Setting the Record Straight: How to Pitch Denise Nakano

nakano2Whether she is broadcasting from a breaking news scene or anchoring from the studio, viewers of NBC10 News are familiar with Denise Nakano.

Nakano joined NBC10 as a weekend morning anchor in 2003. Twelve years later, she is now one of the Philadelphia-markets most established broadcast journalists. She reports during the week and anchors NBC10 News on weekend evenings.

Prior to joining NBC10, Nakano was a general assignment reporter and substitute anchor at KCPQ in Seattle, Washington.

Recently, Nakano spoke to the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s Adam Dvorin on her likes and dislikes when working with public relations people.

Have an idea? E-mail Nakano at denise.nakano@nbcuni.com or tweet her at @DeniseNakanoTV.

“The best story idea I ever received from a PR person is one that didn’t come to me through a mass email, but one where we worked together to tell a story.”

Question: What is the biggest thing you look at when considering a story idea?

Answer: Viewer impact is critical to any story we cover. I look to how many people the story will affect, why people should care, and how the viewer would benefit.

In many ways, we are the deliverers of a product. The more people can relate to a news story and benefit from it, the better job we’re doing.

Q: When you open your e-mail to look at a story pitch, how much time do you spend looking at it?

A: The first thing I look at is… does this appear to be a mass email or is it directly addressed to me. I don’t give it a second glance if I feel as if I’m on a long list getting the same pitch.  Even then, email story pitches rarely catch my eye.

Q: Would you consider a story idea from Twitter?  Facebook?  Phone only?

A; I find that I’ve considered more story ideas from Twitter than any of the above. Got a good story pitch? DM me!

Q. What would you advise a PR person avoid doing when pitching you?

A: I’d advise a PR person to avoid sending multiple pitches about the same client, over and over. For example, I frequently get emails about education related stories, but it always involves the same school.  Those go straight to the delete file.

Q. What are the best and worst times to reach out to you?

A: Best time to reach out is anytime by email. Or if the story is breaking, or involves a scoop, contact anytime! Worst time is during a reporter’s “crunch time”. It differs depending on a reporter’s shift, but you won’t get a favorable response reaching out when a reporter is on deadline.

Q: What is the best story idea you ever received from a PR person?

A: One that didn’t come to me through a mass email, but one where we worked together to tell a story.

Q: What other advice would you offer to PR pros?

A: Establish personal relationships with reporters and know each one will want something unique… an element that sets their story apart from the rest.

This post was written by Adam Dvorin. Adam is Media Director of Winning Strategies, a New Jersey-based communications firm.  He is a Membership Co-Chair of Philadelphia Public Relations Association.  He can be reached at @adamdvorin on Twitter.

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Stay Ethical, Don’t Exploit

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When we see an opportunity for a client, it’s in our nature to seize it. It’s our job, after all. It’s also the job of public relations professionals to advocate for clients and we should have the sense to judge what opportunities are appropriate and when they might be crossing a line. Too often companies and organizations are chastised for taking advantage of a current event, pop culture happening or even a tragedy to get their brand attention.

There are plenty of examples where companies took their publicity a step too far after a tragedy or negative occurrence, both accidentally and intentionally.

  • Malaysia Airlines promoted a Bucket List contest, asking consumers what places they’d like to see before they die. This came after the tragic disappearance of Flight 370 and after Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine.
  • DiGiorno hopped on the hashtag bandwagon a little too quickly after the NFL suspended Ray Rice for abusing his wife. Thousands of Twitter users took to using #WhyIStayed to share their abuse stories and DiGiorno didn’t check the context of the tag before shooting out a response of ‘you had pizza’.
  • MSN’s Biggest PR Blunders of 2014 list rounds up more specifics pretty well.

These companies promptly issued apologies and/or made corrections to their public relations and social media efforts. However, it’s always better not to have to ask for forgiveness because you didn’t stray off the path of ethics in the first place.

The lesson your parents always tried to burn into your brain of “think before you speak” couldn’t be more applicable in our world. In this case it’s more so “think before you act and set your client up for some serious negative backlash”. Trust me, even though you might be receiving dozens of emails asking why they aren’t in the news, asking to get them some press, they would much rather sit back and wait for the right story than jump on board with the wrong one.

How can you be sure to stay ethical and not make the mistakes of these well-known, previously well-respected brands?

  • Trust your instincts
    You know right from wrong. If you are feeling a little wary about pitching a story because you feel it might be exploitive, you’re probably right. It’s not worth potentially ruining your reputation with a journalist and painting your client in a bad light.
  • Ask a mentor
    That’s what they’re there for. If you’ve hit a point where you’re just not sure whether you should go with a story or not, just ask. Chances are you’ll be respected for checking in and you’ll get a good conversation out of it where you might learn a few things.
  • Explain
    So you decided to do the ethical thing and your client isn’t pleased. Instead of getting defensive, walk them through your thought process. Create a case study to show them the negative ramifications of pouncing on a story in an exploitive way. This is what they’re paying you for, after all.

This isn’t to say there won’t be instances where your client’s services, expert advice or products shouldn’t be talked about following a sad event or a bad situation. If the organization offers counseling, for example, they should surely be getting the word out after a tragedy; because what they are doing will help others. There are absolutely ways for brands, organizations and companies to respond to situations appropriately and in a non-exploitive manner. The important thing for public relations professionals to do is make the judgment call.

There are some things you can’t (and shouldn’t) try to put a spin on. Exploiting a sad or bad situation purely for client gain is wrong. Knowing and acknowledging that is what separates the experts from those just trying to climb the ladder.

London Faust is an Account Representative at Bellevue Communications Group, a public relations firm specializing in media relations, crisis communications and issue management. She is forever #TempleMade, class of 2014. Follow her personal ramblings on Twitter at @londonfaust or her professional doings at @BellevuePRPhl.

Setting the Record Straight: How to Pitch…Molly Eichel

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“Get to Know Me.  I’m Pretty Nice”

Readers of the Philadelphia Daily News should recognize Molly Eichel as the author of the four-times a week “Philly Gossip” column – a long running staple in the “People Paper.”

Eichel took over the column in 2013 and has been a writer at the Daily News since 2010.  Before that, she was on staff at the City Paper.

Each day, Eichel is tasked with writing six to eight quick newsy nuggets on items that involve well-known Philadelphians (a recent coup: being the first media member to interview WPVI-TV personality Adam Joseph about he and his partner becoming first-time parents).   Many of those ideas originate from smartly-pitched PR pitches.

Eichel recently took time to speak to the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s Adam Dvorin about her likes/dislikes when working with PR people.

With your ideas, e-mail Eichel at eichelm@phillynews.com

Q: What is the biggest thing you look at when considering a story idea?

A: The story needs to fit my beat. I have a pretty broad beat but I get so many off-beat pitches. As a PR person, show me you have a familiarity with what I do for a living and pitch directly to me, don’t just blanket a bunch of journalists and hope I’ll respond.

Q: When you open your e-mail to look at a story pitch, how much time do you spend looking at it?

A: It depends. If it’s a form press release, much less time than if someone takes the time to figure out how their story relates to my column.

Q:  Would you consider a story idea from Twitter?  Facebook?  Phone only?

A: Phone and e-mail. Pitching me on Twitter is a guaranteed way to get me to ignore you.

Q:  What would you advise a PR person avoid doing when pitching you?

A: Come into the pitch with no familiarity of what I do.  My name is very easy to Google.  Read a column.  Get a sense of my voice.  I don’t expect you to be a regular reader, but if you have no idea about what I do, it won’t help you.

Q:  When is the best and worst time to reach out to you with a column idea?

A: Deadline is 6 p.m. if you call me between 5 and 6 for something that’s not urgent, I’ll shuffle you off the phone or tell you to call back the next day. Reach out any time before that.

Q:  What is the best story idea you have ever received from a PR person?

A: One that comes to mind is a celebrity giving money to a local rehab center while he was in town filming a movie.

Q: What other advice would you offer to PR pros?

A: Get to know me! I’m pretty nice and if I know what you do and what you’re about, I can better tailor advice on future pitching.

This post was written by Adam Dvorin. Adam is Media Director of Winning Strategies, a New Jersey-based communications firm.  He is a Membership Co-Chair of Philadelphia Public Relations Association.  He can be reached at @adamdvorin on Twitter.

Give Your Client the Loyal Treatment

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The harsh reality all PR professionals must face is perfectly stated in this line from a recent edition of the Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat: “the majority of your pitches won’t get a response -” Then, as if offering a tiny glimmer of hope, the sentence continues: “but some will.”

It’s true. We all know media pitching is more of an art than it is science. But what happens when your pitch is a home run, the reporter wants the story…then you have to call a timeout?

It sounds like the unthinkable, but as I recently found out, unthinkable doesn’t mean impossible. Here I was, two days away from an interview I’d set up with a veteran reporter from a widely-read daily. All was well until the reporter’s interest shifted–albeit slightly–away from my original pitch. Great for the reporter, not so great for my company’s brand.

A rock and a hard place is an understatement. Yet it was a real life wake-up call that as a PR professional, I must be diligent in the loyalty I have for my company’s strategic goals; even if it means letting go of a media placement I worked so hard to get.

I like to call it the “loyal treatment.” Not unlike kings and monarchs, treat your company and client like royalty when it comes to protecting their brand and public image. Here are a few more tips to remember.

Know your client’s/company’s intended public brand
Ask your client or company’s senior leaders “What do you want the brand to be?” Also, “What don’t you want it to be?” As times change and companies evolve, answers to these questions will inevitably change, so don’t be afraid to ask more than once. The point is, know what the brand is (or isn’t) so you know not to deviate from it when pitching the media.

It’s ok to tell a reporter “no”
I know it sounds crazy given the sheer difficulty involved in getting a reporter to even acknowledge that you exist (unless you work for Apple or some other big name brand that reporters drool over). But trust me on this. If you suspect the end media placement could compromise the brand in any way, respectfully and tactfully decline. Think about it. The repercussions of making your company or client look bad are far worse than one missed opportunity. Which brings me to my next point…

Put yourself in the shoes of the spokesperson
One of the things I love about our work is that we get to make other people look good. In doing this though, we can easily lose sight of the fact that it’s their face, their words, their reputation that’s on the line; not our own. Now ask yourself, “What if it was me?” This change in perspective can make a world of difference when you consider which media placements to pursue.

Have you ever had to give up a media opportunity to protect your company or client? Share your experience and advice in the comments below.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.

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Don’t Get Stuck In A Pitching Rut

No matter how long we’ve been in the industry or how many placements we land, all PR pros suffer the occasional pitching standstill. You have what you think is the greatest story idea, and you are working day and night to grab a reporter’s interest, but for whatever reason it just isn’t working out.

Before you decide to throw in the towel, consider some of the following tips from InkHouse, a bi-coastal PR agency, to help you get out of your pitching rut.

  1. Take a hard and close look at the pitch. What changes can you make? Could it be shorter? Include a visual element?
  2. Turn to a friend. Have a fresh pair of eyes look over your pitch for any red flags or even minor tweaks.
  3. Pick up the phone. We’re used to calling reporters to follow-up after sending them an email pitch, but sometimes calling a member of the media before sending the email pitch can help. Never underestimate the power of conversation.

For more of InkHouse’s tips, visit their blog.

What do you normally do when your pitch is struggling to gain traction?