The Art of the Relationship: Building Strong Connections with Today’s Media

Today’s rapidly evolving social media formats and new media technologies are creating as many new ways for PR pros to connect with the media as they are creating new ways of communicating for people. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google+ are among just a few of the always-on media that enable media relations specialists and corporate communicators to interface with reporters and editors.

But despite the constantly shifting nature of today’s media landscape there still remain some universal rules for building and maintaining solid relationships that work across all media outlets.
Below are five of the most important of these. I invite you to check them out and compare them to your rules for building media relationships. Are there any rules you would add to or remove from this list? I would love to get your comments.

Be a true resource. All members of the media are under extreme pressure and many have to produce diverse content for multiple mediums, so understanding what reporters need in order to do their job is critical.
Practice role reversal. When pitching a story, ask yourself what you would need if the roles were swapped. Create a checklist to ensure you have the most essential assets to get the conversation started.
Know the outlet. Think of the volume of calls and e-mails you get a day and multiply that by 1,000. Now you can begin to understand the life of a journalist — this includes print reporters, broadcast producers, and bloggers. Before pitching, make sure you understand what types of topics the publication covers and how your story could fit in.
Lose the “all about me syndrome.” You will become a trusted go-to source if you provide the media with ideas and resources even if it doesn’t directly benefit, or even involve, your client. Join conversations and add value. Comment on blog posts, retweet a journalist’s post to your followers, or suggest related sources or commentary. In the end, that will go a long way toward building credibility and a relationship.
Be up front and transparent. Always disclose your client, be clear about what elements of a story you can offer, acknowledge what information you don’t have, and be straightforward about what missing pieces you can help deliver. Build trust and keep reinforcing it with your actions.

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Measuring PR: Beyond the Barcelona Principles

This post originally appeared in the blog PRSAY, the official blog of the Public Relations Society of America.  If you’ve been following the measurement world within the PR industry over the last year or so, you’ve seen a fair amount of news coming out of first Barcelona in 2010, and then Lisbon this year. It may have caused you to wonder: How come the measurement folks meet in cool places on the Iberian Peninsula, and we get stuck with conferences in Detroit, Orlando and Philadelphia? Well, we welcome more people to the measurement tribe at any time, and in fact, the 2012 version of the European Measurement Summit will be in Paris.However, maybe measurement or Paris is not your thing, but you want to at least understand the state of play. Here is what you need to know.

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If David Letterman Were a Digital Geek

Recently, I wrote a blog post (“Dot What?”) and was interviewed in PRWeek about ICANN’s new scheme for radically transforming generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to go beyond the current dot-com approach to a more free-form structure that will enable people to create Web addresses in almost any name and language, up to 63 characters long. Under the new regime, one could use an existing suffix, like .com, or create a unique alternative (imagine, for example, if Starbucks were to register .coffee), or even conjure up a new website with no suffix at all.

The more I think about it, the more firmly I believe this is a dumb idea. With that in mind, and with a nod to David Letterman, here are my top 10 reasons why ICANN’s new scheme will fail – and fast.

10. D.O.A.: With hotlinks, link shorteners, QR codes and app buttons that direct users straight to Web content, I’m not sure how relevant any domain names will be anymore, not even the venerable .com.

9. Search=Start: No one types Web addresses into their browsers anymore, now that search is the new start. Google has morphed from a means of discovery to a tool for navigation to content people already know they want. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the writing on the wall.

8. Hard to Beat .com: Why force users to type .cocacola or even .soda when three simple letters — .com – will do. That little acronym has become so ubiquitous, it’s even earned its place as a dedicated button on many computer and mobile keyboards.

7. Chaos and Confusion: If we strip away the standard structure, “www” might as well stand for “Wild West Web,” with zero predictability. It will take a lot of retraining to get Internet users to type anything besides .com (if they type a URL at all!).

6. At Best, It’s a Hedge: The Coca-Cola Company will still have to own and as well as coke.soda or drink.coke.

5. Vanity: Custom TLDs don’t serve the public’s interest. They serve only to stroke the ego of the domain owners. This is the Web 3.0 version of the vanity plate. Welcome to the vanity domain.

4. Past Is Prologue: Beyond .com, .org, .net, .edu and .gov, ICANN has already blessed us with more than a dozen other TLDs, including .info and .biz. Quick! How many successful websites can you name that end in .pro?

3. Sticker Shock: Applications start at $185K – not exactly the sweet spot for small and mid-sized businesses, to say nothing of regular Joes and Janes.

2. Scams: It will be no time before the guys who write those bogus emails from millionaire descendants of Nigerian kings will expand their franchises. Set your spam filters to high alert for emails linking to “online.banking” or some other such nonsense that’s suitably dressed up to seem legit.

1. If It Ain’t Broke: If ICANN really wants to sell this thing, they have to tell us why and serve up an urgent reason to ditch .com. For any of you who think we’re running out of .com options, come find me. I’ve got a storehouse full of hot .pro models that will fit you like a glove – at prices you’ll love.

That’s my top 10, but trust me, there’s more where these came from.

For now, we need to cut away for a word from our sponsors. But stick around for more great stuff just after the break, including Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra!

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Digital Tweets from Ketchum Peeps – Aug 19

As I hunt for tweets from Ketchum employees to share with you each Friday, I tend to take in a lot of information.

One tweet in particular this week took me to a story that had my inner nerd captivated by how a company used social media to “wow” one of their customers/fans. Make sure you read @DavidHeiser’s tweet about Morton’s to learn more on that – it’s quite amazing.

By @JessicaDefilippo “Looks like even #Obama is getting in on the #Foursquare fun!… via @mashable” By @RyanShell “”Abercrombie and Fitch Offers to Pay ‘The Situation’ To Stop Wearing Its Clothes” via @WSJ” By @DavidHeiser “Nice execution, @Mortons! –> The Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told, Starring Morton’s Steakhouse –” By @JonathanKopp “Computer users, here’s an infographic that’s easy on your eyes — literally. #ketchum #digital” By @MylesTW Very smart social marketing — Starbucks Fans Compete To Bring Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Their Cities First

If you enjoyed any of the information shared via the tweets above, feel free to fire off a retweet or two.

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Can You Read This Easily? If Not, Here's Some Help for Your Eyes

Can You Read This Easily? If Not, Here's Some Help for Your Eyes

This blog post is for anyone who has looked at a computer screen, smartphone or iPad for a bit too long.I was surfing over the weekend and stumbled upon an infographic worth a second glance, as infographics often are. I shared it for the creativity of the content, and, lo and behold, in return, folks actually read the content about their tired, digitally aged eyes and added a tip or two. The image below only displays a fraction of the infographic, and as you can see, it’s intriguing. So, click on the image to see the full infographic and post. And I leave you with these last words: Keep your eyes healthy with visuals, not words!


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'The Situation' With One Brand

There’s good publicity, and there’s bad publicity, with the latter of the two obviously not being the preferred option. The clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch has been known for stretching the limits and getting publicity over the years, albeit they’ve probably gotten more negative than they’d like to, but they’ve hit a situation that has provoked almost immediate action.

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These Little Kids Got Talent

I can’t stop myself. I have to post this video from America’s Got Talent because these kids managed to capture nationwide media attention and get over 1,300,000 views on YouTube using elements that every PR and marketer hopes to capitalize on. So what did they do? Watch the video first . . . 

First off, how cute are these kids? They are quite possibly the perfect spokespeople, right? Let’s review for a minute. These kids wap (rap) about education, and how they’re true “G’s” — in this case, “G” means geniuses ( They cleverly play with language and do it in an intelligent way. Their lyrics are baked with greater cause marketing strategies, and it’s evident that they live their cause. Two elements in particular stand out:

Natural Human Phenomenon – It seems when children perform adult acts in such a manner, adults eat it up. Adults, like any other animal, love seeing their actions mimicked by an uncanny imitator.
Great PR and Marketing – When Sharon Osborne asked the boys what they would do with the million dollar prize money, one of the boys said with seeming honesty and sincerity that he’d buy a huge house, fill it with lots of toys, and invite kids who don’t have homes to come over and play.

So, what’s the point? Good question. What you see in this video works. The public responds in a sincere and genuine way, and, at the end of the day, that is our goal in PR and marketing.



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Special Delivery: Boundless Creativity

Special Delivery: Boundless Creativity

With the launch a few months ago of Ketchum’s new brand promise, “break through,” and a renewed commitment to boundless creativity, Ketchum recently kicked off a Boundless Creativity Postcard Exchange program internally across its offices as a way to connect employees and remind everyone of Ketchum’s creativity credo: We are a culture committed to breaking down geographic and mental boundaries to produce a steadier flow of brilliant ideas that break through. Our imaginations are boundless, and so too are our ideas. More than 2,000 postcards with Ketchum’s creativity credo were printed and distributed to every employee across the Ketchum network, more than 30 offices. Each colleague was asked to capture a creative idea, a creative moment, or something that inspires them to be creative, note it on their postcard, and send it to an assigned creative partner in another office. As a result, the Exchange connected people with colleagues in other parts of the world, creating a mutually inspiring creative bond.


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Digital Tweets from Ketchum Peeps

One thing is certain, people love spoof Twitter accounts. Proof of the fact could easily be illustrated around the massive following the @BronxZooCobra (account now suspended) accumulated.

A similar account popped up this week, but this time it was in the form of the Conde Nast elevator. This week’s digital tweets touch on that, as well as a number of other items you might find interesting.

• By @ryanshell “Fantastic! The Conde Nast elevator now has a Twitter account sharing things overheard in the elevator. Somewhat genius.” Update: the account quickly topped 50k and the owner has since decided to stop tweeting.

• By @merrittPR “64% of Small Businesses Think Social Media Is Unnecessary [STUDY] via @mashbusiness @mashable”

• By @adamkornblum “The State of Mobile Malware [INFOGRAPHIC] via @mashablemobile @mashable #KETCHUM!”

• By @jonathankopp “Interesting study by Forrester & Dell on how different industries measure success on the social web.”

• By @merrittpr “How Students Use Technology [INFOGRAPHIC] My how times have changed since I was in college! via @mashable”

Thanks for checking out this week’s Digital Tweets from Ketchum Peeps!

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My Summer at Ketchum Raad Dubai

Why should you spend your summer in a foreign country working full-time? Because it will be one of the most valuable investments of your life. While it might sound cliché, I must admit that my six-week internship at Ketchum Raad in Dubai changed my life. I left the United States excited about the opportunities the trip would provide for my career, and I returned with both invaluable work experience and life-long memories.

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