Like many of you, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV to see what looked like a low-budget action movie being shown on my local news station. Swat teams everywhere, the focus was on a white home. Officers had guns aimed at the house and were shuffling residents down the stairs. A possible apprehension was taking place right before my eyes, and I was shockingly close to the action. I couldn’t believe it was happening in real life and in real time.

The shot switched from the live view to a photo that had been Tweeted by a resident (@samanthae0) in lockdown near the scene. (I still can’t get over the fact that she took the time to add a filter.)

The media coverage this morning of the ‘Boston Bombings Manhunt’ was unlike any I have ever seen. Between the proximity of the cameras to the scene and the images from social media sites, I felt as if I were there.

Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing news media using content from social media outlets more and more. Every other day I see a dancing dog from YouTube on my local station. But it’s being used for actual news, too. Earlier this week, we saw that Texas fertilizer plant explode before our eyes via a YouTube video.

While social media can serve as an amazing tool for providing instantaneous news and reports, it can also act as an impactful source to perpetuate false information, like we saw with some of the early reporting on the Boston suspects. Now, I’m not knocking social media. I just want to point out that because it is often used as a source for traditional media, we need to make sure the correct messages are going out.

Earlier this week, Cedar wrote a post that gave companies some social media tips to follow when a big national tragedy occurs. But what if a crisis arises—be it large or small—that directly relates to your company? How do you control the messages that might eventually end up in the news media via social media? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1)      Everyone’s a reporter. Social media makes anyone on the street a source. Always watch who you and your employees are talking to and what you say.

2)     Monitor social media. Of course, as a brand you should always be monitoring social media to learn what the public is saying about you. But in a crisis situation, this is especially important. You need to be able to address inaccurate information in a timely manner to help set the record straight.

3)    Prepare statements. In any crisis, one of the first things you should do is prepare an official statement and get that out to all of your company’s representatives. Anyone who interacts with the public should know exactly what to say to keep your messaging accurate and consistent.

4)    Create a social media policy. It goes without saying that having a solid social media policy in place is one of the best ways to ensure others on social media are hearing your message. (Refer back to Cedar’s post for more on this.)

As the line between traditional media and social media continues to get thinner and thinner, be sure the right messages are getting out to everyone, be it news reporter or man on the street.

(See also, a previous blog post I wrote on crisis communications.)

April 19, 2013 · Posted by in pr, social media  

As my second season of vegetable gardening nears its end, I’ve been reflecting on my experience. And I have to admit, this year was a little disheartening. Most of my tomatoes didn’t grow, and the ones that did stayed green. My jalapenos started to sprout their fruit, but they never developed into an actual pepper shape. (What is that about?) If it weren’t for my bountiful zucchini, my vegetable crop would have been a bust.

Anyway, after reading a few “PR is like ____” articles this week, I’ve been inspired to write my own. Four Ways PR is Like Gardening:

  • Planting Seeds – PR professionals send out a lot of pitches and many of them don’t develop into anything. But if you don’t plant the seeds, there’s no chance of anything sprouting.
  • Nurturing Sprouts – When your seeds start to grow, you need to nurture them. Cultivate relationships with your media contacts and check in on developing stories.
  • Fighting Pests – “Pests” in the PR world are easy to come by. From unresponsive clients to looming deadlines, there are numerous obstacles to overcome to achieve the final product.
  • Harvesting Crops ­– Getting to your fully developed product takes a lot of effort. But when you’re successful, there’s no better gratification than seeing your hard work pay off, and presenting a great media placement to your client.  

Both gardening and PR campaigns have their ups and downs, but the end product is worth the effort. You can bet I’ll be back in the garden come spring.

October 7, 2011 · Posted by in pr  

If PR is important to your client, make sure they’re on LinkedIn. That’s because a new survey from Arketi Group, says 92 percent of journalists have a LinkedIn account and use it to find sources for stories.

That number shows an increase from 85 percent in 2009. The study says those numbers are up because LinkedIn is an easy way for reporters to find people they’d like to interview.

“It comes as no surprise more B-to-B journalists are participating in social media sites, especially LinkedIn,” Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Group, says, “LinkedIn provides an online outlet for them to connect with industry sources, find story leads and build their professional networks.”

While LinkedIn appears to be the most popular social media site for journalist, they’re using other networks too. The survey reports 85 percent are on Facebook and 84 percent use Twitter.

If you want to secure more media coverage for your client, make sure they’re being more social.

September 14, 2011 · Posted by in pr, social media  

Chances are, you’ve already been on the Internet this morning to check the latest SXSW happenings, to read reviews on the iPad 2 or to determine if your suspicion that your cat is trying to kill you is true.

Would it surprise you, though, to learn that nearly 80% of children under age 5 are also using the Internet?

Is anyone else as shocked by that statistic as I am? This report also noted that young children are using more and more media, and are getting pretty darn good at multitasking.

In fact, children between ages 8 and 10 spend about 5.5 hours each day using media, but that figure rises to a whopping 8 hours if you count when these kids are multi-tasking.

But think about it – they’re learning from the best. Us adults are constantly futzing with our Blackberries or iPads or watching a show on Netflix. Why would kids be any different if this is how they’re learning to behave?

Just the other day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook about her daughter Annie: “I handed my daughter her play phone and she goes ‘Oh, Annie’s iPod!’ Hahaha! She’s so tech savvy.”  Yup, tech savvy and still in diapers.

March 15, 2011 · Posted by in misc  

Image courtesy of

In a previous post, I discussed how important it is to Give ‘Em What They Want when it comes to working with the media. I recently came across an article in Ragan’s PR Daily that addresses not only giving reporters information they want, but also giving it to them how they want it.

The article refers to a study by PWR New Media, in which the company surveyed 200 journalists, the majority of whom work for print outlets. (Not the most comprehensive survey, yet still valuable.)

According to the study, when asked how they prefer to receive press releases, 87 percent said e-mail is the best way. Online newsrooms were a distant second at 3.5 percent, and 0 percent (that would be nobody) said they want to receive press releases via wire service or fax.

Although e-mailing press releases has served as the obvious method of delivery for the past few years, I’ve still witnessed many releases going out through wire services—and many companies requesting that their agencies distribute information that way. This study helps support my theory that wire services are officially dead. Reporters want one-to-one communication, personalized to their outlet and audience, not mass messages distributed to everyone and their brothers.

Some other interesting findings from this particular study:

• 87 percent said high-res images are very important
• 79 percent of journalists were either “much more likely” or “likely” to cover a story if it included high-res images
• 91 percent of journalists said that having easy access to relevant background, bios and supporting information is very important when researching a story
• 76 percent cited verbiage from a press release

March 4, 2011 · Posted by in misc  

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