-Elect of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), the fourth largest group of independent PR firms in the world. He has served PRGN as Marketing Officer for the past four years. “I am honored to be selected by the people who have helped my clients grow their businesses both internationally and domestically. We have some of the world’s best PR minds as members.”

In addition, Ed also holds two high-visibility positions with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). As a member of the executive committee for the PRSA Health Academy, Ed will be heavily involved on the committee charged with bringing the academy’s annual conference to Cleveland in the spring of 2015. “It is estimated that this event will bring over 300 professionals to the city as we place a spotlight on Cleveland as the center of excellence for healthcare in America,” said Ed.

Finally, Ed will be the next president of the PRSA Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter. “I am excited to be a PRSA president. It is my third stint as a president, having served as president twice with Greater Cleveland Chapter.” Stevens Strategic Communications believes it is great to give back to our community, our industry and PR professional people in Erie and Cleveland.

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Comments Off on Fixing Data Breach PR- Guest Post by David Fuscus of Xenophon Strategies, Washington, DC

Fixing Data Breach PR- Guest Post by David Fuscus of Xenophon Strategies, Washington, DC

“Year of the Retailer Breach” was how Verizon recently described 2013 in their annual Data Breach Report, saying that it “was a year of transition… to large scale attacks on payment card systems”. The report documented 1,367 confirmed data breaches, the largest and most infamous of which was the massive amount of customer information stolen from Target during the busy Christmas shopping season.

Target’s initial handling of the breach was so poor that the iconic bull’s-eye logo had rested squarely on their corporate forehead for months and the Board of Directors finally pulled the trigger and fired CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob.  Target’s struggles and executive replacements can only lead one to speculate that their next financial results will be ugly.

Target’s initial communications response was particularly bad because they acted so slowly; media reports started on December 12, but the breach wasn’t publically acknowledged for seven days. Target finally instituted a comprehensive response program (including free credit reports) and a PR campaign to repair the damage, but it was too little, too late — the data breach steamroller was already in motion and crushing customer trust.

And it wasn’t just Target; Neiman Marcus stands out as another retailer who bungled public communications about a massive data breach.  Rumblings of multi-breaches at Neiman’s first appeared in mid-December and a forensic firm discovered evidence of the breach on January 1st, but it wasn’t until January 10ththat they were forced to acknowledge the crisis after security blogger Brian Krebs broke the story  and they didn’t officially announce the crisis until January 23rd.  Their initial media communication efforts were pitiful, mainly an on-demand only statement for journalists.  A key rule of crisis communications is to define yourself rather than be defined and Neiman-Marcus took few and inadequate actions to communicate on a broad level to the public and their customers.

Data breaches are the worst type of modern corporate crisis because they directly impact masses of individual customers on a financial and emotional level. When people are personally hurt or threatened, they can become powerful influencers when those stories are amplified across social networks; when millions are individually threatened, their reaction can severely damage an entire business, regardless of size.

So how could sophisticated, well-managed, companies like Target and Neiman-Marcus bungle their data breach communications so badly?  It’s not like the basics of crisis communications are mystical:  define rather than be defined, fast self-disclosure, respond directly to customers and undertake public facing actions to ensure it never happens again.

While the reasons for Target’s and Neiman-Marcus’s communications decisions are only known within the company, there are some likely candidates:

  • Legal vs Communications.  In a crisis, the first priority of competent communicators is to publically define the situation and exert some influence with the media and customers.  The first priority of legal professionals is generally to put the company in the best possible position for litigation, especially when litigation will be massive.  If a company hasn’t addressed the balance of brand damage vs. litigation before a crisis, it inevitably leads to delay as senior executives tend to defer to their legal teams.
  • Speed vs Full Information.  In any data breach, having a full understanding of what happened can take days, weeks or months. Target’s internal investigation and report on their breach still isn’t done five months after the event.  Waiting for full or robust information can waste precious time and allow the story to break from another source.  Arts and crafts giant Michael’s suffered a data breach shortly after Neiman’s and Target, but they announced a potential breach as soon as they discovered it, engaged with the media and opened a CEO-level dialogue with their customers.  By jumping out ahead of the story, Michael’s was viewed as competently managing the crisis and working to protect their customers.
  • Communications Infrastructure.  When a crisis explodes, public attention is almost instantaneous and can be massive both in the news media and on social channels.  The level of attention and potential ferocity is outside the experience of most business executives and, with no base of experience, ill-informed decisions can reign.  Corporations need to plan for crisis communications, build infrastructure and have the proper outside resources on tap so that they can instantly ramp up and engage with both the media and their customers.

Public communications after a data breach needs to be comprehensive — a company needs to understand its ability to respond to the media and customers, whether it is through the press, social channels, call centers or stores.  And the execution of fast, meaningful, communications depends on the advance identification of issues that can slow down a public response — be it lack of preparation, communications infrastructure or insufficient planning between a company’s communications, legal and technical functions.

David Fuscus is the president and CEO of Xenophon Strategies, a leading U.S. PR firm specializing in crisis & reputation communications and brand management which is headquartered in Washington, DC.  Follow him on Twitter at @DavidFuscus or @XenophonPR.

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Comments Off on Make Your Press Event the Star of the (Trade) Show

Make Your Press Event the Star of the (Trade) Show

Someone Entering Information from a Piece of Paper onto a Computer

A trade show is a perfect platform for unveiling new products and making company announcements.  Shows provide you with a built-in audience made up of customers, prospects and media personnel. What more could you ask for? Take advantage of this opportunity to generate buzz, increase press coverage and–ultimately–grow sales, by holding a press conference or media event.  When it comes to pulling off a flawless event, it’s all in the details. Hark back to lessons from journalism 101 and cover your bases with the 5 Ws.


What are you announcing or unveiling? Don’t give the entire story away before the event. Rather, offer teasers with a promise of the full story at the event. The executives and product managers should be on hand to make statements and answer questions.  You want to give the media all of the information and resources they will need when—hopefully—writing up a feature for publication or posting. Pass out press kits with news releases and images on memory sticks or CDs.


Don’t just pick a date and time spontaneously. Do some digging first. Ask the show organizers to send you a master list of all scheduled press conferences. You don’t want to compete for media attention.  Also check the show schedule for any show-sponsored activities or seminars that may conflict with your event.  Will your event take place during regular show hours or will it happen before or after the show opens for the day? There are pros and cons on both sides. If it is outside of show hours, check the hotel trolley/shuttle schedule to be sure transportation won’t be an issue for your invitees.  It’s almost never a good idea to host a press event prior to the start of the show on opening day. Your media audience needs time to check in and obtain their press credentials. If you go with a press conference during show hours, choose a time when traffic is typically low as to not interfere with potential selling opportunities.


Ask the show marketing department for a list of registered media. Narrow that list to those individuals representing publications and sites you are targeting. Quantity is better than quality. There is no use in inviting everyone on the media list if half of them cover categories that don’t match your focus. Send the initial invitation two weeks prior to the event.  Follow up seven days before the event. Finally, issue a reminder one day in advance. Personalize the correspondence for a better response rate.


Location, location, location. You have several options: your booth, a designated press conference room, a hotel suite or conference room off-site.  Unless there are some special circumstances, on-site is always preferable to an off-site location. The benefit of having a press conference in your booth is the ability to demonstrate equipment on the spot. The disadvantage is that it may hinder regular booth traffic or draw a crowd of nosy competitors rather than interested media. Weigh the options to decide what is best for your particular circumstances.


Why are you holding this special event? Why should the media come? Find the angle that is going to intrigue the desired audience and give them a reason to show up. Does the new product offer a solution to a previously unmet need? Will the announcement revolutionize the industry? Remember to give them a taste of what you will cover without giving away the whole story.  For early morning events, consider serving breakfast to provide motivation to get out of bed.  For evening soirees, the allure of appetizers and/or cocktails may draw in more guests.   After all, it doesn’t matter how you get them there, just that they come!

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Comments Off on Five Tips on Handling International PR

Five Tips on Handling International PR


TIP #1: Before you start your international PR program, ask yourself, “What are your objectives?”  Is this a new product/service introduction?  What is your reputation on a country-by-country basis?  If you can provide measurable objectives, that is an excellent first step.

TIP #2: Which countries are you targeting?  Budget and distribution channels should guide the selection of the countries you seek to penetrate.  If you talk to public relations firms in the countries you want to reach, you can learn quickly what will be needed to obtain the coverage you desire.  You will find each country is different.  You will also find that each PR firm has different strengths—social media, media contacts, e-communications, direct mail capabilities, etc.

TIP #3:  Use their language, not yours.  Translations are the key to obtaining exposure.  Remember, some English words do not translate well into other languages.  Create news releases and press materials yourself, but have them translated by the PR firm that works in the country.

TIP #4:  Ask for clippings.  You need to track what appears in print and online.  While there are international services that track publicity, clippings are often lost on a worldwide basis.  You need to measure your success.  You will find out that some countries do better than others.

TIP #5: Use an International PR Network.  There are a number of PR networks that can take your story to the countries you target.  When you work with a network, you will typically have an account person near you.  This account person will engage the services of the network members at a budget that you approve.  I would be remiss not to mention our network:  the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN).  Visit our website at www.prgn.com .

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Comments Off on How to Build a Great Relationship with Magazine Editors

How to Build a Great Relationship with Magazine Editors


Building a relationship with editors doesn’t happen overnight. You need to prove your worth by creating appropriate material targeted to the publication’s audience, deliver on time and be able to adjust your article, if necessary, per the editor’s requests. Here are a few suggestions to help grow and nurture that working relationship.

1. Editors prefer email correspondence above all else, especially when it comes to query letters and final articles. Emailing correspondence and articles means the editor can cut and paste it into the publication without having to re-type anything. Digital delivery saves the editor lots of time.

2. If you promise an editor something–an article, a high resolution photo or anything else–make sure you deliver it. Follow through with your promises every time to establish yourself as a reliable and trustworthy source.

3. Before submitting a story, remember to fact check accuracy of dates and the spelling of places, names and geographic locations. Few editors will continue to work with a writer who submits sloppy material that requires extensive fact-checking and heavy re-writes. Worse yet, you don’t want something to run with factual errors, as this will cause embarrassment for both you and the editor.

4. If you choose to telephone an editor to pitch them a story, remember that their time is valuable. First, ask them if it’s a good time to speak for 10 minutes. If it’s not, then ask them for a convenient time to call back. If they can speak, limit your pitch to five to seven minutes. No editor wants to be on the telephone with someone for an unendurable length of time.

5. Deadlines are important to editors. They need written material before they can make decisions about visual materials, ad space, and layout and design. If you have promised an editor something, do your absolute best to submit it by the agreed upon deadline. If something has come up, communicate the need to slightly extend the deadline to the editor in advance.

6. Do not write stories or articles that are just barely disguised promotional pieces for your clients or your own business. Any seasoned editor can smell a promo piece a mile away and will not publish it.

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Comments Off on Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Publicity is giving someone a reason to talk about you.

The purpose of product publicity is to support sales. A well-planned and executed product publicity program will generate valuable sales leads. It creates awareness in the marketplace of your company’s name, products, capabilities, personnel and expertise.

For the most part, news releases, feature articles and case studies are read and evaluated by the trade press. Editors rely heavily on publicity material to fill out their issues, especially in today’s new media where an editor must produce a print as well as an online edition.

Few, if any, B2B publications have editorial staffs large enough to cover everything that’s happening in a particular industry. Therefore, editors seek and welcome assistance from competent PR people, whether at the corporate or agency level.

A major benefit of product publicity, as compared to advertising, is believability. A product story that appears in the editorial pages has been evaluated by an editor. It is, in effect, a third party endorsement. Sometimes, an article will generate more sales leads than an ad for the same product.

Another important advantage of product publicity is the range of distribution. Few companies have advertising budgets large enough to permit scheduling a product ad in every trade publication in a particular industry. But the cost of producing a news release and distributing that release to 25, 50 or 200 publications gives you a much better return on investment.

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Comments Off on What To Do with Those Negative Social Media Comments: Engagement Flow Chart

What To Do with Those Negative Social Media Comments: Engagement Flow Chart


Have you laid down the rules on how your social media manager and/or team will handle negative comments you receive through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc? We constructed a flow chart that shows how to react to certain types of negative social media posts. Feel free to use this as your own guide to handling social media engagement, or use it as a starting point.

Social Media Engagement Flow Chart: You see a post about your company.  Is it positive?  If so, either leave it alone or engage with it.  If not, is it degrading?  Stand up to it.  Is it a real issue?  Monitor it.  Is it erroneous?  Fix the facts.  Is it from an unhappy customer?  Make good with them.  Bottom Line: Respond if it feels appropriate, but if it seems to be an insignificant comment, there is no need to reply.  If you do respond: always be friendly, no matter how insulting the comment; provide references, pictures, links, etc. if applicable; try to respond within 24 hours; and make sure your information is accurate.

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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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