How to get your pitch recognized

By Danny Cavanaugh

Pitching newsworthy stories to the media is essential for any PR pro. Whether you’re trying to give your organization an edge by winning over a journalist for the story you want, or you’re trying to promote your client within the local news, pitches are key in the daily life of a PR pro.

With that said, how many pitches do journalists receive every day? According to Nicole Fallon Taylor, she received “an average of 23 per workday,” prdaily.com. This is unfortunate because of how saturated journalist’s emails are becoming.

So, the big question is how can we get our pitch recognized, and not just thrown out?

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First of all,  make sure what you are pitching is newsworthy. In other words, is the audience going to be interested in your particular story? If your story isn’t newsworthy, the journalist won’t waste their time with you again.

Secondly, make the pitch personalized. Often times when you try to build a relationship with journalists and mention their name in the pitch, you will have a better chance of getting your pitch recognized. There’s nothing worse than saying “to whom it may concern.” That’s bad PR.

Lastly, be creative! According to Taylor, the pitches she accepted didn’t say the same old thing as everyone else. The pitches she accepted had a different outlook on a story, or a whole new perspective that was interesting.

Just remember, as a PR pro you will write pitches in your career. Have fun with them, make them personalized, newsworthy, and be creative in your pitch. There’s nothing worse than a bland, non-relevant pitch!

 

 

What Stresses You Out?

By Danny Cavanaugh

It’s a Friday night and you just got home from work or school. You’ve worked hard all week and you look forward to the weekend ahead. However, stress in our lives can prevent happiness and relaxation during the weekend.

On February 28, 2017 I visited a booth put on by the PR debate team at Central Washington University. Their goal was to create awareness for stress that people face on a day-to-day basis.

I found this to be a particularly interesting subject because everyone faces stress at some point in their life.

what stresses you out

I don’t think people take stress as seriously as they should. I know that I will hide my stress and bottle everything up inside. However is that healthy? Most likely not.

It’s important to recognize your stress and figure out the cause of that stress. Maybe you’re stressed over a deadline at work? I know for myself I’m often stressed over deadlines because I procrastinate. Therefore, one way to solve that problem and relieve stress is to start projects earlier and have a plan of action in case something goes wrong.

What else relieves stress? Go to the gym! Do you ever feel more energized or happier after the gym? If so, it’s because when you workout, your body releases endorphin’s, which are “feel good” chemicals in our body.

As a result, it’s important to recognize your stress and what causes it. Also, it’s important to understand what can relieve your stress. Whether it’s better planning at work and school, or exercising during the week. These are all important steps to reduce stress in our daily lives. However, according to the debate team their are five signs stress is taking over your life. stick it to mental health

If at any point you experience one or all of these five signs, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. After all, this PRSSA debate team did an excellent job bringing stress and the awareness of stress to a greater light.

Don’t let stress damage your life!

They Won Fair and Square

By Danny Cavanaugh

Since the Patriots are yet again in the super bowl, why not bring up a sore subject for many New England fans… deflategate!

That’s right, I said it. The controversial deflating of footballs during the AFC championship between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in 2015.

Talk about a PR nightmare! Hours upon hours of court proceedings, with one side winning, then the other side appealing. If I was a part of the PR staff for the patriots, or the NFL I would lose all of my hair.

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Talk about crisis PR in a nutshell. With the NFL (among others) investigating your franchise, as a PR professional you have to find a way to bring light to the situation and deflect the negativity away from your organization.

Easier said than done? I think so.

It’s easy for people in this situation to call the patriots “cheaters” because of their track record. If this was the patriots first trip to the super bowl, would people have blown this way out of proportion? That’s the million dollar question.

We all know that when you win, over and over again, people either love you or they hate you. Just look at the New York Yankees, you hardly ever hear “eh they’re alright, I don’t mind them.”

Thus, this is a great example of crisis PR. So, what would you do?

I would find out the truth behind the situation. I would research if the weather played in any part of decreasing the psi within the footballs. Also, you must protect your brand the best you can.

We would have to tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast, and move on. After all, who wants to be in court two seasons later for something they thought was past them.

This just goes to show how important PR really is. It’s important to keep the integrity of your organization, as well as explain to the public was is going on behind closed doors.

Inauguration Day Drama

By Danny Cavanaugh

It’s no secret that President Trump isn’t the most popular president of all time. But, is it just me or does it seem like the presidency has been based on a popularity contest, rather than on policies to improve America?

On Inauguration Day, (Jan. 20,2017) it was reported that a smaller crowd (in comparison to former President, Barack Obama’s turnout) had come to support the new president. Press Secretary Sean Spicer shortly thereafter was accused of spinning the truth about the actual turnout.

Of course this was a mistake by Spicer, but I don’t think he was knowingly trying to “spin” the truth. I agree with Beki Winchel when she states, “PR pros should think twice about how they present details of a recent event or an executive’s move that has elicited backlash,” prdaily.com.

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It’s interesting to me how a man’s failure to elaborate and tell the whole story can have such backlash. Now, rather than focusing on President Trump’s first actions as president, we see the media talking about that “popularity contest” with the turnout for Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

With that said, PR pros can learn a lot from this situation. The availability and access to information via social media can cause a crisis in a matter of seconds.

So, how do we avoid these crises?

Answer: tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast, and move on.

This leads back to my initial point, give Spicer a break! The man is human and he simply forgot to elaborate on what the turnout was.

At least Spicer was able to see the mistake he made, and create a statement about his lack of communication and specification on the matter.

As a society we need to stop nit picking every little thing somebody says, it isn’t healthy. As we have seen, Spicer meant that the turnout was the largest in years with people tuning in via web, television, and social media (along with in person).

PR pros should be warned from this. Somebody is always looking to fact check what you are saying. Be careful, and remember to tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast, move on, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

The Bird is in the Hudson

By Danny Cavanaugh

Throughout our lives, we all have certain crisis’ that we must go through. Whether your a female deciding what clothes to pick out for that “special” date, or you’ve experienced an unfortunate car crash, which resulted in legal obligations and hospital bills, a crisis of some magnitude is inevitable in our futures.

After watching the movie Sully, I came to a realization that the airline (U.S. Airways) had a major crisis on their hands. On January 15, 2009, one of their planes had to perform an emergency landing in the Hudson river, after a flock of birds took out both engines of the aircraft, according to airwaysmag.com.

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The man seen above is Sully who was brave enough, and experienced enough to make the decision to land the plane in the Hudson.

So, what crisis? After all, every soul on board was saved, how can there be a crisis? As we know, people often look for the negative story, “if it bleeds it reads.” so even though lives were saved, a plane was still in the Hudson.

Crisis Communications:

I can only imagine the shock and sense of urgency that the PR crisis team must have felt for U.S. Airways. An immediate response was necessary for their employees, shareholders, stakeholders, and the public. However, several questions had to be answered.

What caused the accident? Were there any alternative landing spots? Who or what is responsible for this incident?

These are just a few of the questions that needed to be answered. Can you imagine if there were any fatalities on board? Would consumers lack confidence in flying with U.S. Airways if that were the case?

With that said, PR professionals know to tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast, and move on when it comes to a crisis.

Fortunately enough, Mr. Sully was able to perform the emergency landing in heroic fashion, with only a few injuries to passengers and crew.

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Tom Hanks- scene from the movie after passengers were safely rescued. 

Thus, is there a proper way to handle a crisis? Do people botch critical moments in crisis communications?

The answer to these two questions is yes. The proper way to handle a crisis is to remain calm, tell the truth, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as we saw with John Edwards destroying his own personal PR (the most important PR of all), but that’s for another post.

Citations:

Auxier, Eric. (2016). The New “Sully” Movie: How Accurate. Airways. Retrieved from                            https://airwaysmag.com/capnaux/new-sully-movie-how-accurate/

Warner, Bros (Producer). Eastwood, Clint (Director). September 9, 2016. Sully (Motion picture). USA: Warner Bros.