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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 Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Five Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Editorial Calendar for August 2013

Are you the manager of your agency’s blog? Are you the one responsible for making sure all of the entries come in on time, are edited properly and posted in a timely fashion? We know your job may be tougher than it seems! Here are some tips to help make the process a little smoother for you.

1. Create an Editorial Calendar: Creating a schedule you can distribute to the staff is crucial. This will keep everyone aware of the deadlines for the blog entries, topics, authors, and posting dates. Here is an example of the editorial calendar we create for our team.


2. Choose Broad Topics: If the topics you assign to your team are too narrow, some on your staff may find it difficult to get their blog completed by the deadline due to heavy amounts of research and detail needed. Here is where you can allow some flexibility. In the editorial calendar above, we don’t pinpoint the five tips to offer to the audience. That is up to the author. And, if the topic doesn’t work for the author that month, let him/her know it’s OK to come to you to discuss alternative topics.

3. Never Steal Photos from Google: This is something you should never do. Saving photos from a Google images search can lead to your agency receiving a cease and desist letter from the company that owns the photo. And, that letter can come with a hefty bill. When searching for photos for your blog, first see if there is anything you can snap a picture of quickly in your office. If that doesn’t work, try visiting www.all-free-download.com to see if you can find a suitable, royalty-free photo there. But, BE CAREFUL! Not all of the resources are allowed for commercial use. If in doubt, contact the photo author for details.

4. Send Reminder Emails to Your Staff: You’re busy. Your team is busy. This is understandable. However, that doesn’t mean your agency’s blog should be put on the back burner. Blogging is a great way to spread the word about your agency’s services and products while showcasing your knowledgeable staff. Believe it or not, well-written blogs can lead to potential clients, equaling potential revenues. If a deadline for a blog entry is approaching or has passed, do not hesitate to send the author an email or have a quick conversation about the due date. You should be able to work something out so the schedule doesn’t go awry.

5. Don’t Bombard Yourself: An agency blog should be a team effort. Do not allow yourself to write a month’s worth of blogs with no help if your team has agreed to participate. As long as you keep up with your editorial calendars and reminders, everything else should fall into place.

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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 Tips: Build a Better News Release

Public Relations Tips: Build a Better News Release

Marking Up a Document

Constructing a top-notch news release requires a solid structure, from the headline down to the boilerplate.  Take your time and get it right; a well-formed, succinct, grammatically correct news release will generate the greatest coverage.

Before you even get started, be sure all of your source information is at-hand. Depending on the topic, this may include meeting notes, product literature, sales memos and website copy.  It’s best to have these materials in electronic format so you can cut and paste directly from existing materials. Why re-invent the wheel? If client-owned copy has already been approved for another purpose, incorporate some of this language into your release when it makes sense to do so.

While your headline should be simple and to the point, it also has to quickly grab the reader’s attention.  Utilize an active voice rather than a passive one.  Focus on keeping it short and sweet. Add a sub-head if you need to convey a great deal of information.  Most importantly, make certain your headline supports the overall message of your completed release.

When writing the lead paragraph, think back to Journalism 101. Be sure your opening answers the essential Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions. Weave in as much information as you can into a single sentence. Remember, blending completeness with succinctness is the overall goal.

Enhance your body copy by adding quotes from company experts. Every release should contain information an editor can’t find anywhere else. This is a perfect platform for forward looking statements and commentary from company spokespersons and the geniuses behind new product developments.

Add deep links to take readers directly to more information on the exact topic covered in the release. Don’t make them jump through hoops by sending them to the site homepage and forcing them to navigate their way to the specific page they need.

Every release should end with the company’s official boilerplate. This begins with a brief statement about the company, the products and services it provides and the industries it serves. It is essential to also include the mailing address, phone number, fax, general email and website URL.

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Comments Off on Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

Best Practices for Web Monitoring: Don’t Just Google It

Google, Yahoo, or Bing?

In public relations, we all know there is more work to be done after a news release is distributed. For an agency to show its worth to a client, we need to track the news release and see what print publications, online news sources, blogs, wires, etc. pick it up.

Most PR firms use a news release distribution service such as Cision, Vocus, BusinessWire or PRNewswire to make sure the appropriate media outlets receive the information. These distribution services will usually send a report letting the agency know which outlets received the release. However, even though these reports are pretty good at letting you know where the release was picked up, they can miss a couple of key locations.

If you think a few good clips are missing from your pile, where should you look first? Of course just about anyone will tell you, “Google it.” And, they would be right. Checking Google for clips is a great place to start. You can either copy and paste the headline of your release into the Google Search bar, or you can search for specific keywords within your release. You will probably find the majority of the clips that came in with the report from your distribution service, but you may be surprised that you can find several other clips that the report missed.

OK. You “Googled it.” The search for clips doesn’t stop there. Though Google is still the world’s most popular search engine, there are other search engines to try if you want to be thorough in your clip search. Aside from the all mighty Google, Bing, Yahoo and Wolfram Alpha are some of the other top search engines to use.

Also, if you really want to stay on top of clips about your clients, consider signing up for Google Alerts, Bing Alerts, or both. That way, you can be notified about your client’s placements as they happen, once a day or once a week. The more methods you use to track your release, the more clips you will find.

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Comments Off on Seek and Ye Shall Find: Tips on Search Engine Usage

Seek and Ye Shall Find: Tips on Search Engine Usage

Google, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha Logos

How often are you asked for information that could just have easily been googled? Now there’s a website for that. It’s called Let Me Google That For You (www.lmgtfy.com). It creates a link for you to send that shows a how-to animation of Google usage.

But maybe your questioner is overwhelmed by the search results and can’t find exactly what they are looking for. That’s where a Google advanced search comes in (http://www.google.im/advanced_search?hl=en). When you use it to enter more search parameters, Google will narrow its results.

If you are looking for web pages via Google that have been recently updated, use the “last update” field. If you’re looking for something on a particular site and its own search engine isn’t helping, try a Google advanced search with the “site or domain” field filled in. If you know the desired information is stored in a PDF file, for example, select that as the “file type.”

If any of these applications sound useful, create a bookmark for Google Advanced Search in your browser’s toolbar where it will be easy to find.

Here are more hints for googling:

– Use quotation marks around a multiple word search to get results matching the exact phrase.

– Did some obscure error message just pop up? You aren’t the first person to wonder what it means. Copy and paste the text into Google for some links as to the cause.

– The Google home page is simple and fast. Use it to test whether you have a connection to the Internet.

– Create a bookmark for Google in your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. If you only use the search field above the
bookmarks toolbar, you’ll never see Google Doodles (www.google.com/doodles).

– Try other search engines. Bing is another general-purpose search engine. WolframAlpha.com is geared toward
scientific research.

As for the title of this blog, your instinct is right; it’s from the Bible. A Google search quickly tells us it’s from Matthew 7:7. This ancient phrase could be Google’s corporate motto but they chose “Don’t be evil.” That sounds biblical as well.

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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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Comments Off on Article Pitching: How to Make the Right Pitch to a Magazine Editor

Article Pitching: How to Make the Right Pitch to a Magazine Editor

Deleting Unwanted Emails

To get your client’s story published, you have to know how to pitch an article to the magazine’s editors. Since many publications today accept only online queries, you need to develop an effective email pitch that gets the editor to respond.

Use the subject line to clearly explain the query. If you are pitching a feature article on industrial safety glasses, you should write in the subject line, “Article query: Know which safety glasses are best for your workplace.”

The length of your query letter depends on the nature and scope of the article — but the bottom line is that you need to convey just the right amount of information to the editor. To pitch your article successfully, you need to find the balance between inciting the editor’s curiosity and writing too much.

Give the names, locations and credentials of the sources you’ll interview for your article. To successfully pitch your articles to magazines, don’t promise experts or sources that you can’t deliver. Then, briefly describe the scope and structure of the article. Is this a how-to article, case study (testimonial), round-up of latest equipment, or human interest?

Next, explain why the magazine’s readers would want to read the article. What benefit will the readers get? Will they learn how to minimize machinery downtime, increase productivity, create a safer workplace, or decrease product loss?

Finally, don’t forget to mention if you can provide photography or any other images. Editors today are busy trying to fill content for both print and online editions. If you can deliver what’s stated in your pitch letter, then you stand a great chance of getting published.

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Comments Off on The Power of Focus Groups

The Power of Focus Groups

Circle of Seven Chairs

Getting 12 people into a room, any room, usually provides the opportunity for individuals to share their feelings about a topic or situation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a meeting, a family gathering or even a focus group.

If you have ever experienced an intervention, you know the power of a group with a vested interest.

When it comes to focus groups, I feel the same way. Kinda…

It’s because I and our clients hear things we may have never heard before. We look at things through the eyes of others. The power of important stakeholders is right there on the other side of the one-way glass. Wow.

For the price of a one-page ad in a trade journal, you can learn a lot about your company, your product, your competitors and your customer. More than you could ever imagine. Consider these actual outcomes:

– For a healthcare system, we learned that patients would prefer to go to a local community hospital rather than go downtown to the main campus of a major network.

– For a manufacturer, we learned that their product would sell better with a few design changes.

– For a new franchise, we learned that the ad copy points worked, but the graphic treatment needed some changes.

– For an energy company, we learned that consumers had great ideas on ways to communicate to them—and when.

– For a non-profit, we learned how to get major donors to give more.

Often, a focus group will indicate whether more research is needed, how to frame the questions for a survey or which job titles need to weigh in.

Focus groups aren’t for everyone, but you always walk away with more information than you expected when the lights go out in the conference room. The video of a focus group meeting also becomes a great reference as you move forward with your marketing, product or business decisions.

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