Every October once the Cincinnati air starts to cool, one of the first events I look forward to is Cincinnati PRSA’s annual Media Day. This is the one day of the year where PR professionals from around the city get to sit side by side with leading media outlets around town and across the nation. It’s also a time to listen, learn and share with like-minded professionals and have deep discussions about our ever-changing industry. This year’s Media Day was jam-packed with influential keynote presentations, insightful panel discussions and an inside look into the newsroom of dozens of media stations, outlets, publications and online platforms. So if you couldn’t make Media Day this year, or even if you did, here are my top five key takeaways.
- Think inside the box. Counter to everything we normally say, solid business building ideas are oftentimes right in front of our face. When you encourage your team to think so far outside of the box, oftentimes you lose sight of the challenge and objectives at hand. Thank you Steve Kissing for your hilarious perspective on how to efficiently come up with quality ideas that drive businesses forward. But as Saul Colt likes to say, don’t be afraid to take your ideas one step further and begin to explore uncomfortable territory. Make your box a little bigger to allow yourself to stretch your boundaries.
- Being a Fan doesn’t make you an advocate. Stop asking the question, “What’s a Like worth?” and instead, ask yourself, “Who are my top advocates?” Invest in them. They will market your product or service for you because they truly believe in you. They will help you mitigate the detractors. They will help you find new users. People listen to other people more than they listen to a brand.
- The subject line in your pitch should be the headline you want the reporter to write. We all know subject lines are important, but this small insight made me think a little differently about my pitch email subject lines. It’s also important to remember that pitch headlines should never be more than 80-100 characters (Google only indexes 65 characters). Use your sub headline to elaborate.
- Know who you’re pitching. That doesn’t mean know their email and a general understanding of their beat. Get to know your media contacts. It was reported that PR professionals outnumber journalists 4:1. That means there are fewer journalists covering more topics who are inundated with pitches. Roles within the newsroom are changing and it’s our job to make sure we are offering them relevant story suggestions. WCPO’s Chris Graves says career journalists want to tell incredible stories and the best PR professionals provide timely, relevant information.
- Execute extraordinary experiences everyday. Or as Saul Colt states, remember the four E’s. Brands make connections with consumers through experiences that evoke emotion. When was the last time you saw a Facebook ad or pay per click drive conversation? Take the time to interact with your consumers on and offline. And when you get in front of your consumer, make it count. Make it extraordinary.
My notebook is full of other quotes, stories and tips from lessons I learned at Media Day. What are some of the key takeaways that stuck with you?
By Ashley Walters